On the cover...
St Andrews Links Trust enters into a new long-term agreement with Toro for turf and irrigation equipment at the Home of Golf
£7.50 golfmanagement.eu.com Issue 112 | March 2017
The essential business magazine for every golf course owner, director of golf, CEO and general manager operating a golf facility
Henrik Stenson talks about winning the Open Championship, and his first venture into golf course design at Österåkers Golf Club in Sweden
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On the agenda march 2017 32
Stenson Championing Design
The Champion Golfer of the Year, and current world number three, Henrik Stenson has just embarked on his first design project at Österåker Golfklubb in his native Sweden.
Alan High on the Hogg
Kingsbarns chief executive, Alan Hogg, catches-up with GMé publisher, Michael Lenihan, during a round on the famous Scottish links.
Seve’s Gem in the Canaries
Former chair of the SLGA, and a previous CEO of the LGU, Shona Malcolm, discusses recent developments that have ushered in long-overdue change in the ladies game.
Designed by Seve Ballesteros, Buenavista Golf in Tenerife, is one of the rare, unspoilt golfing gems that has yet to gain widespread acclaim as a must-visit golfing destination.
Game Changer for Trump
Now that President Donald Trump is busy signing executive orders, will he have time for golf, or perhaps, more crucially, will golf still have time for Trump?
GMé a shortened form of Golf Management Europe is published and distributed six times per year by Portman Publishing and Communications Limited Deben House, Main Road, Martlesham, Woodbridge IP12 4SE Telephone (44) 01394 380800 | www.portman.uk.com
Publisher Executive editor Contributors
Michael Lenihan David Bowers Mark Alexander, Samuel Frederick, Neil Gray, Hiedi Hutchinson, Scott MacCallum, Henrik Stenson, Mark Taylor, Steve Wilson
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ISSN 1368-7727. Printed by The Manson Group. © 2017 Portman Publishing and Communications Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the prior written permission of the publisher. Whilst due care is taken to ensure content in GMé is accurate, the publisher cannot accept liability for errors and omissions.
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from the publisher
“And it’s not just in sport where there has been something of a threatened backlash after some of Trump’s proposals and comments”
Trump suppliers need to be aware of ‘reputational risk’ You have to hand it to President Donald Trump; he’s certainly made an immediate impact. Whether or not the impact is positive or negative tends to be determined by where you sit vis a vis the political divide. Trump took just eight days in office to record a majority disapproval rating – a record of which, even with his chutzpah, he should not be proud. Bill Clinton took 573 days to hit his 50 per cent rating. But I was quite surprised to speak to a lot of people – both within the golf industry and outside – at recent trade events who readily admitted they were looking to distance themselves from the 45th President of the USA. Many of them referred to a press release issued by John Deere about its deal with Trump Turnberry, which, coincidentally, landed in my inbox the day Trump held his preinauguration news conference. Many industry suppliers readily admitted that while they’d be happy to take Trump’s money, unlike John Deere, they certainly wouldn’t go shouting about it from the rooftops. Only my sense of perspective stops me from taking a leaf out of Sean Spicer’s book and saying that I spoke to 1.5 million people… A few weeks later and Trump’s growing shadow of dubious PR darkened the door of Under Armour, when MarketWatch reported the company “was downgraded… to a rare bearish rating at Susquehanna Financial, which cited the ‘reputational risk’ created by the chief executive’s praise of President Donald Trump.”
4 | GMé March 2017
THE ART OF THE DEAL John Deere recently announced a new deal with Trump Turnberry
And it didn’t end there: Golden State Warriors’ two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry – an Under Armour ambassador – expressed his surprise at the CEO’s support for the beleaguered POTUS and added: “If I can say the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off, if it wasn’t in line with who I am.” And it’s not just in sport where there has been something of a threatened backlash after some of Trump’s proposals and comments, with fashion insiders suggesting that Ralph Lauren would face a boycott after it dressed Melania Trump at the inauguration.
But our concern, first and foremost, is with the golf industry. On page 46 of this edition, Mark Alexander looks at the frenetic first weeks of the presidency, and asks if the ‘leader of the free world’ will still have time for golf, or, perhaps, more crucially, will golf still have time for Trump? GMé
Michael Lenihan firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hold the front page After an extensive review process, St Andrews Links Trust has entered into a new, long-term partnership with Toro for the supply of turf and irrigation equipment at the Home of Golf.
“we determined Toro was not only the best choice to maintain the playing conditions we require, but also the best fit with our vision for the future”
Cover sponsored by The Toro Company (1) 952 888 8801 email@example.com
6 | GMé March 2017
A new, long-term agreement between St Andrews Links Trust and The Toro Company was signed recently, with Toro continuing as the official partner and provider of turf equipment and irrigation products at the Home of Golf. It is the culmination of an extensive 18-month review process in which greenkeepers tested a full range of equipment from several competitive brands on all seven of the Links public courses at St Andrews. Based on the evaluations, Toro equipment emerged as the top choice, delivering the right combination of performance, reliability and technology to meet the exacting standards of the Links Trust. More than 230,000 rounds of golf are played on the seven courses each year, and St Andrews has hosted The Open Championship 29 times since 1873 – more than any other course on the Open rota – and with Toro the Links Trusts preferred provider for more than 15 years now, that choice has been validated once again by the recent contract review process. “St Andrews Links represents the very essence of the game of golf, and we have a responsibility to provide players with an experience like no other,” said Euan Loudon, chief executive of the St Andrews Links Trust.
“The equipment we use plays an important role. After conducting a thorough evaluation and hearing presentations from all key suppliers, we determined Toro was not only the best choice to maintain the playing conditions we require, but also the best fit with our vision for the future.” Toro also shares St Andrews Links’ commitment to the future and innovating to meet the needs of a changing marketplace. As a leading manufacturer of golf equipment and irrigation systems for more than 100 years, Toro has a deep understanding of the industry that serves as a foundation for the development of new solutions to promote sustainability and performance. “To be selected as the official equipment and irrigation partner for the Home of Golf is more than a tremendous honour – it’s a historic event for The Toro Company,” commented Richard Olson, Toro’s president and chief executive officer at the official signing of the new contract. “The people at St Andrews Links have done their due diligence, and chosen Toro to help in their effort to deliver best-in-class course conditions. We are grateful for the opportunity, and excited to support them as they embrace the changing landscape of golf.” GMé
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European Tour launches GolfSixes format “to broaden the appeal of our sport” The European Tour has unveiled a new short format of the game – to be called GolfSixes – which further illustrates the Tour’s desire to embrace innovation and originality in professional golf. The inaugural GolfSixes event – featuring a prize fund of €1 million – will make its debut on the European Tour schedule at the Centurion Club in St Albans, May 6-7, 2017. The event will feature two-man teams from 16 different nations, each nation being represented by its leading ranked and available European Tour member from the 2017 Exemption Category List as at March 13, who will be joined by a compatriot of his choosing from within European Tour Membership. The first day’s play on Saturday May 6 will see the teams split into four groups of four – similar to the UEFA Champions League football group stages – before the top two teams from each group progress to the knockout stages – the quarterfinals, the semi-finals, a 3rd/4th place play-off match and the final – all of which will be contested on Sunday May 7. In the group stages, three points will be given for winning a match with one point given for a draw, while the matches themselves will be played in a greensomes match play format. Both days’ play will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and around the globe on the Tour’s world feed network.
In addition to amphitheatre-style stands around the tees and greens, there will be music and pyrotechnics on the first tee and at various points around the course, with all players miked-up to help bring fans closer to the action. Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, said: “We have said for some time that golf needs to modernise, and introducing innovative new formats is a major part of achieving that aim, which is why I am delighted to announce the launch of GolfSixes.
PVE to play pivotal role
SMS INC. reveal fourth quarter golfing stats increase
Provision Events (PVE) will play a pivotal role in the series of free golf shows to be hosted in 2017 by a partnership of American Golf, the European Tour and Sky Sports. Four shows are planned this year, beginning on Masters weekend, April 7-9, at ExCeL London, and PVE has been retained by American Golf as the activation partner to organise, build and manage each of the shows on behalf of the three partners. Daniel Gathercole, American Golf’s director of marketing and communications, explained: “This will be a very busy year for American Golf with golf shows in both Manchester and London, plus two golf shows at European Tour events. So it was an easy decision for us to reappoint Provision Events as the company’s ‘activation partner’ for 2017. “We have worked with PVE for a number of years now and have always found the team professional, reliable and innovative.”
8 | GMé March 2017
The 17th at the Centurion Club, which will host the inaugural GolfSixes event in May
A lack of rain has helped bolster roundage
SMS INC. have confirmed that the average number of rounds of golf played across England, Wales and Scotland during the final quarter of 2016 is up ten per cent on the fourth quarter 2015, thanks in part, to better weather compared to the same period, the year before. All regions experienced an increase in rounds played this quarter when compared to the same period in 2015, although this could not prevent the yearend month average from finishing five per cent down compared to 2015.
“We want to broaden the appeal of our sport to the millennial demographic and I think this format will do that, not only through the quick and exciting style of play, but also with the interactive digital experience fans will enjoy on site and the innovative television coverage people will enjoy at home. “I encourage everyone to come along to the Centurion Club in May and immerse yourself in an occasion which will be unlike anything else you have experienced on a golf course before.”
SMS INC.’s Richard Payne, director of sports accounts explained: “Better weather in the final quarter has been something of a lifesaver for rounds played in 2016, and prevented four consecutive quarters of decline. “Historical data, coupled with information from other projects we have run, highlights the habitual nature of golf consumption and the need to get people out on the course at the start of the season, ideally before The Masters, otherwise external factors like the weather will give casual golfers an excuse to leave their clubs in the garage. “Unfortunately, there is little we can do to influence the weather, and as such the continued challenge we have as an industry is to eliminate all the other excuses that casual and lapsed golfers like to frequently moan about. “This means addressing areas like time and family commitments and turning these into reasons why you should play golf.”
Ed Edwards appointed Group GM in Abu Dhabi
In brief... The TGI Golf Partnership staged what has been hailed as its “most successful Business Conference ever” following its annual event at The Belfry. With more partners attending than ever before, and an educational seminar timetable of first rate speakers – including a presentation from Sky Sports pundit and European Tour coach Denis Pugh – partners left the event ready for the season ahead. Close House, home to the 2017 British Masters, and resident tour star Lee Westwood, have announced that a Junior Masters will take place on September 26 to celebrate the European Tour event at the club. Both Westwood and Close House share the ideal of bringing more young players to the game, and see the tournament as a perfect opportunity to do this, with Westwood commenting: “The Junior Masters is a great way to involve youngsters in the tournament and promote golf in the north of England.” The USGA has released USGA Tournament Management, a suite of products that advances golf event management technology used by golf associations and more than 13,000 clubs within its Golf Handicap and Information Network subscriber community. Powered by Golf Genius Software, USGA Tournament Management improves efficiency and enhances the golfer experience by helping golf professionals and association staff better manage a wide array of competitions – from leagues to charitable outings, club tournaments to championships. Golf At Goodwood is delighted to announce a partnership with Golfing4Life, the newly launched non-profit organisation set up to help the development of young, talented golfers that have demonstrated the desire and ability to compete at the highest level.
