GMé | October 2015

Page 1


On the cover...

The Foresight Sports GC2 is the leading launch monitor for every golf club serious about accuracy and indoor golf this winter


£6.50 Issue 104 | October 2015

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

Arguably one of the most recognised golf venues in the world, Yas Links in Abu Dhabi is under new leadership following the departure of Chris White





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On the agenda october 2015 50


Yas links. An island full of riches

Located on Yas Island, in Abu Dhabi, Yas Links sits alongside the Marina Bay F1 circuit and Ferrari World, amid an island full of riches.


EGCOA returns home

The European Golf Course Owners Association marks the tenth anniversary of its annual Golf Business Conference, by return to Amsterdam, venue of the inaugural event.


Longevity the plan for Collier

When director of golf at Stoke Park, Stuart Collier joined the prestigious club in 1999, few would have assumed he’d still be loving his role some 16 years later.


Tax Distortion. Working as One

After reading Michael Lenihan’s comment in the last edition, UKGCOA board member and PGA Fellow, Andrew Sutcliffe, felt compelled to pen a response.



John Deere at The Solheim Cup

The result may not have been ideal for the European team at The Solheim Cup, but St Leon-Rot won widespread acclaim from both teams, thanks to a little support from John Deere.

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Publisher Executive editor Contributors Subscriptions

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from the publisher

“Everybody it would seem now has an award-winning golf course; or provides an award-winning bacon roll – I kid you not”

Awards ‘overkill’ is stretching clubs credibility to breaking point It was, of course, American pop artist Andy Warhol who famously said: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” He was certainly a prophet when it came to reality TV shows, but I’ve no idea whether or not he was a golfer – I suspect not. But his words are apposite nowadays in the golf industry given the plethora of awards and rankings that are given out by everybody from the ‘leading’ consumer golf magazines, to mysterious entities with grandiose titles who seemingly spring up out of nowhere. Everybody it would seem now has an award-winning golf course; or provides an award-winning bacon roll – I kid you not; or even award-winning customer service. The apotheosis of this modern phenomenon comes in the travel industry of course, and here lies the crux of the problem, in travel as in golf. There are far too many organisations out there happy to award gongs – many clubs have a website that looks like the chest of a communist bloc general, so why do they award them? Some because they’ve been doing so for years and have gravitas. Others because it’s a money spinner: they may charge for entry; they may charge for representatives to attend the gala dinner; or they may give it to their best customers. Do awards given under such circumstances really carry any kudos? Surely there will come a time when we reach a tipping point and, the really top clubs

4 | GMé October 2015

AND THE WINNER IS... The recent IAGTO awards ceremony in Tenerife

will eschew boasting of any awards whatsoever. There is, in the golf industry, a good number of reliable PR and marketing agencies doing everything they can to highlight their clients’ good work. Most of the time, they are useful partners for publications such as this, assisting whenever a feature idea is mooted. But recently there has just been a plethora of press releases outlining how club A has been nominated for award B, while hotel C had won an award from a coffee-machine distributor or some such. It’s overkill. And it stretches credibility to breaking point. The only people that can change this are the clubs them-

selves. Once they start to be selective in determining with which awards they’re prepared to associate themselves, normality will be resumed. Golfers aren’t stupid guys. In the meantime let’s see that award for the best award-winning awards ceremony... GMé

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Hold the front page Established as the industry’s leading launch monitor, the GC2 from Foresight Sports is used by golf clubs around the globe, especially when it comes to indoor golf.

If your golf operation still looks upon winter as a hindrance rather than an opportunity, it’s probably down to a lack of Foresight

Cover sponsored by Foresight Sports (44) 01483 779222

6 | GMé October 2015

One of the fastest growing areas in the golf industry in recent years has been the trend towards providing golf all-year round through an indoor facility. Whether it’s converting a bay on a driving range or inside the golf club or pro shop with a simulator or studio, golf clubs and golf professionals are reaping the financial benefits made possible by a technological sea-change within the industry. That change has been created through the use of camera-based launch-monitor technology, which means shots hit indoors are measured exactly – and as accurately – as those struck on a driving range, or on the fairway. And this has allowed golf clubs to provide a full service to their members and visitors, 52 weeks a year. It’s easy to see why golf club owners, operators and directors of golf across Europe are rapidly installing indoor facilities. Winter is now seen as a revenuegenerating opportunity rather than an unavoidable evil. In fact, it’s very much business as usual – the professional continues to give lessons and custom-fits clubs. The club hires out its indoor systems for social golf, practice, corporate events or nearest-the-pin contests, all of which results in the golf club operation gener-

ating increased F&B revenue, as more golfers choose to remain on the premises longer. And there’s the added bonus that the club never has to turn away members or customers who then might seek their winter golf elsewhere. The catalyst for this golfing revolution was the introduction of Foresight Sports’ Game Changer 2 (GC2) and Head Measurement Technology (HMT), the recent winner of ‘Most Innovative Product 2015’ at the annual Foremost Golf Industry Awards. Foresight’s unique camera-based technology is at the heart of the huge growth in indoor facilities across the globe. By directly imaging and measuring the exact movement of the ball and club, it is the only technology designed to work perfectly indoors or out, to the highest accuracy in the industry. And the camera-based approach also provides the ultimate in flexibility and expandability, allowing it to be installed and used wherever there is room to swing a club, or to be used in a net, studio, or to power a state-of-the-art simulator. If your golf operation still looks upon winter as a hindrance rather than an opportunity, it’s probably down to a lack of Foresight. GMé

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Glendale Golf festival smashes newcomers target this summer Glendale Golf, which operates seven public golf centres across the UK, is celebrating after a recent Golf Festival attracted well over 700 newcomers to its facilities. The company had given staff at each of its centres a clear goal: devise and run a Golf Festival in August, banish the stereotypically stuffy image of golf, and attract at least 100 out-and-out first-time golfers to your centre. The staff responded by delivering an emphatic success. By the end of August, over 2,000 people had made their first-ever visit to a Glendale Golf centre, with approaching 1,000 of them trying golf for the very first time. Each centre engaged with local community leaders to invite people to use Glendale Golf facilities for a variety of fun events including live music, craft fairs, children’s attractions and other family entertainment, alongside the golf camps, free beginner lessons and family fun golf challenges which encouraged people to have their first go at golf. “It was a knockout success” said Tom Brooke, managing director of Glendale Golf. “Seeing our golf centres brimming with new faces this summer put everybody on a high, and our people did a superlative job in getting so many people to try golf for the first time. “It proves that golf can still get people off their sofas, and prise them away from

their mobile phone screens, if you make it fun enough. Particularly parents! “Across our golf centres we provided hundreds of them with free outdoor entertainment for their children this summer, and they embraced it. Now, we must follow up on this terrific start, and work on persuading people to come back again and again, and to take – one day – their first steps on the main golf course. “There is constant talk about growing the game of golf. To me, what our managers and staff achieved in August demonstrates that it is simply about identifying

Royal Portrush to host Open

Chief executive of England Golf David Joy announces resignation

The R&A has announced that the 148th Open Championship will be played at Royal Portrush in 2019, marking a historic return to Northern Ireland for golf’s oldest and most international Championship after nearly 70 years. The Open, which was played at Royal Portrush in 1951, when Englishman Max Faulkner lifted the famous Claret Jug, is expected to be the biggest sporting event ever held in Northern Ireland, generating more than £70 million in terms of economic impact and destination marketing benefit. Northern Ireland will be at the centre of world golf from July 18-21, 2019 as The Open is staged outside of Scotland and England for only the second time in the Championship’s history. Peter Unsworth, the chairman of The R&A’s Championship Committee, said: “We are very much looking forward to bringing The Open to Royal Portrush in 2019 and believe it will be a tremendous venue for the Championship.”

8 | GMé October 2015

The Glendale Golf Festival attracted over 2,000 visitors in August

David Joy

David Joy, the chief executive of England Golf, is to leave the organisation at the end of this year to become the chief executive of British Canoeing. He announced his resignation to the Board and to staff last month, and will take up his new appointment on January 1, 2016. England Golf chairman Graham Yates said: “I must thank David Joy for his enthusiasm and support for England Golf and its aspirations. Significant progress has been achieved during his two-andhalf years in office, particularly with the

clear targets at a local level, supplying guidance and motivation, and then giving people freedom to be creative as they set about hitting their goals.” Brooke continued: “I think Glendale Golf has shown that attracting newcomers to golf during the summer holidays is a simple target which, given a reasonable amount of determination, I believe most golf clubs in the UK could achieve. “The task then, of course, would be to retain them as golfers, but imagine what we could do as a sport with the corresponding leap in participation.”

launch of the Strategic Plan for England Golf, Raising Our Game. “David will remain in office until December 31, and the company will continue ‘business as normal’ until a new appointment is made. Arrangements are being put in hand in this respect with immediate effect.” Joy joined England Golf in April 2013, following the merger of the former English Golf Union and English Women’s Golf Association. He brought with him over 25 years of management experience within national and local sports organisations, more than 12 of which have been as a chief executive. During his tenure, he has overseen the launch of the England Golf Strategic Plan, which calls on all who are involved in the sport to work together to create a brighter future for the game. It aims to create more players, more club members, stronger clubs, winning golfers, outstanding championships, an improved image of the game and excellent governance.


Woburn looks its very best thanks to BMS expertise

In brief... ETIQUS, the British brand of distinctive, quality timepieces exclusively for golfers, has raised £10,000 for leading golf charity the Golf Foundation, with the cheque being presented to Golf Foundation chief executive, Brendon Pyle, at the recent Golf Trade Show at Harrogate where ETIQUS debuted its timepiece collection. The R&A has appointed European Tour Productions (ETP) as its new television production partner for The Open, with the two-year agreement coming into effect for the 145th Open Championship, which will be played at Royal Troon next July. ETP will be responsible for providing the world feed from the Championship, which will be used by The R&A’s new broadcast partners for 2016, Sky Sports and NBC Sports Group, and its other international broadcast partners. The reputation of the Verdura Resort in Sicily has risen to new heights after partnering with two of golf’s most influential backers. The resort has become the newest member of IMG Prestige – an exclusive collection of some of the world’s most celebrated golfing venues – while it has also joined forces with HSBC’s Premier Golf Network to promote the resort to its wide-reaching membership database. Vilamoura, situated on the Algarve, has unveiled its master plan for the 400 hectare, second phase in its development. The €1 billion project represents one of the largest real estate developments in Portugal, and provides strong backing for the Portuguese economy and the Algarve region. With an area of 1,700 hectares – eight times the size of Monaco – Vilamoura is also one of the Algarve’s largest leisure developments and one of Portugal’s most important travel destinations.

