On the cover...
Finca Cortesin in Spain, with its challenging and undulating terrain, becomes the latest world-class golf club to trust in Toro
£6.50 golfmanagement.eu.com Issue 110 | October 2016
Golf Management éurope is the essential business magazine for golf course owners, operators, managers and directors of golf
Asia’s newest golf destination was met with acclamation from guests who experienced the first rounds of official play at The Els Club Desaru Coast
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On the agenda october 2016 36
The Great temp debate
As winter approaches, and temperatures are set to plummet across Northern Europe, we ask if temporary – or winter – greens are really necessary these days.
Kneale’s a real Diamond
One of the most well known and respected figures within the irrigation industry, Kneale Diamond has left Rain Bird to join Perrot, a relatively unknown German company.
Assoufid home to Maxwell
Els Club opens in Malaysia
Publisher Michael Lenihan recently sat down and shared a pot of mint tea with the golf director of Marrakech’s awardwinning Assoufid Golf Club, Guy Maxwell.
The introduction of South East Asia’s newest golf destination was met with praise from the guests who experienced the first rounds of official play at The Els Club Desaru Coast.
The Italian Job
It’s been a great year for Italian golf so far, with the launch of Italy Golf and More followed by the announcement that the country will host the 2022 Ryder Cup.
GMé is published and distributed six times per year by Portman Publishing and Communications Limited Deben House, Main Road, Martlesham, Woodbridge IP12 4SE Telephone (44) 01394 380800 | www.portman.uk.com
Publisher Executive editor Contributors
Michael Lenihan David Bowers Kneale Diamond, James Ellis, Scott MacCallum, Jed Moore, Aidan Patrick, Peter Simm
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from the publisher
“it’s become clear to me that the most exciting format of the sport from the perspective of a TV viewer is matchplay”
Matchplay generates excitement that strokeplay can’t match I watch a lot of golf on TV. I do it because I love golf; I also do it because it’s my livelihood. But, as I get older, I find myself being a little more selective and, in discussion with fellow golfers and friends, I find I’m not alone. As a result it’s become clear to me that the most exciting format of the sport from the perspective of a TV viewer is matchplay. Certainly, I believe that’s why the Ryder Cup has such a massive viewing audience. One could argue that continental pride has a bearing in Europe and the USA, but that doesn’t explain the impressive viewing figures in Asia. What does, is the excitement generated by the matchplay format. Sure, earlier this year we saw exciting conclusions to both the Open Championship and the men’s Olympic event. But, on closer inspection, although they were both strokeplay events, the excitement was generated because it came down to Mickelson v Stenson and Rose v Stenson – effectively head-to-head matchplay golf. And wasn’t it fantastic? Yet there are very few top-level matchplay competitions on the schedules these days, and I feel the PGA Tour and European Tour and their TV partners may be missing a trick. I’m sure the extra excitement generated in this format would lead to an increase in viewing figures and – as we discuss in the Olympic golf feature on page 30 of this edition – a matchplay format, maybe even a mixed matchplay
4 | GMé October 2016
ONE UP The World Golf Championships Dell Matchplay
format, would work wonders for the reputation of Olympic golf. What’s more, an increase in televised matchplay golf would, I have no doubt, lead to an increase in interest, as somebody wins or loses each day – viewers do not have to wait four days for the outcome of a 72-hole event. In cricket, the traditional version is still the benchmark, but the truncated version of Twenty20 attracts people with a shorter attention span or who want more excitement in a smaller time frame. And matchplay golf certainly provides the latter. The Ryder Cup is huge – and the Presidents Cup appears also to be growing in
popularity. Could a change in format to matchplay also be a shot in the arm for the World Cup of Golf, which appears to be something of a pink elephant in the schedule – when it is in the schedule, that is. As the late Whitney Houston never said: Matchplay is our future. GMé
Michael Lenihan firstname.lastname@example.org
Hold the front page Regarded as one of the finest golf courses in Spain, Finca Cortesin, with its undulating terrain, recently upgraded its entire fleet of course maintenance equipment to Toro.
“Finca Cortesin is always looking for excellence and the highest level of course maintenance”
Cover sponsored by The Toro Company (1) 952 888 8801 email@example.com
6 | GMé October 2016
Finca Cortesin Golf Club on Spain’s Costa del Sol is a challenging course to maintain. With diverse and undulating terrain, it demands equipment that’s well suited for the job. That’s one of the reasons why the course recently updated all of its turf care and irrigation system equipment to the latest Toro products. According to course superintendent Ignacio Soto, Toro products were selected because they adapt well to a wide range of course conditions and features: “Our course has a lot of movement and elevations, so we need strong, efficient, high-quality machines,” Soto said. “Our new Toro equipment lets us match different mowers to different areas of cut with great results. “We have been using Toro equipment since the beginning,” Soto said. “We have tried different brands in the past, but now we have 100 per cent Toro equipment. Our mechanics and crew members feel very comfortable with Toro products.” The Finca Cortesin golf course is located in a big resort area with a luxury hotel and private residences, so the guest experience is an important consideration. For the first time in Spain, the course is using hybrid mowing technology on
fairways and greens to minimize noise and emissions. The course also plans to incorporate more hybrid and electric technology to continue building on its commitment to the environment. “Finca Cortesin is always looking for excellence and the highest level of course maintenance,” Soto added. “Our golf course is not an easy course to maintain – that is why we really care about our machinery and irrigation products. With Toro products, we get quality at higher levels.” The course recently strengthened its relationship with Toro even further by signing a preferred partner agreement with Riversa, Toro’s distributor in Spain. Part of the agreement also includes a scholarship to provide students from the University of Tennessee with unique learning experiences on the course, as well as sharing best practices in turf management. “We are delighted with the partnership we have developed over the years with Toro/Riversa since the early days,” said golf director Francisco de Lancastre. “We feel this agreement will be crucial in years to come to maintain and improve on our high standards for delivering the best playing surfaces to our members and guests alike.” GMé
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Companies House reports a £9.5m loss for Donald Trump in Scotland The two Scottish golf courses owned by US Presidential candidate Donald Trump lost around £9.5 million last year, according to accounts filed with Companies House. The Trump Turnberry golf resort in Ayrshire, which the billionaire bought for an undisclosed sum in 2014, made a loss of almost £8.4 million, while, in the previous year, it lost £3.6 million. Trump’s other Scottish course, Trump International on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire, lost more than £1 million during the same period. The accounts for his company, Golf Recreation Scotland Ltd, which runs Turnberry, reported “significant capital expenditure” had taken place in 2015, with “fixed asset additions” amounting to £17.5 million – most of which related to renovations of the hotel and golf course. Trump has said he would invest £200 million in Turnberry, following the purchase from Dubai-based Leisurecorp. The company added that the Trump Organisation remained “fully committed to reviving the resort, including the transformation of the iconic Turnberry Lighthouse into golf’s most impressive halfway house.” Director Eric Trump, Donald’s son, wrote in the 2015 accounts: “Upon completion of the construction project, it is expected that revenue will increase as the property is re-established as an
Donald Trump pictured in front of the lighthouse at Turnberry
industry-leading resort. The directors believe that the resort will return to profitability in the short to medium term.” Trump senior opened the Menie course – which is owned by Trump International Golf Club Scotland – in July 2012 after a lengthy battle with locals and environmentalists. In its accounts, the company said overall revenues increased year-on-year by 7.4 per cent “in spite of the economic downturn experienced in the north east of Scotland due to the collapse of the oil
prices, with a hundred thousand redundancies in the oil and gas industry affecting every sector in the region.” Earlier this year, several local residents raised Mexican flags adjacent to the course at Turnberry, ahead of a visit to Scotland by Donald Trump to mark the re-opening of the course. They said they wanted to “show solidarity” with the people of Mexico, after Trump outlined plans to build a wall along the US-Mexico border to stop illegal immigrants.
IGTM set to take Oceânico Group sells full interest centre stage and ownership stake The International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) – the world’s premier global event for golf tourism suppliers, buyers and media – has announced it will welcome a host of new exhibitors to Mallorca. The 2016 event, November 14-17, will see more than 10,000 business meetings take place over the four days, and is expected to be the most international edition ever, with more than 450 exhibitors, including over 60 first-time suppliers from countries including Japan, Azerbaijan, Panama, Brazil and Jordan. Peter Grimster, IGTM exhibition manager, said: “The support of worldclass destinations from every corner of the world ensures IGTM remains an important global golf tourism event for delegates and exhibitors, generating new business and developing existing relationships. “The number of new and returning exhibitors for the 2016 edition highlights the health of the global golf tourism market.”
8 | GMé October 2016
The first on the Old Course at Vilamoura
The Oceânico Group has announced that it has sold its full interest and ownership in Oceânico Golf, Vilamoura, to KAY CC Portugal, a partnership between Keith Cousins and the Dom Pedro Hotels Group. Oceânico Golf, is the owner and operator of five of Vilamoura’s best known courses — The Victoria Course, The Old Course, Pinhal, Millennium and Laguna courses. Christopher Howell, chairman of The Oceânico Group, commented: “We are pleased to have concluded the sale
process of our successful Oceânico Golf business with Kay CC, and what we are sure will be a positive move for both parties as well as golf enthusiasts across Europe. “The five golf courses within the Oceânico Golf portfolio hold a unique position within European golf tourism, and we are sure that Kay CC will continue to positively drive the business forward.” The Oceânico Group and KAY CC Portugal welcome the success seen with this transaction and are confident that it will positively contribute to enhance the quality of the development as well as increase the international recognition of Vilamoura in the Algarve, one of Continental Europe’s most loved and best equipped golf tourism destinations. The Oceânico Group will maintain ownership and management of its two other Championship courses, Oceânico Faldo and Oceânico O’Connor Jnr at the Amendoeira Golf Resort in Alcantarilha Silves.
European Tour professionals sing the praises of The Grove
In brief... Customers and staff at Edwalton Golf Centre, on the south eastern outskirts of Nottingham, are celebrating after Glendale Golf announced that it has signed a contract to manage the venue on behalf of Rushcliffe Borough Council for a further nine years. “This is fantastic news for the community,” said Simon Robinson, deputy leader of Rushcliffe Borough Council. “It removes any uncertainty about Edwalton Golf Centre’s future, and we can all now look forward to enjoying this valuable local leisure hotspot for many years to come.” Mannings Heath Golf Club in West Sussex is undergoing one of the biggest changes in its 100 year history, as the new owners convert one of the two 18-hole courses, the Kingfisher, to 9 holes and plant a vineyard on the 500 acre estate, to create a ‘wine experience’ at the 18th century manor and clubhouse, with wine tastings and fine food. Verdura Resort has underlined its long-term commitment to the environment by implementing a new programme to further enhance its green credentials and eco-sustainability. The Sicilian resort was recognised by the Italian Golf Federation two years ago for its renaturalisation work in recreating an authentic and traditional Sicilian golfing experience, and is introducing new ways to identify and improve key environmental elements across the resort and its three golf courses. The Golf Consultants Association (GCA) has welcomed three premium corporate partners to its new programme, which is designed to establish closer links across various sections of the golf industry. Huxley Golf is one of the new trio of GCA partners, and has been joined by global brands, Ransomes Jacobsen and Rain Bird.
