NOVEMBER 1997 ÂŁ2.50 25FFR 7.5DM 625PTAS
MESSENGER SHAH Eddy Shah, the renowned former newspaper proprietor, now has his entrepreneurial sights firmly focussed on the golf industry
E u ro p e
With a view to Conserve
The definitive business magazine for the European golfing industry
GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE
E u ro p e
inside Golf Courts Following the huge interest generated by golf courts, this new golfing phenomenon is set to take Europe by storm Page 8
Eddy Shah Former newspaper proprietor Eddy Shah talks with editor John Vinicombe about his future plans for Messenger Leisure Page 15
Pro Golf USA Recently returned from the States, Alister Marshall visits a Pro Golf outlet on the Gulf Coast
BAGCC Colin Cameron takes an in-depth look at the work undertaken by members of the British Association of Golf Course Constructors
The picturesque setting of the 18th hole at La Bretesche golf club, France, which has experienced an increase in tourism since the advent of the Channel Tunnel Full story on page 20
Golf Management Europe
EDITOR John Vinicombe EXECUTIVE EDITOR Alister Marshall FEATURES EDITOR Andy Ford NEWS EDITOR David Bowers STAFF WRITERS Colin Cameron, Peter Simm Pat Symes, Duncan Wright
PUBLISHER Michael Lenihan PUBLISHING EXECUTIVE Angus Day ADVERTISING CONSULTANT Michael Deasy ADMINISTRATION Sharon O’Connell PRINT & REPRO Colourspeed, Segensworth GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE IS PUBLISHED BI-MONTHLY BY PORTMAN PUBLISHING & COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED
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GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 3
Clubhouse Exhibition gets the green light
n exhibition aimed specifically at the key decision makers in golf clubs will take place in Warwickshire in March, 1998. The Clubhouse Exhibition, targeted at secretaries, managers, owners, club captains, committee members, stewards and other club officials, is organised by Clubhouse Exhibitions Ltd. The exhibition - at the National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh Park, on March 30-31 - already has the support of all the UK golf unions, The British Institute of Golf Course Architects, the Association of Golf Course Owners, the Golf Club Stewards Association and the British Contract Furnishing Association. The event will feature numerous companies who specialise in the supply of services to golf clubs - from carpets for the clubhouse or lockers for the changing room, right through to outdoor equipment such as turf machinery, signs and notices. Organisers claim the exhibition is the ‘only one-stop shop for the refurbishment of a golf club’ and they believe anyone who has a role in decision making will wish to attend.
The secretary of the Association of Golf Club Secretaries, Ray Burniston, said: “I am delighted to hear that the Clubhouse Exhibition is proceeding. “I believe it will be come an important show for all those involved within the management structure of a golf club and will give them a chance to look at the many items they purchase for the club under one roof. “Vast sums are spent each year by clubs wanting to improve their facilities and this gives buyers the opportunities to compare many different items.” In addition to the exhibition, there will also be a range of seminars with various guest speakers discussing topics to include management training, making the best use of technology in the clubhouse and many more areas that are essential to the efficient running of a modern golf club. Having settled a longrunning legal dispute with original designer Howard Swan, the owners of Brett Vale GC, Suffolk, have now put the par-71 course up for sale. The complex comprises a practice ground, an indoor driving range and clubhouse. It is offered for sale by Edward Symmons Hotel and Leisure and Strutt & Parker.
Callaway reports record quarter sales
allaway Golf Company reported record net sales of $257.4 million for the third quarter ended September 30, 1997. It displays an increase of 32 per cent over net sales of $194.5 million reported for the corresponding quarter in 1996. Donald H. Dye, the company’s president and CEO, said: “The third quarter results reflect the continued success of the company’s products in the marketplace and the company’s commitment to continue building for the future. “Where sales increased 32 per cent, profits actually decreased because of a one-time payment for the settlement of litigation, early transitional costs associated with the Odyssey acquisition, and an increase in expenditures associated with research and development related to golf clubs, golf balls and interactive golf.”
4 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
guarantee of £1.4m prize fund in 2001 The PGA Tour and promoters Fairway Marketing have announced a new sponsorship agreement which will increase the 1998 Tournament Players Championship of Europe prize fund by £350,000 to £1.1m. The deal also guarantees a minimum prize fund of £1.4m in 2001, with further options to 2005. Deutsche Bank AG, the largest bank in Europe, and software manufacturer SAP AG, reached a four-year agreement to be equal ranking sponsors of the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open Tournament Players Championship of Europe. The executive director of the PGA European Tour, said: “It is little more than 25 years ago that John Jacobs, my predecessor, had the foresight to recognise the importance of the expansion of the European Tour into Europe and beyond. “So I know John would wish to join with me in congratulating Deutsche Bank and SAP AG on their sponsorship as equal partners of what is now the richest tournament on continental Europe. “We are justifiably proud of the growth of the European Tour, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, and we value most highly longterm commitments such as our recently announced eight year agreement for the staging of the Ryder Cup in Ireland in 2005.” The agreement provides for the prize fund to be increased by a minimum of £100,000 each year following the 1998 tournament, through to 2001.
usga boost In a magnanimous gesture, the United States Golf Association, has provided a $6,000 grant to the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis, to assist in its efforts to use the game of golf to rehabilitate individuals with physical disabilities. The institute requested the USGA’s assistance in financing a golf tournament for the physicallydisabled and a new single-rider golf cart which allows players with disabilities the mobility to enjoy the game of golf.
ROYAL LYTHAM & ST ANNES TO STAGE 2001 OPEN The R&A recently announced that the 2001 Open Championship, to be held between the 19th and 22nd July, will be staged at Royal Lytham & St Annes, the tenth time the Open will have been played over the testing Lancashire course. Royal Lytham has always proved a popular venue, and still holds the record of the highest attendance for an Open outside St Andrews - 191,334 back in 1988.
BBC commentator joins Howard Swan
B la manga club to open new casino La Manga Club Resort, Spain, has announced the opening, next summer of a casino at its five-star Hyatt Regency hotel (above). It will occupy an area of 2,500 sq. m - making it one of the largest in Europe. The club has also announced that it has signed Scotland’s Tracey Craik as a touring pro. Now in her seventh season on the American Express Tour, Craik - who will sport the La Manga logo - won the WPGA European Qualifying School on the resort’s championship South Course in 1995, and has a home at the complex.
everley Lewis, the BBC Television on-course reporter, has been retained by Howard Swan Golf Design Ltd as a consultant. Lewis, who brings a wealth of experience in the playing and teaching of the game, will assist Swan and his colleague Nigel Henbury in the design aspects of golf courses, and golf academies. Lewis said: “I look forward to learning more about golf course design, and helping the practice appreciate more about the architecture of golf courses, especially from a woman’s point of view.Courses of the future must cater for the needs of not only men, but women and children as well.” Bettesworth commercial estate agents are inviting offers in the region of £220,000 for the Cayman golf course, a 18-hole short course situated in Torbay. The picturesque course offers an ideal opportunity for someone looking for a seasonal business.
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GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 5
Ireland’s Ryder Cup dilemma
Waves... From the specialists in sports publishing, and the former publishers of Football Management magazine, we invite you to dive into a whole-new approach to modern-day golf club development.
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n the last issue of Golf Management Europe, Peter Simm wrote concerning the merits of switching the Ryder Cup to Ireland, and in particular to the K Club, 18 miles outside of Dublin at Straffan, County Kildare. Having staged the Smurfit European Open for three years the course has proved itself to be a good test for top European golfers. But although the parkland course would appear to be the bookies’ favourite to stage the event following the decision to award the 2005 match to the Emerald Isle, it is not - and should not - be a foregone conclusion. Ireland has many beautiful golf courses which would all do credit to the 35th Ryder Cup, including the Jack Nicklaus-designed Mount Juliet at Thomastown and the testing Druid’s Glen, 20 miles south of Dublin. Add the delightful links course at Portmarnock (below) which has previously hosted the Walker Cup and you have three courses which could each lodge justifiable claims. Portmarnock would, it seem, be the traditionalist’s choice. It is a fine example of a typical Irish seaside links course, and there would be little or no advantage in bringing the Americans over only to play them on an American-style course. It can handle the huge crowds associated with the Ryder Cup and is close enough to Dublin to avoid any awkward transportation problems. However, the modern-day Ryder Cup can mean big bucks. And commercially the K Club and Mount Juliet would probably claim to be at the forefront of Irish golf, and in recent years have invested heavily to attract the European Open and the Irish Open respectively. Therein lies the problem. Is the Ryder Cup still a wonderfully traditional event for which the team members would willingly pay their own expenses, or is it now purely just a commercial venture first and foremost? If we accept that it is the latter, it is surely only a matter of time before the players demand - justifiably in the circumstances - their fair share.
