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the nineteenth hole The clubhouse has always been an important element of any golf club, but with increasing consumer demands GME asks is your club utilising its facilities to the fullest potential? page 27
Playing to Win Club Car’s success built on every round
Club Car’s success built on every round
October 2001 www.portman.uk.com
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Ryder Cup postponement the right move
cover story 7
When Bernhard Langer missed a four-foot putt in his 1991 Ryder Cup singles match against Hale Irwin, it was a pivotal and memorable moment. It was costly in terms of a sporting encounter; it wasn’t, however, tragic as some commentators and observers described it.
issue 21 credits;
It is only when we are confronted by a true tragedy that we realise how inconsequential sport is. Nobody can doubt the decision to postpone the Ryder Cup for a year was the correct decision, one which has found universal support from both sides of the Atlantic.
editor John Vinicombe contributors David Bowers Alister Marshall Rob Wright publisher Michael Lenihan administration Sharon O’Connell print Colourspeed
It had to be made swiftly against a backdrop of horror - with television pictures of terrorist atrocities still vivid in all our minds. Few can fail to have been shocked by the events of September 11, 2001, and the ramifications will be undoubtedly lengthy and widespread.
Golf Management Europe Suffolk Studios 284 Ravenswood Avenue Ipswich IP3 9TQ United Kingdom telephone 0870 241 4678
harold pinto 10
Many would have agreed immediately with Mark Calcavecchia’s view that the Ryder Cup should not be played. And even after the first wave of revulsion and emotion had passed and the former Open champion moderated his view, the feeling appeared to be that it would be unfair to ask the Americans to play golf less than three weeks after such a disaster.
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© Portman Publishing and Communications Ltd 2001
Therefore, we must respect and applaud the decision and welcome our American colleagues with even more warmth than normal when they return to The De Vere Belfry for the re-scheduled contest next September.
american golf 19
Golf is a world-wide sport - and the events at the World Trade Center were an assault on the civilised world. Our world. One world. Like many sports there is an immense amount of money floating around the golf industry and the suffering of thousands of families in New York and throughout the world puts that firmly into perspective.
john jacobs 23
When the sport of golf feels it can return to a normal schedule and hold its head up against the will of terrorists - for it must not, we must not, give in to violence - it would be fitting if funds from next years re-scheduled 34th Ryder Cup match could be diverted to help those families whose need is greater than any of ours. They have been shorn of loved ones and families we have merely lost a golf tournament. Our prayers and thoughts are with every single one of them during this period of mourning.
Golf Management Europe October 2001
News Wales and Scotland share Ryder Cup spoils Lead Story After a drawn-out selection process, Wales has won the right to stage the 2010 Ryder Cup match - with Scotland hosting in 2014. On the very day that the 34th match was to have started, The Belfry instead witnessed the dismantling of grandstands and a whole hospitality village. And the future of the competition on this side of the Atlantic has been mapped out for the next 29 years. It brought immediate joy for Welsh golf fans with the news that Celtic Manor had won the bidding and will stage the match in nine years’ time. But the disappointment and indeed anger felt by Scotland - First Minister Henry McLeish was reported to be “incandescent” - was tempered by the announcement that Gleneagles will be hosts in 2014. However, under a new agreement which gives the European Tour more of a say than the PGA and a higher percentage of the profits, four continental courses yet to be determined will stage the following four matches. “Wales, Scotland and Europe are all winners,” declared tour executive director Ken Schofield.
The PGA's chief executive Sandy Jones added: “I am sure that when people in Scotland consider what they have achieved, while they may be disappointed at first they will see huge benefits from securing the 2014 match. “It’s a significant prize and not something to be dismayed or angry about. “I am very comfortable with Wales having 2010 and Scotland 2014. We are embracing both and to me the order was not crucial. I can understand the initial reaction, but sometimes you need to step back and some would say 2014 is a better prize.” The decision to award the 2010 match to Celtic Manor and to a course which is not even built in its entirety yet came as little surprise. Over £12m will be spent in the years ahead re-developing the course to bring it up to Ryder Cup standard. Turnberry, Carnoustie and Loch Lomond were in the running along with Slaley Hall near Newcastle. Originally scheduled for 2009, the date has been pushed back a year along with the next three matches as a consequence of the postponement of this year’s clash following the terrorist attacks.
Gleneagles sold out Textron, principal sponsors of the inaugural Turf Care Conference to be held at the Gleneagles Hotel from 18 to 20 November 2001, has reported that the event is now fully booked and looks set to be a resounding success. Over 120 delegates will be attending the conference, which is the brainchild of Jimmy Kidd, golf courses and estates director at the world-renowned resort complex. “This three-day conference is the ideal forum for representatives from all areas of the course construction and maintenance sectors to meet and expend their knowledge and understanding of each other's role. We are absolutely delighted that demand for places has outstripped supply and this bodes well for the future of the event,” said Kidd.
Green fee’s on the rise The latest edition of the annual report from Golf Research Group (GRG) provides an overview of the size, direction and current economic condition of the UK golf market. The UK average green fee is now £21.04 (up 36p on 2000) which has increased an average of 19 per cent over the last five years. The top 25 per cent of courses, defined as those charging more than £25 for a green fee, have been able to increase their average green fees by some 28 per cent since 1997 whilst the bottom 25 per cent (charging less than £12.50 per green fee) have been able to increase their fees by just 12 per cent over the same period. GRG says that in a bid to attract new members, 32 per cent of all proprietary courses no longer charge a joining fee. The average number of rounds played over an 18-hole proprietary course per year is 31,929. Page 4
China beckons for Swan Howard Swan returned earlier this month from two visits to China - to Beijing in the north and Shenzhen in the south - making presentations to invited audiences on golf course design and development as well as inspecting potential development sites. The visits, with Elmwood College, are part of an education initiative being undertaken by the college, and supported by the R&A and the China Golf Association. On the most recent visit, Swan’s practice signed a co-operation agreement with one of China’s largest and most experienced golf course companies, Pan China Sports, to collaborate on future projects in China. October 2001Golf Management Europe
Earthquakes shake the market The Earthquake Decompactor continues to shake the market with its revolutionary system for soil compaction problems. Now marketed exclusively in the UK and Ireland by Earthquake Turfcare Ltd, both machines on display at SALTEX last month were sold during the event, including the 210DK which was purchased by Telford and Wrekin Services in Shropshire and the 150R, which was sold to Balmers Garden Machinery of Burnley.
Inturf impress to a tee Inturf’s ability to customise their turf products to exactly meet client’s requirements has been demonstrated recently on a high-profile project at Celtic Manor. The 2010 Ryder Cup venue decided to reconstruct and re-turf a number of tees on its Wentwood Hills championship course in readiness for the Welsh Open. Planning ahead, Jim McKenzie, Celtic Manor’s director of golf and course management, knew that a hard wearing, attractive turf with quick establishment was needed, and decided to contact Inturf.
The York-based company recommended its custom grown turf service, producing a sward comprising 100 per cent BAREINE perennial ryegrass, a highly rated variety available from Barenbrug. While Inturf’s standard range of products meets most requirements, custom grown turf is cultivated on dedicated areas of the company’s extensive nurseries. Not only can specific grass species or mixtures be selected for optimum performance, but the turf can also be grown on soil that matches the rootzone on which it will eventually be laid. Commenting on the installation, McKenzie said: “Inturf went out of their way to ensure an excellent result for us with their custom grown turf. “We have used the company several times before and they were the obvious route to take.” Inturf have also used Barenbrug’s BAREINE for a 100 per cent perennial ryegrass turf at other golf courses. “It’s durable, requires low-maintenance and looks great,” concluded Inturf director Alex Edwards.
Murray accepts EGU presidency Bill Murray, a long-serving admistrator from County Durham, has accepted an invitation to become president of the English Golf Union in the year 2003. Born in Hartlepool in 1930, Murray played a key role in the EGU moving its headquarters to Woodhall Spa and purchasing the Lincolnshire course. He was appointed to the Futures Committee, which was set up in 1991 to outline the way forward for the EGU. “I was the one sent out on the road to look at various courses and in the end we settled on Woodhall Spa,” he says. A retired auctioneer and Estate Agent and General Commissioner for Income Tax, Hartlepool Division, Murray's introduction to golf administration came in 1978 when he became honorary secretary of the Durham County Golf Union. He spent 12 years in office before becoming Durham President in 1991-92.