Troon Golf and its Abu Dhabi properties; Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club have announced the appointment of Ed Edwards as group general manager. Edwards assumes the role with immediate effect, leading Troon’s team of service and hospitality professionals on behalf of the ownership group, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC). An ex-professional golfer, Ed Edwards has a wealth of international experience in managing and establishing high end golf resorts throughout the world including in the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Ireland, Egypt, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Qatar. Ed Edwards, group GM, said: “I have been fortunate enough to work with a host of thriving resorts, developing their offerings to much success. It is with great pleasure that I move in to the position of group GM for two of the region’s leading golf clubs and re-establish my connection with the Troon organisation.” Edwards’ appointment comes at the end of a successful year for the two Abu Dhabi clubs, both of which have enjoyed international recognition on the television screens as well as notable successes at various award ceremonies throughout the year.
Edwards added: “I am extremely impressed with the teams at both Abu Dhabi and Saadiyat Beach, who have continued to welcome guests with the highest levels of service this year. “I am very much looking forward to working with the hardworking and devoted associates to develop our premium offerings and first-class service, in what will be a very busy and exciting inaugural year for me.”
Els signs-off first design project at Zanzibar in East Africa
Ernie Els (centre) at the signing
Ernie Els Design has completed a new agreement with Zanzibar Amber Resort and is now in the planning phase for what will be East Africa’s first Signature Golf Resort Development. Located on the northeast of Zanzibar Archipelago – a small cluster of islands renowned for their outstanding natural beauty – construction work is due to begin later in the year. “As a course designer, I feel so fortunate to be working with Zanzibar Amber Resorts,” commented Els.
“And to be awarded with some of the most beautiful settings in the Indian Ocean is really a wonderful opportunity for us. Our clients and I share the same vision and I am confident our work here will set a new standard, leaving a lasting legacy for Zanzibar and the region’s golfers as a whole.” Sustainably appointed across 638 hectares, and blessed with 4km of pristine Indian Ocean coastline, the Estate has been master-planned to host an array of premium residency options that extend from penthouse condominiums to beachside villas and private islands. The residences are supported by a 99year lease, extendable by a further 49 years, and represent the first opportunity for non-citizens to have access to a titled property in Zanzibar. For visitors there is an exclusive portfolio of five international hotel brands to choose from, something of a hospitality ‘dream-team’ without global comparison in a single resort environment.
golfmanagement.eu.com | 9
Foresight Sports Brings PEAK Training to Europe Foresight Sports Europe is bringing its PEAK™ Certified Professional Training seminars to Europe for the first time, to give club professionals the most comprehensive education on the use and application of data from state-of-the-art launch monitor technology. Created and presented by Foresight Sports’ director of education and awardwinning PGA instructor Liam Mucklow, three seminars will take place at the end of March: at Bromsgrove Golf Centre, Birmingham (27); Moor Allerton Golf Club, Leeds (28); and The Drift Golf Club, Outer London (29). Already a proven success in Canada and the USA, the seminars will allow PGA professionals to gain expert knowledge on how best to maximise data from Foresight Sports’ GC2, GC2+HMT and GCQuad smart-camera systems. PGA professionals will also be credited with CPD points by the PGA for successful completion/participation of this course, as part of the PGA’s Member Education Programme. Developed in conjunction with some of the world’s leading coaches, such as Butch Harmon, Peter Kostis and Martin Hall, the PEAK™ seminars will include both classroom learning and hands-on practical experience. They cover every aspect of launch monitor use – from fitting, coaching and training programmes, to the latest
Foresight Sports bring PEAK training to Europe
in-depth analysis of ball and club head performance data. “These seminars are a perfect opportunity for professionals to develop their understanding of how each of our GC family of launch monitors can be used to maximum potential,” said Foresight’s marketing manager, Tom Jarrett-Kerr. “PEAK™ was created by some of golf’s most authoritative and respected coaches and we are very proud to be able to share their expertise with our existing and future customers,” he added. PEAK™ – which stands for Performance, Education, Analysis and Knowledge – has
been developed to elevate understanding and standards within the teaching profession through a wide spectrum of educational tools. “Foresight Sports’ technology is widely regarded as the best in the industry, and we want to teach professionals not only why this is the case, but how best to use it for their individual gains,” said Liam Mucklow, PGA of Canada teacher of the Year in 2014. “I’ve owned no fewer than 24 FlightScope and eight Trackman launch monitors over the years, and I can say that Foresight Sports has by far the most reliable and accurate technology.”
Trojan lead the UGolf announces new way in batteries links to Thailand Ranger™ 160 deep-cycle batteries from Trojan Battery feature the longest life and longest range in the industry, claims the company. Delivering 35 per cent more travel distance between recharges than current 8v golf batteries, Ranger 160 enables golfers to embark on longer excursions on and off the course, and is an ideal alternative for clubs who believed the only way to get this type of distance was with a fuel-based or hybrid buggy. Ranger 160 features stronger case walls for improved durability, and a taller case design delivering higher performance resulting in longer intervals between charges. Its internal design has more active materials for long range driving requirements, plus Trojan’s exclusive Maxguard® T2 multi-rib separators and T2 Technology™. Durability, reliability and proven technology mean you can depend on Trojan batteries for consistent performance day in and day out.
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UGolf, the French golf course company, and a subsidiary of Groupe Duval, has announced the signing of a partnership with the Royal Chiang Mai Golf Course in Thailand. Currently set up in Europe, North Africa and Oceanica, UGolf is continuing its expansion strategy in Asia, promoting its UGolf Academy. Located to the north of Bangkok, the Royal Chiang Mai Golf Resort is a par 72, 18-hole course designed by Peter Thomson, and the UGolf Academy will allow members to benefit from personalised high-level coaching to improve their sporting performance. “The establishment of UGolf in Asia reflects the attractiveness of our model and our know-how,” said Pierre-André Uhlen, UGolf managing director. “UGolf combines the most stringent technical requirements with a strategy which places golfers at the heart of its concerns, and we are pleased to be accompanying the Royal Chiang-Mai Golf Resort and its teams.”
Eric Duval, chairman and founder of Groupe Duval added: “We are delighted to begin this next step of UGolf’s international expansion in partnership with the Royal Chiang-Mai Golf Resort. “UGolf, like other subsidiaries of Groupe Duval such as Odalys, still enjoys significant development potential based on both international organic growth, particularly in Europe and Asia and external growth with many opportunities identified.”
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The Royal & Ancient Golf Club appoints new Honorary Members Bridget Jackson MBE, Hon D.Sc. (Birmingham) and José María Olazábal have accepted invitations to become Honorary Members of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. During a notable amateur career, Jackson played in the Curtis Cup for Great Britain and Ireland on three occasions and was selected as an England international nine times. She has served as chair and president of the English Ladies Golf Association and president of the Ladies’ Golf Union, and was made a MBE in 2003 for her services to golf. Olazábal is one of the world’s most successful and popular golfers, winning 30 professional tournaments during his career, including the Masters in 1994 and 1999. He was admitted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2009. Jackson MBE, Hon D.Sc. (Birmingham), said: “I am delighted to accept this invitation to become an Honorary Member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club.
“I have been fortunate to be involved in golf throughout my life and have always enjoyed being able to give something back to the game. I look forward to representing the club and playing my part in continuing its great tradition of supporting golf.”
Burlish Park ceases trading
Better Billy Bunker announce partnership with Durabunker
Ten people have been made redundant following the sudden closure of a Worcestershire golf club. Liquidators moved in to Burlish Park Golf Club, in Kidderminster, in February, as a result of financial problems suffered by the company. Hazlewoods LLP, a Bristol-based accountancy and business recovery firm, confirmed that the Burlish Golf Centres Ltd company had ceased trading. In a statement on its Facebook page, management at the club said the death of a director and a continuing legal battle with waste contractors affecting golf operations which, in turn, resulted in a fall in member numbers were the driving factors for the decision. Vic Ellaby, insolvency practitioner with Hazlewoods, said: “After considering all the options the directors had no alternative but to place the company into liquidation. The golf course has experienced a number of difficulties in recent times, particularly over its business model of using spoil as part of course redevelopment, which, following a dispute with its contractor, has effected the playability of the course. “In addition, membership numbers have fallen some 50 per cent to the current level of 180.” The management Facebook statement said: “It is with great sadness that we inform you all of the recent developments at Burlish Park Golf Club.”
Better Billy Bunker and Durabunker have announced a partnership agreement which will see Better Billy Bunker (BBB) serve as a representative for Durabunker in the United States, and similarly, Durabunker become a certified licensed installer of the Better Billy Bunker method. Better Billy Bunker has been installed on over 600 courses worldwide, ranging from municipal facilities to major championship and Ryder Cup venues. The ease of installation, superior performance, and affordable cost have pushed BBB to the forefront of bunker construction methods. Durabunker, likewise, has established itself as a leader in durable and cost effective synthetic bunker edge and bunker wall solutions, and debuted on the PGA Tour in 2015, receiving outstanding reviews at the 2016 LPGA Tour Championships. With a global reach, from Australia to America, Singapore to South Korea, Durabunker has recently agreed partnerships to drive the product forward in a number of markets, the United States being a primary target. Todd Jenkins, vice-president of Better Billy Bunker said: “A collaboration with Durabunker made perfect sense for us, as it will allow us to offer not only the fastest draining durable layer in the industry, but also a long-lasting, sustainable edge solution.
12 | GMé March 2017
José María Olazábal who becomes an honorary member of The R&A
Olazábal, added: “I am thrilled and extremely proud to become an Honorary Member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. It is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of so many of golf’s great champions in becoming part of the club’s celebrated history.”
“The combination truly offers a fully sealed bunker, and we look forward to a successful relationship with Durabunker for years to come.” Durabunker founder, Rhydian Lewis added: “The position Better Billy Bunker hold in the market place; the respect they have in the industry; the quality of their product and the professionalism of their customer service makes them a perfect partner for us in the USA. “The two patented products combine beautifully, and though they will not be sold exclusively as a combination, together they offer the complete bunker solution. We are very excited to be working with them.”
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As seen on PGA and LPGA Tours
golfmanagement.eu.com | 13
Latest driving distances research identifies nominal gains The R&A and the USGA have published their annual review of driving distances, a research document that reports important findings on driving distance in golf. Introduced last year, the review examines driving distance data from seven of the major professional golf tours, based on approximately 285,000 drives per year. Data from studies of male and female amateur golfers has also been included for the first time. Key facts noted in the paper include: between 2003 and the end of the 2016 season, average driving distance on five of the seven tours has increased by approximately 1.2 per cent, to around 0.2 yards per year. For the same time period, average driving distance on the other two tours decreased by approximately 1.5 per cent. Looking at all of the players who are ranked for distance on the PGA TOUR and PGA European Tour, the amount by which players are ‘long’ or ‘short’ has not changed – for instance, since 2003 the ten shortest players in that group are about six per cent shorter than average, while the ten longest players in the group are about seven per cent longer than average. The statistics are not skewed toward either longer or shorter players.
Dustin Johnson is one of the longest drivers on tour
The average launch conditions measured on the PGA TOUR – clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball backspin – have been relatively stable since 2007. The 90th-percentile clubhead speed coupled with the average launch angle and spin rate are very close to the conditions that The R&A and the USGA use to test golf balls under the ‘Overall Distance Standard’ parameter. Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said: “In the interests of good governance and transparency, it is impor-
tant that we continue to provide reliable data and facts about driving distance in golf. “Driving distance remains a topic of discussion within the game and the review provides accurate data to help inform the debate.” Mike Davis, executive director/CEO of the USGA, added: “We appreciate the collaboration we have received, industrywide, to access and review this data to benefit the entire golf community, which can be used to both educate golfers and advance the game.”