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GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 7
Golf Golf Courts Courts AN
The principle of the Golf Court is unique - same number of holes, but played on a fraction of the space of a standard course, and at long last, golf by the hour.
conomy-size’ means different things to different people. In terms of washing powder it means a packet of detergent the size of a shopping trolley - in cars it means a car the size of... well, a shopping trolley. When referring to a new trend in golf course design perhaps we would be better served using the term ‘compact’, for that is exactly what a Golf Court is. By using just one main fairway, four greens and eight tee areas a golf course can be shrunk to around onetenth of its normal size while still retaining genuine par-five holes. Players criss-cross the course playing each green at least twice, though with different hazards and approaches. The down-side - for every bright idea must have one - is that only three matches can be accommodated at any one time. This is however, a minor drawback, and a somewhat irrelevant one, as the premise of Golf Courts is that they are booked and played by the hour. And no, the idea did not graduate from a redneck university in the south of the United States. It is in fact the brainchild of systems designer Farel Bradbury (below) from Ross-on-Wye. Some ten years ago, Bradbury suffered a mild stroke which left him temporarily disabled. Golf was recommended to him to restore the use of his right arm, and having tried it he became hooked and decided to create his own personal course on the land adjoining his farmhouse. Using the skills attained as a systems analyst he created the first Golf Court a 3,000-yard, par 60 course on just six-anda-half acres of land. And that prototype course remains as the
example which is viewed and played by Golf Courts Incorporated’s potential clients. Just a few minutes in the company of the infectiously enthusiastic chief executive John Sale, is enough to convince anybody that Golf Courts, while physically small, are set to be commercially huge. He explained: “Potentially, the biggest market is in the United States because we can bring these courses closer to city centres. There are a lot of people there who would like to play, but for one reason or other are not able to. Golf Courts opens the sport up to a lot of people. “Research has shown that because of Tiger Woods there are going to be two million new golfers this year in the US alone - but at the moment they have nowhere to play. The Americans are eulogising about this concept. “If you take the US as an example, all the municipal parks are being run down and they are looking for private finance to pull them back up again. “With 50 states, if you only put in ten per state, that’s 500 Golf Courts. Add in the Far East, where land is at a premium, and places like Israel where there is only one golf course, and the rest of the Middle East where water is scarce, you can see the potential for yourself.” The potential buyers of the concept cannot be pigeon-holed. Even though Golf Courts Inc. is less than one year old, other enquiries have already been received from hotels, schools and colleges, private individuals and existing golf courses.
8 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
DAVID BOWERS news editor
US corporations have been quick to realise the potential for a court onsite so their executives can enjoy a few holes in-between business. And property developers are looking to incorporate a Golf Court on plots where they are building 30 or 40 executive-style homes. “Those people then become partowners of their own golf course,” added Sale. However, we do see hotels as being one of the biggest markets. “A lot of them already have some land adjacent but not enough for a full-size 18-hole golf course. The beauty of this concept is that there are no nine-hole courses - you will always have 18 holes. The scenario just depends on the size of the land available. “The example we have drawn up is on 14.7 acres and is a 6,000-yard par72, course. If that was reduced to four acres, we would still work on the same principles and just shorten each hole, with the longest being around 200 yards. The concept works on all sizes.” Farel Bradury’s prototype course supports this theory, standing as it
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does in just six-and-a-half acres of land and containing 12 par threes, and six par fours. Christy O’Connor jnr (left) and Laura Davies were invited to look over the inaugural course and were so impressed they now lend their names to promotional material. O’Connor said: “I was amazed at how well it worked. Although it was only six-and-a-half acres it gave me the opportunity to hit a full range of shots using every club in the bag.” Davies, who now has a small Golf Court in her back garden, added: “Another great thing is the convenience. It allows you to squeeze a round of golf in an hour. “That’s a big plus for busy people, especially women, who love the game.” The accessibility of the sport on Golf Courts - including the disabled means that National Lottery funding is more likely than at normal courses which can be restrictive in their membership. “We have met with the Sports Council and the lottery people and they are 100 per cent behind it,” enthused Sale.
“They said if local authorities came forward with plans they would look favourably on it. For the first time, we can offer golf by the hour. That throws it open to many more people, particularly, as Laura said, to women. “The main reason they don’t take it up is, especially young women with families, is that they feel they do not have the time. Also most clubs do not allow kids under the age of 12 on the course and Christy is particularly interested in getting kids involved. “A five or six acre site attached to an existing course would be the
equivalent of a full-size course for an eight to 12-year old. So it is ideally suited as an academy and that is another area where we feel Golf Courts are strong.” Farel Bradbury’s Ross-on-Wye Golf Court may be the only active course in the UK at the moment, but another half-dozen are on their way. And if you visit the US in the next few years, chances are there will be hundreds to choose from. That will be sweet music to the ears of Farel Bradbury and John Sale.
GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 9
No repeat for public golf show
lack of support from the golf industry has been blamed for the cancellation of the Consumer Golf Show planned for 1998. The British Golf Industry Association met with the show organisers, Consumer Exhibitions Limited, and the mutual decision was taken not to proceed with the show. The BGIA, through its executive committee, had endorsed the principle of another show but claimed there was insufficient support to assure financial success and it was felt prudent to dispense with the spring 1998 event. Chairman of the BGIA, John Ennis said: “It is of course very disappointing to have to take such a decision, particularly as so many people viewed the show as a success this year. “However, the BGIA feels that it has at least provided a model for future years and we have not closed the door on any future show, although one in the spring of 1998 is now not achievable in the current timescale.” The Professional Golfers Association and the British Sports and Allied Industries Federation had already indicated at a previous meeting that they would not be offering their support for a further show. The announcement came as a major disappointment to the 20,000 who attended this year’s event.
Merrist Wood opens for business Merrist Wood GC, in Worplesdon, near Guildford, has recently opened for play. The club is one of a rapidly growing number within the Barrelfield Golf Network, designed by David Williams. Merrist Wood College - the course owners and in whose grounds the course has been built - is one of the premier further education establishments in the country which specialises in golf-related studies, including training for golf professionals, greenkeepers and now Europe’s only education course for golf course architects. One of the first to play the new par-72 course was the former Ryder Cup star David Gilford who hit a threeunder par 69, in an exhibition match a few days prior to the official opening.
Scott Cranfield set to target new clubs European Tour coach, Scott Cranfield, who heads up the Scott Cranfield Golf Academy, has announced his intention of securing more coaching contracts at golf clubs across the UK. The concept behind the academy is unique in so much that it offers proprietors a performance guarantee, which is also financially under-written. As part of the scheme, prospective pupils are offered a free assessment before commencing tuition, which is subsequently backed by a full money back guarantee. Commenting on the system, Cranfield, who takes an active part in the teaching programme said: “It is only when a coach understands how the mind and body work can they help pupils achieve outstanding results. “The SCGA system is based on my coaching style, which has helped many of the world’s top professionals.”
10 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
The course features large USGA specification greens, multiple tees, new water hazards and hosts of other features. It is more than 6,900 yards off the back championship tees, although the forward tees will be used on the majority of occasions. Medal tees are approximately 6,600 yards, social tees are around the 6,300 yard mark with ladies’ layouts just below 6,000 with a par of 72. The course was constructed by Whitnell Contracts Limited, and the irrigation sub-contractor was Martockbased Ocmis Irrigation using RainBird equipment. The companies are also collaborating on the Ron Noades-owned Happy Valley GC near Chaldon, Surrey.
Extension for Broome Park
anterbury City Council has given planning permission for extensions to Broome Park Golf and Country Club. Built in 1981, the planned new development includes a new clubhouse, together with a nine-hole course which will link to the existing 6,610 yard 18 holes. Also planned are new hotel rooms in the grade one listed mansion, which was built in 1635 and was once home to Lord Kitchener. New leisure chalets accompanied by and a leisure centre finalise the redevelopment.
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David Wilson Homes and Fareham Woods GC (right) have taken the unusual step of joining forces and offering a year’s free membership to housebuyers at Wilson’s Hampshire Heights and the adjacent Oakcrest site.