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Forty up for Ely family When John and Edward Ely started a small landscaping company forty years ago, little did they realise that one-day they would have been responsible for the creation of one of the world’s foremost golf construction companies. J & E Ely, now run jointly by brothers Nigel and Mark (above), sprung into life in 1961 and a year later secured its first golf contract at Reading golf club.
Working with a small bulldozer and tractor, the father and son team began constructing new tees at the Berkshire club, and so started a love-affair with golf which continues to this day. After graduating from the Berkshire Agricultural College, both sons Nigel and Mark joined the family-business, but it was not until 1991 that the company built its first golf course; the par-72, 6,133 yard Carswell GC, Oxfordshire. Since then over 21 have been built around the world. Nigel Ely, current chairman of the British Association of Golf Course Constructors takes up the story; “When my father and grandfather started the company in 1961, I don’t believe either of them could have ever imagined building courses at places such as Turnberry and Wentworth and as far away as Sri Lanka. “It is a testament to our family that the company has achieved so much, and both Mark and I intend to continue with the same traditions that our father and grandfather started all those years ago.”
Westerwood’s new look Scottish hotel group, Morton Hotels, last month unveiled its £2.5m investment in the highly acclaimed Westerwood Club in Cumbernauld. The launch celebrates a significant restoration of the existing golfing facilities and the opening of 51 rooms in a new wing of the hotel. The 18-hole, par-72 championship course, originally designed by Seve Ballesteros and Dave Thomas will benefit from the experience of The Scottish National Golf Centre which also manages a training facility at Drumoig, St Andrews.
October 2001Golf Management Europe
Club Car (Ingersoll-Rand) Paragon Business Park, Chorley New Road, Horwich, Bolton BL6 6JN England Telephone: 01204 690515 Facsimile: 01204 690543 www.clubcar.com
Club Car leading the way with new dealer network
Cover Story Following the recent launch of Club Car’s new IQ 48 volt electric car, and in response to the dramatic increase in demand for Club Car vehicles, the company has expanded its UK and European golf distribution network. Commenting on the restructure which has helped to re-assert Club Car’s position as the market leader within the UK, Club Car’s business development manager Kevin Hart said: “Golf car users will benefit from a more regionalised network of Club Car distributors providing proximity service. “The aim is to build up a network of upto eight distributors with regional responsibility across the UK.
“As part of Club Car’s commitment to our new distributor network, it is with great pleasure that we welcome Martin Lucas to the team. “Martin joins Club Car as the business development manager for the UK and brings with him 20 years’ experience of the groundscare and golf industry.” One of the new distributors recently appointed by Club Car is Mowick who will have responsibility for North Wales as well as the north of England. Already synonymous with buggy hire and sales, and equipped with a firstclass service facility, director Els Jacobs was naturally pleased to become an authorised Club Car dealer. “We listen to our customers, so when they kept telling us how much they liked the product and how impressed they were with the performance of the 48 volt electric buggy, we thought that we had better do something about it.” she said.
Golf Management Europe October 2001
Club Car is committed to the game of golf, the European Tour and the Ryder Cup as Hart explains: “A further highlight for Club Car is our involvement as the official supplier of golf cars to the Ryder Cup and we look forward to next year’s re-scheduled event at The Belfry.” Club Car are involved with the Ryder Cup until 2005 and in addition sponsor the European team. South Wales Forge Garage 01291 672648 Cornwall Vincent Turf Care 01726 860332 Lanarkshire Scotia Golf Cars 01899 221999 Merseyside Mowick 01744 893787 Cambridgeshire John Bradshaw 01780 781801
Norfolk Ben Burgess 01603 628251 Hertfordshire AT Oliver & Sons 01291 672648 Kent Drake & Fletcher 01233 504500 Ireland The Buggyman 00 353 458 782000
EIGCA Conference Breaking the mould of more traditional conference topics in their field, the newly designated European Institute of Golf Course Architects is all set to attract a far wider audience to their event this year, writes Rob Wright.
he problems of awkward planning policies surrounding the building of golf courses don’t just vary between continents. Generally speaking, certain styles of new developments prevalent in countries like the US and in southern Europe have major problems getting built in northern Europe. This is particularly true of integrated golf and housing developments. Which is a shame, as by dovetailing the construction of golf courses and housing in one development, affordable housing built next to self-financing greenery is not only environmentally appealing, it’s also commercially sensible, too. Therein lies one of the main reasons why the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA) have elected to make ‘Golf, Housing and the Environment’ the theme to be explored at their two-day conference this year. To be held at the architecturallyopulent surroundings of Queen’s College, Cambridge, in mid-December, an estimated 250 delegates are scheduled to have their paradigms stretched and challenged by a select band of international speakers from a wide range of disciplines. Jointly responsible for putting the line-up together is EIGCA former president and chair of the conference committee, David Williams. “We’ve tried to cover every aspect in our speaker line-up,” Williams said, “for what we believe is a very important topic worth exploring.
“The ‘garden-city’ movement which gathered momentum in the UK after the war, guaranteed affordable housing in and around the home counties with an outlook over some form of greenery. Local authorities can’t afford to maintain those natural surroundings in the same way as back then so the movement has fallen by the way side. “On older country estates, there’s no money any more to manage the environment. However, if housing and golf courses are built alongside each other, the money the course generates is available to sustain its condition. So why not build houses adjacent to the greenery of a golf course? It used to happen, so why can’t we still do it?” Wentworth Williams referred to highly successful golf/housing developments such as Wentworth, St George’s Hills, as well as a number in both southern and northern Europe as good examples of the concept. Although some of these are particularly exclusive, they don’t have to be. “It’s up to the planning authorities to specify how many plots to the acre a development should yield, which will largely determine the final price of the property. “But the main outcome will be housing which is more likely to hold their value, which look out over a green space that pays for itself and which the owners know won’t get built on. “At the same time, developers can build golf courses cheaply enough to be given away to the community because its construction has been paid for by the sale of the properties.”
Simon Gidman, EIGCA’s president, introduced a further aspect to the debate: “In the UK, planning authorities have these formal boundaries between building and leisure developments. Support “What we want to see is a greater merging between the two, as one can support and soften the other.” Which is pretty obvious when you think about it, as the same people who would care to move into a ‘golfing’ community will most likely help sustain it by spending their leisure time and income within that same community either by playing golf or using some of the other amenities available on the site. “Planning authorities have very formal boundaries between domestic and leisure developments,” Gidman continued. “So at this conference, we’ll be trying to redress the balance. Other countries are far more relaxed about golf and housing development. There really needn’t be such a hard line between the two.” This is the EIGCA’s first international conference since the organisation dropped the ‘British’ monicker from their title, around the time the organisation merged with the European Society of Golf Course Architects and the French Association of Golf Course Architects in July last year. To help the proceedings, a Gala dinner held in the huge Cripps Court Dining Hall of Queens College will conclude the first day. (Apparently, a lounge suit’ll be fine.)
October 2001Golf Management Europe
Day One; Tuesday, 11th December, 2001 10.00 10.45 11.00 11.45 12.30 13.30 14.15 15.00 15.30 16.15
Coffee and Welcome Presidents Introduction History of Joint Golf and Housing Development Background to Current Planning Policy Buffet Lunch The Principles of Integrating Recreational Facilities within Residential Communities Resort Development Coffee Potential for Habitat Creation Case Studies: Wychwood Park, Crewe, England Seddiner See, Berlin, Germany Pont Royale, Marseille, France Close
Simon Gidman Martin Hawtree Philip Russell-Vick Andy McNab Robert Day David Stubbs Ken Moodie Rainer Preissmann David Krause
Day Two; Wednesday, 12th December, 2001 09.00 09.45 10.30 11.00 11.45 12.30 13.30 14.15 15.15 15.45 16.30
Views of a developer Environmental Planning and Management Coffee Opportunities for Self-sustainable Water Management Commercial Operation versus Environmental Stewardship Buffet Lunch The Evolution of integration of Golf and Housing in the USA Looking to the Future Economic Factors Self-sustainable Development Coffee Expert panel/debate Depart
Philip Pope Gareth Singleton Philip York Gilberto Jordan
Desmond Muirhead Muriel Muirden Mike Barton All speakers
The above programme may be subject to change without prior notice.