Twenty’s plenty Schaublin is the clear winner for ClearWater in Orlando for Carousel Carousel Golfing will mark its 2oth year in business in 2017, with the unique storage solution benefiting clubs seeking to store more bags, in less space. Managing director, Michael Waldron said: “The Carousel model has gained in popularity over the past 20 years, and is now in use at clubs across the UK, Europe and the United States. “The system has so many benefits over the conventional bag racking storage solutions, and has been a real winner since day one. “Shortly after launching the Carousel system, we added the Armadillo locker to the portfolio, which incorporates an added security option for clubs who can’t offer, secure, on-site, facilities. “Of course, the popularity of the system is down to its unique spacesaving functionality, but also, the fact that they are very easy to assemble, allowing for easy installation on-site, and lower freight costs when shipping around the world. “As one recent happy customer in the US said to me, installing a Carousel at his club really was ‘a no brainer!’”
14 | GMé March 2017
Highspeed Group, buoyed by the success of their ClearWater prize draw at BTME 2017 in the UK, ran the same prize draw at the Golf Industry Show in Orlando, USA, last month. Managing director, David Mears said: “ClearWater is the sole product we focus on at the GIS, and the prize draw certainly increased interest in our unique wash station water recycling system. “Our aims at the show were to build on the success of our installation at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta and develop sales of our product throughout the US.” The prize of a ClearWater system was won by Todd Schaublin, assistant superintendent at Napa Valley Country Club in California who said: “I’m delighted to have won the ClearWater system, and so is the club – we look forward to installing and using this efficient water-saving wash system.” With water conservation high on the agenda, and concerns about pollution prevention, Highspeed Group sees potential across the US for their ClearWater system and hopes to be working with a distributor soon.
Todd Schaublin (left) receiving his certificate
Installed below ground – unlike most other systems – unobtrusive ClearWater offers a system that is uncomplicated to operate and maintain. The efficient system, firmly established in the UK, represents exceptional value for money too, particularly as it is available for self-installation, enabling costs to be reduced.
In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news of a promotion for long-serving David Bataller at the PGA Catalunya Resort in Spain.
In brief... Ladybank Golf Club is breaking with years of tradition in what is the most significant policy shift in the club’s 138-year history. The Scottish club is embracing fundamental change by introducing a more open approach which incorporates ground-breaking membership options, and closer ties with the travel sectors. The changes, which are detailed on the club’s new website www.ladybankgolf.co.uk, have been championed by the club’s new secretary Gordon Simpson who took up his post last year. Trolley rentals are set to offer a major revenue earner for PGA professionals this year, with PowaKaddy recording an unprecedented 59 per cent increase yearon-year in rental units in 2016. With the new season fast approaching, a steady flow of new retailers are investing in a PowaKaddy rental fleet with the prospect of making fast returns on their investment. With recent collaborations forged between J.Lindeberg and Meerson watches, Luxury golf management company, Club Inc. has announced that specialist travel company, Chaka Travel are to become their Official Travel Partners. Furthermore, premium golf experience membership platform, Pacific Links, will extend their relationship as European partner into 2017. Europe’s most eagerly-awaited new golf course design project will officially open in Portugal this summer. Situated just north of Lisbon, West Cliffs has been designed by Cynthia Dye ASGCA – of the world-renowned golf architecture firm Dye Designs Group – and is set to be unveiled to a worldwide audience in June. Cynthia Dye, niece of legendary golf designer Pete Dye, said: “With the Atlantic visible from every hole, West Cliffs is the most natural golf course site imaginable.”
PGA Catalunya has appointed David Bataller as its new director of golf operations. Since 2003, when Bataller first joined the team, he has played an important role in helping it become one of Europe’s finest golf destinations.
Former International sales director at Ransomes Jacobsen, Rupert Price, has established Price Turfcare. Officially launched at BTME in January, Price said: “It’s great to be back in the heart of the industry.”
Frilford Heath Golf Club has announced the appointment of new general manager, Russell Stebbings, who joins the Oxfordshire club from Farleigh Golf Club and Restaurant based in Surrey.
Sam Green has been appointed as the new golf professional, at the sixhole Kuredu Golf Resort in the Maldives. Green, from Hampshire, has joined Kuredu from Mission Hills in China, where he was business development manager.
Renowned hotelier Deirdre Billing has returned to QHotels, the UK’s largest golf resort operator, as general manager of Mottram Hall, reinforcing its reputation as Cheshire’s finest golf and leisure resort.
ECCO Golf has appointed its first full-time UK golf employee, with Ian Martin joining as UK golf sales manager, with the move underlining the Danish shoemaker’s ambitions to grow its UK golf presence.
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pgas of europe
“Benchmarking is an important resource that a club has at its disposal, and should be considered both during budgeting and strategic planning”
THE PRO THAT KNOWS PGA of Great Britain & Ireland professional and England Golf Development oficer, Mark Taylor
Your secret weapon... Benchmarking In the first of a regular new series with the PGAs of Europe, this issue, PGA professional, Mark Taylor, discusses what to consider when it comes to benchmarking your facility…
GMé Media Partner The PGAs of Europe is an association of 36 National PGAs with a collective membership in excess of 21,000 golf professionals across Europe.
MEDIA PA R T N E R
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Getting the full picture of how your golf club is performing means you also need to know how you are measuring up against your competitors, as well as the wider golf market in general. Certainly many factors can influence a club’s reputation and performance, including the perceived reputation of the club’s brand; the quality of the golf course and the recognition of the bottom line value to visiting golfers – all vitally important factors to take into account when comparing, or benchmarking, your facility against the competition. According to Wikipedia, the term benchmarking is defined as “comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and best practices from other companies,” and in my mind, is best used as a tool that provides facilities and management teams with a way in which they can compare their clubs with their peers. So, as we approach the start of a new season in Europe, if together with your golf operations team you have decided to check-out how you think your club
fares against the competition, here are a few useful pointers. Firstly, keep in focus that the term ‘benchmarking’ is a process for golf operators seeking to compare financial performance and operating metrics, to others in the same industry whilst re-aligning business strategies that have become unsuitable. Through considering the results and practices of others in the same space, an enterprise can potentially improve its own understanding and management of processes and practices. Information is crucial, and this is accessible from various sources such as competitor websites and social media platforms, along with the others mentioned on this page. When benchmarking competitors, you might want to consider factors such as membership numbers and fees, and visitor prices and packages – only by knowing the answers to these basic questions, and understanding where you fit in the local marketplace, can you be realistic about what is feasible.
YARDSTICK Benchmarking is an ideal way in which to compare your operation against others
The questions you wish to ask competitors may also vary. For example, in European tourist weighted/seasonal destinations, the benchmarking process may need to be adjusted to identify different gaps in a business from a conventional ‘member’ golf facility. For venues that either currently benchmark or are evaluating the use of benchmarking processes, there are several factors to consider. RESOURCE Benchmarking is an important resource that a club has at its disposal, and should be considered both during budgeting and strategic planning. PLANNING Benchmarking helps club committees/ course owners and management teams deliberate about plans and operations in new and more intelligent ways. It may also help reduce input drawn from other industries that may not apply to golf clubs and facilities. The operating, financing, investment, marketing and governance practices of golf clubs all have their own unique characteristics.
LIMITATIONS The first thing to understand is both the goals and the limitations of benchmarking – it is, after all, a tool and not an answer. Comparing your club to others of similar standing should identify disparities that are worth understanding. It is not a case of right or wrong, it is just a process to help develop more thoughtful questions and a better understanding of the surprising intricacy of the golf business, so be sure to benchmark against a comparable set of venues. In selecting facilities to benchmark against, it is important to choose a peer set with similar amenities. Comparing a golf-only club against clubs that provide, for example, leisure facilities, would make the comparison less meaningful. For the same purpose, simply selecting clubs in your geographic area may not produce the most meaningful result. Comparing yourself with clubs of your general revenue size and, to the extent available, other factors including number of golf holes, amenity offerings, F&B revenues, etc. will help produce more telling results.
Studies have proven that geography means far less than one might intuitively suspect. In addition to financial data, benchmarking operational data such as golf rounds played; the financing of capital expenditures; member numbers; membership cost; joining fees; governance practices etc. can be very valuable. Key personnel within the club have the ability and knowledge to treat this level of information with the respect it deserves, and use it to drive positive change, improve service levels and profits, both in their business or for their employing club. While the business model of golf is often consistent from venue to venue, each individual business is unique and is therefore required to make decisions based on their individual needs. Benchmarking should not be considered a one-off exercise – to be effective, it must become an integral part of an ongoing improvement process, with the goal being to be informed of everimproving best practices and implement the necessary interventions to close the performance gap. GMé
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SITE MEETING On site at Österåker with Christian Lundin
DESIGN PARTNERS Henrik (left) pictured with partner, Christian Lundin
In conversation with Henrik Stenson The Champion Golfer of the Year, and current world number three, Henrik Stenson has just embarked on his first design project at Österåker Golfklubb in his native Sweden. GMé You took up the game as a 12-year-old, so what was it that attracted you to the sport?
GMé Besides winning the Open Championship last year, what has been the proudest moment of your career?
HS It was all a coincidence. One of my friends invited me to come to the golf course, and I guess I found the sweet spot. The rest, as they say, is history.
HS Being part of the winning Ryder Cup teams in 2006 at The K Club, and 2014 at Gleneagles. The Ryder Cup always has a great atmosphere and is a very special event.
GMé At what age did you realise that you were good enough to pursue a career as a professional golfer? HS Probably around 18, when I got picked for the Swedish National Boys team. It was at that point that I started to dream about one day playing on tour. GMé Before joining the European Tour in 2001, what was life like on the Challenge Tour? HS It was fun, and I learned a lot about the game; travelling and taking care of myself on the road. But perhaps more importantly, I also learnt how to win, and I’m sure that my three wins on the Challenge Tour in 2000 helped me win my first title on the European Tour in my debut season.
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GMé What one event do you look forward to the most each season? HS I’d probably have to say the Open Championship, which was one of the first tournaments I followed as a young golfer. The Open has the links courses and the history, and I’m looking forward to defending my title at Royal Birkdale in the summer. GMé So why the move into golf course design now? HS At this stage of my career, I realise that I may not have that many years left at the top of the game, so I see this opportunity to set up my own design company – whilst I’m still playing – as a huge benefit to the new business.
EYES DOWN Taking time out on Tour to catch-up with design-related business
For a while now, I’ve been looking into how to setup a design practice, and an opportunity – together with some associates – presented itself whereby I will be able to work closely with my design team on projects, whilst at the same time, retain a high-degree of quality and control. It was exactly the type of setup that I was looking for, which will also allow me to continue playing. GMé How much time will you be able to devote to the new venture, given your playing commitments? HS We have set this venture up as a professional golf course architecture office, which allows me to spend as much time as I want, and need, for each project. I have assembled a team that I am very happy with, and that I can work together with in creating world-class golf courses.