No rain delay thanks to the WaterHog
tanding water on sports pitches and grounds could be a thing of the past courtesy of a new invention from Slough-based Pinnacle Power Equipment. The WaterHog and WaterHog Junior have been specifically designed to combat the age-old problem of “flooded pitch stopped play” - and golf courses are set to be major beneficiaries. Surface water can be removed from turf, artificial turf and even hard surfaces such as tarmacadam and concrete, using either the WaterHog ride-on or the manual push-along junior model, which at first glance looks like a normal roller. The ride-on is capable of removing water at a rate of more than 100 gallons per minute - 6,000 gallons per hour. A water cannon discharges the water up to 150ft as it is picked up, or alternatively, the WaterHog can deposit it in its giant holding tank prior to discharging into a drain, dyke or holding pond. The WaterHog Junior is simply pushed through standing water at a brisk walking pace and the 20in-wide drum picks up water which is held in the integral 13 gallon tank. The company claims the low compression design does not crush or mark any grass playing surface. Even when fully loaded with water and weighing over half-a-ton, the ride-on displaces just 2lbs of pressure per square inch. Managing director, Ian Lobb said: “Already a dozen top county cricket clubs have a WaterHog as well as major golf clubs and racecources.”
Organic alternative to chemical fertiliser A Hampshire-based company has introduced a totally organic soil amendment onto the European market as an alternative to the traditional chemical fertiliser. E-2001 has previously been used extensively just in the United States and Mexico and was manufactured primarily for the agricultural market. The potential for its use on golf courses had not been realised until site management officials in Texas decided to try it on football pitches. They found that the Bermuda grass showed improved growth with deeper roots and with a better colour throughout the playing season. The product was then used on a further 40 sports fields and 38 campus sites, where the site management coordinator reported a drop of 30 per cent in fertiliser costs. So what is the secret? E-2001 is specified as being an organic soil amendment containing various bacteria and enzymes that takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and makes it available in a form acceptable to all plants. The same micro-organisms make other soil nutrients available to the grass but only when it needs them.
In addition the surrounding environment will also be improved because the leaching and run-off from chemical fertilisers will be severely reduced. And the product is totally non-toxic to all animal life. E-2001 is designed as a stand-alone inoculant and the price should be around half the normal cost of chemical fertilisers dependant on quantity. Further savings can be made in the reduction of storage space and man hours - one drum of E-2001 is claimed to provide as much nitrogen as 75 tons of ammonium nitrate when applied correctly. And one drum weighs less than a quarter of a ton! That, say the manufacturers, is sufficient to fertilise 560 acres with a minimum of 138 units of nitrogen per acre, when applied as per instructions. Farmers have been quick to realise the benefits of the new product and now Agricultural Research Technologies Ltd of Petersfield, Hampshire, is launching the product into the European golf market. Now with the availability of E-2001, greenkeepers can improve the quality and strength of their grass without increasing their annual spend.
Ransomes secures Chinese contract
pswich-based turfcare specialist Ransomes, Cushman and Ryan has won a contract in southern China courtesy of its appointed area distributor, Lindeteves-Jacoberg (China) Ltd. The Bougainvillea GC has placed an order for grass and turf-care equipment worth in excess of £250,000 which includes seven Greens Super walk-behind greenmowers.
12 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
Senior manager at LindetevesJacoberg, Stuart Hitchcock, pointed out that the style and profile of the Malaysian-owned club is unrivalled throughout southern China. He said: “The first nine holes are scheduled to be opened during September by the patron of the club, his Royal Highness Sultan Azlan, Shah of Malaysia.”
LAKE BALLS GET A SECOND CHANCE Golf balls destined never to be seen again, are making a come-back thanks to Second Chance, an American-based company which now has a European office. Balls which have found lakes and other water hazards in the US, are being retrieved and reconditioned by the family-run American business, with more than 40 million balls a year currently being recycled and re-sold.
New-look for Forest of Arden One of the UK’s best-known tournament venues has recently undergone a £7million redevelopment programme. Over the past year, the Marriott Forest of Arden Golf & Country Club, Warwickshire, has witnessed a number of design changes on the first, third and fifth holes of the championship course. - all of which have met with the approval of European Tour officials who visited the course prior to the British Masters. The first green has been increased by 150 sq yds and re-contouring and the addition of a new greenside bunker have helped increased the difficulty of the hole. The 560-yard, par five third has had its green stripped and re-turfed, but the most notable amendment has been the complete re-design of the fifth hole. Here the green has been moved forward 25 yards, and the addition of a new championship tee completes the par three, 197-yard hole.
Brabazon closed in Belfry revamp
t has been announced that the Brabazon course at The Belfry, which will stage the 2001 Ryder Cup, will be closed from November for a period of ten months. During the closure, improvements will be carried out to the 7,177 yard course, including alterations to the 3rd, 4th, 8th and 12th holes. The shorter Derby course will remain fully operational. CB Designs International, manufacturers of golf course signs and course furniture has recently extended its range of golf products and introduced an innovative reward scheme called Club Bonus. The scheme rewards clubs throughout Europe for any purchase, whereby for every £100 spent on products from the company’s range, the club will receive a £5 bonus credit to be used against future purchases.
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A MESSENGER LEISURE COMPANY
Eddy Shah TODAY’S NEW MESSENGER BY JOHN
VINICOMBE ddy Shah, famed mover and shaker in the newspaper industry, is now a respected player in the golf business. The man who started with one paper and ended up with a chain of 60, is not easily deterred. That his company, Messenger Leisure Ltd already has a toehold in East Anglia with the ownership of three courses, should be sufficient reason for rival concerns to start sitting up and taking notice. While Shah has not embarked on an empire building exercise, it has not escaped attention that his portfolio extended this summer with the £900,000 purchase from the Receivers of the Reymerston club near Norwich. This acquisition followed buying the Suffolk G&CC at Bury St Edmonds thus underpinning his Essex base at Earls Colne just outside Colchester. Failing to add a fourth string to his bow in Northants has not discouraged Shah in the slightest; he remains on the look out for any course that he feels can be turned around. Eddy Shah believes strongly that the future of leisure centres lies in appealing to the family. His paternalism goes deeper than following the dictates of current business trends. Nor does personal enrichment or self-aggrandisement lie behind his motives. “I am rich enough for what I need. Life isn’t just about making money,” said the former union-buster who underwent a traumatic experience when his wife nearly died of cancer 12 years ago. “Jennifer had cervical cancer and was given three months to live. I saw this massive fight between life and death with nothing in between as making a tremendous difference to how you treat your own life. “Having seen her nearly die, I don’t think I could have had the strength to have taken on the unions. What Jennifer did was to see off the cancer through chemotherapy and bring up our kids. “After that she had nothing to do like a lot of marriages when the kids are starting to go away. So, what we did, was to start working together and Jennifer came into the business with me. She surprised me at how good she really is at running the club here at Earls Colne which is a big place.” ➧
GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 15
At 53 Eddy Shah is a contented man on whose broad shoulders ambition still sits, albeit lightly. The hectic newspaper days are behind him. If there was a Citizen Kane in Shah trying to get out, the devil was exorcised long ago with the rise and fall of Today. Now he works for and with his close knit family, eternally grateful that Jennifer has been spared and mindful too of someone else who lost the fight against the Big C aged 43. He was Phil Martin, a black light heavyweight who fought out of Moss Side, Manchester and whom Shah greatly admired.
The Essex Golf & Country Club
“We lost £750,000 in the first year, which we expected, but this year we are going to be turning over £2.8 million”
“He took kids off the street and gave them a chance with the Champs Camp he set up. Phil wasn’t soft on them and used to say, if you want to be a drug dealer, be a drug dealer. But what he offered was the opportunity to learn to box. It was a way out. “When I went to his funeral I thought I could maybe use the same sort of stuff toward golf. I had been most moved by what had happened. It was then I decided to go into golf and build family centres and create our own scholarships and work where we could with authority, and where we couldn’t, do it ourselves.” Eddy Shah’s first purchase, Earls Colne, was made in December, 1994 when the club had 1,200 members and a turnover of £1.2 million. “We lost £750,000 in the first year, which we expected, but this year we are going to be turning over £2.8 million and we have nearly 2,500 members. “We are a recognised LTA training centre quite apart from 27 holes of golf and have a massive youth programme and sponsor some of the kids ourselves. We even do golf for the disabled on the driving range. We are putting back something into the games of golf and tennis, but first of all you have to make the money.” The second club Shah bought was at Bury St Edmunds a year ago. Work on the leisure centre and tennis courts will be completed just after Christmas.