Woburn Golf Club’s three iconic courses – the Marquess, the Duke’s and the Duchess – have all been sporting a new sharper look thanks to the acquisition of new pin flags, designed especially for the club. John Clarke, courses manager at the prestigious Buckinghamshire club, worked closely with Brit Manufacturing Solutions (BMS) to develop the new flags. Clarke wanted a particular shade of ‘bright white’ to ensure that the highly recognisable burgundy Woburn logo would stand out proudly when embroidered on them, so leaving no stone unturned, he visited the BMS factory and was impressed by just how professionally his requirements were dealt with, and how much care and attention was given to his order. “At Woburn we set high standards and expect all of our suppliers to do likewise,” said Clarke. “The attention to detail that BMS Products demonstrated to me in ensuring that my very specific requests were delivered was extremely impressive. “I felt that I was working with people who knew exactly what they were doing, and how to deliver it to the customer.” BMS Products offer a full range of golf course furniture and equipment and offer the assurance to customers that the

highest quality materials are used and delivered. “Our aim is to collaborate with customers to ensure that their specific requests are achieved, and in the case of Woburn, we were delighted to invite John to our headquarters in Luton to show how we went about producing our flag pins,” explained BMS managing director, James Buckholt, who is currently working with Clarke to refurbish the clubs existing granite tee markers. “Why buy new when you can bring back to life,” added Buckholt. “Many clubs have tee markers which are of extremely high quality, but just need some care and attention and we offer that as a service as well.”

The new Woburn flag by BMS

No rest for Swan Golf Designs as busy period approaches

Nefyn Point in Wales

As the golf season draws to a close Swan Golf Designs (SGD) is looking forward to a busy winter of renovation, both domestically and internationally. On home soil, golf course architects William and Howard Swan will be working in each of the four ‘home’ countries. In England, Barton on Sea Golf Club, in Hampshire, will see four of the nine holes on its Needles course redesigned and refurbished after a successful completion of five holes on the Stroller nine.

SGD is scheduled to return to Saffron Walden Golf Club in Cambridgeshire, and on Teeside, Middlesbrough Golf Club is currently contemplating a major rebunkering exercise. In Scotland, SGD is working on the classic course at King’s Park in Stirling, as the second phase of the rebunkering of the Old Tom Morris/James Braid layout continues, while in Wales, SGD expects to return to Nefyn, on the Llŷn Peninsular, to advance the rebunkering of the Old and New courses. Across the Irish Sea, the Swans return to Holywood Golf Club, in County Down – Rory McIlroy’s home club – to progress the next stage of the long-term redesign and revocation plan and programme. And the busy practice is to return to Bled, in Slovenia, for the next phase of the renovation of the King’s Course, which begins in November. The first phase is in ‘grow-in’ and is scheduled to open in March 2016, and it has already been acclaimed by many who have visited the iconic Julian Alps resort recently. | 9




Al Zaroh opens up to members ahead of December launch The newest golf course in the Middle East – the Al Zorah Golf Club designed by Nicklaus Design – has unveiled new imagery and opened its doors to membership enquiries ahead of the course’s official opening scheduled for December 2015. Managed by Troon Golf, the spectacular par-72 course in Ajman is conveniently located close to Dubai and its popular landmarks. Al Zorah Golf Club also becomes the first new championship venue in the UAE for nearly six years and will initially be opening its membership to a limited number of golfers. Promising to be a truly welcoming facility, Al Zorah Golf Club features a captivating 18-hole championship layout, set amongst a spectacular naturally preserved environment of native sandy areas, lakes and one million square metres of mangroves. As Ajman’s first golf course and Nicklaus Design’s first solo project in the Middle East, Al Zorah Golf Club will feature pristinely manicured fairways and greens alongside an abundance of natural wildlife, 12km of waterfront and a tidal system that alters the dynamics of the course on an hourly basis. “We’re very excited to open our memberships and look forward to welcoming our guests to what is a golfing paradise set amidst a stunning natural environment,” commented Philip

Al Zorah Golf Club which is set to open in December

Henderson, general manager for Al Zorah Golf Club. “As shown in our brand new photography, the work the Nicklaus Design team has done on maintaining the natural beauty of the land and making it part of the course’s personality has been remarkable. The end result is a worldclass golf course set in an extremely refined and eco-friendly environment. “As well as the golf course and its spectacular surroundings, visitors to Al Zorah Golf Club will be welcomed with impeccable service and hospitality thanks to

the partnership with the famous Troon Golf company. The product will provide the perfect fit for the modern golfer who demands quality, a welcoming atmosphere and ultimately good value for money,” concluded Henderson. “Al Zorah Golf Club is an absolutely breathtaking setting for golf and we’re delighted to have been chosen to manage the newest and arguably one of the most distinctive courses in the Middle East,” noted Bruce Glasco, chief operating officer, managing director, Troon International Division.

Wentworth set FootJoy strides ahead of the for member cull competition with sales increase A national UK newspaper has reported that Wentworth’s new Chinese owners have hatched a plan to dump existing club members and replace them with super-rich oligarchs. Renowned as the home of European golf, Wentworth holds a revered place in the sport’s history and is a social hub for the well-heeled residents of the Surrey stockbroker belt. But, reports the Mail on Sunday, members who currently pay £8,000 annual subscriptions – after a one-off joining fee of £15,000 – will now be required to fork out up to an additional £80,000 to buy a ‘debenture’ share, or face being kicked out. An insider told the Mail on Sunday that the club’s Chinese bosses expect only 250 present members out of a total of 3,000 to remain after the price hike. The source said they will be replaced by ‘ultra-high-net-worth’ individuals – those with assets of more than £20 million each.

10 | GMé October 2015

Following the launch of its 2015 range of golf shoes, FootJoy has announced an increase in its market share, with the brand now claiming 51.6 per cent of the value of all shoes sold in the UK. Encompassing the period JanuaryAugust 2015, the latest figures confirm the brand’s market share (value) has risen by 6.5 per cent in the last two years, and continues to sit considerably above the nearest competitor (18.2 per cent). Bolstered by the launch of the brand’s most athletic shoe, HyperFlex, plus the continued success of the popular D.N.A. model, FootJoy’s range of high-performance golf shoes is now its most diverse ever. Indeed, the HyperFlex combined with the D.N.A. have been responsible solely for 11 per cent of the value of all golf shoes sold in the UK in 2015. “We’d like to thank all our retail partners for the very important part they’ve once again played in promoting FootJoy shoes this year,” said Richard Fryer, FootJoy sales & marketing director.

“The brand has almost 100 years of history, but the success in recent years with products like D.N.A. and HyperFlex shows how FJ continues to reinvent itself and come up with designs that satisfy the demand across a broad spectrum of potential customers.” In 2015, FootJoy has remained the overwhelming choice for players on all major professional Tours across the world, with around 66 per cent of European Tour golfers opting for FJ.

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Landowners write to membership to inform them of impending closure Dorset’s largest golf club will close at the end of March with owners blaming a decling golf market. And a letter sent to members from the joint owners of Canford Magna Golf Club expressed their “great sadness and regret” that they were closing the club. Landowners Bill Riddle and RL Harding Ltd wrote to the 900 members, some of whom pay around £900 for annual membership, stating they were shutting the club on March 31 next year. In their letter they said: “The dedication and loyalty shown to us by our members and staff has always been a special characteristic of this club and we therefore send this letter with great sadness and regret.” They said the 350-acre site, which has three courses and opened in 1994, had continued to make a loss in recent years; they also blamed adverse weather and flooding of the course, a reduction in members and a declining golf market.

“Our staff are aware of the cost cutting in recent years despite us trying our very best not to reduce our standards, but increased overhead costs have also contributed.” The letter added: “We view all our members as friends, and this is

Club treasurer avoids prison

Investment in Toro leads to vast improvement for Hallmark

A financial adviser who embezzled thousands of pounds from a prestigious golf club has escaped a jail sentence. Barry Miller was treasurer at the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club when more than £10,000 went missing from the club’s accounts four years ago. Miller, 36, had claimed he had invested the vast amounts of cash in a bid to turn a profit for the club. But during his trial the “financial wizard”, who worked with HSBC at the time, could provide no proof he was ever authorised to do so, or prove where the money actually went. Miller was also slammed by a sheriff for lying during his trial after he claimed his father was looking after £11,500 of the investment’s proceeds which would be paid back to the club. But during a subsequent court appearance Miller then told Sheriff, Kevin Drummond, that he had given “inaccurate information” regarding the cash and that no money was being held by his father. Drummond described Miller as “something of a fantasist” as he sentenced him to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work. In sentencing, Sheriff Drummond said: “Over the course of four days I had the clearest possible evidence that Barry Miller had applied club funds of £11,000 to his own ends. Mr Miller’s conduct throughout the trial led me to believe he was something of a fantasist.”

Two golf courses, Hallmark Cambridge and Hallmark Welcombe, are seeing a vast improvement on all their playing surfaces thanks to Toro. The delivery of two fleets of Toro greens, grounds and fairways mowers, utility vehicles, aeration machinery, plus top dressers and sprayers for both clubs has taken place following the Hallmark Hotels rebrand earlier this year, since their acquisition by the Topland Group from the Menzies Hotel chain at the end of 2013. “This is a significant investment by the company,” said Shaun Van Looy, general manager at Hallmark Welcombe.

12 | GMé October 2015

Richard Harding (left) and Bill Riddle at the opening of the Knighton Course at Canford Magna in 2004.

therefore an extremely difficult route but we wanted to give you as much notice and support as possible.” They assured members they would work with other local golf clubs to try to secure them a favourable deal.

“Both courses had the potential to be the best in the local area but were suffering from under investment. This enables them to reposition and redefine themselves using modern machinery.” And the machines are making a big impact already says Matthew Davis, course manager for both clubs: “Toro has without question helped us achieve what we all strive for and that is good, consistent playing surfaces. “We have struggled with poor machinery in the past making this job harder than it ought to be. Now four of us can get the whole course cut, with the exception of the rough areas, in four hours.”

