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GMĂŠ

On the cover...

Le Golf National in Paris has just signed an extended five-year preferred supplier agreement with Ransomes Jacobsen

Inside...

ÂŁ6.50 golfmanagement.eu.com Issue 108 | June 2016

Golf Management ĂŠurope is the essential business magazine for golf course owners, operators, managers and directors of golf

The Wisley is starting to feel more like home now for new chief executive, John Glendinning, following his move south from Close House


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contents

On the agenda june 2016 18

18

Flanagan loses his Spurs

The managing director of Club Inc. as well as the driving force behind the Club Leadership Summit, Niall Flanagan talks about his career to date and his love of Tottenham Hotspur.

22

Glendinning; The Likely Lad

Following his move south from Close House, GMé publisher Michael Lenihan spent the day with Wisley chief executive, John Glendinning, to see how he’s adjusted to his new role.

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One your marks...

The latest initiative to speed-up golf was unveiled recently, with SPRINT6GOLF based around a smartphone app, and a shorter format of the game.

32

Time for Old Course change

To manage the seemingly unquenchable desire for tee times on the Old Course, the St Andrews Links Trust created an out sourced solution which is set to change from 2018.

30

36

Paradise Lost

As 450 years of golfing history tinkers on the edge, Mark Alexander reports from Montrose Golf Club on the efforts being made to save the world’s fifth oldest golf course.

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

26

Publisher Executive editor Contributors

Michael Lenihan David Bowers Mark Alexander, James Ellis, Niall Flanagan, Vanessa Gardner, Scott MacCallum,

Subscriptions

To ensure your regular printed copy of GMé, delivered six times per year, subscribe online at www.golfmanagement.eu.com

View our library online at issuu.com/portman

ISSN 1368-7727. Printed by The Manson Group.

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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the prior written permission of the publisher. Whilst due care to detail is taken to ensure that the content of GMé is accurate, the publisher cannot accept liability for errors and omissions.

It is assumed that any images taken from sources which are widely distributed, such as on the Internet, are in the public domain and are not subject to copyright. © 2016 Portman Publishing and Communications Limited.

portman publishing and communications

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from the publisher

“Personally, I have no issues with either all-male or all-female clubs, providing – and this is the crux – that the club is truly private”

R&A spot on with Open veto following no-women vote Before I buck the trend and raise your blood pressure to boiling point, I should clear up a few things. I was born and raised in a workingclass city; I have never held the rank of general; nor have I ever knowingly worn tweed. What’s more I have never been – nor would I ever wish to be – a member of an all-male golf club. Or indeed an all-male club of any kind – unless you count our gang when I was aged seven, and even then that was not my choice. But I’m afraid I simply cannot join in the chorus of disapproval circulating in our industry over the recent decision taken by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers – please note, not Muirfield as widely misreported – not to allow lady members. Personally, I have no issues with either all-male or all-female clubs, providing – and this is the crux – that the club is truly private. If they want to lounge about adorned in a fez, smoking pipes, wearing tweed and bad-mouthing the opposite gender – or, in the case of men’s clubs, swan around in ballgowns and tiaras – then that’s fine. That’s their prerogative. However, once these ‘clubs’ start competing with proprietary clubs for our green fees, or looking to host sanctioned events – be they the Open Championship or the Dunny-on-the-Wold Poundshop Closed Amateur – then they need to be fully inclusive. Full stop. They can’t have it both ways.

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OFF THE ROTA The Open Championship Claret Jug in-front of the clubhouse at Muirfield

One should applaud the speed with which the R&A reacted following the decision, in stripping the club of its right to host the Open. The Open Championship needs to be held at a venue which welcomes everyone, irrespective of gender, race or religion, and with Royal Troon set to host the 145th tournament next month, it will be interesting to see if the R&A takes a similar position over the Ayrshire clubs stance on its men-only policy. But, of course, if the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers is truly a private club its members won’t be fazed. They’re not there for the money the Open Championship brings, nor are they

bothered about anybody paying a green fee or indeed returning a profit. They can get by very nicely, thank you, with members’ annual fees, the odd guest green fee and the occasional bequest from a sadly departed former member. Or can they? Let’s wait and see… GMé

Michael Lenihan lenihan@portman.uk.com


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ransomesjacobsen.com

Hold the front page Le Golf National located just outside Paris, is set to embark on an historic few years, which perhaps explains why the club has once again partnered with Ransomes Jacobsen.

“We are delighted that Le Golf National has shown the utmost confidence in the Jacobsen brand for a further five years”

Cover sponsored by Ransomes Jacobsen (44) 01473 270000 sales@tip.textron.com

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Ransomes Jacobsen and its French branch, Ransomes Jacobsen France based in Toulouse, have recently signed a preferred supplier agreement with Le Golf National for the next five years following a tender late last year. The prestigious golf course, which belongs to the French Federation of Golf and will host the 2018 Ryder Cup, has demonstrated its confidence in Ransomes Jacobsen France, who has supplied equipment since 2010. To ensure that all of three courses are maintained in pristine condition, a total of 70 items of turf maintenance equipment will be delivered shortly, including 36 mowers, 21 utility vehicles and 13 miscellaneous products. One of the main contractual commitments made by Ransomes Jacobsen concerns the preparation and support for the Open de France, which Le Golf National hosts each year. This obligation will take the form of regular technical training for the Golf National staff to ensure the correct use and maintenance procedures for the entire fleet in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. Commenting on the supplier agreement, Paul Armitage, general manager of Le Golf National said: “You don’t change a winning team! “We are very happy to

renew our supplier agreement for the upcoming five years with Ransomes Jacobsen, our existing business partner. “Our offer to tender was exemplarily conducted, but the solutions provided in the tender, on a technical, customer care level and, obviously on a financial level by Ransomes Jacobsen allowed us to maintain this relationship and thus not change a tried and tested team. “Le Golf National now enters the most important period of its history, a period during which the quality of the three courses will be scrutinised by the players and the media worldwide – we enter this period with confidence hand in hand with Ransomes Jacobsen to deliver experiences of the highest level possible.” Commenting on the importance of this relationship, Alan Prickett, managing director of Ransomes Jacobsen added: “We are delighted that Le Golf National has shown the utmost confidence in the Jacobsen brand for a further five years. “The team at Ransomes Jacobsen France can take great credit for the manner in which they have supported Le Golf National over the previous five years, and their commitment to this client has been a major factor in securing the agreement, together with quality equipment that meets the client’s needs.” GMé


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news

Alleged breach of competition law by PING as online sales ban deemed unlawful One of the world’s largest manufacturers of golf clubs has seen its ban on retailers selling its products online ruled unlawful by the UK Government. In a landmark move the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) alleged that PING has breached UK and EU competition law by preventing retailers from selling its products online. The company now faces being forced to drop the ban which would allow distributing shops to sell its equipment online – where shoppers could easily hunt around for the best price. Experts have described the CMA’s decision as “staggering” and predicted other retailers operating similar practices could also be forced to remove online selling bans. The watchdog said such restrictions are a backlash against the online shopping boom which is hurting retailers’ profits as prices are being driven down by increased competition. Consumers stand to save money as goods sold by PING – and other retailers which do not allow sales online – are likely to fall in price once shoppers can easily surf the web to compare offers. Clive Black, director at Shore Capital, a retail analyst, condemned the CMA’s move, and said: “I find it staggering that the Government has decided to intervene in this way. It is certainly not a business-friendly decision and it could have damaging implications.”

The PING G30 driver

Andrew Hall, a retail consultant at Verdict Retail, a consumer analyst, added: “Online sales can cannibalise physical store performance, and, given the higher costs involved with physical store formats, it is unsurprising the likes of PING would seek to redirect sales back towards their stores through an online sales ban.” A spokesman for the CMA said: “Where traditional businesses operating through high street shops face intense competition from online sales, suppliers may be tempted to respond by introducing practices, like online sales bans, that can

restrict such competition. The internet is an increasingly important distribution channel and retailers’ ability to supply via this channel should not be unduly restricted. “This drives competition among rival retailers because they compete to attract consumers who are using the internet to shop around for the best deals. “Bans on internet trading can be a problem if they seek to prevent retailers reaching a significant proportion of customers. We will now consider any justifications put forward by PING for the alleged conduct.”

EGD team-up Troon rolls into Switzerland at with Wentworth Golfclub Domat/Ems Wentworth Club and European Golf Design (EGD) – with support from the European Tour – have announced a new partnership that will see leading European Tour players take on an instrumental role in the delivery of the highly anticipated West Course restoration project. The deal will see EGD added to the West Course advisory team, and ensure that feedback from current European Tour players is at the heart of the West Course’s redesign and restoration. Working closely with Ernie Els Design, EGD will become a key consultant on the project that is hoped, will restore the West Course back to its former glory. As part of the process, Wentworth’s director of golf courses & grounds, Kenny Mackay, will work closely with EGD to ensure current players are consulted throughout the extensive renovation, and that their views are central in shaping the future of the revered Championship course.

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Golfclub Domat/Ems

Troon has signed with Golfclub Domat/ Ems in Switzerland, with Troon’s appointment representing another significant move in northern Europe for the company following inroads into Germany. Troon’s tailored approach primarily focuses on enhancing the conditioning of the course and working closely with the club’s greenkeeping team, specifically on the putting surfaces. Managed by Troon’s director of Agronomy for Europe, Simon Doyle, the work has already started with head greenkeeper, Andri Jorger, taking full advantage of the summer months.

Troon has seen a steady increase in new venues across the strong golfing regions of Europe, and in the past two years, Troon has welcomed Golfclub Pfalz in Germany, Chateau D’Augerville in France and its first Troon Privé venue in mainland Europe at Aloha Golf Club, Spain. Commenting on the latest signing, Bruce Glasco, chief operating officer, managing director, Troon International Division said: “With our headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, we’re delighted to welcome our newest “home” club. “Golfclub Domat/Ems is a fantastic hub for the local golfer and a spectacular experience for those travelling across Europe. “Simon has extensive knowledge in improving the fundamentals of a course, gleaned on occasions in the most demanding of climates and with the enthusiasm of the team, we look forward to the coming months and making a real difference.”


news

Trump plans to erect a €10m rock barrier at Doonbeg

In brief... The team behind the PGA Catalunya Resort, near Barcelona, Spain, has confirmed that a new five-star hotel will open at the resort this month, following an investment of €33 million. David Plana, PGA Catalunya Resort’s CEO, said: “The hotel is the first element of our three-year development plan, which will also see a new vineyard, sports facilities, an equestrian centre and a manmade recreational lake added to the resort.” With many in the industry bemoaning the decline of golf, Farleigh Golf Club in Surrey has bucked the trend and posted its most successful financial results in its 19 year history. Previously known as Farleigh Court, the club was purchased by the Hayton family in 2010, who invested £6 million in the club, with it joining The Foxhills Collection. A change of senior management followed in 2014, with general manager Russell Stebbings leading the club to its first ever profit in 2015/16, increasing revenue by 23 per cent year-on-year. Golfer Geoffrey Crosskill has just set a new Guinness World Record as the longest serving golf club member. Crosskill, who is 94, joined Eaton Golf Club, Norwich, in 1934 and had been a member continuously for 82 years and 18 days when his record was certified. He plays nineholes three times a week and added: “It’s helped me a lot health-wise. Without it I don’t think I would be here, I think it has kept me very fit.” Foremost Golf has announced it is to expand its innovative NetTickIT in-store ticketing solution, following the successful launch of the system last year which transformed the look of members’ stores with over 40,000 tickets printed. The NetTickIT solution is used by many leading retailers, including Waitrose and John Lewis.

