On the cover...
For the past 100 years, Turfco has been spreading the benefits of topdressing on golf courses around the world
£7.50 golfmanagement.eu.com Issue 126 | July 2019
The essential business magazine for every golf course owner, director of golf, CEO and general manager operating a golf facility
Under the direction of Nuno Sepúlveda, Costa Navarino opens a new ‘earthsheltered’ clubhouse, whilst two new courses are under construction
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On the agenda july 2019 42
Tristan’s Hall of Fame
The title of ‘secretary’ may seem a bit too old-school, but for Tristan Hall at Sunningdale, traditional values are still very much at the forefront of this prestigious club.
Sepúlveda Raises a Glass
Director of golf and sports development at Costa Navarino, Nuno Sepúlveda, raises a glass to mark the opening of the new Bay Clubhouse at the Greek destination.
Golf-Club Pfalz Revamp Opens
Under the guidance of Troon International, Golf-Club Pfalz in western Germany has delighted its members as the course reopened last month.
World Traveller Northridge
Much travelled and experienced golf club operator Ashley Northridge has returned to the UK after spells in Spain and Canada to head-up Burhill Golf Club.
Menai-Davis Family Fortunes
After being black-balled for membership at his local club, Tony Menai-Davis decided to build his own golf course, and the rest, as they say is history.
GMé a shortened form of Golf Management Europe is published and distributed six times per year by Portman Publishing and Communications Limited Deben House, Main Road, Martlesham, Woodbridge IP12 4SE Telephone (44) 01394 380800 | www.portman.uk.com
Michael Lenihan David Bowers, Peter Driver, Samuel Frederick, Vanessa Gardner, Jessica Hedderman, Ian Mitchell, Hannah Mulliner, Steven Nixon, Nicholas Palmer, Yiannis Tsioukanis
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ISSN 1368-7727. Printed by The Manson Group. © 2019 Portman Publishing and Communications Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the prior written permission of the publisher. Whilst due care is taken to ensure content in GMé is accurate, the publisher cannot accept liability for errors and omissions.
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from the publisher
“A lot of resorts automatically place complimentary plastic water bottles in buggies for their guests”
Don’t Bottle it when it comes to Banning Single-Use Plastic The golf sector has been given a bit of a rough ride over the last 20 years or so when it comes to environmental policies. You can’t turn an oil tanker on a sixpence, to mix some metaphors, so it takes time to put changes into effect. Clubs have changed their policies on chemicals and many have taken drastic steps to reduce the amount of water they take from the public system, by installing reservoirs and desalination plants, for example. The focus of the environmental lobby currently – and understandably so – is single-use plastics, something that golf clubs and resorts have, in recent years, used in abundance. From simple drinking straws to soft-drink bottles, they have been in use at almost every golf venue. Golf is reacting quicker than many to the latest issue, with plenty of clubs adopting new initiatives to first, reduce, and then, ultimately, to remove, completely, single-use plastics from the inventory. Dubai Golf, for example, is introducing souvenir drinking bottles for its guests, rather than bag tags, while, in Mallorca – where the paucity of water has become a huge concern – Arabella Golf has taken a more drastic step. Across its three courses – Golf Son Muntaner, Golf Son Vida, and Golf Son Quint – the sale of plastic water bottles has ceased. Instead, it is providing players with reverse osmosis purified, mineralised water fountains that dispense both still and sparkling water.
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SCREWED-UP Single-use plastic bottles
Each pro shop is selling refillable aluminium Arabella Golf Mallorca water bottles for €5, so golfers can refill on the course and around the property as often as they wish. A lot of resorts automatically place complimentary plastic water bottles in buggies for their guests and, if the industry is to do the right thing, all of these will need to be replaced in some way. Clubs have a responsibility to help the environment, so clubs should sell reusable drinks bottles – be they branded or unbranded – and offer all visitors, irrespective of whether or not they buy a bottle, free cold water in order to fill their own bottles.
Royal Westmoreland, in Barbados, does exactly that – and it even has an ice machine to help keep water cool. Personally, however, I hope courses don’t give away bottles instead of a bag tag. It should be in addition to and not in place of it, as the value of a bag tag should never be underestimated. GMé
Michael Lenihan email@example.com
TURF HEALTH SOLUTIONS Bernhard and Company is a specialist in sports turf technology, committed to providing leading turf care solutions to golf course and pitch care specialists worldwide. From blade sharpening systems, sports surface air movement and moisture control to supplementary lighting, we will provide you with the solution to achieve the best turf quality and playability.
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Hold the front page Founded in 1919 and still based in Minneapolis, USA, this year, Turfco’s founding family celebrates 100 years of cutting-edge involvement in the turf care industry.
“Turfco just wants to say ‘thank you, turf care industry,’ for all the great time spent together working to solve challenges and grow this great industry”
Cover sponsored by Turfco (1) 763 785 1000 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Being in the same industry for 100 years is an achievement few family businesses can claim. From their grandfather who started National Mower Company in 1919, to the third generation Kinkead executives who run Turfco today, the Kinkead/Turfco ‘family’ acknowledges the privilege it is to be a part of the ever-changing golf course maintenance industry. “Turfco just wants to say ‘thank you, turf care industry,’ for all the great time spent together working to solve challenges and grow this great industry,” said George and Scott Kinkead, president and executive vice-president, respectively, of Turfco Manufacturing. The family’s lineage as makers of turf care equipment dates back to 1919. World War I had recently ended when Robert Stanard Kinkead, a veteran of the war, founded National Mower Company, based in St. Paul, Minnesota. He started off making reel-type, sickle bar and pull-behind lawn mowers that could be hitched to horses or tractors. Kinkead was an engineer during the war and he noticed sickle-bar equipment while overseas. Through the years the company continued its growth with power mowers while rising to prominence as an innovator in commercialgrade mowing products.
Fast forward to 1961 when Turfco, working closely with local turf specialists, created the first mechanised topdresser. At the time, topdressing on golf courses used to consist of slinging sand from shovels to maintain and repair high-trafficked turf areas, and the introduction of the topdresser made it faster, easier and more consistent. Under the leadership of the Kinkeads, Turfco thrived as it continued to develop and market new products that helped advance the turf maintenance industry. In the early years, John Kinkead would pack up the family station wagon with a disassembled mower, and travel to demonstrate the product to prospects over six-week periods at a time, gaining input along the way. He had to reassemble the mower at each stop. That family perseverance and inventiveness set the tone for how the company would work with turf care professionals it sought to serve, and to move the industry forward. “We are a company that runs on great customer service, and we get our best ideas for new products from listening to what turf care professionals tell us are their most pressing challenges, and from observing how turf professionals actually tackle their landscape maintenance programs,” said Scott Kinkead. GMé
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Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers finally welcomes Women Members for the first time The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG), which has its home at Muirfield in East Lothian, Scotland, has formally invited women to join the club as members for the first time since voting to change the club’s rules in 2017. Twelve women, along with three men, have been invited to take up membership from July 1, after taking part in the club’s traditional process. Alistair Campbell, captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, said: “It is my great pleasure to announce that 12 women have been formally invited to join the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers this month. “This marks a milestone in the club’s illustrious history, and we look forward to welcoming all of our new members to share in the great values and traditions of our club. “We are delighted now to have completed the extensive renovation of the clubhouse which includes improvements to the whole building for the first time since 1980. We now have a clubhouse that matches our world-class golf course.” The renovated Muirfield clubhouse, which was originally built in 1891, also houses an exceptional display of the club’s history and memorabilia. It includes a showcase of the ’13 Rules of Golf’ – the earliest known written rules of
the game which were drafted by the club in March 1744. Also on display is the Silver Club, the sport’s first trophy, which was presented on March 7, 1744. As is the tradition at HCEG, individuals who are invited to become members of the club must first be proposed and seconded by existing members and five referees. The club’s membership is then invited to write in support, or otherwise, of those put forward, who are personally known to them or have golfed with them.
Vietnam offers package deals
Gleneagles reinvents golf retail experience
Golfers are being invited to experience Sir Nick Faldo’s slice of Vietnam paradise and the world-class golf on offer in Central Vietnam following the unveiling of new package offerings from Laguna Lăng Cô. Now a Faldo Signature design, Laguna Golf Lăng Cô’s award-winning par-71 championship course is one of the finest in Asia, with ocean views and an amphitheatre-like mountainous backdrop. With some of the best practice facilities, world-class hotel brands (Banyan Tree and Angsana) and an idyllic beachfront, the resort has all the ingredients to provide an unforgettable golf break and some of the finest hospitality in Asia. Adam Calver, director of golf, said: “We whole-heartedly believe that Central Vietnam offers one of the finest golf experiences on the planet, and we look forward to welcoming guests to come and experience the fantastic golf and hospitality we have here at Laguna Lăng Cô.”
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12 women have been invited to join the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers as members
The new-look golf retail shop at Gleneagles
Gleneagles, the world-famous Scottish hotel and sporting estate, has completed an extensive renovation project to elevate and enhance the golf retail experience within its Clubhouse. Golf visitors and members to the award-winning 850-acre Perthshire venue, that boasts three championship golf courses and is set to host the Solheim Cup in September, will now been welcomed into a larger, modern and more flexible golf shop.
This process is the same for men and women. Twelve women, two of whom are overseas candidates, have now progressed to this final stage of the approval process, and have been formally invited to join as members of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Campbell added: “We are proud of our club’s rich history but equally excited for its future and the part all of our new members will play in the club’s cherished traditions.”
Dovetailing beautiful dark walnut joinery and aged brass fittings with the relaxed and warm ambience of the Auchterarder 70 bar and Dormy Restaurant, the new Golf Shop allows guests more freedom to browse exclusive golf and leisurewear from some of the world’s finest brands. Alyson Lilley, head of golf retail at Gleneagles, said: “Our reinvented retail space hugely enhances the customer journey, offering everyone a more contemporary shopping experience without removing the heritage and friendliness that continues to make a visit to Gleneagles so special. “Our retail space has effectively increased by nearly 30 per cent,” Lilley added, “and we have replaced the traditional ‘welcome desk’ with a series of podiums throughout the shop that now allows our team of six, highly-trained retail experts the freedom to offer advice to our valued customers in a friendly meet-and-greet style.”
Jumeriah Golf Estates becomes GEO Certified
In brief... Thonock Park, in Gainsborough, played host to a fun, free and insightful ladies’ golf day last month, as more than 30 women visited the club to either give the game a go for the first time or hone their skills with expert tuition. Supported by PING, the event saw 35 ladies head to Thonock Park and spark their passion for the game in a social and pressure-free environment, with the help of the club’s head professional, Nick Taylor, and a group of PGA coaches from love.golf. Golf International Pont Royal, in the Provence region of France, has experienced a significant upturn in group visits led by club professionals in the past 12 months. An investment in the resort’s academy appears to have paid dividends as pro-led trips – largely from northern Europe – have increased by almost 37 per cent year-on-year. With the release of Golf Around the World 2019 by the R&A, the greatest golfing countries worldwide have now been identified, with 78 per cent of the world supply of golf courses located in just ten countries: the United States, Japan, Canada, England, Australia, Germany, France, Republic of Korea, Sweden and Scotland. Interestingly, it is reported, Europe has the second largest regional share with 23 per cent of the world’s total. Las Colinas Golf & Country Club has triumphed at the World’s Travel Awards ceremony 2019, being recognised as Europe’s and Spain’s Leading Villa Resort. Cristobal Guerrero, managing director at Las Colinas commented: “It is a real honour to be named as Europe’s Leading Villa Resort. To win such a prestigious title is a wonderful achievement for Las Colinas and celebrates another successful year so far in 2019.”
