On the cover...
Global Golf partner BMW and the European Tour have continued their association after extending their partnership until 2018
£6.50 golfmanagement.eu.com Issue 96 | June 2014
Golf Management éurope is the essential business magazine for golf course owners, operators, managers and directors of golf
As Kyle Phillips returns to The Grove, GMé caught up with the American design guru responsible for the layouts at Kingsbarns and Yas Links
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On the agenda june 2014 22
Ian Bulleid talks Troon
Leaving your own business to work for a global company can be a big step to take, a step which Ian Bulleid of Troon Golf appears to have taken in his stride.
Fortune favours the brave
The new Chinese owners of Fota Island in Cork, are looking to capitalise on hosting the Irish Open in an attempt to raise the profile of the Irish resort.
It’s child’s play for Alex
As director of Gaudet Luce Golf Club, Alexander Fernihough is the man responsible for creating a childcare nursery on site... which is proving to be a big success.
Phillips returns to The Grove
TGI and the club professional
GMé recently caught-up with renowned golf course architect, Kyle Phillips, as he returned to The Grove to help the London resort celebrate its tenth anniversary.
As the role of the club pro is increasingly threatened by owners seeking to cut costs, Ian Martin of the TGI Golf Partnership claims the pro still has an important part to play.
GMé 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
Publisher Executive editor Contributors
Michael Lenihan David Bowers Mark Alexander, Ian Bulleid, John King, Scott MacCallum, Ian Martin, James Moore, Aidan Patrick
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from the publisher
“Only the executives at Sky can tell you why they seem hellbent on alienating everybody who subscribes to another TV provider”
Sky needs to play fair and also launch a dedicated golf channel Millwall football fans used to have a chant – indeed they may still do for all I know – they sang to the tune of Rod Stewart’s Sailing, which, to paraphrase, insisted ‘no-one likes us, we don’t care!’ It was a statement borne of years of East End hardships and rough-housing, and worn like a badge of honour. The corporate embodiment of that attitude seems to be the current stance of Sky Sports. Now, I’m a big fan of Sky Sports: its football coverage is second to none; golf has never been so well served; and Formula 1 even has its own dedicated channel. And, if I were a rugby union fan, I’m sure I could eulogise effusively about their coverage of egg chasing also. However, to misquote – and misappropriate – Shakespeare’s Antony, I come to bury Sky not to praise it... Only the executives at Sky can tell you why they seem hell-bent on alienating everybody who subscribes to another TV provider. Golf is now available only on Sky Sports 4 which means BT TV subscribers – a substantial number of sports’ fans which includes GME’s David Bowers – can no longer see it. What’s more, Sky have just announced the launch of Sky Sports 5 which will feature football from across Europe next season, which, once again rules out those who subscribe to BT TV. Now, one can assume, this comes about because BT had the audacity to launch its own sports channel, but such corporate one-upmanship serves only to ultimately hurt those who love their
4 | GMé June 2014
THE SKY ABOVE Sky needs to launch a dedicated golf channel, similar to the F1 channel presented by the team above
sport – and some have long memories and bear a grudge. My BT TV-watching colleague, for example, upon hearing that golf’s new home was Sky Sports 4, vowed never to get Sky, and it is this sort of reasoned reaction which may, given time, mean Sky do not get the number of transferring subscribers they anticipate. The British, in particular, like to see things done in a fair way, and this just isn’t cricket – which again is well served by Sky. It was bad enough when golf – other than a few events – was lost to the terrestrial channels; but we stoically accepted that. But to people who are already paying a subscription to have their
golf – and now football – whisked away from them is beyond the pale. C’mon Sky, play the game fairly. And while you’re at it, why not introduce your own golf channel and allow (for a fee) other TV providers’ subscribers to see it. If F1 gets its own dedicated channel, surely golf deserves one too. GMé
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Hold the front page Global Golf partner BMW and the European Tour continue their joint success story after the German manufacturer agrees to extend its partnership until 2018.
“We are extremely grateful for BMW’s worldwide support and are delighted at the prospect of continuing our partnership long into the future.”
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6 | GMé June 2014
At the start of the 60th anniversary week of the BMW PGA Championship in May, BMW and the European Tour met in London to announce they would be extending their successful partnership by a further four years, taking it through to 2018. At the BMW Park Lane dealership in the heart of the capital, Dr Ian Robertson, member of the board of management of BMW AG, sales and marketing BMW, and George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, underlined the continuation of their co-operation with a symbolic handshake. Since the partnership was launched in 1989, BMW has gone on to promote and support high-quality events on the European Tour, and over the next four years will continue this support with the BMW International Open in Germany, the BMW Masters in China, and the BMW PGA Championship in the UK. The tour’s flagship event, at The Wentworth Club, was held for the tenth time last month, with BMW once again its title partner. BMW has also been involved with the Ryder Cup since 2006, first as a sponsor and then, since 2010, as an Official Partner and will continue to remain fully involved up to and including the 2018 match against the United States in France.
Within the scope of the extensive partnership, BMW remains the ‘Official Car to the European Tour’ and ‘Official Partner of the European Tour.’ “The fact that we are extending all these commitments to 2018 and that we have chosen to announce this next step in our joint success story here at the BMW PGA Championship only serves to underline the significance of this event,” said Dr Ian Robertson. “It is a cornerstone of our commitment in golf, and it’s our goal to create a special experience for the spectators at the BMW PGA Championship – in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.” George O’Grady added: “We are extremely grateful for BMW’s worldwide support and are delighted at the prospect of continuing our partnership long into the future. “For the European Tour, only the best will do. And with BMW alongside us, we have the best of both. I am immensely proud of all we have achieved together in promoting and helping to grow the game of golf from Europe to Asia.” Since 2005, BMW has played a major role in further developing the BMW PGA Championship as title partner – and the premium manufacturer is now embarking on another exciting chapter of its unrivalled commitment to golf. GMé
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Turnberry set to be “tweaked” as part of a £120m investment Turnberry’s world-famous links will be “tweaked” as part of a £120 million investment after being purchased by US tycoon Donald Trump. The four-time Open Championship venue – which played host to the now legendary Duel in the Sun in 1977 – is the 17th golf resort to join the property magnate’s portfolio and Trump pledged to make it “even more spectacular” after purchasing the prestigious Ayrshire venue. He said he will spend around £120 million on the Turnberry hotel but plans to make only “tweaks” to the worldfamous course. On a visit to his Trump International Golf Links, at Balmedie, on the Aberdeenshire coast, Trump refused to reveal the price tag for the Turnberry purchase, admitting, merely, that he paid “a lot” for the world-renowned property. He said: “We’ll bring it to a level that it’s never been before. It’s going to be spectacular. It’s rated the number one course in the world and we’re going to be working with the R&A on certain things that are going to be even more spectacular. “We’re going to spend a tremendous amount of money – probably about US$200 million – on bringing the hotel to the highest standards of luxury. I think it’ll be the finest hotel in Europe when it’s finished.
Turnberry, with its world-famous lighthouse, is set to be “tweaked”
“Turnberry has been a great course for many years,” commented Trump following his latest European acquisition. “With Turnberry, you don’t talk about a redesign, you talk about tweaking. You can’t do a redesign. I wouldn’t do anything without the absolute blessing of the R&A.” Sandy Jones, chief executive of the Professional Golf Association, said: “He’s never gone into a golf course and made it worse, he always makes it better. Turnberry is already number one, so how much better can you make it?
“But he will make it better. It’s a resort that just needs that tender loving care and a bit of investment. Obviously it is already an Open Championship venue which I know he wanted in Aberdeen and eventually I think he will get.” Before arriving in Scotland, Trump visited another of his new properties: Doonbeg, in the west of Ireland. He said he plans to invest up to €45 million (£36 million) in the Co Clare club, as part of the creation of the Trump Triangle, a golf circuit from Doonbeg to Turnberry and on to the Menie Estate.
De Vere look to Disabled golf gets worldwide offset £1.1b debt exposure thanks to BBC De Vere is putting its golf resorts up for sale to offset its £1.1 billion debt with Lloyds Banking Group. The six golf clubs – Cameron House at Loch Lomond, Mottram Hall, Slaley Hall, Dunston Hall, Belton Woods and Oulton Hall – are expected to fetch about £160 million. The Belfry, which is managed by De Vere, is not part of the sale as it is now owned by US private equity firm KSL Capital Partners, which, according to The Sunday Times, will, along with a ‘clutch of private equity firms’, bid for the six clubs. Newspaper reports state that Cameron House alone is expected to sell for about £65 million, nearly double the amount Donald Trump paid for the Turnberry golf resort. De Vere, which went into the hands of Lloyds Banking Group during the financial crisis in a £1.7 billion debt-forequity deal, sold its conference division in March for £231 million and has been selling off its non-golf hotels for several months.
8 | GMé June 2014
Short-armed golfer, Richard Saunders
A film about disabled golf shot on the eve of the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship has captured the hearts of BBC bosses who showcased it to a worldwide audience of millions. The feature, filmed by BBC Look East reporter Tom Williams, focused on disability golf and the ISPS Handa PGA Academy programme which is helping break down barriers and give thousands of people with disabilities a new lease of sporting life. Williams described the piece as having been a ‘monumental success’ and its
impact has already been felt by PGA professional Craig Thomas, who leads the ISPS Handa PGA Academy programme. “A couple came along recently and the woman, in her 60s, had had a severe stroke 30 years ago, but never thought she would be able to play golf because she has paralysis down one side,” said Thomas. “But she saw Tom’s film and was inspired to come along to have a go which was fantastic, and just reinforces the message we are trying to get out that golf is accessible to everyone – no matter what disability you might have and with the expert help of PGA professionals, we can actually help them to not only enjoy this great game but play it well too.” Appearing in the film are one legged golfer Chris Foster, short-armed golfer Richard Saunders and autistic teenager Lewis Eccles who took part in a par-three challenge with Ryder Cup vice-captain Des Smyth, European Senior Tour no.1 Paul Wesselingh and Carl Mason.
BGL targets growth with Adventure Leisure
In brief... Las Colinas Golf & Country Club is catering to an increasing demand for first-class service with the addition of 45 new, top-of-the-range Club Car vehicles to extend its overall fleet to 70. Cristóbal Guerrero, managing director of Las Colinas Golf & Country Club, said: “We are pleased to develop our successful relationship with Club Car and align our services with projected demand from European golfers. This is a significant investment and one we have made to further enhance our guest experience.” In the year the TGI Golf Partnership, Europe’s leading golf retail services group, owned by PGA professionals, celebrates its 30th anniversary it has also broken through the 500 retail outlets barrier. This marks a record high for the group in terms of partners and high quality retail outlets now part of the TGI Golf network spanning across the UK and Ireland, where the group is now the largest of its kind. Club Systems International, one of the UK and Ireland’s producers of golf club IT systems, has added a mobile hand-held device to its market-leading MerlinTouch EPoS loyalty card system: the MerlinMobile. Since its launch in 2005, MerlinTouch – designed and developed in-house by Club Systems – has become, the company claims, the most successful EPoS loyalty card system in UK and Irish sports and membership clubs. A rare 12-green golf course is the latest addition to the award-winning Domaine de Murtoli villa estate, in Corsica. Murtoli’s 12-green format – unique in France – is a nod to the original Open Championships played over the 12-hole course at Prestwick from 1860-72 when legends such as Old Tom Morris and Willie Park Sr ruled the links.
