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The essential management publication for EMEa golf club operators

Golf

After a career spanning more than a decade at the ‘Home of Golf’, St Andrews Links Trust chief executive Alan McGregor will soon retire page 25

Management Europe

club car driving profits

Visage can help course managers find their way to better customer service and a richer bottom line

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issue 74 september 2010


publisher’s editorial

It’s important to check writers credentials Once upon a time press trips were simple affairs. But with the advent of the Internet and its concomitant micro-publishing trends golf clubs – and particularly resorts – have to tread very warily. Twice in the last few weeks I have spoken to resorts who have been ‘stung’ – for want of a better word – by people claiming to be writers only to find that the actual truth is somewhat different.

If you are not impressed by it, then kindly decline the enquiry. Always establish the writer has a commission from a genuine outlet before agreeing to anything; if in doubt call the editor or publisher. It’s your money – don’t be afraid to set the terms. Don’t rule somebody out merely because they write ‘only’ online, and don’t think because the individual concerned

“Press trips are a great way of building a profile and getting good PR. But they have to be done properly.” One of the resorts had given up three hotel nights with half-board and given unlimited golf – in return it received halfa-dozen badly written paragraphs on a website which probably doesn’t get too many visitors. Press trips are a great way of building a profile and getting good PR. But they have to be done properly. If you can, engage a PR company to organise it for you – then you have some recourse should the ‘writers’ not come up to the expected standard. They are best placed to determine who is and who isn’t genuine. But if you insist on arranging it yourself, there are some simple guidelines. It’s not difficult these days for somebody to set up an impressive-looking domain name, so don’t be fooled by what seems, at first glance, to be an email emanating from an authentic media organisation. Ask to see some samples of the writer’s work – ideally within the publication from which they claim to have a commission.

belongs to an “association” that they must be bona fide. Such associations are also easy to establish in this day and age, and a few have sprung up on the Internet over the past few years. Just a few simple steps can save you a lot of time and money. But don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Just because there may be one or two unscrupulous ‘blaggers’ out there don’t be put off hosting genuine writers. The majority will be happy to provide you with what you ask for in advance – they have no reason to balk. And don’t be afraid to complain if somebody doesn’t deliver what they have promised. GME

16 The R&A is helping clubs become more sustainable both on and off the course.

22 Following SkyCaddie’s success in the UK and Ireland, they are now expanding across Europe.

36 Michael Lenihan lenihan@portman.uk.com

Editor John Vinicombe Contributors Mark Alexander, Sanne Begemann, David Bowers, Peter Dawson, Kevin Marks, John McKenzie, Kristina Rohde, Peter Simm Golf Management Europe is published six times per annum by PPC Portman.

Publisher Michael Lenihan Print Colourspeed

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7 Visage from Club Car can help course managers improve their profit margins.

With a couple of high profile builds recently, are we over the worst of the recession?

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PPC © Portman Publishing and Communications Limited 2010

september 2010 GME 3


headline news

Les Bordes tees-up second von Hagge masterpiece Les Bordes Golf International, owners of the Les Bordes golf course in the heart of France’s Loire Valley, has confirmed it will begin building a second championship course on the estate. The design has been created by golf course architect Robert von Hagge and his team at Texas-based VhS&B, who have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Les Bordes which dates back to 1986 when von Hagge built the original Les Bordes course, rated last year as No.1 in Europe by Golf World Magazine. The new resort course at Les Bordes, set to open in 2013, will be a par 72 course while the final length is still to be agreed. VhS&B says the new course will be more forgiving than the original, hazard-rich Plans have been unveiled for a multi-million pound development at a Teeside golf club. Wynyard Golf Club is inviting people to view the proposals for a 50-bedroom hotel and additional leisure facilities, including a spa, plus improvements to the clubhouse and course. The plans went on display at the club in September as part of a two-day public consultation. Commenting on the plans, Stuart Monk, managing director of the Jomast Group of Companies which includes Wynyard Golf Club, said: “Obviously we will take in to account what people say. “If lots of people suggest a similar thing then we will look at adding it in.” Plans for a golf resort on the site have been in the pipeline for more than 20 years.