Jumeirah Golf Estates has become the latest golf club in the Middle East to become GEO Certified. Dubai Golf properties, Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club also achieved GEO recertification after originally receiving the awards in 2015 and 2016 respectfully. Based in Dubai, Jumeirah Golf Estates (now in its 11th year of operation) has established itself as an iconic golfing venue in the United Arab Emirates. The two Greg Norman-designed courses, Earth and Fire, were opened in 2009 and today boasts world-class golfing and premium practice facilities at the Peter Cowen Academy Dubai. Christopher May, CEO of Dubai Golf said: “We are delighted that Jumeirah Golf Estates is the latest golf club in the Dubai Golf portfolio to become GEO Certified. The drive to become GEO Certified has been a key milestone in Dubai Golf’s long term environmental strategy focused on protecting our natural resources. “It is an incredible achievement for Emirates Golf Club, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and Jumeirah Golf Estates to hold this accolade, and I am personally very proud of the tireless efforts of the agronomy teams across Dubai Golf for their continual efforts.”
Jonathan Smith, executive director of GEO Foundation said: “We congratulate Dubai Golf on their commitment to establishing all the golf courses as valuable oases for biodiversity; and to maximize their positive impact in the community – through the provision of sport, and also in education, charity and other forms of health, recreation, ethical employment policies and so on. “There are fine sustainability lines in challenging environments and climates, and net positive outcomes demand extra commitment and attention to detail across all aspects of resource use. “This is what is being demonstrated by the existing facilities run by Dubai Golf, and we commend them for it.”
Jumeriah Golf Estates & GEO
Centre of Excellence officially opens at Education City
The Centre of Excellence at Education City
Education City Golf Club in Doha, Qatar, has completed the final installation of its Centre of Excellence, with the facility now fully open. Destined to become one of the best golf academies in the Middle East, and arguably the world, the Centre of Excellence at Education City offers V1 Analysis across all six studio’s and a total of 32 screens. Whilst most facilities provide either TrackMan or Flightscope, the Centre of Excellence provides both options
providing a tailored experience to each guest plus a host of additional features including a Zen Green Putting Stage; Biomechanics technology including Gears and SAM Balance lab and an exclusive private studio dedicated to femaleonly golf development. The impressive line-up of facilities work in unison with Education City’s three golf courses, and in particular the nine-hole, floodlit par-3 course and the six-hole hole championship course created to allow new golfers a fast track to becoming competent enough to progress to the full 18-hole variant. “We have always anticipated that our Centre of Excellence would be our USP, and now that we have it fully installed and up-and-running it is clear that it is a facility that is in a class of its own,” said general manager of Education City, Michael Braidwood. “To have all this modern technology under one roof operated by our three highly competent golf professionals will make the learning and development journey of any golfer a much easier one.”
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Academy upgrades at Finca Cortesin adds to Jack Nicklaus teaching facility The first venue in Spain to feature a new, eco-friendly variety of Bermuda grass on all its greens, Finca Cortesin Hotel, Golf & Spa has reinforced its reputation for setting the benchmark for luxury golf destinations in Europe by carrying out a further upgrade of its Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy. The exclusive resort in Andalucia has invested in the very latest in golf-swing technology to help members and guests to improve all parts of their game using the same cutting-edge equipment as the world’s elite players. Among the impressive additions at the academy is the installation of Foresight Sports’ world-acclaimed GCQuad launch monitor – arguably the most accurate and versatile launch monitor ever made and used by the likes of five-time PGA Tour winner Rickie Fowler and numerous top coaches including Butch Harmon. Capable of being used indoors or outside, the GCQuad uses four cameras to deliver unmatched accuracy and realtime shot analysis on clubhead and ball speed, swing path, lie angle, angle of attack and strike location, whether hitting a 300-yard drive, 20-yard chip or 10-foot putt. Further investment includes the purchase of new Swing Catalyst Video Analysis Software, a Swing Catalyst Balance Plate, two high-speed video cameras and the hi-tech K-Coach
Motion Learning System, allowing Finca Cortesin’s team of dedicated golf coaches to analyse swings in greater detail than ever before. In addition, a Foresight FSX 2018 simulator means that players can now learn and practice at the academy while playing the world’s best and most exclusive courses, while the new technology will enable the resort to offer an enhanced five-star club-fitting service, featuring premium golf club manufacturers Honma Golf.
Abbott sells intelligentgolf
Mark Parsinen. The loss of a visionary and friend
ClearCourse Partnership LLP, a group of innovative technology companies providing software, services and digital capabilities to the membership, events and bookings and sports and leisure sectors, has acquired intelligentgolf, a leading web-based provider of golf club and competition management software. The deal represents an expansion of ClearCourse’s offering into the sport and leisure industry and is the tenth company to join the Partnership since its foundation in October 2018. Jamie Abbott, founder and managing director of intelligentgolf, said: “We are really proud to have built intelligentgolf into the highly successful company that it is today, with a track record of innovation and great support for our customers. “By becoming part of the ClearCourse partnership we will gain access to investment and resources that will enable us to accelerate developing and building our services, so that we can continue to lead the market.”
Mark Parsinen, the acclaimed and visionary co-designer of Castle Stuart Golf Links, has died in California almost exactly ten years since the opening of the internationally-renowned golf course he helped create. Parsinen, 70, who was also the co-designer of Kingsbarns Golf Links near St Andrews, suffered a stroke at home last month and passed away in hospital June 3, surrounded by his family. Friends and colleagues at Castle Stuart have sent their condolences to Mark’s wife of 38 years, Dede, their children Cammy, Jenny and Samantha and their four grandchildren. Mark Parsinen, who was a managing partner in the business, saw it as his destiny to create a major golfing resort at Castle Stuart and the ‘Pebble Beach of the British Isles’. The championship course he designed with fellow American Gil Hanse opened in the summer of 2009 and within 18 months staged the European Tour’s
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The Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy at Finca Cortesin
Commenting on the improvements, Miguel Girbés, director of golf at Finca Cortesin Hotel, Golf & Spa, said: “Finca Cortesin is committed to delivering the best possible golf experience, and it’s imperative that our golfers have access to the latest technology available. “The significant investment that we’ve made in our tuition facilities over the spring will make our academy one of the very best in Europe, and I’m sure will prove of great benefit to all the golfers that use it.”
Scottish Open, the first time such a major golf event had been held in the Scottish Highlands. Stuart McColm, Castle Stuart’s general manager, said: “Everyone at Castle Stuart, and the wider golfing world, is mourning a man whose foresight, creativity and intelligence made him one of the great golf architects of modern times. “He helped create something special at Castle Stuart and that, along with the other courses he designed or influenced, will be his legacy.”
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The European Tour and Club Car extend long-standing partnership The European Tour and Club Car have extended their long-standing relationship, agreeing a new four-year deal. Club Car, a brand of Ingersoll Rand, has been a European Tour Official Supplier since 1999, and this season, over 100 Club Car vehicles will be used at European Tour events around the world, while 550 vehicles were used at Le Golf National in September 2018, as Thomas Bjørn’s side extended Europe’s run of consecutive home victories in The Ryder Cup to six. Max Hamilton, head of commercial partnerships at the European Tour, said: “Club Car have been a valued European Tour partner for more than 20 years, and this continuation of our relationship is a testament to the unrivalled service they have provided in that time. “They are a world leader in their field, and in terms of the vehicles they provide, the support service, reliability, and distribution network, we know that we can count on them to meet the demands of the diverse and global European Tour International Schedule.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Club Car over the next four years.” Marco Natale, vice-president EMEA at Club Car, said: “We’ve been a long-standing partner of The European Tour, and are extremely proud to renew this important partnership. It is a great privilege to have the Club Car brand present at some of
PGA Catalunya 20/20 vision
Shore and Dunes renovation work planned at Prince’s
To mark its 20th anniversary, PGA Catalunya Resort has announced ambitious development plans for 2019/2020, including an additional €25 million investment in real estate and lifestyle facilities. This new investment adds to the combined €55 million announced in 2016 as part of the resort’s overall masterplan, and will focus on developing a range of new opportunities and lifestyle facilities across the 300 hectare estate, including a man-made recreational lake and Lake Club, a comprehensive new Wellness Centre, and multiple real estate developments. David Plana, CEO of PGA Catalunya Resort, said: “We enjoyed a very successful 2018. Our luxury hotel, Hotel Camiral, went from strength to strength with excellent visitor growth, and we also saw the exciting development of new real estate areas – L’Alzina, L’Olivera and La Selva, with a number of these units set to complete this year. “We are constantly striving to evolve and add to our offering at PGA Catalunya Resort. Our investment and development plans for the year ahead demonstrate our commitment to growth and to maintaining our position as one of Europe’s leading lifestyle and real estate resorts.”
Prince’s Golf Club, host of the 1932 Open Championship, has announced details of course renovation works to the Shore and Dunes nines at the 27-hole championship links facility. Following on from the internationally acclaimed 2017-18 redevelopment of the Himalayas nine by golf course architects, Mackenzie & Ebert, the historic links has commissioned further extensive improvements to align all 27 holes in quality, playability and aesthetic. Rob McGuirk, general manager of Prince’s Golf Club, commented: “We were thrilled with the re-opening of our Himalayas nine last year and as a result, came to the prompt realisation that we require similar upgrades to the other 18 holes on the property. “I believe the steps we’re taking to elevate the visual and playing aspects of the courses are overwhelmingly positive and it shows how determined we are to provide a world-class experience to our members, guests and visitors.” Work commenced in October 2018 and much of the heavy machinery work and initial development has already been completed. Both nines will be finalised for spring 2020, but the course remains fully open for uninterrupted play throughout 2019.
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Team Europe with one of the official Club Car vehicles at the 2018 Ryder Cup
the biggest tournaments amongst the game’s greatest players, demonstrating our position in the golf market. “The European Tour’s range of tournaments provides Club Car the perfect platform to showcase the quality and reliability of its vehicles to millions of spectators.”
The club has once again retained Mackenzie & Ebert to oversee the project, with the intention of integrating some of the distinct design styles implemented on the Himalayas. The work will give the two loops a substantial lift, making use of the natural landscape to fully highlight the quality of the courses. Commenting on the works to the Shore and Dunes, Martin Ebert said: “We have been delighted to continue our involvement at Prince’s. Having the opportunity to provide design input to the Shore and Dunes has led us to enjoy an even greater respect for the quality of the detailed shaping of the greens and green surrounds at Prince’s.”
Prince’s Shore Dunes
Movers & Shakers A brief pictorial round-up of some of the individuals shaping the golf business, including news that a Bermuda-born golf professional has joined Batchworth Park Golf Club.