A host of Europe’s finest golfers have given The Grove, venue for the British Masters a huge thumbs up. Competitors in the European Tour event consistently heaped praise on the conditioning, preparation and layout of the golf course during the week of tournament play, which eventually saw Swede Alex Noren claim the 2016 title with an 18 under par total. Headlining the stream of positive comments, the 2007 winner of The British Masters, Lee Westwood, said: “Visually, The Grove is a spectacular golf course. If you are hitting the ball well, it gives you a lot of birdie chances and certainly on the few times I have been here, the course has been in fantastic condition. This week is no different.” England’s Robert Rock, added: “The greens are probably the best greens we’ve had so far on The European Tour, bar the Middle East. For England at this time of year, they’ve done an amazing job.” Winning 2012 Ryder Cup captain, José María Olazábal, was returning to The Grove for the first time since playing in the WGC-American Express Championship in 2006, an event won by Tiger Woods. He said: “I have to say that the course is in pristine condition. The fairways are
firm, the greens are firm and the ball rolls really well. The playing conditions couldn’t be better.” Ireland’s Shane Lowry summed up his experience: “The hotel is great, it’s the best players’ lounge we’ve had this year on The European Tour. The hotel rooms are amazing and everyone’s been great. I really enjoyed it.” Anna Darnell, director of golf and resort experiences at The Grove, added: “Preparing The Grove for the tournament was a huge team effort and it is rewarding to hear the players’ positive comments throughout the week. “We have also received many positive comments from the 53,000 spectators during the week and we look forward to hopefully welcoming back as many as possible over the coming months to experience the hotel and its facilities, and play our championship golf course.”
The British Masters at The Grove
Follett joins London Club as new chief executive
The London Golf Club has appointed the former director of operations at Troon Golf, Stephen Follett, as its new chief executive. Follett, who was also director of golf for Marriott Golf, said: “It’s a privilege to have been appointed chief executive at the London Golf Club. “The club is a prestigious venue of international importance, and as a recognised European Tour Destination, I’m looking forward to being a part of its growth on both the national and international stage.”
Hailed as one of the UK’s finest golfing venues, the London Golf Club features two championship courses, The Heritage and The International. The Heritage is a classic Jack Nicklaus course which forces you to consider every shot and makes the round both challenging and memorable. Likewise, The International is one of the finest downland courses in England, punctuated with exciting risk and reward tee shots throughout. Both courses have a rich tournament pedigree and have played host to the European Open in 2008 and 2009, the Volvo World Match Play Championship in 2014, and this year’s Brabazon Trophy. Charles Fairweather, chairman of the London Golf Club, added: “Stephen joins us with a wealth of experience that will be invaluable to the progression of the London Golf Club. “We have gone from strength to strength over the years, and we’re sure that Stephen’s arrival will be a catalyst for even more exciting developments at the club in the future.”
golfmanagement.eu.com | 9
Castle Stuart remembers Arnold Palmer; Legend and Gentleman Castle Stuart Golf Links has paid its own tribute to Arnold Palmer following the announcement of the legendary golfer’s death last month. Arnold Palmer had a direct and unique connection to Castle Stuart, where he was involved in plans to create his first course in Scotland. The seven times Major winner and leading course designer had a decadeslong love of Scottish links but had never built a course in the Home of Golf. However, the Arnold Palmer Group, which is investing in the current partnership at Castle Stuart Golf Links, is collaborating on developing a second championship course on the shores of the Moray Firth near Inverness. Palmer took an active role in designing the plans and visited Castle Stuart in July 2015 to view the site and meet the Castle Stuart team, and the Palmer Tribute course will be developed in partnership with senior architects from the Arnold Palmer Design Company. It will complement the existing course at Castle Stuart, which hosted this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and was designed by Mark Parsinen and the 2016 Olympic course creator, Gil Hanse. Stuart McColm, Castle Stuart’s general manager, said: “Everyone connected with Castle Stuart was extremely sad to hear the news of Mr Palmer’s passing.
Arnold Palmer pictured at Castle Stuart
“Golf, and sport in general, has lost a true legend and a real iconic figure. “It was such a pleasure and a privilege to spend time with him, both at Castle Stuart and at his base in Bay Hill, Florida, where we discussed plans for the new course here. He was very enthusiastic about the project and its potential to be a world-class course in a spectacular location. “His visit to Castle Stuart last year was unforgettable. He had a real presence and everyone was in awe of the great
man. But he was incredibly down to earth and took time to meet and chat with people. We knew we were in the company of a real star but also a gentleman. “Our plans for the Palmer Tribute are ongoing. We have planning permission and are working to clear the conditions that will pave the way for a potential spring start. “If everything goes according to plan, the new course will provide a fitting tribute in Scotland to the great man and his momentous career.”
Open birthplace Stoke Park attracting interest up for sale from potential buyers A Scottish pub famed as the birthplace of the Open Golf Championship has been placed on the market with a guide price of £1.1 million. The historic Red Lion in Prestwick on the South Ayrshire coast has been going for almost 200 years and was the preferred meeting place of a group of enthusiastic golfers, who in 1851, decided to form a club, building a course with the assistance of greenkeeper, Old Tom Morris. They then hosted the first Open Championship in 1860. Paul Shiells, director, licensed and leisure, with Colliers International in Scotland, who is handling the sale said: “This pub has certainly got a bit of history attached, and that adds to its appeal. “However, it is also important to note that following the work and investment put in by the sellers, it is a thriving and highly desirable licensed business returning substantial sales and bottom line profits.”
10 | GMé October 2016
The Times has reported that Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel, in Buckinghamshire, is exploring the possibility of a sale. The International Group (IG), owner of the five-red-AA-star, 49-bedroom hotel and golf club in Stoke Poges, has confirmed that as the result of receiving “several unsolicited approaches from interested parties”, it has appointed global property group CBRE “to undertake a strategic review of the various sale options arising from this heightened level of investor interest.” IG is owned by the King family who reopened Stoke Park as a hotel in 1998 after a five-year refurbishment programme. The mansion house at the centre of the 300-acre estate, designed by Capability Brown and Humphry Repton, was initially built as a private home by George III’s architect James Wyatt between 1790 and 1813. Today the estate features three restaurants and bars – with the three-
AA-rosette Humphry’s restaurant headed by executive chef Chris Wheeler – and extensive leisure facilities including 27 holes of golf designed by Harry Colt, 13 tennis courts, an indoor swimming pool, gym, and spa. Stoke Park could fetch £75 million, according to The Times, while an undeveloped scheme to build four luxury villas and apartments on the edge of the estate, which has planning permission, could raise a further £10-15 million.
Is Stoke Park about to be sold?
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Alastair Higgs joins growing team at Rain Bird as UK golf sales specialist Rain Bird have announced the appointment of Alastair Higgs as UK golf sales specialist, who joins a growing team at Rain Bird. In this newly created position, Higgs will be in charge of visiting UK and Irish clubs, liaising with course personnel, providing support and spreading Rain Bird’s solutions of smart irrigation. Higgs has 12 years golf industry experience, and started his career as a greenkeeper with Crown Golf in 2004, before being appointed as head greenkeeper at Donnington Valley Golf Club. In 2012, he took over the responsibility as course manager at Windlesham Golf Club, and has demonstrated a keen involvement within BIGGA and GCMA Young Managers Group. Commenting on his appointment, Higgs who is a keen golfer said: “I am delighted to be joining as a team member with the Irrigation industry’s leading manufacturer, particularly during this exciting, yet challenging time for the golf market.
Alastair Higgs, who has joined Rain Bird as UK golf sales specialist
“I’m looking forward to helping develop and support clubs, managers and greens staff throughout the UK & Ireland, and where possible, delivering superior playing conditions for their members and customers by using efficient water management practices.
“Rain Bird have a proven track record for innovation and supporting customers throughout their irrigation decision making process, and have been global innovators and market leaders in the golf irrigation industry, and I’m excited by the challenge that awaits.”
Glenisla to close Golf clubs becoming increasingly desirable as agricultural land this month Members of a Perthshire golf club have been left shocked by the announcement it will close its doors this month. Glenisla Golf Club, near Alyth, has around 150 members but they have been stunned by the decision to sell the land to a property developer. Glenisla opened in 1996 and was designed by Tony Wardle. It was developed originally by the Glenshee Chairlift Company as a summer business to make use of its full-time ski employees during the off-season and was bought out of receivership in 2004. It was previously marketed with outline planning permission for 215 houses, nine business units, a hotel and a nursing home to be built on land adjacent to the golf course. The original application envisaged that a development of that scale would require a £40 million investment. A club employee described the announcement as “absolutely devastating.” She told Bunkered magazine: “The course had been up for sale for some time before coming off the market. “So, it came as a real shock to everyone to be called into a meeting when we were told that the sale of the land to a property developer had been completed the day before. As you can imagine, everybody is very upset. “It’s unfortunate that it has come to this, but it has happened now and there’s nothing we can do.”
12 | GMé October 2016
As golf clubs continue to face a hard time retaining members, a registered land valuer has said farmers could snap up the extra land at competitive prices. Matthew Peters, a partner with property consultant Bruton Knowles, said: “The feasibility of the business and the viability of the model no longer works for many golf clubs and sadly many are being forced to sell up. “It means blocks of often desirable land, carefully tended and often with water and electrical connections, are now up for grabs and ripe to be converted back into agricultural production. “Most golf courses were farms before, so it is fairly easy to convert them back. The drainage works undertaken for a golf course mean that the land is free drain-
ing and therefore likely to grow better crops. The fertility will also have been enhanced as no crops have been grown.” But Peters warns it could be an expensive exercise if a large number of bunkers need to be filled in. However, this could be offset by converting the clubhouse into a residential property, subject to planning permission. Peters concluded: “Farmland has been disappearing over the past decade with arable land typically being developed for residential, commercial and other nonagricultural uses. “This means that when and if available land such as golf courses comes back on the market with potential for agricultural use, then there is likely to be some competition to acquire the assets.”