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The people of Doonbeg, in Ireland, have given a resounding ‘yes’ to US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s contentious plan to erect a €10m rock barrier to save his links course from coastal erosion. Eleven local organisations and scores of local residents have lodged submissions with Clare County Council backing Trump’s plan for a 200,000 tonne, 2.8km rock barrier application, which, he says, is needed to save the golf course. Seventy six of the 112 submissions made backed the development, including 36 from locals, 15 from golf club members and 14 from non-locals. Apart from one objection from a local man, all of the opposition to the rock barrier is from outside Doonbeg. A submission also came from Doonbeg Community Development Co, which represents the interests of the community and was instrumental in having the golf resort established in the late 1990s. Its chairman, John O’Dea, warned the council: “If the sea manages to breach the dunes at any of the vulnerable points, a huge amount of flooding is going to occur to the land adjacent to the dunes and is going to have a detrimental effect on the livelihoods of the

householders and farming communities in the area. “It is vital for our area that these works proceed to sustain the employment provided by the golf club and hotel which is essential to the life of our community in west Clare.” Save Doughmore Beach Protection Group already has 3,800 people who have signed its petition against the project. Spokesman Sean O’Donoghue said: “Tragically, this huge seawall, if given the go-ahead, will have this negative effect for countless generations.” And Green Party leader, Eamon Ryan TD, said the barrier poses “a real threat” to the sand dunes.

Doonbeg Golf Club in Ireland

Yamaha drive-on with EGCOA partnership

EGCOA and Yamaha signing the deal

The European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) and Yamaha have announced a new working partnership which both parties hope will benefit European Golf. One of the key issues for the future of golf, both at a National and European level, is the growth of regular players, and through this new partnership, the EGCOA and Yamaha hope to give national golf course owners associations, and their members, a tool to build their strategy for the years ahead.

Kazuhiro Kuwata, president of Yamaha Motor Europe NV stated: “The EGCOA represents the interests of our most important customers, the decision makers of golf courses where our carts are used daily. “Through this partnership we aim to gain a greater insight into what these customers need to grow their business. We want to help the EGCOA to grow the game and number of golfers in Europe and are eager to see what the future brings.” Lodewijk Klootwijk, CEO of the EGCOA added: “Together the EGCOA and Yamaha will work on a sustainable future for golf, where players and golf courses are integral to the success of the game. “This partnership will allow our association, with the members that make it up, to work closely with one of the biggest names in Golf Car production and allow for joint initiatives to help improve golfing numbers to take place. “We are extremely excited to see what innovations will flow from this partnership.”

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Creative Golf Video launches TV-style productions for golf resorts and clubs One of Europe’s leading golf course architects has taken to the skies in collaboration with a TV and video production company to form Creative Golf Video. The new service, designed to appeal to golf resorts and golf clubs across the UK and Europe, creates the prospect of affordable, high-end, TV-style video packages which combine spectacular aerial filming and cinematic ground-based video footage, tailored for the golf operator industry. Powered by the golf expertise of Creative Golf Design and the successful film & TV industry track record of Frozen Moon Productions, Creative Golf Video (CGV) brings a new level of professionalism to the creation of promotional videos for golf resorts and clubs. Video packages have already been produced for Moortown and Aldeburgh Golf Clubs, including both aerial and ground-based footage, plus interior clubhouse and pro shop shots. News and documentary-style footage, staff interviews, customer testimonials and specialist footage to showcase hotel accommodation, spa and leisure facilities, conference and banqueting spaces and golf academy operations can also be included in the comprehensive video shoot, which is agreed during pre-filming meetings where script, storyboards, locations and overall goals are planned.

“Creative Golf Video gives golf resort owners and club operators the means, at last, to achieve total professionalism in how they market their facilities using video,” said CGV co-founder Ken Moodie. “Our ability to produce both aerial and ground-based films equally well, in true cinema quality, sets us apart from other video providers. Factor in my background as a golf architect with dozens of design projects throughout Europe, and the knowledge that brings as regards what appeals to a golfer, and I think it’s clear that Creative Golf Video is unique.”

Ardencote extends to 18

PGA pledge to mark the Battle of the Somme

A Warwickshire golf club has successfully converted its nine-hole layout into a USGA-standard 18-hole, par-67 course. Ardencote Golf, in Claverdon, which also has a 110-room, four-star hotel, spa and leisure club, celebrated the reopening of the 5,045-yard course with a corporate golf day. Dale Huckerby, the managing director of Ardencote, said: “When the piece of land next to Ardencote became available I saw it as a great opportunity to enhance the nine-hole golf course into an 18-hole golf course. “I knew the opportunity would open the doors to new customers, new relationships and overall complete the offering Ardencote has for its customers,” said Huckerby. “When designing the course I wanted to make sure that it could be completed in three-and-a-half hours or less, making it suitable for all handicaps, ages and genders – and I believe we have achieved this.”

The PGA is marking the anniversary of the Battle of Somme by pledging to find the names of any of its members killed in the fighting. It follows the launch of Sport Remembers the Somme 1916-2016 – a campaign by the Royal British Legion which pays tribute to the sportsmen and women who gave their lives in the 141 day battle which claimed more than 1.1 million lives. Golf is represented in the campaign with statements of support from national golfing bodies including The PGA, The R&A and Home Unions. Indeed PGA chief executive Sandy Jones was so struck by the campaign that he has moved to find out all the names of those who perished in the battle. “The Professional Golfers’ Association and its 7,500 members who are based around the world joins with all other sporting bodies in remembering those who gave their lives in service to their country,” he said.

10 | GMé June 2016

(L-R) Sam Moodie, Mark Kendrick and Ken Moodie

CGV co-founder Mark Kendrick added: “I am excited at the prospect of videoing some of the UK and Europe’s most ambitious golf resorts and clubs. It is an opportunity for the golf industry to use this fast-growing technology to create high-class video, which are an essential part of the modern marketing mix. “Recent research has shown that 64 per cent of consumers are highly influenced to take action by online product videos, with over 80 per cent of all web visitors watching online videos on a regular basis.”

“An unknown number of PGA professionals from all communities served their country in battle but were sadly never to return to their loved ones and friends at home. “The Association is totally supportive of the Royal British Legion Sport Remembers campaign and is so inspired by this campaign that it has undertaken a commitment to find the names of those members who fell in battle and create a record of remembrance.”

Sir Nick Faldo who is supporting the campaign


‘Specialist in Golf Course Construction’ Repton Short Course at Rudding Park Royal Birkdale, Royal St George’s Carnoustie, Goodwood

JOHN GREASLEY LIMITED Ashfield House, 1154 Melton Road, Syston, Leicester LE7 2HB Telephone: 0116 269 6766 Fax: 0116 269 6866 BAGCC Email: johngreasleyltd@aol.com www.johngreasleyltd.co.uk

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Swinging Success for Marriott Golf’s Free Women’s Hour campaign Ladies across the UK flocked to Marriott Golf venues in May to take part in free weekly roll-up lessons specifically tailored to encourage more women to take up the sport, with an impressive 349 lessons taking place throughout the month. The Marriott Golf UK initiative runs parallel to England Golf’s Get into Golf campaign, and focuses specifically on supporting women who may be hesitant to take up the sport due to perceived barriers such as funding, dress code restrictions, and accessibility. The sessions are therefore open to women of all golfing abilities and each venue relaxed their dress code guidelines during the weekly sessions that were free for the first month, and will be offered at a small weekly rate for the remainder of the season. Alison Ainsworth, senior director of golf, leisure and spa operations at Marriott UK said: “It’s great to see women

A lady golfer receiving tuition from a PGA professional

from all walks of life coming together to try their hand at golf as a new sport, or improve their existing game. We’ve had hugely positive feedback from each of our Marriott Golf UK venues, and it’s a real pleasure to hear that the initiative

has brought together so many ladies who are enjoying playing golf and socialising with each other at our country clubs. “We want Marriott Golf UK to be at the forefront of making the sport more accessible to women.”

Braid course set Swan Golf Designs kicks-off with new FootGolf design for restoration One of Scotland’s oldest golf clubs is to return its famous layout to the original specifications in time for its 200th anniversary. Founded in 1817, Scotscraig Golf Club, near Tayport, Fife, is the world’s 13th oldest golf club and boasts an 18-hole championship course originally laid out by James Braid. Now, an “ambitious restoration programme” will see it restored to its former glory, with all of the course’s green-side and fairway bunkers being returned to their original size, and many substantially expanded. With additional on-course alterations being completed in tandem with extensive gorse removal, this is the biggest such project undertaken by the Fife club. George Anderson, Scotscraig’s vicecaptain, said: “The amount of work carried out in the last 15 months has been substantial. The conclusion of the current programme will be later this year when all the remaining fairway bunkers will be returned to their original dimensions. We’re bringing Scotscraig back to what it used to be, we’re re-establishing the course.” The far-reaching restoration project is as much to do with reviving James Braid’s ingenious design as it is about future-proofing the course. As well as the new-look bunkers, Scotscraig’s fairways have been cut, so longer hitters will find narrower landing areas the closer they get to the green.

12 | GMé June 2016

One of the UK’s longest-established golf design practices has embraced the UK’s fastest-growing sport by designing a FootGolf course in Cheshire. FootGolf Chester has been designed by Swan Golf Designs (SGD) and opened as a nine-hole facility with the possibility of extending to 18 holes. It is believed to be the first course to be designed by a golf design practice, with most FootGolf venues, to date, utilising existing land at golf clubs where the target has been an enlarged cup alongside an existing ‘regular’ green. The premise of the burgeoning sport is the same as golf, in that participants attempt to propel a ball into a hole, but in FootGolf they kick a ball from tee to green rather than playing it with a club – and the ball is a standard size football.

William Swan, a director at the familyowned practice said: “FootGolf Chester has been designed as if it were a parthree golf course – with holes varying in length from 35 yards to more than 80 yards, but for FootGolf, they play as par threes, par fours and par fives. “The green and tees are artificially surfaced, but the remainder of the course is natural grass and is able to be mown with a single machine. The course also features some two dozen bunkers, further enhancing its appearance and difficulty.” Martin Redrup, golf professional and manager of the facility, added: “We have been simply amazed at the reaction of the local population to our FootGolf course and just how, in such a short time, it is in heavy demand.”

The new FootGolf nine-hole course in Cheshire, designed by Swan Golf Designs


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news

Constance Belle Mare Plage becomes latest European Tour Destination Constance Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius has become the latest addition to the exclusive European Tour Properties network after being announced as a European Tour Destination. The stunning Indian Ocean resort is situated along a 2km stretch of beach and boasts two 18-hole golf courses, the Legend and the Links. A range of luxury accommodation options, from suites to villas, are available for guests, with seven restaurants, seven bars, four swimming pools and a range of other activities also on offer. Last year, Colin Montgomerie described the resort as “truly one of the ultimate golf experiences in the southern hemisphere.” David MacLaren, head of European Tour Properties and head of the European Senior Tour, said: “Today’s announcement of Constance Belle Mare Plage as our 22nd European Tour Destination represents a marquee moment in the evolution of European Tour Properties. “The addition of a Member Venue within the spectacular setting of Mauritius extends the reach of our network of world class venues to another continent, and I know that golfers from our other destinations will be anxious to visit this beautiful resort.