4 GME september 2010

Les Bordes and will allow for more of a ground game. VhS&B states that the new course will be more “forgiving” and will have “bail-out” areas where players will find safe haven. Visually, where the old course is verdant green, the intent for the new course will be more rustic. The new course at Les Bordes, which von Hagge says will rival the original Les Bordes in terms of quality and beauty, is part of a multi-million Euro investment in Les Bordes by an international property development group, which will also include a five-star hotel and luxury homes. Planning permission has been granted and construction, to be overseen by Rick Baril of VhS&B, is expected to start in 2011. Tony Jimenez, chairman of Les Bordes Golf International,

said: “Robert, Rick Baril and the team at von Hagge have created a superb design for our new course on a par with all the quality and competitiveness the existing Les Bordes course has to offer. “When it’s completed, I am confident the new course at Les Bordes will be also recognised as one of the great courses of the world. We’re looking forward to working with the VhS&B team to bring the new course to life.” Robert von Hagge, senior partner and architect at VhS&B, said: “Les Bordes has always represented authen-

Crown Golf place eight courses up for sale

Crown Golf has put eight of its golf clubs on the market, following a strategic approach to focus on its

member and resort businesses, with seven clubs from the company’s ‘Pay and Play’ portfolio.

tic and uncompromised golf and it has always been a source of great pride for us. “This chance to return to Les Bordes and design a second golf course is an opportunity of a lifetime. “It is difficult to express the full extent of my enthusiasm and we can’t wait to begin construction and ultimately unveil a new and unique golf venue,” added von Hagge. “In doing so, we will continue an incredibly bold golf legacy conceived many years ago by Baron Bich and today by the visionary Les Bordes ownership.” Crown Golf have also included Pyrford Golf Club, a proprietary members’ club, by reason of its shared course maintenance facilities. All the properties for sale are mainly located in the London area. “The Bennelong Group, owners of Crown Golf, remains committed to owning and operating a significant golf business in the UK for many years to come,” said Crown Golf chief executive officer, Stephen Lewis. “Crown Golf plans to continue to lead the golf industry with the quality of our customer-focused initiatives.”

Loch Lomond in members buy-out Members are expected to complete a buy-out of a Scottish golf club – if each of them can stump up a sixfigure sum. But it’s not as unlikely as it seems. Membership of Loch Lomond Golf Club already costs an annual subscription of £4,000 on top of a £55,000 joining fee and the

850-strong membership has been given the go-ahead to buy the resort after two years of negotiations which ended up with legal action being filed and golfers threatening to quit. Each member will be asked to contribute to secure the sale of the prestigious club, and, while some

will pay a nominal amount, others are understood to be planning to invest as much as £200,000. The announcement sounds the death knell on a planned purchase by the De Vere hotel group, which was previously reported to be close to a deal with an offer of around £35m.


news

St Andrews Links Trust name Loudon as top man St Andrews Links Trust has appointed Euan Loudon as its new chief executive. Loudon (54), who is currently chief executive of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, will take up his new position early next year following the retirement of Alan McGregor. A former assistant professional golfer, Loudon joined the army in 1974 and quickly rose through the officer ranks. He commanded the 1st Battalion, The Royal Highland Fusiliers and in his

final appointment, in the rank of Major General, he was General Officer Commanding the Army’s 2nd Division and Governor of Edinburgh Castle. In 1991, Loudon was awarded the OBE for operational service in the Gulf as the Chief of Staff of The Desert Rats. In 2004 he was appointed CBE for operational service in Northern Ireland. He took up the position with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2007.

Rain Bird’s new range of full-and-part circle rotors Rain Bird is helping golf course managers make the most of their budget with Rain Bird’s new Full-and PartCircle 751 Golf Rotors, featuring Rapid-Adjust Technology and Memory Arc®. The new Rain Bird® 751 Golf Rotors make it possible for greenkeepers to easily and quickly adjust watering

on greens, fairways or roughs as needed. These new rotors offer simple, top-adjustable rotation settings that retain the memory of their part-circle arc setting when shifting between full-and part-circle operations. This unique product is designed to offer quick adjustments for the life of

the rotor with just a turn of a screw. As a result, these new rotors allow the user to increase or decrease the watering area with a simple twist of the wrist. In addition, golf courses with older Rain Bird rotors currently installed can easily integrate the 751’s RapidAdjust Technology.

Unlike competitive products, Rain Bird New Rotors offer backward-compatibility with every EAGLE Rotor manufactured since 1992, that means in many instances, greenkeepers are able to simply drop the new Rain Bird 751 internal assembly into their existing rotor cases, saving both time and money.

INCREASE YOUR PROFIT WITH THE WORLD’S MOST EXCLUSIVE GOLF CAR Manufactured at the factory that also builds the Porsche Boxster, The Garia Golf Car is an unrivalled sales tool for attracting new patrons and providing your clientele with a luxury upgrade from the ordinary golf cart.