My main focus will still be on adding to the trophy cabinet, but my design team have their focus on fulfilling each of our clients ambitions and dreams. I will be heavily involved in each design, but it is my architect who works on a daily basis with each project to ensure we fulfil our commitment. GMé With Österåkers being your first design project, tell us what your plans are for the development of the club, and what timescales are you working towards? HS The club have stated they want to create one of the finest golfing experiences in Scandinavia, which, although very ambitious, is a challenge we feel that we can achieve. Österåkers is currently a 45-hole facility with a good reputation, having hosted European Amateur Championships in
the past. As the redesign of the course includes provision for a new residential development, we have created two new 18-hole routings, to form a 36-hole facility which will feature a state of the art practice area, together with a par-3, short game course. The initial phase of the project will include the first 18-hole layout, together with the practice range and short game area, all of which is scheduled to open mid-2019. The second phase, which will include the second 18-hole course, will complete the remodelling programme, with the club looking to be fully operational by 2022. By planning the construction work in this manner, 18 holes will always remain open to the members, weather permitting of course. I’ve already spent three full days on site, together with my team, to ensure we get all the details right from the start,
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ON THE BAG Stenson pictured during a photoshoot
and to get myself familiarised with the project. Construction started just before Christmas so there are some exciting times ahead!
"I’ve always been fond of the shot making at courses such as TPC Sawgrass, Le National in Paris and Sun City in South Africa"
GMé Are there any more Henrik Stenson Golf Design projects in the pipeline, and if so, whereabouts in the world?
HS Well, I am planning for my future after I stop playing on Tour, so if the right opportunities come up, I might be interested in investing in more golf courses. Who knows?
HS We have been asked to look at several projects, and hope to be in a position to announce some interesting projects soon.
GMé As a leading Tour professional, how do you think golf as an industry can go about attracting more non-golfers to the sport?
GMé What, or who, has influenced your design rationale from a golf course architecture perspective?
HS The million dollar question! As a professional golfer, and as a golf designer, I believe that as an industry, we need to ensure that each project that we get involved with is sustainable, both from an economical, and environmental perspective. We have a responsibility to create golf courses that will enhance the local habitat, and also ensure that the business plan is viable in the long-term, allowing clubs to become an integral part of the local community, for the benefit of all concerned. I know there are a number of initiatives to speed up the pace of play, but I feel that it is also important to retain some of the most important parts of our sport, such as the traditions of the game. I do appreciate that golf needs to evolve, but I don’t want us to start changing the game completely. I think we need more short game courses that are available to the public, and maybe even portable courses built of artificial grass, that can be constructed over a weekend in city centres, or during the week in schools. That will bring the game to the people, instead of the other way around. GMé
HS I’ve played a lot of courses worldwide over the last 25 years, and I’ve seen some of the best courses in the world, but also some of the worst. From this, I believe I have a good understanding of what differentiates a good course from a bad one. Therefore, my own design philosophies are built upon the different type of courses – and types of shots – that I like, and how each hole is set up strategically, to make it attractive and playable. I’ve always been fond of the shot making at courses such as TPC Sawgrass, Le National in Paris and Sun City in South Africa, whilst courses in the UK, especially those that we play in The Open, have always intrigued me. I’ve said for years that the Claret Jug was probably one of my best chances to win a Major, as this tournament and the setup of these courses suits my game. Luckily I was right. GMé In 2014 you became a golf course owner after investing in PGA Sweden
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National, so any plans to invest further in golf club ownership?
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“I got a little bit disoriented; left Haggs Castle, got on the wrong track and ended up working in a wine bar in Glasgow”
Alan high on the Hogg at Kingsbarns Publisher Michael Lenihan paid a visit to Kingsbarns late last year, and caught up with chief executive Alan Hogg during a round on the famous Scottish links. EXECUTIVE ORDERS Chief executive, Alan Hogg, pictured at his desk and out on the course
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When Alan Hogg was appointed chief executive at Kingsbarns Golf Links, in 2011, he beat off more than 100 other applicants. Yet, it’s a fair bet few, if any, of them had taken a similar route to such a lofty position in the golf industry. Born and raised in Scotland, Hogg, 51, who is married, to Audrey, with two children (Jake and Joshua), was, like most other high-profile figures in the industry, a very keen golfer at a young age. In his case he had to cut a deal with his father to pursue his dream – and it wasn’t all plain sailing. Indeed, he very nearly didn’t make it on to the second rung of the golfing ladder. He explained: “I left school when I was 16, but I was only allowed to leave school if I had a job. I wanted to play as a full-time amateur but couldn’t afford to. So, the deal with my dad was ‘leave school, get a job and you can play golf…’ “So I got a job for the Lothian Health Board pricing prescriptions, thousands of them per day. I lasted about five months, before a friend who had just started on the PGA apprenticeship programme, gave me a nudge in that direction, and I started mine when I was 17.”
He began at Livingston Golf & Country Club – now Deer Park – before moving to Haggs Castle Golf Club, in Glasgow. At age 20, you could be forgiven for thinking his career path was clear, but that’s some way from the truth – Hogg became disillusioned with golf. “I got a little bit disoriented; left Haggs Castle, got on the wrong track and ended up working in a wine bar in Glasgow,” he recalled. “I thought that’s it – I’ve given up golf and thought this is going to be my career. So I spent six months in the wine bar, but, again, one of my best friends convinced me to rekindle my golf and got me an interview at Shawpark Golf Club, in Alloa, in central Scotland. “And that was, for me, a career turning point, because I went to work with a guy called Bill Bennett, who was ruthless enough, and strong enough to give me a kick in the backside and made me realise again, that the golf industry was for me. He mentored me through my PGA exams to become qualified in 1986.” Now back on track, as so often happens, fate threw in a chance encounter which really set the young Hogg on
BIRDS EYE VIEW The 7th, 8th, 11th and 15th holes at Kingsbarns
the road to success, albeit a road which took a diversion to Germany. “Just as I passed my exams, one of my pupils at Shawpark – a guy called Eddie Dixon – arranged for me to play the Old Course, at St Andrews,” said Hogg. “I’d never played the Old Course, and unbeknown to me, the keeper of the greens at that time, course manager Walter Woods, was a good friend of Eddie’s, so we arranged to meet with Walter. “He walked with us for half-a-dozen holes which was very pleasant, and a couple of weeks later, Walter called me and asked ‘what are you doing with your life now?’ “I had just qualified as a PGA assistant pro, and as a few of my friends had gone abroad to Denmark, Holland and Germany, I suggested that I might look to follow in their footsteps. “Walter contacted me again a couple of weeks later and said a friend of his, Prince Maximilian of Bavaria, was looking for a teaching professional and he’d arranged for me to call him! Well, for me at that time, Prince Maximilian was like Prince Charles…,” smiled Hogg. “But Bill Bennett said: ‘Get yourself a half pint of beer, drink it, pick up the phone and call Prince Max.’ A week later he picked me up at the airport and offered me the job as a teaching professional at Golf Club Chieming in southeast Germany.
“Five weeks later, I was in Germany, sitting in The Goethe Institute, which was a language school, before starting work at Chieming one month later. Not bad for a barman who didn’t speak a word of German!” But golf was really beginning to take off in Germany, and Hogg had a decent pedigree from the Home of Golf. “There were a lot of people taking up the game and they basically didn’t have enough German nationals to fulfil their requirements,” added Hogg. “There was quite an influx of UK or English-speaking professionals at the time – including a lot from South Africa. German clubs regarded it as something of an honour to have somebody from the UK, especially someone coming from Scotland. “From day one, I really tried my hardest to learn to speak to them and converse with them in their language, which stood me in good stead throughout my career in Germany, as I picked up the language relatively quickly. “I ended up being a fluent speaker and writer; indeed, I ended up doing my business degree in German and writing my PGA of Germany master professional in German – I was the first guy to do that in Germany.” Hogg spent four years at Chieming where he taught and was responsible for the pro shop, before in his final year, the club secretary retired, affording him an
avenue into management whilst at the same time, his playing career started to take off. With the financial backing of a wealthy member, he was able to play on the Challenge Tour for three years with a few appearances in European Tour events through the German Order of Merit. He recalled: “I was in the top three of the German order of merit for a couple of years, but realised I wasn’t going to be the next Nick Faldo or Greg Norman – I wasn’t to that standard. “I was married by then and our first child (Jake) came along in 1994. I recall my mother-in-law saying at the time, ‘It’s about time you got a real job again’.” He applied for a number of management roles and landed one at another German golf club, Maria Bildhausen, where his employers were nuns! Yes, nuns… “I was fortunate,” he smiled. “I ended up in the middle of Germany, at a club near Frankfurt. I was club manager and head professional at a relatively new golf course which was actually owned by a convent of nuns. “It was a unique environment. You were (indirectly) responsible for mentally disabled inhabitants of the convent. The money they were made from the golf course – they sublet the golf course to the golf club – went to help the mentally ill inhabitants of the convent,” added Hogg.
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“We had a business section at the hotel that was just purely corporate business, nothing to do with golf”
THE HOTELIER Alan Hogg, pictured before his departure from Golf & Vitalpark Bad Waldsee
Not being (business) qualified caused some political issues for him at the club, but Hogg, pragmatically, went to the Institut für Sport, Freizeit und Touristik – Institute for Sport, Free time and Tourism – and took a two-and-a-half-year ‘open university’ degree in business management for golf clubs. Another phone call ‘out of the blue’ enquired whether he’d be interested in taking on the role of director of golf at Golf & Vitalpark Bad Waldsee, in the south-west of Germany. He was; and he secured it, working his way up to the post of general manager, overseeing the whole complex, which included a 40 bedroom, four-star hotel. “That gave me a completely different insight into the food and beverage side of things; the hospitality, the running of weddings, the birthday parties. “We had a business section at the hotel that was just purely corporate business, nothing to do with golf. But at the same time, I was still a golf coach, although 80 per cent of the time my role was that of a general manager. “I was a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car to begin with,” described Hogg. “I’d obviously seen the operation from the director of golf’s perspective, and now I was working closely with the department heads and with the previous general manager. “It was a great learning curve – a fantastic experience to be given that opportunity.”
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It was a learning curve which straightened out nicely, but after five years the opportunity to move on once more came along. And this time it was a different, yet familiar country, that came calling. Hogg explained: “Again, it wasn’t planned. My wife and I had previously had the discussions of ‘When we’re older, would we stay in Germany or would we come back to Scotland?’ “At that time, we were more than happy in Germany, our kids were still in school and everything was fine. By chance I went to Kingsbarns – which I’d seen on TV and heard people talk about – and a couple of weeks later, my wife saw the advertisement for the chief executive position. “And that’s when I thought that if I were to return to Scotland, then what a great facility to go back to. “Kingsbarns was all about customer experience; it was about the hospitality; it was about driving this facility with the customer experience that really interested me and that’s when I thought ‘I can do that. This is what I’ve been doing... I’m prepared for this; I could bring value to this position and by the way, I’m still a golfer…’” With more than 100 applicants Hogg needed to make an impression and he knew just what to do. “The advertisement stated that applicants didn’t have to come from the golf industry to run the business of Kingsbarns.