Constance Belle Mare Plage

“We are also delighted to build on an already successful relationship with Constance Belle Mare Plage which has, for the last seven seasons, proven to be an outstanding host to the Senior Tour’s season finale, the MCB Tour Championship.” Jean-Jacques Vallet, CEO of Constance Hotels and Resorts, said: “2014 marked the 20th anniversary of Constance Hotels and Resorts hosting the first ever professional event in Mauritius, and we are

proud of our contribution in promoting the golf industry on the island. “As such, it feels appropriate that our Legend and Links courses witness each year the conclusion of the Senior Tour season. Our golfing legacy and the quality of our courses are the main reasons why our unique week of golf continues to attract amateurs from across the world. “We feel honoured that Constance Belle Mare Plage becomes the European Tour Destination, in Mauritius.”

Le Golf National Hodson plans to drive club memberships with PlayMoreGolf adds to fleet Le Golf National, The 2018 Ryder Cup venue and home of the 100th Open de France, has updated its golf car fleet ahead of the biennial event, with the club scheduled to take delivery of 50 new buggies in two phases. Most of the new buggies will feature technology to provide golfers with precise shot and distance information, including flyover video graphics and a live leaderboard during competitions. The connected mobile golf information system will also enable staff at the European Tour Destination to remotely control each car and optimise course maintenance with ‘no-drive’ zones, as well as monitor pace-of-play. Paul Armitage, general manager at Le Golf National said: “The opportunity for our golfers to have the information on each hole, along with the ability to email themselves their scorecard to review at home from the golf car, will help to further enhance the on-course experience for all our customers.” In addition to the 50-strong fleet, Le Golf National also received a commemorative Ryder Cup vehicle.

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A flexible, proactive approach to membership with targeted and measurable marketing techniques, is the key to growing golf club memberships in the UK, according to PlayMoreGolf director and well-known industry figure, Daniel Hodson. Hodson, with over ten years’ UK golf operations experience, having previously been managing director of Crown Golf and director of golf, leisure and spa at De Vere Hotels & Resorts, feels many golf clubs are still missing a big opportunity to grow membership revenues. “Many golf clubs are still hoping to grow memberships by creating what they feel are flexible opportunities, but are then not following up with any form of measurable marketing or contact with potential customers. Unfortunately, with the many challenges faced in today’s market, golf clubs can not just open their doors and expect new or lapsed golfers to walk in,” he said. Prior to launching PlayMoreGolf in November 2015 – the UK’s first independent online points-based flexible membership programme – Hodson

Daniel Hodson

successfully led the creation of De Vere Club, which attracted more than 18,000 new members to 12 golf clubs in just four years. PlayMoreGolf, inspired by the experience of De Vere Club, is an innovative online points programme which sits alongside clubs’ existing membership packages, and is designed to deliver sustained growth for golf clubs via new, typically younger, flexible members.


picture gallery

In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news of a new role for Michael Creighton, who assumes the position of golf ball manager at Titleist.

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In brief... The Richmond Golf Club has purchased the freehold of its course and clubhouse from The Crown Estate, guaranteeing current and future members a lasting future at its stunning parkland home. In a move described by the London club as “the most significant development in its 125-year history”, the club has completed a deal to buy its 300-year-old early Georgian clubhouse, Sudbrook Mansion, and the surrounding land on which the golf course stands, Sudbrook Park. Wentworth Club has announced the appointment of Gary Player Design to carry out the renovation of its famous Edinburgh Course as part of the multi-million pound investment programme being undertaken by the club and its owners Reignwood Group. Player’s involvement will mark a continuation of his long and proud association with the club, dating back to his 1965 World Match Play victory at Wentworth, and his subsequent input into the original design of the Edinburgh Course, which opened in 1990. Italy is to launch its greatest ever co-ordinated golf tourism initiative this summer under the Italy Golf & More brand. To aid its push into the UK & Irish markets, Italy Golf & More has appointed market-leading marcomms agency The Azalea Group to oversee a concentrated longterm activation campaign which will engage golfers in 2016 and beyond. Bushnell Golf, makers of the #1 Laser Rangefinder on the PGA and European Tour, has unveiled the latest additions to the unrivalled family of rangefinders, in the new Tour V4. The Tour V4 and Tour V4 Slope Editions are not only faster than the previous Tour V3 models, but are also three per cent smaller and more ergonomically designed, making it even easier to use.

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Titleist has announced Michael Creighton as the new Titleist golf ball manager, who will lead all golf ball product management and marketing operations for the UK region, while also providing guidance throughout Europe.

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Mark Parsinen, the co-designer and managing partner of this year’s Scottish Open venue, Castle Stuart, wants to help attract more people into golf by speeding up play and making courses less punishing and more enjoyable.

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Manchester City cult hero Andy Morrison put former boss Kenny Dalglish in the shade as he romped to a memorable victory in the 20th edition of the Footballers’ Golf Classic at the worldfamous La Manga Club in Spain.

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Monte Rei has announced the appointment of three new golf professionals to the ranks at the Portuguese resort, with David Ashington, Darren Griffiths and Chris Watt joining existing pros David Shepherd and Bradley Dye.

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Jonathan Henry has been appointed the new managing director of John Deere in the UK and Ireland, taking over the role on July 1, 2016 from Antony Scott, who has elected to retire after 40 years of service with the company.

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Justin Rose, a long-time ambassador of TaylorMade-adidas Golf, has re-signed with the brand. In addition to wearing the apparel, Rose will be actively involved in product development and expanding the adidas Golf apparel range.

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company profile

“Sentinel has taken us back to what GPS originally focused on – pace of play and enabling golfers to quickly know all the information needed for their next shot”

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON George Smith (left) with Colin Smith of On-Pin GPS

Sentinel GPS to drive revenue with On-Pin Until now, cart-mounted GPS systems have been the preserve of the larger clubs, but thanks to On-Pin GPS, things are about to change as Scott MacCallum reports.

Company Profile sponsored by On-Pin Europe (44) 07768 843722 colin@on-pin.com

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It wasn’t very many years ago that the first thing you did when visiting a golf club for the first time was to purchase a yardage book. And, for the first couple of holes, you would study it carefully – assessing, or pacing out, how far you were from the fairway bunker and then making a mental calculation to, was it the front or middle of the green? By the 3rd, your brain was hurting so much, and your ability to strike a 7-iron a 7-iron distance had completely disappeared, that the book remained in your hip pocket for the rest of the round. More recently, the delights of playing at larger resorts brought a buggy equipped with a GPS device which would offer up pictures and distances from every corner of the golf course you found yourself visiting. It really was luxury golf. You could even order up a hot dog and beer from the comfort of your seat, while your partner was hunting around for his ball in the rough off the 8th fairway. But that was the preserve of those once or twice a year experiences on holiday or as a guest at a corporate event. Not any more though. On-Pin, an Australian company which has been in the GPS business for around

20 years, has developed the Sentinel GPS system which can cost a golf club a mere £1 per round to operate. In addition, the business model has been devised so that a golf club with as few as four or five buggies can install it, thus opening it up to pay & play and regular members’ clubs everywhere. “As On-Pin has built its own units from scratch incorporating features based on feedback and experience from the golf market, it has enabled us to keep production costs right down,” explained Colin Smith, co-owner, along with son George, of On-Pin Europe which has the UK and European distribution rights for Sentinel. “This means that, with a small initial cost, we can charge as little as £1 per unit per round. This makes it extremely cost effective for golf clubs who previously could not have considered such a member and visitor benefit,” explained Colin, who added that it can also enable the club to charge a little bit more for the buggy hire and thus bring more revenue into the club at times when budgets are becoming increasingly tight. Without an annual rental for the units, a golf club will not rack up rental costs


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IT DOES WHAT IT SAYS ON THE SCREEN The easy to read, and simple to operate Sentinel GPS system from On-Pin

during winter months while buggies are confined to the storage shed due to waterlogging or frozen ground. In many ways, it is the GPS version of the pay & play golfer who keeps his money in his pocket while the golf club member sees direct debits leaving his bank account while his golf clubs are stuck in the garage. The Sentinel system also offers another money generating benefit to golf clubs. The units can carry advertising which can be programmed to be displayed on the screen on the journey from green to next tee – one of the benefits of a cloud-based system. “Some rival systems are solely financed by advertising, but with our business model any advertising revenue generated is a bonus and a club will not suddenly be left with an unexpected monthly bill to pay if advertisers don’t renew after the first year of a long term GPS system agreement,” explained Colin. While offering many value added services to the club and golfer alike, OnPin sees Sentinel as getting back to the original ethos of GPS. “Sentinel has taken us back to what GPS originally focused on – pace of play and enabling golfers to quickly know all the information needed for their next shot.

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“We show overhead images of what the player faces and distances to key points of play and hazards, in fact, everything to make life easier for the player and to speed up pace of play, therefore increasing the amount of cart rounds and so increasing revenue.” George Smith, On-Pin Europe’s sales director added: “As more features became available such as flyovers, food & beverage, scorecards etc, this slowed play down again. “One of the beauties of our system is that we can offer all these features, which can be added or deleted at any time – if the customer wants them – but if a club just wants a basic course management system, while enhancing the golfing experience, we can start there.” Only launched in the UK and Europe earlier this year, On-Pin already boasts a growing client base including one of those exclusive resorts which was an early adopter of GPS. “We have signed up the La Manga Resort in Spain who saw the benefits that we bring to both the resort and its guests. One of the benefits they see is that, by advertising their own restaurants and events, they can keep more people on site during the evenings,” revealed George, who has also signed up a growing number of regular members’ clubs.

La Manga has installed the system onto 85 of their carts – including 37 brand new ones – with the remainder of their 120 strong fleet due to be fitted shortly. “The installation of the Sentinel technology will not only enhance the fivestar golf experience here but will also improve the time taken to play a round which is a big problem in the modernday game,” explained Eduardo Ruiz, golf director at La Manga Golf. At the other end of the spectrum, On-Pin Europe has installed their system on the five cart fleet at Southwood Golf Club, a typical membership and pay & play club. “It has been an affordable way for us to add value to our cart hire,” said Chris Hudson, head PGA professional and general manager of Southwood Golf Club in Farnorough. “It is a great help to all golfers of various ability. Being able to track carts and set up restricted areas will significantly help us manage the course better.” So with the arithmetical skills required to interpret a yardage book now solely the preserve of the professional Tour caddie the rest of us can enjoy our golf from the comfort of our buggy without the need for our rusty addition and subtraction skills. GMé

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interview

FOUR-BALL At the John Deere Classic with Howard Storey (far left) and the Castiglion de Bosco team

ON THE TEE With top executives of Billy Casper and Ransomes Jacobson at Pebble Beach

In conversation with Niall Flanagan Currently the managing director of Club Inc. as well as the driving force behind the Club Leadership Summit, Niall Flanagan talks to GMé about his career to date. GMé You entered into the golf industry in 1987 as a tournament director for the PGA, so what attracted you to the industry, and did you ever harbour any dreams of becoming a PGA professional? NF I was certainly never good enough to be a professional, but I loved the game and loved the thought of travelling the world seeing and playing the best courses and trying to get paid at the same time. The PGA gave me this opportunity along with some of the great contacts I have today. GMé You must have one of the most impressive CV’s within golf, having held management positions at Wentworth, Celtic Manor, St Andrews, Dubai and Loch Lomond, so what would you say was your most challenging role, and for what reason? NF All the roles were challenging but leading a team at Loch Lomond when the club had some major financial issues was very tough. I learnt a great deal through that time, and am delighted that the club has turned the corner and is doing well.