Failing golf courses are becoming more attractive to farmers
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Aqua-Aid brings uniform success to Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club The use of both Aqua-Aid OARS PS and HS with Verde-Cal G has led to the removal of black layer and localised dry patch at Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club, in Ireland, enhancing the depth of the roots and strength of turf. Both black layer and localised dry patch had been small issues, so Aqua-Aid recommended OARS HS, OARS PS and Verde-Cal G, which in tandem have eradicated both problems. “I wouldn’t do without Verde-Cal G now,” said course superintendent, Duncan O’Shaughnessy. “You can really tell the difference in the root zone by the feel of it. It doesn’t feel as tight now, which is why we are seeing a big improvement in root depth, which is consistently below our black layer. “All of this is benefitting the creeping bent grass we have, and it’s also helping to contain the Poa Annua.” The gypsum (calcium sulfate) within Verde-Cal G is combined with the organic complexing agent thCa™. This makes it more readily available for soil or plant use without effecting or raising the ph. Using the product loosens compacted soil, improves aeration and allows water to percolate, which directly combats the causes of black layer within the root zone.
However, black layer was only one of two issues on the course, as OARS HS was used to tackle a localised dry patch problem as O’Shaughnessy explains: “We were on an OARS HS program from the beginning of the season, and what we experienced was a very reduced amount of localised dry patch compared to previous seasons with similar weather conditions. “It also meant a labour saving as we didn’t have to spend valuable time hand watering, meaning we could focus on conditioning other parts of the course, which is a huge advantage for us.” The success of the hydrating surfactant has led to the use of OARS PS (penetrat-
BGL partners with Promote
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts invests in golf course upgrades
Burhill Golf & Leisure (BGL) have recently partnered with Promote Training to deliver a new, blended learning course on the Group Booking Sales process at all of their venues. The course included a one day workshop, delivered by Promote Training co-founder David Reeves at Abbey Hill Golf Centre, followed by an eLearning refresher and assessment. Blended learning combines traditional, face-toface education with online learning and Promote Training provides a wealth of expertise in both areas. The course that Promote Training provided for BGL covered key aspects of increasing golf day and society income at the individual clubs, ranging from prospecting for new business through to taking bookings and maximising yield from events. “Our team of sales personnel really enjoyed the experience, said Jess Moore, BGL’s group sales manager. “Content is still ‘King’, and this course included lots of best practices and new ideas on how our clubs can grow their group booking revenues.”
Golfers visiting Macdonald Hotels & Resorts will benefit from a series of course upgrades at five of its UK venues, following a £550,000 investment, designed to further enhance playing conditions and the customer experience. Highlighting the group’s on-going commitment to ensuring the courses remain in prime condition throughout the year, a number of enhancements, including bunker renovation, greens project works and pathway redevelopment, will be completed by the end of 2016, while each venue also has a new fleet of course maintenance vehicles. Golf course upgrades have been made at Linden Hall Golf & Country Club, Northumberland; Hill Valley Hotel, Golf & Spa, Shropshire; Portal Hotel, Golf & Spa, Cheshire; Cardrona Hotel, Golf & Spa, Peebles and Aviemore Resort, Highlands. Keith Pickard, group director of golf and health and fitness at Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, said: “We want every golfer to experience course conditions and service like they were playing in a professional event. We are confident our course upgrades will help us showcase
14 | GMé October 2016
Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club
ing surfactant) as O’Shaughnessy approaches his wettest part of the season. The 3D multi-branched technology OARS offers means it works laterally across the root zone, providing uniform soil moisture for a longer period of time. The use of Verde-Cal G further enhances the power of OARS, as the soil profile is already less compacted, and water is able to flow freely through it, where OARS can then dictate how the moisture is distributed. This gives greenkeepers the power to manage the soils moisture content throughout the season, regardless of the conditions.
Portal Hotel, Golf & Spa, Cheshire
all of the Macdonald Hotels & Resorts courses in their best condition for the 2016/2017 season and beyond, ensuring they are must-play courses for visiting golfers. “The ongoing development of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts demonstrates that we continue to meet the exacting standards of today’s golfer and positions all of our golf courses as leading venues within the market.”
In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news of a change of climate for former director of golf at Monte Rei, David Shepherd.
In brief... Jacobsen, together with local dealer, Shriro Thailand, recently hosted a demo day to showcase a selection of products to the industry. The event took place at Black Mountain Country Club in Hua Hin, Thailand, with 46 participants in attendance from 24 different golf clubs in the region, including Thai Country Club, Royal Gems, Rajchapruk, Burapha and The Master, a brand-new course near Pattaya. Saffron Walden Golf Club has taken further steps to ensure it retains its place as one of the best parkland courses in eastern England, by renovating two further holes under the auspices of Suffolk-based Swan Golf Designs. William Swan, the third generation of course architect at the family-owned practice, has been working alongside course manager Ian Cambridge and experienced shaper Paul Davies to make improvements to both the 14th and 15th. QHotels is offering golfers more benefits than ever before with QFairway – the flexible golf membership – with members now able to exchange points for overnight breaks and events as part of the scheme. As well as using membership points for golf, buggy hire, driving range tokens and spa treatments, players can book Sunday night accommodation with breakfast at any of QHotels’ ten golf resorts, or at selected hotels across England and Scotland. ProSport UK, has introduced a range of brand new Foley United professional grinders to the industry, with the top-of-the-range 653 fully automatic reel grinder and the 673 bed knife grinder, installed at The Grove in time for the recent British Masters. Managing director of ProSport, Ian Robson said: “It’s the simplicity combined with the latest automation technology that makes Foley so innovative.”
David Shepherd has been appointed as the new CEO at The Scandinavian Club in Denmark, and has been succeeded as director of golf at Monte Rei in Portugal by Darren Griffiths, who assumes the role with immediate effect.
Golf Management Group has selected Melior Golf, headed by brothers Tim and Angus Lloyd-Skinner, as its first new franchisees since the company advertised for expressions of interest in ten UK regions earlier this year.
Tom Turner has set himself the target of enhancing Dunston Hall’s reputation as the top golf destination in the east of England after being named as the new director of golf at the leading Norfolk resort.
Swede, Thomas Johansson has joined La Manga Club in Spain as director of golf training, and will bring a wealth of experience to his new role having taught golfers of all abilities across Europe over the last 20 years.
Blyth Reid has left his position as director of golf at Four Seasons Resort at Anahita in Mauritius, to create his own clothing brand. Based out of South Africa, Maréid plans to offer quality clothing for the golf and leisure sector.
Due to declining health and in consultation with family and his two partners, Peter Thomson has decided to retire from the golf design businesses, Thomson, Perrett in Melbourne and Thomson, cxx)Perrett & Lobb in London.
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“G4L is a fantastic project which blends a perfect balance of helping elite juniors achieve their dreams, providing coaching for those juniors who would not normally be able to afford it, and raising money for very worthwhile causes”
FALDO SERIES G4L bursary recipient Harvey Byers at this year’s Faldo series qualifier at East Sussex National
Golfing4Life helping to fulfil potential Founded to help aspiring young golfers reach the pinnacle of the sport, Golfing4Life is a not-for-profit organisation which is gaining in popularity, as James Ellis of marketing partners, GMS, reports.
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Talented golfers’ ambitions should not be limited by financial constraints. That’s the belief of not-for-profit organisation Golfing4Life (G4L) which supports the development of young golfers who have the ability and desire to reach the pinnacle of their chosen sport. Formed five years ago by the parents of some of the country’s most talented young golfers, G4L utilises its network and knowledge pool to identify talent that has the potential and commitment to reach great heights in the game of golf. The concept was conceived in 2009 when the founders came to a common realisation that the majority of talented young golfers were finding it difficult to attain the funding that was necessary for them to compete and many were struggling to maintain their participation in the sport. G4L identified critical areas of need that far exceed pure golf tuition. They then drafted an action plan, commissioned one of the most respected law
firms in London to ensure that the adopted practices were transparent and in keeping with the R&A guidelines, and then engaged early adopters who were friends and close associates of the founders and shared the vision. All of the first tranche of G4L beneficiaries have become regular England internationals, and with all funds channelled through the respective golfing unions, G4L is now in a position to expand its model and support many more talented youngsters and help them to achieve and maximise both their potential and golfing ambitions, as well as enabling them to flourish and develop as people. Partnerships with the likes of clothing manufacturer J. Lindeberg, UK golf venue Goodwood and golf marketing agency GMS help provide additional support for the players, while close relationships with some of the best and most wellrespected coaches in the UK helps the organisation to make informed decisions when awarding bursaries.
MCGREGOR TROPHY G4L bursary recipient Marco Penge, winner of the 2013 McGregor Trophy
G4L’s relationship with the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) and Teen Cancer America (TCA), its North American cousin, enables youngsters to better contextualise a ‘missed four foot putt’ and ensures they remain grounded and considerate, while displaying magnanimity in thought and deed. The G4L team has been closely associated with golf and aspects of global sports for many decades and is all too familiar with the vagaries and competitiveness of sport. It understands that even the most talented youngsters will face many challenges through the course of their development, including life’s ups and downs, loss of form and distractions. Crowded tournament schedules, allied to the demands of school, college and university, also means that young players need to learn to manage their time to avoid burn out and levitate performance at the right time. G4L, its coaches and its supporters, have designed a series of events that are sympathetic to these requirements and
will enable it to enhance its current offering and help many more youngsters. Commenting on his involvement with Golfing4Life, 2015 England Coach of the Year Steven Orr said: “It has been a privilege to be one of the coaches involved in G4L over the last few years. “I believe when talented junior golfers are exposed to the right information and training, as well as sound mentoring in their early years, it can make a big difference in how they can progress in the game. “Those involved in G4L have created this environment, and along with it an amazing opportunity for aspiring juniors golfers as well as supporting dedicated juniors who might not have such opportunities normally. It is a project I’m delighted to be involved in,” continued Orr. Also commenting on his involvement with G4L, PGA Level 4 England Regional and Middlesex head coach Alex Saary said: “Being part of the G4L coaching team is a huge privilege and honour for me. I have dedicated my whole career to
helping junior golfers of all level develop their games and characters. “G4L is a fantastic project which blends a perfect balance of helping elite juniors achieve their dreams, providing coaching for those juniors who would not normally be able to afford it, and raising money for very worthwhile causes,” continued Saary. In 2017, G4L plans to include warm weather training which will be conducted by internationally acclaimed coaching staff, as well as a variety of tournaments and events such as the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters that allow young golfers to compete with their peers and experience some of the structure of professional tournaments. There will also be several invitational and pro-am events held, enabling players to play with accomplished Tour professionals and interact with key components of both the golf and sports infrastructure such as media, sponsors and golf stakeholders, as well as outreach programmes that help young golfers develop a sense of community. GMé
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Anders is driven to design A Real Sports Car The Garia Golf Car is truly like no other golf car available on the market. Scott MacCallum speaks with chief designer, Anders Lynge, about the design of the car, and the partnership with luxury car manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz.