In brief... British Open champion Georgia Hall says it sounds “unreal” to be named an MBE at 23 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, which names Britain’s top names recognised for their services to the country. “I couldn’t believe it when I got the letter and it’s such an amazing honour and very cool to have that after my name,” the Bournemouth golfer said. Hall won the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham in August 2018, leading on to her collecting her second consecutive Ladies European Tour order of merit title in late November. Yeovil Golf Club has retained the services of Swan Golf Designs to identify an improvement schedule to be rolled out across the next decade. Yeovil GC’s 18-hole Old Course is located in Dorset, while its ninehole Newton course sits across the border in Somerset. Both courses, and the practice areas will be audited by Suffolk-based Swan Golf Designs, with a view to producing an enhancement plan to be implemented during the next five to ten years. The Ladies European Tour, with help from GEO Foundation, has developed a sustainability plan that aims to set out a new and strengthened commitment to social and environmental responsibility. It will also celebrate the great work being done by promoters and venues, and to share good practice across its network. Charley Hull has chosen to sign with TaylorMade Golf as she begins the next phase of her career. “It was a very easy decision for me when the opportunity arose to become a TaylorMade Staff Player,” said Hull. “Not only is the equipment second to none, but it’s cool to be an ambassador alongside so many world-class players, and I’m really excited about being part of Team TaylorMade.”
The charismatic new Bermudaborn professional golfer in command at Batchworth Park Golf Club, Anthony Mocklow, has brought a confidenceinspiring personal style to the private members club.
Rick Shiels, who initially gained notoriety for his in-depth, impartial and informative golf club reviews, can now lay claim to hosting the biggest golf YouTube channel after surpassing 561,500 subscribers.
Legendary cricketer Brian Lara, an avid golfer with a five handicap, has become the latest high-profile sportsman to invest in a Foresight Sports golf simulator powered by GCQuad after a visit to the company’s European headquarters.
Chris Fitt is determined to take his golf expertise to the rest of the leisure experience, after taking on an extended role as the new director of golf and leisure at Foxhills Club & Resort located in Surrey.
Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club has commissioned Graeme Baxter, who was born in Scotland but now lives in Texas, the official artist to some of the world’s most famous golf tournaments, to paint a picture of the club’s signature 18th hole.
A fundraising drive by Royal Dornoch Golf Club captains has provided a £6,000 boost to the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland charity, meaning the club has now handed over almost £75,000 to good causes in the last five years.
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14 | GMĂŠ July 2019
Pro Shop & Retail A brief pictorial round-up of events from the retail side of the industry, including news that KJUS has engineered a new knitwear range mastered to regulate body temperature.
In brief... PING has announced details of its Spring/Summer 2020 ladies’ apparel collection, which offers golfers more engineering, more performance, more style and more choice than ever before. Epitomising the company’s dedication to helping lady golfers to look and play their best in all conditions, the new collection combines stylish and eye-catching designs with the performance-driven fabrics and unwavering attention to detail that PING is renowned for. HowDidiDo, Europe’s largest online golf community, is set to become the country’s largest members’ golf app after topping 215,000 downloads. And, as it continues to grow, the app has a new look that offers even more features for an improved user experience: the refreshed HowDidiDo timeline features larger images, more videos and higher interactivity – and works perfectly on either smartphone or tablet. Golf Genius has agreed a deal with Macdonald Hotels & Resorts becoming its tournament management software partner. Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, which operates five golf venues in the UK and four golf resorts on the Costa Del Sol, will utilise the Golf Genius software to organise and manage corporate and society golf events across its portfolio of venues. On the opening day of the Solheim Cup tournament at Gleneagles in September, viewers can expect to see the European Team sporting a unique design, with the official Solheim Cup tartan woven into several Abacus garments. The Solheim Cup will be screened to more than 600 million homes worldwide with the match-play format aiming to engage the golf audience as well as wider sports fans, raising the profile of women’s golf both in Scotland and internationally.
Cutting edge in both function and appearance, the new Freelite knitwear range from KJUS has been engineered to help regulate body temperature and keeping golfers swinging freely on the golf course.
The latest INTERFACE-1 range of jackets and body-warmers from Galvin Green has proved to be a major hit with club members and visitors to Royal Portrush, venue of the 148th Open Championship this month.
Leading the way as the UK’s bestselling electronic trolley company, PowaKaddy’s latest raft of editor’s choice awards are testament to more than 30 years of innovation in the industry and a relentless commitment to golf.
Foremost Golf has announced a partnership with TrackMan, making the ground-breaking launch monitor technology available to support and drive forward member professionals’ businesses.
Viktor Hovland, the most recent world #1 amateur, has signed an equipment contract with PING. Hovland, who tied 12th at the US Open, set the record for the lowest 72-hole score (280) by an amateur in the event’s history.
Leading golf equipment distributor Brand Fusion International is celebrating 20 years of outstanding sales with the pioneering Sun Mountain brand, having first sold its line of premium golf bags across Europe in the summer of 1999.
golfmanagement.eu.com | 15
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Machinery & Turf A brief pictorial round-up of course management related events including news that Bernhard and Company officially opened their new training Academy last month.
In brief... ISEKI UK & Ireland, distributors of ISEKI compact tractors and mowers have launched a new out-front mower for the ISEKI range. Superior new features and market positioning offer this as a potential game changer for the brand to explore further avenues. Managing director, David Withers explained: “With the engine regulations coming into place shortly we wanted to offer the customer a competitively priced out front mower with the same ISEKI renowned quality and reliability alongside a new Stage V compliant 22.5hp diesel engine.” BIGGA has announced that a record number of members have achieved the Master Greenkeeper certificate following examinations in April, with six BIGGA members joining the ranks of course managers, head greenkeepers and superintendents who can count themselves among the most highly-qualified and respected individuals within the industry. GEO Foundation, supported by multiple partners and stakeholders, has announced the development of a new and ground-breaking framework for golf’s social and environmental reporting. The announcement represents a significant watershed in how the sport can quantifiably and consistently track and demonstrate its progress and value. A private members’ golf club set in the grounds of a Grade II listed building has embarked on an extensive programme of woodland management to maintain its ongoing health for future generations of golfers and wildlife. Wellingborough Golf Club has been working with environmental planning and forestry consultants Lockhart Garratt to design and implement a proactive approach to tree management in close partnership with the club’s existing Tree Committee.
Bernhard and Company has officially opened its new Academy at the company’s factory in Suffolk, which is set to become a hub of knowledge for the turf industry and a centre for learning and development across the globe.
Dedicated to bringing you more, Reesink Turfcare has extended its Toro Parts range with Toro Reels+ and EdgeSeries Reels+, and with this introduction comes multiple plus points for machinery maintenance.
The unique location of Beau Desert Golf Club means the club has its own microclimate and a specific set of challenges when it comes to course maintenance. It’s for these reasons the club has signed its first lease deal with Toro.
Kyles Athletic Shinty Club has turned to the Imants ShockWave 100 from Campey Turf Care Systems to solve their drainage problems, which is designed to decompact heavy wear areas by relieving soil compaction.
Wentworth Club and John Deere have announced a new, exclusive partnership for the supply of golf course maintenance equipment to the famous West, East and Edinburgh Championship Courses at Virginia Water in Surrey.
The innovative T194 TYM mower with the capabilities of a tractor, is set to change the way customers maintain their golf courses and surrounding areas, and will be on TYM’s stand at The Game Fair in Hatfield in July.
golfmanagement.eu.com | 17
toptracer range DOUBLE TOP A two-tier Toptracer Range
Toptracer Range hits 50th installation Toptracer Range recently celebrated its 50th installation in the UK, and with more clubs across Europe signing-up to the technology, Hannah Mulliner takes a closer look. With the competition for business in the leisure sector at a premium in today’s ever-evolving landscape, Toptracer Range technology is changing the driving range experience at venues across the globe, and the revolution shows no signs of slowing up. Continuing to make waves at a number of venues worldwide, Toptracer is proving to be an entertainment juggernaut that is combining golf practice and fun for all the family like never before. In an increasingly congested leisure sector, the difference Toptracer Range can bring to a golf facility is unparalleled. With various game modes and practice options, players are staying at the venue longer, hitting more golf balls and having more fun than ever before. As well as the traditional driving range mode, where players can collect extremely accurate ball data and dive into advanced analytics to fine-tune their swing, they can take on a long-drive competition, play closest to the pin with friends or tee it up virtually at some of the world’s greatest courses. Golf facilities in 21 nations across the globe have already put their trust in Toptracer Range technology to deliver the ultimate in driving range performance. In less than five years, Toptracer Range has already been installed at more than 150 golf venues worldwide, with 82 of those sites located in Europe; the rate at which this technology is being implemented by golf ranges across the globe is testament to the dedication Toptracer has to providing the very best driving range experience possible.
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Toptracer Range has changed the way we perceive a visit to the driving range. The industry-leading technology tracks the flight of a golf ball, displays its path in video and analyses every shot hit from a regular driving range bay. There is no requirement for specialised simulator bays; instead the technology is simply installed onto an already-functional driving range with various cameras placed throughout the facility. Instant replays, statistical feedback, several game modes and virtual golf courses can all be accessed from interactive screens in the hitting bays, and the ability for a club golfer to get Tour-level feedback after every swing in a driving range is something that has completely transformed the meaning of practice. Rather than a vague assessment of performance, Toptracer Range allows golfers to learn about the intricacies of their game with extremely accurate ball data, which in turn can help them to make crucial changes to their swing and improve their all-round performance. The ability to turn a normal trip to the driving range into a fun, engaging and competitive experience has seen drastic improvements in the amount of golf balls sold by golf range owners, and is helping to tackle the issue of golf participation at all levels. By turning driving ranges into certified entertainment hubs, players of all ages and abilities are starting to try golf in a fun and relaxed environment that keeps them engaged and wanting to return for more. The attraction of playing virtual games, rounds of golf and, of course, the option to simply practice with incredibly
CONNECTED Linking your smartphone
SWING EASY Playing a ‘virtual’ round
INTERACTIVE The easy to use interface
accurate data at your disposal after every shot is proving popular for all players, regardless of previous exposure to the sport. There has been a massive spike in the amount of less experienced, or non-golfers making regular trips to the driving range at sites with Toptracer technology. The fun and exciting nature of competing against friends in light-hearted – yet extremely competitive – games has helped to introduce golf to a whole new range of people, and thus leads to increased participation numbers across a wide range of demographics. Toptracer Range has already been installed at several world-renowned golf venues worldwide, adding prestige to the brand’s ever-increasing reputation. Wentworth Club installed Toptracer Range technology last year, and Close House, is another landmark Toptracer Range venue in the UK.