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GMé In your 30-year career so far within golf, what would you say has been the biggest change within the industry, good or bad? NF At the top level the industry is now seen as a business, and its great to see so many qualified managers coming through the CMAE and universities such as Bournemouth, and being respected by owners, boards and committees as professionals in their industry. There is still a long way to go but it is a huge change from the mid 80s. GMé At the start of 2012, you opted to launch Club Inc., so what prompted the move, and what services does Club Inc. offer? NF It was difficult for me to see where I could go in management in Europe having managed the best clubs, and it seemed almost impossible to get a green card to work in the US at one of the super clubs, hence Club Inc. was born. I felt there was a place in the market at the luxury level to provide clubs with good business advice and to provide the knowledge I had gained looking after

NETWORKER Niall Flanagan networking at the Club Leadership Summit


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ultra high net worth’s and combing that with delivering golf knowledge to luxury brands looking to enter the market. GMé Is there any specific area in which you feel Club Inc. specialises in, giving you a USP over the competition? NF Our USP is the luxury end of the market. There are not many people who have been lucky enough to work at the

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highest level with some of the best people in the industry. The services I have witnessed – especially in Asia, the Middle East and the US – have allowed me to take some golden nuggets of information, and share those with our clients to exceed the expectations of their customers. In addition, provide the advice given to me by some of the very best business brains from outside the industry.

GMé Four years in, how has Club Inc. evolved, and how closely does it resemble the company that you set out in your initial business plan? NF Like any business I think it has changed dramatically. I think we wanted to be able to work across the industry, but we soon found out that the only place to be – we think – is at the highest level working with people that have a

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interview

NORTH LONDON RIVALRY Pictured with Arsenal fan, Jeremy Slessor from European Golf Design, handing over a £5 bet after Spurs finished below Arsenal last season

“it would take a lot to be able to consider taking a role that would match the freedom I have at the moment and to match the clubs I have been involved with in the past”

sound business base and are financially secure. Its also very enjoyable travelling to some of the best places in the world seeing your ideas and experience come to fruition. GMé You currently still have an involvement with Kopplin & Kuebler – the recruitment company – so is this a role that you are actively still pursuing?

NF The 2016 event will be held at Lords Cricket Ground, London, between December 4-6, and managers can present their case to our board that consists of John Glendinning (Wisley), Javier Reviriego (Valderrama), Jorgen Kjellgren, Dubravka Griffiths (The Buckinghamshire) for an invite.

NF Kurt and Dick do an amazing job and are truly the best guys in the industry, and I’m delighted that they have been joined by Tom Wallace once of Oakmont. The levels they work at way outstrip those in Europe. We decided that the model didn’t work in Europe at this time, but every now again we do a placement within our market place, for example top 50 club in Europe such as The Wisley, Cannes Mougins, Skolkovo and Castiglion de Bosco.

GMé Do you miss the day-to-day business of operating a golf operation, and would you consider returning to club management if a suitable role presented itself?

GMé You’ve been quite instrumental in launching the Club Leadership Summit, which brings leaders from all sports together for an annual conference, so how does the CLS differ from other traderelated events?

GMé As a self-confessed Spurs fan, have you got over not only missing out on the Premiership title, but worst still, finishing third behind bitter rivals Arsenal?

NF The biggest difference is that the Club Leadership Summit is by invitation only, and is aimed at the leaders of the best clubs in Europe and the Middle East, or managers who we believe to be the leaders of tomorrow. The Summit is only open to 50 delegates and gives those delegates a great opportunity to network with their peers and interact with some great speakers from inside and outside of the industry.

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GMé Where is the 2016 CLS being held, and how does one become a delegate?

NF I would never say never, but it would take a lot to be able to consider taking a role that would match the freedom I have at the moment and to match the clubs I have been involved with in the past.

NF I don’t think Spurs fans ever really expected to win the Premiership, although we may never have a better chance. I think we are delighted to be in The Champions League, which was very much our goal at the beginning of the season. What really hurt was losing 5-1 to already relegated Newcastle on the final day of the season, to allow the team from Woolwich to overtake us again... that really hurt! GMé


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GMé

profile

WELCOMING The impressive entrance to the clubhouse

MILL NINE The 9th hole on the Mill Course

The Likely Lad heads south to The Wisley Publisher Michael Lenihan sat down with the recently appointed chief executive of The Wisley, John Glendinning, to discuss his career and his employer. There was a time when the thought of a high-end Surrey golf club being managed by a lad from Newcastle upon Tyne would have been the stuff of fiction. Thankfully, such outdated thinking is not prevalent at The Wisley, in Woking, which, despite being a debenture members club has always been, if not ahead of the game, certainly at its vanguard in terms of contemporary thinking. So, few eyebrows were raised when, earlier this year, 38-year-old John Glendinning was appointed chief executive at a club which has its fair share of celebrity and high-profile members. The affable Glendinning was not unfamiliar with the discretion required for such a role, moving, as he did, from Close House, in Northumberland, which also has a significant percentage of the northeast ‘gentry’. For the man himself, working at a private-members club would be a fresh challenge. He explained: “It wasn’t something I’d thought about previously, because Close House was a great experience for me. But the thought of working at a topend members club was very appealing because it was something I’d not yet had in my career.

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“I’m always somebody who likes to have a lot of experience to ensure I can do the best possible job whichever way my career goes in the future.” So, naturally, having moved from a top performing proprietary club to an equally well-established private venue, one question just had to be asked. “I think there are positives and negatives as to whether it’s best as a proprietary club or a members club,” said Glendinning. “The important thing for me is that to have a successful career within the industry you need to understand both areas. There’s always going to be both sectors in the future of golf. So to have the knowledge of how to manage a members’ club is essential going forward. “As this is the first members club I’ve worked at I’m not sure whether it’s unique or not, but what I quickly realised here is that the members all have a serious passion for the club. So no matter how committees are split on decisions they’re all based on what they think is in the club’s best interests. “Whereas a proprietary club is heavily into the commercial side of the business, I find here that it’s not so much about the money and more about the quality of service, the member experience… and that’s different to what I expected.”

FEELING AT HOME Following his move south from Close House, John Glendinning is enjoying life at The Wisley


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Certainly, the structure of the club – and the decision-making process within it – was something of a culture change for him. But, just as he had in moving from ‘t’north’ to the south, he acclimatised very quickly. He added: “We have a board structure of nine members, and a golf committee of six members which includes myself, the finance director, course manager and director of golf. “Any big club decisions normally go through a committee presentation, and once the committee has approved the proposal, it then goes to the board for approval and they ultimately have the final say on it. “But we undertake a lot of due diligence before it gets to that point to establish if it’s going to pass or get knocked back. We don’t want to waste time going down a dead end if it’s not

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going to be adopted. We tend to canvass the committee, members and board to establish the appetite for whatever is being proposed. “You’re getting feedback all the time from members – some things you might not even have considered – so that enables you to understand what they desire and how we can improve the experience. The due diligence helps establish whether it’s the majority who want it – whatever it is – or just a minority that would benefit. “At a proprietary club, if you feel a decision makes sound commercial sense you go ahead and do it. But in the long run I think the committee and board model helps me make better decisions for the members here. “Within the industry I imagine there are a number of members clubs who aren’t as successful as they could be

because they look too much at the numbers and don’t get the members behind where the club could go to.” As your correspondent is a bornand-bred, soft southerner, I did feel compelled to ask if Glendinning, who started his career 16 years ago at the then De Vere – now QHotels – Slaley Hall, in Northumberland, missed his homeland or found the transition difficult. “I’ve been back up north a few times and I get excited about coming down south again… it’s warmer,” he laughed. “I believe once you’ve made a decision you jump in with both feet. There’s no point in looking back or thinking ‘what if’. You have to go for it, and mentors in the past have told me once you make the decision, go ahead and do the best possible job you can – and that’s what I’m looking to do.

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profile

EXECUTIVE ROLE CEO, John Glendinning

“I think if the role had been that of a more traditional members’ club secretary, then it wouldn’t have proved attractive for me”

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“It’s a big change north from south. I noticed the course was growing here at least a month earlier than we ever had in the north east. With London on the doorstep golf’s a much bigger business down here too – 140 courses in Surrey alone, compared with 40 in Northumberland. “But the members are genuinely passionate about their golf, very competitive. And that’s got me excited.” So why did The Wisley, a club where membership is available only to an exclusive clientele and only then on occasions when that debenture share is being traded, turn to a young lad from the north-east? Again, Glendinning smiled: “I think the reason they brought me in was to raise the brand awareness of the club. The club’s well established here now. When it opened 25 years ago it was the first debenture club in the UK – it didn’t have any competition. “We’re not concerned by the growth of competition, but you always have to be aware of it. We have to benchmark ourselves against what other people are doing to ensure our standards are maintained and, hopefully, improved. “If there are places on our doorstep doing things better then we need to see how and why they’re doing it, and what are the cost implications – is it feasible for us as a club. The club is aware it needs to be modern-thinking, commercially aware – but still within the parameters of the club’s ethos. That’s the key.” He continued: “We had some wealthy and well-known members at Close House and the experience of dealing with that sort of individual is crucial for

this role. For those type of guys, this is their leisure time, their haven as such; somewhere to escape from their business world. And you want to make them feel relaxed while they’re here. “I think if the role had been that of a more traditional members’ club secretary, then it wouldn’t have proved attractive for me. I don’t want to be here just to oversee the club ticking along; I want to make a difference for the club, for me and for the staff. “One of my biggest focuses for the next 12 months is going to be on the training of the staff in all areas, so they can be the best they can. That will allow us to raise standards even further. Food and beverage is a great challenge. “Both the head chef and sous chef have worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, but we’re delivering golf club food – so we want to deliver food to the highest standard possible.” If Glendinning is successful at The Wisley – and early signs are that he will be – it’s inevitable other clubs will come calling. But, just 16 years into his career, it’s not something he’s contemplating. He concluded: “My focus is here; I love the club, members and staff and want to do a great job here. But you look at where my predecessor has gone, to Isleworth Golf & Country Club, in the US – and Wayne Sheffield did a fantastic job here – and that’s a marvellous achievement. “Getting this job gives you confidence there will be opportunities going forward; you don’t know what they’re going to be, but potentially it’s very exciting.” GMé


GMĂŠ

gloria

Glorious Gloria flying the flag for Turkish hospitality Turkey has been in the media spotlight quite a bit of late, with tourist numbers in decline. Never one to shirk a challenge, Michael Lenihan decided to pay the Gloria Golf Resort in Belek a visit, to witness first-hand, if all of the security concerns are merited.

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gloria.com IN THE DRINK The opening hole on the Old Course (main picture) and the clubhouse, right

When Nuri Özaltin and his wife Sebahat, together with their three children, decided to start a golf resort in the Belek area of Antalya, Turkey, 19 years ago, perhaps even the most optimistic of families would not have dared to dream that their vision for an all-encompassing leisure facility could develop into one of Europe’s leading sporting venues. Boasting three golf courses – well twoand-half to be precise – the Gloria Golf resort includes three five-star hotels, together with a modern sports arena which has been purpose built to cater for the needs of professional sportsmen and women. Indeed, during my visit, the Turkish national football team were staying at one of the resorts during their buildup to the European Championships, in France. Sadly, their early exit from the tournament was probably not the result they, nor Gloria, were hoping for, despite their extensive preparations. Much has been written about the political troubles in Turkey at the moment, and this, together with a spate of bombings in Istanbul and Ankara, have caused concerns for holiday makers considering

Turkey as their next holiday destination. Tensions between the country and Russia has resulted in few Russians – if any – visiting the region, and with UK visitor numbers also in decline, with estimates varying between a reduction of around 30-40 per cent, bookings this year are significantly down compared to previous years. But based on my experience, golfers considering a break later in the season, could do far worse than give Gloria due consideration. During my stay – which incidentally coincided with the half-term school holidays – the resort itself was reasonably busy, with many families clearly availing themselves of low-cost, all-inclusive package deals to a five-star resort. The golf club however, which is located a few miles along the road and reached via complimentary shuttle bus every 20 minutes, was quiet and a feast to behold. The term ‘Millionaire’s Golf’ springs to mind. The three golf courses – The Old, The New and nine-hole Verde – were designed by Frenchman Michel Gayon and rank as some of the best in Europe.