Burhill Golf and Leisure (BGL), which owns and operates ten UK golf venues, has announced the formation of a new business focused on the development of adventure golf and family leisure attractions. The company, which operates Adventure Golf courses at two of its pay-and-play golf centres, and a third at the Junction 32 Outlet Shopping Village in West Yorkshire is looking to expand its portfolio of adventure golf venues, as well as branching into alternative attraction-led activities such as indoor play and adventure climbing centres. As part of the expansion plan, BGL Golf’s operations director, Hugh Knowles, will become operations and development director of the newly formed Adventure Leisure Limited with a remit to rapidly expand the business and develop the team structure over the next five years. Colin Mayes, BGL chief executive, said: “Adventure Golf has proved extremely successful for our business and we believe there is an opportunity for expansion both at our own golf centres and other commercial, non-golf venues. “We have seen from our existing sites that the offer is very attractive to all age groups and is helping us attract customers back into golf.
“Leisure is forecast to account for nearly a quarter of total consumer spending by 2030 and our aim is to develop a variety of venues to meet this growing demand in the market. “As the UK economy continues to emerge from recession, our aim is to offer more high quality facilities and customer service, at a competitive rate, to the growing number of people with greater disposable time and income for leisure pastimes. Activities that are relative low skill and that the whole family can participate in will only grow in popularity.”
FootJoy extends partnership with The European Tour
Richard Fryer, left, with Tim Shaw
FootJoy has extended its partnership with The European Tour as its Official Footwear Supplier until 2018. Following the success of the initial agreement, which has gone from strength-to-strength since 2008, the new contract will encompass a variety of mutually beneficial brand-sharing and marketing elements. Speaking on behalf of FootJoy, the company’s sales & marketing director, Richard Fryer, commented: “We are immensely proud of the relationship we
have developed with The European Tour over the past seven years, so naturally we are delighted to extend this association. “We are certainly looking forward to working closely alongside their team over the next five years, as both organisations continue to lead from the forefront of the industry. “As the clear #1 shoe brand of choice week-in-week-out amongst competitors on The European Tour, we also wanted to extend our support to everyone on the Tour from the agronomy and event staff to referees and officials – all of whom play crucial roles in enhancing the allround appeal and credibility of the FJ brand,” added Fryer. Commenting on behalf of The European Tour, sales director Tim Shaw added: “Our relationship with FootJoy as an Official Supplier has been overwhelmingly positive. “I think the fact that both parties have agreed to extend the partnership says everything about the level of satisfaction with our agreement which we hope will continue long into the future.”
golfmanagement.eu.com | 9
The Centurion Club adds to its senior management team The Centurion Club has made two key additions to its senior management team. Jonathan Dickins and Caisa Malmberg join following a successful launch of membership sales at the acclaimed new private club which opened on the outskirts of St Albans mid-way through last year. Dickins takes up the role of sales & marketing director after spending much of the last 30 years working in a variety of senior positions within the leisure industry. Dickins has worked on flagship golf projects at Loch Lomond Golf Club, The Carnegie Club, The London Golf Club, Old Head Golf Links, the Palazzo Arzaga Hotel Golf & Spa, Gary Player Golf Design & Enterprises, the Elea Resort in Cyprus and a number of other prestigious golf developments. “I am delighted to join The Centurion Club after its successful launch last year and firmly believe it is on course to being recognised as one of the top clubs in England,” said Dickins. “I met managing director, Scott Evans, several years ago when we worked on membership development at Bearwood Lakes and we have kept in touch ever since. I have been very impressed by the attention to detail he has brought to bear while developing the club and am sure that it is one of the key elements in its success to date.”
Malmberg joins The Centurion Club as sales & marketing executive and will be working with Dickins to build on the healthy initial membership sales. Originally from Malmo in Sweden, Malmberg grew up on a golf course as part of a keen golfing family and is fluent in English, Spanish as well as the three Scandinavian languages. Malmberg graduated with honours in marketing with media communication from Buckingham University in 2012, but prior to that worked in customer service at Anfi Tauro Golf and Lopesan Meloneras
New range to bolster golf
Friedrich serves up a new role at Wentworth
Officials at a Teeside golf club hope the opening of a £50,000 all-weather driving range will see an influx of new members. Billingham Golf Club was granted the money to create the six-bay, covered range by lottery-funded body, Sport England. Now it’s hoped that members of the public will take up the sport at the club. The first shots on the range were taken by the club’s oldest member, an 87-yearold man, and youngest, an eight-year-old boy. There is a dedicated teaching bay and club professional Mike Ure hopes to be able to teach beginners at the new facility as part of the club’s Getting Into Golf campaign. Howard Gill, club treasurer, explained the new driving range was fully accessible for disabled people. He said: “We’re hoping that this gives us an opportunity to not only develop the club but really encourage people to take up the sport.”
Colt Mackenzie McNair (CMM) has successfully completed the search for Wentworth’s new food & beverage director. Speaking during the BMW PGA Championship, Julian Small, chief executive of Wentworth, said: “It takes a special individual with internationally recognised talent to lead our food & beverage operation and, with CMM’s expert assistance, we believe we have found that person in Andre Friedrich.” “CMM clearly understood the type of person we were looking to hire and through its own global networks identified Andre as the appropriate candidate. Using CMM saved time and allowed us to precisely identify the right candidate by going beyond individuals actively seeking new employment.” Friedrich arrived at Wentworth from Elea Estate in Cyprus, where he was resort operations manager. Previous to this, Friedrich worked in the hospitality industry, including restaurant manager roles at The Palace of Lost City,
10 | GMé June 2014
Jonathan Dickins and Caisa Malmberg of The Centurion Club
Golf in Spain. She also has extensive experience working as a PR executive for Golf Marketing Services and as head of reception at Tomelilla Golf Club in the south of Sweden. “This is a great move for me,” confirmed Malmberg. “I got to know Hertfordshire well when I was working for GMS and knew instantly as soon as I saw it that the Centurion Club would be a huge success. “The golf course is terrific. The location is wonderful and the way it looks after its members is second to none.”
Sun City, South Africa and the Hotel InterContinental, Hyde Park, London. Richard Wood, director of Colt Mackenzie McNair, commented: “Andre’s appointment perfectly illustrates how CMM works. Our thorough evaluation of the global talent pool, using digital platforms, databases and our consultants’ own detailed network of business contacts, creates a very precise shortlist of suitable candidates.”
Julian Small, left, with Andre Friedrich
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golfmanagement.eu.com | 11
The Belfry re-opens after £26m refurbishment At the beginning of May, The Belfry was re-launched in style following a comprehensive £26 million refurbishment programme. To mark the official re-opening, The new Belfry hosted an exclusive event for sports stars, key industry figures and corporate clients with Ryder Cup legends Ian Woosnam OBE and Bernard Gallacher OBE in attendance, providing a unique insight into their golfing experiences, and reliving some of the resort’s most historic Ryder Cup moments. The world’s only four-time Ryder Cup venue, The Belfry’s Brabazon course, was at the heart of celebrations with 100 guests testing their skills on the iconic Dave Thomas and Peter Alliss design. Having captained and competed in the legendary matches at The Belfry, Ian Woosnam and Bernard Gallacher have great experiences of the famous resort, and were on-hand during the day to share their experiences in a unique Ryder Cup Q&A.
Dignitaries at the re-opening of The Belfry
Managing director of The Belfry, Lynn Hood, said: “This is a proud moment for all of those who have been involved in this refurbishment process, which started in April 2013. The events today are the result of all the hard work and dedication of our fantastic team, and it was great to
have so many influential individuals and guests here to celebrate this moment with us. “We have a fantastic history and heritage from some of the most memorable moments in Ryder Cup history, and look forward to a bright future.”
New par-three John Deere dealers get to open at Woking grips with greenkeeping A new par-three 16th hole is open for play at Woking Golf Club. Designed by Thomson Perrett & Lobb’s Tim Lobb, the new hole represents the most significant change to the course in over 50 years. Captain Simon Chantrey said: “Woking is a club that looks to evolve steadily. When you are over 120 years old, members tend not to like sudden major change. But our existing 16th hole, fine though it was, had two key problems. “Firstly, the lower level of the two-tier green turned into a pudding in most winters, and despite many attempts, we were unable to fix it to our satisfaction. “Secondly, because of the proximity of the green to the nearby road, balls would sometimes fly off the golf course, across the road and into a neighbour’s garden. Given that the green itself was not wholly original – it was extended in the 1960s – we concluded we needed to change the hole.” The hole now measures 147 yards, almost ten yards shorter than the previous version, but golfers still have to clear the pond built in the early 20th century, with the new green sitting around 40 yards to the left of the old one. Lobb explained: “For golf course architects, Woking is a holy place and a key location in the history of our profession. The course is famous for its undulating greens, so we knew that any new green had to have the ‘Woking spirit’ built into it.”
12 | GMé June 2014
John Deere dealers from across Europe are brushing up on their greenkeeping skills and knowledge at Morley Hayes Golf Club in Derbyshire this summer. The company’s Golf Ready training programme for 2014 involves over 200 participants from six countries – France, Germany, Italy and Spain, in addition to the UK and Ireland. The dealership staff, along with key John Deere turfcare personnel from the US and Europe, spent most of May and June taking over responsibility for the daily maintenance of the nine-hole Tower course at the Midlands complex.
Weekly groups of dealer salesmen, golf & turf specialists and service technicians are effectively simulating what a greenkeeping team would be doing on the course each day, alongside detailed product training on John Deere’s new greens, fairway and rough mowers and new pedestrian aerators for 2014. “The Golf Ready programme gives us all the opportunity to look at the fundamentals of product operation and servicing, as well as introduce the new season’s products and do hands-on training in a real-life situation,” said John Deere’s turf division manager Chris Meacock.