Le Golf National and PGA Catalunya have also joined the Toptracer Range revolution, with members and guests alike relishing the opportunity to utilise the variety of practice modes that Toptracer Range has to offer. With the rapid growth in popularity of Toptracer technology within driving ranges across Europe, and an ever-growing demand for new installations around the globe, being the next to invest in this state-of-the-art technology could be the defining factor in a facility becoming the go-to practice venue in the local area. Toptracer Range recently celebrated its 50th installation within the UK and, with a total of 24 sites currently being developed worldwide, the Toptracer Range revolution is showing no signs of slowing down. More and more golf facilities are becoming go-to leisure destinations after installing this technology, with golf-
ers travelling far and wide to experience the ultimate in driving range experience. Sites who have already had the technology installed have seen massive jumps in ball sales and are forecasting an impressive continuation in growth as more and more people are exposed to the new technology. Toptracer technicians are also always on-hand to provide follow up support and help you develop your range further going forward to draw even more attraction from golfers and non-golfers alike. With technology continuing to evolve across the leisure sector, it is becoming increasingly vital for venues to stay on top of trends and developments as consumers demand more bang for their buck. With Toptracer Range technology, facilities and customers alike are getting just that – and there’s plenty more to come! GMé
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SOLID OAK The iconic Oak tree at Sunningdale
SIGN OF THE TIMES The entrance to Sunningdale
Sunningdale adds Tristan to Hall of Fame For such a progressive individual, the title of ‘secretary’ may seem a bit too old-school for Tristan Hall, but at Sunningdale, traditional values are still very much at the forefront of this prestigious club, as Samuel Frederick discovers. Most people probably wouldn’t want to move from a position as general manager to that of secretary… but, then again, Sunningdale is not just any old club. Forty-one-year-old Tristan Hall has recently done exactly that – and he’s delighted. For the titles are something of a misnomer. Hall – who, at 25, was one of the youngest general managers in the UK when he took on the role at Wycombe Heights Golf Centre in 2004 – joined the prestigious Berkshire club in 2015, after spending most of his career in the proprietary sector with American Golf (soon to become Crown) and then Burhill Group Limited (BGL). He explained: “I was under the impression that it was a deputy secretary role I was being interviewed for – but it’s a little bit more than that when you’re at Sunningdale. “I sat down with secretary Stephen Toon and he explained the title is general manager, (but) ‘this is a traditional club and most people will accept it as a secretary and assistant secretary role’.
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“It’s more like a managing director or chief executive and a general manager role, and the general manager looks after the day-to-day operation of the club: the make-up of the physical structure of the building, the people who use it on a daily basis – members, societies, green fees. “So it’s more than a number-two role. Once you’ve been a secretary or general manager for ten years, in the numberone role, even if it’s Sunningdale, you’re slightly reluctant about going in to a number-two position. “But, I very quickly realised, once I started, that you run the golf club as general manager, though there is obviously someone above you as there’s so much work. You can’t have a traditional secretary running this club.” He added: “The secretary is effectively managing director, taking care of committees, structure, standards, and the strategic vision of the future. That takes an awful lot of time. “You’ve got a much bigger P&L than you’d expect to have in most 18, or even 36-hole golf courses in the UK.
HALLMARK Recently promoted Tristan Hall, who is the new secretary at Sunningdale
“They’re going to have, maybe, two-tothree million pounds turnover and we’re double that. So in that respect you’ve got to have two very strong people in the club. “As secretary, the members give you the governance model and their desires of how they want the club run. So I ended up doing four years as general manager before Stephen recently left to go to St Andrews, which is a fantastic position for him, in a lovely place. He was a member there previously. “Personally, having learned an awful lot in my four years as general manager,
I was very much ready to get back to being the person at the top, running the club.” Perhaps we should not be surprised Hall has ended up at such a prestigious venue; after all, he didn’t start at a local municipal course or pitch and putt – he began his golfing career at a venue that was already hosting European Tour events: St Mellion, in Cornwall. “I was playing golf at St Mellion as a junior at a time when we were hosting Benson & Hedges tournaments and the likes of the English amateur,” recalled Hall.
“So I grew up in and around golf. I got to a handicap of five and very much enjoyed what I was doing. I was supposed to go on a golf and leisure management course, which actually turned out to be a degree in Outdoor Leisure and Recreation Management, in Lincoln, at De Montfort University. “As part of that I had a year’s work placement, in a four-year course, and so I returned to my home club, St Mellion, for my work placement. They let me work in all areas: leisure, the hotel, the golf course and, at times, with the greenkeeper during the year’s placement.
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“Standards are high; you only join Sunningdale if you’re a real golfer”
ON POINT The Old Course at Sunningdale
PENULTIMATE HOLE The 17th hole on the Old Course
“They offered me a job at the end of my university degree, so I started work predominately in the pro shop, food and beverage, and conference and banqueting – some of the areas I’d worked in as a student.” In 2001 he was seconded to another Crown Golf property, Pyrford GC, as sales and marketing manager, and then assistant general manager, with additional responsibility for Traditions Golf Centre and then Cottesmore Golf & Country Club. In 2004 he joined Wycombe Heights in his first general manager role and, two years later, became general manager for both Aldwickbury Park GC and Redbourn GC. “Wycombe Heights wasn’t the type of venue I expected to go and work at, having come from a resort club that was member based and, initially, I was like a rabbit in the headlights. “But it was too good an opportunity at such an early age. And in a two-and-ahalf-year period we doubled the operating profit and put together a good team. “So I was asked if I would go and run two new golf clubs they were taking on in Hertfordshire, to set them up in the Burhill way. I think the initial idea was really to set them up, put some stones in place and then ultimately choose which one I’d run... and five-and-a-half-years later I was still there.
“Again, we’d built good teams, increased the membership and revenue in both and pretty much doubled the operating profit of both clubs.” It was during his time at BGL that he was encouraged by chief executive Colin Mayes to look at the CMAE – and you’d be hard pressed to find a stauncher advocate of membership now. He said: “I joined in 2008 and, quite quickly, attended a BMI conference in London and then a World Conference in San Diego and, by 2010, I was able to take and pass the CCM exam. So I have a very strong relationship with the CMAE. “It was particularly helpful when I moved into my first private member club, Tyrrells Wood, in 2012, as I had a bank of club managers around me that I was able to talk to, learn from and network with. That was really good as a support because, well, you’re on your own...” Although still actively involved with the CMAE, having recently taken on the role of regional chairman, his focus now is very much on Sunningdale – and he’s under no illusion as to the task he faces. “It’s a traditional Club: you don’t mess with tradition, and you don’t mess with history. But you’ve got to keep moving with the times. “We’ve got to be looking at how we can modernise the club so it continues to prosper with the latest set of members that comes through the door.
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“In that way we’re growing the same as any other club in the country,” added Hall. “We’re trying to grow our cadet and junior memberships – you really are in the best possible place as a junior here – and we have 100 of those, mostly member children. “Standards are high; you only join Sunningdale if you’re a real golfer. You have to have a handicap of 14 to join and we’ve got hundreds of category-one golfers. “It’s a serious golfers’ golf club. We’re not doing dinners every week. It’s all about the golf and golf competitions. That’s the great thing about Sunningdale: it’s got two incredible golf courses and at its heart are members who absolutely thrive on golf. “We can modernise the club in governance, the things that are important, to make sure the club continues to move forward and to ensure we’ve got a team of staff that is relevant to the membership. “Both staff and members are obsessed with the game and Sunningdale, fortunately, attracts them. We’re fortunate in that we get the best of the best, staff wise – they set very high standards.” At the time of writing, Hall is interviewing candidates for the general manager position. One can be sure there’s no shortage of applicants. GMé
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Sepúlveda raises a glass to Costa Navarino clubhouse With the smell of paint still fresh in the air, the new clubhouse at Costa Navarino opens this month. Michael Lenihan recently had a sneak preview, and also took the time to catch-up with Nuno Sepúlveda, the resort’s director of golf and sports development.
“We always have our members on our minds, and to the extent that we’ve given up all our executive spaces in the parking lots and handed them over to our customers!”
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costanavarino.com INSPIRED NY NATURE The sensational new clubhouse at the Bay Course (main picture) and right, Nuno Sepúlveda
‘Your story begins with a toast to good times,’ states the strapline on Nuno Sepúlveda’s email signature. And there can be few better places in world golf to raise a glass than overlooking the Bay of Navarino in Greece, the setting of the spectacular new ‘earth-sheltered’ clubhouse which opens this month at Costa Navarino. Inspired by the contours of the hillside into which it has been chiselled, the new Bay clubhouse sits at the top of the Robert Trent Jones II-designed golf course, which is only now, after opening for play in 2011, realising its full potential. And for Sepúlveda, the resort’s director of golf and sports business development, the completion of the Bay project heralds the beginning of the next chapter in Costa Navarino’s desire to become a world-class golf destination, with two new courses under construction a mere ten minutes down the road. Designed by José María Olazábal, both courses at the Navarino Hills development will look down onto the Bay Course, which perhaps goes some way to explaining why the new clubhouse was designed with a roof which blends into the surrounding terrain. Stand on what will be the 12th and 16th tees on one of the two, as yet un-
named, courses at Navarino Hills, and you’ll be welcomed with panoramic views across the bay, famous for the Battle of Navarino which took place in 1827. The Navarino Hills development – bringing the total number of courses at Costa Navarino to four – complements the existing Dunes and Bay courses, with the latter finally playable as Trent Jones imagined. Since opening, in order to accommodate a temporary clubhouse adjacent to what is now the 14th hole, the routing was changed, with the first hole now a downhill par four playing away from the new clubhouse with the bay in the background. And as one might imagine, Sepúlveda – who hails from Portugal – is revelling in his role since joining Costa Navarino in September 2017. “When I came here, I came here as a golf director, but also I came here for the business and sports development side of it,” he said. “We have triathlon events, and are building another 14 tennis courts, eight of which will be covered. “And besides the two new golf courses under construction, we are also building two football pitches too. We also have more than 350 bikes, scuba diving and surfing, so sports help us to extend our
“We are in the process of moving from a golf resort to a golf destination, meaning we have to have four golf courses” golfmanagement.eu.com | 25
costa navarino MESSINA DELIGHTS Left, the relaxed view overlooking the Bay Course at Costa Navarino, below-left the signage at the Bay Course, top-right, the flowing lines of the new clubhouse and below-right, José María Olazábal who is designing the two new courses at Navarino Hills.
“He was not there to just take a picture on a nice golf course – he knew exactly where he was walking”
season. Obviously, we are strong from June to September – like any Greek resort – but the sports will help us to become an all-year-round destination.” And besides sport, real estate is becoming an increasingly important element of the Costa Navarino experience. “Our real estate is becoming very strong as well,” added Sepúlveda. “We’re selling a lot of real estate already. Anybody buying real estate here – a house or a villa – is spending three, four, five, six, eight million euros and they expect a certain amount of services on-site, allyear round.” Currently the Bay and the Dunes Courses both close for the winter, closing mid-November and reopening mid-February, and, with only 24,000 rounds per year played on each course, Sepúlveda acknowledges he has spare capacity. Yet with one of the two on-site hotels closed for the winter months, Sepúlveda senses a missed opportunity. “We don’t have enough people yet to justify it, to open the hotel,” he explained. “With our temperatures, we are better than the Algarve, and in the summer, because we are just 100 metres from the ocean, it’s pretty cool too.”