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garia.com SILVER ARROW Anders Lynge (main picture) with the MercedesBenz inspired Garia golf car, and right, a small selection of the 101 bespoke Garia cars at the Jumeirah Resort in Dubai
So there you are. Sitting beside the 13th tee waiting for the group in front to either find the errant ball or call you through, when you decide to make a little bit more of your free time. Having just made an unlikely par on the previous hole – the immensely tricky signature par-3 – you decide to let the world know about it. So you log on to the console on the dashboard of your golf car and Facebook the unsuspecting, and possibly disinterested, world about your achievement. Is this the future we are talking about? No. Because the new golf car, co-produced by renowned Danish luxury golf car manufacturer, Garia, and renowned luxury car manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz, offers just such Wi-Fi enabled benefits. The tie up between the two companies is just one of the advances Garia has made in recent years as it continues to push the boundaries in the one area of golf which had steadfastly refused to budge for decades. We all have a vision of what a golf car looks like, and across the range of different models and manufacturers, that vision would all be virtually identical – open sided, big windscreen, high roof, room for the clubs at the back.
The only real difference, outside of the odd free-thinking resort, which demanded bespoke livery, was whether they came in battery or the more noisy fuel, versions. “We have been extremely busy over the last 12 months,” explained Garia, chief designer, Anders Lynge. “We delivered 101 bespoke cars to the Jumeirah Resort in Dubai in April, and have incorporated some of the refinements we made to those cars into our standard model. Among these were a change to the rear seat configuration and some improvements to the interior trim.” Garia has also introduced a six passenger version which works perfectly as a courtesy car, ideal for the airport, hotel and courtesy shuttle market. “We now believe that we have the product portfolio that we need to go forward,” explained Lynge, speaking from his Denmark-based office. Another one of the more practical, although less glamorous, tweaks that have been made recently is a wider roof which Lynge, euphemistically refers to as better for water management! “The original car was designed for impact and had a much narrower roof because it looked better,” continued Lynge.
“We delivered 101 bespoke cars to the Jumeirah Resort in Dubai in April, and have incorporated some of the refinements we made to those cars into our standard model” twitter.com/gme
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“The Garia is much more interesting to the customer, and so they find that they are always rented out. They are a real profit generator for the club” INVITING The Mercedes-Benz Garia dashboard
“But now we have a different roof which is much better for water management.” Lynge didn’t use the four letter word “rain”, nor did he reference the obvious market to which such a refinement was aimed – the rain-soaked UK! We will come on to the GariaMercedes Benz partnership in a while, but before then we should make due mention of the other significant development which has been brought in by Garia – and this one is even more important than British golfers remaining dry between shots... lithium batteries! We have been used to welcoming lithium into so many other aspects of our technology-driven lives, but until now the golf car world has been reliant on fuel or lead acid batteries. The development of battery powered regular cars has grown apace in recent years, and we are now more familiar with seeing recharge points around our shopping malls and motorway service stations and Garia has now brought this into their golf car together with all the ancillary benefits that are delivered by such clean, small batteries. “The benefits are huge,” explained Lynge. “We now produce the lightest golf car on the market which is a huge plus when it comes to reducing compaction on the course, which is very relevant to course owners and greenkeepers. “We have lost more than 100 kilogrammes in weight and this is the root of all good things in the car industry. “It makes the car so much more maneuverable, it stops much better, it has much longer range and it is virtually maintenance free. There is also a guaranteed minimum of four rounds per battery
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charge – three rounds would be enough for most courses.” So, no longer will we have that dreaded feeling of a drop in power out on the 16th with the prospect of a “will we, won’t we” drama over the last two holes. Most distracting if you are looking for a 5-6 finish to break 90! From a golf club or resort manager’s perspective, the five-year guarantee the lithium battery affords ensures that there is still value attached to a fleet after three or four years. Garia currently has around 3,000 cars running in total, and they are continuing to sign-up golf clubs – of all levels – every month. “We have a few deals on-going at the moment but with clubs signed up to leasing agreements it can take time for a club or resort to be in a position to transfer over to Garia without incurring financial penalties.” One thing that the company has been able to do, is supply VIP fleets to compliment an existing fleet, which enables a golf club to test the popularity of Garia with members and guests. “Clubs can set the rental price slightly higher, and what they have seen is a 250 per cent rent out cycle compared to the other cars,” added Lynge. “The Garia is much more interesting to the customer, and so they find that they are always rented out. They are a real profit generator for the club.” The relationship with Mercedes Benz came about when Lynge entered a Facebook competition launched by the German manufacturer to design a new golf car. “With my position, having designed the Garia, I felt that I had to participate
as, if I couldn’t win, I shouldn’t have my job – I had to be able to win, and fortunately I did,” explained Lynge, who won a trip to The Open Championship where the prototype car was presented to journalists. “I had a presentation and showed it to the Daimler executives telling them that we really could build the car. At the time I do believe that they were just mildly interested, and that they were not too sure if they wanted to take anything forward. “So, over the next two years I kept being pushy – as I can be – then last May they came back and said that we should have a chat, based on some of the ideas and sketches I’d given them.” The upshot is the new co-branded car which Lynge drove around, to much interest and acclaim, at the recent Made in Denmark Open. Complete with touchscreen speedometer and internet access, the car has taken the humble golf buggy to the next level, and combines the passion people have for high-end cars with golf. “We could have produced a new car ourselves, but it wouldn’t have looked as it does because the design has come from Mercedes-Benz, and has been very heavily influenced by their philosophy. “For us, as a small company, to have been given such a huge input from a massive company, full of extremely talented people, is huge. We have been on an extreme learning curve and have produced a unique product developed by a car manufacturer and ourselves. “The co-branding will make it much easier to sell the car because we have the Mercedes-Benz name attached to it,” smiled Lynge. GMé
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“In plain and simple terms, the purpose of a winter or temporary green is to protect your main playing surfaces for the golf season”
Do we really need Temporary Greens? As winter approaches, and temperatures in Northern Europe plummet, Scott MacCallum asks if it’s really necessary for clubs to switch to winter – or temporary – greens these days. MR CHAIRMAN Andy Cambell pictured during his tenure as course manager at The Duke’s Course at St Andrews
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We all know the feeling. We’ve spent the previous evening practicing our putting stroke on the hall carpet trying to develop that smooth roll that will be so crucial to success the following day, when the assistant pro informs us that, “You’re on temps today.” Totally deflating. Not only have those putting routines all been for nothing, but you know you’re in for an experience much of which could be replicated in any playing field. Greenside bunkers no longer come into play, and you find yourself trying to land wedges and 9-irons onto an artificially inspired circle measuring no more than 15 yards in diameter. Putting is a lottery, or at best reminiscent of that on the putting green in the local park.
Why, oh why, do we need to have temporary, or as they are otherwise known, winter greens? “In plain and simple terms, the purpose of a winter or temporary green is to protect your main playing surfaces for the golf season,” explained Andy Campbell, a former BIGGA chairman, who has been course manager at Carden Park, near Chester, The Duke’s Course at St Andrews and who now runs Campbell Golf Associates. “What you are doing is protecting the greens from frost damage, traffic and that brought about from poor drainage. Putting your grass under pressure at a time of year when it can’t recover, just means that you are going to have to wait longer into the spring until you get a decent playing surface.”
PLAYABLE A frosty day, but the course – and the green – remains open for play
The grumble from so many golfers, is that if the greenkeeping staff spent as much time on the main greens as they did preparing temporary greens there wouldn’t be a need for temporaries in the first place. “There is a vestige of truth in that but, be sure, temporary greens are not there to save greenkeepers’ work,” added Campbell. “If the finances are not there to do the correct work, at the correct time on the main greens, there is no benefit to doing it. “For example there is no point in doing aerification work if adequate drainage is not in place, and this does leave greenkeepers frustrated as – of course – they would love to be doing work on the main greens and keeping them open as long as possible. “However, if the basic foundations are not there you could be causing more damage than good.”
The answer, and to limit the need for temporary greens, is to build well constructed greens in the first place. “Any golf club with well constructed USGA specification greens, or any of the derivatives, would have greens which are much more consistent. Even with snow and certain types of frost there is no reason why those greens shouldn’t drain as well as they do in the summer. In essence it is all about drainage.” So how should a club, which makes the decision to move away from temporary or winter greens, go about it? “First of all you’ve got to know what you’ve already got,” said Campbell. “In some cases that’s not totally clear as greens do evolve over time and there may be a variety of different constructions within any 18 hole golf course. “So it’s important to survey the greens in order to determine which are your worst greens, and as a result, you
may decide to install more drainage. It doesn’t have to be a full USGA construction however. “You have to work within the confines of the club’s finances and set out a strategic plan, and ask yourself where does the club want to be, and how many playable days are we aiming for in a year? “If the finances determine that you can only have playable greens for ten months of the year, then you set your programme to achieve that realistic target.” Campbell much prefers the name ‘temporary’ to ‘winter’ which implies to golfers that they are going to have the greens throughout the entire winter, as opposed to ‘temporary’ which means exactly what it says. “For successful implementation of the strategic plan, it may be that different maintenance techniques are employed – cutting down on the amount of irrigation
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SNOW JOKE When the weather becomes this extreme, there’s little to do but sit back and marvel at the beauty of Mother Nature
for example or reducing the amount of fertiliser, whilst increasing the amount of aerification throughout the summer. “Ask yourself if you need to review your agronomic practices, or change your grass species. And also, if you have any trees close to your greens, consider cutting them down to reduce the amount of shade, so that the grasses on the green become more durable for longer in the year.” Over time you can reduce not only the number of temporary greens you employ, but also the amount of time they are in use and, increasingly, that can be key to a successful future for the golf club. With tough market conditions facing many golf clubs it is those which consistently offer the best conditions which will attract the most visitors, and as a result, retain their membership base. “We’ve got some clubs in inland Scotland which have been on temporary greens for the last three or four summers – with the exception of this year which has been pretty dry – never mind winters, simply because they may be at the bottom of a slope and retain a lot of water. It is not just a winter phenomenon.
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“The future is fairly bleak for golf clubs in those situations, because they have got to be in a position to attract the transient golfer. If a club gets a reputation for always being on temporary greens the decline will be difficult to stop,” said Campbell, who has witnessed more golfers joining links courses to give themselves better winter golf, knowing that in Scotland, you are rarely more than an hour-and-a-half from a fine links course. “If a club has reached the bottom of its bowl, if you like, cut out all costs and reduced staff it will have nowhere to go. The clubs which are going to survive are those which find a way to spend money and improve their product.” On the bright side, Campbell is a firm believer that greenkeeper education has never been better and that more greenkeepers know the turf management approach required to produce the best year-round surfaces. “However, I do believe that a lot of the guys come under undue pressure from golfers to have nice lush, holding greens, all summer,” concluded Campbell. It is holding strong against such pressure which will increase the chances of much more enjoyable ‘main green’ golf during the winter months. GMé
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CENTRE-STAGE On the tee... (l-r) Jeffrey Danner, Kneale Diamond, Simon Friedrich and Luigi Rota Caremoli
CAREER MINDED Kneale Diamond, who worked as a course manager before embarking on a career in irrigation
In conversation with Kneale Diamond One of the most well known and respected figures within the irrigation industry, last year Kneale Diamond left Rain Bird to join Perrot, a relatively unknown German company. GMé You started your career in golf working as a greenkeeper on the Isle of Man, before moving to the London Golf Club as an assistant course manager, so what attracted you to the industry? KD I have to be honest, and admit that it was more a stroke of luck than anything. I had my papers signed by the headmaster at my school to leave, and he advised me that the golf club next door to my school were looking for a greenkeeper to help out for the summer, and so I started two days later. That was the beginning of my career working in golf, which was some 27 years ago now! GMé After five years, you joined Marriott as golf course and estates manager at Hanbury Manor, so how different a role was this from your job at the London Golf Club? KD Very different, as this was my first and only position working with my own golf course – I was still quite young at the time, and looking back, would probably have done things very differently in hindsight.