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september 2010 GME 5


news

IN BRIEF;

Burhill Golf and Leisure, privately owned by members of the Guinness family and one of the largest golf course management companies in the UK, has purchased five Jacobsen Eclipse 322 hybrid greens mowers from Ransomes Jacobsen. Hugh Knowles, group operations manager at Burhill said: “We’ve ordered five of these 322s across the group and are expecting considerable savings in fuel costs plus the added benefit from their reduced environmental footprint.” The new Close House Academy was recently opened by owner Graham Wylie who said at the opening: “The Close House vision is to create a golf destination in the North of England, which will offer the quality and service of resorts like Wentworth and Gleneagles giving North East golfers the best golfing experience in their own region.” With the hosting of the Ryder Cup this year at Celtic Manor, the Forbes Group – supplier to the golf resort – has been celebrating recent orders from other sporting venues in the UK including Haydock Park and Ascot racecourses, as well as Chelsea football club. The latest entrant into the UK’s online tee times market, LiveTeeTimes.co.uk, launched last month and scored an instant success. Over 200,000 golfers received the website’s launch email on Tuesday August 17, 2010, and by the end of the week thousands had registered to use the service.

6 GME september 2010

3D visualisation of the 17th at Carton House - with sample of free yardage book artwork

Interactive 3D modelling works for Carton House Irish company Golfgraffix is currently taking big strides in the golf industry, having just come to the end of a better than expected first year of trading. The company, which specialises in 3D computer generated golf course images, has worked with nearly all the top courses in Ireland, and has just returned from a very successful US launch at the PGA Fall Show in Las Vegas. Golfgraffix offer clubs a way to not only market their course, but in addition, allow golfers to interact with the brand and on a level not previously seen before.

Golfgraffix is essentially a provider of 3D visualisations but with a twist, as owner John Aherne explained: “Most clubs already know the importance of having flybys and hole previews as part of their marketing strategy but we take it to another level. “Not only do we supply high definition, photorealistic 3D flybys and hole previews, but we allow the viewer to actually play the course in a virtual environment, right on their own PC.” In their latest venture with the Carton House Resort, Golfgraffix produced a highly accurate 3D version of

both the O’Meara and Montgomerie courses. When Carton House launched their new website this month, it allowed web viewers to not only watch the high definition flybys, but also take part in an on-line virtual tournament with monthly winners receiving a complimentary four-ball. In addition visitors to the course can now download the Carton House iPhone App, which serves as a perfect tool to help the visitor get the most from the Carton House experience. The App, which is free to download, includes flybys, a yardage book, live directions, live weather and online booking. “We are very conscious that golf clubs are looking to get the maximum ‘ROI’ on their marketing spend and with this in mind we offer all our clients yardage book artwork free of charge with no conditions or royalty fees,” added Aherne. “This allows the clubs to print their books in-house or with their local printer and means they are no longer tied to large print runs, all resulting in a much higher margin on each book sold.”

A new Day dawns for Colt Mackenzie McNair Colt Mackenzie McNair has announced it is growing its own team as a result of an increase in demand for its services from all facets of the golf industry across the EMEA region. Throughout 2010, CMM has continued to see positive signs the golf industry is growing in confidence and as a result, has appointed Adam Day to the role of consultant. Day will have a specific focus on delivering best-ofbreed professionals to major golf equipment manufactur-

ing companies and sales and marketing-related businesses across the EMEA region, and has first-hand experience of the global golf market, having previously run a high-end golf equipment component distribution business. He has also worked in various corporate sales roles at a senior level, and will take up this new position with immediate effect. Richard Wood, director of CMM said: “In addition to his in-depth understanding of the golf business, including

product development cycles, distribution channels and sales approaches, Adam also has experience and knowledge of the recruitment industry, which was a key attraction for us.”

New resort set to open in Kusadasi A new golf and spa resort, offering panoramic views across the Aegean to the Greek island of Samos, will open in Kusadasi, Turkey, next year. Kusadasi Golf and Spa, an hour from the popular

seaside resort of Didim on the Aegean coast, will be a first for both the resort developer – Club La Costa Resorts and Hotels – and Turkey, comprising a unique, mixed use residential development complete with its own

18-hole, par-72 golf course, spa, shops, sports and on-site restaurants. The resort is set on a hilltop, close to one of the region’s most spectacular stretches of coast and is 11 km from Kusadasi.


weblink;

clubcar.com

on the cover

Club Car announce Visage installs at Abu Dhabi clubs Abu Dhabi Golf Club, host to the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, and the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club are the first courses in the UAE to add Club Car’s new Visage mobile information system, which

“Visage broadens the role of the golf car by making it the delivery mechanism for technology tools and services that help courses operate more efficiently and make the game more enjoyable for golfers.”

Club Car EMEA Lenneke Marelaan 6 B-1932 Sint-Stevens-Woluwe Belgium

“Visage broadens the role of the golf car by making it the delivery mechanism for technology”

help course managers address critical revenue and expense needs while enhancing their customers’ satisfaction. Club Car introduced the Visage system earlier this year, which is a joint development between Club Car and GPS Industries. “As two of the leading courses in the Middle East, we are delighted to add Visage to our Club Car fleets at these highly respected facilities,” said Gary Michel, president and CEO of Club Car.