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And with flight times staggered at every ten minutes, the two courses never appear to be busy, which, as Sepúlveda agrees, is an upside. “It’s more of an experience. Whoever comes to Greece to play golf, is not going to come to Greece on the same package as they’re going to Vilamoura. It has to be a lot more to do with the food, and the culture around Costa Navarino. “It’s the experiences you have on the resort, around the resort. It’s nearby villages where you can go and eat and do whatever. “And, of course, the golf as well. You’re going to have four golf courses, with four different hotels – plus the hotels around here – so it’s the environment around Costa Navarino which is much more appealing. “We are in the process of moving from a golf resort to a golf destination, meaning we have to have four golf courses. You can’t get around this, and that’s what we’re doing. It’s part of the vision for the whole project to make it a destination. “I don’t know any place in Europe where you have half the investment happening that we have,” added Sepúlveda confidently.
And part of that vision was entrusting Olazábal with the design of the two new courses at Navarino Hills – which also involves some input from Sepúlveda, who, before working in golf club management, conveniently worked in golf course construction, albeit by accident. “I was studying agriculture engineering back in Portugal, and we had an exchange programme with Myerscough College, who were running a BSc in golf course, turf and science. “However, I actually signed-up for landscape architecture, but because my English was really bad, I got in the wrong class and ended-up studying golf,” he recalled. “By the time I realised my mistake, I went to see Martyn Jones, who was in charge of the exchange programme, who said ‘why not give it a go’’ so I got into golf 100 per cent by mistake! I’d never been on a golf course before in my life, and that’s how I started. “I went on to build golf courses, and I used to maintain golf courses, so it’s my thing,” he smiled. “I like the golf business, but I’m not a great player. I’m involved 100 per cent on the project as well on a daily basis.
José on course for 2021 at Navarino Hills
“That’s part of my sports involvement. The new golf courses are part of my role.” Although Olazábal’s appointment as architect was a decision made before Sepúlveda arrived at Costa Navarino, he is keen to stress just how involved Olazábal is in the project. “He was here in November, and he’s coming back now again very soon. He’s very aware; he knows every single area of the golf course. He’s been involved in the process for almost three years now. He knows the whole area. I was impressed,” added Sepúlveda. “When he was here, he knew exactly what we were talking about, and, for me, it was good to know. “He had his wellies and was walking the place. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was not there to just take a picture on a nice golf course – he knew exactly where he was walking. “He knows exactly what he wants, and he knows exactly which hole needs to be where; which one’s going to be the signature hole, the best hole, so he’s very clear about it.” And that personal commitment to the cause, carries a degree of excitement,
and passion that soon starts to get infectious as Sepúlveda can testify: “It’s one of the reasons I came here. Golf will be so central to the whole of Costa Navarino that you want to be part of it.” And part of it Sepúlveda now is. He’s very much committed to the cause, even if, at first, by his own admission, he knew little about Costa Navarino, or golf in Greece. “I didn’t want to come here,” he laughed. “It was very clear… because I like golf, I want to be in golf and somebody asked me, ‘Do you want to come and work in golf in Greece?’ and I thought it was a joke. I didn’t know there was golf in Greece, to be honest. “For me, my idea of Greece was from May 15 to September 15; islands; white walls; blue chairs; and Mama Mia. When I came to Costa Navarino, I couldn’t believe it. I just didn’t see this place coming. “I remember calling my wife, and saying, ‘I think we have a problem as you’re not expecting this in Greece. In Pylos, you’re not expecting this. It’s quality’.” And that Greek quality and warm hospitality, is most certainly worth raising a glass to. GMé
Costa Navarino, in partnership with José María Olazábal, is currently constructing two new courses in the region of Messinia, Greece. The two new 18-hole courses at Navarino Hills will overlook The Bay Course and the historic Bay of Navarino, set high above the coastline offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the Ionian Sea. Stretching over 150 hectares of garrigue landscape typical in the region famed for its natural beauty, the Navarino Hills property will allow two courses of the highest international standards that will complement and adequately expand the renowned quality golf offer at Costa Navarino. Work on Olazábal’s signature design, his 20th course construction, has begun and is expected to open for play by 2021. Costa Navarino is already home to two multi-award-winning courses – The Dunes Course and The Bay Course designed by Bernhard Langer and Robert Trent Jones II, respectively – and the Navarino Hills development will bring the total number of signature golf courses at Costa Navarino to four, all within a 13km distance and under the same management, establishing it as one of the few upscale golf destinations around the world which combine such characteristics. The development further enhances the destination, which due to its ideal climate, lush seaside landscape and direct access, is a unique place to visit throughout the year.
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CLASS MATES Delegates attending a training session
CO-DIRECTOR Steven Nixon of Bernhard and Company
In conversation with Steven Nixon With almost three decades of international sales experience, coupled with a background in mechanical engineering and agronomy, director of Bernhard and Company, Steven Nixon is helping to drive the company forward. GMé What attracted you to the turf industry; what was your first role and in which year? SN I have worked in the turf industry for over two decades, and started in 1994 as a greenkeeper mechanic. I then trained as a motor mechanic, and with a love for playing golf, I got offered the position as greenkeeper mechanic at my local golf course. My passion for the turf industry grew from there. GMé What prompted you to hang up your greenkeeping overalls, and join Bernhard and Company? SN After a few years as a greenkeeper working towards progressing my career and developing myself, Stephen Bernhard offered me the chance to work for Bernhard and Company in the USA living in Florida, supporting our products and providing tournament support for the US Tour.
28 | GMé July 2019
I couldn’t turn down such an opportunity and it was a real eye-opener. GMé Do you still miss the day-to-day grind – if you pardon the pun – of greenkeeping? SN I have a very different role now with various challenges, and I do miss being outside and the team spirit of achieving the results on a golf course every week. GMé What is your role at Bernhard, and how long have you worked for the company? SN I am one of two directors with Iqtidar Hassan heading up Bernhard Company. I’ve worked with Bernhard Company for about 16 years in total, gaining experience in other companies as well, but mainly focused on driving sales. GMé Education is a huge element of Bernhard’s ethos, so how passionate
CUT ABOVE The newly-opened Academy at Bernhard and Company
are you when it comes to educating the greenkeepers of tomorrow? SN I am extremely passionate about education. It has always been part of my career and is what has got me where I am now. After my college education, I have been able to develop my career through more educational opportunities. There are fantastic opportunities for greenkeepers and mechanics to progress in the industry; you should never be afraid to apply for them. GMé The opening last month of the new Bernhard Academy at your Suffolk manufacturing facility must have been a proud moment, so how it will benefit your customers?
SN As a company, we have always supported training and education over the years. The Academy will be a fantastic opportunity to give our customers access to a wide variety of turf industry related courses to enhance the industry even further at a global level.
the world. But Europe is a strong second contender and growing fast in other sports as well as golf.
GMé Besides working in golf, what other sports are Bernhard involved in, and what would you say is your biggest sector?
SN The reel and the bedknife grinders work best in harmony, thereby they are our strongest and most popular range of products. Rotary systems are also an important part of our business especially in municipalities and the landscape sector.
SN We are involved in any turf related sports: from racecourses to cricket through to rugby, tennis and football as well as bowls and polo. North America is our strongest area having more than half the golf courses in
GMé Of the different types of sharpening systems that Bernhard manufacturers, is the reel, bedknife or rotary the biggest seller?
GMé In brief, explain the benefits of grinding, and why clubs should invest in a Bernhard grinder.
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PHOTO CALL (L-R) Steven Nixon, Stephen Bernhard, Samantha Strutt of BIGGA and Iqitdar Hassan
SN Dull or poorly sharpened mowers tear and shred grass blades rather than cut them. Any sports club would benefit from sharper mowers in order to provide healthier turf, hence better playability and savings on mechanical wear and reduced costs on chemicals giving the club improved revenue stream. GMé What other products, besides sharpening systems, does Bernhard supply? SN We are the distributors for SubAir systems. We supply not only the products but we also support the installation and aftercare of the SubAir Systems as well as the Turfbreeze fans. Air movement is a key factor in turf health, especially in the summer months. We also supply lighting solutions for sports club. One of our newest products is the golf lighting rig which we first unveiled at BTME in Harrogate. It has created a lot of interest recently as people are curious to try this technology on their greens and tees. GMé Although no longer involved in the day-to-day operation, executive chair-
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man, Stephen Bernhard has left his DNA at the 150-year old company, so in a few words, can you sum up Stephen’s legacy? SN Stephen Bernhard’s influence and energy are still very much dedicated to education and development of the younger generation in the horticulture sector. His passion for turf quality and providing customers with the best solution is what we strive for as a company. Stephen’s support for the Bernhard Academy is a testament to his belief in putting back into an industry we love, and we will continue to promote and we are very keen to explore the relationship between cutting practice and grass health, not only through our sharpening systems but also through innovative technologies. GMé Stripy jacket, or plain blazer? SN Love it or loathe it, the stripy jacket is part of Bernhard Company. It gets us recognised as a brand especially during busy tradeshow environments worldwide. We are an evolving company but always very proud of our history. GMé
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huxley golf WEDGE GAME Marcel Siem practicing his short-game technique at the launch of his new Huxley Golf facility
Practice is Perfect for Huxley Golf More and more clubs are investing in all-weather practice facilities, and as Vanessa Gardner writes, Huxley Golf are helping club managers fulfil their aspirations. Golf management has rarely been such a challenge. Never before has a manager needed to be quite so creative in his or her approach to attracting and retaining a customer base amid volatile economics, erratic and often extreme weather conditions and ever-increasing demands on customers’ leisure time. Fear of making changes that might alienate existing members and, of course, lack of budget both add to the complexity of the matter. Rising to this challenge by thinking differently about maximising revenue is the new name of the game. Thinking differently means more than analysing the profit and loss sheet looking for cost savings. It means looking at how you can make your resources work harder. Consider, for example, whether your professional team’s time is fully utilised. Is it possible to extend your playing season? Do you have space to add more practice facilities, or, if you’ve already made this investment, how might you get more use from them without a proportionate cost increase? These are questions often posed to Paul Chester, general manager at Huxley Golf who said: “There’s no doubt that it’s a tough job to be a golf course or club manager right now, but it’s very clear to us that interest in golf is not waning in the least. “The number of installations that we are carrying out for individuals suggests that people everywhere still want to play; they simply can’t indulge their favourite leisure pursuit in the way that they used to.