The greenkeeping team at Hallmark Welcombe with some of the new Toro machines

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Arnold Palmer Tribute course plans submitted for approval at Castle Stuart More than 50 jobs could be created with the proposed building of a second golf course at Castle Stuart Golf Links in partnership with the Arnold Palmer Group. Detailed plans to develop the Palmer Tribute course adjacent to the existing links have now been submitted to The Highland Council. It is hoped approval for the new multimillion pound course will be granted in January to allow work to begin in the spring, just a couple of months before Castle Stuart hosts the Scottish Open for the fourth time in six years. The Arnold Palmer Group is investing in the current partnership at Castle Stuart and senior architects from the company are lined up to join the current on-site team to design and build the new course. The intention is to complete the project in late summer of 2018, ahead of an official opening the following year. Arnold Palmer commented: “We are all delighted that the plans for the course are now submitted, and look forward to breaking ground next year. “We have waited a long time to develop our first course in Scotland – the home of golf – and working with the skilled, professional and enthusiastic team at Castle Stuart, we aim to create something truly special.”

The land is already zoned for two golf courses as well as a hotel and lodges. It is envisaged separate plans will be put forward at a later stage for proposed infrastructure developments. Stuart McColm, general manager at Castle Stuart Golf Links, said: “The lodging of plans for the Palmer Tribute

Homes set for former course

No more winter temps at Newport after Terrain Aeration intervention

A property developer has won planning permission for a 572-home residential complex and new sporting facilities on the former Herne Bay Golf Club site. Quinn Estates had previously had an application for the 100-acre plot turned down, but councillors this time voted unanimously in favour of the scheme. The plans include 572 homes, commercial office space and football, hockey and cricket pitches. Resubmitted proposals had received 1,200 letters of support – the vast majority using a template created by Quinn Estates – and just four objections. The developer’s Mark Quinn said: “What we’re giving away – the sports pitches and changing rooms – is worth £20 million. I want a common-sense approach. We want to be allowed to develop houses in an area which desperately needs them. “People need to take a more positive approach to development. They need to realise that unless land is released to be used for housing, their children will have nowhere to live. You cannot take the attitude ‘not on my patch’.”

The course at Newport Golf Club in South Wales is fairly flat and sits about 300ft above sea level, and it is in the winter, that four of the wettest greens are most likely to be put out of use. Terrain Aeration were recently called in to treat these greens in a day-long trial, with the greens believed to be of clay-cup construction. Closer inspection however revealed evidence of plugging – where the golf balls have failed to bounce and had buried themselves in the wet and soft turf – despite regular pencil tining by the greenkeeping staff. Treatment applied using the Terralift machine was on normal two metre spacing to a depth of one metre. Dense red clay was encountered at about 700mm which was penetrated after a short period of hammering, and dried, milled seaweed was injected to maintain aeration. It was found the surfaces of the four greens were very tender, so only an eight bar pressure was used, producing a ripple of movement but leaving the greens undamaged. The probe holes were then backfilled to within 75mm of

14 | GMé October 2015

Arnold Palmer at Castle Stuart

course marks a significant milestone in our development, and the new course would provide a huge economic boost for Inverness, the Highlands and Scotland. “However, we want to ensure it is developed in the correct way, with community backing and with the support of local and national statutory bodies.”

Terrain Aeration in action at Newport

the top, using Lytag aggregate, with a plug of the club’s preferred top dressing then added to each hole. The greens were back in play, with the whole process taking just two hours per green, and before they were even finished there was a noticeable improvement to the firmness of each green. With the problem solved, Terrain Aeration will be returning to Newport later in the year to treat the rest of the greens on the course as well as doing some one metre depth soil coring.

picture gallery

In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news of the beginning of Martin Slumbers tenure as chief executive of the R&A.







In brief... The new SkyTrak personal golf launch monitor and golf simulator is a joint venture between SkyCaddie parent company SkyGolf, and digital technology company SportTrak, which launches in the UK this autumn. SkyTrak combines the accuracy of a professional-grade golf launch monitor – suitable for golf equipment custom-fitting – with the high definition visuals of top-end golf simulator software. Retailing at just £1,695, the low price point makes this technology realistically available to consumers, golf clubs and professionals for the first time. Mark Alexander, has become a consultant partner of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects. An award-winning golf photographer whose work is used to bring marketing and advertising campaigns to life, Alexander is commissioned by golf clubs, resorts, tourism bodies and magazines – including GMé – with his photographs having the ability to capture the beauty of the world’s best known golf courses. Curacao Golf & Squash Club, which is located in the southern Caribbean, has become the latest golf resort to select Carousel Golfing for their bag storage needs, with the club choosing to install the Armadillo rotating lockers for their new clubhouse, which will officially open at the end of October. PowaKaddy, continues to reinforce its reputation for product reliability and performance by introducing an extended three-year warranty on its flagship FW7 and FW7 EBS models. “The new three-year warranty offers that reassurance to the consumer, that when they buy the FW7 they’re getting a robust, feature-packed and cutting-edge designed trolley, that represents incredible value for money,” said John deGraft-Johnson, PowaKaddy chairman.


Martin Slumbers began his tenure as chief executive of The R&A and secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews at the end of last month, succeeding Peter Dawson who retired after leading the R&A for past 16 years.


Highspeed Group has appointed Martin Sternberg to distribute their ClearWater system in Scandinavia, with Sternberg responsible for sales, servicing and installation of Highspeed’s washpad water recycling system.


Long-serving greenkeeper Tam Sutherland has been rewarded for 29 years’ loyal service at his golf club, the Westerwood Hotel & Golf Resort in Cumbernauld, by having a bridge named in his honour to mark his retirement.


Burhill Golf Club, one of ten UK BGL Golf venues, has appointed Matthew Hazelden as its new general manager, who has over 25 years’ experience in the golf industry, including an 11 year stint as a touring professional.


Felix Fritzen from Germany, has joined Abu Dhabi Golf Club as an assistant golf professional, adding further professional golf expertise to the renowned Troon Golf managed venue in the Middle East.


A greenkeeper’s spectacular photograph of the Northern Lights taken on the course where he works, has won Darren Chisholm, from Castle Stuart Golf Links in Scotland, the annual BIGGA photography award. | 15



company profile

“Biral is one of the world leaders in meteorological instrumentation and its BTD-300 Thunderstorm Detector is a standalone sensor that reliably detects the presence of all forms of lightning”

LIFE SAVER The BTD-300 Thunderstorm Detector from Biral can guard against lightning strikes

Biral strikes to guard against Thunderstorms As Dr Alec Bennett, meteorological scientist at Biral explains, their new early thunderstorm detection system can help golf clubs guard against lightning strikes out on the course.

Company Profile sponsored by Biral (44) 01275 847787

16 | GMé October 2015

In a recent paper published by the Royal Meteorological Society, 33 per cent of all lightning incidents occur at sports and recreation grounds and parks, with 27 per cent of these being fatal. With the weather patterns across Europe ever-changing, severe weather events including destructive and dangerous thunderstorms are expected to become more and more frequent, according to industry experts. Lightning has always been a major concern for golf course owners and operators across the globe, but it’s fair to say that the subject matter has been taken far more seriously in the United States in the past, than it has here in Europe – until now perhaps. “When people think of lightning deaths, they usually think of golf,” said

John Jensienius, a lightning safely specialist with the National Weather Service in the US. Working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, numbers of deaths relating to lightning strikes out on the golf course has significantly fallen in recent years according to Jensienius. “We have made a concerted effort to raise lightning awareness in the golf community since we began the campaign in 2001,” he said, “and we believe our outreach has made a huge difference, since lightning-related deaths on golf courses have decreased by approximately 75 per cent.” So the announcement of a new thunderstorm detector from Biral – which can provide early warning of these lightning strikes – should be of real interest to golf

LIGHTNING STRIKES The raw energy of a lightning strike

course owners and operators this side of the Atlantic, especially given the more erratic nature of the weather in recent years. This new system is ideal for the golf industry, and can warn club management of an impending thunderstorm, in order for them to ensure that golfers out on the course, can make their way back to the relative safety of the clubhouse. Biral’s experience from the aviation and industrial sectors where the dangers of lightning activity have been understood for many years, has allowed the company to develop its new BTD-300 Thunderstorm Detector for many different applications – golf included. Whilst there are existing lightning systems available, these only alert after the strikes have begun, whereas Biral’s new BTD-300 uses a quasi-electrostatic operating principle which gives early warnings of overhead lightning risk and detects strikes as far as 83km away.

“Biral is one of the world leaders in meteorological instrumentation and its BTD-300 Thunderstorm Detector is a standalone sensor that reliably detects the presence of all forms of lightning,” said a company spokesman. “The detector has a very low false alarm rate and the ability to warn of the risk of overhead lightning.” The basic sensor detects and ranges both cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. The ability to reliably detect and range cloud-to-cloud lightning, which is typically much more common than cloud-to-ground strikes, makes the BTD-300 much more sensitive to the presence of storms compared to devices that rely solely upon detecting radio emissions from the lightning. As cloud-to-cloud lightning often precedes cloud-to-ground strikes, the sensor can give the user earlier warnings of lightning risk. The quasi-electrostatic operating principle allows the sensor

to detect charged precipitation and the presence of strong electric fields, both of which are indicators of lightning risk. In this way the BTD-300 can warn of the risk of overhead lightning before the first lightning strike occurs. By monitoring the slow-varying electrostatic field rather than relying on radio wave detection, the BTD-300 is almost immune to electromagnetic interference which is the major cause of false alarms for radio based detectors. It is thus the ideal choice for high radio emission environments, for example where there are communication antennas or overhead electric pylons. Virtually maintenance free in operation, the BTD 300 can either interface directly to an integrated system or be operated using the supplied display and logging software, and the optional warning relay module allows the sensor to automatically sound alarms whenever a storm approaches. GMé | 17



yas links

Yas Links. An island full of riches Located on Yas Island, the world famous Yas Links sits alongside the Marina Bay F1 circuit and Ferrari World. Michael Lenihan reports from Abu Dhabi.

Given there’s a seemingly endless supply of sandy coast in the Middle East, it’s perhaps somewhat surprising that it took until 2010 for a links course to be laid out in the UAE. But it was worth the wait. Designed by Kyle Phillips, Yas Links started accumulating plaudits and awards almost as soon as the first tee shot was hit – if not before. Located on the western shore of Yas Island, with stunning views of the Arabian Gulf, the course certainly sits well alongside fellow Phillips’ designs, such as The Grove, Kingsbarns and South Cape. The golf course is just part of a massive leisure resort, a ten-minute drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport, and owned by Aldar Properties. In addition to a 7,450-yard championship course, and the now de rigueur world-class practice facilities, there is a Formula 1 circuit at Marina Bay – home to the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Ferrari World, which can lay claim to being the world’s largest indoor theme park; Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi’s largest

18 | GMé October 2015

shopping centre; and Yas Waterworld, a futuristic water-park. Throw in more top-quality hotels than you could fire a ProV1 at, and even an IKEA, and there’s little that is not covered. If you want the ‘real’ Middle East you’d be better off looking elsewhere. This is to indigenous Arabian culture as Orlando is typical of the ‘real’ USA. But like the fun capital of the world, it’s a spectacular success. And golf was always going to be at the heart of such a development. The vast majority of UAE citizens are ex-pats. Not all of them play – but the money men of the UAE were confident enough would, and that others would fly in for the experience. They do. Indeed, I did. And it was worth the effort. My reason for stopping by was primarily Yas Links, although the attraction of Ferrari World coupled with the chance to ride around the Marina Bay Circuit was also a consideration. That my wife accompanied me and headed straight for Yas Mall was, she insisted, purely coincidental.