Entertainment will be placed safely in the hands of professional after-dinner speaker Ian Shuttleworth; a solicitor who has moonlighted with his extracurricular wares at the House of Commons, no less - and a golfer, as luck would have it, currently enjoying membership at Ilkley and Ganton. Network Delegates will have an opportunity to network with a wide cross-section of colleagues and key decision-makers impacting their field over a drinks’ reception prior to the meal, as well as over other mealtimes throughout the event. A glut of planners, house builders, landscape and golf architects as well as developers are all likely to be present. Delegates will also glean a unique international perspective on their respective disciplines. Underlining this benefit are the speakers themselves; an engaging lineup which includes one of the world’s great golf architects, Desmond Muirhead. Schooled in architecture at Cambridge, Muirhead is well-known
for his often outspoken views on golfcourse design. Now well into what look like his closing years, he was one of the earliest designers to work on integrated developments, and so this conference represents a rare chance to listen to a fullyseasoned panorama of golf and housing in the US from an industry legend. All-in-all, if you’re keen to review what looks to be a fascinating vista of golf and housing development - past, present and future - we really can’t see anywhere else for you to be between December 11-12 this year. Besides, once you’ve had a closer look at what’s on offer and compared it to the price, you shouldn’t need any more persuading. Golf, Housing and the Environment Planning Opportunities for the 21st Century. Queens College, Cambridge, December 11 and 12, 2001. Individual Delegate Place, including Gala Dinner, Hotel Accommodation and Breakfast; £295 plus VAT. Tickets can be obtained by contacting the EIGCA at Merrist Wood College, Guildford on 01483 884036.
Golf Management Europe October 2001
News Pinto leaves as Textron seek replacement Harold Pinto, managing director of Textron Golf, Turf & Specialty Products has announced his resignation and will be leaving the company with effect from November, 2001. His decision is purely voluntary and he is returning to the USA to head up one of the subsidiaries of the Boston-based Goldman Industrial group reporting directly to their Chairman and CEO, Greg Goldman. Peter Bell, marketing director commenting on the Mr. Pinto's resignation said: “We are all really sorry to see Harold go and wish him the very best in his new career opportunity. “He has done a tremendous job in the past four years where he has successfully managed the integration of Jacobsen and Ransomes, bringing together the two organisations under the Textron umbrella and creating a distinct identity for the two major brands in their respective market sectors. “He leaves behind a superb team of people in a stable and progressive business with high expectations of continued growth in their respective markets.
“We all echo the thoughts of Greg Hyland, the president of Textron in the US who, in thanking Harold for his outstanding contribution said that he will miss his business insight, his leadership and his efforts to consistently move the business forward, while wishing him great success in his future endeavours.”
Interest free with JDC John Deere Credit is once again offering golf clubs the opportunity, subject to status, to buy any machine from the John Deere range now, and defer payment free of interest until June 1, 2002. Over £2m worth of new golf course equipment was financed by JDC last winter, following the scheme’s initial launch. To qualify for the scheme, new equipment can be ordered from a John Deere dealer up to the end of February 2002. Payment from June onwards, with no interest charged on the intervening period, can be made using the normal range of credit options, or on a tailor made schedule to match your club’s cashflow.
Title change at Links Trust Following a decision by the Links Management Committee at its recent meeting, Gordon Moir, who oversees the management of all six courses at St Andrews will change his job title to link superintendent. Previously head greenkeeper of the Eden Course, Moir took up the post last October inheriting the all-encompassing title of links manager. The new title - links superintendent is more relevant to the world of greenkeeping generally and will it is hoped, help to avoid confusion. It also highlights the focus of Moir’s responsibility which is the management and maintenance of the courses. “With his background and ability, Gordon is ideally suited to his role,” said Alan McGregor, general manager of St Andrews Links Trust. “The job is one of the most significant in greenkeeping worldwide and I am confident that Gordon will help ensure that St Andrews Links raises its reputation as a world centre of excellence.” Page 10
Sea Defences take shape The second phase of coastal protection took place last month at St Andrews between the Jubilee Course and the Eden Estuary. Around 12,000 cubic metres of sand were transferred to a 300 metre stretch of dunes in what is the largest scheme of its kind to be carried out anywhere in the UK. The scheme is the result of extensive discussions and co-operation between the Links Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and other related organisations. “We have taken expert advice from all quarters and believe we have the best solution in place to protect the Links - a combination of hard and soft engineering which will prevent further serious erosion,” said Alan McGregor, general manager. October 2001Golf Management Europe
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Golf Management Europe October 2001
News Drill and Fill aeration strides forward for Ecosol Greenkeepers are constantly looking for ways to improve the consistency aand longevity of their turf. Many products have been the one-hit wonders of the turf world - bursting onto the scene in a blaze of publicity, but like Joe Dulce, fading away almost as soon as they had appeared. Ecosol Sportslite promises not to be so ephemeral. It has unique and outstanding physical and technical properties when introduced into soil. And what’s more it is naturally occuring and environmentally friendly. Sportslite is a porous mineral created by volcanic activity millions of years ago. It is already utilised in many of the world’s top sports facilities, has improved the characteristics of the turf therein and is set to revolutionise certain aspects of turfcare. It consistently out-performs claybased soil amendments in independent trials and is produced to USGA specifications. It improves fertiliser and nutrient retention in the rootzone, prevents leaching of nutrients, resists compaction and releases absorbed nutrients only when the plant demands it, therefore preventing plant scorch and environmental pollution. Its attributes allow the turf manager to build a reservoir for plant nutrient in his turf without creating a spongy, water-holding layer.
Many of Sportslite’s characteristics are similar to those of a fertiliser, but it is better for the environment, more costeffective, remains in the profile - and, is actually proven to be more effective. In short everything a turf manager would require from such a product. Brett King, the technical director, for Ecosolve, the sole manufacturer and importer of Sportslite, confirms existing customers do not have to wait long to see the benefits of the product. He said: “We have seen significant savings for customers using Sportslite, as fertiliser costs are reduced and there is a sharp increase in nutrient uptake efficiency. “The health of the grasses is improved following the build up of the CEC in the turf and subsequent reservoir establishment.” King was delighted by the positive response at the recent SALTEX exhibition - but not surprised.
A non-slip solution The wet season appears to be upon us once again, which can often make it difficult for some golf clubs to keep walkways and pathways clear and free of mud. However, a fibreglass solution could very well be the answer providing not only safe but non-slip areas both on and off the course. Colin Burns of Essex-based Fibreglass Grating takes up the story: “Various types of Fibreglass Grating can be laid and fixed down in strategic areas to provide a safe, anti-slip walkway in muddy and wet conditions. “Fibreglass is corrosion resistant, impact resistant, lightweight and of particular note is the incredible non-slip characteristic, which provides traction over a wide range of environmental conditions. “We have recently introduced a minimesh fibreglass floor grating, which is ideally suited for walkways where wheeled trolleys are used due to its reduced opening size.”
Torrance Gleneagles launches Junior opens course Golf Scholarship Sam Torrance, Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain, recently opened his first ever golf course design, the aptly-named Torrance Course, at St Andrews Bay, the £50 million golf resort, spa and conference centre. The 7,020 yard, par 72 course - which reportedly cost £7million to design - is set on cliff-tops overlooking St Andrews and has stunning views over the North Sea. It will be joined next summer by its sister course, the Devlin, providing a total of 36 holes. Torrance commented, “I’ve been asked to design courses previously and said no, but it’s only once in a lifetime that you get asked to build a course with such a dramatic setting - especially at St Andrews. This time it had to be yes.” Page 12
Management at the Gleneagles Hotel recently announced a new and exciting scholarship programme for junior golfers. Four boys and four girls from the Perth and Kinross County Golf Unions will be offered unlimited access to the golfing facilities at the world-famous five star resort during an annual scholarship period. In addition they will each receive six hours of coaching from the Gleneagles’ golf professionals based at the resort’s golf academy. The scholarship initiative is designed to support the activities of the Scottish Junior Golf programme and will target talented young golfers who are not yet benefiting from the coaching programmes on offer at national level.
It will offer them the opportunity to maximise their potential while they maintain membership at their club. Peter Lederer, managing director of Gleneagles Hotel said: “The scholarships are a natural extension to the exisiting work Gleneagles does to develop the game of golf at junior level and I am delighted that we are able to offer eight talented youngsters the opportunity to raise the standard of their game. “Gleneagles has outstanding relationships with the national and local golf bodies who give tremendous support throughout Scotland to golfers of all abilities. “I am proud to be able to further enhance their efforts by launching this Gleneagles Junior Scholarship.”