“But I made my red line throughout the whole interview process and maintained that the club really needed someone from the golf industry to understand what we have as a product, and to get inside the psyche of the golfers. “But in addition, someone who also understands business enough to be able to talk about bottom lines and cost of sales, which maybe, at that time, not everybody from the golf industry understood.” Hogg made four shortlists, and when it was whittled down to two, finally got the nod over his rival and started in September 2011. As for his future, certainly in the short-to-medium term, that is at Kingsbarns. He admitted: “I sat down with the owner last year and said ‘we’re coming to our fifth year, so it’s now time to have a review from both sides.’ I said I’d like the opportunity, as I had five years previously, to almost start afresh; question everything that I’d put in position five years ago. I’d like to revisit every part of that again. “That gave me an opportunity to look at our company again from a fresh perspective and see what we can do to improve. We’ve made a commitment to each other: I want to continue here as long as he’s happy with the job that I do. For the next five years I want to still be part of the Kingsbarns’ journey.” Now that sounds like a prescription for success. GMé
Day of Reckoning for Ladies Golf Former chair of the SLGA and a previous CEO of the LGU, Shona Malcolm discusses recent developments that have ushered in long-overdue change at the highest levels of the game, as Mark Alexander reports.
“The completion of the merger is a progressive and important step for the development of women’s golf”
© Mark Alexander
COMBINED QUARTERS The R&A clubhouse at St Andrews
There is a very noticeable and discernible waft of change in the air. It emanates from the politicians we vote for and the media we consume. The world is changing, and that change is palpable and gathering pace. And for once golf is propping up the vanguard. It is a welcome change from the inertia and entrenched views that have dogged the progress of golf in the past, most notably in the exclusion of women from certain clubs. This controversial stance did nothing to spread the game and did everything to ingrain the stigmas that surround it. A different approach was needed and in 2014, 85 per cent of R&A members voted in favour of permitting women to join. It wasn’t the first and hopefully it won’t be the last decision of its kind, but it was significant.
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In the early throws of the following season, the scent of conciliation perfumed the air with the announcement of a potential union between golf’s governing bodies. The idea of merging the Ladies’ Golf Union (LGU) and The R&A would take the idea of emancipation to a new level. No longer would the female side of the game be run from one office in St Andrews, and the men’s from another. Trish Wilson, chair of the LGU, said: “The completion of the merger is a progressive and important step for the development of women’s golf. Bringing the two organisations together creates a platform that will allow us to develop our aspirations for women’s golf on a global stage and encourage more girls and women to play golf and become members of clubs.
“The success of the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the Curtis Cup demonstrates the growing strength of women’s golf in both the professional and amateur game, and we look forward to building on this with The R&A.” The new era was ushered in with the news that the R&A would assume responsibility for staging the LGU’s championships and international matches. Crucially the LGU’s flagship event, the Ricoh Women’s British Open, would continue to be managed by IMG under an existing agreement. “The integration of the two organisations puts us in a better, stronger position to realise our collective vision,” said Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A. “Our combined resources and staff expertise will help us to achieve our
FIRST MINISTER Shona Malcolm, of the PGA
shared aims for the development of golf, including increasing girls’ and women’s participation and encouraging more families to enjoy golf as a recreational activity.” Although the amalgamation is undoubtedly significant, it is not the only merger to have been completed in Scotland of late. The unification of the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) and the Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association (SLGA) was completed in 2015 with the chair of the new unified governing body, Scottish Golf, expressing similar hopes for the future of the game. “This is an historic and special day for Scottish Golf,” said Eleanor Cannon at the official launch. “It will open up further opportunities in terms of driving membership and growing the game from
a family perspective, where people are perceived to be players and members, and not identified by their gender. I also believe more funding opportunities will be available to us in the public and private sector, given the values of the game, the family sport it is and the skills and values it instils in young and old alike.” The coming together of the SGU and the SLGA and now the LGU and The R&A is symbiotic of a new, more inclusive approach that is being led from the top down. Golf is changing with barriers being removed and replaced with a more attractive proposition. This era of enlightenment has even reached the professional ranks with Shona Malcolm becoming the first female to head up a PGA region. As a former chair of the SLGA and a previ-
ous CEO of the LGU, she is well placed to assess recent events and put them in some meaningful context. “It was aspirational ten years ago that these things would happen,” she says. “Where we are now, with the various mergers, is a real step in the right direction. We have 500 years of tradition in golf and we benefit very significantly from that, but sometimes you can be held back by it as well. It has always been an ambition to have us talking about golf – it’s the 21st century. “We shouldn’t really be talking about mens and women’s golf. We should be talking about this great game.” Malcolm insists golf has an important role to play in modern society and should exploit the opportunities to capitalize on the potential for social inclusion.
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LEADERBOARD The women’s flagship event, the Ricoh British Open
“The R&A’s awareness of golf will be enhanced by the details and knowledge of the ladies game that the LGU will bring”
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“Many golf clubs are beginning to change in order to reflect the needs of society,” saod Malcolm. “There are many more that need to do the same, but the clubs that are being successful right now are addressing these needs by being more open, inclusive and family friendly.” She says that petty sexism and ageism issues that have plagued some clubs are becoming less prevalent, but suggests the sport and the industry that surrounds it needs to do more to realise its universal appeal. “One of the really good things about golf is it is a game for life and a game for everybody. I have friends in every generation. We should be capitalising on all of these good messages.” It’s a similar message for the newly merged LGU and The R&A. “It’s all gone very quiet. There’s not a lot being said post-merger,” she says. “In many ways, I think that is a good thing because we’re now concentrating on golf rather than mens and women’s golf. The R&A’s awareness of golf will be enhanced by the details and knowledge of the ladies game that the LGU will bring. That has got to be good for golf.” She continues: “We’ve talked about people not shouting their own corner,
in my view the R&A is a terrific, top-end organisation that does a huge amount of good work. We hear about the odd thing they do well, but most of the stuff the R&A does is below the radar.” As for her own position as secretary for the PGA in Scotland, Malcolm has a clear message. “It should be the right person for the job. Gender shouldn’t matter at all. Hopefully for the time being, I am that person.” Change in the golf industry was once completed at an imperceptible rate. Now, things are happening and people are sitting up and taking notice. It is long overdue, but at least the wheels are beginning to move. However, as Malcolm insists, golf is in an evolutionary stage which means the amount of change needed to reverse dwindling fortunes cannot simply happen overnight. Instead, the industry as a whole must cease the opportunity to reconnect with a wider audience and reconsider how they approach their business in order to help grow the game. “Golf in Scotland is in a much better place than it was certainly ten years ago,” says Malcolm. “We need to capitalise on that and take it forward as much as we can.” GMé
Unlocking Golf’s True Potential Syngenta is a global agriculture company, employing more than 28,000 people in 90 countries. For more than 30 years we have also been a market leader in the global golf industry creating innovative turf management solutions for golf courses in 43 countries. However, Syngenta is much more than turf management products and services. As an industry leader, we care not only for the health, quality and consistency of your fairways and greens, we care about the health of the game itself and the industry’s long-term business sustainability. That’s why Syngenta is investing in golf from the ground up with the aim of Unlocking Golf’s True Potential. Our objectives are focused on:
Sustainability Productivity Playability Working with golf course superintendents around the world to deliver the best playing conditions for their customers
Supporting our customers and stakeholders with new knowledge, skills and tools to create strong, dynamic, customer-centric golf businesses
Syngenta UK Ltd. Registered in England No. 849037. CPC4 Capital Park, Fulbourn, Cambridge CB21 5XE.
Enhancing the environment, increasing biodiversity, and engaging with customers and stakeholders
Working together, we can Unlock Golf’s True Potential To find out more, join Syngenta Golf Ambassador Carin Koch for a special on-course video presentation at: www.unlockinggolfstruepotential.co.uk
Economic value of the Female Golfer According to research published by Syngenta, a staggering 37 million females, worldwide, are keen to take up the game of golf. Scott MacCallum delves further into the stats.
“Our latest report found women account for just 24 per cent of golfers worldwide”
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Some of golf’s finest brains have recently woken up in a cold sweat attempting to identify a way of sparking life into the game of golf. As I write, Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, has just announced a new concept in GolfSixes – a six hole team event complete with music and fireworks, for later this season. Pelley freely admitted that it was golf’s attempt to replicate the success of the cricket’s Twenty20 and Rugby’s Sevens which, like golf, was a feature of the Rio Olympics. It was notable that golf made a longanticipated return to the Olympic fold with a bog-standard 72 hole stroke-play event, the very type of event Pelley was trying to move away from with GolfSixes. I’m not sure, however, if putting a time clock on tournament pros – as they do in some snooker events, with a specified number of time-outs built-in – has got onto the list of golf’s potential solutions quite yet. Equally importantly we are awaiting the results of the re-run vote at the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers which hopefully will see those hallowed doors and fairways of Muirfield opened up to lady golfers. Pertinently, in the race to bring more people to the game, we must applaud industry giant, Syngenta, who has just released the results of its golf survey which looked at how female and junior participation could be built upon. Globally, 25 per cent of existing golfers are women, but the survey identified a vast untapped well of potential women players as well as the undoubted potential of women being more effective than men in bringing children to the game.
The survey was massive, with more than 14,000 people participating from all over the world and including, both male and female golfers, female non-golfers, lapsed female golfers and those who had tried the sport but given up after two or three attempts. There are just over one million golfers in the UK and Ireland, with just over 850,000 of them male (84 per cent) but the survey identified that the female latent demand was a staggering 3.79 million – now there would almost certainly be a male latent demand higher than that, but it shows the folly of golf clubs failing to do whatever is necessary to make golf clubs female-friendly establishments. And what does that mean? Well the survey also identified the areas which would bring more females into the game. For 74 per cent it was the opportunity to give the game a try at a taster session; 67 per cent, easy access to affordable lessons; 59 per cent, relaxed atmosphere and 48 per cent club being more accommodating to non-members, juniors and beginners. What it identifies – and while we’ve known it for years, it’s good to see evidence to back it up – is that what’s needed is a country club vibe at golf clubs, with the ambient buzz coming from children excited about tackling the par-3 courses and not snorts from some of the, perhaps, older clientele. The latest report quoted Alistair Spink, who has introduced more than 300 women to golf at Fynn Valley Golf Club in Ipswich, Suffolk. “I was watching women come to the practice range with their husbands, or
APPROACHABLE Ladies playing an approach shot to the green
LOVE.GOLF Alistair Spink with the Fynn Valley ladies
MIXED GREENSOMES Carin Koch with Jeff Cox
partners, and asking if they could have a go,” said Spink. “Then I’d watch the male player dispense every bit of golf instruction knowledge he had. “Typically the woman sat down after five minutes, having probably hit only two or three shots. This was their experience of golf and they hadn’t even set foot on a golf course,” added Spink, who has developed a programme, focused on all-female groups with no dress codes and no rules – just an assuring, guiding presence which allows women to fall in love with the game. The other side of the coin was how, by making golf a leisure option for wives and mums, many more youngsters would be encouraged to take up the game and provide its future lifeblood. Syntenta’s survey reveals that for every 1,000 women players, 720 more children would come into the game than from 1,000 male players. There it is, in black and white, for every golf club struggling to maxim-
ise membership and keep budgets at manageable levels – make your club more attractive to women members and they will bring with them a strong junior section. Syngenta published their first survey in 2012, aptly named the Syngenta Golf Player Survey, which identified that course conditions, and playing quality was the number one factor in retaining members and regular customers at golf clubs. “Ultimately, we are investing to help the long-term business sustainability of the golf industry,” said Jeff Cox, Syntenta’s global head of lawn and garden. “If golf clubs and courses are prospering and there are plenty of customers enjoying golf, then our business will do well, too. Our surveys have been consistent in their findings about what attracts golfers and non-golfers to the sport, as well as the reasons they leave or are put off from taking up the game.
