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ue s is t s fir


SEPTEMBER 1997 £2.50 25FFR 7.5DM 625PTAS

BEGG TO DIFFER David Begg has retired after 15 years as the Open Championship’s press officer - but he has no intention of putting his feet up

E u ro p e

VALDERRAMA Leading the Way?

The definitive business magazine for the European golfing industry


Contents Contents




Issue One

E u ro p e

inside A warm welcome to the first edition of ‘Golf Management Europe’, the new independent business magazine for the European golfing industry Full story on page 6

Under threat Is the club pro at risk from the enormous buying power of the American discount stores?

Page 8

David Begg Alister Marshall profiles the man who has recently retired after organising the Open Championship for the past 15 years Page 14

Old Thorns Our featured club this issue is the Japanese-owned Kosaido Old Thorns GC

Page 23

Valderrama Is Valderrama a one-off, or should the Ryder Cup return to mainland Europe in future years? Page 27

Golf Management Europe

EDITOR John Vinicombe EXECUTIVE EDITOR Alister Marshall FEATURES EDITOR Andy Ford NEWS EDITOR David Bowers STAFF WRITERS Colin Cameron, Peter Simm Pat Symes, Duncan Wright



SUBSCRIPTIONS UK (6 issues) £15 Europe (6 issues) £30 Rest of World (6 issues) £40 BACK ISSUES/SINGLE COPIES UK & Europe £4 Rest of World £7










Callaway wins legal battles by David Bowers


allaway Golf Company has emerged victorious from litigation against companies selling counterfeit and other illegal copies of the company’s clubs in Sweden and the US. Stockholm City Court has issued an order preventing Swedish sports retailer Sportz & Golf, from advertising or selling illegal counterfeits and knockoffs of Callaway Golf’s patented and trademarked Big Bertha line of golf clubs. The win followed on the heels of a similar victory in the US courts against a Florida-based mail-order company, Professional Edge Golf. An order was issued in July finding Professional Edge violated an injunction entered late last year by offering for sale, and selling, clubheads which had a soleplate confusingly similar to the patented and trademarked War Bird soleplate used on Callaway’s Big Bertha, War Bird, Great Big Bertha Metal Woods and its Biggest Bertha Drivers. Callaway has also announced it has settled a dispute with Eden Safari Golf, a Taiwanese golf equipment wholesaler. In addition to compensating the American company $10,000, the settlement requires Eden Safari to publicly apologise to Callaway in an advertisement and agree never again to infringe its intellectual property rights. “We hope we are sending a clear message to knock-off manufacturers and to those people who think they can make a quick buck or a fast krona,” said Donald H. Dye (below), president and chief executive officer of Callaway Golf. “Golfers expect that when they buy distinctive Callaway Golf products, they are getting Callaway Golf quality and not a cheap imitation. Efforts like this help ensure that is the case. We hope that we are sending a clear message to counterfeiters that there is no profit in trying to copy Callaway Golf products.” he concluded.

The future of golf begins here

Autumn sees the publication of the most wide-ranging survey ever to be produced on the future of the sport of golf. The good news is that it is likely to predict a successful decade ahead - the down side is that the survey will pinpoint specific problems which experts believe will need to be addressed if the future of the sport is to be secured. Golf Futures, a report from the Henley Centre - one of the world’s foremost economic forecasting organisations - is being produced in association with EMAP Pursuit, publishers of a number of golf magazines. The groundbreaking study will be essential reading for everyone in the golf industry and is unique in that it looks forward to the millenium rather than back in time as many of its predecessors have done. A spokesman for the Henley Centre confirmed: “It is quite simply the widest ranging report on golf ever produced. We haven’t just looked at golf, we’ve looked at the way the industry will react within the wider economy.

“We have looked at how changes in income and employment will affect the golf market. If there is a hike in interest rates how this will affect the younger end of the market and again we’ve looked at how a rise in interest rates would affect the seniors end of the market.” The survey is likely to contain many dramatic conclusions and it may even ruffle a few feathers - but it will help administrators and managers plan and structure their business in line with the changing face of golf over the next ten years. It includes a new survey of golfers, of non-golfers and of companies within the golf industry. Golf Futures predicts how participation will segment between men and women and between juniors and seniors. The wide-ranging survey also indicates what the total of the golf market is envisaged to be and how it will divide between sectors such as equipment, clothing, course development, tuition and corporate golf. Golf Futures is published on October 1.

Purpose-built ultrasonic club cleaner SonicShot has been endorsed by the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. The unit enables golfers to clean a complete set of clubs - heads and grips - in around two minutes. SonicShot can be provided by clubs as a free service or as an income-producer.

PGA National golf week was a success


he first PGA National Golf Week staged earlier this year, has been hailed as a success by the organisers. Some clubs, however, have expressed disappointment with the support the project received in the national media. Such criticisms were swiftly refuted by the PGA commercial director Mike Grey who pointed out the event had been featured on Sky, BBC and ITV. He said: “We don’t claim to have got it all right and we will look at the way it went and make any changes needed but our feedback is that it has been a great success.”




The National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, hosts EuroGolf - the largest trade exhibition in Europe - from October 8 - 10, but not everyone will be there. Mizuno has pulled out claiming the exhibition “no longer suits what the company is trying to achieve.” The Japanese giants may have pulled out, but around 300 companies remain.

New Parkland Course for Carnegie Club


n innovative course design by Donald Steel allows a new nine-hole course at Skibo Castle, in Scotland, to be played either as a par-three or as a challenging par35 course. The Parkland Course will be ready for play in the summer of 1998, and the chairman and founder of Skibo Castle’s Carnegie Club Peter de Savary, officially broke the ground for the new course back in May. The ceremony also included the planting of a tree by member Murray Koffler (right) - one of the founders of the international Four Seasons hotel chain - and his wife Marvelle. De Savary said: “With its innovative layout, Skibo’s unique Parkland course will provide the ideal complement to our legendary championship Carnegie Links - arguably the most challenging course in Scotland.” Emma Brook, pro for the Carnegie Club added: “We thought it would be useful to have a shorter course for members who did not fancy a complete 18 holes.

Badgemore Park sold William Hillary Leisure & Hotels has sold Badgemore Park to Premier Golf Developments Ltd. Situated in Henley-on-Thames, the club, which was founded in 1972, exchanged hands for just under the £2.5 million asking price.

“There are days when the Carnegie Course is a little too much for some players - even the very best - and the new Parkland nine has been designed for a little light relief.” The 18-hole Carnegie Links, constructed in 1995 was voted the best new course in Britain by Golf World, and both projects have been managed by Pierson Project Management Ltd. The course can be played either as a 1,545 yard par-three, or a sporty mixture of par threes, fours and fives. The Carnegie Club and Pierson are working in tandem again in Leicestershire where they are constructing a new golf academy at Stapleford Park, near Melton Mowbray.

Howard Swan M.Sc Nigel Henbury B.A., Dip.Arch. Golf Course Architects

member of the

BRITISH INSTITUTE OF GOLF COURSE ARCHITECTS Swan Golf Designs Limited Telfords Barn, Willingale, Ongar, Essex CM5 0QF, England

Shah increases portfolio


ormer Today newspaper proprietor Eddie Shah has increased his golf course ownership by acquiring Norfolk club Reymerston for £900,000 from the club’s official receivers. Situated near Norwich, Reymerston was only opened in 1993 and boasts a 6,603 yard 18-hole course, together with a 9-hole pitch and putt. Shah’s company, Messenger Leisure Ltd also owns the Essex G&CC in Colchester and the Suffolk G&CC in Bury St Edmunds.

Richard Campey R.J. & J. CAMPEY are based at Marton, near Macclesfield and are able to carry out golf course maintenance using the latest machinery. We run a fleet of Vertidrains, Charterhouse Overseeders which bury the seed below the surface, and Bredall and Ultra Plant Sand Spreaders. We are also able to supply new and reconditioned grasscutting and turf maintenance machinery. For further details contact: Richard Campey Tel: +44 (0)1260 224568 Fax: +44 (0)1260 224791 Marton, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9HG

Phone: 01277 896229 Fax: 01277 896300 E-Mail:




Comment Comment


Teeing-off toward a new millennium


warm welcome to Golf Management Europe, the first truly independent business magazine specifically targeted to cater for the increasing demands faced by the panEuropean golfing industry. Launched amid interesting and challenging times within the golf fraternity, Golf Management Europe will offer a new dimension never attained within the plethora of existing golf trade journals. As specialists in sports publishing, and founder publishers of Football Management - the UK’s leading business journal for the football industry - we believe that we have the knowledge and expertise necessary to adapt our marketing and commercial know-how to the ever demanding golf sector. We are under no illusion as to the magnitude of the task ahead, but feel that given time, we can become an integral and beneficial part of the commercial revolution that the game is currently experiencing. Sport is business - big business at that, - and golf is no less affected by this statement than any other mainstream sport. As with the majority of most sports within our continent, golf needs to advance and evolve in-keeping with the public’s needs and aspirations, and we hope that Golf Management Europe will help in this ongoing development. Concentrating on all aspects of golf administration, Golf Management Europe will offer a balanced and in-depth look at news and business aspects pertinent to golf club management. Over the past 18 months, we have worked closely with numerous members of the commercial sector and indeed golf clubs throughout Europe to ascertain your needs and requirements. We feel confident that we have achieved our initial objective. In conclusion, we would like to thank everyone who has worked so strenuously to help produce this inaugural edition of Golf Management Europe. Without your co-operation, now or in the future, this magazine would not be possible.