October 2001Golf Management Europe
New front mower tops range John Deere’s new 1565 front mower is the largest and most powerful addition to the company’s commercial rotary range, which includes the 1435 and 1445 models. Offering the ultimate in power, traction, manoeuvrability and mowing productivity, the 1565 is equipped with a 36hp Yanmar diesel engine that features maximum torque for tough mowing conditions. It also provides quicker starting, better fuel economy, quieter operation and lower emission levels.
Next phase complete at Aphrodite Hills
Fairway Solutions on offer North Staffs Irrigation continues to expand its client base in respect of both drainage and irrigation contracts. Deane GC near Bolton, has recently been the subject of a standard drainage programme on two specific fairways. The second and seventeenth holes at the picturesque club have both been subject to high levels of water retention during last winter’s avalanche of rain and following previous work during 1999, North Staffs were contacted to provide a solution. Using their trenching system with conveyor for spoil collection, the fairways have been drained to a depth of 500mm with lateral spacing every 10m using 60mm drainage pipes. The main drain is 160mm (350m in length) with 20mm aggregate placed within 100mm of the surface.
The eagerly awaited tournament golf course at Aphrodite Hills, Cyprus, has reached a landmark stage in its development with one third of the golf course now green. The recently completed areas, which include holes 1, 2, 10, 15, 16 and 17 are situated around the first show villas at Aphrodite Hills, a project by Lanitis Development. Paving the way for villas, apartments, townhouses and a five-star InterContinental hotel, the show homes are due for completion in Autumn this year and will give journalists and potential investors a first glimpse of the integrated development to come. The Cabel Robinson-designed course is located between Pafos and Limassol on the southern coast of Cyprus and is on schedule to welcome its first players in October 2002.
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Bossing the Heavens All golf courses collect a lot of water each year. Rob Wright passes on several good reasons why you should look at putting all that water to good use at the same time as heading off the threat of a waterlogged or dried-out fairway.
“AT THE BELFRY, WE BUILT A 15 MILLION GALLON RESERVOIR PROBABLY ONE OF THE BIGGEST ON A UK GOLF COURSE - PURELY BY EXCAVATION.” lot of bunkers up and down Europe’s green and pleasant fairways may well find themselves swimming in water for the fourth winter running; which quickly brings most people’s attention around to the weaker drainage areas on their course. But if it’s drainage you’re thinking about, don’t over-react or act prematurely, because you should also be considering water storage and ways of recycling the water you take off the course. In the first place, it’s going to save you a fortune in irrigation costs each year. Building lagoons or reservoirs to catch rainfall in the wet seasons gives you water on tap for irrigation at the lowest tariff available (though for taking ground water, you’ll need a licence from the Environment Agency).
Without such a winter store to draw from in the summer, taking water off the mains from a water supplier can cost five times as much. And should water restrictions start to bite during longer dry spells, your own supply could be a godsend. Savings Not only that, Jackson House, a director from lake constructors House Brothers & Bailey Ltd, estimates that generally, any work will have paid for itself in money saved on your water bill in just two to three years’ time. “At the Belfry, we built a 15 million gallon reservoir - probably one of the biggest on a UK golf course - purely by excavation,” House said. “Although very effective, it’s a particularly expensive way of doing it. And yet the owners still predict that they’ll get their money back pretty quickly.” "
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October 2001Golf Management Europe
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Golf Management Europe October 2001
House’s company is probably the biggest in the UK for constructing lakes, water features and reservoirs their specialities - having built 1,500 so far and now build at a rate of well over one a week. He strongly recommends using lakes to help drain the land for environmental benefits, too. “Nationally, it does the countryside good to conserve water. In the 1880s, there were three times as many ponds and lakes in the UK as there are today. “This shortage accelerates the flow of water to our towns and probably contributes to the widespread flooding problems we’re seeing now.
MJ Abbott is a specialist contractor to the sports and leisure industry, offering a full range of construction, renovation, irrigation and drainage services. Managing director Nigel Wyatt also encourages early planning. “Get your contractors chosen and booked as soon as you can,” he urged. “With the way things have been weather-wise, most contractors are now tied up. You ought to be looking at jobs now for starting in Spring next year.” Ideally, work should always take place in drier seasons. Although the right equipment - such as floatation-tyre machinery - can limit damage to a
He recommends that a bore-hole system is used to feed lakes on a course. “By boring down into the fissures underground, water is extracted by a pump which is attached to a float system and works much like a toilet cistern. “When the water level goes below a certain point, the float sends a signal to the pump to tell it to draw water up to the correct the levels. “But it’s because you can end up with a muddy rim around your water feature that lakes are generally used for drainage, and reservoirs - tucked away somewhere behind trees or a clubhouse - are generally used for irrigation.”
“NATIONALLY, IT DOES THE COUNTRYSIDE GOOD TO CONSERVE WATER. IN THE 1880s, THERE WERE THREE TIMES AS MANY PONDS AND LAKES IN THE UK AS THERE ARE TODAY.” “And building a water feature alongside your clubhouse to act as a hazard on a nearby hole adds tremendously to the view from the 19th. It can even attract wildlife, such as kingfishers. Many golfers are keen on nature and this can add a lot of enjoyment to their game.” Fishing House mentioned other spinoffs, too. “Some courses with a winter storage reservoir are now considering putting a few fish in and getting an extra income from anglers. “I think the best thing to do is canvass the existing membership, see which ones would like to fish and charge them an additional membership fee, thereby forming a syndicate so that they can fish whenever they want. “This also adds extra scope for the club so that it can attract the whole family down for the day.” All of which naturally demands that thorough planning takes place before any appraisals of drainage and water management is implemented to get the most out of the potential available. And it’s a good idea not only to have accurate drainage plans, but also an overall long-term drainage scheme - even if you can’t install it all in one go. Page 16
course, wet soil will still get compacted, closing fissures in the sub-soil, reducing porosity and delaying the effectiveness of the work done by up to a year. And so to designing your scheme. House recommends finding the lowest point on a course where all the water will naturally drain to, where the water table will be at its highest, and consider building a lake there. It’s then relatively cost-effective to install a submersible pump to push the water around the course to top-up other features. However, during particularly dry spells, heavy use and evaporation could lead to low water levels which can look unsightly. Storage Well-designed primary and secondary drainage can help with this. Alongside good drainage, underground storage tanks can be used to collect water instead, but these aren’t endorsed by Lionel Whitnell of Whitnell Contracts. “Underground tanks take up a horrendous amount of time in excavation and construction,” he said. “They don’t store as much as water features can and then, once installed, how do you get at them for maintenance without a lot of hassle?”
To help deal with unsightly rims, House suggests that the right plants placed around the water bank can also help with appearances if levels drop a few inches. “The other thing we do a lot is lining,” he continued. “A special membrane underneath the water reserve’s lining insulates the lake from the soil and helps keep the water cool. “So when dew forms in the warmer summer months, it condenses on the cooler water surface. It’s absolutely amazing how this helps keep the lakes and reservoirs levels high all summer. Levels can be critical. Many water features are kept water-tight by using puddled or blue clay to seal the sides wherever available. But if these become too exposed they can crack, which will lead to leaks. “Compacted well to a depth of 500 800mm is ideal,” adds Whitnell. “200 300mm is alright if the water level will be consistent. Alternatively, we work with linings.” Which is where lining contractors such as the UK’s largest, Landline come in. They are able to supply and engineer water-tight lining solutions ideal for complex site situations and for protecting against contaminated soil.
October 2001Golf Management Europe
“GET YOUR CONTRACTORS CHOSEN AND BOOKED AS SOON AS YOU CAN,” HE URGED. “WITH THE WAY THINGS HAVE BEEN WEATHERWISE, MOST CONTRACTORS ARE NOW TIED UP. YOU OUGHT TO BE LOOKING AT JOBS NOW FOR STARTING IN SPRING NEXT YEAR.”
“Traditional methods of holding water involves puddled clay,” agreed Landline sales manager Mike Pomfret, “but it has to be the right type of clay. If it does crack, the water has a pathway to escape and you almost certainly have to start again to correct the problem. “Modern-day linings are quick, efficient and cost-effective. The type of material we use depends on the type of conditions.” Design Landline are able to come in at the early stages and help design the right system to minimise or eliminate potential hazards such as algae and water weed infestations as early as possible. These can be thwarted very simply. “Just build deeper,” advises Pomfret.