“In 2013, we published Growing Golf in the UK which found that the numbers of golfers could potentially double if golf clubs were friendlier, offered greater playing flexibility and courses were better conditioned,” explained Cox. “Our latest report found women account for just 24 per cent of golfers worldwide, yet the equivalent of 37 million women in eight countries would be keen to take up golf in the next two years, including 3.8 million women in the UK and Ireland. That could be worth up to £28 billion additional value to the global golf industry and £2.9 billion to the UK and Ireland alone. “Clearly, we are not going to achieve those numbers but what we wanted to do was demonstrate the scale of the business opportunity,” said Cox. Many golf clubs have seen waiting lists disappear and are desperately looking at where their new members are going to come from. Perhaps the answer has been staring them in the face all along. GMé
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Adding a touch of Hollywood Glamour to the golf industry
Computer technology now allows for course builds and renovations to be seen in glorious 3D, and, as Samuel Frederick reports, VR headsets even allows a fully immersive experience. “To infinity… and beyond!” So said Buzz Lightyear, hero of the Toy Story franchise which began in 1995. As a space ranger, he probably wouldn’t have given much thought to the effect the launch of that film would have on the golf industry. But, similar technology and software used in Hollywood to create the likes of Toy Story, Shrek, Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc, is now being applied to the design of golf courses, clubhouses and related real estate. The company utilising this groundbreaking technology in golf – an industry, let’s be honest, that some people still think sits in the 20th century at best – is UK and Latvia-based Harris Kalinka, which is working with developers, architects and golf clubs to provide dramatic and wholly realistic visualisations of new builds, redevelopments and properties. Not only does this allow developers to show potential members exactly how the
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course or clubhouse will look, but it also results in improved off-plan real-estate sales, as potential buyers feel immersed in the experience rather than simply looking at a brochure of artist’s impressions. And, with the advent of the innovative world afforded by the Oculus Rift – a virtual reality headset developed and manufactured by Oculus VR – interested parties can now immerse themselves fully in the virtual 3D environment of their course or clubhouse as Harris Kalinka’s visualisations progress seamlessly with the technology. Harris Kalinka – founded by friends Andrew Harris and Juris Kalinka, who met at university in Oxford – has been using the visualisation technology for more than a decade, and has already worked with some of the biggest names in golf design, including Arnold Palmer Design Company; Robert Trent Jones II; Greg Norman Golf Course Design; Ernie
Els Design; Faldo Design; Schmidt-Curley Design; Pacific Links; and TGR Design. Harris explained: “When a golf course, clubhouse or real estate project hasn’t yet been built, we create inspiring animations and images which turn ideas into reality. We are aware that what we do is regarded as very clever stuff – that’s clear from the reaction of clients when they see it. And this inspires us. “But what we’re about is inspiring the people important to our clients, whether they’re looking to raise investment, attract members or sell real estate. We provide a window into the future of their project. “Quite often, when people first see our visualisations they assume it’s either drone footage or photographs – it’s not, it’s created from scratch.” Harris Kalinka’s work is a quantum leap from the standard ‘hole flyovers’ which became de rigueur at the tail end of the last century.
harriskalinka.com BETTER THAN REALITY An assortment of computer generated images created by the skilled team at Harris Kalinka
“Quite often, when people first see our visualisations they assume it’s either drone footage or photographs – it’s not, it’s created from scratch”
Harris said: “While illustrating the technical aspects of a golf course is important, our work is about producing a teaser that will make people want to play the course, buy a property or spend time at the clubhouse. “We call it a Hollywood-style trailer – a high-quality animation showing the best parts of your project, to engage the audience and get them excited.” These ‘trailers’ are proving extremely popular with golf clubs looking to renovate, whether it’s a whole course or merely an individual hole. It allows owners – or members in the case of a private club – to determine exactly how the proposed changes will look once they’re in place. In the company’s visualisations – Harris Kalinka uses the all-encompassing term to describe everything from a still image to wholly immersive VR – every individual blade of grass is created in the 3D modelling software, to present a truly accurate representation. Yet Harris Kalinka does not merely – and one uses the term lightly, for its
output is, indeed, ‘clever stuff’ – provide the visualisation and move on to the next project. Its Connect service provides essential marketing support for clients to maximise value from the animation. “Each of the stages of a project require something a little different in terms of how the visualisation is utilised,” added Harris. “Harris Kalinka Connect reflects that, and is the ideal marketing toolkit with which to get the most from a project. “For example, if a club is undergoing a renovation then our animations can communicate the changes,” continued Harris, “and Connect enables the client to track the engagement of each individual viewer, while affording the opportunity for viewers to engage in conversation with the club, share on social media, register an interest in becoming a member, buyer or investor, or to sign up to a newsletter. “Actively encouraging dialogue on renovation projects is a massive help to whoever is behind it and gives ‘stakeholders’ a real feeling of involvement.”
In addition, Harris Kalinka’s specialist PR agency will help get the message about a client’s animation across to the relevant media channels. One man who has experienced working with Harris Kalinka on a renovation project, is San Francisco-based golf course architect Neal Meagher, who is a huge advocate of the work of the specialist agency. He said: “From my experience working with Harris Kalinka I will be looking for ways to involve them in all of my future projects. I feel the service they provide is indispensable in this age of computer graphics. “The new millennial generation now coming into roles of decision-making will expect nothing less.” Harris Kalinka’s visualisations are continually being used successfully to attract members, raise investment, sell off-plan, develop a design or to present an idea. The company is certainly creating a Buzz, that’s for sure. To infinity… and beyond, indeed. GMé
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Buenavista erupts to put golf in Tenerife on the map Designed by Seve Ballesteros, Buenavista Golf is one of the rare, unspoilt golfing gems that has yet to gain widespread acclaim as a must-visit golfing destination for European tourists. Steve Wilson reports from Tenerife, in the Canary Islands.
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buenvistagolf.es ROCKY ROAD A panoramic view of the 15th hole (main picture) and right, the hotel in front of the mountains
Spectacular, unspoilt natural beauty in a wonderful climate with a stunning five-star, adults-only luxury hotel on the doorstep. Would you believe it was Tenerife? The largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa, has been a popular destination for British holidaymakers for decades. Playa de la Americas and Los Cristianos seem to act as the magnet for the younger visitors with a huge array of bars, nightclubs and beaches. To paint Tenerife as a one-dimensional party venue is wildly inaccurate – there is so much more to the island. There are nine golf courses with one in particular, which is especially outstanding, by the name of Buenavista Golf. One major attraction of course, is the weather, which is about as close to constant sunshine as you can get. There are few places to visit where you can travel with the same sort of confidence when you go looking for some almost guaranteed sunshine. But for those who begin to wilt when the mercury rises, the heat is not blistering either. The sun cream will be required but you won’t be dashing for the shade of the air conditioning at every turn.
Surrounded by the Atlantic, the temperatures are within most comfort levels to an extent where they float around the mid-20s for most of the year, rising to the high 20s in the summer and tailing off in the low 20s in the winter. It’s certainly a major attraction for those of us fed up with wrapping up against the biting cold when we find the time to dust off the golf clubs. But after a comfortable four-hour flight, the realisation dawns that this is not an ordinary place where sunshine is the only appeal. It’s about an hour away from either of the island’s two airports but the transfer to the gorgeous Meliá Hacienda del Conde, in the north-west, is brimming with spectacular scenery. The skyline is often dominated by imposing cliffs and ocean views but Mount Teide, the island’s impressive – and active – volcano, is visible from just about every part of the island and is, as they say in all the good travel guides, a ‘must-see’. At 12,198ft above sea level, it’s Spain’s highest point and well worth a visit to the summit on a day off from the golf, through winding roads and the thick forests of the Teide National Park, which is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are nine golf courses with one in particular, which is especially outstanding, by the name of Buenavista Golf twitter.com/gme
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buenvista golf CLUB VIEWS The swimming pool at the hotel (left); the scenic backdrop of the course (below left and top right) and the courtyard area of the hotel.
But the charm of the golf course continues in the adjacent luxury hotel, which will provide a memorable stay
The views from the upper slopes are simply incredible, and if they ever attempt to pull the wool over our eyes with a fake mission to Mars, this would probably be the location they would choose. Indeed, many of Tenerife’s most spectacular landscapes were featured in the 2010 remake of Hollywood blockbuster Clash of the Titans. On arrival at the hotel, Buenavista Golf is there in all its glory waiting for you with a glint in its eye. Designed by Seve Ballesteros and opened in 2003, it has the Spaniard’s unique charisma stamped all the way through it. With waves crashing against the shoreline, stunning panoramic views from every hole on the course and the Teno mountain range acting as the backdrop, there is unmistakable Ballesteros charm everywhere you look. Seve was something of a magician with a club in his hand during his pomp, but his skills have clearly been used in design here with a superb holiday course featuring an even split of six par-threes, six par-fours and six par-fives.
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It’s a course strategy which allows accurate golfers and shorter hitters to prosper on the shorter holes, while there is scope for those with distance in their game to attack the par-fives. If some might consider it a golf course by numbers, the layout is anything but predictable, with many of the holes appearing to dangle out into the ocean. As you work your way inland on the outstanding front nine, the treat gathers pace on the final stretch – at times, it’s almost impossible to focus on your game with the views grabbing you from every angle. Although the tee shots rarely carry too much terror and will not deter you from reaching for the driver, there are bunkers and water hazards in abundance and even the odd waterfall. The greens are fast and true, and will put your putting through the mill if there are flaws in your technique, with undulating surfaces that require some careful reading to avoid looking foolish. But it is a hugely enjoyable experience for golfers of all abilities.