16 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
“There were no members when we took over and now there are just under 1,000 of which nearly 750 are golfers.” Reymerston, opened in 1993, was bought by Shah this summer from the Receivers for a, “fair amount.” All three courses are owned by Shah and his family. “There are no major barriers. We pay our own way as we go along. If things go bad on us, all we end up with are nice big country houses with golf courses. “Buying up courses is not a plan I set out to follow, but I do believe in the principle of the family leisure centre. If you are a member of one of our clubs, you are a member of them all and a lot of members go from place to place in East Anglia.” Cambridge-born, Shah has, in effect, returned to his roots though not the footsteps of his father who read law at university. Brought up in Scotland, Shah went to Gordonstoun where he was suspended and needed a crammer to get his O levels. He has played golf since the age of 12 and was good enough as a three-quarter to play Rugby for Scotland Boys. As a strong headed lad Eddy went his own way, working as a scene shifter in the theatre then progressing to stage manager and floor and production manager with the BBC and Granada. By then he was 28 and based in Manchester. “I chucked it in and went to work for the Manchester Evening News’ free paper, but was made redundant. I then launched my own free paper in Altrincham and started to build a chain and finally I had created the biggest independent provincial newspaper group in the country.” It was in the 1980s that Shah launched Today, a now defunct national tabloid, and sold out in 1983. “I walked in one day and said I didn’t want to do this anymore and wrote four novels, all political thrillers which have done well, and went to America. Some way along the line Shah became a substantial shareholder and a director of Wentworth so golf was never very far from his thoughts. What he has never forgotten was the remark Colin Montgomerie passed during the World Matchplay Championship when asked to remove his spikes after walking on a newly-laid parquet floor costing £200,000. It was not that Shah is easily shocked, but he felt Monty should have been aware of the spirit of golf and not replied in the way he did and went on to walk across the floor. “I keep to myself in the golf industry where everybody tries to impress everybody else, just like newspapers. The ones I like are those who just get on with it.
“With Messenger Leisure, we are selling an affordable life style. I love golf and it has given me a lot and it gives me great pleasure to be putting something back and taking the David Lloyd concept a stage further. When you arrive, there is something there for the whole day. The size of Essex G&CC is stunning and there is no trouble in mum, dad and the kids spending as long as they want either playing golf or tennis, swimming in the indoor pool or working out in the vast gym while the kids play in the nursery or the ladies have their hair done. Any aches or pains can be smoothed away by the resident physio and, for a weekend stop over there is a 44-room hotel. There is a 70 years lease on Earls Colne while the courses at Bury St Edmunds and Reymerston are freeholds. It is Shah’s view that his Suffolk course will end up as the prettiest. This has been re-designed and lengthened to 6,400 yards after being bought from a Japanese company. One of Shah’s unfulfilled ambitions is to see his name on the competitions board at his Earls Colne base. But at least he can point to a hole-in-one at the 194-yd 7th achieved this summer with a sweetly swung 5 iron.
The 17 stone boss of 150 employees at three establishments, plays off 7.4 and has been down to a two handicap. “I try to play at least twice a week and just lately have been struggling with my short game.” It was then time for John Burke, course controller and honourary starter, to call Shah for an appointment on the first tee and a knockout match. The opportunity arose for an unsolicited view from one member on the guv’nor. “What Eddy has done here is nothing short of a miracle. He gets on so well with everybody and is just one of the chaps. You wouldn’t think he owned the place.”
“There were no members when we took over and now there are just under 1,000”
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GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 17
Pro USA Pro Golf GolfUS USA D
Following last issues article on the increasing power of the American discount stores, Alister Marshall journeyed to the Gulf Coast to check out the situation Stateside. BY
part from those hardy souls who wrap up like Eskimos and continue to test their skill - even during a European winter - this is the time for the majority of amateur golfers to pack the clubs away and dream of balmy summer days to come. Meanwhile in Florida, the temperature drops from a sticky 90-plus degrees to the pleasant 70’s to herald the start of golf’s new season in the Sunshine State. Preparation for the arrival of thousands of Americans who winter in Florida, and countless visitors from Europe, is not only confined to the multitude of public and private courses. Throughout the State the storerooms of the mammoth golf equipment retail stores are being stocked from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. Golf discount stores are big business in America - a mind-boggling multi-million dollar business. Established in 1962, the Pro Golf of America chain has almost 200 franchise outlets, with one of the jewels in the crown, the outlet at Clearwater on the Gulf Coast. Pro Golf, Clearwater, is a golfer’s paradise - a virtual Aladdin’s cave stocking every conceivable piece of brand name equipment, the hottest innovations in the golf industry, and the latest fashions in golf apparel and accessories, at prices almost unbelievable to the European visitor. Consequently it is no surprise that almost 50 per cent of this super store’s business comes 18 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
from tourists with a sizeable proportion being British, Spanish, Swedish and German visitors. Gary Davis, sales director of the Clearwater outlet, has no doubt that the price of the equipment and accessories available is the prime attraction to the overseas visitor. He said: “Our feed back is that even if the saving on our more up market range is marginal in our opinion, it still appears to be a considerable saving to our friends from Europe. However in the great majority of cases, the saving is considerably more than just marginal.” The price may be right, but Davis, supported by a dedicated staff who are all qualified club fitters, believes totally in customer satisfaction. “I don’t know what the situation is in Europe, but it is not and never will be our policy to off load our most expensive equipment to gullible tourists looking for a bargain. “Every customer who enquires about purchasing a complete set of clubs is questioned regarding his playing ability. How long has he been playing? How often does he play? Does he take his game seriously or simply as a pleasant recreation? “It doesn’t do us any good and would certainly rebound upon our customer relations if we deliberately sold a new set of clubs at say $900 knowing full well that a set at half the price would be more than adequate for a particular customer’s requirement. “In many cases a customer will leave with a set of clubs ideal for his use having paid 50 per cent less than the amount he intended to pay when he came into the store.”
Pro Pro Golf Golf USA USA
US DISCOUNT STORES
Gary Davis (right) assists a customer at his Pro Golf shop in the US.
As editor John Vinicombe wrote in our last edition, the rapid growth in Britain of cut-price stores and High Street outlets is now squeezing the British club professional mighty hard. The big discount stores are a comparatively new concept in Britain. American club professionals have had to live with the problem for over 30 years. Davis said: “With outlets such as Pro Golf with our immense buying power enabling us to stock and sell a huge range of equipment at a price the club professional simply cannot match, initially there was a distinct feeling of animosity between the big retailer and the man in the club shop. “I don’t know what the situation is in Britain, but it is certainly one that has been recognised by the United States PGA, who have appreciated that their members would be smart to fully realise they just simply cannot compete against major retail outlets such as Pro Golf. “However on the other hand the club professional has a market we cannot compete against. They are the sole suppliers of the distinct attire of their particular clubs. “Members like wearing shirts, sweaters etc. embossed with their club logo. Their is only one place where such items can be successfully marketed - in the shop of their club professional, who is also the man to go to for expert tuition. “That is another area, undoubtedly the most important of the lot, where we cannot compete and would never attempt to even though all our stores have qualified USPGA members assisting our customers.”
And just what do those customers from Britain get for their dollar compared to the pound they will spend on equipment at home? On average, the saving on top brand individual clubs can be as much as between £30-£40. Buy a full set and if you’re lucky enough to strike one of the weeks when the big discount stores have special offers and the saving can be as much as £300. And what about a new pair of top of the range golf shoes? I saw one pair at Pro Golf priced at £28. I saw exactly the same pair in a club professional’s shop in the UK. The price? £58.60! If you’re planning a trip to Florida over the next few months hoping to pick up those bargains as well as enjoying the superb courses, Davis gave me two pieces of invaluable advice. “Orlando is the number one holiday area in Florida. Consequently although you’ll still get a considerable saving on equipment compared to UK prices, nevertheless prices are still cheaper on the Gulf Coast. “And don’t forget, although it must be a lovely feeling for a golfer from Britain to return home with his set of dream clubs having paid at least 25 per cent less than he would at home, there’s still the not insignificant matter to be dealt with concerning customs duty.”