Cutting the rough on Morley Hayes’ Tower Course with one of the new 2014 range of John Deere mowers
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Brocket Hall announces major re-development plans Brocket Hall Golf Club has unveiled an extensive five-year plan to upgrade the golfing experience on its Melbourne Course and elevate it to a new, even higher level. Working with architect Guy Hockley, the upgrades at the Hertfordshire venue will include bunkering enhancements, a redesign of selected greens and general improvements to the playing surfaces. Work will begin this summer and the renovation programme will improve the overall aesthetics of the golf course and parkland and will ensure that the course continues to challenge golfers despite the constant developments in golf club technology. David Griffin, director of golf operations at Brocket Hall Golf Club, said: “Together with Guy, we have constructed a comprehensive plan that will see the Melbourne Course continue to compete with the best courses in the country. “We take great pride in our commitment to provide our members with the best possible facilities. Numerous improvements have been made at the club over the past 12 months and the enhancement of the Melbourne Course will only add to this success.” Set within 543 acres of 18th century parkland, Brocket Hall’s two 18-hole
championship courses are famously named after the prime ministers who once resided there, Lord Melbourne and Lord Palmerston. Opened in 1992, the par-72 Melbourne Course is set in magnificent surroundings, crossing the River Lea several times before a memorable finish
Cheat claim set to go legal
Tributes flood in for Iain Macpherson
The manager of a prestigious golf club has had to deal with the national fallout after a member was labelled a ‘cheating ****’ in a competitions results email. The story was picked up by the Mail on Sunday, and to exacerbate matters, the golfer at the centre of the scandal sued another member at the same club last year – over accusations of cheating in club competitions. According to the Mail on Sunday, Wimbledon Park has ‘strict rules on dress and etiquette, and prides itself on its highly respectable image’. It emailed its members the results of a pro-am competition in which the winner of the ‘nearest the pin’ was the 51-yearold part-owner of a multi-million-pound wholesale grocery business, Kenny Marshall. Next to his name were the words ‘(CHEATING ****)’. The club has said an internal investigation has been launched and Marshall is said to be consulting his lawyers. Marshall sued fellow member Jeff Clargo for libel in 2013, when he compared Marshall to 007 villain, and golfing cheat, Goldfinger.
Tributes have been paid to Iain Macpherson who died on June 9 following a ten-month battle with cancer. Iain, who was just 49, had over 25 years experience in sportsturf management, with golf his particular area of expertise having worked at six Open Championship venues throughout his career. A former city merchant banker and insurance broker at Lloyd’s of London, Iain moved into sportsturf management in 1993, and had worked extensively for the STRI during that period working on a multitude of sports, including football where he project managed the pitch construction programme in Ukraine for the UEFA Euro 2012 Championships. It is for his work in golf, however, that Iain will be best remembered, and particularly in the irrigation sector where he spent over six years as a partner at Robin Hume Associates during which time he undertook work at St Andrews, Royal Dornoch and Lahinch. A two-year period working for Rain Bird as European renewable energy product manager ended at the end of
14 | GMé June 2014
View from the 16th Green on the Melbourne Course at Brocket Hall
in front of the hall after a short ferry ride to the 18th green. In contrast, the Palmerston Course, which was designed by Donald Steel, is a challenging par-73 woodland layout, with rare Hornbeam, Scots and Corsican pine and 300-year-old oak trees creating a memorable test of golf.
last year, after Iain was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus. Commenting on his passing, golf architect Jonathan Gaunt said: “I worked with Iain in Ireland back in 2005-2007 and we had a great time, and I played golf with him too – Iain was a very decent, honest gentleman.” Howard Storey of John Deere added: “Iain was a highly respected member of the golf industry, and his passing will be felt by many of his colleagues and friends.”
In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news of a new role for Chuck Greif, who will be relocating to Singapore to take up his new role with Jacobsen.
In brief... Huxley Golf has recently installed a new and improved practice tee facility for The Castle Course at St Andrews Links. Operations manager at The Castle Course, Kevin Mackay, said: “More than 230,000 rounds of golf are played on St Andrews’ seven courses each year so keeping our course facilities at the highest possible standards is something that’s not taken lightly here. At the same time, there’s a high demand so we always take steps to ensure that our facilities are kept in play with minimal disruption. I was therefore delighted that the upgrading of our practice tee was undertaken to a high standard in just a couple of days.” Windermere Golf Club has received a new piece of equipment, thanks to the generosity of one of its members. John Hindle, whose wife, Audrey, passed away last year, donated the money for a new greens iron in her memory and it is already hard at work keeping the greens in first class condition. The greens iron, affectionately known as ‘Audrey’, has already made a considerable difference to the condition of the course. Tacit Golf, corporate and tournament specialists have recently released their 2014 brochure, with a large emphasis on the cost effective manner in which banners, frames, flags etc. can be replaced. Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. (SMS) has announced increased figures in its Golf Rounds Played study for the first quarter 2014 compared with the previous year. Richard Payne, senior manager of SMS said: “A first quarter increase of near on six per cent is a good omen for golf participation for the rest of the year. We know from our experience that if golfers are out on the course playing before The Masters, then the game can expect to play a larger part of their year, with further rounds to follow suit.
Chuck Greif, the former director of sales for Jacobsen’s Eastern region of the USA, has been appointed managing director, Asia Pacific, and will be relocating to Singapore to head up the company’s operations in the Far East.
Droitwich Golf Club has taken the major decision to switch machinery makes and has opted to sign up with Toro for a five-year exclusivity deal, benefitting from a brand new £200,000 fleet of turf equipment.
A revolutionary new device which measures the smoothness and trueness of fine turf surfaces has been launched by former golf course manager Karl Parry, and development partner and exclusive worldwide distributor, Everris.
De Vere Hotels & Resorts has announced that Keith Pickard has been promoted to the role of group director of golf, following eight and a half years of service for the hotel chain which is currently up for sale.
Emma Clifford, a former member of the Ladies’ European Tour, who gave up a career as a golfer and went on to manage her home club, has been named the Golf Club Managers’ Association’s (GCMA) manager of the year for 2014.
Antony Alexander, a former product support manager at Ransomes Jacobsen, has been promoted to product manager, joining the two existing product managers based in the UK and the team of three based in the USA.
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company profile EXPANDING FAST ClubstoHire CEO, Tony Judge, proudly displaying the growing number of locations where his company conducts business
Tony judges success at ClubstoHire The last couple of months have been a fly-away success for Tony Judge, CEO of ClubstoHire. Not only has he celebrated 125,000 customers, but he has also collected the inaugural HSBC Golf Business Community Award for Innovation, as Aidan Patrick discovers.
Company Profile sponsored by ClubstoHire (353) 1 833 3323 email@example.com
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ClubstoHire.com, the fast-growing golf-club-rental company that provides equipment for golfers in 21 locations across Europe and Africa, was announced as the winner of the inaugural ‘HSBC Golf Business Community Award for Innovation’ at The HSBC Golf Business Forum in Abu Dhabi, at the end of April. The award was presented at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa as part of the three-day HSBC Golf Business Forum. ClubstoHire.com – which has saved golfers an estimated €4 million in airline baggage charges since its formation in 2010 – edged out 89 other successful companies to win the award, including manufacturers, software producers and business developers. A group of distinguished global industry experts including eight-time Ryder Cup star Sam Torrance selected the Dublin-based company as the most impressive in terms of its track record in providing an outstanding service to golfers and enabling more people to play the sport on holiday. “It’s an honour to be the first winner of such a high-profile global award and be recognised by leading figures within the
golf industry,” said CEO, Tony Judge, who launched ClubstoHire four years ago with the help of now European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley. “We started the business to help make golfing holidays more convenient and less expensive, and after recently expanding to locations such as Cape Town and Marrakesh, we’re continuing to do everything we can to make this happen for golfers,” added Judge. “It’s incredible how much the business has grown in the space of just four years and the level of interest continues to grow among the golfing population,” said ClubstoHire ambassador and investor McGinley, who originally played a crucial role in negotiating with brands like TaylorMade to sign up to the service. “The idea of offering rental clubs from €35 for a week has proved to be an extremely innovative one and I’m pleased it’s helping more golfers to play the sport in different locations.” Last year, ClubstoHire supplied a record 40,000 sets of clubs to travelling golfers and re-launched its website to cope with the demand. It also introduced a Guide to the Algarve – a free magazine given to every Faro customer to point
AND THE WINNER IS... Barbara McGuiness with Paul McGinley
HSBC REWARDS INNOVATION Tony Judge, right, receiving the HSBC award
ONE-STOP SHOP The store at Malaga airport
them towards the best golf clubs, restaurants and places to stay in the region. This year, the innovative company added 1,000 more of the latest sets from leading brands like TaylorMade, Callaway, Mizuno and Wilson Staff, while it also supported the launch of the Golf Life Travel digital magazine that aims to help travelling golfers when booking trips to Portugal and Spain. Also, earlier in June, the company celebrated its 125,000th customer since setting up business four years ago, with a special presentation by McGinley to landmark golfer Barbara McGuinness at Royal Dublin Golf Club.
McGuinness had just finished playing in a ClubstoHire golf day that celebrated the achievement of McGinley becoming European captain for September’s Ryder Cup, when she was surprised by her fellow Dubliner with a brand new set of TaylorMade golf clubs and bag. “Meeting the European Ryder Cup captain and personally receiving a new set of clubs from him was an unbelievable experience,” said McGuinness, who became the 125,000th customer to have booked a set of clubs through ClubtoHire when she visited Faro a month earlier. “I love travelling to play golf and after booking my Portugal trip through
ClubstoHire, I can safely say I will be using the service again because of how easy and cost-effective the whole process was from start to finish,” said McGuinness. Commenting on the milestone, Judge added: “It was fitting that Barbara became our 125,000th customer at Faro, where ClubstoHire set up its very first rental shop with the help of Paul McGinley back in 2010. “The company has grown significantly since by adding 20 other locations that are helping golfers book trips to some of the best golfing destinations across Europe and Africa.” GMé
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“We have recently secured our first contract in France at Château D’Augerville, south of Paris, and in Morocco we will, by the end of this year, have moved from two operational properties to six”
In conversation with Ian Bulleid Ian Bulleid is the man tasked with ensuring that the Troon Golf brand continues to grow throughout the EMEA region, whilst benefitting the golf course owners Troon work with. C’EST LA VIE Château D’Augerville in France
GMé You started your golf career working at The Gleneagles Hotel, so how did you get offered that position, and what skills did you acquire working at this year’s Ryder Cup venue? IB I was managing snooker and leisure clubs in Glasgow when I was approached to become the first sports manager at the resort. The business wanted to widen the scope of, what had previously been the golf secretary role, and I was asked to join to oversee a period of significant capital investment in The Equestrian Centre and salmon fishing rights on The Tay amongst others. I was fortunate to work with a peer group of very talented managers with a forward thinking leader in Peter Lederer who not only believed in, but invested heavily in developing his management team. As a result, I was able to hone my golf management skills and augment the instincts I had relied upon until then with a clearer understanding of what “management and leadership” was all about and how it is critical to running an effective and profitable golf operation.
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I think that the biggest lesson I learned though, related to a “value proposition” and that this does not relate in any way to price. Operating at the luxury end of the market, Gleneagles taught me that focussing on delivery of exceptional service, produce and facilities can ensure a value proposition at any price. GMé Your career to-date appears to be all golf related, so what was the attraction – and still is – towards the golf industry? IB The golf business is certainly the area in which most people will recognise my name, but in fact, before moving into golf, I spent my first ten years (after completing a sports science degree) working as leisure manager at Thorpe Park, event management at the Wembley Stadium complex and commercial leisure club management before the Gleneagles opportunity came along. I had played golf since a teenager and the opportunity to combine working in such a great environment (my office looked up the first hole on the Kings Course) within a commercial framework
ROCK SOLID Rockliffe Hall, which Bulleid helped to open
UNLUCKY FOR SOME The impressive 13th hole at Las Colinas which is managed by Troon
was really attractive to me. Since then I have enjoyed the challenge of making what is, an inherently challenging business work successfully for a large variety of different owners and operators.
company must have been an interesting experience. How would you say you have adjusted?