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Previously I had worked for a private members club on the Isle of Man, and then a privately owned club, so to work for a large franchise and major hotel chain was very educational, as well as being a great experience which I look back on with fond memories. GMé During your five years at Hanbury Manor, what would you say was the highlight of your time there? KD There were lots of great projects during my time at Hanbury Manor, but if I’m totally honest, my best experience would be the people that I worked with, and have seen progress within our industry. That gives me a lot of pride, especially when you look at how well they’ve done throughout their career. To think that I may have had a small influence on that progression fills me with immense satisfaction. GMé With a promising career on the horizon in course management, in April 2005, you took the decision to join Rain Bird as a golf sales manager, so what prompted the change in direction?
ON YOUR BUGGY Pictured (left) with Mark Adam at the 2012 EIGCA Conference and AGM in Nice
KD It’s hard to say 100 per cent, but I was getting older and the idea of continuing as a course manager for the next 30 years or so didn’t excite me as much as it perhaps should have. In addition, working for a hotel chain broadens your horizons and I learnt quite a lot about golf as a business, so the idea of working for a golf-related company within my field of expertise appealed to me.
GMé During your time with Rain Bird, did you work exclusively on golf, and what, in your opinion, was the biggest contract you managed to secure for the company? KD My role was varied, and I was responsible for more than just the golf operational side of Rain Bird, and worked on many sports pitch projects including football which I really enjoyed.
I also had some experience in commercial and agricultural sectors too, but they were not my strongest areas. If I had to single out my biggest projects, I would probably have to say either Woburn Golf Club or The Dutch golf project in The Netherlands. GMé Last year, you took the decision to leave arguably the most recognised irrigation company in the world, to join
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ON POINT Cypress Point, ranked by Diamond as the best course that he has played so far
“when I was offered the chance to work with the Perrot Company, I was excited to be able to introduce an unknown company into an established market”
one of the least know, so why the move to Perrot? KD Good question, and one I’ve been asked many times since I left! I always say you have to believe and enjoy in what you’re trying to sell and support, so when I was offered the chance to work with the Perrot Company, I was excited to be able to introduce an unknown company into an established market, as I truly believe it will be a great success with a fresh approach. GMé Many readers of GMé will be unfamiliar with Perrot, so can you tell us a little more about the company and its history? KD Perrot is a German-based manufacturer with a strong history manufacturing irrigation products since 1925. In central Europe they are arguably the strongest brand, and they manufacture impacts, gear drive and piston drive sprinklers, valves and central controllers. GMé Competing against your former employer Rain Bird, as well as Toro and Hunter, isn’t going to be easy, so what USP does Perrot offer that the others can’t? KD I agree it will be very difficult, but also challenging and rewarding. Perrot is a privately-owned European company who offer a personal and dedicated service compared to larger American brands, and the product range is far superior than the industry is aware of. GMé What is your remit at Perrot, and will you be working in other sectors besides golf?
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KD I will work wherever necessary, although predominately in the golf sector. I also plan to pursue the sports pitch market very strongly, as at present, 16 of the 18 football clubs in the German Bundesliga are Perrot customers. We are also the market leader in hockey pitch irrigation, and have ideal products for race courses too. GMé Perrot recently joined the EIGCA as a bronze sponsor, so is this the beginning of a campaign to promote the Perrot brand name to the wider industry? KD Yes, definitely! We will be trying to create a lot of brand recognition firstly to help the market understand who we are, and what we can offer – we are not in this for the short term, and have a long history. GMé Do you miss working out on the course on a day-to-day basis, and if the right opportunity presented itself, would you ever consider going back into course management? KD Yes and no! I do like the physical aspect and love being outdoors, but I also love to travel. Who knows, but one day when I’ve had enough of travelling, I will go and find myself a small members course and go back to my roots? GMé Over the years you must have played some great courses, so what would you say is your all-time favourite? KD I have been very lucky, and still get some great opportunities to play some great golf courses. To date, the best course I have played would have to be Cypress point. GMé
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Gold-Medal Matchplay in the Olympic Spirit Executive editor David Bowers’ Last Word column in the previous edition sparked some reader feedback – and it was almost all in agreement. Publisher Michael Lenihan agreed too, and, with a bit of assistance from readers, lays out his reasons why. It is not unheard of for our executive editor’s musings to spark some reader feedback – after all many of his columns are written with tongue firmly in cheek, and even American golf fans wouldn’t take them seriously. However, he’s also been known to ruffle a few feathers when trying to make a serious point. He did the latter in the last edition of GMé, but the responses were almost universally positive. For those of you who missed it, I should give a brief overview of what our office hacker had to say. While congratulating gold medallist Justin Rose on his success in Rio, Bowers went on to say that he felt “golf, in its current form, has no place in the Olympics.”
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He advocated an amateur contest for Tokyo 2020 and went further still, suggesting a two-person, team event: one man, one woman. Now, I’m not sure about those two changes, but I agree with him that its current format is not the right one. As you may have read in this issue’s leader on page 4, I’d like to see more matchplay golf – and I believe the Olympics would be the perfect platform for helping to give that form of the game further exposure. As Bowers said in his polemic, the current format is nothing more than another stop on the endless circuit of Tour golf – albeit this year without many of the big names who feared for their health.
It needs something different to make it stand out from the same 72-hole format we see week in, week out. Don’t get me wrong, that form of golf is our staple and has its place at the top of the table. But Olympic golf comes round just once every four years – now it’s been reintroduced, before that it was once in 112 years – so it should really be something a little different. I was surprised to learn that this view was shared by several others, notably Howard Swan, chairman of the Golf Consultants Association, experienced course designer and committed advocate of golf for the masses. He wrote to us here at GMé and said: “Since we first knew about the re-entry of golf into the Olympics, I have always
olympic golf HISTORY MAKING Justin Rose (left) after sinking the winning putt, and the golf course in Rio (right) with the surrounding Reserva de Marapendi
“How about singles and national team foursomes for both women and women… and how about mixed foursomes?”
questioned why the powers that be – the IGF, the R&A, the USGA – were not more inventive in structuring in Rio a more inspiring and attractive format rather than just another stop on the Tour. “Men’s golf, at its pinnacle of achievement this year, has seen two great events. In fact, two great rounds at two great tournaments. Yes, one in Rio and, of course, one in Royal Troon. “Both were made absolutely compelling by our witnessing such wonderful play, by such wonderfully talented players – of course greatly heightened in the Olympics by the fact that our man triumphed so well – in what were competitions little to do with strokeplay and all to do with matchplay. “Both reminded most of us of that wonderful Duel in the Sun, at Turnberry, between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson – just remarkable in the intensity of the match. “So hopefully, just as you rightly say, the 2020 Olympics, in Japan, may see the golf competition put in rather a different (a little more than slightly I would suggest) format. How about singles and national team foursomes for both women and women… and how about mixed foursomes?”
Given that there are events for both men and women at the Olympics – and that there are very few sports where the two genders can successfully play side by side – perhaps a mixed event should be considered. It would certainly be a break from the norm – which is one of my pre-requisites for Olympic Golf – and it might be sufficiently different to attract a new TV audience, which would certainly go down well with the organisers and broadcasters. And, on the subject of the broadcasting, was I the only one who was disappointed with the commentary and ‘analysis’ provided for the Olympic golf? Surely, for the re-introduction of golf to the world’s biggest multi-sport event, the BBC could have sent across its golf team. Or maybe the idea was to get another former Blue Peter presenter and a retired athlete to front it before they realised they didn’t have even the most rudimentary knowledge. If it’s going to form part of a massive sporting TV schedule, the least the powers-that-be can do is provide a knowledgeable commentary team so we don’t have to rely on somebody reading from a cheat sheet of biographies.
Anyway, I digress. My colleague, Mr Bowers, also received support from a few golf club officials, including David Allen, general manager at the Weston Turville Golf Club, questioning if golf even has a place as an Olympic event. He wrote: “I 100 per cent agree with your comments… I could add to your list of NOT Olympic sports list but won’t bore you. Your format idea for golf, if we have to have it, is ‘brilliant’ in every regard/ aspect, but I am afraid nobody in the IOC will listen to us mere mortals.” And maybe David has hit the nail on the head. It’s far more important for the IOC to have golf in the Olympics than it is for the Olympics to act as a platform for increased participation or viewing of the sport. The IOC would argue, I imagine, that it is not their responsibility to provide a shot in the arm for golf; that, they would say, is the duty of the R&A and the USGA. They in turn would probably opine that the Olympic event is nothing to do with them. In Statu Quo, as they say in Francis Rossi’s house. And that, dear reader, is the reason we will have a 72-hole strokeplay event in Tokyo whether we like it or not. GMé
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AMBIENCE Assoufid features palm trees in abundance
BRICK BY BRICK Guy Maxwell outside the main entrance
Assoufid home to Maxwell’s House Publisher Michael Lenihan sits down and shares a pot of mint tea with the golf director of Marrakech’s award-winning Assoufid Golf Club, Guy Maxwell. As the crow flies, Assoufid Golf Club is less than eight miles from the colourful, aromatic and bustling Medina in Marrakech – yet the stunning desert resort, with its backdrop of the Atlas Mountains, is so tranquil it feels a lifetime away from the magnificent maze of markets. Maybe that’s why 53-year-old Scot, Guy Maxwell, seems so at ease here in his role as director of golf. It’s also pretty far removed from Donald Trump’s Turnberry Resort, which is where the young Maxwell started to cut his teeth in the golf industry, before the controversial billionaire had even considered a role in politics. Maxwell, born and raised in Ayrshire, joined Turnberry in 1983 as an amateur golfer – albeit one who was playing scratch. He explained: “I knew Turnberry very well as I grew up playing golf in South Ayrshire. I was a member at Barassie and Ayr Belleisle. “In those days – that was the early 80s – you could work for six months at a golf club without actually turning pro, and then if you didn’t like it, you could retain your amateur status. So I was an amateur golfer when I joined Turnberry, and then after six months, I turned professional and I started my career there with the PGA training program.