“the USPGA have appreciated that their members would be smart to fully realise they just simply cannot compete against major retail outlets such as Pro Golf”
GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 19
French French Connection Connection T
The Euro-Tunnel has opened up a wealth of tourism opportunities for French golf clubs, as our roving editor, John Vinicombe found out...
JOHN VINICOMBE editor
he strength of sterling against the French franc made La Belle France especially attractive for British visitors this year. An estimated 9.5 million crossed from the UK and already travel firms are taking bookings for next year. When the French government was promoting the building of Le Tunnel so enthusiastically, the motive was to bring prosperity to the Pas de Calais. That region was then seen as the depressed part of France across the English Channel. But, so far as golf courses in the north of the country are concerned, the perspective has changed dramatically and the influx of British golfers is the main reason. Brits have found the convenience of driving onto a train just outside Folkestone and being whisked 35 minutes later to an Autoroute system at Calais, simply irresistible. In a good deal less than an hour one can be playing golf and savouring the myriad delights of the French way of life. What seldom fails to impress British visitors to French courses (there are over 500), is a high regard for the traditions of the game, particularly among members’ clubs. The image of home-based golfers in ragged jeans and trainers has been banished. In fact it is in Britain, that I have observed more flagrant violations of the dress code. Without doubt the French regard golf as a burgeoning part of their
leisure industry and those charged with responsibility for the game at national and club level are doing an impressive job. Standards are formidably high. For instance caddy masters, practically extinct in the UK, except at a few highly select clubs, are still a familiar sight in France. Local cuisine and the natural French ambience are powerful factors in tempting Brits over the channel and tour specialist Fred May of Francoleisure confirmed that 1997 has been good and that 1998 could well be even better. “Absolutely excellent, that’s the only way I can describe business this year. For my company that is chiefly in Northern France and Normandy and with golf societies and business people. “My clients tend to be middleaged and middle-income people and, of course, ladies. The strength of the pound has encouraged a lot more holiday makers, with a liking for golf, to spend time in France. “I deal with about a dozen clubs and in a very short time Arras has built up an incredible reputation and this is also true of Saint-Omer. “Visitors from Britain remark on the courtesy and friendliness extended to them at these particular clubs and the result, of course, is that they book up to go back.
20 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
“There is something special about golf in France. It is not always easy to get a green fee at some of the more established and, shall we say, senior clubs. But it is not by any means impossible and there are several in the region of Lille that are well worth visiting. “I thought that business had started to calm down a bit going into September, but no, I’m dealing with bookings for next year.” A huge operator, Brittany Ferries, actually ran out of brochures covering 40 courses in their speciality area plus Normandy and The Loire. A new deal for golfing breaks of two nights in France is a 25% saving on travel on any of Brittany Ferries’ cross channel routes with the return fare starting at £28.50 for a car and passenger. Courses selected by the company included Golf de Deauville and Golf Club du Champ de Bataille in Normandy, Golf Club des Ormes and Golf de St Malo, Le Tronchet in Brittany and Golf de la Bretesche, and Golf de la Baule in the Loire region.
French Connection French Connection T OURISM
David Longden, director of marketing and operations said: “Our new brochure, divided into three regions, makes it easier to book a golf holiday in France through Brittany Ferries. “The courses are rarely crowded, the atmosphere relaxed and being just a ferry crossing away makes France a perfect choice for golf at very reasonable prices.”
it is possible to
play a wayward
recovery from the
mouth of an old gun
A catamaran service from Newhaven to Dieppe with a crossing time of 2¾ hours is particularly attractive as the Dieppe Pourville course is only 10 minutes drive from the ferry port and very well patronised by Brits. This year Dieppe celebrated 100 years of golf, a centenary that has survived damaged during two wars and still bears the grim reminders of enemy occupation in WW2. But the concrete blockhouses and bunkers that once guarded a radar station are now festooned with trees and greenery although it is possible to play a wayward recovery from the mouth of an old gun emplacement. The welcome at Dieppe has to be experienced to be believed. The office staff all speak perfect English and it is unusual to play the course without bumping into somebody from the UK. A spectacular clifftop setting places Dieppe among the forefront of French courses and it was, incidentally, only the fourth to be opened in the country. Technically, Dieppe is a public course as the club plays on land rented from the municipality. It is run by a 400 member Sporting Association whose policy is to make everybody welcome. One of the biggest players in French golf is Formule Golf, a company with a marked presence in Brittany and Vendee. The largest golf company in France, Blue Green, owns, or has a controlling interest, in more than 30 clubs and that includes six golf hotels.
Golfy Club offer hefty discounts on 45 courses and 15% on the hotels and these are by no means the only operators in a fast-growing sector of the unique French tourist industry. Unwittingly, a group of Scots officers were responsible for the creation of the first golf club on the continent of Europe. This was located in the foothills of the Pyrenees at Pau. It sounds a touch far-fetched, but the story is that the soldiers carried golf clubs among the military baggage of the Peninsula War and indulged their pastime at Pau. What is fact, however, is that the British holiday colony from nearby Biarritz formed the Pau Golf Club in 1856. Over 140 years later France plays host to a never ending stream of golfers travelling across, over and under the Channel. And Biarritz, where it all really began in France, has a dozen courses in a 30 miles radius. I must confess the habit of popping across to France for a couple of days golf has grown on me but my
own club, Brighton & Hove, have been playing Dieppe on a regular home and away basis each year for the best part of 25 years. For personal preferences I must say that the two oldest clubs just outside the Lille city limits, Le Sart, founded in 1910, and Bondues, with its 18th century mansion serving as a magnificent clubhouse, strike the warmest chords.
Opposite page: A fairy tale setting at La Bretesche and La Baule, a Pete Alliss masterpiece. Above: The 18th century mansion at Bondues on the outskirts of Lille. Bottom: A traditional poster advertisement for golf at Hardelot.
land. Nearby is Le Sart which has a clubhouse equally as elegant as Bondues and menus to match. Le Sart has 500 members and both clubs have a caddy master. Golf D’Arras, built in 1989, is owned by Credit Mutuel and was converted from marshy farmland. The course is about one hour’s drive from Calais and, bearing in mind the water hazards, is a pretty stiff par 73. Perhaps the loveliest setting in this part of France is Hardelot with two marvellous courses , the Pines and the Dunes. Set between the sea and the forest, with lakes and wooded valleys, neither are to be missed and are less than three hours from London, Paris and Brussels. In the next decade I think we shall see close on 1,000 courses in France by which time, who knows, they might have a representative in the Ryder Cup. That may not be too fantastic for a nation that has only espoused golf in big way over the last 25 years. After all, a Frenchman, Arnaud Massy, won the Open Championship in 1907 and, in fact, was the first foreigner to do so.
Bondues, for instance, has well over 1,000 members and boasts two 18-hole courses designed by Hawtree and Trent Jones, father and son. The first layout, by Hawtree, was designed 30 years ago and this, the Yellow course, has settled superbly in a wooded setting of delightful parkNOVEMBER 1997
GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 21
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22 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
Club Club Insight Insight
The setting at Loch Lomond has to be one of the most picturesque of any golf course in the world. Situated among numerous sites of special scientific interest, the Scottish course has adapted well to the environmentally sensitive area. ARTICLE BY ANDY FORD
nyone watching this year’s Loch Lomond invitational tournament on television could have been forgiven for drooling in admiration at one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world. Amazing greens, incredible fairways and some of the best views you could hope for greet golfers treading the hallowed turf around the venue which is just a stone’s throw from the bustling granite city of Glasgow. But anyone who has tried to turn a humble farmer’s field or a few acres of scrub land into a golf course would be forgiven for asking a simple question...