The par-five 13th, and two exceptional par-threes at 15 and 17, require skill and imagination to score well, especially when the wind is in play. To create them must have required a unique eye. Some of the closing holes near the ocean on the back nine have drawn comparison with Pebble Beach and it’s hard to disagree with that conclusion. And if you want to take a break from the golf, less than 20 minutes away by car is the pretty town of Garachico, which is well worth a visit. This resilient little municipality has survived everything nature and the human race has thrown at it: floods, storms, fires and volcanic eruptions, the worst of which, in 1706, destroyed a large part of the town and, crucially, its harbour. That this former capital of Tenerife remains one of the island’s most charming destinations – with cobbled streets featuring independent bars and restaurants, beautifully restored churches and coastal sea-water swimming pools hewn from volcanic rock – is all credit to its steadfastly traditional Canarian charac-
Why Tenerife is the jewel of the Canary Islands
ter. But that’s for another day… or night, if you fancy a bit of star gazing. Both Professor Stephen Hawking and rock musician-turned-astronomer Brian May are regular visitors to the island, as it is home to one of the world’s most important solar observatories. With its clear, dark skies, and lack of light pollution, Tenerife offers an opportunity to see the Milky Way, nebulas and shooting stars… with the stars in this case. However, we digress – albeit very pleasantly. Since Meliá Hotels International took ownership of both Buenavista Golf and Hacienda del Conde – there has been substantial financial backing for course improvements throughout the year, raising the resort to an even higher standard as one of the most attractive destinations on the Canary Islands. A recent programme to improve the fairways and landscaping has been undertaken: 12 bunkers have been upgraded and the driving range and practice facilities have also been
revamped. With a brand new fleet of buggies and new TaylorMade rental clubs now available, it promises to ensure Buenavista Golf becomes even more popular among visiting golfers. But the charm of the golf course continues in the adjacent luxury hotel, which will provide a memorable stay. The adults-only boutique spa hotel, which overlooks the course, is an unforgettable treat of tranquillity and luxury after the round. The 117-room hotel delivers on all fronts with top-class facilities and exceptional service standards. There are elegant suites, balconies to make the most of the views, and a homely feel in a premium-level hotel, with sublime cuisine from each of the three restaurants, including the outstanding Restaurante Salazar. With gym facilities, the YHI Spa and the exclusive The Level – an upgraded experience for personalised service – it’s a resort which lives long in the memory and will give you a very different flavour of what Tenerife has to offer. GMé
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and shares capital status with the island of Gran Canaria which lies just 300km off the west coast of Africa. With nearly 400km of coastline, 70 beaches and nine golf courses, Tenerife makes for an ideal combination with a host of leisure activities available throughout the island. Around five million tourists visit each year, with more than 800,000 UK nationals visiting the island between January and May, last year. Whale and dolphin-spotting tours are widely available and not to be missed, while any visit should also include a trip to the spectacular Mount Teide – the highest point in Spain. Buenavista Golf and the Meliá Hacienda del Conde are 60 km from Tenerife North Airport and 69km from Tenerife South Airport – around an hour’s drive from either. The par-72 golf course, designed by Seve Ballesteros, offers an enjoyable challenge amid spectacular views. While the adjacent hotel – built and decorated in colonial Canary Islands style – boasts a magnificent lagoonstyle pool and infinity views of the ocean, welcoming terraces, spacious rooms and attentive service. The YHI Spa offers a host of beauty, wellbeing and health treatments, while the exclusive ‘The Level’ service offers private reception areas, swimming pools and sun terrace. For further details on golf breaks to Meliá Hacienda del Conde and Buenavista Golf, visit www.melia.com or www.buenavistagolf.es
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golf river cruises
STATEROOM A balcony stateroom on-board
WELCOMING The reception area on-board
Golf & River cruising a perfect marriage Embark on an exclusive opportunity to play five of the best golf courses in Europe, whilst cruising and dining in five-star luxury along the River Danube. Article by Hiedi Hutchinson. Imagine if there was a way to combine a luxury river cruise on the Danube visiting some of Europe’s most iconic countries such as Hungary, Germany, Austria & Slovakia with the opportunity to indulge your passion and play golf? Also imagine if there was the opportunity for you to earn extra revenue for your club, simply by getting a group of keen and passionate golfers together to live out this once in a lifetime experience? Many golf pro’s and directors of golf are familiar with organising golf trips for small, select groups of members wishing to experience some of the finest golf courses in the world, so the opportunity to really push the boat out – if you pardon the pun – could prove not only profitable for your club, but extremely beneficial to some of your more discerning members. Working in partnership with award-winning river cruise company AmaWaterways, you’ll be able to offer select members the perfect mix between luxurious river cruising, together the opportunity to play some of the best golf courses in Europe.
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River cruise specialists AmaWaterways, has created a ten-night, exclusive golf and river cruise package – including a three-night stay in the beautiful city of Prague – with seven nights on a luxury floating hotel where your members will enjoy award-winning cuisine and free flowing wine, beer or soft drinks with every lunch and dinner. Furthermore, the opportunity to enjoy complimentary tours and excursions to learn more about the culture and country of the country that guests are visiting are included, as to – of course – is the opportunity to play a round of golf at five of the finest golf courses in Europe, some of which host marque events. Included in the golf package is transportation to and from the ship in Mercedes luxury vehicles, plus the use of trolleys for those who do not wish to carry, and complimentary club cleaning whilst guests enjoy lunch at the club. On the Prague to Budapest route, guests will start their ten-day trip with a wonderful three-days in Prague, where they will have the opportunity to discover this fairy-tale city that’s recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
TRANQUILLITY PERSONIFIED An AmaWaterways river ship cruising down the river amid spectacular scenery
Guests will also be able to visit the National Museum; Wenceslas Square and the Hundertwasser Dancing House, or just take time to marvel at the 1,000 year-old Prague Castle and St Vitus, before walking over the romantic Charles Bridge to the Old Market Square all with the knowledge and comfort of a local AmaWaterways tour guide. Golfers will then be taken to the Albatross Golf Club, one of the best golf course in the Czech Republic, and host of the D&D Real Czech Open.
After a transfer in a private Mercedes van to Vilshofen, the luxurious AmaWaterways floating hotel is awaiting departure, where guests will be warmly welcomed by the staff on-board, and taken to their staterooms which will be home for the next seven nights. The first evening on-board the ship will be enjoyed with a welcome from the cruise manager and a captains cocktail, before guests will enjoy the fine cuisine at the gala dinner, hand-cooked with local and fresh ingredients by the gold
medal chefs on-board – all of which can be washed down with free flowing wine, beer and soft drinks. AmaWaterways is recognised for the food they serve on-board, and are an official member of La Chaine des Rotisseurs and were, in fact, the first river cruise company to have its entire fleet inducted into this eminent society dedicated to fine cuisine. AmaWaterways also offer a ‘Chefs Table’ which is an intimate dining venue, seating just 28 people, positioned at
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golf river cruises
At the end of their journey, golfers will have played some of the best courses across five countries, and enjoyed an unforgettable experience on the top-rated river cruise ship in Europe
PRINTED EXCELLENCE The luxury golf river cruise brochure
SUMPTUOUS FOOD Award-winning cuisine is included throughout the duration of the river cruise
the rear of the vessel, where guests can enjoy an evening in this exclusive setting, on a chosen night of the cruise, and experience a delicious hand prepared six-course tasting menu. The next golf course along the journey is the Beckenbauer Course at Hartl Resorts in Germany, which hosts the Porsche European Open, and was designed by Bernhard Langer. Returning to their ship, guests then cruise overnight to the city of Linz. While non-golfers take a day trip to the musical city of Salzburg, golfers will go to the Diamond Country Club, host of the Austrian Open, where the 8th hole was redesigned by the enigmatic Miguel Angel Jimenez, and offers golfers a real challenge from the black tees. The ship continues its journey with its golfers safely back on board to Vienna, with stops along the way for passengers to explore the beautiful Wachau Valley, which is a famous wine region of lower Austria, and famous for its rolling hills, vineyards and castles. Guests will also enjoy stops in Dürenstein, where they can enjoy
options such as a hike to the fortress or the chance to sample some of the local wine on a tasting tour. In the pretty village of Melk there is the chance to join in with a complimentary tour of the stunning Benedictine Abbey. Once in Vienna, golfers have a day off to explore this Imperial city, taking the time to enjoy the sites such as St Stephen’s Cathedral, Graben and the world-famous Spanish Riding School. Or, for the more active, a guided bike tour along the Danube and through the Donaupark is available, or guests can join a guided bike ride to Klosterneuburg Monastery, where they can explore at their leisure. But no trip to Vienna is complete without sampling some Viennese coffee and pastries. On the next day, while the ship moves on to Bratislava, golfers depart for the Penati Golf Resort and play the Jack Nicklaus designed Legends Course, which features the only par 6 on the European Tour, a monster at 787 yards. Penati’s second course, the Heritage, was shaped by Mick McShane, who also shaped Kingsbarns and the K Club.
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Golfers meet the ship late afternoon in Bratislava, and cruise overnight to Budapest, where they play at the Pannonia Golf and Country Club, host of the Hungarian Open and Seniors Championships, before spending a final evening on-board before disembarkation. At the end of their journey, golfers will have played some of the best courses across five countries, and enjoyed an unforgettable experience on the toprated river cruise ship in Europe... an experience like no other. And with prices for the ten-night river cruise starting from as little as £2,431 per person – with an additional £1,845 payable for guests wishing to book the golf package – that equates to less than £430 per night for five-star accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner (including drinks) and the opportunity to play five of the best golf courses in Europe. Generous commission packages and incentives are available to clubs wishing to organise groups for members, so with limited availability, don’t miss out before this particular ship sets sail. GMé
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net promoter score
BGL level par with Net Promoter Score As far too many golf clubs these days so often fail to deliver a first-rate customer experience, Neil Gray takes a closer look at the Net Promoter Score Survey that has been implemented at Burhill Golf & Leisure.
“Good news tends to be a bit scarce in golf at the moment, and we’ve been asking ourselves, as a company, what can BGL do about it?”
SETTING THE SCENE The picturesque 17th green at Redbourn Golf Club
The golf industry, as with many other industries, is now a consumer led and experience driven market where the scales have tipped to favour the needs and wants of the customer. Golf course operators have been faced with making difficult decisions as to how to ensure the success of their clubs in this new, economic landscape. Unfortunately a number have cracked under the pressure of not being able to deliver an experience that the consumer craves, and therefore have faded into obscurity and sometimes closure. The scene is however not as gloomy as it may seem. Spurred on by the desire to stay ahead of the game and pre-emptively problem solve, Burhill Golf and Leisure Ltd (BGL) – one of the largest golf and leisure operators in the UK – has been continually investing in ways to ensure
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that every single one of their venues maximises the voice of their consumers. BGL have therefore partnered with The Retention People in order to implement a ‘Customer Experience Management’ system at all ten BGL’s venues across the UK; the Net Promoter Score (NPS) Survey. Ever increasing in popularity across the health and leisure sectors, the NPS Survey is a way in which BGL can receive real-time feedback from members and guests at each of it sites on an ongoing basis. “Good news tends to be a bit scarce in golf at the moment, and we’ve been asking ourselves, as a company, what can BGL do about it?,” explained Guy Riggott, operations director, golf division at BGL. “People aren’t coming to golf clubs in the numbers that they used to, but we’re working with The Retention People to
give those people a voice and listen to what they want at our clubs, what they like and dislike, and how we can progress so that we’re always one step ahead of the market. “The NPS Survey serves as a concise, streamlined alternative to traditional customer service research, and makes the process of gathering and analysing customer feedback clear and digestible so that we can respond to any and all comments as effectively and quickly as possible,” continued Riggott. The way in which NPS works is to evaluate customer loyalty with one, simple question: how likely are you to recommend this club to a friend or colleague? The customer is given a numbered scale of zero to ten to choose from, with zero representing not at all likely, and ten being extremely likely.
net promoter score
HAPPY CUSTOMERS Golfers at Hoebridge Golf Centre, part of Burhill Golf and Leisure
Once a score has been selected, the participant is then given the opportunity to write the reason for their scoring in a comment box, as well as the option to recognise a specific member of staff who served them at the club. Both members and visitors to BGL clubs who have a valid email and are over 16 years old receive the NPS Survey via the automated database. Members receive one email 21 days after joining, and a further email every 90 days after that, whereas visitors receive the survey within a day of attending the club. A failsafe in the system ensures that no person – member or visitor – receives the survey more than once in a 28 day period. “We don’t want to harass our customers by continually asking for feedback,” states Riggott.