GMé After a spell as golf & leisure manager for the Marriot Group within Whitbread in the early 90s, you setup Impetus Golf and Leisure for more than ten years before being offered a position with Troon. What would you say was your single most important achievement in ten years of running Impetus? IB It would be unfair of me to try and single out the most important achievement as working with a portfolio of clients with differing requirements and objectives meant that what might be seen as a huge achievement with one, may be seen as par for the course with another. I think our greatest challenge was being given six weeks to open a golf course which had been left with just a skeleton staff cutting grass for three years, and the most enjoyable project has to have been Rockliffe Hall, where I worked alongside the chairman from pre-planning permission days to a year after opening, helping in many of the design decisions, eventual executive staff recruitment and the opening and immediate post opening support. GMé. Going from working in your own business to being employed by arguably the world’s biggest golf management
IB My greatest concern before taking the role was the potential constraints that a corporate environment can provide with a focus on managing upwards towards shareholders. I’m delighted to say that at Troon the focus is on delivering for our teams and striving to meet our owner’s expectations which are largely achieved by ensuring that at each property we are providing the right support at the right time. So I moved from a role where I had a portfolio of clients to answer to, to a similar one where a large part of the success of the role is dependent on ensuring that owner expectations are met. So the transition wasn’t that difficult. It is still about meeting client needs and providing expertise and support when they need it. GMé In your position as director international of sales & marketing EMEA for Troon, what exactly is your job description and your role? IB I would break the role into three areas. The first and most important element is providing the sales and marketing support to individual properties in delivering their business objectives. It’s hugely rewarding working with bright and talented people who are not afraid to challenge but are equally keen
to learn. Watching them grow and develop as their businesses thrive is a great incentive to get up every day. I monitor the use of the Troon and Troon Golf brands and look for ways of growing the brand proposition across EMEA where it is not as readily recognised as it is in the US. And finally, linked to the point above, I offer support to our business development strategy as we continue to grow and expand the brand internationally. GMé. What regions do you cover, and where do you see the growth potential for Troon in the years ahead? IB I am responsible for Europe, the Middle East and Africa with some support for our work in Asia Pacific working with over 30 operating golf facilities. We have recently secured our first contract in France at Château D’Augerville, south of Paris, and in Morocco we will, by the end of this year, have moved from two operational properties to six and I would also expect further growth in the Middle East. Further afield, we are excited by the prospects in Asia. Essentially with operations in 27 countries we are very aware of the nuances that individual cultures will manifest and have a robust set of tried and tested parameters that we are flexible enough to adapt to the unique requirement each Country present. I also think we will continue to see growth in the USA where we have a compelling argument for any private
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BIRDIE APPROACH The 18th green at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, which is managed by Troon
“I do despair when, in the UK, we snub the opportunity of putting a million pounds in the Golf Foundation’s pocket by refusing to support a simple £1 levy on member subscriptions.”
member club, in particular during the current transition the US golf club industry is facing.
think the golf industry can learn from rugby, which has a great track record of creating a family atmosphere at games?
GMé What would you say sets Troon apart from its competition?
IB Golf in the commercial sector does a lot to encourage families – just look at the recent Crown Golf initiative with free junior membership. We have our own Troon Family Golf initiative and across the golfing landscape there are other great success stories. Do not think by my answer that I am complacent in this matter, but I do despair when, in the UK, we snub the opportunity of putting a million pounds in the Golf Foundation’s pocket by refusing to support a simple £1 levy on member subscriptions. The Golf Foundation has clearly demonstrated that they know what they are doing, and we should be supporting them more! Commercial golf recognises the shift that is needed and is taking strides to address the challenge. We will do more.. it’s in our commercial interests to do so, but I hope those leading the elite and private clubs across the UK and Europe can start to see the way they, too, could be making a more long term contribution to supporting the growth of the game which will continue giving them a living.
IB The quality, commitment and depth of operational and technical talent that already works within the business providing us with our senior managers and executives of the future. The biggest global golf loyalty scheme in “Troon Rewards” alongside other marketing programmes and partnerships to which any new facility has immediate access, together with a worldwide active database of golfers which runs into hundreds of thousands of email addresses. Agronomic expertise in all types of climates which continually evolves to market expectations, environmental pressures and efficient cost management, and procurement leverage using the buying power of well over 200 courses to deliver the greatest value to our owners. GMé What are the key areas that you look for when assessing whether or not a particular golf club fits the Troon profile? IB I think it all starts and finishes with the owner. We seek genuine partnerships where we believe that we can provide effective solutions which will deliver against the clear objectives set by them. In an existing operation our primary concern will be the course, its layout and construction and whether the level of both capital and revenue investment required to achieve our “Championship Standard every day” requirement can be realistically justified within achievable revenue expectations. GMé As a self-confessed Rugby fanatic, compared to golf, what lessons do you
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GMé How often do you get the opportunity to play the courses that you visit, and how would you best describe your golfing ability? IB My colleagues will say too often! I’m ashamed to say that there are still a number of our courses in our portfolio I haven’t yet played but the opportunity on each site visit is there and this has to be considered in the context of the priority at a given time. The role comes with an expectation that you will be able to engage with partners, owners and associates on the golf course in a less formal environment and I won’t pretend that this is a chore! GMé
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Fortune favours the brave at Fota Island Resort Sometimes, throwing caution to the wind can be as effective in business as prudence. As Mark Alexander finds out, the new owners of Fota Island Resort favour the former, which has seen Irish eyes smiling once again in the city of Cork.
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fotaisland.ie ON REFLECTION The stunning finishing hole at Fota Island, main picture, and right, the impressive clubhouse
For Seamus Leahy, the 2014 Irish Open is going to be special, whatever the outcome. As marketing director of Fota Island Resort Hotel Golf and Spa in Cork, he has spent the last nine months at the forefront of an audacious bid to bring the European Tour back to Cork. “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” he said. The three handicapper has been at the resort for six years and has witnessed a dramatic turnaround in fortune for the Munster venue. The upshot of the last nine months will come to a head when Paul Casey defends the Irish Open title he won at Carton House last year. With an impressive international field comprising seven Major champions and players from 23 different nations, this year’s tournament is shaping up to be a classic. For Leahy, however, his wish list has a couple of caveats. “Beautiful weather would be one,” he said wistfully. “If we have it like it is today, I would be over the moon. Of course, an Irish winner would be everyone’s preference. A result like we had at Wentworth when there was an Irish one and two would be perfect. If that happened, we would be very happy boys and girls indeed.” It is remarkable that Leahy is able to visualise his ideal Irish Open considering Fota Island Resort was in the depths of receivership less than 12 months ago.
Despite a glowing reputation, the 500-acre resort had fallen foul of the economic downturn when its owners, the Flemming Group, fell into liquidation in 2009. “Fota went into receivership back then,” Leahy recalled. “It was operated by PWC, who were helpful and understanding and because it had always traded successfully, they used the existing management team to run the property. “They involved us very much in the sales process, and several people came to have a look with many asking detailed questions about what was involved in running Fota.” In fact, the €20 million guide price attracted attention from investment firms around the world including representatives from the US, Canada, the Middle East and India, with 200 expressions of interest lodged. “Let’s be honest; several international organisations were probably shopping around looking at the opportunities that Ireland represented at that time,” said Leahy. “Fota was one of the premium ones that was on the market and therefore was an obvious choice.” He continued: “It is a beautiful product that people really enjoy. Its location is superb, right alongside Cork but on an island, and it is literally 15 minutes from Cork city and 20 minutes from the
“Let’s be honest; several international organisations were probably shopping around looking at the opportunities that Ireland represented at that time” twitter.com/gme
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fota island resort
“The first thing the family were very clear about was they enjoyed what we were doing and they wanted to work with the existing team to develop and expand Fota”
MAKING AN ENTRANCE The entrance to the academy at Fota Island
airport. It’s very accessible, so a lot of people were aware of it. For others it was part of a shopping trip.” The eventual owners came from China. The Kang Family Worldwide Group has numerous interests around the world including a growing hospitality portfolio which includes two five-star hotels in Beijing and Shanghai and the recently acquired Kingsley Hotel in Cork City. The family’s official statement regarding the Fota Island purchase has a strangely diplomatic overtone but illustrates their clear ambition for the resort. “President Michael Higgins referred to Ireland and China as ‘both countries with ancient traditions and modern responsibilities’, and described the love of art, culture and sense of family that connect China and Ireland,” noted Xui Kang, spokesperson of the Kang Family. “But something else important we have in common is our hospitality. Our company has had the good fortune to buy this wonderful resort, and we are looking forward to developing the great work that has been done here to date and maximising Fota Island Resort’s potential in the future.” Leahy gave the family their first showround which, as he puts it, included showing them to “all the nooks and crannies of the resort.” Suitably impressed and with due diligence completed, the sale went through in September of 2013. The resort was in new hands and while the arrival of new owners with new ideas may have unnerved some, the real-
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ity proved quite different. “It’s been very positive for all the staff and management here,” said Leahy. “The first thing the family were very clear about was they enjoyed what we were doing and they wanted to work with the existing team to develop and expand Fota. They also asked us what we would like to do to improve the place and how we would like to take Fota forward. We obviously had lots of ideas up our sleeves and we duly produced that list.” That list included, among others, expanding the resort’s outdoor activities and introducing what turned out to be an incredibly successful Christmas market and Santa experience. More crucially, and certainly more ambitiously was the plan to bring the Irish Open back to Fota for a third time. “The other one on the list was the Irish Open,” said Leahy. “In fact, it was on the top of the list, mainly because we felt it was a wonderful way to announce a new chapter of Fota Island resort. It was a great way to say, look, this is the story now.” While hosting a European Tour event may have been the perfect launch pad, it would also require considerable effort on behalf of the 280-strong workforce to make all the necessary preparations within the nine-month time frame. Since the resort last held the tournament, nine new holes had been built on the land previously allocated for parking and the tented village, and the course
would have to be tweaked to bring it bang up to date. “We are very fortunate at Fota to have held the Irish Open twice before,” said Leahy. “As a result, the course didn’t need a lot of changes to maintain it at a European Tour standard. “We extended four par-fives and made a big change on the sixth to make it more iconic, by moving the tee box out onto the shoreline which makes the tee shot over the sea and sea wall,” added Leahy. “It is beautiful.” There were other changes made to the Jeff Howes-designed course. The Tour specified two grades of rough rather than the resort’s customary single cut, and green speeds needed to be pushing 11 on the Stimpmeter, which the team already achieved for the annual captain’s prize. In all, €500,000 has been invested by the resort, which is acting as both the venue and sponsor of the Irish Open. In anyone’s book, it has been a bold and audacious venture which surely banishes the resort’s uncertain future firmly and squarely into the history books. You have to take your hat off to the boldness of it all, and the go-ahead attitude of the new owners. “They are very progressive and forward-thinking,” said Leahy. “I am very happy and I know the rest of the team are delighted about how our new owners have approached this. They are very ambitious and they want to achieve things. We are very lucky.” GMé
It’s child’s play for Alex at Gaudet Luce As a director of Gaudet Luce Golf Club, Alexander Fernihough is the man responsible for creating a childcare nursery on site, which is proving to be a big success with both parents and members alike. Article by Scott MacCallum.