UNIQUE DESIGN The 12th hole at Yas Links, with the circular Aldar building in the distance, and above, the GIRLentrance TALK to the Academy at Yas Links A coupe of senior lady golfers share a joke on the green

Yas Links’ – and Kyle Phillips’ for that matter – affectionate nod to the Home of Golf is clear upon arrival, as an imposing statue of Old Tom Morris is one of the first things that takes your eye – further tributes to St Andrews comes with the unexpected double green of the 12th and 15th holes. Such tradition may seem incongruous in a world most definitely hewn from the 21st century.

But it works and it’s a nice touch. It says ‘yes this is most definitely a modern destination, but we have enormous respect for the history and traditions of the game of golf.’ Hardly surprising, given Phillips’ previous masterpieces. But the brief here was slightly different. Phillips not only had a golf course to design, but also, in effect, an entire coastline.

Eight holes play along the water’s edge and, in shaping his golf holes, the American created a headland, bays and coves. If it wasn’t genuine links-land originally, it certainly seems like it now. There is a feel of Kingsbarns to the place; again, understandably so, given that it was such a massive success for Phillips and marked his appearance on the world stage. | 19



yas links FORZA YAS Left, the academy at Yas Links which is located adjacent to Ferrari World; below, the view from behind the green on the third hole looking back towards the clubhouse; right the 13th hole and below, the view from the Rotana hotel on Yas Island, with Ferrari World and the Marina Bay Circuit in the background

“It is interesting talking to golfers as they come in from their rounds – you can see the exhilaration and enjoyment in their faces. They know they have played a very special golf course”

Whether the purist golf designer in him would be overjoyed at the close proximity of so much glitz, however, remains open to debate. Incongruity is a consistent – albeit accidental – theme running through this resort like five-stars through a stick of UAE rock. The backdrop to the first hole is Yas Waterworld, which has the appearance of a dystopian city post-Cyberdyne Systems – all strange protruding shapes and large tubes. And the milieu for the closing holes is the world’s largest corporate logo, atop the Ferrari World building. It doesn’t exactly add to the ambiance, but it certainly sticks in the mind. Putting to one side the somewhat unappealing backdrop to some parts, the course itself is stunning: superbly shaped, brilliantly maintained and memorable to play.

20 | GMé October 2015

Phillips has an innate ability to complement and improve existing land forms. Keep your back to the leisure developments and the coastal course looks as good as any out there. Credit should also go to the former general manager, Chris White, who recently moved on to head-up the new Ayla Oasis project in Jordan, a $1 billion waterfront golf resort designed by Greg Norman. White can be proud that he has left his stamp on what is certain to maintain its lofty place in the myriad world of golf course rankings, so beloved by consumer magazines. Commenting prior to his departure, White said: “Kyle has created a breathtaking golf experience at Yas Links and one that is unique in the Middle East. It is a rolling, heaving golf course, weaving through sand hills and wending its way

along the shoreline with views of the Arabian Gulf on all 18 holes. “It is interesting talking to golfers as they come in from their rounds – you can see the exhilaration and enjoyment in their faces. They know they have played a very special golf course. “The UAE has been fantastic to me both personally and professionally, and I will always be indebted to the opportunities that were presented. “It’s been home for 16 years. I arrived with no grey hair, a wife and a ten-week old baby girl and I left with two kids, two dogs, two cats and the same eversupportive wife and lots of grey hair! “I am very sad to leave Abu Dhabi. I love Yas Links and I loved what I was doing. It was just that I needed a new challenge. I start a new adventure in Jordan and I am really looking forward to it.”

Why Yas Island Rotana is in pole position

Howie Roberts, formerly of The Address Montgomerie in Dubai, has taken up the baton and will surely continue to grow the reputation of this masterpiece of stunning golf design. We stayed at the Yas Island Rotana – a convenient location for Yas Links and the other attractions nearby. It offers 308 rooms and suites, and while I can’t recommend each one individually, I was certainly more than content with the one I called home for a few nights. There is definitely an air of high-end tourism about the region and unashamedly so. The Emiratis have spent money in billions to attract money in billions, and it’s hard to argue against their business plan, even if you wanted to. I came for the golf course and I was not disappointed, although playing golf in Abu Dhabi in July wouldn’t be an experience I’d be keen to repeat – I

played with head pro Chris Dodds, and despite teeing off at 7am to avoid the worst of the heat, temperatures still peaked at 43 degrees out on course. I was surprised by the concomitant development on the landward side, but it did not detract from the overall feeling of awe. One can rest assured that the classiest development of all on Yas Island is Yas Links. Don’t for one second believe that any of the foregoing meant I did not appreciate my surroundings. Far from it. I’m also a keen F1 fan, so a nearby circuit and Ferrari World were like manna from heaven for me. But I attempted to retain the detached air of a golf industry journalist and, as such, highlighted where others might see incongruity. I am, after all, a professional. Now, where did I put that Ferrari F1 baseball cap? GMé

Yas Island Rotana is conveniently located on the spectacular Yas Island, a breathtaking destination that will take you beyond your wildest dreams. Located a few minutes away from the Yas Marina Circuit – home to the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Links Golf Club, Yas Marina, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, Yas Mall and Yas Beach, the hotel is the ideal venue for visitors seeking to experience all that Yas Island has to offer. Conveniently situated just ten minutes from Abu Dhabi International airport; 20 minutes from the Abu Dhabi business district and 40 minutes from Dubai, the hotel’s 308 spacious rooms and suites are designed with international flair to suit guests seeking privacy, personalised service and unparalleled quality. Keep fit and relaxed with Bodylines providing tranquillity through its spa and massage treatments, invigoration through its gym facilities and complete relaxation through its outdoor pool. The hotel boasts a fine choice of eateries, including the exceptional Blue Grill Steakhouse – hearty steaks of US and Australian Prime Angus Beef are the stars of this restaurant, with choice cuts and more, all chargrilled to order, guaranteed to satisfy even the biggest of appetites. To experience Yas Island and its unique destinations, Yas Express is a complimentary transport service available to all hotel guests, providing pick-up and drop off at all attractions on Yas Island. | 21


egcoa conference

HILTON HONOURS Jay Karen, left, the new CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association, will join the stage at the Schiphol Hilton hotel in Amsterdam, pictured below

PRIZED ASSET Golf club trophies are a value commodity for burglars

EGCOA returns home to celebrate tenth anniversary As the European Golf Course Owners Association marks the tenth anniversary of its annual Golf Business Conference, John King takes a closer look at this years agenda. The European Golf Business Conference is headed home to Amsterdam next month to celebrate it’s tenth anniversary, with the Schiphol Hilton hotel hosting the event between November 25-27. Commenting on this years conference, Lodewijk Klootwijk, EGCOA director said: “We are delighted to be marking the tenth anniversary of the EGCOA and the conference, back home where it all started in Amsterdam. “Since the inaugural conference in 2006 the event has grown from strength to strength, welcoming many of the most influential people in the European and global golf industry.

“Building on the momentum and overwhelming response received over the year for the VISION 2020 project, the tenth anniversary event is set to be an inspirational and memorable celebration of the EGCOA’s work over the last decade,” added Klootwijk. The 2015 conference theme ‘From VISION to Action’ is shaped by the success of the EGCOA’s VISION 2020 project, which has highlighted the need for change within the golf industry, and this year in Amsterdam, the focus will be on taking action. The conference will welcome some of Europe’s most forward thinking golf course owners, managers and knowledge

leaders to the stage to share their game changing strategies. With a varied and interesting line-up of speakers planned for this years event, there will be plenty of topics to discuss throughout the two-days, including an enlightening presentation by Dr Roeland Dietvorst who will be taking a step back this year and helping delegates understand the ‘why’ of their customers. With a background in biological and cognitive psychology and a PhD in Applied Neuroscience, Dietvorst will take you on a journey through the brain. Delegates will gain new insights into the game of golf, but most importantly will gain an understanding of how their | 23



“Golf is still very popular, but is facing many challenges to which we must react with a contemporary idea, vision and a plan of action”

IS IT A BIRD... A plane takes off from Schiphol airport above the International Golf Club

customers think, why they buy, what they value, and how to most effectively communicate with them. During the interactive presentation, Dietvorst will reveal the neural mechanisms underlying value perception and decision-making, and provide many eye-openers into the driving forces behind your customers behaviour. Keeping the spotlight on the customer will be the European Hotelier of the year Eric Toren, who will reveal the secret strategy to not only managing your customer’s expectations, but exceeding them every time. Most course owners and operators have seen – and maybe even tried – different approaches to driving additional revenues at their golf facilities in the last number of years. Hopefully some of these have been a success, but lets face it, most fail. But why? Perhaps because they are not forward thinking enough? In the featured session entitled ‘GOT VISION’ Europe’s most forward thinking golf course owners and managers will share some of their game changing approaches and successful strategies that they have put in place to drive new revenues.