“The timescale on the survey allows members and visitors breathing space, but also provides us with updates as to how each of the venues are performing – this way we can keep a finger on the pulse of the business and make short term changes quickly and fluidly. “We also bank that data to feed into our long term goals of progressing BGL and its venues through such channels as staff engagement and subsequent customer satisfaction,” he continued. The NPS score allows a continuous drip feed of information to be fed to management – both at the clubs and in head office – which means all interested parties are kept informed as to how the group are doing as a whole, and how each venue is performing individually. An example of a BGL venue where the NPS Survey has proved vital to the
operation of the club is Redbourn Golf Club, based in Hertfordshire. Having started out with a relatively low NPS score at the beginning of 2016, Redbourn’s general manager, Ian McDowell, fully embraced the feedback he received through the surveys and in 12 months, has seen his venues score rise to one of the highest in the group. “The scoring is split into three different categories of consumer; detractor, passive, and promoter,” explained McDowell. “That way we’re able to focus on each group individually and track loyalty shifts across the three. The information is processed so quickly through the NPS system that it creates a channel of communication between the club and the golfer that wasn’t available to us before.
golfmanagement.eu.com | 43
net promoter score
DRIVING CHANGE Guy Riggott, operations director, golf division at Burhill Golf & Leisure
“You need to be quick off the mark, otherwise you lose half the benefit of communicating with the customer”
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“We’re now able to respond and act upon feedback within a day of the survey being carried out, which gives us an incredible head start on ensuring that any issues are resolved before they escalate,” he continued. McDowell tracks the NPS results on the system religiously, contacting each detractor as soon as the results are received and thanking promoters for their loyalty, passing on any relevant feedback to staff on site. “You need to be quick off the mark, otherwise you lose half the benefit of communicating with the customer,” said McDowell. “By confronting the issues raised by detractors, we’re able to put changes into place straight away, which provides answers for any similar issues that we may receive. “We’re also able to reward and improve staff engagement, as promoters tend to feedback to us how well they’ve been looked after by our staff, whereas passives and detractors tend to focus on facilities, so by continually improving our staff engagement, we can work on converting passives into promoters.” Thanks to McDowell’s proactive response to the data he receives through NPS, and the enthusiasm of his staff at Redbourn, members and visitors have shown a significant shift in loyalty with the majority being classed as promoter.
This change in fortune perfectly displays the forward thinking and progressive ethos that BGL shares throughout its venues. BGL’s overall group score has steadily risen over the last 12 months as the general managers have embraced the system and acted upon the invaluable data that it returns. In the opinion of the group’s golf division operations director, Guy Riggott, this is only the beginning of BGL’s journey with The Retention People and the changes that they are able to make on the back of the NPS Surveys. “It’s great to see the immediate positive effect that addressing feedback from these surveys is doing at each of the clubs, however the greater value of the NPS Surveys comes over a longer term,” stated Riggott. “The continual feed of information allows us to map the progress we’re making and push for more growth, better progress, and more positive scores. “The long term goal is to implement culture change where needed, and constantly adapt and evolve to ensure that our members and visitors enjoy their overall experience at our clubs to such a degree that they return over and over again – bringing friends, family, and colleagues to share in the great experience that they’ve had.” GMé
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the trump effect
Presidential Seal of Office a Game Changer for Trump Now that President Donald Trump is busy signing off executive orders, will he have time for golf? More crucially, will golf still have time for Trump? Mark Alexander looks at the frenetic first days of his presidency and the possible impact it could have on the game he loves.
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the trump effect EXECUTIVE ORDER The official photograph of President Donald Trump after his inauguration (main picture), and right, photographed at Turnberry last year
© Mark Alexander
I have been trying to write this article for quite a while, which might sound counter intuitive bearing in mind what’s being going on. The difficulty has been deciding on a cut-off point; a line in the sand that offers perspective and a chance to review. Unfortunately, when it comes to President Donald Trump, that line can be difficult to pin down. There is no doubt that President Trump is a contentious figure, but picking out a defining point that somehow encompasses his belligerence has been no mean feat. I could have chosen his inauguration speech, for example, or the protests that followed. I could have opted for Theresa May’s hot-foot visit to the White House and the nervy press conference that followed. If I had, I would have missed the administration’s contentious travel ban and consequential sacking of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who questioned the legality of the immigration directive. Even as you read this, it is a fair bet that events will have overtaken me and Trump’s presidency will have been engulfed in another, even greater political storm. And here in lies the problem. President Trump’s first weeks in office have been
a carbon copy of his election campaign, which was marked with jarring sound bites and impassioned rallies. There has been no variance from the seemingly indefensible revelations that emerged prior to, during and after his election. The mire of sleaze and controversy has been a constant, and it seems it will continue to be so going forward. So what does this mean for the golf industry? Trump has been a key figure in golf for many years, but that all supposedly came to an end – in the UK at least – on January 19, when he resigned as director of Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd and SLC Turnberry and Golf Recreation Scotland. The move, designed to avoid any conflict of interests, meant his eldest sons Donald Jnr and Eric took control of his golf resorts in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire. The resorts themselves are expecting something of a bumper year bolstered by the falling pound following Brexit. “From the business we have on the books so far, the pace is telling me Trump Turnberry will have its best year of revenue in 100 years,” Ralph Porciani, general manager at Trump Turnberry, told The Guardian newspaper in January.
“From the business we have on the books so far, the pace is telling me Trump Turnberry will have its best year of revenue in 100 years” twitter.com/gme
golfmanagement.eu.com | 47
the trump effect
Trump-branded hotels, casinos and golf courses fell by as much as 17 per cent after his plans to run for president were announced
DESIGN BEDFELLOWS Donald Trump with Martin Hawtree
Bearing in mind the massive £140 million development project currently taking place at the Ayrshire Open Championship venue, that would be quite a result. In Aberdeen, plans are afoot to expand Trump International Golf Links following an Aberdeenshire Council’s decision to give the go-ahead for a second 18-hole golf course. It may have taken two years for the confirmation to come through, but it still surprised some, especially following the statement from the attorney for the then President-elect which stated; “no new foreign deals will be made whatsoever.” A spokeswoman at Trump International countered this by explaining the expansion plan was not a new deal but merely another construction phase. Others have voiced concern over Trump’s pricing. For instance, to play Trump International during the 2017 high season would require a £235 down payment, and an eye-popping £350 at Trump Turnberry. These are phenomenal price tags that many resorts would find hard to justify. But this is the top end of the market where no expense is spared to ensure the venues and their associated facilities are overtly designed to impress. In fact, you could go further and argue Trump Turnberry represents heightened value for money following its remarkable rise up Golf Monthly’s Top 100 course rankings for the UK & Ireland. The revamped course rose three places last year following an extraordinary renovation project that saw every hole adapted in some way.
48 | GMé March 2017
© Mark Alexander
Claiming the top spot was a clear endorsement of the far-reaching project. “When the course re-opened this summer it was to widespread acclaim, and indeed, wonder,” noted Jeremy Ellwood who played the course as part of the Golf Monthly team. “Martin Ebert’s design mind and handiwork have finally allowed the Ailsa to take full advantage of the wonderful Ayrshire canvas on which it is painted. It is quite simply a masterpiece.” The changes at Trump Turnberry have been remarkable and all credit should be bestowed on the architect who oversaw the process and realised the potential of the site. But these plans have been around for a while with a succession of owners choosing to follow a modest path of gently tweaking the course rather than unleashing the bulldozers. This is Turnberry after all. As unpalatable as it may be for some, it took Trump’s bullishness to make these plans a reality. The course certainly wouldn’t be sitting on top of the charts if he had taken a more reserved approach. But does that assertiveness come at a price? If his presidency is anything to go by, the cost could be high. According to reports, President Trump’s latest hotel venture, the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC lost more than US$1million (£800,000) in its first two months following a soft opening in September. Although the reason for the shortfall is unclear, some argue the hotel could be experiencing the negative effect
of President Trump’s high profile. For instance, last year, FourSquare released data showing footfall at Trump-branded hotels, casinos and golf courses fell by as much as 17 per cent after his plans to run for president were announced. His swagger may generate robust policies and other-wise impossible golf projects, but it can lead to criticism. This came to the fore recently when President Trump was ordered to repay US$5.7 million to 65 members of Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida. The federal judge ruled in favour of the claimants who argued the Trump Organization had cut off access to the club while they were still paying their dues. The decision will be challenged. One thing is for sure, it will never be dull around President Trump. He may have never held a public office and certainly doesn’t conform to the political stereotypes that have dominated world politics, but he is passionate about golf and is by far and away the greatest advocate of the game to set up camp in the Oval Office. Will this be good for golf? Only time will tell. These are certainly ambiguous times and formulating meaningful predictions has become a fool’s errand. One Trump supporter admitted during a television interview that President Trump’s first week in office had been shambolic and unlike any start to a presidency he had witnessed. “But that’s what we voted for,” he said. “We wanted change.” Well, in a world where seemingly anything is possible, you certainly got that. GMé
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“I’d be disappointed to learn that I’d only been able to walk off the average calorific intake of a lunchtime supermarket meal deal”
Don’t be a doughnut... Get out and walk Having recently borrowed my wife’s Fitbit wristband device, I was delighted, on January 30, to top 15,000 steps – I’m not sure I will be able to repeat the feat in February, however, as it has only 28 days. This feeble effort at humour is one of the worst segues possible into a column about the health benefits of playing golf. Now, I’m not healthy – I’d be the first to admit that. (Actually, I’d be the second; Mrs B would always be the first!). I’ve chosen this topic because I recently caught sight of a widely distributed infographic entitled Health Benefits of Golf, produced by the European Tour Performance Institute. One statistic which particularly caught my eye was the fact that the average round of golf, using a buggy – because I’m fat and unfit I generally take this option – still burns off more than half the calories (411) of a round where one carries one’s own bag (721). Now, if I was a keen, regular golfer, like most of my colleagues – who all carry their bags – I’d be disappointed to learn that I’d only been able to walk off the average calorific intake of a lunchtime supermarket meal deal. My buggy trip round 18 holes, however, doesn’t even burn off the compulsory packet of pork scratchings in the clubhouse afterwards. A quick Google search informs me that a normal-sized packet of these delicious salty snacks contains 411 calories from fat alone! The bag is a mind-boggling 607 calories – its contents that is… I’m not sure the plastic bag has been measured.
50 | GMé March 2017
STICKY HEAVEN Walking a golf course burns off enough calories to eat two Krispy Kreme doughnuts
This is a horrendous figure, particularly when you realise that’s the equivalent of more than two medium-size frosted doughnuts (around 251 calories each). So, I’m hitting Krispy Kreme on the way home from the golf club next time for the sake of my health. The data also showed that regular golfers live, on average five years longer, than people who don’t play golf. I’m sure there’s good scientific evidence for reaching this conclusion, but, in my experience, if you spend a lot of time talking to people who describe every shot they’ve played during a round, it just seems five years longer. I can’t imagine it’s worth putting myself through the mental torture I endure every time I play 18 holes of Army golf (left, right, left, right…) just to guarantee
myself a further five years of slicing a ball out of bounds. Perhaps the most striking stat, given the proliferation of diabetes these days, is that the risk of type II diabetes drops a staggering 58 per cent in people who exercise regularly for four hours a week. Now, in all seriousness, that’s a good enough reason to take up golf right there. GMé
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