“golfers considering a break later in the season, could do far worse than give Gloria due consideration” twitter.com/gme

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gloria ROUND ROBIN (L-R) The island green on the 17th on the New Course; the Italian, Lancora a la carte restaurant at Gloria Golf Resort; an aerial view of the family suites with pool complex; and the two-tier driving range at the golf club

“It’s on the 17th, however, that water suddenly occupies your thoughts, with a beautiful parthree that is clearly inspired by the 17th at Sawgrass”

With PGA Fellow David Clare in control of the golf operation, the club feels like a safe haven, away from the hustle and bustle of the hotels. The clubhouse is welcoming and friendly, and the practice facilities include a two-tier driving range, extensive short-game area and putting greens, all of which are located close to the clubhouse. Of the two main courses, it’s probably reasonable to admit that I found the Old far more testing than the New, although both offered differing challenges. The Old features a significant amount of water, with some narrow landing areas on the fairway, if you are not to lose too many balls during your round. There are some standout holes – in particular the sensational par-three 14th, which demands a precise tee shot to carry the water – but for my liking, architect Gayon designed the course too much in favour of the tour player, and not with the resort golfer in mind. Of the 18 holes, seven feature water which comes into play, and the par-three second hole, which requires a carry of

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175 yards over water, with no bailout area, sets the tone for the rest of the round. Why Gayon designed the hole in this manner on a resort course is a mystery, as many holiday golfers simply won’t be able to carry that much water and, with no bailout area; it can ruin your round before it’s even really begun. As a course, the Old is a challenge, there’s no doubt about it, but compared to the New, it’s a challenge that I’d imagine most golfers would most likely play just the once and be content with the fact they have ticked it off their ‘mustplay’ list. In contrast, the New course, which was opened for play in 2005, is a fairer test of golf, and rapidly gaining favour among golfers, with the emphasis on accuracy, as opposed to distance. Although, like the Old, seven holes feature water, Gayon appears to have been far more sympathetic to the average golfer, with the wet stuff only really coming into play on the closing stretch of holes. Granted there is a massive lake which runs adjacent to both the ninth

and 18th holes – the course forms two loops of nine going back to the clubhouse – but provided you are relatively straight off the tee and fairway, the lake is never going to be a concern. It’s on the 17th, however, that water suddenly occupies your thoughts, with a beautiful par-three that is clearly inspired by the 17th at Sawgrass, which is only spoiled by some floodlights from a sports pitch in the background. The island green itself isn’t all that wide, so an accurate tee-shot with the correct yardage will be the order of the day here. The condition of the New course was superb, and, talking with Clare before my round, it was evident that both courses are held in high esteem by the Englishman. A day after playing the Old course, it closed for a month for renovation work to be undertaken, with some of the bunkers in need of some remedial work. Gloria has a third course, the ninehole Verde, which is a 3,245-yard, par 35, which is ideally suited for those on holiday looking for a quick golf fix either


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Why Gloria is such a Glorious place to visit

before or after lunch, and prior to the evening entertainment, which is plentiful across the three resorts. In fact, the resort even boasts its own 1,061-seat amphitheatre, which each evening, stages a theatrical presentation for resort guests. Across the three hotels – Gloria Golf, Gloria Serenity and Gloria Verde – there are a myriad of restaurants, and, besides the all-inclusive breakfast, lunch and evening buffet, speciality restaurants (for a cover charge) will offer an alternative eating experience, ranging from authentic Turkish, to French, Italian and Asian offerings. Oh, and don’t forget Pescado, the speciality seafood eatery too. If that wasn’t enough, a free patisserie is available in the hotel each afternoon, serving a varied selection of confectionery and pastries, together with coffee and tea… again, all fully-included as part of the deal. Add in the selected wines, beers and soft drinks that are also included, and it’s easy to see why Gloria is a firm favourite with many holiday makers.

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The Belek region has many excellent golf courses, and any reader looking to sample the delights of the area really could do far worse than to look at basing oneself at Gloria, while, perhaps, playing a few of the other courses in the local vicinity. The likes of Carya and Montgomerie Maxx spring to mind, although you’d most certainly want to play both courses at Gloria as part of your visit. When the Turkish government colluded with the Özaltin family in the 90s to develop Gloria, and, on a wider scale, Belek as a golfing hotspot to rival the Mediterranean golf resorts, they could not have foreseen the world in which we live in today. Yet, in all aspects of that shared family vision, Nuri and Sebahat have delivered on their vision of building a world-class golf resort, coupled with five-star service – all in a climate that is amenable to northern Europeans most of the year. I, for one, would not hesitate to return, despite the perceived troubles of the region. GMé

From an unforgettable golfing holiday to extraordinary gourmet adventures, from SPA-treatments, which take Far Eastern traditions to the Mediterranean Sea, up to a peerless world of entertainment – with their holiday concept Gloria Hotels & Resorts offer numerous services for different target groups. Where the Mediterranean Sea and the river Acisu encounter, Gloria Hotels & Resorts inspire with their Five-Star Resorts in the sun-blessed and whole year destination of Belek at the Turkish Riviera, which is only 30km away from Antalya airport. “Unforgettable diversity, elegance and geniality” is the motto of the Gloria Hotels & Resorts, which comprises the facilities Gloria Golf Resort, Gloria Serenity Resort, Gloria Verde Resort, Gloria Villas and Gloria Golf Club. All sites are connected via a wonderful trail full of beautiful plants and trees to the beach. Gloria Serenity Resort is the first address, when it comes to a privileged holiday. The extraordinary architecture and elegant design as well as the personal atmosphere create an unforgettable experience. The Gloria Serenity Resort offers 369 rooms, amongst others with Jacuzzi, terrace, garden and panoramic view. Gloria Golf Resort lies directly on the 500m long sandy beach, emerging from the concourse of the river Acisu and the Mediterranean Sea. It offers a total of 515 rooms and is ideal for families, who want to enjoy all the amenities of the hotel group.

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sprint6golf SEEING RED Real Madrid and Wales footballer Gareth Bale shows the red card to a playing partner during a round of SPRINT6GOLF

Quicker & Shorter golf format launches James Ellis reports from the launch of golfs latest initiative to speed-up the game... SPRINT6GOLF. A quicker, shorter format of golf, SPRINT6GOLF, was launched at The Buckinghamshire Golf Club earlier this month, with several key golf governing bodies supporting the exciting new concept. For the past few years, golfers, sponsors and the media have continually asked for something new and innovative in golf. Providing a viable alternative to the regular long game, SPRINT6GOLF fits into modern life and allows those who already love golf to play more often, as well as encouraging more people to take up the game. The brainchild of Tom Critchley – the son of Sky Sports commentator and ex-Walker Cup player, Bruce Critchley – SPRINT6GOLF is played over just six holes and utilises a free mobile app with a 30-second shot clock to ensure a flowing and continuous pace of play. “For a couple of years now golf fans and media have been calling for a shorter, quicker form of golf. No one else was coming forward with the answer and I’d had this idea for a while, so it was a logical step to create SPRINT6GOLF,” explained Critchley. “The support from the golf industry was instant, with both England Golf and The Golf Foundation keen to see us succeed. Both organisations saw that SPRINT6GOLF addresses many of the current issues with golf by shortening

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the time required to play and making it more accessible, thus bringing a whole new generation of fans into the sport and enabling existing golfers to play more often. “We are starting at grassroots level to give anyone, including club golfers, the opportunity to enjoy SPRINT6GOLF, but our vision is to show how exciting and dynamic it can be when the best players in the world start competing in professional tournaments,” continued Critchley. By addressing the main barriers into golf of time and perception, SPRINT6GOLF allows people to play in a lot less time, therefore helping people fit golf into their busy lives. It also brings a more relaxed and fun approach, while challenging the perception that golf is slow paced and boring. The launch event was attended by key golf media, including the BBC’s golf correspondent Iain Carter who was quick to sing the praises of SPRINT6GOLF. “Having tried it out, it seems to work and certainly it was a fun way to have an evening’s golf. With handicaps ranging from seven to 24, our fourball covered half a dozen holes, with often lengthy walks from greens to tees, in just over an hour,” said Carter. The European Tour and CEO Keith Pelley have also been quick to show their support for the new concept, with Pelley commenting: “We wish every-

“For a couple of years now golf fans and media have been calling for a shorter, quicker form of golf. No one else was coming forward with the answer and I’d had this idea for a while”


sprint6golf.com

ON THE CLOCK Don’t hang-around on the tee

APP IN HAND The smartphone app for iOS and Android

PUTTING OUT Line-up, putt and move on

one involved with SPRINT6GOLF every success for their launch and for their future endeavours. Innovation and having fun are the keys to broadening golf’s appeal to all ages and this new format certainly offers both of those elements.” In addition to the shot clock, yellow cards are issued for those delaying their shot and red cards for those exceeding the 30 second limit, bringing an exciting new dynamic to playing golf, as well as encouraging players to get round the course quicker. Although ideally played over six holes, the flexible nature of SPRINT6GOLF means it can be played over any number of holes to suit the course and the time available.

2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has spoken about the need for a new format to increase participation, commenting: “SPRINT6GOLF is a very exciting and innovative new golf format that will be good for the game. I think it will bring a new audience to the sport, and I’m really looking forward to playing in the first championship.” Also supporting the new format is Real Madrid and Welsh footballer Gareth Bale who is keen to see golf grow in the right direction. “I love golf, but it doesn’t always fit into my busy life,” he said. “SPRINT6GOLF is the perfect solution, and it’s fun and fast paced. I’m excited to be part of something that’s going to have such a positive impact on the game.”

While SPRINT6GOLF can be played any time, anywhere, thanks to the interactive app, 32 clubs around the country will be invited to host qualifying events, each of which will put forward one amateur to compete in the 2016 Amateur Challenge National Final at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club on August 30. These fun events will allow ‘SPRINT6ers’ the ability to play without the worry of slower golfers on the course. By embracing the innovative new format and showing a desire to be forward thinking and have a positive impact on the game, clubs can also increase revenue by making golf more dynamic and fun to attract more people to participate. GMé

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GMĂŠ

old course

Time for Change on the Old Course To manage the seemingly unquenchable desire for tee times on the Old Course, the St Andrews Links Trust created an outsourced means of coping with demand, but as Mark Alexander finds out, all that is about to change.