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Building on this inspiration of these successful owners and managers, Gregg Patterson, general manager of The Beach Club in Santa Monica, California, will lead delegates in an interactive workshop entitled ‘I dare you to take action’. In the workshop Patterson will share some of his secret recipes to success, and inspire delegates to develop their own for the 2016 season. Understanding the current and future trends both in the European and US golf market, is key in guiding your plan of action for the 2016 season. Jay Karen, the new CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association will join the stage for the first time at the conference to share the latest trends, opportunities and challenges facing the US golf market. Dan Noorderloos, marketing manager & customer strategies manager for Transavia Airlines, will take delegates on a journey in their customers shoes. Noorderloos will aim to highlight why this key aspect of customer satisfaction is so important, and will outline simple strategies to enrich your customers journey and make it an unforgettable one. ‘What does your brand say about your business?’ is a common question often

overlooked in the planning and development of a golf course’s branding. Leading branding consultant, Chris Lightfoot of Whitestone Golf will host a workshop entitled ‘The Contemporary Game.’ “Golf is still very popular, but is facing many challenges to which we must react with a contemporary idea, vision and a plan of action,” commented Lightfoot. In the workshop, delegates can expect to understand how their brand is perceived, how they can develop a strong commercial offering, and what steps can be taken to further align their brand with the target market. In addition to the leading line up of inspirational speakers, the tenth anniversary event will also play host to the big hitters in European Golf at the seventh annual European Multi-Course Owners meeting. And in true Dutch fashion, the anniversary celebrations will start at one of the Netherlands leading golf facilities, The International. The Ian Woosnam designed championship course will hosts the ten-year anniversary dinner and awards ceremony along with the conference golf tournament. GMé

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stuart collier

Longevity the plan for Collier at Stoke Park When director of golf at Stoke Park, Stuart Collier joined the prestigious club in 1999, few would have assumed he’d still be loving his role some 16 years later. Michael Lenihan met up with the man responsible for the golf operation at the iconic golf venue.

26 | GMé October 2015 ICONIC SURROUNDINGS Stuart Collier stands proudly in front of the iconic clubhouse at Stoke Park (main picture), and right, the Repton Bridge

In an era where some directors of golf change their jobs more often than they renew their waterproofs, it’s refreshing to sit down and chat with somebody who’s in no hurry to find something fresh. That’s not to say that Stoke Park’s incumbent, Stuart Collier, lacks ambition. Far from it. But his ambitions lay close to home. At Stoke Park in fact. The quietly spoken Collier, 42, enjoys the fact that Stoke Park is constantly changing – not reinventing itself necessarily, but just growing organically. Having joined the Stoke Poges club in 1999, Collier can look back on 16 years of progress – both for the club and his professional career. And he admits, it would be a wrench to leave even if he could find somewhere that matched the facilities on offer at Stoke Park. He explained: “Stoke Park would be a very difficult place to leave. If you wanted to stay in the UK there’s quite a short list of venues that would attract you. When you’ve worked in the proprietary half of the industry, moving back into the members’ side of things would be quite a challenge. “Stoke Park ticks every box for what I’d be looking for within a job role and the longer I’ve been here the more the product has changed. A 3-series BMW released in 2004 isn’t anything like a version released in 2015, and Stoke Park is like that. The people behind the club don’t want to sit still and the club changes every single year. “You’re always encouraged to be creative to find ways of improving the busi-

ness, so it hasn’t felt as if I’m standing still. Stoke Park, the brand, has a much higher profile than it did maybe ten years ago, so I haven’t felt the urge or need to look away. “Within that time I’ve managed to create a fantastic team of people that I enjoy working with. I like seeing them flourish and take the business forward and it’s very rewarding to be involved in that. “The perfect mix in the golf industry, for me, is to be working at a proprietary club that has a 100-year-old golf course and a 200-year-old clubhouse. All the great things about a members’ club we’ve got: we’ve a Harry Colt golf course, wonderful parkland, an amazing, iconic clubhouse… but it’s run as a new proprietary club. “You can wear jeans in the clubhouse; if your phone rings it’s not an issue; if you want to bring your kids here, great!” His part in the success of Stoke Park has not gone unrecognised by his peers and he is well respected within the industry. But, if things had turned out differently, Collier might have been pounding the beat instead of walking the fairways. “When I was young I actually thought about going into the police force,” he smiled. “I had family in the force and I knew I wanted to be working outside with people, so I had gone to speak to them when I left school. They said come back when you’ve got some life experience, by which time my life had gone in a different direction.”

“You can wear jeans in the clubhouse; if your phone rings it’s not an issue; if you want to bring your kids here, great!” | 27



stuart collier

“A lot of guys in golf jobs are, in their minds, failed players. I was never a player”

SIDE ELEVATION The par 3, 15th hole with the clubhouse acting as a backdrop

That direction was golf. Yet, unlike many of his contemporaries, it was not a route with its basis in family history or prodigious childhood talent. Indeed, he didn’t start playing golf until he was 13, when, on a summer holiday in Cornwall, he spent most of the fortnight playing the nine-hole pitch-and-putt course at the holiday park to which his parents had taken the family. Even then, it wasn’t until he repeated the same two-week routine the following summer that he decided to take up the sport as a hobby. “After that second holiday, we came back and joined Hazlemere Golf Club, which was walking distance from where I was living at the time. Christian and Luke Donald were there at the time – I know Chris quite well, as he’s my age. Luke was the curly haired ‘diddy’ one who beat everybody,” laughed Collier, in recollection. “So I played every day during the summer holidays. I was 14 when I got my first handicap, which was ten. “Hazlemere was a very warm and welcoming club and I think its maintained that reputation – we’re talking here about the mid-80s, it was a new proprietary club which was the exception compared to other clubs locally. “There weren’t too many restrictions on juniors, there were a good number of youngsters to play with and I already had some friends there, so going in from a non-golfing background wasn’t a problem. You quickly slip into an environment where they can mentor you to a certain extent on how to behave and where to go.

28 | GMé October 2015

“Heading into a private members club without a family golfing connection at that time would have been that much more challenging I think. The bulk of us all subsequently moved to another club, and then played a bit more – I didn’t have lessons there just played. I didn’t get any coaching until I’d started my PGA when I was 19.” And again, the sporty Collier – he enjoyed all sports and is to this day a diehard Manchester United fan – eschewed the traditional approach to the role of golf professional. He explained: “You can’t start your PGA training until your handicap reaches a certain level, so every round you’re playing you’re thinking ‘is today the day?’ “It took me at least a year to get my handicap down enough to get on to the programme. A lot of guys in golf jobs are, in their minds, failed players. I was never a player; I was a decent golfer and my golf has got better throughout my career. But coming into the PGA for me was about a career in golf, it wasn’t with ambitions to become a player. “I struggled with my handicap; I turned pro off four and I really struggled to get my handicap down. Golf was something I enjoyed, but it was a game; suddenly, when you start working in a pro shop people assume, because you’re an assistant pro, you’re of a certain standard.” His career in golf began at Flackwell Heath, in 1990 as an assistant professional. Five years later he moved to Burnham Beeches, before he was asked if he fancied joining Alistair Barr, the club professional at the soon-to-open Harleyford Golf Club, in Marlow.

Moving to the club just six weeks before it opened gave Collier a lot of valuable experience and some new insights too. “I really took a shine to the retail side of the business and got very involved because Alistair was a busy coach. There was a new breed of golfer coming into the new club so they wanted equipment, logoed clothing… there was much more of a desire to come into the shop and actually shop than I’d known previously. “I did three years there and for the last year was almost running the shop. The job that came up here at Stoke Park was for a pro to run the golf shop. It was the best club in the area, great course, and a fairly affluent membership. “I was in that role for probably only for a year, tops. I then became head professional rather than retail manager as David Woodward, the director of golf, was heavily involved in other areas of the business.” That was in 2000 when he was aged just 27. He became director of sport at the club but felt he really wanted to take the golf side of the business forward and, spreading himself thinly, did not enable him to do so. Fortunately the owners were responsive and he took on the director of golf position in 2003. Looking back he said: “I wanted to take golf forwards, and the time I could allocate to it meant that it was just ticking along. Sometimes you get into a role and realise it’s not what you want to do – golf is my passion.” And it remains so to this day. Collier, it would appear, still believes there’s a rich seam to be mined at Stoke Park. GMé



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firework displays MARSH’S DISCLAIMER The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable and should be understood to be general risk management and insurance information only. The information is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such. Marsh is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

How to avoid a Bonfire Nightmare Aidan Patrick learns from insurance brokers Marsh, about the risks involved with hosting a fireworks event this season. Guy Fawkes night is a time of excitement for children and adults alike, and a time when many golf clubs host organised firework and bonfire displays. Whilst such events represent an opportunity to engage with members, the wider community, and to raise funds, they also pose significant risks. No-one wants what should be an enjoyable family evening to turn into a nightmare. Making sure everything runs smoothly starts with understanding the potential risks and taking sensible precautions to mitigate them. First and foremost, there is the risk to health and safety. The facts are startling, and give real pause for thought. For instance, in 2005 – the last year in which firework accident statistics were collected – the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents found that almost 1,000 people were injured by fireworks1. Meanwhile, research conducted by The British Ophthalmic Surveillance Unit (BOSU) found that ten people a year lose their sight as a result of accidents with fireworks2. Clearly the danger to life and limb is of the utmost importance, but there are knock-on consequences for event organisers, should the worst happen. Liability claims might well follow, as well as health and safety investigations, even criminal investigation – all of which offer significant incentive, if it was needed, to do everything necessary to avoid accidents. Health and safety is not the only potential risk associated with hosting a bonfire night event.

30 | GMé October 2015

Damage to property can also be a real issue of concern including fences catching fire, broken windows, or damaging roof tiles. In addition, Bonfire Night also represents an increased burglary risk, with the noise of fireworks providing cover for the sounds of break-ins. Minimising these potential risks, by taking some simple precautions will help ensure a fun and safe time is enjoyed by all. Firstly, be sure to inform the fire brigade and police of your plans and prepare a drill for calling out the emergency services, just in case they should be required. Planning for crowd control and crowd safety is vitally important too – as is your choice of site. Choose a site that is suitable and large enough for your display and bonfire, making sure there is enough space for fireworks to land well away from spectators. Before you make your final selection, thoroughly survey the site in daylight, checking in particular for potential hazards like overhead power lines and other obstructions, and consider the direction of the prevailing wind and what would happen if it were to change. Consider whether dense smoke from your display or bonfire could affect nearby buildings, or limit visibility on nearby roads for instance. Could fireworks land in a different area to that you had anticipated? Think carefully about access too. Be sure to select a site with as many entrances and exits as possible – ensure all are clearly signposted, free from obstructions, and well lit.