“Shallow ponds generate algae growth quicker. Moving, cooler and deeper water minimises infestation growth.” If infestations persist, relatively inexpensive remedies are available. “A floating pump - similar in design to a ship’s propeller helps keep the water moving,” suggested Jackson House. “It’s in for a couple of weeks, depending on how bad the infestation is, and the problem probably won’t reoccur again that year.” So with enough foresight, most eventualities can be catered for. But at the end of the day, if somehow the unthinkable still occurs and you temporarily lose your water feature, at least your course will still be playable!
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October 2001Golf Management Europe
The American Dream With the demise of Clubhaus plc, American Golf (UK) have emerged as the biggest golf operator in the UK and they clearly have their sights set on future acquisitions in Europe. John Vinicombe talked to managing director David Seidl.
merican Golf and its subsidiary, American Golf (UK) Ltd., the world’s largest golf course operator, is decided on further expansion here and in Europe. While an economic downturn is being forecast on both sides of the Atlantic, the huge leisure conglomerate is seeking to add to an already impressive portfolio of courses. The British market will continue to provide fresh opportunities to take the company to further limits. The annual turnover of American Golf is $750m. The corresponding figure for American Golf (UK) is $52m. All in all, the parent company has 325 courses in the US and in the UK there are 24 long term leases or freehold properties controlled from the Blue Mountain base in Binfield, Berkshire. Network It is from there that David Seidl, the managing director, controls a network of courses that came into being eight years ago and has continued to flourish under the Stars and Stripes. Most of the locations are in Southern England and roughly two hours distance from London. The flag-
“WE WOULD LIKE TO EXPAND MORE IN EUROPE AND IN THOSE SOUTHERN CLIMES WHERE GOLF IS POSSIBLE ALL YEAR ROUND. FOR THAT REASON WE HAVE NOT LOOKED IN EITHER FRANCE OR GERMANY.”
Golf Management Europe October 2001
ship is St Mellion International near Plymouth. The head of the UK operation since last February is a 52 year-old former US Army officer who was a member of the original team that opened up the British market in 1993. When we met at Blue Mountain, Seidl had only recently returned from leave in America and was on a transcontinental westbound flight two hours out of New York on September 11. He is, by nature, an optimist, but a shrewd pragmatist for all that, and not prone to knee jerk reactions: “I don’t see in the UK a lasting effect after what has happened, providing that is the end of such events. “We have had some cancellations of conference bookings back home but I don’t see it lasting. The question is what will be the impact on the economy and the impact on the golf business.” In a frank interview about company policy, Seidl outlined plans and pulled no punches. It is his view that the leisure business, and that includes golf, must be prepared for a slowdown in growth. " Page 19
“THE RECENTLY COMPETITIVE GOLF MARKET IS PRETTY FLAT RIGHT NOW AND I THINK IT WILL CONTINUE TO BE FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE DUE TO THE PREVAILING ECONOMIC CONDITIONS.”
“The recently competitive golf market is pretty flat right now and I think it will continue to be for the foreseeable future due to the prevailing economic conditions. I am sure the market will come back and the UK is a good market although there has not been a lot of new construction. “The courses that were not available to the public before are now available and taking up market share. The corporate support of business these days, however, has dropped and we have seen it happen all over the world in our courses. “Corporations are suffering from these economic times and financial support has actually fallen off over the past couple of years. “My experience is that the first place large corporations always adjust is on the entertainment side of business and that includes golf. But I’m sure the economy will pick up. But when that will happen, your guess is as good as mine. Tight Ship “Running a tight ship is important right now. Competitors are discounting prices in order to maintain the number of rounds on a golf course. I don’t think you want to give in to that end of the competition. “What you want to do is provide a quality product that is superior to your competitors so that you don’t have to discount the prices you are charging and you are creating good value for your customers. “When they are going to make their golfing decision they are going to come to your property because it is better served and is a better quality golf club.” Latest acquisitions are Stapleford Abbots and Chelsfield Lakes, both in Essex and the company has struck north by a presence at Cookridge Hall near Leeds. “What we are doing is only limited by financial resources, but, like any company, you will find that we are not standing still. On the contrary. “We have looked in Scotland and Spain. The Spanish course is near Barcelona and there is another further south along the coast in which we are interested. Page 20
“We would like to expand more in Europe and in those southern climes where golf is possible all year round. For that reason we have not looked in either France or Germany. “In surveying an area we look at population support; chimney pots if you like, and that is why we have so many courses in London and the Home Counties. In a wider context, American Golf has recently gone into Australia and Japan. We see the growth of the company at this time in the international market rather than US-based. A possibility that American Golf might buy troubled rivals Clubhaus was smartly fielded by Seidl. “I don’t think there is an opportunity to purchase it at a price they might expect.” The smile on his face broadened. And he added the acquisition of Home Park, that his company renamed Hampton Court Palace, had been something of a coup. The course at Hampton Wick, Kingston-on-Thames, has given American Golf UK something of a toehold into an Establishment address. A 25 year operating licence was granted after the Royal Palaces decided to put the course (550 members) out for a competitive bid. A broker acted as the go-between and a plum dropped into Seidl’s lap. “The course has been there for 105 years and after we were declared to be the preferred bidder there was a natural hostility by some members towards the Royal Palaces. Some of that reaction spread a little bit over onto us, but we are pleased and I think the members are too.” Not too many doors have been slammed in the face of the company. One admitted mistake was at a course near Swindon where difficulties with drainage prompted AG (UK) to sell after 18 months. That setback occurred shortly after beginning operations here. “We did look at East Sussex National which had been the home of two European Opens. As I understand it, the owners’ expectation of value was considerably higher than what we were willing to invest in the property.” There was a strong North American flavour about ESN when it opened over
October 2001Golf Management Europe
a decade ago. It was the brainchild of Canadian hotel tycoon Greg Turner and the two courses were designed by American Bob Cupp. “Any time you can acquire a property at a competitive price and make it work, that is fine. But the minute you spend too much money, you are never going to make it work.” Waterford Does AG (UK) have any designs upon Irish courses? “We don’t have any there. We looked at one in Waterford recently, but we aren’t looking right now. “As I said, a European location would have to be one where golf can be played 12 months of the year which rules out Northern Europe. Another area in which we don’t have an interest is North Africa.” If there is to be a greater impetus to golf in the UK it is Seidl’s view that golfers need to identify with a figurehead comparable to Nick Faldo. “I’ve heard a good number of people say that since I’ve been over here. “The club golfer would love to relate to a guy rather as we do to Tiger Woods. That would do a heck of a lot for the game here.” He made a valid point about losses sustained by UK clubs during several wet winters. “A lot of traditionally old private member clubs used to be very strict in not allowing visitors or nonmembers to play on their courses.
“That has changed and rules been relaxed or removed to bring in visitors in order to pay the bills. It is a case of necessity.” David Seidl (handicap 11), has experience of playing company courses all over the world. One of his favourites is Ko’olau in Hawaii and considered one of the most challenging on the planet. From the back tees it is 7,310 yards (par 72) and Seidl swears there is absolutely no run on the ball. He describes it as, “tough duty.” From 1972-80 he served in the US Army specialising as a quartermaster officer and operating officer clubs. He lived in Hawaii for three years as a civilian working for the army and has been with American Golf for 16 years having held a series of vice-president positions. Impressed He hasn’t joined a private members’ club in the UK and prefers to stick to company courses but was greatly impressed by Sunningdale Old course and Wentworth. “Sunningdale is really something special and quite beautiful.” That was Seidl’s verdict on the unattainable, but it did no harm to have a look although I wonder if they knew who was giving the property a more than professional once-over? Of course, a man can always dream...