“I always felt that to attract more ladies and more juniors we had to get away from the perception that golf is predominately a middle class, middle aged, maledominated sport.”
FLYING THE FLAG Gaudet Luce seems to be setting the standard off the course
It is a perennial problem which has exercised the minds of golf club management for many years and, with the extreme weather conditions of recent times, it has become a bigger issue than ever. How do you continue to pay the bills when the golf course is closed for extended periods? It was this vexing issue, coupled with an issue regarding the future of two old barns, that moved Gaudet Luce Golf Club, in Worcestershire, to a solution which has not only resolved the cash flow problem but created a platform for a new and very successful business model. “We had a couple of large barns,” explained Alexander Fernihough, director of the club. “They were starting to fall
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down and we knew that we either had to do something with them or have them demolished. “As they were more than 200 years old we decided to look at how we could make better use of them. At the time, my children had just come out of nursery and we knew there was a market for more childcare nurseries in the area.” That was back in 2007 and, since then, the barns have been transformed into the perfect environment for pre-school children with a talented team of childcare professionals offering the age group from three-plus everything they could possibly want… including regular golf lessons. “We have used the childcare as part of a bigger plan for the company as a whole
so, alongside our on-site provision, we have dealings with all of the local primary schools where we teach golf. “At our closest primary school, St Peters Church of England Primary, we provided them with their wrap-around care, including a breakfast club and an after-school club,” explained Fernihough. It has given Gaudet Luce a shot in the arm and ensured the club has become a key component in the local community. “There is a private members’ club down the road which is over 100 years old and we just haven’t got the age or the heritage so it is a waste of time trying to compete with them on that score. What we do have is the facilities here so we can attract juniors and beginners to the game of golf.
A WARM WELCOME Director of Gaudet Luce Alexander Fernihough, left, with Trevor Nicely, a former private chef on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island
“We had to make the best of our assets and we knew we couldn’t compete in the market for established golfers. I come from a food and beverage background and I always felt that to attract more ladies and more juniors we had to get away from the perception that golf is predominately a middle-class, middleaged, male-dominated sport. “By introducing the childcare side into our business it totally changed our dynamic. We’ve got a staff of 52 and more than half of them are female.” The success of the policy can be seen in a 64 per cent rise in club membership since 2010, but that simple figure hides what is the real cause for optimism. “Of the new members 37 per cent are juniors and 29 per cent are ladies which has created a non-male-dominated envi-
ronment, which is much more welcoming for many of the people who have joined,” said Fernihough, who added that 75 per cent of the new members were under the age of 40. To cater for the influx, the golf club, and the head professional, Russell Adams, created a programme to bring junior and beginner golfers into the fold, utilising the driving range and par-three course on site, as well as the steadily improving 18-hole Phoenix course. “We have a two-year programme which moves juniors and beginners through,” added Fernihough. “They spend a year on the par-three course and then, if they are big enough from a junior point of view, or skilled enough from a beginners’ point of view, they move to a nine-hole membership of
the main course before going on to full membership of the club.” In 2010, when the programme started, there were 139 people on the programme: 65 juniors, 48 ladies and only 26 men. “We currently have 83 juniors, 58 ladies and 71 gents, so we have seen increases in all three categories.” But it is the lucky children who are enrolled at Phoenix Childcare, who perhaps have the best chance to become top golfers, as, three times a week, they play golf in the form of SNAG, which ensures they learn the rudiments of the game in a fun way. “We do run the golf and the childcare as two separate operations, which happen to share a facility, but it is well known that it is notoriously difficult to
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“We had to make sure that we were weather proofed and to do that we went down a more diverse route.”
PHOENIX RISING The 18-hole, Phoenix Course
ADAMS FAMILY Russell Adams with some willing pupils during one of his SNAG coaching sessions at Gaudet Luce
get parents with children involved with golf. “That’s why we have the par-three course which families often play together,” said Fernihough, who is a member of the UK Golf Course Owners’ Association. “In the UK it is fair to say we have a fixation with playing 18 holes of golf, but if we can offer alternatives, that stereotype may change.” One of those alternatives, recently introduced at the club, is a three-hole Friday Fun competition for the summer on a loop of three holes on the par-three course just outside the clubhouse, which takes around half-an-hour to 45 minutes to complete. “We don’t have any dress restrictions on the par-three course and we get quite a number of young guys who
go out there in groups for a bit of fun, often with their girlfriends there as well. It creates a different atmosphere to the traditional golf club.” Fernihough is delighted that the business model chosen several years ago has produced the rewards that it has, but he does believe there are many golf clubs who need to identify where they sit in the market place so they can then plan where to move forward. The revenue generated by the nursery provides a solid income throughout the year, which is more vital than ever during the winter months when shorter days, lower playing numbers, or that dreaded extended period of course closure due to the extreme weather, contributes towards a lower income from golf, while outgoings remain constant.
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“Golf clubs face many challenges particularly if they don’t have a wellknown name and reputation to use as a draw,” added Fernihough. “We had to make sure we were weather proofed and, to do that, we went down a more diverse route. That is the reality of the leisure industry – do you go exceedingly niche and hope there are enough people in the market to make it pay, or choose a different route and be as diverse as possible?” Fernihough is honest enough to admit that had the diversification not happened at Gaudet Luce the club may not have been around today. But it has been finding the key to creating a steady and new source of income which has given Gaudet Luce Golf Club real optimism for the future. GMé
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ON THE GREEN A cross between golf and football, FootGolf could be a revenue earner at your golf club
Bend it like Bubba With the FIFA World Cup taking place in Brazil this summer, could FootGolf see a surge in participation as a result? Scott MacCallum investigates. While the summer will undoubtedly be dominated by the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, it seems likely that golf will be forced to wait on the touchline until grabbing its moment in the limelight, when the Ryder Cup gets under way at Gleneagles, in September. However, it is possible to combine the two great games thanks to the new phenomenon sweeping the country: FootGolf. The game is played over traditional golf courses – or those specially built for FootGolf – and instead of the trusty bag of 14 clubs the player uses his trusty right or left peg and aims it at a regulation football and not a 1.68 sized ball. Just as in golf it is the fewest number of swings (of the foot rather than the club) to find a hole, measuring 52 centimetres, which identifies the winner. The game has been brought into the UK by International Golf as part of the company’s drive to open golf up to the
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wider population, something with which they have been particularly successful with SNAG. “We look to develop golf by tapping into the 95 per cent of the population which doesn’t participate in the game, and SNAG and FootGolf both sit very comfortably into that portfolio,” said IGD director, Guy Higton. IGD has been promoting the game within the UK for the last 18 months and Onestopgolf Golf Centre, in Hull, has become the unofficial home of the game in the country, with the first affiliated FootGolf course. A FootGolf course can fit into anything from two to five acres and the One Stop course has synthetic tees and greens for all year round play, supplied by European Golf. “It really is golf and football united and all you need to get started is a pair of trainers. It’s an ideal activity for everything from kids’ parties to stag do’s,” said
Ben Rozenbroek, managing director of FootGolf Yorkshire. And, despite its short history, it really is beginning to catch the imagination of the sports-loving British public. “The satisfaction levels of competitors are very high, which we know because the retention rate of players is very good – an indication that it is a very enjoyable game,” said Higton. “For me it transforms an open-play sport, which is traditional football, into a closed-play sport with a static ball, and players having to think about what they are trying to achieve – course management meets football,” he added. It is also excellent practice for footballers who want to develop their skills, particularly for taking free kicks and penalties. Knowing how much spin to put on the ball is useful for both games. The game has proved to be particularly popular in the US where a number of custom-built FootGolf courses have been
ukfootgolf.com SIZE MATTERS FootGolf is played with a regular sized football, and holes measuring 52cm wide
“For us, FootGolf is another way of introducing people to golf using a new channel, and at the same time, embracing the nation’s game”
developed, and with eight more opening by July, there will be 23 FootGolf courses throughout California, with hole lengths ranging from 75 yards for a par-three up to 225 yards, more than twice the length of a football pitch, for a par-five. It should surprise no-one that inspiration for the game came from a Barcelona player, Juan Manuel Asensi, in 2008, ensuring that the men from the Camp Nou can lay claim to FootGolf as well as “tiki taka” football. However, the leading exponent of the game comes from another country with a long and distinguished footballing heritage. Just as Ferenc Puskas was the absolute star when Hungary became the first overseas team to defeat England at Wembley, in 1953, with the, at the time, shocking scoreline of 6-3, Bela Lengyel showed the same sort of supremacy in the first FootGolf World Cup, when it was played at the Kisoroszi Golf Course in Budapest in 2012. He has since gone on to dominate the sport, winning tournaments in many other parts of the world.
“FootGolf associations have been set up in 20 countries across the world already,” said Mike O’Connor, president of the UK FootGolf Association. “Everybody loves it. It’s great fun and it is low cost to get started,” he added. The International Footgolf Association was founded in Geneva just five years ago and the IFGA is currently working on establishing the rules of the game and developing key elements for broadcast worldwide. Several footballers have tried their hands at the sport, including Frank de Boer, Ruud Gullit, and Juan Sebastian Veron, while, earlier this year, the PGA of America and the World Golf Foundation acknowledged that FootGolf can help golf courses to generate more income and may also contribute in the future with the growth of the game of golf. “For us, FootGolf is another way of introducing people to golf using a new channel, and at the same time, embracing the nation’s game,” added Higton. “We are seeing some cross pollination from FootGolf to the same people, who have not previously played before, using
the driving range set up at OneStopGolf to give golf a go.” As you might expect, those who are attracted to FootGolf tend to be younger than your average golfer, with groups who play 11 or five-a-side football the rest of the year turning up to give the sport a go. “It will be an interesting debate when it comes to etiquette on the course, on what to do when someone pulls their shirt over their head to celebrate a birdie,” laughed Higton. “But seriously, attracting groups who are used to enjoying a beer after a game is different from your traditional car park golfer and it might well help to stimulate the club’s bar takings.” So while you are on the edge of your seat as Steven Gerrard stands, 12 yards from goal, preparing to take the penalty which might smooth England’s progress through to the quarter finals in Brazil, think of the group of FootGolf devotees who might be standing over a 12-yard, par putt, with three feet of break, hoping to match their handicap for the first time in the season. GMé
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The Master returns to The Grove Renowned golf course architect, Kyle Phillips, recently returned to The Grove to help the London resort celebrate its tenth anniversary. Article by Aidan Patrick. For many of golf’s observers and enthusiasts, the unveiling and immediate positioning of Kingsbarns Golf Links among the world’s top-ranked golf courses heralded the arrival of a new star in golf course architecture in Kyle Phillips. The honour roll earned by the Fife links is indeed impressive. And while rankings can sometimes be fickle, there is, nevertheless, a general consensus that Kingsbarns remains one of the world’s most spectacular tracts and a ‘must play’ for even the most discerning golfers. Speaking with Phillips, there is a tangible sense its opening at the turn of the millennium marked a watershed that elevated the reputation of the Kansas State-educated designer. Having stepped out of the shadow of Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Design, a company with which he spent 16 years, a new course in the Home of Golf represented a huge opportunity for Phillips – and one he grasped with both hands, quenching the intense thirst for a new world-class course overlooking the Auld Grey Toun. So thorough was the appreciation of Kingsbarns that scrutiny of his later projects would be inevitable. If it was validation that was required, in Phillips’ skill and vision as an architect or regarding his acumen as founder of the burgeoning Kyle Phillips Golf Course Design, The Grove was just the tonic.