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st.andrews.com DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS From the beginning of the 2018 golf season, the St Andrews Links Trust will assume responsibility for the distribution of all commercial tee-times on the Old Course

For centuries, the ancient links of St Andrews have remained the foundation of the modern golfing world. The Auld Grey Toon, which surrounds the opening and closing holes of the famous Old Course, cradles the hallowed turf in a blanket of continuity where nothing changes. The Swilcan Bridge continues to straddle the meandering burn while the R&A clubhouse watches on unfalteringly. Or at least that is how it appears from the outside. The reality is St Andrews has been in a constant state of flux throughout its long and illustrious history. Return to the days of Old Tom Morris and you’ll find changes afoot even then – how else could we have arrived at the magical 18-hole round if the 22-hole status quo hadn’t been questioned? Today, St Andrews is no longer a quaint fishing village with a penchant for hitting white balls near a beach. The modernday town is awash with businesses eking out a living from the industry that has grown up around ‘gouf’. But here too, change is in the air. The St Andrews Links Trust announced last year that it will assume responsibility for the distribution of all commercial Old Course tee times for the season commencing April 2018. This, for many, was a fundamental shift that had not been foreseen or forecast. For Euan Loudon, chief executive of St Andrews Links Trust, the time for change had arrived. “Following a lengthy period of consideration, the Trust has decided

that it is the appropriate time to take control over the presentation and sale of all Old Course commercial times as well as developing and managing a closer working relationship with multiple tour operators,” he said. “This change in emphasis will bring to a close the existing contractual arrangement which we have enjoyed with our partner, The Old Course Experience, for more than 20 years.” That arrangement was like no other. The Old Course Experience (OCE) officially signed an agreement with the Trust to purchase a fixed number of Old Course visitor tee times on an annual basis in 1995. The funds generated were used to help finance infrastructure investment both on and off the course and have unarguably contributed to the huge advancements made in the delivery of golf in the town. The arrangement had no bearing on either the ballot or local preferential times and the Trust continued to operate its advanced reservations system, which enables golfers to apply for a tee time in October the year before they wish to visit the Old Course. Under the agreement, the Old Course Experience also became the only outlet for guaranteed Old Course times, and as such the main distributor of a fixed number of commercial trade times to tour operators. It was an extraordinary arrangement that, if nothing else, illustrated the unfathomable interest in the Old Course and the entirely unique

“it is the appropriate time to take control over the presentation and sale of all Old Course commercial times” twitter.com/gme

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old course

“From 2018 onwards, that buffer will be removed. It will be interesting to see how the relationship develops from that point onwards”

AULD GREY TOON St Andrews in all its glory

set of circumstances that surround the Home of Golf. The latest development announced by the Links Trust will take this arrangement and turn it on its head bringing all control of the tee times in house. “Instinctively, it sounded like a good thing,” says Jamie Gardner, director of Adventures in Golf, a local tour operator based in St Andrews. “I certainly hadn’t heard any whispers about it, so they had done a great job of keeping it quiet as a lot of thought must have gone into it before the announcement was made. It came as a surprise.” The Trust has since contacted tour operators to begin a consultation process to better understand the role it will now have to perform. Some suggest this should have been done years ago and merely highlights the disconnect between the Trust and its customers. One tour operator explained that up until now all that had been required in terms of customer data capture was names, handicaps and club affiliation; and only of those playing the Old Course. Only lead names were required from any of the Trust’s other six courses. Crucially, although limited, this information was provided to the OCE rather than directly to the Trust. It is believed the study now being carried out by the Trust is the most in-depth investigation into those who play the Old Course in 25 years, or perhaps ever. Harvesting this information will be an arduous but ultimately invaluable exercise not only for the Trust’s looming tee-time responsibilities, but also for its lucrative relationships with its commercial partners.

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The study also heralds a new dawn. “They’re interested in finding new ways of working more closely with commercial operators,” says Gardner. “Over the years, we’ve certainly felt less of a client of the Links Trust because we were dealing with them less frequently as there was a third party between them and us. “From 2018 onwards, that buffer will be removed. It will be interesting to see how the relationship develops from that point onwards.” The change may also see the development of a more equitable system. Previously, tour operators would receive their allocation of tee times in the November prior to the following season, while the OCE would have its times agreed some months earlier. Now, with an opportunity to revise its operations, there may be an opportunity for the Links Trust to introduce some parity. With the premiums to play the Old Course now being paid directly to the charity responsible for running the famous course, it seems certain the Links Trust has tee’d itself up for a healthy windfall from 2018 onwards. And with the prospect of closer industry ties and the potential for a fairer crack at the whip, tour operators could also be looking on this latest change favourably. In fact, the only stakeholder to fall foul of this new arrangement may be the OCE, which will now have to compete on a level playing field with the rest of the chasing pack. “We fully respect and appreciate the ambition and objectives of the St Andrews Links Trust in making this change,” commented Sheelagh Walker, head of golf operations at the OCE.

“As we look towards our own future, we look forward to offering a continued quality service to golfers, and will now concentrate our efforts on planning for post-2017 arrangements, and making sure that in the short term we deliver the same quality of service to every visitor booking a guaranteed Old Course tee time in 2016 and 2017.” The relationship between the Links Trust and the OCE will be understandably uneasy but no doubt outwardly congenial. Saying that, there will most likely be some advantages. Responsibility for the administration of the Old Course tee times will be handed over to the Trust while the shackles of being closely tied to a single destination will be thrown off. The OCE, or rather its rebranded successor will be able to spread its wings outside the bubble of the Home of Golf and explore new opportunities that until now have been out of reach. The changes to Old Course tee times are merely the latest development to stem from the Links Trust since it was established as an independent charitable trust and duly assigned responsibility for the reputation of the Home of Golf in 1974. While progress has undoubtedly been made certainly in terms of the presentation of the courses and the quality of service provided, these improvements have often been accompanied by the unnerving whisper of local disquiet. So far, few have found the need to question this latest decision. As the details of the new arrangement unravel, it would be nice if it stayed that way. GMé


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montrose golf links

“Since the 1970s, we’ve lost about 70 yards from where the dunes used to be. That’s a 52-degree wedge into a green”

Paradise Lost Vanishing History As 450 years of golfing history tinkers on the edge, Mark Alexander reports on the efforts being made to save the world’s fifth oldest golf course. RUGGED COASTLINE The beautiful Scottish coastline

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The history of golf at Montrose is long and involved. The first evidence of the game being played at the historic Scottish venue stretches back over 450 years. It is the fifth oldest course in the world and comes only second to St Andrews in terms of continuous play over the same golfing ground. If Montrose moved in political circles, it would be the elder statesman blessed with a lifetime of accumulated insight and unquestionable experience. Although there are two courses; the Medal and Broomfield each offering a mix of challenge and reward, the Medal is the daddy. The course itself is a traditional Scottish links where deep bunkers, gorse, dunescapes and the ever-present influence of the North Sea makes for a round of links golf with all the thrills and

spills of coastal breezes and springy turf – the kind of golfing buzz you get only when you’re playing close to the coast. Montrose is one of the most eyecatching but perhaps overlooked gems in Scotland’s cache of golfing jewels. It is a benchmark in the evolution of the game where the Scottish Professional and Amateur Championships have been staged along with Final Qualifying for the Open Championship. Montrose is a treasure, and it is falling into the sea. “It’s serious,” says Claire Penman, company secretary, Montrose Golf Links. “Since the 1970s, we’ve lost about 70 yards from where the dunes used to be. That’s a 52-degree wedge into a green.” She continued: “The back of the first green is about 20 yards from the edge now.


montroselinks.com

HISTORIC SITE The clubhouse at Montrose Golf Links, where golf has been played for the past 450 years

“I played golf here last Monday and was shocked. When I’ve been out on course walks, you don’t perhaps appreciate it as much, but when I was playing my second shot into the first, I thought; this ball could go on the beach. I was in the rough and if I got a flyer, I could put this 20 yards through the green and it would end up on the beach.” Things have got so bad that the ladies’ tees on the second hole were deemed unusable in light of the encroaching coastline. More drastic action was proposed by Montrose Golf Links to realign a number of holes on the front nine to save the course, commissioning Martin Hawtree to provide a plan. The proposed changes would have affected seven holes but were rejected by the three clubs that use the courses as well as season ticket holders. “We got plans drawn up by Hawtree,” explains Penman.

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“He visited during December 2014 with a view to designing a realignment plan. We got three different options; one was a doomsday scenario where nine holes of the Broomfield course were realigned as Medal course holes and we lost all of the holes that ran along the seafront. “We didn’t want to go down that path as we thought things weren’t that severe. But it will come to that eventually because if we get another bad winter, the second tee and the championship sixth tee could be away.” The clock is ticking with the inevitable demise of the course seemingly unavoidable. In its recently updated Shoreline Management Plan, Angus Council spelt out the plight of the Medal course in cold, hard terms. “The Montrose Golf links frontage is mainly undefended; apart from the rock strong points which were constructed to

provide short-term protection to the tees at most risk of erosion. Dune erosion is particularly severe along this frontage and these rock strong points are now at the end of their design life and have become increasingly ineffective.” The council’s solution is to move the course. “In line with the original Shoreline Management Plan (Angus Council, 2004), along the Montrose Golf Links frontage, the plan is to manage erosion of the dunes through a managed realignment policy to maintain the integrity of the dunes as a natural defence, while maintaining protection to the majority of the golf course into the long term. “Inevitably this policy will include the need for relocation of those assets/tees in the 100-year erosion zone further inland.” There is talk of government-backed flood-risk assessment which could shine

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montrose golf links

“We’re not like Trump with millions of pounds sitting there. It would be absolutely brilliant if we could get rock armour but I just don’t feel that’s going to happen”

EXPOSED The links at Montrose are fully exposed to the elements

a fresh light on the situation, but that won’t be ready for another five years and who is to say the recommendations from this report would be any different to the council’s stance? What the council don’t seem to grasp is the inherent value and integrity of the beach-front holes and their significance to the course, the town and to Angus. Loosing these stunning holes to an encroaching coastline would be like removing the dome from St Paul’s Cathedral or relocating the clock on the Elizabeth Tower (from which Big Ben chimes). It would fundamentally and irrevocably change the character of the course, never-mind the impact it would have on 450 years of golfing history. Little can be done to halt the inescapable power of Mother Nature, but surely there is an alternative to fundamentally and irretrievably altering what in other fields would be regarded as an antiquity. The local clubs are certainly hedging their bets on finding something else. After rejecting the Montrose Golf Links/Hawtree plan, many are hoping that rock armour – the engineering solution that relies on stacking large boulders on a beach to absorb wave energy

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and allow sand to build-up – can come to their rescue. Protecting the coastline with a barricade of rocks could well irradiate the need for any tinkering with the course, but it is expensive and funding such a project would carry its own problems. “Time is of the essence, and we could waste time on that and loose more ground, and then we would really be in a position that we’d have to do something,” says Penman. “Are we wasting our time looking at rock armour just to be told we’re not going to get it? It’s very hard. “We’re not like Trump with millions of pounds sitting there. It would be absolutely brilliant if we could get rock armour but I just don’t feel that’s going to happen.” Not surprisingly, a local action group has been set up with the expressed aim of “stopping the erosion of the dunes on Montrose beach”. The Protect Montrose Facebook page may have a generic feel, but its aims are very much pointed at preserving the town’s golfing heritage as indicated in the latest post to appear on its timeline. “Angus Council is just ignoring one of Montrose’s greatest assets, they think it

is acceptable to allow the golf course to wash into the sea,” the note announced. “Montrose hasn’t got many world-class features, and the golf course is definitely world-class and very historic. We need to stop Angus Council thinking there backward plan is ok. It is just about money, not about heritage.” The plight of Montrose and its treasured Medal course is worrying. The organisation responsible for looking after the courses, Montrose Golf Links, has taken the only logical steps available to it and devised a realignment plan that some say would be nothing more than a sticky back plaster over an impending mortal wound. Others say it would desecrate one of golf’s most ancient sites. Either way, the plans have been wholeheartedly rejected. On the other hand, the local council has indicated its preference for following exactly that course leaving us with a seemingly unassailable impasse. With little sign of a practical solution to a complex problem and without the millions needed to fund appropriate coastline protection, is the world of golf willing to stand back and let one of its treasures fall into the sea? GMé