EDITORIAL SOURCES DTI Firework Injuries Statistics, 2005.1 A British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit study on serious ocular injuries from fireworks in the UK, 2008.2

the considerations detailed here will go some way to reducing the risk associated with holding a bonfire night display at your golf club

CORPORATE BRANDING Part of the new-look identity for Marsh’s LinksMaster Golf Club Insurance

Other simple actions you may wish to consider, include carrying out a thorough risk assessment to identify hazards to employees, volunteers, members, and others involved or attending the event. Also, put in place plans for spectator control including controlling entrances (preferably via a ticketing system) – and insist children under 18 are accompanied by an adult, whilst providing at least one steward per 250 guests. Make sure adequate first aid facilities can be provided and give the emergency services details of the event, including details of emergency vehicle access. Ensure the bonfire is a manageable size and built at least 50 metres clear of buildings, pylons, trees, and long grass. Never use accelerant to light the fire and ensure a water supply is easily available, and ensure that all fireworks are properly inspected prior to use and handled only by designated members or specialist contractors. Think about who will operate the display. Whilst you can light category one, two, and three fireworks – we would

recommend employing the services of a professional firework display operator. For category four fireworks, you must always use a professional display operator. Finally, at the end of the evening, a responsible adult should make sure that the bonfire is safe by raking over the embers and damping them down. While this is not an exhaustive list of preventative measures, and specific risks will vary from club to club, the considerations detailed here will go some way to reducing the risk associated with holding a bonfire night display at your golf club. The most important action of all is to notify your insurance broker or provider that you are hosting an event. They should help manage your insurance programme for you and provide further guidance if required. Be aware that not all insurance policies will cover such events or may impose specific restrictions and warranties relating to the event. It is important to understand these, and to be able to comply. GMé

Firework Facts... Sparklers get five times hotter than cooking oil. A rocket can reach speeds of 150mph. A firework shell can reach as high as 200 metres. Three sparklers burning together generate the same heat as a blowtorch. You see the explosion of a firework before hearing it because sound travels at 761mph, but light travels at 671 million mph. The majority of firework-related injuries happen at family or private parties. Around half of all injuries are to children under the age of 17. The most common injuries are to hands, followed by the eyes and face. Source: NHS Choices: Fireworks – the Facts, 2014 | 31



HEADS-UP A common sight on golf courses around the globe... a Toro sprinkler head

AWARD WINNER Simon Squires (right) is presented with a sales award in 2006, whilst working for Lely

In conversation with Simon Squires With a Royal Naval background, perhaps it was fitting that Toro’s irrigation sales manager, Simon Squires, would find a career that involved working with water.

GMé You appear to have been working in the irrigation business for a number of years now, so how did you first get involved in the industry? SS I joined a contracting firm, TIS Sandbach, in 1990 as a contracts electrician when I left the Royal Navy.

my contracting introduction into the industry, so it was a natural move from installation to distribution. I moved from technical to sales while with Lely, and that gave me additional experience which led to what seemed to be a natural progression to the manufacturing side of the business.

GMé Where were you born and educated, and do you have family connections with the golf industry?

GMé What is your exact role at Toro, and how long have you held that position?

SS I was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and received an engineering degree from Dewsbury Technical College. In the Royal Navy, I studied at HMS Sultan and HMS Collingwood – the Navy’s mechanical and electrical training establishments in Hampshire – and later served as a marine engineer (electrical) on board HMS Plymouth, Ark Royal, Achilles and Southampton. Growing up, my father was an avid golfer and was professionally involved in golf construction most of his life, notably with Dave Thomas Limited.

SS My first job at Toro was as an area manager for Northern Europe, and was promoted in 2009 to my current position as irrigation sales and service manager for Europe, the Middle East & Africa.

GMé Prior to joining Toro in 2006, you worked for Lely – Toro’s UK distributor – so what prompted the move from distributor to manufacturer? SS I had exposure to Toro Golf and Res Com irrigation products right from

32 | GMé October 2015

GMé Do you work exclusively on golf, or are their other aspects to your job? SS No, I have responsibility for residential and commercial irrigation as well for the region. GMé How is the irrigation sector in general holding up, and in particular, how are Toro faring at the moment? SS That’s an interesting question. It has taken a while for the dust to settle following the financial crisis, but it finally feels like business is moving and confidence is returning.

AFTERNOON SQUIRE Simon Squires, looking relaxed at work out in the field

I think the golf community is still waiting to see what the ‘new’ normal will look like. GMé What would you say has been the biggest project in recent years that you have worked on? SS We have been fortunate enough to win some significant projects in the last couple of years, such as The Emirates

Club in Dubai, UAE and Education City in Doha, Qatar. We are currently installing some large projects in UK/Ireland, such as the new construction JCB course in Staffordshire, the new Beaverbrook Golf Club at Cherkley Court and the full renovation of Portmarnock Golf Club to the North of Dublin. In France we were very pleased to be awarded the full system renovation to

the Albatross Course at Le National near Paris, where the 2018 Ryder Cup will be hosted. GMé As we head towards 2016, are there any new products that you could tell us about coming out from Toro for next year? SS We are very proud of our recent central control system innovation, LYNX, | 33




“I think we will continue to see renovation lead the recovery for the irrigation industry”

FULL FLOW A sprinkler head in action

DESERT GREENS A view of the eighth tee on The Majlis Course, Dubai – a Toro project

which provides sophisticated control with a very intuitive feel for the user. We enhance this product regularly, with version 4.0 recently being rolled out, and we expect to launch new applications for improved and expanded mobile operation. Our INFINITY Sprinklers have had a great reception in the market in their first full year, and our FLEX Series heads have consolidated our large turf rotor line. Our GDC decoder system will get a remote Gateway which will give us further flexibility for our customers, and enable us to provide even more competitive field cabling solutions.

Europe, which has the potential to provide some sustainable activity for the market.

GMé From a geographical perspective, where do you see the growth areas in the years ahead, not just for Toro, but for the irrigation sector as a whole? SS I think we will continue to see renovation lead the recovery for the irrigation industry. We will need to be able to respond to customers with budget constraints, and be able to offer them phased solutions to enable them to plan system updates. We are seeing good levels of interest in many parts of Northern & Southern

34 | GMé October 2015

GMé With water becoming such a precious commodity, do you believe that technology can play its part in using less when it comes to irrigating golf courses? SS Without any doubt whatsoever. All key players in the market understand this, and we all recognise the importance of this for the environment, our customers and for the good name of our industry. When we have the chance to present our products to potential customers, a large part of our discussions are centred around good design, precise controls and accurate water delivery to the defined irrigated areas. Our region benefits significantly from the fact that manufacturers are based in hot areas such as Southern California, where responsible and efficient irrigation is an absolute necessity due to limited water resources. GMé Of all the golf courses that you have visited, which one would you say would be your favourite?

SS It may be a bit of a cliché, but my last project as an installer was at St Andrews Links in Scotland. We did the full renovation of Eden/Balgove and Strathtyrum Courses in winter 1998/9 and then Old, New and Jubilee Courses in 2000/1 following the Millennium open. Having spent so much time on site, I was privileged enough to really get to know the detail of the golf courses and made some good friendships with many of the greenkeeping staff. I always look forward to my visits to St Andrews. GMé Do you play golf, and if so, how often do you get the chance to play? SS The question I dread as I don’t really play! In my early installation days, I wasn’t really motivated to go back to the golf course after work, so never started playing the game. I have made a couple of starts subsequently, but now with a young family and a hectic travel schedule, announcing that I am going to the golf course at the weekend would not be met with universal approval! I very much hope to learn when I have some more time in the future. GMé


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odense golf club

Somewhere over the rainbow, Odense are orange Kevin Marks travelled to Odense Golf Club in Denmark for a colourful chat with club manager, Hans Henrik Burkal and course manager, Jack Rasmussen. Odense Golf Club was founded at a meeting held on September 29, 1927, and the first course was at Kløvermosevej, a suburb in the southwest of the city. Constructed on land previously used by the Danish army for training horses, the 2,815 yard, original nine-hole course was opened for play a year later. Following the expiry of its lease in 1962, the club moved to the area of Snapindskoven, where a new nine-hole course was constructed. However, conditions were cramped and in 1980 the decision was taken to build a new complex with an 18-hole course of international standard (Holluf Park) and a nine-hole course (Pile) at Neder Holluf, south of the city centre. The purchase of this site, just five kilometres from the original 1928 course, was a joint venture between the local community and the golf club.

36 | GMé October 2015

Club manager, Hans Henrik Burkal, is an interesting character – he was a prison officer for five years, and for 18 years was general secretary of the Danish Swimming and Lifesaving Association. In addition, he was a member of the Danish delegation at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and also officiated at the World Swimming Championships in Perth in both 1991 and 1999 and Hong Kong in 1996. He joined Odense in 2009, following seven years in a similar position in Zeeland. He is responsible for 13 staff including seven greenkeepers, a housekeeper, a gardener and two golf professionals, which is unusual as pros are not normally employees. “We have a very loyal membership of almost 1,300, of which 50 are juniors and 60 per cent who are over 50,” he said. “Rightly so, they are very demanding and we have to present the courses

to the highest standards at all times. I have an excellent greenkeeping team, led by Jack Rasmussen – our course manager – and we have a superb relationship with our machinery dealer, Svenningsens, which is an important factor when we have to maintaining the courses at such a high level.” The 18-hole, par 72 Holluf Park parkland course is slightly undulating and features push-up greens, three large lakes and 90 bunkers. It is bordered by a local stream, so water comes into play on a majority of holes. For experienced players it is a real challenge and has hosted many Danish championships. Flooding can be an issue and the course is closed from the beginning of December through to April. As you would expect, the nine-hole, par 31 Pile course has significantly shorter holes than Holluf Park, but is nevertheless a real golf course. It is the ideal place for high handicap golfers OVER THE RAINBOW The clubhouse at Odense Golf Club (main picture); right, course manager Jack Rasmussen and below, the greenkeeping team out on course

“When you consider that we are closed for five months of the year, nearly 30,000 rounds of golf puts a lot of pressure on Jack and his team”

and beginners or for those who seek a leisurely round of golf. It is maintained to same exacting standards as the Holluf Park course. Course manager Jack Rasmussen completed his education as a landscape gardener in 1994, and was the first Dane to specialise in turfgrass management. He joined Odense Golf Club in 2003 and in 2008 succeeded his father when he was appointed to his current role. He leads a team of seven greenkeeping staff including a dedicated mechanic. “As Hans Henrik said earlier, we have very demanding members and we have to concentrate on presenting the courses to their maximum, at all times,” said Rasmussen. “With just seven of us on the greenkeeping team, that’s a big task so we have to equipment that we can depend and rely on. That’s why we have chosen Jacobsen and their local distributor Svenningsens as our preferred supplier of our mowers and other course maintenance equipment through to 2020. “In 2013 we purchased our first Eclipse 322 diesel-electric hybrid mower and it has been very successful. We can change the number of cuts per metre depending on the growing conditions and we have the option of increasing the

frequency of cut for tournaments, if we want to increase green speed without lowering the height of cut.” The maintenance regime follows a regular pattern with the greens being cut at 4mm, six times per week and the holes moved five times; the approaches (8mm), tees (14 mm) and fairways (14 mm) are mown three times a week. The semi-rough on greens surrounds is cut at 51mm and the semi-rough on the remainder of the course is maintained at 100mm. Denmark has some of the most stringent laws in Europe concerning the use of chemicals on golf courses. For example, fungicides can only be applied three times a year and if you operate a 100 hectare area, it is only permissible to spray a total of five hectares. This makes it extremely difficult to manage a course, but it’s something that Danish greenkeepers take in their stride. “Jacobsen has the best quality of cut by far,” added Rasmussen, “and that helps us when it comes to combatting disease. Our Jacobsen R311 is a good, solid machine and our GP400 triplex which we use for tees and surrounds does a perfect job for us.” The grounds of the Syddansk Unversitet (University of Southern