How on earth did they get permission to plant a course in the middle of one of the most environmentally sensitive areas on the planet? It seems extraordinary that ten years ago there was no golf course at Loch Lomond. Built in 1989 and designed by American Ryder Cup star and former British Open champion Tom Weiskopf, Loch Lomond is assuming the reputation as one of the best courses ever laid down. Admittedly the site isn’t too bad the banks of the very Loch which provides the backdrop for the course aren’t described as ‘bonnie’ for no reason. But behind the scenes the course owners have been forced to undertake an amazing set of environmental safeguards to protect the area making Loch Lomond probably the greenest golf course in the world. ➧
GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 23
Club Club Insight Insight L
It’s those safeguards - backed by a comprehensive team of experts including full-time tree surgeons, an on-site conservationist and an in depth knowledge of the flora and fauna on the site which has allowed a golf course to blend perfectly into the already stunning landscape. Those in the know believe it’s only a matter of time before the Loch course is added to the growing list of those used regularly for the PGA European Tour. It may soon even be added to the list of venues for the British Open alongside St. Andrews, Muirfield and Troon. In American course superintendent Ken Siems, it already has an expert with experience of nurturing Tour venues. Siems earned a degree in turf grass management from Penn State University and developed his expertise working at the Augusta National course. His skills were tested during the 1983 and 1984 Masters. Siems then moved to the Islington Golf Club in Toronto, Canada, as superintendent before crossing the Atlantic to run the 36-hole East Sussex National - a venue for the European Open before it moved to Ireland’s K Club.
We have 30 of
the world’s rarest species of lichen growing on the trees
The hard work of Siems and his team experts was clear to see in the two invitational events favoured by some of the world’s top golfers in the last two years. Few were surprised when the magazine Golfturf recognised Siems talents - and named him as International Greenkeeper of the Year. Another accolade collected by Loch Lomond is a place among the world’s top 100 courses. It’s one of only two ‘new’ courses - alongside the Shadow Creek venue in Las Vegas - to make it into the top 50 - and is currently rated at 39.
So what makes Loch Lomond so special? The condition of the course is second to none - but you could walk round without a set of clubs over your shoulder and still marvel at some of the sights. Club spokeswoman Donna Kennedy explained: “Loch Lomond is considered an environmentally sensitive area and one of the reasons for this is the number of areas around the course classified as triple SSSI’s sites of special scientific interest. “There are water plants that can only be found around the Loch. We have 30 of the world’s rarest species of lichen growing on the trees. And there are large numbers of majestic deciduous trees which are about 200 or 250 years old,” she said. “The government are making very positive moves towards the future preservation of Loch Lomond especially now that it is considered as having National Park status. “Tom Weiskopf was especially sensitive to the trees and grounds when planning the course to ensure that the existing plants were well protected. During the construction phase much attention was paid to the trees - and this resulted in minimal tree felling. An environmentalist worked with Tom at this stage. “As an ongoing maintenance programme here at the club we have a full-time conservationist on site whose main focus and objective is to monitor the site ensuring that we remain sensitive to preserving our rare natural gifts from Mother Nature. “The club has a management plan in place for the next 15 years which will ensure a long-term approach to the future and the preservation of
24 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
conservation. A full-time arborist is present at the club and he and the tree care team are constantly ensuring that the trees remain healthy. “Along with our conservationist, the team here work hard to ensure that the natural areas at Loch Lomond remain natural - and the un-natural areas, such as turf grass, remain healthy and thriving in a natural site.” One problem experienced on every golf course, everywhere in the world, is pest management. At Loch Lomond, it’s an even bigger headache for Siems and his team because they have to take extra care when using pesticides and pest control methods.
Fungus, insects and weeds pose their own problems at Loch Lomond - but spraying gallons of weed killer liberally around is out of the question in the Loch’s carefully planned Integrated Pest Management scheme. “We monitor the population of pests in the event that they reach a certain threshold which would perhaps result in the application of a pesticide,” explained Donna. “The main objective in IPM is to do everything you can with the minimum use of pesticides. This means our crew are doing everything possible to prevent the use of potentially damaging organisms on the site. By doing this we are constantly making the development a more environmentally friendly site. “We do try to encourage staff in our maintenance department to make efficient use of their time and manage the fuel they use - which is a resource. This minimises any wastage - and we then recycle our waste oil to be used for heating.”
The National Golf Centre, Bracken Course, at Woodhall Spa built by CJ Collins, a BAGCC member
BAGCC bang on
COURSE BAGCC ARTICLE
here is no doubt that many trade federations, professional bodies, committees and associations that exist today to provide professions with some regulation, can be at best just talking shops and at worst good only for filling hot air balloons in summer, or defrosting windscreens in winter. But some ventures do really need some form of general regulation and overall R supervision a body committed to maintaining standards and ensuring the T maintenance ofthrough S a solid, dependable, professional reputation. Nearly 20 years ago, the N CO world of golf course construction was reaching that very point. But the swift action of the industry’s leading players then resulted in the formation of the British Association of Golf Course Constructors, which today serves to maintain high standards among its members and to reassure customers that they will get a level of excellence for a fair price if they contract a BAGCC member to carry out any work. Jonathan Franks, secretary of the BAGCC, explains: “At the beginning of the eighties, a number of the larger companies involved with the construction of golf courses were increasingly worried by the standards of some other operators in the business. ➧
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“There were also some architects who were putting out tenders for work and then not meeting the terms of the agreement. It was decided to form an association to safeguard the reputations of decent operators and out of this idea, the BAGCC was formed.” The association’s aims and objectives today remain founded in the original reasoning behind the formation of the body in 1980. “The BAGCC promotes the development of golf course construction both at home and abroad, keeps its members and the public informed on industry news, and promotes training and education of industry personnel.” By doing this its members can ensure that policies are adopted that will sustain high quality workmanship. And perhaps most fundamentally, the association will maintain standards of golf course construction and an adherence to contractual procedures and a code of practice, its final, and most important aim. To help maintain the highest standards of workmanship, membership of the BAGCC is stringently controlled. It means that only bona fide organisations and individuals Ransomes Turfcare Machinery
The ‘Oxfordshire’, seeded by British Seed Houses
with a genuine interest in the development of the golfing industry are either already members or eligible to become members in the future. The BAGCC also works very closely with golf course architects, public and private golfing bodies, and other worthwhile institutions and organisations all committed to the upgrading of courses and the development of the game. The formation of the BAGCC was indeed timely. A lot of the current established courses in Britain and world-wide were built at a time when proper herring bone drainage and root-zone mixtures were things for the future. As a result, when the increasingly heavy demands on courses today necessitate reconstruction and maintenance of frequently used tees and greens, courses can look to the BAGCC membership with the knowledge that the best standards of craftsmanship are guaranteed.
Case Study I — Golf Landscapes
olf Landscapes Ltd has completed more than 200 construction projects since its formation 30-years ago by Peter and Robert Dunning. Therefore, the company’s projects coordinator Mark Dunning - the family’s next generation - is ideally suited to talk about the benefits of membership of the British Institute of Golf Course Architects. He explained: “It gives us a dialogue with other constructors so we can continually improve standards in the golf course construction industry. We hold regular meetings where we sit down and look at specifications, what the architects are doing, and where we think they have not got things quite right.
“We can then offer suggestions to them. For instance we may say that this or that is a new innovation, and if we do things this way it may prove more cost-efficient for the client.” The bottom line in any industry is work - it does not matter how professional and efficient your company is if you are not winning contracts. Membership of the BAGCC will again prove beneficial here according to Dunning. “Being a member certainly helps you get contracts. It gives you an advantage over somebody who isn’t because the association has a minimum entry standard of three inspected courses. It gives peace of mind to the client. “I have no doubt that membership of the BAGCC has proved beneficial for Golf Landscapes Limited.”
28 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
The third green at Galgorn Castle - a Mommersteeg client
Proof that the efforts of the BAGCC to maintain the industry’s reputation have not been wasted is evident to anyone who has played on some of the courses with which its current membership has been involved, or visited the sites where work is currently on-going. Overall, according to a recent survey by the Golf Research Group, it is clear that when a new course has been constructed using the services of a professional golf architect and the sort of well proven construction company which forms the backbone of the BAGCC, the project has had a much greater chance of success. Specifically, in the last two years there have been a number of projects which the BAGCC can claim some of the credit for their success. CJ Collins Construction, working with Donald Steel as architects, was responsible for the new Bracken Course at the National Golf Centre at Woodhall Spa, completing the work on behalf of the English Golf Union.
Lamerwood G&CC, built by Land Unit Construction
A green turfed by Soverign Turf
New BAGCC member, J&E Ely Ltd, has also been hard at it extending the Stoke Poges course - designed once again by Donald Steel - to 27 holes, including constructing fairways alongside the Capability Brown lakes and reworking two existing holes.
A S SO CIATI
O N ORS
C.J. Collins Construction Ltd. For reliability and experience in all aspects of golf construction from complete courses to green, tee and bunker refurbishment.
Our projects include: Remodelling clay based greens to USGA specification at Chevin Golf Club. Extensions to Stoke Poges Golf Club.