Soyez les bienvenus! Un accueil chaleurex à Golf Management Europe, la première publication commerciale vraiment indépendante, specifiquent dirigée pour s’adresser à l’industrie de golf pan-européenne. Lancée pendant une époque intéressante et stimulate à l’intérieur de la confrérie du golf, Golf Management Europe offrira une nouvelle dimension, jusqu’à présent jamais atteinte dans la pléthore des revues existantes traitant le commerce du golf. Comme des spécialistes en publications sportives, et étant les éditeurs fondateurs de Football Management - la revue principale en Grande Bretagne traitant le commerce du football - nous croyons que nous possédons les connaissances et l’expertise nécessaire pour pouvoir adapter notre savoir en marketing et commerce au secteur du golf. Nous n’avons aucune illusion quant à l’ ampleur de la tâche à venir, et quoique nous publierons seulement en anglais, nous croyons que, en temps voulu, nous pourrons devenir une partie intégrante de la révolution commerciale que le jeu connaît actuellement. En concentrant sur tous les aspects de l’administration du golf, Golf Management Europe offrira une vue mesurée et profonde sur les actualités et les aspects commerciaux pertinents à la gestion des clubs de golf. Nous espérons que la revue deviendra une source inestimable d’information pendant l’année prochaine.

Willkommen! Ein herzliches Willkommen an Golf Management Europe, die erste wirklich unabhängige Geschäftszeitschrift auf die paneuopäische Golfindustrie ausdrücklich ausgerichtet. Zu einer interessanten und belebenden Zeit für Golfspieler herausgegeben, Golf Management Europe wird eine neue Dimension anbieten, die innerhalb der großen Menge von existierenden Golfgeschäftszeitschriften niemals erreicht worden ist. Als Spezialisten in Sportzeitschriften and Gründerverleger von Football Management - die Hauptgeschäftszeitschrift für die FuBballindustrie in Großbritannien - wir glauben, daß wir die Kenntnisse und den notwendigen Sachverstand haben, um unseres Wissen in Marketing und Geschäftssachen dem Golfsektor anzupassen. Wir machen uns keine Illusionen über den Umfang der bevorstehenden Aufgabe, und, obgleich wir nur auf englisch herausbringen werden, wir glauben, daß, wir mit der Zeit ein integrales Teil der Geschäftsrevolution werden können, die das Spiel zur Zeit durchmacht. Indem sie auf alle Aspekte der Golfverwaltung konzentriert, Golf Management Europe wird einen ausgeglichenen und gründlichen Uberblick über Nachrichten und Geschäftsaspeckte anbieten, die Golfklubmanagement betreffen. Wir hoffen daß, während des nächsten Jahres, die Zeitschrift eine unschätzbare Quelle von Informationen sein wird.

¡Bienvenidos! Una calurosa bienvendia a Golf Management Europe, la primera revista comercial realmente independiente, especificamente dirigida para agradar la industría paneuropea del golf. Lanzada durante una época interesante y estimulante dentro de la cofradía del golf, Golf Management Europe ofrecerá una nueva dimensión, hasta ahora nunca alcanzada, dentro de la plétora de revistas actuales tratando el comercio del golf. Como especialistas en publicaciónes deportivas y editores fundadores de Football Management - la principal revista comercial para la industría del fútbol en Gran Bretaña - creemos que tenemos los conocimientos y competencia necesarios para adaptar nuestro saber de los mercados y del comercio al sector del golf. No hemos ilusiónes con respecto a la magnitud de la tarea y aunque publicaremos solamente en inglés, sentimos que, con el tiempo, podremos llegar a ser una parte integrante de la revolución comercial que el juego de golf conocze actualmente. Golf Management Europe se concentrará en todoslos aspectos de la adminstration de los clubs de golf y ofrecerá una vista equilibrida y profunda sobre las actualidades y los aspectos comerciales referentes a la gestión de los clubs de golf. Esperamos que la revista se volverá una fuente inestimable de información durante el próximo año.


Pierson Project Management Limited

Project managers for the Carnegie Parkland Course at Skibo Castle PO Box 2659, Ringwood, Hampshire, BH24 3XZ, England Telephone (01202) 822372 Evenings (01425) 475584 Facsimile (01202) 826447

BC British Consultants Bureau B Promoting British consultancy worldwide

Alterations to the La Manga Golf Club, Murcia, Spain

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Case Case Study Study T C P HE



Is the club pro

under threat?



ust what does the long term future hold for Britain’s club professionals? A strictly limited role, if the thinking at one club in the South East of England becomes a widely accepted guideline. Members of the committee, which must at this stage remain unnamed for legal reasons, circulated a private and confidential letter to all at the club giving details of a fundamental review of the position of the professional. The proposition was, in short, to dispense with his services as from January, 1998 and the club would take over the running of the shop for a trial period. As the letter was displayed on the club notice board the contents hardly remained confidential and it was no surprise when the professional contacted the PGA with a view to checking his position and taking legal advice. The letter also contained a message of considerable importance for all club professionals...

it was resolved

to tell members that the club intended to dispense with the services of a professional altogether

Ian Woosnam at American Golf Discount - will these discount stores finally put the club shop out of business?

This has not been agreed, and any such decision will only be taken after full consultation with the members. But before such a sounding could be taken, a second letter was posted in the clubhouse following protests from members at what they saw as a high handed decision. And again I quote from the letter... “it is fair to say that there has been a negative reaction to the notice from a number of members. It seemed to them that a major policy decision had been taken without any consultation, and that the committee had apparently acted in an unreasonable and heartless way. “Because of this reaction, the committee have decided that members must now be given the full facts leading to the decision to post the original notice.” However, there is no explanation for considering a radical policy change of dispensing with the services of a professional. The private club in question, which has at least 700 members, is perfectly entitled to run its affairs without let or hinderance. And it is only since the arrival of American Golf Discount in the area that the committee has started to look at the role of the club professional.


They concluded that a large number of members were buying at Europe’s top golf retailer and not patronising the club pro. And not only was golf equipment involved; clothing was cheaper at M&S which is not far from American Golf Discount. The rapid growth of cut-price stores and High Street outlets is now squeezing the club professional mighty hard, but this is the first case coming to our attention of a club, and not the pro concerned, embarking on such a drastic course of action. Powerful businesses like American Golf Discount and Nevada Bob’s the largest chain of discount golf stores in the world, are agreed that the market is big enough for both of them. And neither organisation has any wish to see the club professional disappear from his traditional shop. But they both feel that his place in the future should be on the teaching range. Michael Green, marketing director of American Golf Discount, acknowledged that the club pro has been placed in a difficult position by the proliferation of companies such as his with enormous buying power. “It is hard for the pro as he has to be a combination of all things; retailer, teacher and marketing man.

Case Case Study Study


“We see our role to provide a full range of products to all levels of golfers at competitive prices. The club pro cannot match the range of products we can offer and that is a fact.” American Golf Discount has 30 outlets in the UK after starting 15 years ago in Warrington. According to Green there will be 60 stores with a predicted turnover of £50 million in the next two years. “We are trying to maximise our market share and are by no means complacent. We want to make sure every golfer is really spoilt. “We are not fighting the club pro. On the contrary, we feel competition is good for him as it is for us. We all have to work together to build the game of golf. “I can understand the pressure on the club pro, but if there are more young people coming into golf, then surely he will benefit. Young people are taking up the game in droves and ladies as well. “We are trying to make the game more accessible to everyone and want people to go to their pro and receive coaching. It is in that area that the club pro can really come into his own,” said Green. And he added: “Now we have the Tiger Factor and Justin Leonard winning the Open - that’s what was needed. With golf enjoying such a tremendous impetus, the club pro should be busy every minute with coaching and looking to be more proactive in winter. “We are passionate about the game. Last year we supported the BBC Big Bash at the NEC and there were 10,000 kids on the stands with PGA professionals.” It may come as a surprise that American Golf Discount has nothing to do with the United States. A local pro, Robert Bilton, started the firm with his brother Howard in Warrington and it has never looked back. “They recognised the market was moving in a new direction so they started up the business and brought in people like Tony Norton, ex-IBM, to be managing director, and another experienced business man, Alister

Cook, who is in charge of finance, and myself as sales director.” Michael Green, 31, ex-Wilson Sporting Goods UK managing director, has worked for other blue chip retailers including Marks and Spencer and Haagen-Dazs. Phil Smith, franchise director of Nevada Bob’s, said his company and American Discount, “survive very nicely.” He thought small High Street golf shops are having as tough a time as the club professionals and agreed with Michael Green that there had been a tremendous upsurge in Michael Green, business since Tiger Woods American Golf Discount burst upon the scene. Nevada Bob’s has 350 outlets throughout the world with 24 in the UK and is a wholly American owned company that started in 1974. It was Bob Elton, an ordinary American club pro who saw the way the future was