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“The good thing about Turnberry was that the training was balanced. We were six guys, all working together, and we worked in a rotational system: shop work, teaching, golf club repairs – which was more prominent in those days, whereas nowadays they tend to just send clubs back to the manufacturers. Woods especially often required a lot of attention. “On the retail side, of course, it was a very busy pro shop. There were lots of tourists, particularly American and Japanese, and the shop worked very well. I gained a lot of experience on all aspects to do with merchandising – Turnberry standards were set high. We also got out to practice and play tournaments as well. We shared that part too.” Like many young golfers, initially it was his ambition to follow the likes of Faldo, Torrance and Gallacher into the professional playing ranks. Maxwell continued: “Actually, in my case, my golf game looked quite good when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I was playing to a pretty good standard and that’s what I loved to do. I gradually got better and then unfortunately, sort of plateaued when I was about 15 or 16. “From then on for some reason or another, I didn’t seem to get any better. In fact, I seemed to get steadily worse. But that’s still what I really wanted to do.
MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN The Atlas Mountains form a stunning backdrop to the course
“I played full-time amateur golf, when I was about 17 or 18, with the aspiration to become good enough to try to get on the tour. But I simply wasn’t good enough. “The good thing was, however, I realised I wasn’t good enough. I loved the game and I still wanted to continue a career in golf, so I simply changed direction, more through lack of choice. It was really just the fact that with my ability, I wouldn’t have been able to make a living by playing.” But although he was happy to simply continue working in golf, like many young people he felt his career was taking off quickly enough and felt his chances of progressing at the famous venue were limited. Unlike many of his age, however, he was brave enough to look further afield to give his career the boost he required.
“We were six assistant pros at Turnberry. Where would I be? In the middle somewhere, because there was one year where nobody left. “Normally, we would count on the head assistant moving on and he would be replaced by a new assistant at the bottom, and thus you would go up the ladder system and so forth. “There was a period where we had a set of guys who tended to stay on, so there wasn’t really a lot of movement – and then three or four left in one year. I was sort of stuck – I wouldn’t become senior assistant because the guys above me hadn’t moved on.” He added: “I applied for two jobs. One was in Switzerland and one was in Belgium. I fancied the idea to leave the UK, learn another language, see a little bit of something else, after being in Scotland basically all my life.
“The job in Switzerland was a ski resort in the winter time and a golf club in the summer. The other job was at the Royal Golf Club de Belgique, which is a very private, quite aristocratic golf club on the outskirts of Brussels, where a lot of barons and counts played. “The first job I applied for I didn’t get. I immediately went straight out for the other interview in Brussels and they offered me that one on the spot, though I didn’t speak a word of French. “The place looked fantastic. I was second pro to a guy called Geoffrey Williams, who was coming in as the new head pro at that time. I enjoyed teaching and it was more lucrative than being in a pro shop where you’re on a small retainer and basically counting on relatively small shop sales to make ends meet. “After a year or so I realised I didn’t really want to play second fiddle.
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FLYING THE FLAG A proud Scot, Guy Maxwell misses the Scottish people, although not the weather
“When I landed in Marrakech it was like nothing I’d seen before. You share the streets with horses and carts, or donkeys”
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“I fancied getting my own job. So I applied for a job at Royal Ostend Golf Club as head pro which I fortunately got. This was a members club with a membership of around 600-700. It was a Belgian links course, with a small driving range.” Maxwell stayed there for two years before he was contacted by Royal Zoute Golf Club, in Knokke-Heist, home to the Belgian Open. Although he was happy where he was, he felt he wouldn’t lose anything by meeting up and having a chat. And, as so often happens, what began as a nonchalant chat ended up as a catalyst for bigger things. At Zoute his reputation spread and, in May 2010, he received another approach, this time from Assoufid, in Morocco, where, having accepted the position, he moved from teaching pro into a managerial role. Maxwell explained: “Niall Cameron did an excellent job with the design, and I’m a great believer that a course should stand up on the fact it is a good golf course regardless of who the architect is. I think when Assoufid is established, you’ll have probably one of the best courses in the region.” But moving to Marrakech was not without its culture shocks. “When I landed in Marrakech it was like nothing I’d seen before. You share the streets with horses and carts, or donkeys, and, at that time there was quite a bit of rubbish lying around. “I was coming from Knokke Le Zoute, in Belgium, where the town is manicured, and everybody keeps their gardens in perfect condition. “Then you get to a place like this with the Medina, which they actually keep
relatively clean. There are poor people lying in the streets, tourists haggling, donkeys and carts, and every now and then the mosques have their call to prayer, which initially was a completely different feeling. “And the weather’s hugely different. When I first arrived here it was in May, and I kid you not, it was pretty much blue sky from then through to November. Every single day, it’s amazing. You get the odd cloudy day and rain, but it’s outstanding compared with Belgium, where the sky seems to be constantly grey.” And the weather is a crucial factor in determining whether the affable Maxwell will ever return to his native UK. “I don’t really think I could live fulltime now in the British climate having lived here for five or six years. It’s amazing how you get used to barbeques and spending the evenings on the terrace. “I never would have thought the weather would be such a factor. It’s only the fact that I’ve actually lived in a place where the weather is amazing for such a long part of the year. When I go back to see my parents it’s normally raining. “What I do miss about the UK is more the people. I like the Scots and I do like the people in the UK in general. But could I still be here in five years’ time? “I’m satisfied with what I have here, the golf operations are going well at the club and I have a good relationship with the people. “But the reason we’re here was a phone call in 2009. I was actually pretty settled then. I wasn’t looking for a change. Who knows what will happen here?” GMé
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“We are a relatively new club compared to many at 25, but we want to be seen as innovative, so a lot or our resources are geared towards forward thinking”
Silver Service at The Wisley The Wisley Golf Club in Surrey celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, so Scott MacCallum spoke with chief executive, John Glendinning, about the clubs progress thus far. ANNIVERSARY DINNER The commemorative 25 year logo created for The Wisley in use at a special dinner
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A dictionary meaning of “club” is “a place for people of shared interests to meet in convivial surroundings.” There can be few clubs which meet that definition quite as clearly as The Wisley Club, near Woking, in Surrey, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary. It says much for a club which was born in a part of the country festooned with golf clubs boasting history and prestige renowned within the game, that The Wisley has more than held its own during that quarter of a century, and has attracted some of the European Tour’s top players to its superb 27 holes and state-of-the-art practice facilities. “We are a relatively new club compared to many at 25, but we want to be seen as innovative, so a lot or our
resources are geared towards forward thinking,” said chief executive, John Glendinning. “For example, all our ladies play in the same competitions as the men, for the same prizes. They play off their own tees which are set with parity against the men’s tees so no need for handicap adjustments. “As far as I know, not too many clubs in the UK do that, but it does allow us to create a great social atmosphere with everyone playing together. We also have both a Lady Chairman and Captain of the club. “We also have a relaxed dress code policy in the clubhouse – now allowing jeans – which has been well received by our diverse membership,” explained Glendinning.
HEART AND SOUL The clubhouse at The Wisley, which is the beating heart of the club
“We are constantly looking at ways of improving every aspect of the club. Over recent years a lot of investment has been made on the golf course, and now we are looking at the clubhouse again to bring it up to the highest possible standards. “We’ll also be looking at the locker room, dining room and kitchen to ensure that the members experience is enhanced.” But while the bricks and mortar, as well as the golf course are out of the top drawer, it is the human factor which really defines The Wisley as a world-class club. “I’d say the most important, and the best thing about The Wisley are our members... I can’t believe just how regularly so many of them come, play and enjoy the club. “We are all about delivering the best possible experience, and the members could not be more appreciative to our
great staff,” commented Glendinning, who joined The Wisley from Close House at the beginning of the year. “We want our members to come down and enjoy having a haven where they can just relax, enjoy their golf and get away from the outside world,” said Glendinning, adding that the club has a total membership of 700, which never rises or falls. “We recently introduced a new Member-Member 36 hole two day event. Each nine holes played was a different format, and it was a great relaxed atmosphere, culminating with four pairs going into a shoot-out. I have had numerous emails from members saying how much they had enjoyed it,” revealed Glendinning, who is well aware of the fact that an email from a member doesn’t always contain positive news! “I would say that the atmosphere created by the members is second to
none in terms of all the clubs which I have been involved with, and I am looking forward to enhancing events for the members going forward.” The Wisley made news when it was opened in 1991, because of the value of the membership debentures, but since then the club has maintained a low profile with no attempt, or desire, to chase headlines. Nor have they seen the need to attract professional tournaments to build a reputation. Low key, but highquality is the order of the day. The three nines saw a major redevelopment between 2008, 2011 and 2014, with all three courses rebuilt with improved drainage, new irrigation and renovated bunkers. More changes are about to take place, moving the course away from unsustainable pure creeping bent grass greens, to a well-maintained blend of poa-annua/ bent greens.
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GARDEN APPROACH The third green on the Garden Course
“Some of the proudest moments for the club have come from seeing the pros who practice here weekly succeeding on Tour”
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“Creeping bent proved to be too tricky to manage consistently over a long period of time,” said Glendinning, “so we had previously been digging them up and replacing them every five years. “However, we have made the decision to allow poa/bent blended greens to develop, combined with regular overseeding with bent grasses to maintain the roll, and the members are delighted with the quality and consistency we are producing already. “Some of the best courses in the world have poa/bent blended greens so this is not a concern for us.” Many Tour pros – including Francesco Molinari, recent winner of his own Italian Open, and Dunhill Links Champions Tyrrell Hatton and Oliver Wilson – are members at The Wisley, attracted by the high quality practice facilities and the fact that they can practice, play and enjoy their lunch without being hounded for selfies. “Some of the proudest moments for the club have come from seeing the pros who practice here weekly succeeding on Tour. Our facilities are great. We use grass tees on the range all summer and they are maintained by our director of greens and ex-STRI agronomist, John Lockyer to the same level as the fairways on the course along with the short game area. So the players are getting to practise on what they face during the course of the round.” Looking forward to the next 25 years Glendinning is keen to ensure that The
Wisley keeps abreast of what is going on within the golf industry and can adapt, as it has done with the equality within the club, to changes in culture within the game. Having moved from a commercial proprietary-owned club to a high quality members’ club Glendinning also holds great store in staff development. “I want to ensure that we keep morale high, recruit the best staff into the club and develop them to the highest possible standard to enable them to develop their own careers whether that be here or giving them the opportunity to progress. “I am also keen to develop myself within the industry through the Club Managers Association of Europe’s education system and networking opportunities, but also from leading experts in the hospitality world which is far easier here than it was in the north east. “Some of the best clubs and hotels in the world are in the area and the golf industry can learn a lot from other service-led industries, I will be looking to implement things I pick up to ensure the club is moving forward.” The Wisley gives its extremely fortunate 700 members exactly what they want from a golf club, and you can be sure that with a dedicated chief executive like John Glendinning at the helm, and his staff not leaving any stone unturned, they can expect to get even more from their club over the next quarter of a century. GMé
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Malaysia sets new course with Els Club Desaru Coast South East Asia’s newest golf destination was met with high praise following the first rounds of official play at The Els Club Desaru Coast – The Ocean, the first of two-major Els-designed golf developments to open in Malaysia. Article by Jed Moore.