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Not that the owners of the Hertfordshire venue, which has just celebrated its 10th anniversary, were aware Kingsbarns was set to become Scotland’s finest new course for decades. “I signed the deal to design The Grove before Kingsbarns opened, so the owners here really took a chance on me,” he said. “At that time, Kingsbarns was something I was doing but nobody knew about it. “Perhaps when Kingsbarns opened it was validation for the owners at The Grove that they chose the right man. For me, it was the chance to show that I could not only design a links course but a parkland course, each of which being capable of hosting the world’s best players.” Phillips soon got the opportunity to prove that The Grove could accomplish just that. Although not necessarily planned at any stage during conception or construction – and having opened to the golfing public for less than a year – in 2004 came the announcement that The Grove had been selected as a venue for the lucrative WGC-Cadillac Championship. It is, to this day, the one and only time a WGC would take place in the UK, and perhaps represents the strongest field ever to have assembled here with each of the top 50 players in the world competing.
MASTERPLAN Kyle Phillips studying the original design plans for The Grove, and top left, the fourth hole at the London resort
“Hosting the WGC-Cadillac Championship was something that just evolved naturally,” added Phillips. “I was doing some work for the President’s Cup in connection with the PGA Tour in Washington DC and a guy from the tour asked what I had been working on. “Kingsbarns had just opened and he said that he liked the golf course, and I mentioned that we were doing a course
in London. I didn’t think anything would come of it – it’s funny looking back how little things like that happen – but, sure enough, one thing led to another,” added Philips. “The course here wasn’t intentionally designed to hold tournaments although the owners were happy to entertain the idea, as The Grove had opened and had been a success from the start.
“For me, it was a little scary because we had had such a good start and people enjoyed the golf course so much. I thought, all we need is for a pro to say something negative and for everyone to hear that. “Luckily, Tiger Woods, who was the god of golf at that moment and playing amazingly, won the whole thing and loved the golf course from the practice
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kyle phillips A PORTFOLIO TO ENVY Kyle Phillips has designed some of the world’s finest golf courses, including, left, Kingsbarns, below left, South Cape in South Korea, right, Yas Links and below right, The Grove
“The Grove’s model is unique. As nongolfers, the owners have come from a different angle and this tends to be where a lot of the good ideas come from”
round forward, so it couldn’t have been better.” As an exercise in marketing, it was a stroke of genius. As well as broadening the appeal of this stunning new venue to a worldwide audience, the endorsement of the world’s best players has been priceless. Still, there are no plans in place to reinstate The Grove as a tour venue. This, perhaps, will be met with disappointment among Old Blighty’s golfers, who’ve bemoaned the fact the BMW PGA Championship remains the only top-tier event, outside of The Open, to take place on English soil. This speaks to the success of The Grove’s operational approach and commercial model. Unique in being a pay-and-play venue, offering a premier service, world-class golf course, unrivalled facilities and perhaps the most accessible location in the south, in truth,
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The Grove just doesn’t require the exposure of a Tour event to ensure footfall. As Phillips explained: “There are some really great courses across the world that never have a tournament and will never desire to have a tournament. That isn’t the mark of success or quality but sometimes opportunities present themselves. “There is no desire at The Grove to rush out and host another tournament but if they were going to have another event it would have to feature a serious field and be the right event. “Of course, when we had the first event here, everyone mentioned what an awesome location this is in relation to London and accessibility to the M25 and, of course, just the property itself. “But The Grove’s model is unique. As non-golfers, the owners have come from a different angle and this tends to be where a lot of the good ideas come
from; people who are not so deeply connected into golf that they don’t just see the forest but the individual trees,” said Phillips. “They saw a gap in the marketplace and, so, appreciate the business side. Not having members allowed them to accommodate hotel guests and the corporate market whenever they want to play. “Of course, if you have members, they want to play on a Saturday morning and at all of the prime tee-times. The Grove model eliminates this conflict by creating a club experience in terms of quality and conditioning, which is available to everyone. “They do a great job here. The service from top to bottom is such that visitors feel like they are a member of a top club for the day. I think it is a really brilliant idea and how they have handled it has been excellent.”
MJ Abbott... The team that built The Grove
Despite now working across a worldwide portfolio of venues, the premier pay-and-play model remains a novelty to Phillips, which is testament to the perfect balance that has been struck at The Grove. Despite the global financial difficulties, which have impinged greatly on golf as an industry, Kyle Phillips Golf Course Design has flourished, sending its founder far and wide. From Abu Dhabi’s Yas Links in the Middle East, to South Korea, where his latest masterpiece has just been unveiled, Phillips remains in high demand. “We just opened our first course in South Korea, and our first in Asia,” he said. “It’s called South Cape and presented a spectacular piece of ground, really rocky, and so is like mountain meeting sea. It’s not a links but a seaside course and it really is amazing.
“We’re also opening another course in California called Menlo Country Club, that was originally designed in 1906 in Silicon Valley. We’ve extended it to 6,800 yards and created some variety architecturally to make it more interesting. That will open in July. “To add to that we are building a second golf course in Agadir, Morocco, and have renovated nine holes at Real Club de Las Brisas, near Marbella, and will do the second nine in September. We’re also working at Valderrama at the moment, as well, so we have lots of things in the pipeline. “It’s still a small boutique business but I love it. We’ve been very fortunate through the economic downturn to be working in a number of different places and to have been able to continue to undertake projects. I think we have a nice niche market.” GMé
When specialist contractor MJ Abbott started on site at The Grove in 2000 it was a unique experience for a team that had more than 40 years experience in the field. Contracts director Steve Briggs, who joined the company in the mid90s, explained how working with US designer Kyle Phillips took them into uncharted territory. “It was the first occasion we had worked with an architect-appointed shaper,” he said. “It was unusual then and still is relatively unusual over here now. “We did the shaping earthworks and handed back individual holes to the architect and the shaper, who final shaped it and tried to conceal the cart paths. Then we came back in to design and install the drainage, then irrigation systems and re-soil, before it went back to Kyle for final approval. “Look at it now and you can see how well they did, as you rarely see a cart path from the hole you’re playing on. “It’s not a process we’ve had many times, but we did work that way on the West Course greens at Wentworth with Ernie Els. It’s to avoid what they might consider ‘lost opportunities’; it may mean a little more work but they believe it gets the best results.” The project has been positive for MJ Abbott too, as the company’s relationship has remained strong with The Grove to this day, with additional work including secondary drainage, landscaping works, sports pitches, a sand volleyball court and even a beach.
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shoe fitting THE NEXT ADVANCEMENT The DNA by FootJoy, which stands for DryJoys’s Next Advancement
The life & soul of custom shoe fitting Michael Lenihan recently met with Russell Lawes of FootJoy, to discuss custom shoe-fitting, and the benefits to clubs. It’s taken some time but both professional and amateur golfers see clubfitting as an essential part of their makeup if they are to take the game seriously. It wasn’t always the way of course and it would have taken one confident manufacturer to go out there and say “this is the way forward”. It paid off for them and golf as a whole. And that process is now being repeated, albeit in a different area: the feet. For FootJoy is currently undertaking an already successful roadshow tour of golf-shoe-fitting days around the UK. It started on May 1 at the Drift Golf Club, in Surrey, and is scheduled to end sometime in September at a club yet to be determined. Shoes, like clubs apparently, can improve your performance if you are fitted correctly. It’s not just a clever marketing ploy, as research has thrown up a plethora of statistics to support the argument. And some of those statistics can make frightening reading for we keen golfers, as FootJoy’s marketing manager, Russell Lawes, explained. He said: “We’ve worked with the University of Massachusetts, in the US, which has fitted different golfers into a whole range of sizes of our shoes – too small, too big, too wide – and we look at the figures we get from them as they’re hitting balls. “From the figures, we know that you will lose 26 per cent of power if you’re wearing shoes that are too wide or too long. And it’s that statistic that always strikes a chord with people – and it’s verifiable.
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“Currently around 70 per cent of the people we’ve fitted were in the wrong size shoe originally. “Because golf is a performance sport, if your foot is moving around inside the shoe, you’re not going to have a stable platform to hit from, which means you’ll lose not only power, but accuracy. “Imagine hitting a golf ball if you were standing on ice. Your feet would be moving when you turn, and, while that’s taking it to the extreme, that’s the same scenario as if your shoe is too long or too wide. You’re fighting to get balance while you’re swinging, so your weight transfer through the ball will be reduced as well. “You’re using your shoes in every shot you take on the golf course and if it is the wrong fit it will affect your performance. It’s not just yardage, it’s the dispersion too.” The UK arm of FootJoy is leading this advancement in shoe fitting, while their contemporaries in the USA look on and learn. “The whole principle is to get the right size shoe for everybody’s feet. We know that if you’re in the right size shoe comfort and performance would be enhanced and also the shelf life of the shoe will increase. “We’re not rolling it out across Europe at the moment, we’re almost the guinea pig – though I prefer to think of us as at the vanguard of the movement. I think it will go global, it’s been so successful.” The hope remains that having piqued the retailer or club pro, the training FootJoy provides them will enable them to act as golf-shoe fitters themselves,
“From the figures, we know that you will lose 26 per cent of power if you’re wearing shoes that are too wide or too long. And it’s that statistic that always strikes a chord with people – and it’s verifiable.”
STYLE The sleek lines of the DNA shoe
LAWES AND ORDER Russell Lawes, marketing manager of FootJoy
GREAT SCOTT Adam Scott explains the DNA FitBed
and, in turn, cut down on the amount of stock they hold while still retaining the same margins and turnover. Lawes added: “We’re working towards the day when clubs will do it. It’s an educational process for both consumers and retailers. We train the retailers on how to fit the shoe the FootJoy way; to show them there’s an opportunity for them, if they have a lot of stock they want to move, to advertise their own shoe-fitting day. “We give Brannocks (the foot-measuring device we all remember from our childhood) to all our accounts free of charge. And we have the FootJoy University, an online training platform, just to give them every opportunity to sell the shoe at full-price, because the shoe fitting has to be done face to face; it can’t be done online. “Everybody says they know what shoe size they are: ‘I’m a nine; I’ve always been a nine…’ But this is an educational process and we’re saying to people that feet change over time; they change shape and they change size.