I wouldn’t say

the club pro lives in fear of the

discount store

Nevada Bob’s have a full time UK staff of 200, some of whom are golf professionals and American Golf Discount also employ pros in their store nets. Ever since the professionals were confronted with massive commercial competition their slogan has been, “Those who know buy from their pro.” There are nearly 6,000 members of the PGA, and Mike Gray, commercial director at The Belfry, flew the flag with a flourish. “The golf pro is a service industry, and to be a pro is to be a member of a profession, entrance to which means a three years miniStaff at American Golf Discount mum training programme. “We have just completed an 18 going and quit his job and moved into retailing. Now there are seven months training and education outlets in continental Europe and programme addressed to the chaleverywhere the electronic tills are lenge of the commercial market and dealing specifically in retailing and buzzing. “Business is unbelievable,” said merchandising. “In the retail world, competition Phil Smith. “Our performances are very strong. We began this year with is always there and our members can 21 stores and will probably finish in be competitive given the chance. Just the UK with an excess of 35. We because a member doesn’t have the could even get to 40. We have a UK luxury of space doesn’t mean he target of 60-plus in the next three cannot sell at a price which you might find in the High Street. years. “I wouldn’t say the club pro lives “Our advantage over the club pro is size of unit and the ability to offer a in fear of the discount store. After all, much bigger product range plus, of he can offer teaching and advice course, a second to none buying which is second to none and that is just part of his daily round.” power. “The club pro wasn’t brought into the world to be a retailer. His job involves so many other things, but our full time job is to sell golf.” SEPTEMBER 1997




Golf Courts revolution


our holes, but 18 tees. That is the secret of the Golf Court, a concept that is gaining in popularity and which many believe may be the future of golf. Almost ten years ago systems designer Farel Bradbury suffered a stroke which left him temporarily disabled and golf was recommended as a means of restoring the use of his right arm. He became hooked and using his professional skills he designed a four-green, eight-tee, 3,000-yard par-60 Golf Court on just six acres of land. He now calculates that a 6,500yard, par-72 Golf Court can be created on just 15 acres. Each Golf Court can accommodate three simultaneous matches of two, three or four balls. This means that golf can now be played in areas where previously it was not feasible - on plots of land from six to 15 acres. Each hole is different and varies in perspective and length, and like a tennis court, play is booked by the hour. The golfer has the flexibility of playing six holes in one hour, 12 in two hours, or a full 18 in three hours. It is also claimed that because of the course’s compact nature it is practical and economically viable to floodlight the court, allowing 24-hour play. The court would seem to be ideal for areas where land is at a premium, and not surprisingly interest from the Asia and the Middle East - the design uses just five per cent of normal watering needs - is intense. Hotel chains have also expressed interest and the concept is also feasible for private homes, and even schools. One person who has had a Golf Court built in her garden is Laura Davies. She said: “A Golf Court allows you to squeeze in a round of golf in an hour, instead of the four or five hours it normally takes for a full round. That’s a big plus for busy people.”

BONALLACK RECEIVES LIFETIME SERVICE AWARD The secretary of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, Michael Bonallack, was awarded the Arnold Palmer Lifetime Service Award in Philadelphia in June. Bonallack was an outstanding amateur golfer, winning the Amateur Championship five times, and was awarded the OBE for his services to the sport in 1971, 12 years before he became secretary of the R&A. The award was instigated at the centenary of the Golf Association of Philadelphia in November, when Arnold Palmer, the guest of honour at the celebrations, agreed to allow his name to be put to a new award for people who had made a substantial contribution over many years to the amateur game. Former R&A captain Bill Campbell was the first recipient, and Bonallack and Judy Bell, president of the USPGA received their awards at a ceremony at Merion GC, Philadelphia, earlier this year. Palmer was not present at the ceremony but contacted the association to say that he could not think of two more worthy recipients.

Explosive action at Redlibbets


fter six years of planning and development, Redlibbets GC opened recently with an exhibition match hosted by associate tour professional, Jamie Spence. Three hundred spectators looked on as Spence - who was partnered by South African Wayne Westner (right) teed of the inaugural ball to celebrate the club’s official opening. Impressed by the course, former Austrian Open winner Westner commented afterwards: “The layout of the course is tremendous. “I love the contrast of high plateaux and sheltered valleys. With a little adjustment, Redlibbets would make an excellent championship course.” Redlibbets GC is based between Fawkham and Longfield in Kent, and the 6,619 par 72 course was designed by Jonathan Gaunt.


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The 2nd hole, Edinburgh Course, Wentworth

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Hotel set for Bright Future

Happy Valley starting to take shape


udding Park GC celebrated its second anniversary with the opening of a 50-bedroom, fourstar hotel on site. The 6,871-yard, par-72 course in Harrogate, designed by Martin Hawtree, has already established a fine reputation for itself not only with participating golfers but within the industry itself. The course is the current holder of the Amazone Golf Environment Award - presented to the club that does most to encourage a harmonious relationship between its course and the ecology of the surrounding environment. Now it is looking to meet the needs of the human market as it moves into the world of banqueting and residential conferences. The proprietors have invested around £3m in the construction of the three-storey hotel, built of Ashlar limestone. Managing director Simon Mackaness explained: “We have long realised that the development of quality accommodation was the vital next ingredient in the continuing success of Rudding Park. “The hotel is further evidence of our commitment to make Rudding House one of the finest conference, banqueting and golf resorts in the North. “Some have claimed this picturesque setting is as much a nature reserve as it is a golf course with the proliferation of wildlife, meadows, lakes and woodland. “The course however, presents a challenging test of skill for golfers of all calibres and our facilities include a comprehensive golf academy and a variety of teaching programmes.”

Baron announce new developments Baron Systems will be announcing some exciting new developments at Eurogolf’97 next month. The Leeds-based company will be adding Windows® compatibility and Internet access to their existing golf club management system allowing members to make bookings direct from either their home or club. Also, new is the thermal tee time ticket printer providing a much quicker production of bag tags.

Ron Noades’ new Happy Valley Golf Course, at Chaldon, near Caterham, is rapidly taking shape and if everything goes to plan it will be seeded next month (October). The 6,900 yard par 72 course is due for completion in September 1998 and the designer and contractor are pleased with the progress. Lionel Whitnell of Whitnell Contractors explained: “I believe the course will be very high profile, and I would imagine it will be on TV within three or four years. He’s even having telephones on every tee!” The site was owned by comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, who is of course renowned for his golf addiction, but he sold it to Noades who wasted very little time in getting things moving. David Williams Golf Design provided the ideas and Whitnell’s company moved in at top speed to make Noades and Williams’ ideas a reality. Whitnell’s reputation had been established following a series of successful course constructions in the south, including Reigate Hill, Mannings Heath, and the prestigious Merrist Wood near Guildford, which has been selected as the home of the British Association of Golf Course Architects. David Williams’ involvement in the project goes back almost ten years to when he was part of the original design team which gained initial planning consent in the early 1990s. He has been anxiously awaiting the day when the plans for the course could be brought to fruition. And now that time has arrived he is delighted with what is spreading out in front of him.

He said: “The site is one of the best, if not the best, site for an 18-hole course that I have had the pleasure to work on in almost 20 years of golf course design. “It is a magnificent mature landscape, with two valleys converging at the northern end of the site.” Williams’ analysis indicates there is only really one uphill shot on the course - a short pitch second shot to the 350-yard, par four 11th. “Although the site contains mature valleys, almost all the holes are played on the level. There are a number of downhill shots, particularly off the tee, where the complete hole is laid out before the golfer on the tee.

“In particular, the views of the par five fifth, the short par-four sixth, the long par-four ninth, the bunkerless par-four 15th, and the closing par-four 18th will be memorable.” Water comes into play on just three holes - the ninth, 12th and 14th coming at a time when, William claims, the golfer is confident of his ability and has a reasonable indication of how well he is striking the ball. The site is well-drained, located as it is on chalk, but an additional comprehensive draining system has been installed to drain all fairways, bunkers, tees and greens, to ensure that water is shed quickly from the playing surface.

Callaway acquires Odyssey Putters


he manufacturer of the most popular putter on the Senior PGA and Ladies PGA tours has been acquired by Callaway.Odyssey Sports Inc, which manufactures the Odyssey line of putters with Stronomic face inserts, has been bought by Callaway Golf Company for a cash purchase price of $130m from US Industries Inc. The deal - originally announced in July - was completed mid-August, and Ron Drapeau has been selected as president of newly-formed Odyssey Golf.


THICK END OF THE WEDGE Cleveland Golf’s 1997 order book for its wedges has already exceeded the total shipments for 1996. Orders taken during a one-week period in June surpassed all previous sales in the same period. The company is also delighted to hear that the PGA Tour Darrell survey has shown the Cleveland Sand and Lob wedges have maintained the number one spot and the margin is increasing over its closest rival.