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practice nets PRACTICE PERFECT The Net Return can be assembled in a matter of minutes, enabling it to be transported easily and quickly from home to the range

Net Gains off course with The Net Return A new training net developed in the US, could be the answer to golfers and clubs prayers writes Scott MacCallum. We are all told, in fact we all know, that practice makes, if not perfect, a good deal better. We know, but how many of us actually practice what is preached. I’ll answer for you – precious few. I’d go so far as to say that I view any of my golfing partners who spend their Friday evenings on the range prior to our Saturday roll-up with genuine suspicion. Could it not be viewed as gaining an unfair advantage? Just posing the question… But part of the reason is that practice is so time consuming. Unless you have access to a Driving Range with a ready supply of balls popping conveniently onto a tee you can spend more than half the time wandering from side to side, long and short collecting your own balls. Not for us the golf professional benefits of the caddie, complete with baseball mitt, catching well struck 6-irons on the bounce and returning them to our feet. Shagging balls they called it in more innocent times. But there is an answer. It comes from an unusual source, and it could give all us Saturday amateurs that leg up our ultra keen colleagues already enjoy. Matt Crawley, and his twin brother, Paul, were college kids from New Jersey in the United States back in the mid to late 1980s. Matt was one of those specialist American footballers who ran onto the field booted the ball as high and as far as he could and then jogged off again. He was keen to develop his skills but, like us golfers, wasted vast amounts of valuable time tracking down balls from

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neighbouring gardens and other out of the way spots after kicks. So Matt went to work developing a punting net which would trap the football and keep it within easy collecting range, allowing him to spend more time punting and less time retrieving. A unique “S” shaped frame was devised and became known as The Net Return. Progress was put on hold while Matt and Paul entered full on adult life and embraced marriage, children and mortgages but the twins continued to develop the net having by now appreciated the multi-sport potential. With quality the watchword Matt and Paul moved from a PVC framed design to steel which was then determined to be too heavy, to the tubular aluminium which now provides that “S” shaped frame, while the net itself has developed from traditional nylon to heavyweight polyester which gives the much desired strength, durability, UV protection and, most importantly, safety. Now, nearly 30 years on, The Net Return is used by practice-motivated sports lovers in golf, football, American football, baseball, lacrosse among others to improve skills and in certain instances, height of room permitting, it can be set up in a spare room or garage to enable all weather use. For a golfer keen to improve, what could be finer? Now coupled with a golf simulator, displaying holes on your favourite or own course, practice can become much more fun and targeted. Fancy developing a gentle fade to suit that par-4 you always struggle with?


thenetreturn.com

FOOTBALL Kick about in the back garden

LACROSSE The net is designed to withstand hard balls

HEAVY USE Complete with a 250,000 shot guarantee

Well, after 30 pre-breakfast drives into your Net Return, ably assessed by your golf simulator, you’d be pretty confident of replicating the shot come Saturday morning. The Net Return comes in a range of models and an array of accessories, while travel bags mean that you can maintain your practice regime pretty much anywhere. In fact, such is the design of The Net Return the ball will return to your feet, thus eliminating the need to even walk forward to collect balls from the foot of the net.

So the excuses that many of us concoct for the flaws, failings and faults which have infiltrated our golf swings over the years now have much less validity, and in no time at all, your handicap should come tumbling down. We are now able to pack in much more practice – in the comfort of our own home – than ever before, and hone swings and hit balls for the majority of the time without having to march this way and that to pick up our good, bad and indifferent efforts from a muddy practice range.

In addition, golf clubs without a covered driving range, could look to bring teaching indoors come the winter. The Crawley twins have received overwhelming plaudits for their nets including from the Dallas Cowboys – from their initial love of American Football, US LPGA Professional, Natalie Gulbis and, whisper it, Donald Trump. The phrase ‘Net Gains’ has found itself a new meaning and we could all make those gains by spending more time swinging and less time hunting down balls! GMé

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european golf

“Sport England is offering golf clubs grants of up to £75,000 to install short game academies”

The Lowe down on European Golf Scott MacCallum catches-up with European Golf partner, David Lowe, to discuss the increased use of synthetic surfaces at home, on the course and in adventure golf. SAND SAVE An installation at Cottingham Golf Club complete with practice bunker

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There can be little doubt that our weather has become more extreme in recent years and golfers have had to become used to finding something else to do with their weekends, as their golf clubs have struggled to keep their courses playable in the face of record rainfall and unfeasibly high water tables. Frustration all round. Wouldn’t it be great if an opportunity to at least practice during the times when the course is out of action, or even better be able to hone short game skills at home, so you can hit the course running when the waterlogging finally subsides? Well, synthetic grass company, European Golf, has the answer and has been installing top quality synthetic short game facilities at golf clubs while also offering domestic users the chance to have European Tour quality putting surfaces in their own homes. “There has been a growing demand for people wanting to have their own personal indoor and outdoor golf greens. It really is an expanding business,” explained David Lowe, managing director of European Golf.

“Some of the top professionals, including Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, as well as England football star, Michael Owen, have already had greens installed in their gardens. “They are pretty much maintenance free and it gives them the opportunity to sharpen up their short games and practice their putting when they are not on Tour,” explained Lowe, who has just signed up European Tour pro, Chris Hanson, to promote European Golf. “Chris is our new blood European Pro. He was the final player to earn his card at the 2015 Tour School and has just recorded his first top 10 finish on the European Tour. We installed his European Golf green at his home last week,” revealed Lowe. A European Golf green requires no watering, feeding, mowing or weeding and the company’s portfolio includes golf greens, indoor golf, winter tees, short courses, training aids, lawns, golf teaching studios, walkways right through to full golf course design. They offer two options for the domestic customer. There is a putting green, a nylon surface which offers excellent


europeangolf.co.uk

PUTT FOR DOUGH Chris Hanson with his new putting green

CHIP STOP The chipping area at One Stop Golf

putting and chipping practice, and then there is the European Tour Infill which is designed to give the correct reaction to a ball hitting the surface from any distance – so a well struck shot will create backspin. But while European Golf is providing the golf professional and the amateur fanatic superb opportunities to practice, it is perhaps an initiative in which they are involved – together with Sport England – which may have the greatest impact on the game of golf as a whole. “It is has long been accepted that golf needs to find more ways of being accessible to the masses – to bring through the next generation of player and, hopefully, bring down the embarrassingly high average age of those people who play, and love the game,” said Lowe. “Everyone apparently knows what is needed and many have their own solutions, however, the answer, in my humble opinion, is fairly simple. Get golf clubs into the hands of children, make it fun, give them guidance and lessons, and make sure they have access to places to play. “Thanks to a funding initiative created by Sport England we may finally be moving in the right direction on the final one of those. “Sport England is offering golf clubs grants of up to £75,000 to install short game academies with the proviso that the club opens its doors to non-members

to come in and use them,” explained Lowe, who, through the scheme, has already built seven short game facilities, through which children and non-golfers alike are being introduced to the game. “Golf Pros are pushing for them as it means they have all-year round teaching facilities and, with the open door policy, it means that more golfers should be attracted to the game which can only be a good thing all round.” The European Golf installation team – which is spearheaded by Lowe’s partner in the business, Josh Bartlett, a man with a wealth of experience in the business of installing golf greens – has already installed short game facilities at among others Silvermere, in Surrey; Hexham, in Northumberland, as well as Cottingham and One Stop Golf, in East Yorkshire. “We have five other clubs who are currently awaiting the go-ahead and we anticipate that number growing as more golf clubs begin to appreciate that the Sport England grant aid is available, and that the maximum sum, of £75,000, means that the club will have little or no financial outlay themselves,” continued Lowe. “All they need to do is provide a business plan and guarantee that the facility will be open to all.” Lowe has worked for European Golf since 2009, and in 2014 he and Bartlett purchased the company from the original owner, who decided to move abroad.

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“We realised that it was a growing market, and when the opportunity to buy the company came along we grabbed it with both hands. “Josh and I can really concentrate on moving the business forward, with both the domestic greens market and the professional side – offering all year round facilities for golf professionals to carry out their teaching,” added Lowe. But there is one other initiative which sees European Golf promoting golf to youngsters, one which if it takes off, might just be the real key to getting them to develop a love of the game which will last them a lifetime. “We have just installed our own Captain’s Bay Adventure Golf Course, at Metro Golf in London,” said Lowe. “It’s a nine-hole mini course which is great fun for the entire family. It’s not like crazy golf. “We have installed top quality putting surfaces, so a golfer can practice his putting there and get the feel of real golf, while the whole family can get enjoyment out of it. “It is giving more people a taste of golf which can only be a good thing.” The popularity of synthetic grass within golf has grown markedly in recent years, and with the improvements in playability, it has become a genuine option for golf clubs and individuals looking to maximise playing or practice opportunities. GMé

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groundwater regulations

It really couldn’t be Clearer... Clubs need to heed the law Scott MacCallum reports that despite legislation that is now seven years old, clubs are still not fully aware of their legal obligations when it comes to washwater and the environment. None of us are perfect. Are we? Most of us have broken the law, sometimes inadvertently, at some stage or other. We’ve not noticed the 40mph sign on the way into a village and been above the limit, at least until we notice. Or we’ve sneaked across a street with not a car in sight but before the green man has given us the go ahead. Minor transgressions I know, but transgressions none the less. Which brings me to golf clubs, many of which may well be in breach of pollution prevention legislation which, in the UK is: The Groundwater (England and Wales) Regulations 2009 and The Water Environment (Groundwater and Priority Substances) (Scotland) Regulations 2009, both of which became law in 2009. Some may think that any breaches of these regulations are of a minor nature, others may honestly, and remarkably still, be totally in the dark as to their obligations and what they need to do

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to comply with legal requirements; ie: prevent contaminated washwater going to ground. “Actually the UK is well ahead of continental Europe in complying with the regulations, where the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) applies, but even in Britain, where the WFD has been enshrined in law, there are still more clubs which are breaking the law than those which are complying,” explained David Mears, joint managing director of Highspeed Group, which produces the ClearWater recycling system. “We have devoted a great deal of time before 2009, and since, educating golf clubs of their obligations through trade magazines and on social media, but I still have clubs asking me how long they have to put measures into place. “I tell them that they’ve had since 2009,” said Mears, who along with business partner Andy Vincent, developed the ClearWater system, in 2003.