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October 2001Golf Management Europe
The English Genius
John Jacobs is, quite simply, a golfing-legend of the modern era. Renowned the world over, the two-times Ryder Cup captain met with John Vinicombe at his Hampshire retreat to discuss his latest accolade. ohn Jacobs, the founding father of the European Tour and doyen of teaching professionals throughout the world, has been inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame. Jacobs was chosen from more than 40 nominees selected by the Americanbased GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers and a panel of golf historians and journalists. He received more than 75 per cent of the vote, making him eligible to join a select group of a prestigious club. Jacobs, one of the game’s most influential and perceptive teachers, was
hailed by GOLF Magazine as, “the English Genius” when he received his medal commemorating his march into the Hall of Fame alongside Tommy Armour, Percy Boomer, Ernest Jones, David Love Jnr, Harvey Penick, Paul Runyan and Bob Toski. The nominees were chosen based on the following criteria: Unfailing dedication to his/her students; knowledge shared with the teaching community; demonstrated professionalism and a minimum of 25 years teaching professionally It is an indisputable fact that “JJ” has seen and done it all in a career in which
Golf Management Europe October 2001
he has become Europe’s most influential golf instructor of the past 50 years. He may be pushing 76, but his vigour, enthusiasm and unremitting love of the game still pervades every conversation. Blueprint In addition to his teaching motto of, “make it simple”, Jacobs has also been a high class player in his own right, twice Ryder Cup captain and a respected TV golf commentator, course designer and, somehow, able to find enough hours in the day to put together the blueprint for what is now the European Tour. " Page 23
He admitted: “I feel a very lucky man because teaching this wonderful game has made me a million friends. The Golf Channel in America broadcast the ceremony live from Bay Hill in Florida and I felt very humble when Butch Harman phoned in to say that two people had influenced his methods - his father and me. “It was very flattering, coming from the man who has worked so closely and successfully with Tiger Woods and Darren Clarke, among others.” A man of many accomplishments, Jacobs has, like Charles Foster Kane, a precious childhood memory that is nothing to do with his chosen path in life. Just as “Rosebud” gave up its secret in the fiery furnace of Xanadu as Citizen Kane closed, so Jacobs, in an altogether more lifelike fashion, revealed one of his most treasured moments.
Robert, his father, was professional at Lindrick and mother, who was in service, caddied to bring a bit more money into the family. Young John, when an assistant at the Hallamshire, was brought up with a proper respect for brass. His job paid £2 a week from the club, 30 shillings extra from Willie Wallace, the pro, and two out of the five shillings from each of the hour long sessions. After six o’clock, lucky John copped the whole five bob. “Rita and I were married on that in 1949”, John recalled at his converted coach house residence in Lyndhurst, Hampshire. As a concession to leisure, for golf is his business, John indulges a passion for fishing. It was the promise of the Avon’s trout that lured him to Hampshire 30 years ago. Monday was sacrosanct: “When I’m fishing, I only think fishing.”
After he left the Hallamshire for the pro’s job at the Gezira Club, Cario a friendship was struck up with Hassan Hassanein. He was the brilliant Sudanese who won the Italian and French Opens and played with John at Worthing in the Spalding where he had a hole in one. Sadly, Hassanein took his own life by dousing himself with petrol and striking a match. So not all of Jacobs’ memories are good and he and his wife quit Egypt when revolutionary mobs set fire to Shepherds hotel. Prize Money The most Jacobs won in any one event was £400 when he and Henry Cotton split the prize money in the Penfold Matchplay. It was enough to buy a Vauxhall Velox. There is no comparison between what Jacobs earned from teaching and building courses to what he made as a player.
“I GOT THIS REPUTATION FOR TEACHING, BUT REALLY, I WANTED TO PLAY. PROBABLY, IT WAS A BLESSING. IN THOSE DAYS I WAS A VERY GOOD DRIVER IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE.” Scoring a century for Maltby Grammar School in Yorkshire may not have alerted those dour members of the county committee to young Jacobs’ talents with the bat, but it remains an early pinnacle for this extraordinary man. He would doubtless have given a king’s ransom to have won the Open, but equally, I suspect, to have worn the White Rose, and gone on to play for England, would be a fair swap. To this day Jacobs nurses a burning passion for cricket and yet almost all his life has been devoted to playing and teaching golf and spreading the gospel throughout the planet. Few reach the top and fewer stay there and remain quite unaffected by success. The man who teaches the teaching professionals, has launched many a bright star into the firmament, and treats royal partners like a chum. He is really a canny Yorkshireman who has never forgotten his roots or anything else. Page 24
Jacobs’ tournament trail ended in 1963 and after a career when he was a winning Ryder Cup player (twice captain), he was tourney director of the PGA in the mid-seventies by which time his world-wide chain of golf clinics had been set in train. Flair His instructional books have sold well over 500,000 copies. These not only deal with basics and refinements of the game but also contain Jacobs’ anecdotal flair and dry wit. When Jacobs received one of his many royal calls for lessons, there might have been repercussions had Princess Lilian of Belgium understood him remarking on the strength of her grip. “You may be a princess, but if you hold the club like that, you will always be a hooker...” When it comes to yarning, Jacobs is in a class of his own. After all, he has built around 30 courses all over the world including Pakistan and the North West Frontier.
“I got this reputation for teaching, but really, I wanted to play. Probably, it was a blessing. In those days I was a very good driver in more ways than one. “I didn’t think it at all unusual to drive back overnight from the Open at Carnoustie to be in my shop next morning at Sandy Lodge in Middlesex. It was the same for the rest of us. Ewen Murray, the Sky golf commentator, was one of Jacobs pupils. “I smoked for 43 years and he sent me tablets in the hope I’d kick the habit. It worked after I’d even tried hypnosis so I’ve a lot to thank him for.” Pilot Jacobs has achieved much and that includes qualifying as a glider pilot. He did a course near Lindrick and became an instructor. But, on entering the RAF at 17, John failed an aircrew medical and was close to becoming a Flight Engineer on Halifax bombers when the war ended.
October 2001Golf Management Europe
In golf, though, he has always had his feet on the ground. The tall, powerful figure, is stooped to some degree, but John still has a full growth of silvery wavy hair that adds a distinguished look. Demeanour The golfer’s mitts, like sausages, are the clue to a lifetime of working with his hands. His demeanour is courteous and pleasant. You couldn’t imagine Jacobs ever having lost his temper. He likes a good red wine since giving up smoking and has been known to put away a bottle in the evening as the conversation flows. There is no side to the man, not the slightest trace of pomposity or self-importance.
In an age of golfing gurus with bubble reputations, Jacobs’ reputation as the games supreme teacher is unchallenged over the years. A lifetime of studying the mechanics of the awing, of applying that knowledge as a player at the highest level, and of coaching thousands of golfers from Jack Nicklaus down to the rawest beginner, equipped him with unrivalled qualifications. He scorns theories, passing fads and gimmicks so there is no John Jacobs ‘method’ just proven truths and the natural laws of mechanics and dynamics. He dispenses that vast body of scholarship with down-to-earth Yorkshire gumption which recognises
that each individual needs an individual interpretation of the golfing way as well as an individual way of expressing it. Jacobs understands better than most that the mechanical act of striking a ball is only half the game, if that, and his insights into the psychology of golf are as penetrating as his crisp 2-iron shots were into the teeth of a gale. From Jack Nicklaus to Tony Jacklin, from Sandy Lyle to Jose Maria Olazabel, ‘Dr Golf’ has been the advisor called in when things go wrong. Now he is in the Hall of Fame and rightly honoured the world over; yet another instance of being rewarded by the game to which he long ago dedicated his life.
eP rH iO c T hO eG pR wA oP rH tY h The 10th, Ballybunion Old Course, Ireland
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Golf Management Europe October 2001
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October 2001Golf Management Europe
Hidden Benefits Whenever you’re fortunate enough to be able to reassess your 19th hole arrangements, Rob Wright has some interesting perspectives to help you tap what could be a very profitable resource.
any golf clubs consider a good catering operation to be a service to their membership and are therefore prepared to accept a loss running it if it keeps their membership figures high. Centred around the clubhouse, these venues are often splendid affairs, bedecked with solid craftsmanship and no small dose of prestige-tinged history. But as impressive as many undoubtedly are, most clubhouses tend not to be open to the public. Which, given their quality and sedate surroundings, has to represent a missed opportunity.
There are several ways in which golf clubs can widen their clubhouse’s remit without compromising their membership’s preferences too much. Storage For example, every clubhouse needs chairs in the dining area, so why not specify chairs that stack or tables that fold away? These can be wheeled out when needed to transform capacity for other functions, such as weddings, society golf days, or corporate use. London’s GN Burgess and Co are well-known manufacturers of such flexible and functional conferencing and banqueting furniture.
Golf Management Europe October 2001
They look to supply pieces that display a certain amount of style so that they endorse or enhance the club’s image. Burgess are not offering custommade furniture but can supply variations on their range of products, which are ideal for traditional member clubs and places as select as Wentworth. Chairs can be customised with a variety of fabrics to match your decor, or even branded with the club’s crest or logo. But if you’re looking at a major overhaul of your existing clubhouse, the process should start with a thorough appraisal. " Page 27
# Assess your existing facilities in terms of strengths and weaknesses $ Are general improvements feasible or do you need to start again from scratch? % What are other leisure facilities in your area doing to appeal to their primary and secondary audiences? & Which specific ideas appeal to you and your membership? ' How do your existing strengths and weaknesses impact those new ideas? ( How much can you safely allocate financially to fulfilling those new ideas? “It’s always very important to have a cost parameter to begin with,” agreed Neil Saunders of specialist joiners and cabinet-makers Harringtons, based in Nottingham, UK. For over a 100 years, Harringtons have been developing a business which designs and builds wellcrafted interiors for the leisure industry.