Six members join BIGCA

T AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP RETURNS TO ROYAL LIVERPOOL The R&A has announced that in 2000 the Amateur Championship will return to Royal Liverpool, the club which hosted the first tournament in 1895. The following year, 2001, it moves on to Prestwick (above) for the first time in 14 years to celebrate the club’s 150th anniversary. Other venues to host major events include Portmarnock, and Royal Troon where the mid-amateur will be played for the first time on a current Open Championship venue. The dates for the 1999 Walker Cup match at Nairn Golf Club have been changed to September 11 and 12 - one week later than originally announced. The alteration came after discussions between the R&A, the USGA, and the Home Unions to avoid clashing with a major cricket final and to guarantee live coverage on the BBC.

he British Institute of Golf Course Architects (BIGCA) recently announced that it has invited six new associates to join its membership. Among the new members invited to join are Paddy Merrigan from Ireland, Thomas Himmel from Germany and three Englishmen; Jonathan Gaunt, Steven McFarlane and Tom Mackenzie. At the same time, BIGCA also invited Nigel Henbury, assistant at Swan Golf Designs Ltd to join as an associate. The institute also confirmed that president Martin Hawtree is set to continue in the position for a further year, with Simon Gidman continuing to deputise as vice-chairman. Details of a professional diploma in golf course design which is believed to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world were announced recently at the institutes AGM held at Wentworth.

Ocmis Irrigation are pleased to be associated with Whitnell Contractors Ltd. Designers and Installers of the Twin Row Full Fairway Irrigation System at Happy Valley Golf Club Ocmis Irrigation Design, Supply and Installation of Irrigation Systems throughout Europe Tel : +44 1460 241939 Fax: +44 1460 242198 SEPTEMBER 1997



Profile Profile



ARTICLE BY ALISTER MARSHALL Above: David Begg watches on as Seve Ballesteros wins the 1984 Open at St Andrews. Opposite page: Handling the media at a 1992 press conference with Nick Faldo and a rather forlorn Basil Brush!


is name, face, and the purpose why he was there may have been unfamiliar to the thousands of golf fans who make the annual pilgrimage to the Open Championship the highlight of the sporting year. But in the ordered chaos of the media centre, where lap top computers spew out to the four corners of the earth, endless columns describing all the drama, the joy and the heartbreak of the greatest major championship of them all, David Begg has been as familiar a sight as the grandeur of the hotel that overlooks the links at Turnberry and the old stone bridge that crosses the stream that bisects the 18th fairway at St Andrews. For the last 15 years, the tall lean Scotsman possessing the marvellous ability to take everything in his stride, has been the Open Championship’s press officer. His reign began in 1982 at Royal Troon, and ended this year at the same venue when he stepped into retirement. During his decade-and-a-half in office, Begg has witnessed such a huge surge in


interest that the 350 press accreditation applications that arrived in his Glasgow office for the 1982 championship increased to a staggering 1,200 for this year’s championship, with one national paper requesting no less than 16 press tickets! To fully appreciate his role, one needs to step inside ‘Begg’s Kingdom’ - the 25,000 square feet of technology that encompasses the media centre. It is a mind-boggling experience. As well as the constantly updated 100-feet long scoreboard, on-line computers instantly produce such facts and figures as the most difficult hole of the round; the easiest hole; and the number of eagles, birdies and bogies on each hole as the round progresses. At the touch of a button the answers appear on screen and in print. Over the four days of the championship Begg and his 10-strong team, along with the staff of Unysis Computers, will have produced no less than 250,000 photocopied bulletins ranging from in-depth player interviews; biographies; weather forecasts and even a kindly reminder to those journalists who smoke that although the centre is not a non-smoking area their


colleagues would probably prefer it if they enjoyed their habit outside in the sunshine - or even in the rain! With the practised art of a conductor of a great orchestra, Begg was in his element when guiding a player who has done either exceptionally well or in some cases exceptionally badly, through his after-round press conference, where the slightest slip of a tongue today is guaranteed to make tomorrow’s headlines. Watching Begg implacably steer a player through the question-and-answer session I have often wondered if the press officer ever felt like dropping his head in his hands at some of the daftest questions that emanate from the journalist throng. “Tell me (Tom, Seve, Mark or Tiger) just what did you feel like when you took an eight at the first short hole?” Begg’s expression never changed, although I oftened imagined him thinking to himself: “How the hell do you think he felt you idiot?” Ask Begg when his work on the Open Championship started each year and he will answer in perfect honesty: “It never finished from one year to the next.” “Basically it never does stop. As soon as one championship finished we had what I called our post-mortem meeting. A couple of months or so later we were starting to consider what media facilities we would require and where they would be situated at the following year’s venue,” he said. “The Open Championship is a massive undertaking for everyone involved in it. Each year it gets bigger. As it continues to grow the more and more organisation it needs behind it to ensure its continued growth and success. “From the media point of view it is a tribute, not to myself, but to the team I have had with me over the last 15 years, that everything has gone so smoothly despite the very real increased pressure that is almost brutal in its intensity. “Yet there is no doubt whatsoever that I’ve enjoyed it. It has given me unforgettable memories and has created a host of world-wide lasting friendships.

lege to have been in the position to meet and hopefully understand just what those players go through in there quest for a major championship. “When I left Royal Troon after this year’s championship finished, my greatest regret was that I had received so many good wishes I was unable to thank everyone personally. It really has been an unforgettable 15 years.” Begg whose ultra-efficient organisation of the media was as slick as a well-oiled machine, could have gone on indefinitely. It was his decision and his alone to step down. “After 15 years, I just felt the time was opportune. Time is the key word. I was so heavily involved with the Open Championship that I was at the stage that I didn’t have time for anything else. “I needed time for other things, and time to take up other interesting opportunities, and my business (David Begg Sports) couldn’t run itself. I’ve enjoyed it and I’ll miss it but I just feel that 15 years is long enough in the job.” Begg has no intention however of sailing away into the sunset of retirement.

Profile Profile

“The Open Championship is a massive undertaking for everyone involved in it. Each year it gets bigger”

“There’s absolutely no way I could do that. Although my role as press officer at the Open is finished, I have commitments to the PGA European Tour until the beginning of next year. I will also cover Scottish football for BBC radio. Hopefully I’ll be continuing this pursuit.” When the time comes round for next year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, will he feel a sense of loss at not being part of it after so many long and dedicated years? “Not really. It’s over for me now, but all those lovely memories remain. In all probability I’ll be at Birkdale watching the Championship. It may give me the chance to thank a few more of the people I missed at Troon who were kind enough to wish me well.”

“I’m not saying there hasn’t been the occasional difficult moment to handle, but I can say I have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the players. “There are some players who I have always had a great deal of time for, who unfortunately have not always been treated as fairly as they deserved by the media. “That is always sad. I believe you’ve got to know someone to really know them. As far as I’m concerned it’s been a great priviSEPTEMBER 1997



Development Development PGA E T C UROPEAN


The organisation responsible for PGA tournaments celebrated its 25th anniversary last season. John Vinicombe looks at PGA European Tour Courses plc



PGA European Tour-

DRIVING INTO THE FUTURE ne of the fastest growing developments in the golf industry is the expansion of PGA European Tour Courses plc that began 10 years ago as Tour Properties. Last season marked the 25th anniversary of the tour as an organisation purely responsible for the playing of tournaments under the PGA banner. It has come a long way since John Jacobs was appointed the first tournament director general. And, in 1988, the Volvo Tour sanctioned by the PGA European Tour started with prize money exceeding £10m. Also that year the PGA European Properties and Tour developments companies were created. The present decade has seen a steady growth of business from Wentworth. Five years ago came the formation of PGA European Tour Courses (IMG) Ltd. This joint venture company with International Management Group saw the first PGA European Tour Course acquired at Collingtree Park, Northampton. Initially when Tour Properties was formed in 1987, its method of achieving objectives was to join landowners in combined ventures to attaining planning consents for courses adjacent to houses and hotels. The policy was that hotel and housing land would be sold to raise money to pay for the courses and, in the absence of bank borrowing, there would be a far greater range of profit. But the recession at the end of the 1980s drastically reduced the value of


Quinta do Lago, Portugal - one of PGA’s tour courses

housing land. Although shareholdings in substantial developments (Caldas in Spain; Crewe and Doncaster in the UK,) had been attained, another way was required to generate funds to meet course building costs. This led to the creation in 1992 of Tour Courses (IMG) as a non-exclusive 50/50 joint venture with IMG. Tour Courses had the same objectives as Tour Properties but the method of achieving the goal was different. It took advantage of the recession by offering banks who had lent to now bust Golf Course Developers, the chance of recovering some of their money. Tour Courses (IMG) received shareholdings in the promise of exposure from Tour events. In 1993 Tour Courses (IMG) acquired 50% of Collingtree Park and Stockley Park and expanded further the following year by purchasing 50% of Stockholm, the whole of


Collingtree, half of IMG’s interest at Nippenburg in Stuttgart, a marketing contract for the Links Portmarnock, and taking over the Tour’s interests in Caldas. At this stage, Tour and IMG had each invested about £750,000 in Tour Courses (IMG) and established the basis for a business that could make profit from the operation of the golf courses. It followed that Tour and IMG instructed Tour Courses (IMG) management to examine ways and means of valuing the business and raising external capital to finance further expansion.