Sportsground construction and improvement.
18 Hole Golf Course with Academy and Driving Range at Stonyhill Golf Club.
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International Golf Course Construction Consultants at the Victoria Golf and Country Club, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
49 Woodlands Road Sonning Common Reading RG4 9TD
Associate Associate Associate Constructor Associate Constructor Constructor Constructor Associate Associate Constructor Constructor Associate Associate Constructor Associate Associate Associate Associate Associate Associate Associate Constructor Associate Associate Constructor
Telephone: 01444-242993 Fax: 01444-247318
Experts in landscape architecture, surveying, irrigation modifications including storage lakes, land drainage and water features, budget feasibility studies and project management. Over 35 years of constant investment in the latest machinery for earth moving, shaping and finishing including our own engineered equipment for bunker construction, cultivations and seeding techniques have enhanced our reputation for reliability and efficiency in golf course and sportsfield construction.
Banks Horticultural Products Barenburg UK BFI (Drinkwater Sabey) Blakedown Sports British Seed Houses CJ Collins Constructor Golf Landscapes Glen Andrews Hepworth Minerals & Chemicals Inturf JD Greasley J&E Ely Johnsons Seeds Landline Land Unit Construction Martin Brothers MJ Abbott Mommersteeg International Ransomes Sims & Jefferies Rolawn Rufford Top Dress Supplies Scotts UK Steve Hill Soverign Turf Watermation Whitnell Contracts
A number of existing courses owned by the Marriott hotel group, including St Pierre, Beardsall Park and Tudor Park, are also being updated by the Sonning Commonbased firm. âž§
J. & E. ELY
The Colchester firm is currently busy working on a nine hole extension to Colchester & Lexton Golf Centre, a little closer to home.
This development, one of over 20 constructed by CJ Collins, includes an 18-hole course, a large driving range and a teaching academy. John Greasley Ltd, of Syston, completed the Springs Golf Course, designed by former top pro Brian Huggett near Wallingford. This includes three ornamental lakes and trees which should mature quickly to add to the appeal of the already attractive natural landscape. Whitnell Contracts Ltd has also completed work on a nine hole course at Stonyhill Golf Club, and a full 18 hole layout at Happy Valley Golf Club, near Caterham.
GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 29
Case Study II — CJ Collins
hris Collins of CJ Collins Construction Ltd is another active and keen believer in the benefits of membership of the British Association of Golf Course Constructors. With ten years experience as a golf A Watermation irrigation system course constructor behind him Collins admitted: “If I were a client I would The long established Golf Landnot pick anyone who was not a scapes Ltd which is run from the member of the BAGCC. It is reassuring Brentwood base of Peter and Bob to know that all its members are expeDunning can also claim credit for the rienced and have proved their quality over a period of time. recently completed Bovis Homes “I think it would be fair to say that I Biddenham Golf Course near Bedwould not have secured the ford which includes a practise contract for the National Golf A S SO CIAT ground and green. I
Dunning is a founder member of the association and was elected in 1996 as its chairman. Along with Jonathan R Franks, who has over 30 T CONS years experience in the seed industry, the BAGCC is in both experienced and safe hands. Something you could quite easily say about the industry itself, since the BAGCC came into existence, almost 20 years ago. OF
Quality homes, American style have been built alongside the fairways. Golf Landscapes is also extending the Royal Automobile U Club’s Woodcote Park CorRS E onation Course by 600 yards which demands the building of five new greens and ten new tees. In fact, the success of Peter Dunning’s company directly validates the work the BAGCC is doing in maintaining the industry’s standards.
GLEN ANDREWS GA
SCOTLAND’S LEADING GOLF COURSE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, PRODUCING QUALITY KIRTLINGTON (Oxfordshire) WORK AT HOME AND AWAY WE ARE PROUD OF OUR WORK AT:
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MILTON OF FINTRAY, DYCE, ABERDEEN, AB 21 0YL SOME OF OUR SATISFIED SCOTTISH CLIENTS Aberdeenshire courses KIPPIE LODGE OLDMELDRUM KEMNAY INSCH WESTHILL ROSEHEARTY NEWBURGH FRASERBURGH
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GIVE GRAEME WEBESTER OR PAUL CAMPBELL A CALL TO SEE WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR YOU
TEL: +44 (0) 1224 791771 FAX: +44 (0) 1224 790965 MEMBER OF THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION OF GOLF COURSE CONSTRUCTORS
30 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
Centre at Woodhall Spa, for the English Golf Union had I not been a BAGCC member. And it certainly helps when dealing with overseas clients.” Collins estimates that some where in the region of 50 per cent of his current business is re-modelling existing courses, but his BAGCC membership does assure clients of a professional and thorough approach. Currently constructing a new 18-hole course in Killarney, Ireland, CJ Collins have also constructed 18-hole courses at Westerham in Kent, Birch Grove in Sussex and Rochester and Cobham both in Kent, and finally, the Burgess Hill Golf Academy in West Sussex.
Firm Firm Focus Focus
first-class holidays for the discerning golfer
October saw the successful launch of Serenity Golf, a new tour operator specialising in golf holidays in the sun. Aimed at the discerning golfer the company sells direct to golfers offering them a combination of quality and service. Serenity Golf began life, naturally enough, on a golf course just over a year ago. David Jolliffe and Stephen Wilde, two entrepreneurs and enthusiastic golfers were disappointed by the organisation and courses offered to them on a golfing holiday to Portugal. Both successful businessmen they decided to combine their skills and experience to create Serenity Golf and to offer golfers an improved choice. Serenity Golf was thus created to provide ‘the best golfing holidays to the best courses in the golf playing world with accommodation to match’. Senior partner David Jolliffe said: “Our priority and commitment is to offer first-class courses and organise quality golf holidays. Every holiday is tailor-made to our clients’ needs and in dealing direct we offer expert advice and information.
“We intend to provide what clients really want and not what other operators believe they should have.” Their first brochure focuses on the Algarve, Portugal, a hugely popular golfing destination. Just a three-hour flight away it provides the opportunity to play a number of world class courses in an ideal year-round climate. Located in the far south of Portugal this colourful area offers not
only excellent golf courses but an extensive range of sporting activities and quality accommodation. Over the years the Algarve has developed a solid infrastructure to cater for golfers needs and this, together with the picturesque scenery, glorious beaches and wide choice of fine food and restaurants, have made it a leading golf holiday venue. Serenity Golf’s brochures are individual to each location and there will be a mix of well-known and less familiar locations including South Carolina, Costa del Sol and Morocco available in the near future. It may be a surprise to find prices are not included in Serenity Golf’s brochures but that is because they offer a free personalised quotation for every client’s specific holiday requirements. “Our pricing policy eliminates the trawl through a baffling maze of brochure columns, pricing grids and add-on supplements that most travellers face when booking a golfing holiday” added Jolliffe. For the price of a telephone call Serenity’s golf co-ordinators will provide a detailed inclusive personal quotation. Based on actual costs at the time, savings can sometimes be made on fares published earlier by other operators. In addition to discussing which courses to play, booking tee times and pre-paying green fees, the company offers a choice of scheduled or charter flights and accommodation to suit customer needs. Car hire or private taxi transfers are also arranged. Customer service is an important factor and every member of the group whether golfer or non-golfer is well informed of the many other
interests and attractions available at their chosen destination. As part of Serenity Holidays Ltd., the company is no stranger to the travel industry. Serenity Holidays is an independent tour operator with a successful track record and market leader in holidays to The Gambia, West Africa under the title The Gambia Experience. No stranger to commercial enterprise, David Jolliffe was for 20 years the sole importer for the UK of Lamborghini motor cars and Stephen Wilde was the founder of Serenity Holidays Ltd. more than a decade ago. “With the strengths and experience of Serenity Holidays Ltd. behind it, including membership of ABTA, AITO and IATA we are confident Serenity Golf will provide first-class holidays for the discerning golfer”, said Stephen Wilde. The company prides itself on the quality of service it provides. It welcomes your business, offers you a stress free experience and treats you as a golfer and not just as a booking reference.