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“Time is at a premium so, when they get to the course, they want to enjoy the experience and are motivated by the feeling that they are improving. Advancement equals satisfaction – and satisfaction equals loyal customers.” Huxley Golf claims to be the world’s foremost specialist in artificial golf surfaces. Incredibly realistic in play, virtually maintenance-free and exceptionally hard-wearing, the company has been chosen by the most prestigious clubs, courses and training academies to create enviable practice facilities. At St Andrews Links for example, director of instruction Steve North saw an opportunity to create better outcomes for his clients and improve efficiency through the creation of three state-ofthe-art all-weather bays at its influential Golf Academy. These are designed to enable efficient coaching on all aspects of the game through an innovative approach which incorporates multiple surfaces into each bay. “For both clients and coaching staff, the all-encompassing practice bays are tremendously beneficial, enabling us to teach all aspects of the game in one place,” said North. “This gives us the flexibility to respond to individual client needs in all lessons. As well as being more convenient and rewarding for our clients, completing a whole session in one place means that we don’t lose momentum or waste valuable time during lessons, helping to ensure that we can keep up with demand.” Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire worked with Huxley Golf
“I was, and remain, incredibly impressed with the realism of the surface when compared to natural grass”
to develop a ten bay all-weather practice tee. Course manager Steve Wilson commented: “We strive to be the ultimate golf destination and that means being the best in all that we do. “In line with the rest of the course, our practice tee was expertly designed and installed – it looks fantastic and it plays exceptionally well. The impact of this work has been most encouraging and the feedback that I have received from our valued members has been incredibly positive.” Marcel Siem has recently launched a golf practice demonstration area in a bid to boost German participation in golf. His new Huxley Golf facility comprises a large putting green, a golf green, a chipping area and a cage net for driving practice. Passionate about his plans, he said: “Practice is undoubtedly the key to success in any sport and golf is certainly no different. I installed a Huxley Golf putting green at my home in 2016 to enable me to practise my short game whenever I wished, even when my schedule meant I didn’t have much time or the weather was bad.
“I was, and remain, incredibly impressed with the realism of the surface when compared to natural grass. “I wanted to bring this experience to others in my country and that’s why I’m delighted to launch this new demonstration area. I hope that we will encourage more people to play better golf and to play more often – regardless of weather conditions or time constraints – by equipping clubs, courses and individuals with first-class practice facilities.” Short courses, previously only really seen at resorts, are fast becoming a point of differentiation at private clubs too – a trend most evident in the USA. However, in the UK, Frilford Heath Golf Club opened its par 3 ‘Yellow Course’ to sit alongside its three existing championship courses. It was designed to cater for all standards of golfer: beginners who want a gentle introduction to the game, experienced players who want to improve their short game, and the rapidly expanding group of golfers that find it hard to find time to play regularly. What sets this course apart is that it was created entirely using Huxley Golf all-weather surfaces as executive chair-
man Alistair Booth explains: “When we opened this course, I said how proud I was to have extended our offering by creating such a high-quality facility that could be used by young and old, novices and professionals alike. “I was hopeful that it would attract the wider community and encourage people who wouldn’t normally play golf to give it a go. I’m delighted that we are achieving these goals.” Ten years ago all-weather practice tees were unheard of but now they can be seen at many of the most admired clubs and courses including Gleneagles, Royal Troon, Royal Lytham & St Annes, the Els Club in Dubai and The Hong Kong Golf Club among others. “Time and again, our customers tell us that their revenue is up because their members are staying longer and visiting more frequently because they can practice more and play better, thanks to the addition of high quality all-weather practice areas and short courses,” added Chester. “Indeed, they are fast becoming business-critical for many clubs and courses,” he concluded. GMé
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“Many of us will never forget the long days and short nights at exhibitions and shows, where we enjoyed the camaraderie of a closeknit team in which ‘Churchy’ was often the pivotal point…”
Mass appreciation as Nigel Church retires Following 50 years working in the turf industry, Nigel Church retired from Ransomes Jacobsen at the end of June, and in a personal tribute, Peter Driver and Ian Mitchell share some memories of their time working with ‘Churchy’. BROMANCE Nigel Church (left) with Andy Higgs pictured at SALTEX
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The word ‘legend’ is an over-used term – especially in today’s society – and looking up its meaning in the dictionary it says “an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.” Two of its synonyms are “superstar” and “icon”. All of these words apply to one of the UK’s most respected and valued members in the turf industry, Nigel Church, who retired at the end of June after almost 50 years in the sector. We had the pleasure of working closely with Nigel for decades and his knowledge, technical ability, eloquence and downright likeability has shone through in everything he does. Nigel joined Ransomes Sims & Jefferies as an apprentice back in the 1970s along with other industry notables such as Bob Buckingham, Bob Bevan, Richard Walne, Graham Dale, Jeff Anguige, Barry Beckett, Richard Bishop and Paul Watson. Readers of a similar age will recognise many of these names who later went on to become integral to the team
assembled by Toro as they established a European distribution network – all built on the Ransomes skills they had been taught by John Wilson, Ken Buckledee and Guy Catchpole. In its day, Ransomes was considered the ‘university’ for the UK turf industry. Nigel fulfilled many roles within the Ransomes business and the industry in general. On completion of his apprenticeship, he became a demonstrator, then a technical rep and an area rep; during his career he has had responsibility for export sales, national accounts, regional sales management and training. Included in his impressive cv is an eight-year sojourn, when he left Ransomes to work for one of their dealers, Kingston House Mowers in a sales role. He was back at the company in 1998, when it was purchased by Textron, became Ransomes Jacobsen and he played a significant part in maintaining continuity as the two businesses merged together. Later in his career he joined the new Cutting Edge Training division at
PLANS AFOOT (L-R): Ian Bridges, Nick Brown and Nigel Church
Ransomes Jacobsen with a remit to pass on his extensive knowledge and experience to the next generation of sales and technical professionals within the dealer network. This was another area where Nigel excelled and the quality of training delivered by him and his colleagues was arguably the most concise, detailed and effective across the entire industry. In the past few years he has continued to expand this role, travelling to all points of the globe delivering training in his enthusiastic, effervescent manner and has recently returned from his final visit to the Far East. Nigel ‘on tour’ is the stuff of legends. Many of us will never forget the long days and short nights at exhibitions and shows, where we enjoyed the camaraderie of a close-knit team in which ‘Churchy’ was often the pivotal point… late into the evening, with a beer or gin and tonic in hand, he was always one of the last to leave the bar. Then next morning, he was one of the first down to breakfast, bright-eyed and bushy tailed (well, sometimes), ready to
prepare for the day’s training seminar or long day on an exhibition stand. The man certainly has stamina. There is one memorable story that is always told, when reminiscing about ‘Uncle Nige’, as he was commonly known from the day his niece Lucy joined the business. The Cushman Short Box presentation is now enshrined in the annuls of Ransomes fokelore. On one particular training event, it quickly became apparent that it was going to under-run by about an hour. Nigel had a couple of slides on the then new short box that was being introduced onto the Cushman Turf Truckster, which would take a maximum of two minutes to cover. Ever the professional, 40 minutes later he completed the presentation! Nigel’s product knowledge is second to none, be it Ransomes, Jacobsen, Cushman, Turfco, Smithco, Toro, John Deere or anything else that cuts or maintains grass. One of the most successful recent introductions to the Ransomes fleet in recent years is the MP series of wide area mowers.
Working closely with product manager Lee Kristensen, Nigel’s knowledge, technical ability and the many hours sitting in the seat of the development machines, have been a contributory factor in its success. Nigel has forgotten more than many people in this industry will ever know and he will be sorely missed as he rides off into the sunset (probably on a Ransomes Highway 3). It has been an absolute pleasure to work with a man of this calibre – kind, knowledgeable, dedicated, humorous, affable – and who is instantly recognised across the industry. Just try walking with him across the halls at SALTEX, BTME, GIS and any other international event and see how long it takes to get from A to B! As we said at the beginning of this appreciation, ‘Legend’ is an over-used word in today’s society, but not in Churchy’s case. The global turf industry’s sincere best wishes go out to you Nigel, to Sylvia, your family and grandchildren, for a very long and happy retirement. It is extremely well deserved. GMé
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“we see this as an important step for Troon as we look to establish ourselves in the German market”
Golf-Club Pfalz Revamp Opens Under the guidance of Troon International, Golf-Club Pfalz in western Germany has delighted its members as the course reopened last month after extensive redevelopment. Article by Nicholas Palmer. ON-TRACK Golf-Club Pfalz during the renovation programme
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Golf-Club Pfalz, a parkland golf course surrounded by lush woodland and situated just a 90-minute drive south from Frankfurt in western Germany, has re-opened its fairways and greens recently after a massive renovation project over the past ten months. Following intense planning and organisation, the result is a completely fresh look for the course, with repositioned tee locations and bunker placements, in addition to new grass on the fairways and the installation of a completely new drainage and irrigation system – all of which comes together to create a compelling consumer offer down towards the French border, between Kaiserslautern and Heidelberg. With such a strong reputation for third party management and development of some of the world’s top golf courses – including Abu Dhabi Golf Club, The Els Club Dubai and Cape Wickham Links – Golf-Club Pfalz was understandably keen
to speak with Troon to assist with the revamp. Troon’s International Division, which oversees 50 courses in 23 countries, took on the project with a clear goal in mind – to elevate it into the upper echelons of golf courses in Germany, with a view to making it a leading destination in the region. Simon Doyle, European director of agronomy at Troon International, and Greg Letsche, lead architect, came together to work on the face-lift, and took inspiration from the vision of Neil Lubbock, Golfquip Management & Consulting, who has been leading the project for Golf-Club Pfalz, to turn the club into one of the top member clubs in Germany. Alongside the dedicated team at GolfClub Pfalz, they have given the course a completely new layout, with a focus on the need to be playable to a very high standard throughout the year.
BUILDING BRIDGES Troon aim to bridge the gap in Germany
The grand reopening last month confirmed their successful efforts, as the course now looks and plays as well as the top layouts in the region. With 18 repositioned tees, 54 relocated bunkers and new fairways laid on nine holes, as well as 18,000 metres of new irrigation on 18 holes, Golf-Club Pfalz has never looked better. Doyle said: “The vision was to create a golf course that plays to an excellent standard throughout the year and has a consistent feel across each hole. “We want Pfalz to be that golf course that everyone says ‘the greens are always great at Pfalz’ but, more than that, we see this as an important step for Troon as we look to establish ourselves in the German market. We look forward to working with everyone at Pfalz going forward to ensure it remains a standout destination in the region.” The new layout at Golf-Club Pfalz is located near the towns of Weinstrasse, Heidelberg and Speyer which are
renowned for being among a flourishing wine region. Further to this, these towns are well-known for their heritage and rural community values, which focus primarily on farming and walking. It is therefore the perfect setting for a traditional parkland golf course, such as Golf-Club Pfalz. Offering views out over the rolling German countryside and a truly tranquil setting to play golf – as well as an opportunity to experience authentic German culture outside of more high profile citycentre locations – Golf-Club Pfalz is now a club to be considered by anyone visiting the area in search of championshipquality golf. With flights from Scandinavia, London and France all taking under two hours to get to Frankfurt, which has numerous other international connections available, the club presents the perfect rural escape for golfers and offers an opportunity for anyone that visits to be truly immersed in this first-class layout.