In 1996, Tour Courses (IMG) merged with Union Square plc, a property company, and the Tour and IMG each invested further sums of approximately £600,000. Union Square was renamed PGA European Tour Courses plc and, at the same time, this company purchased Quinta do Lago and Ria Formosa courses and became fully listed on the Stock Exchange with a value of around £42m. The Tour’s 19.5% shareholding was valued in the region of £8m against a total investment of about £1.5m. Since Tour Courses floatation, it has purchased the remaining 50% of ETC Stockholm and upgraded the back nine of the South Course in readiness for next year’s Volvo Scandinavian Masters; purchased a further 25% of Stockley Park and acquired a 50% shareholding in Ibergolfe SA, a Portuguese company managing three courses in that coun-

Development Development T C


try, and undertaken further course improvements at Nippenburg, Collingtree and acquired Tytherington Golf and Leisure Club in Macclesfield. Further proof of PGA European Tour Courses robust health is that the company has entered into an agreement with The Bedford Estates and bought a 50% interest in Woburn Golf and Country Club Ltd. Michael Friend, general counsel for the PGA European Tour executive management, has announced completion of re-construction work at the European Tour Club in Stockholm and that building is proceeding apace in Barcelona. Prestigious courses throughout the UK and Europe are now under the mantle of Tour Courses. A half interest in Woburn, which owns and operates the Duke’s and Duchess’ courses, was acquired for a cash consideration of up to £5,749,900. For the year ended December 31, 1996, Woburn reported a profit before tax of £630,581 and had a net asset value of £2.3m. The shares in Woburn were acquired partly through an acquisi-



tion of existing ordinary shares and European Tour Courses, has resigned partly through a subscription for new and been succeeded by Richard ordinary shares. Thompson. As European Tour News reported: The change followed a difference “The existing ordinary shares have of opinion over policy but in no way been purchased for £750,230, of is the strength of PGA European which £650,230 has been paid at Tour Courses weakened. completion, and the balance of It remains on track as one of the £100,000 deferred until April 15, UK’s most successful and ambitious 1998. leisure companies and can only “The balance is only payable if the acquire more assets going into the company has been unable to obtain a millennium. commitment by March 31, 1998 that a major European tournament will be held at Woburn during that year.” Lord Swathling, chairman of Woburn Golf and Country Club greeted the new partnership The breath-taking Quinta do Lago Golf Course, Portugal and said he looked forward to the magnificent facilities being extended. And the Marquess of Tavistock, president of Woburn, added: “The family has been looking forward to a major event returning to Woburn and we welcome our new partners’ investment and management expertise.” Since then Sean Kelly, managing director of PGA



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La Club La Manga Manga Club A F DVERTISEMENT


From left to right: The five-star Hyatt Regency La Manga hotel set amid the North and South courses; The west-wing of the hotel overlooking the swimming pool; The Hyatt courtyard including Lorca’s piano bar; Los Lomas apartments situated on the resort has their own swimming facilities.

The La Manga

Experience Situated in south-east Spain, La Manga is arguably one of the best sporting complexes in Europe, if not the World. Boasting three championship standard courses, plus tennis and football, La Manga is without doubt any golfer’s dream location. BY



f I was allowed just one last wish, it would be to play the South Course at La Manga.” So said Lord Deedes, a former Member of Parliament and editor of The Daily Telegraph. It would be fair to assume he is a fairly cosmopolitan man and as such has an opinion to be valued. Golf is the reason the La Manga Club Resort was originally built, and the resort has a heritage that suits. The South Course, modified in 1992 by Arnold Palmer, has been the venue for a series of Spanish Opens and other PGA and celebrity events. Palmer won the title himself, at the 1975 La Manga Spanish Open, by shooting an eagle at the par-five 18th in dramatic fashion - an achievement that is marked by a plaque on the 18th tee.


La La Manga Manga Club Club


The course is even in the Guinness Book of World Records after Otto Bucher became the oldest man - at 99 years and 244 days - ever to hit a holein-one. He performed the enviable feat at the par-three, 110-metre 12th, where a plaque recording the feat can be seen by the golfer on the tee. The resort features three courses South, West and North - and is set amid rolling hills and lush greenery, providing luxury and relaxation in addition to challenging golf. Often cited as the finest leisure facility in Europe, the accommodation at La Manga is also second-to-none, with the magnificent five-star Hyatt Regency La Manga the centrepiece. Its 192 bedrooms and superb restaurants fully reflect its pre-eminent status, matched by a level of dignified and unparalleled service. The service is what really sets the hotel apart, and makes it the perfect choice for golfers who not only want to play top-quality courses, but want to relax in privileged surroundings. The resort provides an ideal venue for clubs and societies to hold annual events, or simply to visit for a break. It is a popular venue for corporate tournaments and is often the short-break destination for many of the continent’s top football clubs. The region enjoys a superb Mediterranean climate with over 320 days of sunshine a year. The West Course - previously known as La Princesa - has recently undergone a remodelling programme to make the course more forgiving than in previous years. Many parts of the course have an American-style layout and there are a number of ‘barrancas’ cutting through the course as it swings down a valley. The need for accurate driving is paramount, and smaller, undulating greens create quite different tests for the golfer than either the North or South Courses. The recent work on the course has taken place on the back nine holes in particular. The fairways and semirough have been replanted with a highly acclaimed variety of Bermuda grass, and some of the bunkers have been removed or repositioned to make the course more strategically sound. All three of La Manga Club Resort’s courses are situated within close proximity of the clubhouse, and with the West Course now fully opera-

tional, the resort offers golfers a diverse and truly unique golfing experience. The resort’s managing director Tony Coles first visited in 1986, and he was a devotee before he became involved with the resort’s management team. He said: “I believe La Manga Club Resort is the greatest sports and leisure resort in Europe. No other venue can match the three diverse 18hole championship golf courses - but there is so much more to enjoy here. “People come down to La Manga Resort with many different objectives some will opt for the sport, while others may sit in the sand an soak up the sunshine. Whichever activities are preferred, everyone comes here to relax and enjoy themselves, however old or young, whatever the time of day or night.” He added: “La Manga Club Resort does not follow the crowd - we take the initiative. And that is why our resort is unique. “We pride ourselves on exceeding customer expectations and that is why people keep coming back again and again.” To describe La Manga Club Resort as an unrivaled sports and leisure haven is not stretching a point too far. It radiates a glorious sense of both energy and tranquillity. When a resort’s staff and guests are genuinely contented with their surroundings, it tends to generate a great sense of cordiality. At La Manga there is a culture and a way of life that acts as a magnet when people are there they do not want to leave, but if they do chances are they will return time and time again.

Specialists to La Manga since 1970 For further details on La Manga, and all it has to offer, contact Barwell Leisure ‘The Coach House’, Elm Road Chessington KT9 1AW Tel: +44 (0)181 397 4411 Fax: +44 (0)181 974 1442




Open Qualifying Open Qualifying T 127 O C HE






ALISTER MARSHALL executive editor

Invitation Even before the 126th Open Championship at Royal Troon had started, Christina Hayllar, the general manager of Blackmoor Golf Club in Hampshire, was looking forward with eager anticipation to the 127th.


lackmoor is one of three new courses designated by the R&A as regional qualifying venues for the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale. Hosting a regional qualifier is nothing new to Hampshire. For the last six years the 18-hole test of nerve and skill for club professionals, top amateurs and overseas visitors has been staged with tremendous success at the North Hants club near Fleet, who were every bit as surprised at losing the prestigious event as Blackmoor were to gain it. For both clubs the R&A’s decision came like a bolt out of the blue. North Hants secretary Roy Goodliffe, was somewhat aggrieved, and not surprisingly so, when the first indication he had that the qualifier had gone elsewhere was when he read a press release in a national newspaper, while the arrival of a letter from the R&A to Blackmoor advising them that they had been selected as one of the 1998 venues was every bit as surprising to the club. “We have really no idea why we were selected in place of North Hants, but obviously we are delighted,” said Christina. One of the new breed of golf club general managers, the Open qualifier will present the Blackmoor official with her first major challenge since her appointment just over a year ago. It is a challenge she will relish with the same enthusiasm she has shown throughout her golfing career.

I believe I can speak with some authority on matters relating to the game

Christina Hayllar, general manager of Blackmoor Golf Club

The position and the requirements asked of a golf club secretary have changed dramatically over the last decade. For years the position appeared to be the exclusive preserve of retired military men who brought to their new careers the professionalism and expertise associated with long service to the crown. Their task in the main was what their title said it was - golf club secretary - the man responsible for all aspects of the game of golf in their respective clubs.