“And the other thing we’re trying to get across is that the fit of a golf shoe needs to be different to that of a street shoe,” added Lawes. “With a street shoe, it’s about comfort, so if they put their foot in and it feels comfortable they’re fine. In golf you want a snug fit. Not tight, just comfortable and snug. Ninety per cent of people have different sized left and right feet. And people can get those shoes through the MyJoys programme. “The added benefit with MyJoys is you can get the right sizes for both of your feet and nobody else can do that. People tend only to think heel to toe; the Brannock also measures arch length and width of foot – very important factors when it comes to buying shoes. “Everybody got their feet measured when they were kids but when we get to a certain age we just accept the size as determined. “A shoe fitting can take up to 20 minutes; it’s not just about putting the Brannock on. We pre-qualify that by finding out how many times a week the
customer plays, handicap, all sorts of things that help you build a picture of what is required. We ask what they want from a golf shoe? Comfort? Performance? Both? – because they’re not mutually exclusive... “When you’ve been correctly fitted for a pair of golf shoes you should be able to put those shoes on straight out the box and play 18 holes. With FootJoy you can.” And it’s not just amateurs benefiting. At Wentworth recently the team fitted a number of professionals including rising stars Brooks Koepka and Tom Lewis – both of whom had the wrong width fitting in their existing footwear. The opportunity is there for the club professional to add another facet of the offering to members, to further become a trusted advisor – a prerequisite when up against ‘pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap’ online retailers. There are currently 39 shoe-fitting FootJoy stockists who are able to have the various size shoes for people to try on, with more signing up monthly. GMé
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quinta do lago
TAKING AIM Paul McGinley, left, surveys the work accompanied by Beau Welling. Below, an aerial view of Quinta do Lago
All roads head North for McGinley at Quinta do Lago A month after Paul McGinley spearheads Europe’s Ryder Cup campaign at Gleneagles, the Irishman will re-open the North Course at Quinta do Lago, as James Moore reports. Back in February 2012, GMé reported that significant and on-going future investment was promised at Quinta do Lago to further enhance the resort’s position as the Algarve’s most prestigious golf destination. And the resort has certainly stuck to its word. Since its inception, Quinta do Lago has been at the forefront of golf in the Algarve with three world-class championship golf courses: Laranjal – named Portugal’s Best Golf Course in 2011 – the South Course and the soon to be re-opened North Course. Built on an old orangery and opened just six years ago, the 7,087-yard, par-72 Laranjal provides a pure golfing experience and is the personal favourite of Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley. Popular among the European Tour professionals, the 7,108-yard, par-72 South Course calls for accurate drives and precise shots, and has hosted the Portuguese Open eight times since 1976.
Further improvements to the golf offering over the past two years have included the opening, in 2013, of the impressive TaylorMade Fitting Center at the Paul McGinley Golf Academy – which enables golfers to optimise their performance by determining specific equipment suited to each individual’s characteristics and level – as well as the opening of a mini-golf course earlier this year with replicas of nine of the world’s most iconic golf holes. In addition, the constant improvement in ongoing course maintenance and resort developments, such as substantial investment in the food and beverage offering, all help to meet the modern golfer’s expectations. These enhancements have further cemented the resort’s position as one of Europe’s top destinations for golfers of all abilities. At the heart of the Quinta do Lago philosophy is a desire to adapt and change to meet the needs of the
modern-day player and the resort is constantly evolving, with the extensive North Course redevelopment gathering pace. After a busy September in Scotland, where McGinley will take centre stage at Gleneagles, the Irishman will switch focus in October to open Quinta do Lago’s North Course – barely 12 months after the redevelopment began. Work on the major renovation is progressing smoothly under the guidance of American golf architect Beau Welling, in collaboration with McGinley, with the new layout set to exceed the high standards set by the two existing championship courses. “We have kept the routing of the North Course intact, reworking the golf experience within the existing corridors,” said Welling. “New greens, tees, bunkers, and fairway shaping will make the golf course seem “familiar” yet totally new to golfers who have played it previously.
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“Significant recent investments have ensured the resort remains the highest standard, most family-friendly venue on the Algarve”
THE SHACK The Shack, one of the many restaurants on site
A VIEW TO THE SOUTH An aerial view of the 16th hole on the South Course at Quinta do Lago
“Specifically, we have worked very hard to ensure that the course is playable for higher handicappers, while at the same time creating precise target areas for the better player looking to score.” Among the changes taking place, all greens, tees, bunkers, irrigation and drainage systems and cart paths are being rebuilt using the latest state-ofthe-art technology. Final shaping has now been completed and approved by Welling, with turf having been laid and seeding carried out, hole-by-hole. The renovation will also allow Quinta do Lago to further reduce the impact on the environment by using recycled water and solar energy to maintain the course. Welling gave an insight into the course management required by golfers looking to visit the new track in the autumn. He said: “We have worked hard to really put a premium on finding the correct position off the tee. The fairways constrict where the longer hitter might be, yet are wider where higher handicappers will find themselves. “Many longer hitters may decide not to take a driver off the tee as precision will be rewarded more than length in many instances.
“Shorter hitters will have more room off the tee but obviously face longer approach shots. Elevated greens and subtle roll-offs will require precise approach shots, but containing chipping areas will create a high degree of playability for those missing the greens,” added Welling. The senior management team at Quinta do Lago, led by chief executive John Dwyer, is passionate about the ongoing investment at the resort. Dwyer said: “Entering our fifth decade, it is a very exciting time at Quinta do Lago; as we continue to strive to give people the best golf experience.” “I think people will be blown away by the new North Course. It is going to be very different but very playable and a real challenge. The course will have the best combination of shot making and beautiful aesthetics on tournamentstandard playing surfaces. It will be one that members and visitors will want to play again and again. “We have focused on building a course that will be the best presented in Europe once it opens, and we look forward to sharing this with golfers across Europe in October.”
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Set among 2,000 acres of the picturesque Ria Formosa Natural Park and located just 15 minutes from Faro airport, Quinta do Lago has been one of the most highly regarded golf and residential developments in the Algarve since it opened. Away from the fairways, the estate’s extensive leisure facilities guarantee there is plenty to keep everyone occupied, with tennis, cycling, horse-riding and water sports just some of the activities available, while the resort’s wide array of restaurants allow visitors and residents the opportunity to savour the best in traditional Portuguese cooking. Dwyer added: “Significant recent investments have ensured the resort remains the highest standard, most family-friendly venue on the Algarve – which is vital for a modern resort of our stranding. “With a wide range of new packages designed to suit everybody’s requirements and a series of summer events to excite young and old, including the re-launch of our remodelled North course, golfers are realising that there’s never been a better time to visit the resort.” GMé
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food & beverage
The top trends in Food & Beverage
MASTERCHEF Glen Watson, chef director at The Belfry
As many golf course owners and operators know, the F&B operation can often be far more profitable than the golf course itself. John King, project manager of the EGCOA investigates the top trends in the world of food and beverage this season. If there’s one thing you can count on when selecting food and beverage menus for the coming season, it’s that tastes and trends are continually evolving. Staying up to date with these trends and integrating them in to your food and beverage strategy will deliver a fresh, modern approach to your club’s dining experience and keep your customers coming back for more. With this in mind, the European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) did some research across the continent and also sat down with Glen Watson, chef director at The Belfry, to find out what
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the top trends in food and beverage are right now. Here’s what they discovered. A shift from globalisation to localisation of sustainable produce has emerged across Europe. Selecting food products that are both environmentally and socially responsible appears to be a higher priority for many groups. Restaurants are getting back to basics and are sourcing much of their food locally in an effort to support their community. While diners may not directly demand locally produced food, they do respect the effort that has been made to source locally.
Many golf courses are now stocking locally crafted wines, beers and condiments and are sourcing their interior décor from local artists. In-house and homemade, no-nonsense food continues to resonate with customers and remains one of the top food trends for 2014. Taking localisation to another level, The Belfry has been growing its own herbs on site for a number of years and sourcing locally whenever possible. Further to this, the Ryder Cup venue – which has undergone a £26 million refit – even produces its own honey as a result of thriving Belfry beehives.
thebelfry.co.uk MEN AT WORK The Ryder Grill, right, prepares to create a culinary masterpiece, and below, Sam’s bar
“Healthy eating is high on people’s agenda now, however it is not always shown in the demand from our customers.”
“We source ingredients locally wherever possible,”said Watson. “All of our meat for the Ryder Grill comes from a farm that is literally 10 minutes from The Belfry. “Sustainable fish is also high on our agenda, and, when buying and sourcing fish for our menus, careful consideration is given to sustainability. With the exception of tiger prawns and tuna, we do not put fish on our menus that does not come from British waters.” In addition to a growing awareness of sustainability and localisation, healthy eating is also at the top of the agenda for consumers now, more than ever before. Golf courses need to develop marketing strategies that display their healthy efforts. Healthy eating is by no means a new trend, but it is one of which diners are more and more conscious, particu-
larly females. Smaller portion sizes, lowcarb options and ‘superfoods’ are now commonly found on menus. Food is all about trust, and modern diners seek transparency. There appears to be a growing trend in not only nutritional information being presented on menus, but also the source location of the produce. Diet-sensitive menus are also on the rise and with increased availability of food for gluten-free and organic diners it is now easier and more cost effective to offer these options. “Healthy eating is high on people’s agenda now. However, it is not always shown in the demand from our customers,” added Watson. “The development of our menus in the resort will offer diners the choice to eat this way, or to opt for a higher carb/energy dish instead.
“We have an Asian chicken salad on our menu that provides a healthy option for customers, and is definitely popular, but, alternatively, if they want pasta, depending on their training regime, then we cater for this as well as the everpopular burger. “We are also seeing an ever-increasing number of guests with dietary requirements. It is imperative that catering operations are able to not only meet these, but provide a range of options suitable for the individual.” With the summer season upon us and the terraces filling up, there’s no better time to rethink your drinks. From infused spirits to artisan gins, your customers are now, more than ever, highly educated and particular to the taste and quality of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages they consume.
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food & beverage
CHILL OUT The stylish lounge area in Sam’s bar, which is an ideal area to relax after a round
“In a bid to involve guests in their dining experience, here at The Belfry we delight guests with our cocktail master classes”
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Infusing drinks with natural elements is also a growing trend, and diners will see more herbs, organic teas, fresh fruit, and other natural ingredients in their beverages. To mix these trendy concoctions, a new breed of bartender has emerged... ‘bar chefs’, who will work with the culinary team and use fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, cilantro sprigs and cane syrup to create drinks with a natural, perfectly balanced taste. “In a bid to involve guests in their dining experience, here at The Belfry we delight guests with our cocktail master classes – an opportunity to not only learn how to extravagantly produce their own cocktails, but also to better understand the taste experience and how the different elements of drinks work to complement each other,” said Watson. Caffeine, of course, also continues to play an important role at golf club, but there are now even more ways to provide it. Look for a variety of ways to deliver caffeine by providing a range of espressos and teas. Get creative with the presentation of your coffee and tea. With the boom in coffee culture there are countless suppliers to source trendy glass and ceramic ware. From trendy cocktails to trendy cooking: with the boom in cooking shows, we have become a society that loves watching food being prepared. Not only has this phenomenon created a generation of ‘foodies’, it has also turned diners into modern, savvy consumers who are not only aware of the how their food is prepared, but also the quality and variety of ingredients being used.