When Troon was brought in on the redesign project, they saw this as a wider opportunity to help increase the appeal of Germany to European golfers. This is testament to the potential it saw in the Golf-Club Pfalz layout and overall location of the course as, although the property is primarily a member’s club looking to service its loyal regulars, Golf-Club Pfalz is also keen to welcome interested German and international golfers to experience the new design. This undiscovered market for traditional golf courses is one which Troon will look to develop even further in the coming years and Golf-Club Pfalz will be one of the clubs at the forefront of this movement. Mark Chapleski, president of Troon International, said: “Germany is a golf destination that must not be overlooked from a European golfing perspective. “Whether it is holiday makers looking for a new experience to visit an area that
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golf club pfalz
WATER CARRY A tricky approach to a green at Golf-Club Pfalz
they would not otherwise consider, or members looking for an unrivalled golfing experience, Golf-Club Pfalz has been tailored to be an ultimate golfing retreat. “We look forward to seeing the results that this refurbishment has on Golf-Club Pfalz as it is poised to become a very popular course.” After an amazing opening weekend, where the re-vamped course was on display to the Golf-Club Pfalz members, the course is looking forward to a great season of golf. Those who were in attendance for the opening day were full of praise for the new look course and the way that it played off the new tees. All those involved in the re-development have been highly commended for the work that they have done on the course as it is poised to move into the next division of courses in Germany. Michael Löffler, Golf-Club Pfalz, said: “It was great to see, after all the work that has gone into the renovation, that the changes have been so warmly received by our members. “We hope they are as excited as we are to get out on the course time and time again, this summer and beyond, to sample a championship-quality venue, and look forward to catching up with everyone in the coming months to get their feedback as we continue this journey of improvement in the months and years ahead.”
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Although the course has opened in time for the summer season, Golf-Club Pfalz sees itself becoming a course that is renowned for its high-quality greens and fairways throughout all 12 months of the year. This vision has been made a reality due to the hard work of the team at Pfalz with strong help from ProGolf who have ensured the course features wellconstructed surfaces with good drainage, extensive irrigation and a careful selection of suitable grass types. These features are a necessity when it comes to making a course playable all year round and Doyle will regularly check back on the course in the months ahead to ensure that the management team alongside superintendent Gabriel Lopez are comfortable with the changes and looking after it in a way that will guarantee the course plays the way it has been planned to. Alex Rohr, Golf-Club Pfalz, added: “When embarking on an upgrade of the facilities at our club, we could not have chosen a better partner than Troon International. It truly was a partnership in every sense, and we worked very closely together throughout the process to ensure we achieved what we set out to with this renovation. “The result is simply stunning, and we look forward to continuing our work with Troon as we turn Golf-Club Pfalz into a must visit destination.” GMé
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“What is a software system these days without a state of the art CRM system – the personal touch of a software system”
Software Systems; The tools of the trade Experienced golf club operator Yiannis Tsioukanis shares some of his own personal experiences with relation to the importance of user-friendly software systems that are an integral part of any modern golf club operation. WELCOMING Yiannis Tsioukanis shares some insight into the world of golf management systems
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When I first started working at my local golf course back in 1987, we had a cash register, a dial-up phone and a television in the back room. No computer and no internet in sight in the professional shop of Pymble Golf Club, a private member’s club located within the leafy and posh upper north shore of Sydney. Don’t get me wrong, there was another office area with a secretary manager and admin staff with computers and data, but I never saw it. We used to rely on communication, memory and pen and paper. In today’s world this is completely different. Vast amounts of money are allocated to the installation, training and ongoing usage of very sophisticated software systems that are continuously improving, adapting and innovating. There is such a large choice of Software Systems and if you ask 50 operators, between them they’d probably suggest over ten or more different brand systems that they would recommend. So my goal is not to endorse which system to use, but to outline what I believe that system should contain and how to go about appointing the best company, which in-turn, should have responsibility and ability to maximise their system to help your property.
So let’s begin with the basics – golfer’s data. Now with the new GDPR regulations regarding data collection and storage introduced last year, clubs have to be extra careful how they collect this crucial information. All golf clubs crave a good database and in many cases pay a lot of money to third parties to provide them, but now with golfer/client ongoing consent being the number one issue, clubs have to address and to constantly ensure this database is current. Otherwise they can face stiff penalties. Data needs to be collected without impacting on the golfer’s experience. Collecting information and money is always something clubs need to plan to make the process as smooth as possible. I’ve heard that some golf clubs in the US have taken out the reception from their golf clubs and instead, just invite the golfer to walk into the bar area where staff greet them with tablets, and undertake the registration and payment whilst they are preparing for their round over a leisurely drink. This approach could certainly catch on as it makes the golfer feel more relaxed, although pre-payment and collection of data is probably the best way as then you are ready and waiting for them to arrive.
ONLINE REGISTRATION A golfer, sat in the clubhouse pre-paying for his round on his smartphone
Any golf course is first and foremost a business, and ensuring that the financial side of your systems are effective as possible is crucial. I’ve experienced operations where a system was brought in without proper consultation, so don’t rush it and make sure both the head of finance and your chosen software supplier understand each other fully. I guess that is another reason why there are so many different companies successfully trading in software systems around the world as they understand the complexities of their own financial systems – Greece is wildly different to the UK and again to Thailand. Make the choice based on who understands and listen to your financial person as they are the one who’s ultimately responsible and ensure they are on your side. What is a software system these days without a state of the art CRM system – the personal touch of a software system. An invaluable tool that allows you and your team to really get to know your golfer intimately, providing the special touches that makes them fall in love with your property and recommend it to their friends. Hotel companies spend millions perfecting these systems so take your time too.
Understand what you want to collect and listen to what the provider can deliver. Of course if you’re a bigger property linked to a hotel this system can be inclusive. Use them like your life depended on them and try to link your social media actions to compliment this information to make everything you send out seem more personal and have the greatest impact. My most traumatic experience with a software system was in respect of a resort location with a hotel attached under the same banner. From hotel management head office there was a refusal to integrate with the golf operation due to security reasons, making the need for two registration points for all golfers. This led to regular complaints from golfers which left a negative feeling. If this is your situation, or it is going to be your situation, then you must see how this can be solved in the best way as to not impact the golfer. It is probably impossible to eliminate all issues but work very hard together to bring them to a minimum. You can clear up issues behind closed doors if you have effective communication and relationships in both operations, hotel and golf.
In a resort location this co-operation is also crucial in golf showing its ‘total’ worth to the hotel’s operation and revenues, something that some hoteliers and owners still don’t fully understand. As part of any software system that you install, it’s also important to ensure that it offers a great yield management tool, which is a fantastic way to maximise revenues. In addition, don’t neglect online tee time reservations with registration; budgeting; reporting and stock control. Oh, and allowing your greenkeeper access to the system can also prove beneficial when it comes to scheduling maintenance programmes. Lastly, is the importance of your team. As good as your software system is, without the proper imputing from your team you may as well not have one at all. Whatever relationship you have with your providers, they must be able to communicate with the key members of your teams so everything is imputed properly and any concerns can be fixed quickly – your operation depends on this. Never shut out your team members when you’re making your software system selection – have them with you every step of the way – as they are the key! GMé
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World Traveller Northridge Upgrades to First Class Much travelled and experienced golf operator Ashley Northridge has returned to the UK after spells in Spain and Canada to head-up the golf operations department at Burhill Golf Club. Words by Samuel Frederick.
“We always have our members on our minds, and to the extent that we’ve given up all our executive spaces in the parking lots and handed them over to our customers!”
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burhillgolf-club.co.uk CLUB WORLD Ashley Northridge (main picture) and right, the clubhouse at Burhill Golf Club
He’s not exactly Phileas Fogg, but, like the protagonist in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, Ashley Northridge has gone full circle – only it took him closer to 19 years. The 49-year-old is head of golf operations at Burhill after spending the intervening period in continental Europe and North America, after leaving the equally prestigious Wentworth Club in 2000, where he’d been both shop manager and head teaching professional to, first, Bernard Gallacher and then David Rennie. Originally from Derbyshire, Northridge began his golfing odyssey closer to home, in 1988, at Chevin Golf Club, where he worked under Willie Bird as an assistant pro. Having completed his three-year apprenticeship, qualifying in the top ten in his year gave him the confidence to spread his wings and he moved south,
initially to Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club, as assistant to David Talbot, and then, in 1995, to Wentworth. “I had four wonderful years working for David. He and Willie were very wise men and fantastic guys to work for,” recalled Northridge. “They were extremely passionate about the sport and taught me a lot. Then I got a strange phone call saying ‘would you be interested in moving to a larger club?’ “David Talbot then told me Bernard Gallacher was interested in employing me, so despite not actually looking to leave, it was a pretty nice problem to have. So I left and had five wonderful years at Wentworth.” Keen to pursue a career as a director of golf he set off for pastures new, heading off to work in Spain, and, although that didn’t work out as he’d intended –
“I have a lot of respect for people who can really cope with new languages because that was a side of it that I didn’t really conquer” golfmanagement.eu.com | 43
ashley northridge NEW AND OLD Left, the 18th green in front of the Burhill clubhouse; below-left, the entrance to one of Northridge’s previous places of employment in Spain, top-right the ninth on the New Course, and bottom-right, the first on the New Course
“It’s got a lot of history, a lot of prestige – and, perhaps more importantly, as well, it’s got that pizzazz”
he spent two years establishing a large golf store in Sotogrande – in 2003 he found himself as director of golf at the picturesque Palheiro Golf, on the sunshine island of Madeira. He was soon on the move again, though, being headhunted, in 2005, to take up the role of director of golf and hotel by an American company launching a new golf course in the historic Cadiz region of Spain: Arcos Gardens Golf Club & Country Estate. It was here, in 2013, that he first featured in the pages of this publication when he explained the delights of the resort to GMé’s much-missed Kevin Nash, who, sadly, died soon after the interview took place. The following year, Northridge was off again to further expand his golfing management knowledge with a position in North America, taking his young family to Ontario, Canada, where he filled the post of general manager at Galt Country Club, the oldest private golf course in the region. And, when his work visa expired in 2018, he felt the time was right to return to his homeland.
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“It was a difficult decision,” he explained, “because the immigration law kept changing and it’s a points-based system in Canada. And as I was getting older I was losing points because of my age. “It was possible I could have stayed but I was employing an immigration lawyer and it was going to cost a lot of money. It was only a 50 per cent chance was what my lawyer would say and I’m not a gambling man, to be honest. “It just didn’t make sense. And I’m very, very thankful to have this great position at home now where I’m the head of golf operations.” He continued: “I really enjoyed the challenge of living in different countries, with the different languages – I have a lot of respect for people who can really cope with new languages because that was a side of it that I didn’t really conquer. “I got very self-conscious speaking publicly in Spanish and I do admire people who can switch languages. In fact, my kids do okay, but, a little later in life, it’s not so easy to cope with.
“I made a lot of friends along the way; I had time to study and I was awarded a fellowship with the PGA seven years back,” added Northridge. He had gained plenty of valuable experience in all aspects of golf management and is now putting them to good use at Burhill. But he is reminded of a palpable difference between golf in the traditional heartland of the UK and elsewhere. “I soon realised there are significant differences in some areas. “For example, a new person coming into the game in England doesn’t think anything of starting with a 24 handicap. But in Europe, and some degree even in Canada, you start off with a 54 or 56. The entry level seems to be a little bit stronger here. “The competition element there is not as strong as in UK. I mean, we are full in our medals now at Burhill; you have the feeling everyone’s out there trying to do their very best. “You see the disappointment in their faces afterwards when they come in if they haven’t played well.