As the game approaches the new millennium, the duties of secretary/ manager are far removed from what they used to be. With so many of the clubs developing their facilities towards the concept of America’s golf and country clubs, by building bigger and better clubhouses, restaurants with exceptional standards of food, and off-course amenities to meet the most discerning of their members, the duties of the secretary who has overall responsibility for every aspect of the club’s activities has assumed an

Open Open Qualifying Qualifying


importance far beyond the realms of those who occupied the positions 20 years ago. Christina Hayllar at Blackmoor is not by any means the only woman in such a position of authority, but at the age of 32 she is still one of the youngest to be entrusted with the smooth day-to-day organisation of a premier club with a membership of just under 700 and a waiting list stretching into the unforeseeable future. She could not have presented a better cv when she applied for the post when it became vacant last year. She joined Blackmoor as a junior member in 1976. Seven years later at the age of 18 she won the first of her two Hampshire Ladies’ County Golf Association Championship titles. Shortly after winning her second county title in 1988, she turned professional, playing for four years on the fledgling WPGA European Tour. Then to prepare herself for a career in golf management she took a degree in sports science and administration. “It is a responsibility I thoroughly enjoy,” she said. “It has been made considerably easier because of my background. Having joined Blackmoor as a junior member I know everyone. This is a tremendous benefit in my relationship with all the club officials and members. “My career as a player has also been a great benefit. As a former county champion and touring professional, I believe I can speak with some authority on matters relating to the game. “It must be difficult for a club secretary or club manager, call it what you will, to get involved in what can be heated discussions on aspects of course management without the experience of having played the game at a reasonably high standard.” Christina has no doubt whatsoever that everything that can be done will be done to the complete satisfaction of the R&A to ensure that

Blackmoor is a worthy successor to North Hants as an Open Championship regional qualifying location. “We appreciate the importance of the qualifier, but it’s not as if we at Blackmoor are bracing ourselves for a tournament of this stature without prior experience of staging prestigious events. “The Selborne Salver, that starts the amateur season attracting many of England’s top players, has been successfully staged at the course in mid-April for the last 21 years, in additional to a succession of leading county events. “Next year we are fortunate in having a rehearsal for the qualifying tournament by staging the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands’ Golf Union Championship the previous month. “There is a lot to consider. We will have to take a close look at carparking arrangements and public catering. Those may not seem vitally important issues, but they can make a tremendous difference to the enjoyment of the occasion.”

Of the three new clubs listed as regional qualifying venues, Blackmoor and Stockport are both lush, parkland courses. County Louth, chosen as the first Irish club to hold one of the regional tests, is a different kettle of fish altogether. It is quite a few years since I visited this gem of a seaside links near Drogheda, yet I can still recall its sudden and dramatic appearance at the end of a winding road that reminded me of the first time I drove the Big Sur, and there, totally unexpectedly was my first breathtaking glimpse of the great Pebble Beach. Being given the status of a Open Championship qualifying venue is a long overdue recognition of a course, full of variety and contrast with magnificent views, whose rating in Irish golf has never been so high as I believe it should have been. A traditional links course of humps, hollows and intimidating dunes, although comparatively unknown in Britain, County Louth is steeped in Irish golf history. Club member Clarrie Tiernan was the first Irish woman to play in the Curtis Cup, and it was also over County Louth’s impressive links where that great Irishman, Harry Bradshaw, who was beaten in a playoff by Bobby Locke in the 1949 Open at Royal St George’s, and who along with Christy O’Connor won the World Cup for Ireland in Mexico City in 1958, lifted the Irish Professional Championship in 1947. Blackmoor, Stockport and County Louth. What drama will enfold at those locations come the first week of July 1998?

The course at Blackmoor





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Club Club Insight Insight


Described as ‘The Perfect Setting’ Old Thorns is situated in 400 acres of stunning parkland countryside. Originally owned by electrical entrepreneur Ken Wood, the club is now part of the Kosaido publishing and printing corporation. ARTICLE BY ALISTER MARSHALL

Old Thorns


en Wood, chairman of electrical manufacturers, Kenwood Industries, had more than just a dream he wanted to fulfil. He had a burning ambition to build a golf course of championship quality on his own land in the depths of rural Hampshire. Almost 20 years on, Old Thorns Golf Course, Hotel and Restaurants, situated at Longmoor Road, Liphook, combine to provide a complex for golf, leisure and corporate facilities for the 21st century. Now part of the giant Kosaido publishing and printing conglomerate whose interest in acquiring golf courses stretches from Hawaii, across the United States, to the United Kingdom and Continental Europe, Old Thorns is one of the jewels in the Tokyo-based company’s crown. It was one of the first golf courses in England to be Japaneseowned, but as Old Thorns has developed through the years it has become more, much more, than Ken Wood in even his wildest dreams must ever have imagined. Set in 400 acres of glorious countryside with the course enhanced by the profusion of oaks, beeches, pines and water features fed from natural springs, the complex has grown to

incorporate a luxury hotel, leisure club including a swimming pool, fitness centre, sauna, solarium and tennis courts, while both a European and Japanese restaurant serves food of such outstanding quality that both establishments have been awarded not one, but two of the coveted AA red rosettes for excellence. “For a comparatively new course, it’s an absolute gem.” That is not a quote from a glibly written publicity handout. It was in fact a remark made to me by each of four players of world renown - no less than former Open Champions, Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus, Bill Rogers and Japanese ace Isao Aoki who officially opened the course in an enthralling skins game in June 1982, the month before Rogers defended his Open title at Royal Troon. The 6,533-yard, par 72 championship course winds its way through parkland, over lakes and streams, with several of the holes cut through pine woods and heather slopes. As it matured it has become one of the best to be found within a leisure complex in the south of England. The last few years has witnessed a definite change in the clientele of Old Thorns. ➧




Club Club Insight Insight K O OSAIDO



Not surprisingly, being one of the first Japanese-owned courses in Britain, a large percentage of players who initially enjoyed its superb facilities were Japanese. This is no longer the case. Marketing forces dictated that to assure a profitable enterprise, Old Thorns would require to become as well known to corporate business in Britain as to the Japanese golfer. Success in this capacity was assured by the strides made in attracting business conferences and corporate golf days. Gary Jones, the general manager of Old Thorns, has no doubt whatsoever where present and future priorities lie. “Of course it’s always gratifying to be told so often about the excellence of the course, but we can’t run a business of this scale by depending entirely upon what numbers we attract to Old Thorns throughout the period of the golf season. “In Britain you are talking about a season that usually starts at the beginning of April. So long as the weather remains kind it can continue until the beginning of October. “That’s only seven months. We have to be equally profitable for the remaining five months of the year when golf during balmy summer days becomes only a distant memory. “Consequently it is imperative we provide the kind of facilities people want all the way through the year. “Our leisure centre; hotel with its various short break schemes; function rooms for various private parties for weddings and anniversaries; and

comprehensive conference facilities for up to 80 delegates, ensures a fully operational business concern throughout the entire year,” he said. The management of Old Thorns can be compared in many ways to the captain and officers of a luxury cruise liner. To ensure the ship sails through untroubled waters it requires the navigation department, the engineroom, the hotel and restaurant, and social amenities provided, to work in tandem to the complete satisfaction of the passengers. Old Thorns is no different as far as its clients are concerned whether they be golfers, diners, hotel guests or conference delegates. It has its championship course, hotel, restaurants, leisure and conference facilities. All must compliment each other, not as the general manager said for seven months only, but for each day of a full year to guarantee profitability to the parent company. In a comparatively short space of time the complex has exceeded all expectations, particularly at a period when the proliferation of new clubs

with similar facilities has induced fierce competition in the market place. This is why there is no question of Old Thorns resting on its laurels. If the conference facilities could be doubled in size, it does not need a mathematical genius to work out that the profit from this aspect of the operation would double accordingly. However this would also mean a considerable enlargement to the hotel accommodation. “We are constantly looking at ways to market ourselves. We cannot sit back and say: “Look what we have here, and look at what we have achieved.’

we can’t run a business of this scale by depending entirely

upon what numbers we attract to Old Thorns throughout


the period of the golf season

Club Club Insight Insight


“Instead we have to say: ‘Can we do this or that to attract more clients whether they be golfers, diners, conference delegates, or people simply wanting a peaceful weekend in magnificent tranquil surroundings?’”

There is no doubt whatsoever that Old Thorns is determined to keep ahead of the ever-growing size of the chasing pack.

The Corporate Element


lways keen to find new and attractive ways to market themselves, Old Thorns management have produced a blueprint for taking over the entire organisation of Corporate Golf Days. The scheme, designed to give companies and their clients a complete package will come into operation next season. There is no doubt the operative word is ‘complete’ starting with the basic requirement of sending out invitation cards and travel directions. On arrival, players will be met by one of Old Thorns professionals, who will be on hand to either help with or run the all important guest registration and induction process ensuring all attendees know exactly what’s happening and where. A club professional will also assist with starting, scoring and giving rulings where necessary. For players who do not wish to have a full 27-hole day, special golf clinics supervised by trained PGA staff will be available. Each competitor will receive an Old Thorns starter pack during registration which includes a detailed course planner, score card, pencil, tees, ball marker and three golf balls.