“In worse-case scenarios, you can have individuals from the club insisting on personal preferences which are then implemented but later need to be reversed because they weren’t speaking for the rest of the committee.” Obviously, this can add to both the length and cost of the project. As with all these things, thorough planning is the key to success. “In an ideal world,” continued Saunders, “it would be good to be talking to clubs in September and spend two to three weeks taking the brief and devising some ideas with budget costings. “Once approved, we can then make sure the materials are available and get all the orders in before Christmas. Ideally, it’d be good to do the work in close season. For a major refurbishment, January to March is a good time to be on site.” Obstacles Aside from timing, there are other more significant obstacles to consider before progressing too far with your plans.
Respect your limitations... Your course may be next to a perfectly good hotel, so it’s probably best to leave them to do the weddings and bar mitzvahs unless you relish head-to-head competition with your neighbours and potential colleagues Assessing the cost... Allocating funds to install state-of-theart conferencing facilities in your clubhouse is one thing; making sure there’s enough money to publicise the new service, handle enquiries and provide first-class hospitality when the customers arrive is another Know your break-even point... Honest, realistic projections on turnover are always far more helpful than wishful thinking. With the right information to hand, you can assess how your new venture will impact the bottom line and when it’s likely to begin to be a financial benefit, instead of a liability Once you’ve considered these points, you’re ready to start putting ink to paper and compose some final plans.
“THERE HAS TO BE A CLEARLY DEFINED PERSON HEADING UP THE PROJECT,” INSISTS SAUNDERS, “SO THAT THE CLUB’S CONTACT WITH US IS MORE-OR-LESS REDUCED TO A ONE-TO-ONE; SOMEONE AUTHORISED TO MAKE DECISIONS ON BEHALF OF THE DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE. OTHERWISE, YOU CAN HAVE TOO MANY PEOPLE AFFECTING THE FINAL OUTCOME.”
Full-service suppliers like Harringtons have a string of joiners, upholsterers, curtain makers, polishers and cabinet makers available. Setting a clear budget constraint will help ensure that you get no more than the skills you need to get your job done. Wise As the process develops, it’s also wise to allocate just one person to negotiate with suppliers. “There has to be a clearly defined person heading up the project,” insists Saunders, “so that the club’s contact with us is more-or-less reduced to a one-to-one; someone authorised to make decisions on behalf of the development committee. Otherwise, you can have too many people affecting the final outcome.
“Sometimes, membership won’t agree with ringing any changes,” Saunders recognised. “They’d rather spend money on the greens than on the 19th hole. Also, people often want things to stay the way they are out of nostalgia; ‘things have always been like that.’ But by the time they get to us, they’ve usually worked through all the respective arguments for and against.” Whenever you eventually do decide to be bold and use your clubhouse to generate an additional revenue stream, make sure you never lose sight of the following wake-up calls, because whenever you can’t apply a well-reasoned perspective on any of these points, you could earn yourself several sleepless nights in the not-too-distant-future.
Guy Robson, new owner of Seckford Golf Club near Woodbridge in Suffolk, has recently arrived at this point. Drivers One of the key drivers for his decision to change Seckford’s clubhouse was that the existing facility wasn’t able to sustain a service to the number of people who came to play golf without societies and corporate hospitality guests interfering with existing members. His plans to build an all-new clubhouse are now awaiting planning permission. And by resisting the temptation to treat the official process as adversarial, gleaned insight for his plans from the planners themselves. “They were very helpful,” commented Robson.
October 2001Golf Management Europe
“I HAVE A THREE-YEAR OLD,” HE SAID. “AT WEEKENDS WHEN I WANT TO PLAY GOLF, IT’S NOT FAIR ON MY WIFE THAT I HAVE TO LEAVE THEM BEHIND.” “By consulting with them from the outset, they guided us through the entire process and gave us advice as to which ideas were most likely to get accepted.” After all, it’s not just in the planner’s remit to uphold regulations, but also to encourage strong development. Intriguingly, though, it was Robson’s own personal experience which helped lead him to include a more radical element to his plans. “I have a three-year old,” he said. “At weekends when I want to play golf, it’s not fair on my wife that I have to leave them behind. Or that the only answer I can give when my kid says, ‘Can I come too, Daddy?’ has to be ‘No’.” Which is why Robson is incorporating space for a crŠche in his plans, including indoor and outdoor supervised play areas, their own menu and child-friendly toilet facilities. But there’s more to his decision than just personal interest. “Just 11 per cent of our membership are women,” quoted Robson. “And the perception that you have to be white, middle-class and male to play golf certainly isn’t valid, is it?
“So we’d just as rather Mum was on the golf course and Dad was on the driving range.” Age Robson plans to split his crèche facilities into two age groups, covering two to ten-year olds. But at those ages, isn’t he a little worried that screaming kids running around will interfere with the ambience of his club? Robson had a swift retort to that one. “Generally, anyone who thinks kids go around screaming doesn’t have kids or has forgotten what kids are like! Besides, children are the future of golf, aren’t they? Experience “So we need to get them involved in the sport today, not tomorrow. If they’re coming here, we want them to enjoy the experience and we want their parents to come here and relax too - even if they’re not golfers.” Non-golfers welcome in a golf club? The very thought might not wash with some clubs, but with others, it could just supply the impetus which finally takes the lid off your very own, highly profitable watering hole.
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Golf Management Europe October 2001
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October 2001Golf Management Europe
Firm Focus Woodclass clearly in a class of their own s most occasional golfers will testify, the biggest and most frequent complaint when visiting a new course is often the lack of visual and informative signage. Beautifully manicured fairways are all well and good, but they count for nothing if visitors to the course are bemused as to where they should be aiming. Play your own course as a visitor would play it - you could be unpleasantly surprised. Let’s start with the basics. Upon entry to the course complex chances are there is a sign directing visitors to the car park and/or clubhouse. Yet when it comes to directing golfers to the first tee, some clubs are sadly lacking. The Rockley Park welcome sign (opposite) is one of the many high-quality signs available from Woodclass.
“With our signs, the location does not matter with regard to the region’s weather, as all our signs are fully weatherproof. But it does pay to have an idea as to where you will be erecting the sign. “Setting the signs in concrete is a popular way of erecting, but it may cause additional mowing time as the edges would need to be trimmed. “With our signs being wooden they are quite rustic and many clubs make a feature out of them by planting some plants in a bark chipping surround for example.” One of the main benefits of using Woodclass Signs is the personal service which has become the company’s trademark in recent years. Along with a free design and consultation service, the Preston-based company can carry out free site surveys and can even supply samples upon request.
“THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT THE INFORMATION ON A SIGN IS TO KEEP THINGS SIMPLE, CLEAR AND INFORMATIVE.” The company offers an attractive and practical signage system with threedimensional graphics on cedar wood obtained entirely from renewable sources. Stunning The sand-blasted effect can be stunning and the company’s clients have included Gleneagles, Valderrama, Kodak, Pepsi and Lufthansa and its signs can be seen on more than 50 courses in most European countries. One of the company’s most recent commissions is for the new Boavista Golf Complex in Lagos, Portugal which is owned by the Emerson Group. Part of the order includes 18 tee boards along with 75 tee marker boards which are smaller than the standard tee board but will still mark the yellow, red, white and black driving distances. Proprietor Ian Watson is happy to offer advice to prospective clients. “The most important thing about the information on a sign is to keep things simple, clear and informative,” he said.
A new full-colour brochure has just been printed which not only details the comprehensive range on offer, but outlines the extensive network of agents across the UK and now throughout Portugal. The company has recently branched into the design, concept and production of scorecards and associated course literature, which can of course help generate invaluable sponsorship revenue to your club. Revenue The extra revenue can then be put to alternative uses by paying for your course signage. “Quite often members run their own companies and it would only cost between £300 to £400 to erect a tee sign with the company’s logo on it. “The member gets permanent advertising for minimum outlay and the course gets free signage.