Serenity Golf 28 The Hundred Romsey, Hampshire SO51 8BW
Reservations: Telephone: 01794 517000 Administration: Telephone: 01794 521177 Facsimile: 01794 521188 Email: email@example.com
GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 31
Analysis Analysis G
ind matters If your members have a problem with their game, they visit the club pro, but what happens when the problem is rooted a bit deeper in the unconsciousness?
olf has long been regarded as a game which needs to be mastered in the brain as well as the technique. You can finetune your grip, overhaul your swing and change your stance as much as you like but when those little devils enter the head your game is liable to collapse on the spot. Touring professionals have the luxury of turning to their ‘mind gurus’ for help if they are struck down by the yips during the middle of a competition, and most problems are easily ironed out. So what of the average amateur golfer? What do they do when their game goes to pieces through a lack of confidence? Let’s face it, there’s not a golfer anywhere who doesn’t fear a certain course, a certain hole or a certain green. We’ve all been there, standing on the tee of a narrow par four, dwelling on the fact that the last three times you’ve been there you have blocked the drive out to the thick rough on the right. No matter how much you concentrate on getting your swing right, you cannot get it out of your mind that this is a hole where you always seem to go wrong. JITTERS All the practice on a driving range in the world wouldn’t cure the jitters you feel as you go to take your shot, yet this is possibly one of the biggest obstacles in any golfer’s way on the road to becoming a good player. Golf clubs across the country offer lessons for players with respective course professionals, teaching players the basics of the swing, the grip and the stance. 32 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
Yet a golf psychologist is not a service which is offered at the vast majority of clubs. So is this a provision which needs to be explored further? Women’s world number three Laura Davies certainly believes that being coached in the mind is just as important as being coached in the basics of the game. Davies says that being in control of the mind during a round of golf is all-important in being able to post a good score at the end of the 18-holes. She said: “Having the correct technical skills and the right equipment is not always sufficient if you are to cope successfully with playing on the professional circuit. “Most professional golfers now recognise that the other vital ingredient they need to work on is good control of the mind under the intense pressure of competition. “One thing I have learnt as a result of playing in the hard-knock school of the professional circuit is that controlling the mind in the heat of competition is far from being a seemingly small event like adjusting you grip pressure. “It requires a lot of practice and diligence before it becomes second nature and, as with all golfing skills, needs a certain amount of professional guidance if you’re to get the most out of it.” So if someone in the position of Davies believes that golfers need professional help to get rid of those little devils which creep into the mind, what kind of provisions are the clubs offering. The East Sussex National Golf Club, in Uckfield, have made the first tentative steps towards a golf psychology service - and they feel they have made the right decision.
Members of the £1,500-a-year 36-hole championship standard club can get some kind of mental guidance when they take lessons from the club professionals, and half of them do not even know they are getting it. East Sussex’s director of golf Phil Lewin says the club’s initiative is for their professionals to work with a golf psychologist, and in turn pass on the tips when they are taking their own lessons. Lewin says this is the ideal situation for club golfers to strengthen up the mental aspect of the game without actually making an appointment to see a ‘shrink’. He said: “Although virtually everyone now appreciates that golf is a game which is played in the mind as much as on the course, the thought of having a session with a psychologist is still a bit strange to most of them. “We have looked at the possibility of employing a full-time golfing psychologist, but if only one or two of our members are actually able to bring themselves to make an appointment for a session then it is not really viable. “Instead, our professionals themselves have lessons with a golf psychologist called Fred Traexler. He talks to them and gives them his thoughts about the game of golf and the mental aspects of the game. “Our professionals then pass on what they have discussed with Fred to the players they are giving lessons to, but in a more refined way. They are now able to advise their students on the mechanical and the mental sides of the game without being obvious. “People who have had these lessons have said it has helped their games a lot by being advised on the mental side as well as the technical - and I am sure it is the way forward for clubs.” Traexler is a Crowborough-based golf psychologist who works with a number of touring professionals himself, and Lewin feels his advice blended with coaching from East Sussex’s professionals is just about the right mixture. “Players may have a fear tackling a four-foot putt, and that is when a gentle word from our professionals as well as mechanical coaching can help.
“The mental side of the game is definitely an important aspect to master - but actually employing a club psychologist could be a few years away at the moment.” Other golfers do not have the benefit of such coaching at their clubs, so they must make do with tackling their mental approach on their own. But those worried about how to tackle their anxieties should fear not. For just when you thought it wasn’t safe to ever visit a golf course again, a book has been published which claims to help you think well and play well without changing your swing. Eye on the Ball, Mind on the Game is a book which is designed to help rid the jitters from your game, and claims to be an easy guide to stress-free golf. Written by Australian sports psychologist Dr Arthur Jackson and supported by Laura Davies, the book takes you step-by-step through various parts of the game from confronting the negative game of golf to helping you walk the ‘mental plank’. LEADING FIGURES Jackson has drawn on the help of a number of leading figures in the Australian game, including Ian Baker-Finch, to compile the book - and he feels it will help golfers across the world to improve their game. He said: “I recall a sage old professional golfer telling me that golf is not so much a game of the hands but of the head. It took many years for this wise advice to sink in, but there has never been a truer statement. “Unfortunately, it’s still the case that mind problems are perceived by many as being something of a stigma. You don’t talk about them for fear of being thought strange. “This is, perhaps, the major reason why so many golfers struggle each week to play consistently and close to their potential. They have failed to come to terms with the fact that golf is a game you play in your head and unless all is well in that area, you are destined to go on struggling.” Eye on the Ball, Mind on the Game is published by Souvenir Press, price £10.99. (ISBN 0-285-63408-9)
An Independent Materials Testing Laboratory for the Golf Course and Sportsturf Industries.
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For further information call Ann Murray at European Turfgrass Laboratories Ltd 3 Cunningham Road, Springkerse Ind Estate, Stirling FK7 7SL, Scotland. Tel: 01786 449195; Fax: 01786 449688 NOVEMBER 1997
GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE 33
Portfolio Portfolio P
TITLEIST LAUNCH NEW BALLS Titleist recently launched two new wound golf balls onto the market including the Titleist Professional which has been updated for the first time in four years. Sharing the same unique patented cover, the new ball has at its heart, a new thermoplastic liquid-filled centre. The other ball to be launched is the Titleist Tour Distance.
SOMFY KEEPS CLUBHOUSE COOL Somfy have supplied Frilford Health Golf Club, Oxon, with eight automated awnings made from long-life man made fibres, that still keep their traditional appearance. They provide members and furnishings with protection from direct sunlight, increase the available floor space and reduce the operational cost of air-conditioning.
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LEVINGTON’S NEW FLEXIBLE FEEDS
TORO’S NEW ALL-ROUNDER
Levington Horticulture have launched a new range of liquid turf feeds, the Greenmaster Liquids range. Ideal for use on both fine and outfield turf, these four flexible high quality formulations are designed for specific tasks or to be tank mixed. Each 20 litre drum is sufficient to treat between 1,200 sq m and 3,600 sq m.
Toro has launched a new multi-purpose ride-on triple mower, the Grounds Pro 2000. With an extensive range of attachments, including a sprayer, fertiliser spreader, rotary boom, debris blower, snow blade, and hydraulic tipping dump cart, it can carry out a variety of different jobs, all using only one power unit.
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VALE OF LLANGOLLEN’S NEW KIT
REPLAN LAUNCH SELF-PLAN
The Vale of Llangollen GC has become one of the first courses in Britain to benefit from a cooperative agreement between Ransomes and Best Western, the hotel and golf club group. As a member of the Best Western purchasing group, the Welsh club was able to take advantage of the preferential prices available on Ransomes equipment.
Launched last month at EuroGolf ’97, ‘Self-Plan’ is a cost-effective range of professional display equipment designed to cater for the smaller golf retailer. Manufactured by Huddersfield-based Replan, ‘Self-Plan’ is available by mailorder for self assembly and also offers a professional fitting service where required.
! +44 (0)1473 270000
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UK DEBUT FOR ROTARY MOWER
PERFECT PASTA FROM BLUE SEAL
Toro’s answer to achieve an even cut without scalping on undulating ground is the new Contour 82 Deck. The unit provides all the usual benefits expected of an out-front mounted cutting deck, but what sets it apart, are the four independent 22in-wide cutting chambers which are linked together to form a complete mowing deck.
! +44 (0)1480 476971 34 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! NOVEMBER 1997
New from Blue Seal is this pasta cooking unit, especially designed for producing perfect pasta every time. The unit, which is finished in stainless steel, offers a fine-control thermostat which regulates heat precisely. Units have four baskets as standard and variable water flow enables continuous surface skimming.
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