Following a buffet breakfast, golf starts with a nine-hole competition, followed by an 18-hole tournament after lunch. On completion of the afternoon round, players will be greeted off the course with a complimentary drink, followed by the prize-giving banquet. After the event, group photographs taken at the first tee, mounted in specially printed folders will be supplied to be despatched to all those attending. General manager Gary Jones said: “It is an extremely comprehensive package. We have given a great deal of thought to it. “A corporate golf day is a big event for a company. Unless it is properly organised it is all too easy for things to go badly wrong. Successful corporate golf days are all about attention to detail. This entirely new concept of golf day organisation takes all the stress away from the promoting company. “We call it our Premier Service golf day. We are confident it will be appreciated and will become increasingly popular.”




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Ryder Ryder Cup Cup



his year’s Ryder Cup between Europe and America will be historic in more ways than one. Severiano Ballesteros will become the first continental ever to captain the European team since Samuel Ryder instigated the famous team competition 70 years ago when he leads his side out this month. More importantly though, it will be the first contest between the two teams, this side of the Atlantic, to be staged outside of Britain. The Ryder Cup has only once ever been staged outside England when it headed north to Scotland in 1973 to take place on the links of Muirfield. But that is exactly what is happening this month when the two sides head for the south of Spain to contest the 32nd Ryder Cup at Valderrama. No one will be prouder than Ballesteros when he captains his side on home soil, an honour richly deserved for the heroic feats he has performed over the last 15 years which has resulted in four European victories in the last seven matches. But aficionados of the game will watching closely to see how the Ryder Cup is received on foreign shores and if there is a future for playing the competition around different courses in Europe and not just England. It has already been decided that the 2001 Ryder Cup is once again destined for The Belfry and the Brabazon course, scene of those now legendary triumphs in 1985 and 1989, when the next contest is staged on home soil again at the start of next century. ➧

VALDERRAMA The beginning of a new Ryder Cup era? SEPTEMBER 1997



Ryder Ryder Cup Cup


But there is a strong argument growing for competition organisers to then diversify and use the wealth of championship courses which are now dotted around Europe. The European Tour has grown to such an extent over the last ten years that it now stages events at such far flung places as Dubai and, while that may well be a somewhat fanciful suggestion, the idea of staging the contest closer to home in Ireland is looking a distinct possibility. The 2005 Ryder Cup is still eight years away but bids are already being prepared with the ‘K’ Club, the venue for last month’s European Open, Mount Juliet and Druids Glen heading the early list of favourites. “We make no bones about it,” said Paul Crowe, director of golf at the ‘K’ Club which is situated 18 miles outside Dublin at Straffan. “The Ryder Cup is part of the reason why our club was built. It was a key fact when the decision was taken to build the course in 1991.” The club has successfully staged the European Open for the last three years attracting all the top players in Europe in the process and, with the course 7,159 yards long, Crowe believes it is more than a match for the world’s top golfers. He said: “The layout of the course is superb and that is probably its biggest attribute. Of the 18 holes, 14 of them contain water hazards and, just when players think they are safe, they encounter a new problem.” There is a growing section among the players themselves who believe the Ryder Cup should be staged in a country other than England including Scot Colin Montgomerie, the leading money in Europe for the last four years. He said: “It was a surprise to all when it was announced that the 2001 match would take place at The Belfry again. Although it is the headquarters of the PGA, I thought we would have been thinking about Ireland or Scotland. “The year 2005 is eight years hence and it’s a shame it has to take so long to get it.” Crowe is confident that the PGA will take the decision to head away from Britain to foreign shores for the 2005 28 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! SEPTEMBER 1997

contest whether it be to his country and club or to another venue. With the help of private backing, improved resources and the increasing influence of the Irish government, Ireland seemingly has everything in place to produce the ideal bid. Six years ago though, he didn’t think it would have been possible. He said: “It wouldn’t have been possible to stage the event then because we and other countries just didn’t have the resources. “But with the rise of stars such as Seve, Bernhard Langer, Italian Costantino Rocca and the number of players that Scandinavia has produced over the last few years, there has been a massive improvement in the amount of private backing that was badly needed. “In Ireland, our bid has been greatly helped by the government who have set up a special Ryder Cup committee to discuss the situation and who have also, importantly, combined the portfolios of sport and tourism into one which the Irish minister Dr. Jim McDaid is in charge of.

“The impact of staging the Ryder Cup just cannot be underestimated and it’s a major boost for the government to be involved. “To actually have the contest at your course would make any club. In the two to three years before the competition, you have tourists who want to see where it’s being held, then you have the event itself and then afterwards people from all over are desperate to play the Ryder Cup course.”

The impact of

staging the Ryder Cup just cannot be



To bring the contest to Ireland as soon as possible is the priority of Crowe but eventually he would like to see a system set up which would see the competition rotate around the best courses in the British Isles and Europe. “The main concern of everybody in Ireland is to get the competition but it would be great in the long term if the PGA would start a system which would see a circle of courses be used in different countries such as Sweden and France. “Scotland has more than a claim to staging the event than the Irish while the Swedish golf market is just fanatical. The enthusiasm when I go over there never ceases to amaze me while there are also some very good courses in France.” Crowe will be among the many interested spectators at Valderrama assessing how well the Ryder Cup has traveled. But he believes that, amid all the clamouring to take the contest further-a-field, the PGA must also show a restraint and not forget the roots which has made the Ryder Cup the great contest which it is today.

He said: “The real body of the Ryder Cup is that in Europe and especially the United Kingdom, we have a very, very indigenous following who are fanatical. “The percentage of Spaniards following the contest is very small and virtually all the atmosphere will be provided by the thousands of British traveling over. “It will be strange going over there without all the local hype that has surrounded the event over the last ten years. “What should happen is that we should stick with the British Isles quite a lot as England, Scotland and Ireland should have a stronger claim than anybody.” The 1997 Ryder Cup is sure to break new ground and have a considerable bearing on decisions in the future. But it is to be hoped that, whatever is decided in a competition which now has an ever-changing face, the essence of the contest which has made it such a focal part of the golfing calendar is not forgotten.

Ryder Ryder Cup Cup

Opposite page (top): Assorted views of the Valderrama course, which of course stages this years Ryder Cup competition between the United States and Europe. Opposite page (middle): The ‘K’ Club - a possible future Ryder Cup venue? Above: The last course to stage the Ryder Cup outside England Muirfield, Scotland 1973.

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leading the Way

One of the biggest innovations at golf courses over the last 30 years has been computerisation. It can be applied to an enormous amount of tasks from drainage to accounting and Evesham-based Fairway Systems are taking it a step further. The company claims that its software will increase net income at a course - and that is enough to make any administrator sit up and listen. Managing director Gordon Bunker said: “Golf in the commercial world is a tough business these days. There has been a massive increase in supply in the commercial market over the last five years. “We have found that managers sometimes just feel like circus clowns walking down the street whilst trying to juggle all the variables. Our systems let them control and manage their operations to help them to maximise all their revenue opportunities.” Among the company’s many software packages are a pro-shop management system; a reservation and booking system; accounting and electronic voice-mail; tournament management and a registration and marketing system. It also specialises in tee time management and is the leading supplier of player-activated tee time reservation systems. This system bolsters income by effectively controlling no-shows, by automatically pairing golfers and by allowing golfers to select from all courses under common ownership. Increasingly, it is the accountants who make decisions - and they want figures. Some make frightening reading. Recent surveys have indicated that the majority of calls about tee time availability into the pro shop around 72 per cent - do not result in a booking for a tee time.

Only 13 per cent of such calls result in a booking. That adds up to a startling waste of staff’s time and company resources. The Fairway Systems tee time reservation system allows golfers to reserve, modify or cancel tee times in less than 30 seconds and has been installed on 300 courses in the US with the UK starting to follow suit. In the last 12 months alone, a staggering 14,000,000 rounds of golf were booked through Fairway Systems booking systems. “This year we launched the Fairway Golf Course Executive Information System which enables the golfer to make reservations in seven different ways - through the pro shop, reservation agent, hotel desk reception or guest services, tour operator or travel agent, Internet, interactive voice recognition, and tourist information centres.” Bunker continued: “Our most recent installation for the Old Head Golf Links in Kinsale, Ireland, is a great example of why our system is the market leader. “As a resort course they receive a large number of group reservation enquiries, but still have to manage the operation and cope with numerous daily enquiries for play in the immediate future - all the while maintaining an exceptionally high standard of service to their guests. “No other system was capable of meeting their demanding needs.” Fairway Systems does not just supply software - the company works with the golf club. “We are very confident about our systems’ ability to increase net income. Over 80 per cent of our installations are done with us investing in the club. “We install all the hardware, software and training, without asking for

any money in advance. We then generate our revenue based on the number of reservations made. That way it reduces the capital outlay for the club and it means the system pays for itself in line with the periods when the club is generating revenue. “This unique approach, along with our commitment to continuous re-investment in our products has established Fairway Systems as world leaders in the resort, daily fees and municipal golf market place.” No money up-front, and payment when the club is generating revenue it’s enough to make even an accountant smile.