Woodclass Signs Unit 10, Chandler Business Park, Talbot Road, Preston Lancashire PR25 2ZG T: (44) 01772 435341 F: (44) 01772 435283 W: www.woodclass.co.uk
“It is something which is becoming increasingly common in my experience,” concluded Watson.
Golf Management Europe October 2001
Fiscal Ideas Obtaining finance for your golf operation can often by a complicated matter due to the lack of understanding from potential lenders. Andrew Snook of Textron Financial Corporation suggests an alternative approach.
igh street bank managers develop all types of banking relationships with their customers. Savings account, personal accounts, car finance and commercial lending programmes highlight the multitude of relationships and business types a high street bank manager must oversee. By the very nature of their role as a local bank manager they must understand an awful lot about an awful lot of different things. However, should you try to discuss your business with them you might receive polite nods, blank stares, or derisive laughter. They appreciate your business; they probably do not understand it. It’s not difficult to see why. Golf courses are highly specialised, complicated businesses that often incorporate a restaurant, a high street shop and a recreation centre all on 140 acres of maintained turf. So where does that leave you when you need money using your golf course as security for a loan? More often than not it means you are at a big disadvantage. You fall victim to your bank manager’s uncertainties about your business. While they value your business, they are unlikely to provide anything but a very conservative loan with onerous repayment terms. Typical structures for golf loans from high street banks include low loan
amounts (as a percentage of value or cost), short terms ensuring full repayment of debt within 10 to 15 years, financial covenants that focus on your balance sheet rather than your operating statement, and their low interest rates are often supplemented by on-going loan maintenance charges. At the outset this can mean fewer loan proceeds for you. During the loan’s term it will mean more of your operating cashflow is used to repay your debt or maintain the loan leaving you with less money on a daily basis. In the United States the situation is somewhat different. Local banks still make loans to golf courses and with very similar structures to those deals offered by banks in the UK and Europe. Difference One major difference exists. In the United States, golf course operators have another alternative; commercial credit companies such as Textron Financial Corporation, which has an entire division dedicated to providing nothing but golf course loans. Commercial credit companies have loaned more than $1 billion or £650 million to golf courses in the US. In fact, commercial credit companies have become the single largest source for debt capital required by golf course operators and, as such, have become true specialists lending to golf courses. Their clients range from single owner-operated facilities to the large multi-course operators such as American Golf, ClubCorp, and
LinksCorp. Obviously these companies are doing something right. How have these companies grown their business and successfully competed with local banks whose interest rates are generally lower? Experts Golf lenders have grown their portfolios by being golf business experts. Staffed by former bankers, golf club managers and golf consultants, the commercial credit companies have industry specific experience and depth of knowledge that your high street bank manager is unable to develop. While the bank manager wears many hats, golf lenders wear just one. This focused approach allows golf lenders to view loans from a different perspective and to provide loans with structures more appropriate to the industry. More critically, a golf lender’s experience allows it to be flexible regarding the structure of your deal. While each golf course provides a unique opportunity, golf lenders are able to provide a unique solution to your specific situation rather than make your loan fit their programme. Because golf lenders look only at golf courses they focus on a course’s operating statement to understand the cashflow generated by the facility. Golf lenders lend against that cashflow and its ability to cover the annual debt. As long as cashflow is at least 30 per cent more than the annual debt service (based upon the loan amount,
October 2001Golf Management Europe
the interest rate and period over which the capital balance is to be repaid), golf lenders are comfortable lending at that level. Banks understand the underlying land value rather than the golf course operation and its cashflow stream. Their loans are structured with an advance of 75 per cent of the value of the property almost regardless of the cashflow generated, the operation of the golf course and its ability to cover the annual debt service. Distinction To a bank there is no distinction between a loan’s “term” and its “amortisation”. If you borrow money from a bank for a period of 10 years, your capital balance (the amount you originally borrowed) will be fully repaid or amortised over the 10-year term of the loan.
the cashflow generated annually after debt repayments. Other differences are apparent. Golf lenders require a monthly payment while banks generally look to be repaid on a quarterly basis. However golf lenders look at the monthly variability of your operating cashflow and determine an appropriate payment that can reduce the need for, and the associated charges with, an overdraft facility at the local bank. If you sell annual memberships that provide considerable inflow of cash when they are sold, it makes sense to make a higher payment at that time, rather than make regular quarterly payments and suffering the financial consequences at a time when your cashflow is diminished due to the seasonal nature of your operation.
Golf lenders may also require a guarantee, particularly if the operating profit provides minimal debt coverage, but are willing to let the guarantee lapse once operating profit has improved to a point where debt service coverage reaches a pre-agreed level. Needs Highlighted are some of the ways that golf specialist lenders distinguish themselves from high street banks. While golf lenders cannot claim to be all things to all people they are more likely to understand your situation as golf course operator and offer creative solutions to your financing needs. If interest rate is your overriding concern when examining finance opportunities, then you should visit your local bank and hope the manager is wearing his or her golf hat.
“IF YOU SELL ANNUAL MEMBERSHIPS THAT PROVIDE CONSIDERABLE INFLOW OF CASH WHEN THEY ARE SOLD, IT MAKES SENSE TO MAKE A HIGHER PAYMENT AT THAT TIME” A golf lender may lend you money for up to 10 years but will amortise the capital balance over 20 to 25 years because they are more comfortable with the continuity of cashflow. At the end of the 10-year term there is a final payment consisting of the unamortized capital balance. This structural difference has a significant impact on a golf course’s daily operations and
Both high street banks and golf lenders charge an arrangement fee although the amount can vary and both will expect you to pay any charges associated with closing the loan. Uncertain of the golf business, banks often require credit enhancements for golf loans such as personal and corporate guarantees that remain in place for the life of the transaction.
If you are looking for a higher loan amount, a lower payment, more money as your operating profit improves and generally more flexible terms for your golf loan then you should call a golf specialist lender. They will strive to provide the kind of loan package that has made them the first choice for golf finance in the United States.
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Golf Management Europe October 2001
Portfolio St Andrews signs with Textron Textron has signed a new five-year agreement with St Andrews - effective from January 1, 2002 - to provide a range of turf maintenance equipment to keep the famous links in immaculate condition. As a result Textron will provide turf maintenance equipment to St Andrews Links Trust, the body responsible for the six links courses .
01473 270000 Club range hits the locker room
A new arrival for Netlon The Netlon Group has expanded its range of easy-to-install grass paving solutions with the introduction of Netpave 25 which was launched at IOG SALTEX recently. Netpave 25 provides a good level of protection to grass surfaces for light vehicles, which makes it ideal for use in overspill carparks and other grassed areas occasionally used as paths.
01254 266845 JCB push comfort to the limit
Link Lockers has launched its new Club Range of personal lockers and changing room furniture. The new range features a design style that is space-efficient and adaptable to each location; and interior fittings that are designed to provide comfortable, secure and attractively furnished changing environments for members of all golf clubs.
A new generation of JCB mini excavators has been unleashed on the European market which bring a raft of improvements to the range. JCB’s 801 mini excavators are already the number one brand in the UK and the new range now comprises three main models which place great emphasis on improving operator comfort levels.
The ideal clubhouse solution The new MFCS range of mobile catering counters by IM Design offer users a practical solution to the varying demands of every day in-house catering, in any location that requires a smart but changeable food presentation and serving system. The fully functioning counter system can be set up to serve lunch and then relocated for extra space when needed.
0113 242 0231 Bags of room with Ogio The Ogio Duffel range of luggage offers golf users different designs to suit all tastes including the ‘JPEG’, which is a vast packing space and suitcase, with four interior compartments to help you stay organised. The range is weather resistant and the ‘JPEG’ is equipped with easy rolling spin cycle inline skate wheels and retails around £110.
0113 387 7700 Page 34
DED show-off new range Expected to become the standard receipt printer of choice, due to its price to performance ratio, the TSP600 was shown by DED recently at Leisure Industry Week. This extremely low cost, high quality printer is ideal for any kind of application that needs fast, reliable mono or two colour receipt printing at low cost.
01797 320636 Textron lend local support Teams from Woodbridge Golf Club and Fynn Valley Golf Club, Ipswich won the Textron-sponsored Suffolk Junior Scratch and Handicap competitions at Hintlesham Hall recently. At the prize giving ceremony, David Houston, chairman of Suffolk Junior Golf thanked Textron for their generous sponsorship and Hintlesham Hall for providing a magnificent venue .
01473 270000 October 2001Golf Management Europe
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