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elsclubmalaysia.com OCEAN VIEWS The par 3, 3rd hole (main picture) on The Els Club Desaru Coast course, and right, the backdrop to the par 5, 2nd hole
Desaru Coast has all the ingredients of becoming one of Asia’s tourism powerhouses. The recent launch of The Els Club Desaru Coast – The Ocean has already ignited interest locally, regionally and internationally, which could well be an indicator of things to come. A host of premium and globally renowned hospitality brands will frame the 3,900 acre shoreline development that sits on the south-eastern region of Malaysia, in the state of Johor. With a selection of attractions under development, the destination is promising the complete experience, whilst shaping a new era for Malaysia’s tourism economy. Big plans and big ambition! Developed by Themed Attractions Resorts & Hotels (TAR&H) – an investment holding organisation established by the Malaysian Government’s strategic investment fund, Khazanah Nasional Berhad to attract world-class tourism and hospitality brands to Malaysia – the scale and vision of the destination is earmarked as a catalyst to inject new energy and attract additional tourism dollars. The first impressions have been strong and it has captivated those closest to it.
“It certainly has the makings of one of South-East Asia’s top destinations,” commented four-time Major Champion Ernie Els. “You have a great location, in close proximity to so many major Asian hubs. “You have a corner of coastline that simply takes your breath away and an ownership group dedicated to creating some of the finest tourism attractions in the world. When you add these ingredients together, you have the makings of something very special.” Managed by Troon Golf, The Ocean Course is the first golf property to open its doors at The Els Club Desaru Coast project. Three-loops of nine holes being the Coast, Lakes and Ridge comprise The Ocean Course. The property looks over the development offering up glimpses of the adjacent coastline and giving you a sense of the direction this development is headed. “The first impression from early visitors has been around the sheer scale of the development,” commented Muhammad Zainal Ashikin, CEO Destination Resorts & Hotels Portfolio of TAR&H. “The Ocean Course gives views across the entire Desaru Coast develop-
“The first impression from early visitors has been around the sheer scale of the development” twitter.com/gme
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desaru coast PICTURE PERFECT Assorted views of The Els Club Desaru Coast, Ocean course in Malaysia
“Desaru Coast is perfectly situated to accommodate a fully-integrated tourism product and has been carefully mapped out to reach its full potential”
ment, which will be home to globally renowned hotels and resorts; Aman Resorts & Villas, The Westin Desaru Resort, Anantara Desaru Resort, and Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast; a state-of-theart conference centre, a themed water park and a retail village.” Spread across vast hectares of pristine coastline, Desaru Coast is already recognised on a regional tourism level. With the injection of partnership with some of the world’s leading hospitality brands, the scope is very much international. “With Singapore on our doorstep and good air uplift to Senai International Airport, which is only a 45 minute drive, we are well positioned to unlock good footfall to the destination,” continued Muhammad Zainal. “Desaru Coast is perfectly situated to accommodate a fully-integrated tourism product and has been carefully mapped out to reach its full potential.” From a course design perspective, The Ocean Course has some real signature Ernie features. It is evident that Ernie’s style is founded from a player’s perspec-
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tive, whereby distance control and accuracy hold the key to low scores. The greens are generous, but carry subtle undulations that mean finding the correct side comes at a premium. “The Coast is the loop that plays adjacent to the ocean, as the name suggests,” shared Els. “We have some big, challenging holes with water hazards and strong bunkering. The 2nd hole stands out in my mind; it’s a spectacular par-5 that runs straight towards the ocean, often into the prevailing breeze, so it requires two strong hits to get home. “The 3rd is a beautiful par-3, with the ocean lapping right up against the green. The 5th also deserves special mention; a short par-4 that arches around the water from right to left. You can’t get out of position there!” The Coast would seem to be the headline nine holes, but once you have played each, there is little difference in quality and a distinct character for each. “Moving on to The Lakes, where obviously we have an abundance of water features there, too. The 2nd in particular
is a tricky par-3, where the green sits at an angle against the water, so you can’t get too greedy with your tee shot. “Then the 3rd and 4th circumnavigate one of the main water features and there are some interesting challenges off the tee and into the green on those two holes. “Finally, the loop we call The Ridge reaches to the highest point of the property with some pretty serious elevation changes and a burn that comes into play. I love the 9th which provides a pretty spectacular climax to the round, heading back up towards the clubhouse with some strong bunkering.” The greens are Tiff Dwarf, which provides a firm and fast surface, with 219 making up the surrounds. The maintenance program is vast and a major pull for local employment, a key objective from the ownership group. The Desaru Coast development is expected to bring in over 4,000 jobs at its capacity, which is significant for the region of Johor Bahru and what appears to be a great opportunity to build a
Desaru Coast adds adventure to Malaysia
new generation of golf, hospitality and service professionals. The launch of The Ocean Course will be soon followed by The Valley Course, a design collaboration between Ernie Els and Vijay Singh. Many of us will remember the epic duals between these two; none more so than around the West Course at Wentworth. The Valley Course is next door to The Ocean, a mere five minute transfer. “To have Vijay on-board as a partner for The Valley Course was a positive experience for us,” added Els. “You don’t need me to tell you that Vijay has been one of the world’s best golfers for many years, but he clearly also has a great eye for design. “We’ve obviously known each other a long time now. Vijay’s a little older than me – he won’t mind me saying that,” laughed Els. “But we’re basically of the same generation and we’ve had some good battles over the years and a lot of success between us. We also played on the same Presidents Cup team many times.
“He’s one of golf’s good guys and I was delighted he agreed to be part of the design team here.” In addition to the operational assets; The Els Performance Golf Academy will be a major feature on the property. The practice facilities will be available at both properties, but The Ocean Course will be home to the main facility. Guests will also have access to the aptly named ‘Little Easy Par 3’, which will no doubt be a hit with juniors and beginners. As with The Els Club, the brand offers fine dining to the more relaxed café style lounge, coupled with a firstrate clubhouse. Going on Ernie’s previous successes in Malaysia with The Els Club Teluk Datai; a course which scooped ‘The World’s Best New Golf Course’ award and ranked 84th in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Greatest Golf Courses in the World, great things are planned for The Els Club Desaru Coast. The Els Club Malaysia brand has set its stall out to create a service level and quality assurance a step above the competition. GMé
The destination will not only be home to The Els Club Desaru Coast – The Ocean and The Valley courses – but also some renowned hospitality brands. The first phase of development will see the introduction of The Westin Desaru Resort, located in the hub of Desaru Coast; Aman Resorts & Villas, an exclusive six-star luxury resort with 46 suites and 52 luxury residential villas with a view of the South China Sea; Anantara Desaru Resort, a 123 keys luxury family oriented resort with direct access to the beach and in close proximity to the headline attractions; and the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, which is conveniently located adjacent to Desaru Coast Adventure Water Park. Additionally, The Riverine, a resort and dining hub and Desaru Adventure Water Park, a pirate hideout kampungstyle themed water park will add further activities for visitors – creating the most complete integrated tourism development of its kind. The Malaysia and Singapore markets, given their close proximity, are expected to quickly adopt Desaru Coast as the holiday destination of choice, with international markets expected to follow suit soon after. The development will bring jobs and economic benefits to Malaysia and add weight to a nation seen as a leading innovator in tourism development. Despite such grand plans, at its heart, Desaru Coast is a new paradise and a new address, with a determination to create a long-lasting legacy, through its standing as a genuine paradise escape.
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synthetic bunkers SAND TRAP A renovated bunker at the Greg Norman-designed Tiburon Golf Club at The Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida
Mega Growth for Durabunker As Aidan Patrick reports, this year has seen a period of ‘mega’ growth for Durabunker, as synthetic bunkers debut on both the PGA and LPGA tours. When the most recent LPGA Tour Championships and PGA Tour event The Franklyn Templeton Shootout were televised live to a worldwide audience, there were none glued to the coverage more than Rhydian Lewis, the founder of Durabunker Limited. The Welsh-based company had just finished the first phase of a bunker renovation at the Greg Norman-designed Tiburon Golf Club at The Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida, using the patented synthetic bunker edge solution they have branded Durabunker. The use of synthetics to build sustainable, low maintenance bunkers, holds multiple benefits over traditional bunker construction methods, and Durabunker’s presence at the event represented a landmark in the LPGA and PGA Tours history – the first time an event on either tour had featured synthetic bunker faces. “Sitting in my living room watching the world’s leading golfers in both the ladies and men’s game, playing from bunkers that we had remodelled and rebuilt was almost a little surreal,” said Lewis. “The journey the product has taken from its roots at my home club in Maesteg, South Wales, where we built the first primitive model in the greenkeepers shed, to featuring at PGA and LPGA Tour events is still hard to take in. “It does however provide a ringing endorsement for the product and our company and shows that even the loftiest of venues recognise the benefits the product represents.” The second phase of the work at Tiburon was completed this summer, with director of golf course maintenance, Kirk Richmond, pleased with the results.