In the UK, the Environment Agency, responsible for legislative compliance, has shown restraint in certain cases when dealing with golf clubs which have been proven to have transgressed. While significant fines and civil sanctions are within its armoury, the Agency has on several occasions chosen instead to work closely with golf clubs to ensure that they put things right as quickly as possible. One such club is Filey Golf Club, on the north east coast of England, whose beach lost its Blue Flag status and a water course in close vicinity to the club and emerging on the beach, was discovered to contain contamination, with concern expressed about possible pollution from the wash-off area. Course manager Andy Flemings had previously proposed the acquisition of a washpad system but the club had initially decided against going down that particular route at that time.


clearwatertv.co.uk TURNKEY ClearWater at Filey Golf Club (left); a turnkey ClearWater installation at Northampton Golf Club (right) and (below) Dunfermline Golf club’s Kenny Duncan is delighted with the new ClearWater system installed by TIS Scotland

“We have devoted a great deal of time before 2009, and since, educating golf clubs of their obligations”

With the EA giving guidance, the club installed a ClearWater system and received praise for the work it had done in rectifying the problem quickly once it had been brought, officially, to light. With ClearWater business in the UK currently seeing an upsurge, thanks to ClearWater’s own efforts and that of distributor, Quentin Allardice, at Turf Irrigation Services, in Scotland, Highspeed has turned attention to continental Europe. The work the company has done in setting up a distribution network in France; Germany, Austria and Switzerland; Denmark, Norway and Sweden, as well as the Republic of Ireland ensures that the foundations are in place to satisfy demand for the ClearWater system when the penny – or should it be the cent – finally drops. All golf clubs, irrespective of size or stature, need to understand that continued failure to meet the demands of antipollution legislative requirements could both harm the environment and see financial penalties on the clubs. “We much prefer having a distributor rather than an agent because they will have stock of spare parts, trained engineers and will have the capacity to carry out the annual maintenance that the system requires,” explained Mears.

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“ClearWater is an extremely simple system with only two moving parts, but it does require regular maintenance to remain 100 per cent efficient.” While there will still be golf clubs who take the ‘it will never happen to us’ approach and, to use a popular phrase, ‘wing it’ when it comes to their obligations to the environment, such an approach, as well as being irresponsible, also fails to take account of the fact that installing a ClearWater system will save a golf club money. “Our systems do actually save golf clubs money as we are using recycled water, which in-turn reduces their water bills,” explained Mears. “We have carried out research which reveals that an average 18 hole golf club could save half a million litres of water a year – over five years that’s 2.5 million litres which is not only a huge cost saving to the club, but also very good news for the environment.” The ClearWater system is safely hidden underground and the system can be installed by the golf club staff or their contractors which cuts down the overall cost. “Turnkey installations are available, but over 60 per cent of our customers now choose to install the system themselves, which shows just how straightfor-

ward the process is. We provide detailed installation instructions with photos in the appropriate language, and are on hand to assist at every stage. “We also ensure that the system is commissioned by Highspeed trained engineers before being put to first use. We have engineers in every country, so are satisfied that every ClearWater system will be installed and checked thoroughly.” With so many members’ golf clubs throughout UK and Europe being managed by amateur committees – many of whom have little experience or knowledge of UK and EU regulations – perhaps it is not surprising that there are so many golf clubs sitting on the wrong side of the law, when it comes to the issue of Groundwater Regulations. That said, ignorance of the law is no defence, and club owners, operators and managers really should be liaising with their course managers and headgreenkeepers regarding this important issue. Golf clubs must take heed of their obligations to the environment and with passionate individuals like David Mears and Andy Vincent, and their excellent ClearWater system, available to provide a solution, there can be no excuses for those clubs which are found to be in breach of the regulations. GMé

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huxley golf

“I think it says a lot about our ethos that we always strive to offer our customers the best and that’s why we chose Huxley Golf to design and install a fully rounded coaching area”

Huxley Golf invests in the long game Artificial golf surfaces are increasingly widely used at golf clubs these days, and Vanessa Gardner talks to Huxley Golf about the growing demand across Europe. TEE TIME The Huxley Golf practice tee at The Castle Course, St Andrews Links

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An invaluable asset to greenkeepers and course managers, all-weather surfaces have long been used in a wide variety of remedial situations. Practice tee areas, alternative or winter tee positions, pathways and shaded areas are all circumstances where artificial surfaces have proven to play a key role in keeping standards high, while taking the pressure off natural turf and enhancing areas where grass doesn’t thrive. However, increasingly, club owners and managers are thinking creatively and investing pro-actively in all-weather surfaces for longer-term benefits, as opposed to quick-fix solutions. Dedicated practice, short game and coaching areas are becoming commonplace – from Scotland to Lanzarote.

For example, Kevin Mackay, operations manager at the Castle Course, St Andrews, commissioned Huxley Golf to create a new improved practice tee (one of three large Huxley tees at St Andrews) from where more than 800,000 shots are played each and every year. In Austria, a complete 9-hole golf course at Graz has been constructed using Huxley all-weather surfaces on all the greens and tees – Modern Golf is also the largest installation in Huxley Golf’s long history. At Lanzarote’s Club La Santa, an 18-hole all-weather Huxley putting green was installed as part of an overhaul of its golf training centre. In some cases, such as at Brokenhurst Manor Golf Club in the New Forest National Park, all-weather facilities were specifically


huxleygolf.com

BAYWATCH Innovative Huxley Golf multi-surface teaching bays at St Andrews Links Golf Academy

requested by members, because it would enable them to get out and enjoy their club community all year-round. Such all-weather installations are a potentially lucrative profit-boost because while they assist with getting members to come to the club more often, there are no corresponding increases in running costs. Maintenance is minimal, so valuable greenkeepers’ time can be used productively elsewhere on the course. But it’s not just the greenkeeping staff that can reap the benefits of artificial surfaces... PGA professionals can also derive a significant increase in teaching revenue – as witnessed at Portsmouth Golf Centre – which has demonstrated pro-active and creative management, and realised a good commercial outcome though an all-weather installation. The Centre is bucking the trend when it comes to attracting new golfers, boost-

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ing profits at the same time, having recorded an 11 per cent uplift in lesson income and improved sales through its pro shop. Owner Terry Healy puts this down to his investment in a new all-weather coaching area and the ‘wow factor’ it has generated. The new training facility features a large driving area and a five-hole putting green with two chipping pods, all created using Huxley Golf’s top flight all-weather surfaces. Located close to the 18th hole, fencing was skilfully designed to facilitate views of the new area, sparking interest and cleverly generating coaching enquiries, while floodlighting extends coaching well into the evening. The Centre’s on-site pro shop has benefited too, as golfers can use the new area to try out equipment in a nonpressured environment and on Huxley Golf’s extremely realistic, yet durable, playing surface.

It has enabled the team there to introduce a new service, putter fittings, to its extensive list of custom fitting services. Sales have improved and the customer’s buying experience has been enhanced. Launched in tandem with a new Portsmouth Golf Centre Performance Academy, the concept is to build community spirit and encourage more people to give golf a go. Members of the Academy enjoy one hour of supervised practice on the Huxley Golf practice area each month free of charge. Healy said: “I think it says a lot about our ethos that we always strive to offer our customers the best and that’s why we chose Huxley Golf to design and install a fully rounded coaching area. “Coaching here is a more interesting and attractive proposition now. It has opened up options for small group lessons which participants, and our PGA Pros, find extremely beneficial.

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PUTT FOR DOUGH The new Huxley Golf putting coaching zone at Portsmouth Golf Centre

“There’s simply no point in investing in the best golf surface if it is not installed to our exacting standards”

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“Importantly too, my coaching team is over the moon with this new first class facility and I know it will help me retain the top talent that I have here. “For me, the quality of the service is just as important as the quality of the product. The whole Huxley Golf team are a delight to work with. I particularly appreciate their consultative, advice-led approach. I know what I want to achieve but they know how to do it! “They listen carefully, are open to suggestions and spend time working up ideas that are right for us, not just presenting us with packaged options.” Just as some natural grass varieties are much better than others in certain applications, the same holds true for artificial surfaces for golf. Huxley Golf’s allweather surfaces have been developed over fifteen years through a continuing research and development programme and with specialist input from greenkeepers and selected manufacturers with whom they have a very close working relationship. Paul Chester, general manager at Huxley Golf explains more. “All Huxley Golf all-weather turf is made especially for us after selecting the optimum yarn type and specification for the intended purpose. “Face weight, tufting gauge, stitch rate and manufacturing process, combined with the optimum pile height and finish, all play their part in ensuring that our surfaces for tees, putting greens, golf greens, practice areas and pathways perform as they should. “We listen to feedback from pros and greenkeepers to ensure we are on the right lines with our product development programme in order to continually

improve our range and deliver what our customers require. I doubt any other company in the world has a comparable R&D programme and facility dedicated to providing the best all-weather golf surfaces achievable.” One example of this was that Huxley Golf found a way to do away with the traditional need for sand or rubber crumb infill for their tees, knowing that this generated greater maintenance requirements. Huxley Golf’s second generation tee turf no longer requires infill of any kind and so combines superb playability and length of life with absolute minimum maintenance. The correct specification and quality of all-weather turf, together with correct installation will deliver long term value. Training, experience and high installation standards are critical here, which is why Huxley Golf and their appointed distributors have teams of highly-skilled installers to ensure customers achieve the desired return on their investment. Huxley Golf’s installation manager, Richard White, added: “We take enormous pride in creating facilities that will stand the test of time and the challenges of climate. There’s simply no point in investing in the best golf surface if it is not installed to our exacting standards. “That’s why we work in partnership with greenkeepers and course managers from the outset, advising them on the best position for their greens, carefully designing and selecting the right product for their particular circumstances, working through any challenges that may arise during installation and ultimately making sure they get an excellent return on investment.” GMé


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signing off

“So isn’t it time that golf put on a proper mixed event? After all, it’s one of the few sports where the two genders can actually play together”

Golf, like tennis, should have a mixed gender tour event I write this two weeks before the start of Wimbledon fortnight. Like many British sporting fans, for me, the annual jamboree in south-west London is one of the highlights of the year. And one of the most enjoyable aspects of it is the mixed doubles. It’s not a format which happens too often as the tours tend to stay on their own side of the fence. But the players seem to enjoy it – and the spectators certainly do. So isn’t it time that golf put on a proper mixed event? After all, it’s one of the few sports where the two genders can actually play together. And, as we’re always being told, there is a great need to get more people playing. A Ryder Cup-style competition with six ladies and six men would, I’m sure, generate a lot of spectator interest, and while, almost inevitably, the top men would shun the event because it didn’t pay enough, there would still be a sprinkling of big names. Chances are you’d find the top women only too keen to participate, as they are constantly on the lookout for ways of getting the sport more exposure without the need to don a bikini in a provocative pose – which I’m still not convinced does their cause any good. I was present some years ago now at the Ladies English Open, when it was played at Chart Hills, in Kent, and, while the field wasn’t the strongest to appear that year on the Ladies European Tour, it was still a great experience. The quality of golf was good and the golfers themselves were only too happy to pose with youngsters for photographs or to sign au-

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HEADS-UP Mixed doubles is a popular format in tennis, so why not in golf?

tographs. They weren’t ushered away by their management companies to a sponsor’s tent, they were actually encouraged to interact with the paying public. It was refreshing and, ever since, I’ve been a big fan of the ladies’ game, which is why I’d be only too keen to see a mixed event on the schedule. Any competition which helps build up the profile of professional ladies’ golf will be well received in this particular part of east Hampshire. A few months ago I was the only ‘golfer’ in the family. Now I’m one of three as our two youngest boys, both aged 21 have taken it up. The three of us are now in the process of booking up lessons, which, on the one hand, is great

as it gives us the opportunity to play sport as a family, something on which I’m always keen. On the other hand, the inevitable downside is that, within the space of about four weeks, I will find myself the third best golfer in the family. And it’s that part which I find so depressing... GMé

David Bowers editorial@golfmanagement.eu.com


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GMé | June 2016  

Golf Management Europe issue 108

GMé | June 2016  

Golf Management Europe issue 108

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