Fairway Systems (Europe) Ltd PO Box 2000, Evesham, WR11 4YL Tel: +44 (0)1386 871490 Email: Fairway Systems web site goes live on September 15. And it offers golf clubs a valuable service as Gordon Bunker explained. “It has been set up in conjunction with Microsoft and is a virtual golf club giving links to varied information. It is complete with the Visa/Mastercard secure electronic transaction system to give piece of mind to the golfer. “For the initial period, golf clubs will be able to advertise and sell their tee times at no charge on our web site.” This innovative approach to marketing is further evidence of Fairway Systems’ commitment to golf clubs and the golfer. The Fairway Systems web site can be found at




Analysis Analysis

Chairman of Golfconsult International, Bryan Griffiths is a leading industry voice and respected figure within the golf environment





he multi-billion pound British golf industry is as large as that of the rest of Europe’s put together. Increasingly, it is changing to resemble the property industry as more golf businesses change hands. Operators are becoming what might be called ‘serial developers’, some of which now raise their capital on the Stock Market for further purchases. In many respects, the industry is in rude good health and with prudence is a good place for well-managed investment. But there are some thorns in this rosy picture, of which professional advisers should take serious note. This is a prosperous industry, but it has hardly been subjected to any serious commercial, professional or academic critical scrutiny. VULNERABLE No ‘golf developers’ guide exists and first time inexperienced developers (and their backers) are obviously vulnerable to the serious errors made repeatedly in each succeeding golf boom - far too many as noted below have had their fingers burnt quite unnecessarily. The golf industry service sector must carry some of the blame for this situation. It is small, fragmented and very largely amateur in its approach. A serious flaw is the lack of an independent body devoted to responsibility for promoting the prosperity of the game, and for the structured growth of its facilities by

Estimates of would-be golfers vary widely; one example, up to 45% ‘wanting to try golf’ by Golf Research Group (GRG). These figures are hard to believe! Just 5% would equate to the 3 million or so active golfers: but there is little doubt golf wannabees represent a long term latent demand of substantial proportions. This situation comes on top of the unprecedented spurt in the growth of new golf courses - ominously mostly 18 holes which those beginners can hardly play. Between 1990 and 1995, following a Royal & Ancient Golf Club 1989 report, some 520 (an additional 20%) opened; but no less than three out of four are reported by GRG to be in financial difficulties. Commentary on these trends has been rather superficial so far: the practical answers to the questions about how and why remain unanswered.

The golf industry service sector must carry some of the

blame for this situation. It is small, fragmented and very largely amateur in its approach

way of unbiased and expert advice. Here is the root cause of much disenchantment with investment in golf facilities - an entirely avoidable calamity if the industry could only put its own house in proper order. VESTED INTERESTS The vested interests of the establishment bodies is a major obstacle in this: but it would be naive to hope a solution could be quickly found. The background to this reflection on the broad state of the industry began with a serious ‘health warning’ at the Eurogolf ’96 trade show. This was sparked off by Sports Marketing Surveys’ (SMS) findings of a steep decline in the number of new players - down 50% in five years. This in turn led to the launch of two new national events aimed at stimulating interest in playing the game - the National Golf Week and the KPMG Golf Show. 32 GOLF MANAGEMENT EUROPE ! SEPTEMBER 1997

To put these trends into perspective, a distinction should be made. A static customer base and decline in entrants to the game affects all 2,500 golf facilities to a greater or lesser extent: the well established are hardly troubled and some prosper very well. The financial problems affect just 16% of the facilities, the newly-opened courses with marginal profitability and burdened with debt they can hardly service let alone amortise. The R&A report had a wide-spread impact. It had estimated that 700 new courses were needed by the year 2,000 - a 3% increase in supply. The R&A imprimatur no doubt helped fuel the subsequent boom along with EU set-aside availability for agricultural land, easy money, sloppy thinking and the urge to climb aboard the bandwagon.


Some developers were encouraged to overspend wildly, far above the level the British golf market could bear not least on unviable, big name complexes, the demise of which gave journalists a field day. Nevertheless, the underlying strengths of the game and its industry are indisputable. While a few chickens were coming home to roost as banks set about recovering their debt, golf merchandising hit a peak of £90 million in the early 1990’s. The supply side is now probably in for a period of stability since, not suprisingly, a drop of 45% in new courses occurred from 1994 to 1995. A similar decline also happened between 1980 and 1987 in the aftermath of the mid-1070’s boom. The lessons have hardly changed but few pay much notice. APPRAISAL Meticulous appraisal (not the widespread conventional wisdom of the ‘design-led’ approach) would quickly and cost effectively have identified many of those 1990s projects as not viable, and which should either not have been built in the first place, or in some different, more market compatible form. It appears to be an accident of the golf industry’s recent history, that no dedicated establishment body exists solely to promote and nurture the growth and prosperity of the game. So just a few months ago, millions are now identified who wish to play and cannot - with all the hallmarks of a sudden surprise. The independent researchers have done the industry a big favour by pin-pointing the supply side weakness which this multi-million billion golf industry seems illequipped to handle. An oversupply of 18 hole courses in a falling demand market is little or no help to beginners. Beginner-friendly facilities are essential for steady, long-term growth and are long overdue in many parts of Britain. The lack of critical scrutiny mentioned has been rectified in part, by an unprecedented milestone study produced by the Henley Centre. The survey, which outlines the prospects for the golf industry over the next ten years, promises to be the most comprehensive analysis ever, providing the clearest possible insight into the future dynamics of the UK golf market. As the publishers promises ‘many dramatic conclusions’, no doubt some of the issues raised here will also be addressed.

Analysis Analysis

Bryan Griffiths (left) with environmentalist David Stubbs on location in Andalucia, Spain

Comprehensive ‘Golf Academies’ with indoor/outdoor elements have promising commercial potential: but as yet are untried in Europe. The format takes barely a third of the land for 18 holes, costs less and has a much higher customer capacity for golfers of all ages and skills. The ultimate economic format is a six-point profitcentre ‘Pay-as-you-play’ operation which would be a sound investment in an urban or semi-urban situation. One owner of an ailing Asian 18 hole championship golf course is so smitten with the turn-around prospects that he even proposes to convert his back nine holes into such an Academy. Similar action might well rescue some of the financially unsuccessful courses here and provide new comprehensive beginner-friendly facilities for the large latent market. It could well be a way for banks to rescue and nurse the failed projects rather than be landed with forced receiver sales. The number of courses on the market for sale is increasing with the result that sale prices are currently well below original development costs - but not for long! It is not too difficult to believe that the industry could be charged with failing its potential new customers simply by being unprepared. It is a big challenge to the golf establishment bodies, and financiers, to take action to retain potential golfers who can so easily be lured away to other sports which have got their act together. Many potential customers exist; but no purpose built facilities are available to really welcome and help them join the active golfing fraternity and enjoy the pleasures of the Royal & Ancient game.

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REPLAN’S TOUCH IS WORLD-CLASS Replan’s high quality club shop design is evident in their new fashion-led, high street-style 2,000 sq ft golf shop. Located within St.David’s Hotels’ new flagship complex, Carden Park, Cheshire, the new shop, with its “Hunting Lodge” theme, sports a tongue and grooved oak-panelled interior with raised-plinth displays.

HANOVIA SOLVES WATER SHORTAGE Harleyford Golf Club, Buckinghamshire, has overcome a water shortage problem by using disinfected recycled effluent for irrigation.The Hanovia ultraviolet light disinfection system is compact in design and easy to maintain. It has low running costs, is silent in operation and produces no byproducts of any sort.

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Linden Hall golf club in Northumberland has over the past year invested more than £130,000 in Ransomes and Cushman turf maintenance equipment supplied by local dealer Rickerby of Hexham. Opened just 18 months ago, the course which is owned by the Callers-Pegasus Group, is set within 450 acres of parkland.

Toro has secured a multi-million pound partnership agreement with Marriott Hotels in the UK as exclusive suppliers of golf course turfcare machinery and irrigation systems. The deal covers all eight Marriott Hotel and Country Clubs with golf courses, as well as two others, where new 18-hole courses are currently under construction.

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Due to high demand, Blue Seal is re-launching the E92 Griddle which is designed for high volume continuous cooking. The E92 Griddle is an allpurpose unit ideally suited for cooking beefburgers, steaks, chops, bacon, sausages and eggs. Features include a 3” high stainless steel splash guard on three sides, and adjustable legs.

Links Leisure, manufacturers of the ‘Pro-Tee’ range of golf course and sports ground accesories, have launched a new artificial tee mat, claimed to be ideal for shorter par three courses. Measuring just 1.5m x 1.0m, the mat has been constructed using a durable grass reinforced cement base and three artifical sections.

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Toro announced recently that it has teamed up with one of Europe’s top golf agronomy consultants, Bruce Jamieson. Director of agronomy for the PGA European Tour for 6 years, Mr Jamieson is valued for his golf course experience and now operates his own consultancy, B Jamieson Golf Advisors in Hampshire.

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Machinery supply agreements which include regular maintenance as part of the contract are becoming increasingly popular in Scotland. Supplied by Ransomes dealer, Scottish Grass Machinery, Newmachar GC and Balbirnie Park GC have both agreed contracts which includes in-season inspections and an annual winter service.

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GMé | September 1997  

Golf Management Europe issuu 1

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