Denmark) borders the northern end of the golf course and the club offers a special student membership of Danish Krone 2100 (around £200 a year). This provides an excellent entry level for prospective members and many choose to stay on. The club attracted 257 new members in 2014, a remarkable statistic when golf was still suffering from a global depression. Hans Henrik Burkal re-joined the conversation and provided some interesting statistics concerning the number of rounds played during 2014. The total was 29,594 played, of which 26,117 were by members and 3,477 by guests. That equated to an average of 22 rounds per member, with one member registering an incredible 190 rounds. The average handicap of golfers at the club was 23.6, 29.5 for women and 21.0 for men. “When you consider that we are closed for five months of the year, nearly 30,000 rounds of golf puts a lot of pressure on Jack and his team,” he said. “With the support of trusted suppliers such as Svenningsens and reliable products from Jacobsen, we give them the tools to produce quality playing surfaces. I truly believe we have the best greenkeeping team in Denmark.” GMé | 37


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hunter industries

“We selected Irriplan and Giles Wardle, who reviewed the existing system and came up with a series of recommendations and options for us”

WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP Mark Ganning (left) of Hunter Industries pictured with Giles Wardle

Hunter and Irriplan on tap for Banstead Downs Scott MacCallum talks to the team at Banstead Downs Golf Club responsible for the installation of the new Hunter irrigation system. Banstead Downs is regarded as one of the best courses in Surrey, and is looking particularly fine as it celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. Much of that is down to the fine work of course manager, Lee Gatland and his team, who have been able to work so much more effectively this year thanks to a brand new Hunter irrigation system which became operational at the end of April. The James Braid, chalk downland, course has always attracted its admirers, but the 40-year-old irrigation system had been causing an increasing number of problems and headaches over recent years. “We were getting more and more leaks, and the PVC pipe and joints were very much at the end of their lifespan, and with no isolation point, we were constantly draining the system,” explained Gatland, who admitted that over hot weekends he was constantly worrying about what he might find when

he returned to the course on the Monday morning, in case there had been a failure. “The course is built on chalk, so it doesn’t take long for the course to dry out, and we could easily lose greens within two days,” said Gatland. “Also, the amount of water we were losing through leaks didn’t make it very environmentally friendly or cost effective.” When the decision was taken by the club that this was not a situation that could be allowed to continue, club board member, Nick Smith, was tasked with project managing the process of bringing a new irrigation system to the course. “The first thing we did was seek out an irrigation consultant and I got two or three to provide an assessment report before making a final decision,” said Smith. “We selected Irriplan and Giles Wardle, who reviewed the existing system and came up with a series of recommendations and options for us,” explained Smith, who added that just as the report

arrived, the old system failed completely, which vindicated the decision that something had to be done. Gatland and his team attempted to track down the final leak – even bringing in the Water Boards Leak Detection Unit who spent two days attempting to locate the source – but couldn’t find anything. “We were losing pressure on all sprinklers so it was obviously leaking somewhere, and in theory it should have come to the surface,” said Gatland. “Alternatively, it may have been going straight into an underground drain, so ultimately we took the decision to stop looking and turn off the system for good.” With a new system now vital, Wardle produced a specification document to be put out to tender, and three contractors were interviewed by the club with a view to installing the system. Topturf won the contract to install a Hunter Irrigation System, and work began almost immediately last October. | 39


“I am sure that our water bill will also go down because we are able to target areas effectively with greater accuracy.”

SPRAY PATTERN The G885D system in operation

“The goal was to install all the pipe work before Christmas and with fine weather during this period that goal was achieved. “Topturf used a vibratory mole plough to lay pipes as opposed to excavating open trenches for the piping, having satisfied the club that the chalk soil would be suitable for such a method,” recalled Smith. With the weather turning wetter post Christmas, work was interrupted when machinery was unable to access the course without causing damage, with the project temporarily put on hold. Thankfully, work was completed by the deadline of the end of April and the new system was ready to go. “By the end of the work, we had 12,000 metres of piping installed; 8,000 metres of control cabling; 110 valves; 132 sprinklers around the greens and approaches and 224 sprinklers to the tee,” said Smith. “We also have a dual carriageway which splits the course, so we had to work with the authorities to ensure that we avoided all of the utilities which went under the road. So a horizontal drilling rig bored down six metres, and we now have a six metre long single pipe under the A217. “The Topturf Team were excellent and worked very closely with us to ensure minimal disruption,” commented Smith, adding that the fixed price nature of the

40 | GMé October 2015

contract was an important element for the Banstead Downs membership. Gatland now has 211 different areas on the golf course to which he can now assign irrigation, and he is still enjoying discovering what he can achieve using the system. “With the old system we had to water an entire green, regardless whether elements of it needing watering or not, and we operated in minutes. “Now with the Hunter Pilot-CC PC based system, we operate in millimetres and we can control individual sprinklers so we can single out the dry areas of greens and reduce the areas which naturally retain little more moisture.” And already course conditioning has improved. “The biggest thing we have noticed is the quality of the greens already,” said Gatland. “They are not drying out or getting diseased as had been the case before. “Coming into the winter we have full coverage on the greens, whereas in previous years we would have had patches where we had lost between ten per cent and 20 per cent coverage – the uniformity of coverage provided by the Hunter G885D sprinklers is excellent. “I am sure that our water bill will also go down because we are able to target areas effectively with greater accuracy.” The club benefited from being one of the very first to install the new Hunter G885D sprinkler head, which accord-

ing to the company, ‘carries the highest torque output of any golf rotor on the market with exceptional ease of maintenance.’ Mark Ganning, Hunter Industries area manager for Northern Europe, was delighted that Banstead Downs opted for the Hunter System: “The G885D is a totally top serviceable valve-in-head sprinkler with integrated decoder – which is accessible from the top without the need for excavation – and I believe that was one of the main reasons Banstead went with us. “I think another reason was the highly intuitive and user-friendly Hunter Pilot PC, which has the added bonus of being operated from both the hub and the PC which gives our system superb flexibility,” added Ganning. With everything now on an even keel and the course looking well, Smith has time to reflect on the entire process. “The project went very well, with minimal disruption, and I think members were pleasantly surprised. I think the key was having Giles involved from the start, supporting us through the entire proposal and decision making phases, and then making regular site visits.” Banstead Downs can now set out on its second 125 years, comfortable that its new irrigation system will be a huge aid to ensuring high quality course conditioning for both members and visitors alike. GMé

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tax distortion

“It is completely preposterous that golf at a private members’ club – that does not encourage new golfers – should be virtually tax-free while a welcoming golf centre, with a warm, friendly environment, has to struggle”

Tax Distortion. Working as One After reading Michael Lenihan’s comment in the last edition, UKGCOA board member and PGA Fellow, Andrew Sutcliffe, felt compelled to pen a response. WORLD IN UNION Rugby Union has the second largest average annual club income, way behind golf

42 | GMé October 2015

I welcome the focus on VAT distortion published in your last editorial, which I read with interest. It is an opportunity for me to respond and to thank Vivien Saunders, and the Association of Golf Course Owners (AGCO), for the hard work over the last 20 years, and for her tenacity and knowledge of taxation law and legal expertise. AGCO has made some important legal challenges, particularly concerning the VAT distortion. Indeed, I was deputy chairman, until two years ago. Last month’s GMé editorial was entitled ‘VAT resolution will not happen until industry bodies work as one.’ I believed that a ‘second front’, had to be opened up and that a cooperative collaborative approach would help the UK Government understand that golf has

taxation distortion problems that can be resolved. I steered England Golf, AGCO, UK Golf Course Owners Association (UKGCOA) and the Organisation of Golf Range Owners (OGRO) to meet together for the first time to discuss this. It was clear to me, that working with that objective, would be productive from the seat on the UKGCOA board offered to me, along with Richard Haygarth, from Mapleleaf Golf, who joined at the same time. Golf is different. It is one of only four sports where the clubs have an average annual turnover above the VAT threshold. The following is a snippet of information available from the survey by the Sport and Recreation Alliance. Figures are the most recent available – the 2015 survey hasn’t yet been published.

tax distortion

COUNTING THE COST The complex matter of VAT in sport is once again under discussion, with high-level meetings due to take place next month with UK Treasury officials

Of the 151,000 sports clubs in existence throughout the UK, golf clubs have the most average/club participating members at 387; snow sports second at 314; angling at 308; motor sports at 249, and sailing at 176. Golf is the only one that requires large, well maintained open spaces. Cricket, for example has an average of 49 participating members per club. The average annual income for a golf club is shown as £418,000, but only three other sports have an average annual income above the current VAT threshold. Rugby Union in second place is way behind at £128,000; Gliding is third at £97,000, and Gymnastics at £93,000... the average annual income of all other sports clubs is below the VAT threshold.

A total of 90 per cent of sports clubs are registered as non–profit making (member-owned) – so benefit from the VAT exemption – and a vast majority of the remaining balance, all trade below the VAT threshold, apart from golf. As almost 50 per cent of the UK’s golf clubs are proprietary-owned, participants at such clubs pay standard rate VAT. In other words, the majority of sports clubs would be unaffected by golf resolving its distorting VAT problems. The whole gist of the issue, for which golf must come to terms, is that generally speaking, most member-owned golf clubs act in a way that doesn’t encourage new golfers – it’s not in their traditional nature. Generally speaking, most proprietary-owned golf clubs act in a way that embraces new golfers.