Burhill, and its illustrious history
“Elsewhere, it tended to be less competitive and more social; people had different reasons for playing the game. It doesn’t mean that they love it less, it’s just different.” Northridge is, therefore, able to see both the potential pros and cons of the impending world handicapping system. He said: “I do think there are two sides to it and I’m concerned about the protection of private clubs. I have seen how the handicapping in Canada affected the private club industry and I am worried that might happen in England. “Yet, I know golf is looking at being able to offer nomadic golfers an official handicap and so I do see the benefit, on the flipside, for the game of golf itself.” Northridge doesn’t intend to be the new broom looking to sweep all before him at Burhill – he sees himself simply as a steadying hand on the tiller of a luxury cruiser. “It’s got a lot of history, a lot of prestige – and, perhaps more importantly, as well, it’s got that pizzazz,” he smiles. “When you come down the drive you feel like you’ve entered a special place.
“And then you’ve got two different, yet equal, golf courses, which positions it very strongly against the competition. “Our members do have a genuine choice between the Old and the New and that’s a really nice thing to have. “There have been some staff changes here and I think my job is really to come in and steady the ship a little bit and just get back some core values of a private member club, really focusing on our members more to ensure they’re getting the quality they’re after. “My first goal was simply to be very visible to the membership and to be very clear they could come and talk to me,” he states. He must be doing something right, for when they do talk to him, few are complaining. He seems to have settled in well and when he speaks he does so with pride, but in a relaxed tone. It would appear he feels at home at Burhill and admits he’s not thinking about the future, simply enjoying the present. Just don’t ask him to stand up and address a group of Spanish golfers. GMé
Burhill Golf Club is one of Surrey’s finest golf clubs. Nestled in parkland on the outskirts of Walton-on-Thames lies two 18 hole golf courses that offer a complete variety that is second to none in the area. The Mansion clubhouse originally built in 1726 maintains many of the original features and offers one of the most stunning venues in Surrey. The Old Course, designed by the famous Willie Park Jnr and opened in 1907, is picturesque and etched into the Burwood forest. It is a challenging test of golf proving suitable for all abilities; fast running fairways and greens with a number of deceptive slopes and undulations. There are some interesting features on the course including ‘Dick Turpin’s Cottage’ one of his favourite hideouts, and the ‘King’s House’ which was presented to King George V in 1935 and later occupied by Lord Trenchard. Although the Old Course is the signature course at Burhill, in 2001 the hidden gem that is the New Course was opened on the south side of the River Mole. Before the Second World War this was the original site of a second course at Burhill, later given over to agriculture during the war. With almost no similarities to the Old Course the New Course offers a completely different test of golf with challenging par 4’s and modern greens construction. The stunning 18th hole is a tricky par 3 over the river to a two tier green, with the clubhouse and the terrace as a backdrop.
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THE SHIRE The Shire, London
WEST LONDON The West London Golf Centre
Family Fortunes for Menai-Davis After being black-balled for membership at his local club, Tony Menai-Davis decided to build his own golf course, and the rest, as they say is history. Jessica Hedderman delves into the success of the Menai-Davis family-run business.
The Menai-Davis family have been instrumental in the development of the Bridgedown Group, with vast experience in the operation and management of golf courses in London over the last 20 years. Maintained to this day as a family-run business, they have a passion to deliver golf to those who would not normally feel comfortable in what some may call old-fashioned environments. They believe that they have created a brand that has become synonymous with high quality and affordability, whilst focusing on being welcoming to all. Owner of the Bridgedown Group, Tony Menai-Davis, previously worked in the fashion industry in the 80’s and early 90’s, whilst his wife Anne worked for the Welsh Government. Tony played social golf with his football team and friends, however, was never a member of any golf club. He applied to be a member at a local club in the late 80’s and was soon dismissed following an interview with the committee for ‘not being the right fit’. Having questioned why this was the case by his son Ceri, Tony decided that he
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would build his own golf course, where there would be less strict membership rules, attracting golfers of all ages and abilities. Bridgedown Golf Club opened for play in 1994 after years of planning from the Menai-Davis family. In the early 2000’s, they realised that the golf market had changed, and they believed that golfers preferred to play prestigious golf courses, such as the ones that were on the PGA & European Tour rotas. With this in mind, Tony sought the help of a golf course designer/player of high regard. Seve Ballesteros was Tony’s hero and had previously never designed a golf course in the UK. He decided on the off chance to contact Ballesteros at his office in Santander, Spain to arrange a meeting. Ballesteros’s ideas on golf course design and his eagerness to do the golf course were refreshing, and within 48 hours Ballesteros’s design team visited the site. Two weeks later an agreement had been struck up to create his first and only golf course in the UK. Several years down the line, after numerous negotiations with planners and local authorities,
FAMILY VALUES The Menai-Davis family pictured at The Shire, London with Thomas Bjorn. (L-R): Cae, Ceri, Thomas Bjorn, Anne and Tony
the Menai-Davis family were granted planning permission on March 14, 2001 to build The Shire London, located just outside of Barnet, North London. During the build, Tony and Ballesteros built up a great relationship which ended up by Ballesteros mentioning Tony unknowingly in his autobiography as a close friend. The Shire London, featuring its S-shaped (for Seve) lake, was opened in 2007 and Ballesteros made his last visit to the Shire London before falling ill in October 2007. After The Shire London opened, the family acquired the old Limetrees Golf Club in Northolt, which they went on to develop into the West London Golf Centre (WLGC). Managed by Tony’s other son, Cae, the aim of the WLGC was to offer extreme
value for money, create unique golfing experiences, and to bring families together to ensure golf was enjoyed by all, without the necessity to conform to the etiquette of antiquated golf courses. Soon after starting the redevelopment of the WLGC, the land opposite was acquired to build another 18-hole golf course and the family was granted planning permission for the West London Links in October 2007. In 2008, the family wanted to continue their growth and were offered a site on the A41 in Edgware, North London – possibly one of the best pieces of land available to a golf course designer in the Greater London area, and an opportunity too good to turn down. Having previously learnt that in order to successfully launch a new golf club, you need a USP via a course designer
or Tour player, the family spoke to several high-profile names including Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and The Dye Family. At the time, Tony was blown away by the number of courses that Pete Dye had to his name and the level of quality that their designs offered. After months of deliberation it was decided that the Menai-Davis family would build the first Dye design golf course in the UK – a chance for Pete, Perry and Cynthia to stamp their name onto the UK golf map. Work on The Dye London started in 2019 and it’s anticipated that an opening will take place in 2023/2024. The Dye London is one of the last courses that Pete Dye has been involved with. The famous island green par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass will be recreated at The Dye London, known by many as one
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SEVE’S LEGACY The 18th hole at The Shire, London designed by Seve Ballesteros
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of the world’s most difficult golf holes, however, the UK version has added spectacle due to the London city skyline forming a backdrop. Aside from this signature hole, there will be all the trademark elements of a Dye golf course; plenty of water, numerous long bunkers, volcano bunkers, undulating fast greens with run-offs and catchment areas – it’s truly going to be something special. Bridgedown Group have also taken heed for the current demand for great practise facilities, so they have created a 300-yard plus practice range with grass bays, two large putting greens over 450m2 each, and a 1,000m2 short game area. Since forming a great relationship with the Dye family, the Menai-Davis family have been working closely together and the Dye family have paid several visits to the Shire London, offering to help with improvements. These conversations have ranged from greenkeeping practices and re-modelling of bunkers, as well as providing useful contacts with suppliers used by the Dye Family in the USA. Overseen by head greenkeeper George Stillwell, The Shire London have just completed remodelling of bunkers on three holes, plus the addition of a new short game area which is due to open this month. In the next few years The Shire London will also be remodelling every greenside bunker. Aside from the four golf courses to their name, Bridgedown Group have started building adventure golf and family facilities.
In 2018, they opened the largest adventure golf complex in Europe, which is situated opposite The Dye London on the A41 in Edgware, and partnered with well-known adventure golf course builder Oliver Mahoney to create the ‘Lost Jungle’. As a family, they aim to build several more of these over the next few years throughout the UK to help grow the game from a grass roots level. The success of the Bridgedown Group has been down to adapting to current golf trends. They believe that a lot of golf clubs don’t understand the importance of moving with the times to increase golf participation levels, for example, not everyone wants to wear a jacket and tie after their round, or some members may prefer to wear trainers whilst enjoying their lunch after their round. As long as a club is courteous to other members then they have a place in the modern market. A lot of people talk about growing the game, but the Menai-Davis family believe that this is the same story being told just with a different cover on it. Their philosophy is that it’s not just about making the game accessible to the public, it’s about making it appealing. They believe that a lot of clubs are not putting in enough effort to make golf attractive for youngsters and adults to play due to restrictive dress codes, interviews for memberships, restrictive tee times for ladies and juniors, and so on. The Bridgedown Group are working hard to break down these stereotypes and make golf more inclusive to everyone. GMé
“with so many initiatives underway to get youngsters playing golf, such a forward-thinking policy should be applauded, not derided”
Devine intervention should not FUEL further dress code debate First things first, I need to ‘fess up’ as I believe the young people say – I know Thomas Devine, and he’s one of the good guys. And he’s an excellent coach of young golfers. But even if I didn’t know him, I still believe I would back him fully in his campaign to do away with dress codes for juniors, for Devine is the director of Oulton Hall’s FUEL golf (FUture ELite) programme, within which he works with more than 170 juniors, aged between five and 16, each week. He posted a picture on Twitter of some of his young students practising their putting, with the words ‘“You let children play in hoodies and tracksuit bottoms?” “Yeah, we do” It’s the playing that’s important.’ The seemingly innocent Tweet – which garnered more than 400,000 views and 3,000 ‘likes’ – prompted a debate on social media and beyond, with one respondent on the platform going so far as to say “… the who cares attitude is what’s wrong with youth of today and why they hang around towns with knives …” And a subsequent survey conducted by an online golfing community discovered that golfers were almost split down the middle on the subject of ‘should they be allowed to wear what they want or not?’ Whether or not you think the author of that tweet has lost the plot – and, for the record, I do – surely in the 21st century, with so many initiatives underway to get youngsters playing golf, such a forwardthinking policy should be applauded, not derided.
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FUEL TO THE FIRE Juniors at Oulton Hall’s FUEL golf programme
Defending the initiative – though I still believe no ‘defence’ of it should be required – Devine said: “We still teach them manners, respect and the etiquette of the game – that doesn’t come out of a glossy apparel catalogue. At that age they just want to play. “What’s more, I believe we should remove the barrier of cost by allowing children to wear their everyday clothing. “We are coaching 21st-century children – we are not stuck in the 19th century and only accepting the offspring of the privileged classes. “As they get older they, inevitably, want to dress as their idols, so they end up buying what McIlroy or Fowler wears. But when they start out the priority is enjoyment, not conformity. We teach them the things they want to be taught.”
There are, understandably, some clubs for whom this approach would never be considered. But for the majority, where membership is diminishing, and the threat of developers building three-bedroomed homes across the fourth fairway is growing by the week, this sort of refreshing initiative may mean the difference between having a golf club or not. GMé
David Bowers firstname.lastname@example.org
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