Not every restaurant can cater for live preparation of food because of kitchen design restrictions. However, it can be integrated into your operation using action stations to create a relaxed atmosphere that encourages socialising. Action stations can also be more economical than plated meals, because guests only ask for what they want. Finally, it’s no surprise that current economic conditions require belt-tightening when it comes to food and beverage, but there are many creative ways to deal with these slimmed-down budgets without sacrificing quality. It’s important to take the time to review the design of your menu in terms of the money makers and budget breakers. It is key to frequently analyse the dishes and menu items that are the best sellers and make simple steps to ensure these items are more prominent on the menu. Studies have shown that diners hold menu attention for 90 seconds. That doesn’t give you a lot of time to highlight the items from which you stand to gain the most profit. If your menu descriptions read like a book, they aren’t going to captivate the diner. Keeping on the healthy note, creative vegetarian menu items made with seasonal vegetables and produce can be a big hit with diners and huge cost savers for your restaurant. Whether you manage your restaurant yourself or you sub-lease the operation, these simple steps will breathe life into, and create a buzz around, your food and beverage operation this season. GMé
BUDGETS CAN’T HAVE PINPOINT ACCURACY UNLESS YOUR EQUIPMENT DOES. Efficiency and profitability go hand in hand. You need equipment that’s engineered to be precise and to perform the way you need it to both today and down the road. Equipment like Toro®.
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You need to do jobs correctly, accurately and efficiently. The new Toro Multi Pro® 1750 175-gallon sprayer helps on all
Money saved on spraying is money you can use elsewhere
We understand the challenges you face every day. That’s why
on your course. That’s one more place where the Multi Pro 1750 excels.
we make innovative equipment that delivers the best overall course conditions combined with budget-friendly total cost of ownership. Then we back every product we build with our industry-leading support network. No one delivers
fronts. Its tank is engineered to virtually eliminate wasted chemicals while ensuring the proper application rate every time. Its oversized pump satisfies the highest spray rates. Plus, with its QuickFind™ Console, operators can find boom and actuator switches without looking.
Its tank is elliptically-shaped and features side agitation nozzles, which helps ensure accurate applications, prevents costly chemical waste and reduces cleanup time. When this unique design is combined with our optional automated rinse accessory, tank-cleaning time is reduced by up to an hour compared to conventional methods.
Learn more at: toro.com ©2014 The Toro Company. All rights reserved.
more value than Toro.
Multi Pro 1750
the club pro
“Often it will appear that the cost of employing a PGA pro is the largest figure on the spreadsheet, and one that clubs look to trim.”
Can the club pro still play a vital role? A CUSTOM FIT A TGI pro during a custom-fitting session (main picture) and above, Ian Martin
46 | GMé June 2014
The role of the club pro is increasingly threatened by owners looking to cut costs, but as Ian Martin, senior retail consultant for the TGI Golf Partnership explains, perhaps the pro still has an important role to play. The past few years have been tough for the golf industry and particularly golf clubs. Many have had to cut their cloth accordingly, analysing the spreadsheets to see where they can save valuable funds. They’ll look at expenditure and it is invariably the biggest figures that stand out. Often it will appear that the cost of employing a PGA pro is the largest figure on the spreadsheet – and one that clubs look to trim. However, when everything is calculated, on average, that cost is only around three or four per cent of the overall expenditure of the club, so why look to cut that?
Clubs should not see the cost of a pro as a negative; on the contrary, a good pro can be a huge asset to the club and should be embraced and utilised efficiently. Through my many visits and travels across the UK, I‘ve seen where a club has used the pro properly, which has seen members, the golf club and the pro all benefit from that service. Long gone are the days when the pro shop is a completely separate entity to the course – they all occupy the same area and work towards the same goal. Unfortunately, there are far too many golf clubs not doing this; equally, there are, undoubtedly, a number of pros who
SIZE MATTERS Retailing is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the club pro’s job description and duties
are, perhaps, not pushing their skills and experience enough to help their golf clubs. Look at the pro shop – generally this is the hub of all golf clubs, where nearly every golfer, whether member or visitor, will head before their round. Therefore, club management should be looking to utilise this facility, and the expertise within it, to build and establish a successful community. The majority of phone calls, enquiries and even deliveries are directed to the pro shop, so ensuring this point of contact has all the tools, such as knowledge of what’s happening around the club, can be pivotal to what happens next.
To use a well known and important message put out by the PGA, the pro is the heart of golf and the heart of many clubs. Pro shops need to be empowered by the club to meet and greet visitors rather than pass them on to the secretary’s office. This will help both the pro and club as, firstly, there is a friendly face and important figure greeting your guests; but secondly, if the pro is involved in society bookings at an early stage, they can advise on potential prizes and retail opportunities. New members are something many clubs are crying out for at the moment and nine times out of 10 a potential member will visit the pro shop and speak
to the pro first, so they must be able to deal with this situation – something clubs and committees must realise and empower the pro to fulfil the role. Being passed from pillar to post is enough to turn off a lot of potential members. Rather than immediately putting enquiries through to the office, the pro can explain the joining procedure and even add a little sweetener such as a free lesson. This is a great way to introduce the new member to the club – they get a free lesson and the pro gains the opportunity to build a relationship with a new customer. It’s not just in member recruitment that the pro can be instrumental. Member retention is equally as impor-
golfmanagement.eu.com | 47
the club pro
A HELPING HAND Andy Carlton of Paisley Golf Club, giving a lady golfer some assistance during a lesson
tant, after all, there’s no point in bringing new members in the front door as others leave through the back. Clubs should lean on the pro’s expertise by inviting them to sit on the committee and those important subcommittees, such as the greens committee. As professional golfers they have a vast amount of experience and expertise in how golf courses should be presented and how any changes could affect the playability of the course. The pro’s knowledge of golf course layouts and plans can only truly be surpassed by that of a golf course architect. They have spent their entire working lives playing golf courses and have the qualifications through their PGA training to know vast amounts about course layouts – so make the most of this experience. Competitions and handicaps is another committee where the pro can lend weight. It is the pro who runs the competitions at most clubs, the person who takes the cards, collates the scores etc. It is they who receive the feedback from members on competition days and, in turn, it is the pro who can tell the club whether there are too many competi-
48 | GMé June 2014
tions, not enough, or perhaps a new format is required. Add all this to the fact that each year a new committee is voted in with new faces arriving, and the pro will always be there to ensure continuity. It’s not all one-way traffic, however. Let’s not forget, the pro has a duty to help the club too. Everyone should be working towards the same goal of making the club stronger, with more members, as well as enhancing the experience and enjoyment for those who are part of the club. In my retail meetings I often explain the business relationship between the triangle of the door, counter and fridge, and in a golf club environment this is replaced with the pro, the committee and the members. By working together and trusting that everyone is driving for the good of the whole club then the members, the golf club and the pro will all prosper and succeed – together. So secretaries, committees and pros, it is time to start talking and listening to each other, with one united goal – the benefit of the club and all involved with it! GMé
GOLF COURSE ARCHITECTS Since 1912
5 OXFORD STREET, WOODSTOCK, OXFORD OX20 1TQ TEL: (01993) 811976 FAX: (01993) 812448 WWW.HAWTREE.CO.UK
golfmanagement.eu.com | 49
“McIlroy’s decision to end his relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki should have been the couple’s private business.“
Why Rory & Caroline’s split wasn’t any of our business One of the (many) things in the modern world guaranteed to raise my hackles is the obsession with celebrity culture. I don’t have an issue with genuinely talented people being hailed as a star or having breakfast TV presenters fawn over them like pre-pubescent girls with Justin Bieber. My objection is how little one has to achieve to become a ‘celebrity’ these days – or, even more annoyingly, how somebody becomes a ‘celebrity’ just by existing: Paris Hilton anybody? Aside from a plethora of talentless and vacuous nobodies filling our TV schedules, newspapers and magazines, my other bug-bear about the current obsession with celebrity is the endless column inches and air-time given over to things which, quite frankly, are none of our concern. Which, brings me to golf and Rory McIlroy’s non-nuptials. Now, traditionally a golfer’s private life has remained exactly that. It was only when Tiger Woods decided to provide the cherry on top of a multi-tiered cake of infidelity by reversing into a fire hydrant at 20 times the speed of Kevin Na, that the intricacies of golfers’ private lives started to become public property. McIlroy’s decision to end his relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki should have been the couple’s private business. But the young Irishman, with a sense of timing that would, in other circumstances, have failed to satisfactorily maintain a 28 handicap, broke up with his wife-to-not-be just after they sent out the wedding invites.
50 | GMé June 2014
HAPPIER TIMES Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki at this year’s US Masters
As it happens, mine failed to arrive anyway, but that’s irrelevant. Young Mac, we were told, finished the relationship, with a short telephone call, a text, an email and a press release. If you believe everything that’s been written, just about the only way he didn’t send poor Caroline the bad news was by Morse code and winged messenger. Now, it’s clear to anybody with even a modicum of etiquette – which leaves me out – that he handled the situation with all the delicacy of a blind man juggling billiard balls. So he’s acted like a klutz. So what? Most of us will have made an ill-judged decision at some time in our lives – though, admittedly it may not have had such heart-breaking consequences for a
third party. But they’re both young people and they will learn from their errors. Rory will learn not to finish a longterm relationship by fax and Caroline will probably think better of heading off to the beach to be photographed in a skimpy bikini. Whatever, it’s not our business, and, besides, who really gives a toss? GMé
David Bowers email@example.com
These conversations are happening around the country as more and more golf courses experience the performance and quality-of-cut of Jacobsen mowers. Whether it’s the ECLIPSE® series of greens mowers with adjustable frequency-of-clip settings and 15-blade reels, the surprisingly affordable LF510TM fairway mower, or the AR-522TM rough mower with TrimTekTM decks, Jacobsen mowers will get your course talking – and texting. For more information about Jacobsen or to find a Jacobsen dealer near you, visit www.jacobsen.com.
TIME ISN’T MONEY. PRODUCTIVITY IS. The challenge today isn’t simply to maintain a beautiful golf course. It’s to maintain it on a budget. To succeed, you need to work smarter, more efficiently and more economically than ever before.
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Bunkers are critical to a course’s reputation and to yours. That’s why we’ve engineered the allnew Toro® Sand Pro® 2040Z.
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The exclusive zero-turn steering means grooming more bunkers with less labour and less hand raking. With a top transport
turn bunker rake grooms bunkers other machines can’t. By pairing our patent-pending Lift-in-Turn™ system with a flex tooth rake, the 2040Z grooms contour bunkers, steep slopes and tight fingers without leaving tyre marks or teardrop mounds of sand.
speed of 12 mph, operators can work quickly and move on to the next task. Plus, the 2040Z’s innovative tooth rake won’t
course conditions combined with budget-friendly total cost of ownership. Then we back every product we build with our industry-leading support network. No one delivers more value than Toro.
damage turf or bunker liners, so you can groom right up to the bunker’s edge. All for a price that’s less than you’d expect. Sand Pro 2040Z
Learn more at toro.com ©2014 The Toro Company. All rights reserved.
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