There are obviously exceptions to this, but there is no other sport where large numbers of so called ‘not for profit, member-owned operators’ fail to develop the sport and sometimes even actively discourage the participation of new players. It is completely preposterous that golf at a private members’ club – that does not encourage new golfers – should be virtually tax-free while a welcoming golf centre, with a warm, friendly environment, has to struggle despite offering an open, inclusive service to all types of consumer. It is essential for the proprietary sector to flourish if England Golf’s participation targets are to be achieved. England Golf has made changes, but need to make more and quickly, if it is to be seen | 43



tax distortion

INITIAL THINKING KPMG economists are helping to prepare a case to present to the UK Treasury

“Interestingly, GMé’s editorial questioned KPMG’s involvement and, to be honest, I too had initial reservations”

44 | GMé October 2015

as representing all types of golf club, and the UKGCOA is in discussions with England Golf with a view to achieve this. England Golf’s assistance in helping to eradicate all forms of the distortion which is suffocating the proprietary sector is essential. Corporation Tax and golf’s eligibility for Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC) status is also on the distortion agenda. Several visits to the Treasury, and many meetings with MP’s, have resulted in UKGCOA making a VAT presentation which we prepared with the help of KPMG’s economists. We opened a dialogue with the deputy director, who is responsible for the UK’s VAT. Our next meeting will be in November, after the economists have helped us to produce more of the information which is required. Interestingly, GMé’s editorial questioned KPMG’s involvement and, to be honest, I too had initial reservations. Happily, I have been proven wrong. Yes, KPMG fought for member-owned clubs at Bridport, all the way to the European Court for a VAT refund. As a result we are able to take advantage of their knowledge of the golf industry and, as it is very clear to KPMG, the distortion which their own actions at Bridport compounded! We have confidence in their expertise, and the way in which they have demonstrated that there is no conflict of interest.

Our presentation explained the background; the problems; the legislative case; why golf is alone and unique; how a reduced rate would work; examples of other cases where a reduced VAT rate has been introduced to reduce distortion, and the economic case for proprietary golf and for the country. Several other member states, including the Republic of Ireland, have already introduced a reduced rate to relieve exactly the same problems in sport. It’s amazing that we haven’t yet done so, because our problem in golf is greater in financial terms than all the other member states added together. At this point, I must mention the 1999 Sports Order which, to cut a long story short, was Government legislation introduced to prevent proprietary sports facilities licensing non-profit making sports clubs to operate. Before the Order was changed and enforced – pre-2006 – this effectively levelled the playing field by not having to charge VAT on membership income, as the members’ clubs paid licence fees to the proprietary facilities. We believe that the Government went too far with this legislation and according to our legal advice, may be a successful, but costly challenge. There are several options for The Treasury, but the main ones are a five per cent VAT rate for proprietary golf or all proprietary sport, or to look again at the 1999 Sports Order. GMé

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

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solheim cup The result may not have been ideal for the European team at The Solheim Cup, but as Tina Rathjen reports, St Leon-Rot won widespread acclaim from both teams, thanks to a little support from John Deere.

John Deere on course at The Solheim Cup

“We know from experience that the enduring strength of the John Deere brand is based on the quality of its products and customer service”

THESE GIRLS CAN The 2015 European Solheim Cup team pictured at John Deere’s test track facility in Bruchsal, Germany

The Solheim Cup, the largest and most prestigious event in women’s golf, took place from September 18-20, 2015 at St Leon-Rot, Germany. Known as the female equivalent of the Ryder Cup, the tournament saw the 12 best women golfers from both Europe and the United States compete for the highly coveted Solheim trophy, won by the US after a thrilling comeback on the final day. This year’s tournament, the 25th, was making its debut in Germany. St LeonRot Golf Club, founded in 1996 by president Dietmar Hopp, has two 18-hole championship courses, an ultra-modern clubhouse, first-class practice facilities and an indoor short game practice centre covering more than 1700m2. The club has also hosted the Deutsche Bank SAP Open four times, in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2004.

To prepare for The Solheim Cup, the St Leon-Rot Golf Club relied on John Deere equipment and support from the local John Deere dealer Schwarz GmbH, with the club’s existing fleet supplemented by additional green and yellow machines and supported by expert staff from John Deere, as the official golf course equipment supplier to The 2015 Solheim Cup, a deal which was signed back in 2013. Speaking at the time of the signing, Mark Casey, director of operations for the LET and director of The Solheim Cup said: “The Ladies European Tour is pleased to extend its relationship with John Deere, which has been an excellent partner during the past six years. “Our experiences working with them during the 2011 Solheim Cup in Ireland have driven us to want to partner with them again.”

“We know from experience that the enduring strength of the John Deere brand is based on the quality of its products and customer service, and therefore we are delighted to have John Deere as a strong partner on board,” added Eicko Schulz-Hanssen, general manager of St Leon-Rot Golf Club and promoter of the 2015 Solheim Cup. Karsten Biber, then Deere & Company’s sales and marketing manager for turf products in Europe, added: “We are very pleased to add The 2015 Solheim Cup and The 2015 PING Junior Solheim Cup to what has already been a fruitful relationship with the Ladies European Tour – particularly because the 2015 event will take place at the St Leon-Rot Golf Club, which is close to Deere & Company’s European headquarters in Mannheim.” | 47



“I was impressed with how perfectly the machines were adjusted and maintained by the John Deere staff”

ON THE TEE On course preparation at St Leon-Rot

UP ON HIGH An aerial view of the course at St Leon-Rot

Starting on Sunday September 13, the greenkeeping volunteer team prepared the golf course supervised by St LeonRot’s head greenkeeper Klaus Peter Sauer. A total of 74 volunteers operated the fleet of 66 John Deere machines, starting at 5am each day. Even adverse weather conditions and heavy rainfall couldn’t prevent the multinational greenkeeping team from developing a strong team spirit throughout the tournament, while keeping the golf course in great shape. Thanks to the excellent leadership of head greenkeeper Klaus Peter Sauer, the team was highly motivated right up to the very end of the tournament, had a lot of fun and took a lot of great memories home after the Solheim Cup week. “I will look at several things from a totally different perspective now, when making decisions and managing the golf course,” said head greenkeeper Thomas Bäder from Wiesbadener Golf Club eV in Germany. “The volunteer programme is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons, to look beyond your own experience and, of course, to link up with other industry colleagues.” Spending a week with greenkeeping experts from several different countries enabled the team members to discuss techniques and learn a lot from each other, as well as about the equipment. After spending an intensive week with the machines, they were able to share their practical experiences. “The John Deere equipment had to cope with challenging weather condi-

tions and long working hours in a limited time-frame,” said Thomas Bäder, who was responsible for mowing the fairways with one of the new John Deere 8700A fairway mowers introduced last year. “The machines still produced great results – even on the wet ground there were no wheel marks, which shows that tyres and four-wheel drive can be combined to good effect. “The new fairway mower has the right power level and its high speed capability is a real benefit. I particularly noticed these advantages while driving out to the golf course, as I needed to make several detours while the tournament was running.” John Deere personnel were always available on-site and open to suggestions and questions from the greenkeeping team. Not only did the company provide the extra support machines as the tournament’s official equipment supplier, several staff were also based in the workshop to help prepare, maintain and even repair the equipment for the duration of the tournament and build-up. “I was impressed with how perfectly the machines were adjusted and maintained by the John Deere staff, who were always on standby and showed a high level of commitment,” added Bäder. “It’s a great feeling when you know that you have reliable people around that you can count on.” Taking advantage of having one of the world’s most prestigious golf events right on their doorstep, two John Deere dealer employees seized the opportunity to participate in The Solheim Cup’s green-

48 | GMé October 2015

keeping volunteer programme. With lots of experience in the golf business already, the two men wanted to look behind the scenes of such a huge event and get a better understanding of their customers’ point of view. Both were impressed by the highly flexible organisation during the tournament, even though everyone had to start work very early, with challenging weather conditions and fast changing situations. Both also used the opportunity to discuss their dealership role with the volunteer greenkeepers while they supported the course maintenance team in their work throughout the week. As machinery dealers, their experience underlined how important the equipment’s quality, reliability and convenience are at all levels of the game. Ulrich Bühler, salesman at the national dealer in Switzerland and a former greenkeeper in that country, said: “Our participation increased our customer understanding and will enable us to respond better to the needs of greenkeepers.” Responsible for several bunkers during the event, Bühler also said that he really enjoyed the team spirit and collaboration, and was positive that he will benefit from his insights when back working in Switzerland. The Solheim Cup is named in honour of Karsten Solheim, the founder of Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, which makes PING. In 1990 the Solheim family, in conjunction with the LPGA and the LET, developed the concept and became the title sponsor. GMé

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signing off

“golf is all about getting a small ball in a slightly larger hole – not getting it sufficiently close that you no longer have to do anything else”

We need to stop the gimme in professional matchplay golf ‘Gimme-gate’. That was the talking point in golf for all of a week, wasn’t it? The 14th Solheim Cup will not be remembered for the gallant fightback by the USA, but for the shenanigans that occurred on the 17th green. You don’t need me to tell you what happened – you’re reading a golf industry magazine. If you don’t know, you may have picked up the wrong publication. But Suzann Pettersen’s refusal to concede the now infamous putt did open up a debate, as well as a can of worms at St Leon-Rot, in Germany. While the sportsmanship of golf is admirable, should the outcome of massive tournaments be left to the whim of an individual? We all like to see our putts conceded when playing in a social or club match, but given everything that’s now at stake at the top of the world of professional golf, should we not be made to putt out everything? The media is only too happy to label a golfer a ‘choker’ if he or she has a habit of not converting a lead into a victory. So let’s see who really is a choker by insisting everything is holed, regardless of the close proximity to the hole. After all, golf is all about getting a small ball in a slightly larger hole – not getting it sufficiently close that you no longer have to do anything else. We’d certainly see then who’s a choker when a half in the Ryder Cup was resting on a downhill 10-incher on a green like ice. In football, you don’t see a captain offer to give the other team a goal because a shot nearly went in when it was cleared off the line.

50 | GMé October 2015

IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE Suzann Pettersen in a heated exchange at the Solheim Cup

Surely it’s all about finishing what you started. Many a top pro has duffed a putt when it looked easier to hole. Scott Hoch missed a two-footer which would have won him the Masters; and, of course, arguably the most famous of them all, Hale Irwin’s missed tap-in on the 14th hole of the 1983 Open Championship which he lost by one shot. Many of the most dramatic moments – and indeed momentum swings – in the Ryder Cup have come about because of a putt, which should have been a formality, lipping out or running by. It’s all about handling the pressure at the top level. Sport is at its best when it is dramatic and conceding putts in competitions like this actually diminishes the drama. Indeed, I’m surprised, given they

wield so much power these days, that the TV companies haven’t insisted on outlawing the gimme. They want to have live coverage of somebody gifting the Ryder Cup to the opposition. Yes, let’s keep it in the game for club competitions and social golf. But let’s make the professional game as exciting as we possibly can. GMé

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