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“A year in from the start of the project, Durabunker is proving to be a strong investment for the golf club,” said Richmond. “Bunkers on the golf course were a huge challenge; bunker face and edge instability in particular was a constant concern – the bunkers looked ugly yet still took up much of our time. “We tried a number of methods to resolve the issues we had, but none proved successful. It was then that we discovered Durabunker and immediately felt it was a perfect fit here. “The company have been a pleasure to deal with,” continued Richmond. “During the initial stages of the project, Durabunker staff visited the site to oversee the installation, and suggested that we raise the floors a little to create a slight rise and fall in the sand line. “Greg Norman had concerns about some of the aging bunkers becoming a little over penal with flatter bases and steeper faces, so Durabunker’s recommendation to soften some of the bunkers has worked really well. “The bunker faces now look fantastic, are less penal, but still pose the same intended visual intimidation. Our bunker maintenance headaches have simply disappeared.” The work at Tiburon and another Greg Norman design, Tennessee National, led to other courses commissioning the product, with the PGA Tour operated TPC of America endorsing the product for their new course near Denver, The TPC Colorado, which has become the first new 18 hole build to feature synthetic bunker faces. A second PGA Tour venue, Conway Farms, begun a renovation recently and
“When we founded Durabunker, one of the core strategies was to grow the company organically, ensuring that our product and service was of the highest quality”
BEFORE Bunker before remodelling
DESIGN An artists impression
AFTER Bunker after renovation
Fieldstone in Philadelphia also completed a renovation project with Durabunker this past summer. Damon DiGiorgio, course manager at Fieldstone outlined the economic benefits: “We were sceptical at first, but once pricing was established, I did a financial analysis of Durabunker versus a standard natural grass sloped bunker, and while initial costs were higher using Durabunker, the cost of maintenance is greatly reduced, plus the bunker faces look so natural, you would never know they were synthetic.” Durabunker established a solid foundation with a strong portfolio in the UK and Europe before focussing on new markets, and now have two projects running as far afield as Australia. In more recent times additional products and services have also been added to their core product, to offer ‘Turnkey Bunker Solutions’ to clients. “When we founded Durabunker, one of the core strategies was to grow the
company organically, ensuring that our product and service was of the highest quality,” said Durabunker founder Rhydian Lewis. “However as with most growing companies, there tends to be an evolution along the way, and I am delighted that Durabunker has been chosen as distributors of Megaflo, a revolutionary drainage solution that is taking off in the USA and Australia. “Megaflo is a rigid, high-flow velocity panel drain that consists of a perforated HDPE core wrapped with nonwoven geotextile to prevent soil ingress into the drainage system,” explained Lewis. “Compared to a 100mm round pipe, Megaflo has twice the inflow capacity and will drain water in less than 60 per cent of the response time. In addition, it does not require trenching and can be laid directly onto subgrade resulting in significant cost and labour savings. “This is the only drainage solution I know of that is designed in this way.
“We feel Megaflo is the perfect product to complement our bunker edge solution, and together with the three types of bunker liner we now offer, we have an all encompassing set of products, from bunker drainage system, through bunker liner to bunker edge solution. “Added to that our bunker design service, which has been incorporated into some of our projects over the past 18 months, means we can now offer a service from consultancy and design, through to construction and remodelling. “Clients can choose from a number of options for project execution from using our full contractual services through to executing projects ‘in-house’ using their own staff,” added Lewis. “With our core product becoming more widely accepted, I believe we are positioning ourselves as a leading bunker design and construction business, that offers total bunker solutions of the highest quality, plus a little bit more.” GMé
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CULTURE Ancient sculptures on display at the Museo Canova di Possagno
ROME BECKONS The 17th tee on the Marco Simone Golf Club, venue for the 2022 Ryder Cup
Italy can offer Golf & More It’s been a great year for Italian golf so far, with the launch of Italy Golf & More followed by the announcement that the country will host the 2022 Ryder Cup as Peter Simm reports. Welcoming millions of overseas visitors every year, Italy has long been recognised as one of the world’s favourite holiday destinations. Offering a mouth-watering mixture of rich art, cuisine, history, fashion, culture and a glittering coastline, people find it hard to resist Italy’s many charms, and more than 50 million tourists made their way through its doors last year – making it the fifth most visited country on the planet in 2015. With such an embarrassment of riches, it’s perhaps easy to see why golf has been somewhat overlooked in the past in favour of other, more popular, pursuits and attractions. But not any more. Hot on the heels of the European Tour announcing that Italy will host the 2022 Ryder Cup for the first time in its history at the end of last year, the country launched its greatest ever co-ordinated golf tourism initiative under the Italy Golf & More brand this spring. A collaboration between private sector partner regions, the Italian Golf Federation and the Ministry of Tourism (MIBACT) on a seven-figure investment,
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Italy Golf & More is the country’s first pan-Italian international promotional project for golf and has been set up to increase awareness, and future golf tourism traffic, from key European golfing markets to Italy. The partner regions consist of Friuli Venezia Giulia – the leading partner region of the initiative – Lombardy, Piedmont, Lazio, Veneto, Liguria, EmiliaRomagna, Puglia, Sicily, Marche and Umbria – who together boast 115 of Italy’s golf courses – with seven further regions falling under the investment of the Italian Golf Federation. Engaging golfers across the continent in a long-term activation campaign across print, digital, social and event channels in 2016 and beyond, the initial response to Italy Golf & More has been extremely positive, with the project being greeted with widespread acclaim both by golfers and the industry, leading to some predictions that the country is set to become Europe’s next major golf destination. Bruno Bertero, project co-ordinator for Italy Golf & More, said: “Italy is a country full of wonderful and different golf
ITALIAN SOPHISTICATION A panoramic view of the clubhouse and course at Golf Club Asiago
courses, a fact that is often overlooked when golfers are looking to book a golf break. “We are very proud of the golf product we have to offer which, combined with the many tourist attractions available, great flight access and comparatively low green fees, makes us a match for any of the more traditional European golf destinations. “These are very exciting times for Italian golf, with the Ryder Cup due to take place here in 2022, and this new
collaboration gives us a fantastic opportunity to showcase the country to golfers in the most important golf tourism markets in Europe.” Unveiled in May, the Italy Golf & More project not only has the support of the Italian government and tourist board, but it has also received the backing of the country’s most famous golfers including the Molinari brothers and Matteo Manassero. Home to no fewer than 141 18-hole golf courses – many designed by golf
legends – Italy offers exceptional value with average green fee rates that hover around the €50 per round mark. Rome and the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, only ten miles from the capital, will be the focus of attention in 2022 when Europe and America’s best players gather to compete for the Ryder Cup, an event that will undoubtedly raise Italy’s standing in the golf world. But, with the opportunity to play golf all year round with a fantastically varied selection of courses and regions from
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“The arrival of the Ryder Cup in Italy confirms the entrance of our nation into the elite of the golfing world and guarantees Italian golf a future with great prospects”
WELCOMING The ChervÒ Golf Hotel Spa and Resort
north to south, coupled with myriad delights away from the course for people of all ages, there’s so much for golfers to enjoy before then, something that Franco Chimenti, president of the Italian Golf Federation, is quick to point out. Chimenti said: “More than 400 golfing venues and almost 150 championship courses with 18 holes or more are spread across Italy, a rich golf offering that we are hugely proud of and which means we have no need to envy the world’s more famous golfing destinations, both in terms of quality and quantity. “Although Italy is one of the main tourist destinations in the world, up until now it has only been marginally considered as a destination for golfing trips by the 70 million-plus existing golfers worldwide. “The Italian Golf Federation is, however, highly convinced that the golf that Italy has to offer, combined with our nation’s thousands of touristic gems, represents one of the trump cards upon which Italian tourism must focus firmly, and a great opportunity for a splendid golf trip for all enthusiasts who love to tour the world combining their favourite sport with a holiday. “For this reason, we have decided to enthusiastically support the Italy Golf & More project which has the benefit of grouping the entire Italian golf tourism product together for the first time, and to
48 | GMé October 2016
promote it in a unified way to travelling golfers from all around the world thanks also to the support from our Department of Tourism.” Revered across the world for its outstanding history, culture and gastronomy, the appeal of Italy as an international golfing destination becomes even stronger when other factors are taken into consideration. For a nation blessed with so many outstanding golf courses, it still only has around 90,000 players, meaning overcrowded fairways are not a problem and there is plenty of tee-time availability. Enjoying a warm, temperate climate for the majority of the year, Italy is also easily accessible from all over Europe, with 20 airports in the UK alone now operating regular flights to all parts of the country. Boosted by the launch of Italy Golf & More, it’s hardly surprising, then, that Italy has made swift progress this year in its rise to prominence among Europe’s top golf destinations. International green fee bookings were up by more than 20 per cent in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period last year, with golfers from the UK, Germany, Switzerland, France and Scandinavia, in particular, eager to combine a golfing break with the chance to experience some of the nation’s many other highlights.
Italy also featured prominently in Golf World magazine’s eagerly-awaited new rankings list of the top 100 resorts in continental Europe, providing ten per cent of the venues selected with no fewer than six different regions – Piedmont, Lombardy, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Tuscany, Sicily and Sardinia – all featuring. And with the hard work set to continue over the next 18 months, including Italy Golf & More taking its place alongside more than 20 Italian exhibitors at this year’s International Golf Travel Market, Italian golf tourism has plenty to look forward to. Bertero said: “The initial response we have received shows that people have a tremendous appetite to play golf in Italy, and this is a great chance to demonstrate the many delights that Italy has to offer to a worldwide audience.” Chimenti is even more optimistic in his outlook. “With the allocation of the 2022 Ryder Cup to Italy, a new era for the Italian golfing movement has begun,” he said. “The arrival of the Ryder Cup in Italy confirms the entrance of our nation into the elite of the golfing world and guarantees Italian golf a future with great prospects.” Judging by the great strides Italy has made in 2016, together with hosting the Ryder Cup in 2022, it would be a fool to disagree with him. GMé
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“please allow me to hold up my hand and confess that I’m actually a very poor golfer”
That’s one small step for man, but a step too far for me Many, many years ago, I went on a blind date. It was not a success. One of the first things she said to me was: “When Mark told me you were a sports journalist, I thought you’d be fitter…” Taken aback somewhat, my response was a little prickly. “Well,” I said, “when he told me you were in your early 20s I assumed you’d be, well, in your 20s!” She left at that point, but it still went down as one of my most successful blind dates. This exchange came back to me recently following an unsuccessful first few holes of one of only two rounds of golf this calendar year. One of my playing partners said: “Because you work in golf, I thought you’d be a much better player.” Ignoring the obvious retort that my handicap should have really indicated otherwise, I used a response given life by an old hack friend – still a much better player than I – who was once admonished in a similar way. “I used to write for Space magazine,” I said, “but I’m not an astronaut.” The sheepish look on his face gave me the confidence to swagger up to my next tee shot and slice it into the adjacent lake. So, at this point, please allow me to hold up my hand and confess that I’m actually a very poor golfer; in fact very poor golfers would wipe the floor with me. Indeed, complete beginners have been known to, while not exactly wipe the floor with me, at least give it something of a good buff up. My excuse for this is two-fold. Firstly, I don’t play a lot. The only day I have available to play golf is Sunday and I prefer to spend that with my family.
50 | GMé October 2016
MOON WALK I may be no astronaut, but I can just about putt
So the rounds I do play tend to be when I’m somewhere on business and golf is part of the day. When I do play, if it’s with people I know and get along with, I enjoy it immensely. And secondly – and I suspect, this is the real crux – I’m not in the least competitive when it doesn’t involve my football team. If I did care about losing I might go and get some lessons. That I haven’t, when I’ve been writing for this publication since its inception and covering golf even before that, probably speaks volumes for my golfing ambition. Yet I love the sport. I love watching it played by the very best; I really enjoy a social round; I enjoy the company of golfers; and I find golf courses attractive
and peaceful environments. And that’s why I hang on to my career for grim death. At least I’m consistent. I worked for a former Premier League football team and reported on the game for years, but never played above mediocre Sunday League standard. And I’m not bitter … much! GMé
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