Visage helps course managers increase revenues, lower operating expenses, manage fleets and improve customer satisfaction. Visage features two-way cellular communications that allow golfers to contact the course’s food and beverage facilities during their play. While real-time positioning keeps course managers aware of each group’s course location – making marshals more effective and improving pace of play.

FACTFILE;

TEL; (44) 7771 805463 info_esa@clubcar.com

The system also limits golf car access to predetermined areas of the course, and puts a robust set of features and benefits at the fingertips of golfers, including intuitive, touch-screen technology. Enhanced graphics of each hole feature 3-D flyovers with audio, tee-shot distance stats and scorecard and tournament management features, whilst Visage’s ability to lock down the fleet at night limits the threat of vandalism and theft. GME

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Tel: +44 (0)1462 683031 www.huntergrinders.com september 2010 GME 7


news

Pentland pen exclusive agreement with Jacobsen Ransomes Jacobsen has signed a five-year preferred supplier with Pentland Golf and Leisure, the new management company headed by Johnathan Callister of the Pentland Group, owner and operator Allied Irish Banks (AIB) has taken possession of Knockanally GC, in Co Kildare, Ireland. The bank has appointed a receiver over the club, which is set on 125 acres outside Naas. The move came just days after the company’s creditors met to appoint a liquidator. Tom Kavanagh, founding partner of insolvency specialists Kavanagh Fennell, has been installed as receiver over Ferndale Leisure, the holding company behind Knockanally. The club continues to trade, and the receiver is currently working with the club’s committee to make arrangements for its future. In its most recent accounts, for 2008, the company said that trading at a loss was “not sustainable”, and the board was determined to reach break even or better. “The present recession will make it extremely difficult to achieve this objective, and reducing costs will be essential.”

8 GME september 2010

of three golf courses in the southeast of England. Pentland Golf and Leisure, operate from offices at Etchinghill Golf Club near Folkestone in Kent, and has been formed to provide a range of services to the golf

sector including contract management, leasing and management consultancy together with operations in other leisure activities. Commenting on the agreement, Callister said: “As we grow the business over the next five years I fully expect that Pentland will have somewhere in the region of 15 to 20 golf courses, either owned or managed, across the United Kingdom. “That’s why we need a commercial alliance with major companies in the sector, who can provide product excellence and unrivalled support, and that’s the prime reason driving the decision to partner with Ransomes Jacobsen.” A typical example of Pentland’s management philosophy is Pedham Place Golf Centre, a 27-hole golf complex situated just off the M25.

Trump opponent ousted from local council One of the foremost critics of Donald Trump’s plans to build a £750m golf resort in Scotland has been ousted from a key local authority post. Outspoken independent councillor Debra Storr has been removed as vicechairwoman of

Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine area committee after councillors voted to have her replaced with immediate effect. The unceremonious exit mirrors that of her friend Martin Ford, who was dumped as chairman of the infrastructure committee in

Since agreeing to a management contract with the owners in 2008, Pentland has achieved significant earnings growth to enable the investment of £1.3 million in a new clubhouse. “Our philosophy is quite simple,” Callister added, “we bring a commercial focus to under-performing businesses, driving up all the key revenue lines, controlling costs and utilising industry best practice to get the best results. “There are many clubs out there at present who, for one reason or another, are not maximising the inherent value of their businesses.” Rupert Price, Ransomes Jacobsen’s UK and Ireland sales manager said: “We’ve been working with Johnathan closely for the past eight years, but it will be beneficial to both parties to have a formalised agreement as Pentland grows.” November 2007 after using his casting vote to temporarily bunker Trump’s dream of building “the world’s greatest golf course” at the Menie Estate. Storr claims she is the victim of a “witch hunt” but Ellon and district member Rob Merson said fellow councillors had simply become frustrated with her behaviour. Storr has been a longstanding opponent of the billionaire’s plans, and has had run-ins with security staff at the Menie site. Storr insists she had received no comments or complaints about her role as vice-chairwoman and it was clear she was on the “wrong side of the political divide.” She said: “It boils down very simply to the fact I do not support the Trump development. This is just pure, childish vindictiveness.”

Algarve to host PGAs of Europe Confirming the Algarve’s excellent reputation for world-class golf courses and resorts, the region has been chosen as the 2010 host destination of the PGAs of Europe Annual Congress and International Team Championship (ITC).

Taking place between November 26 - December 1, the congress is being held at the five-star Tivoli Victoria and the nearby Vale do Lobo championship courses. “We are delighted to welcome the PGAs of Europe Annual Congress

and the ITC for the first time in the Algarve,” said Nuno Aires, president of Associação Turismo do Algarve. “Golf tourism is of the most importance to the Algarve, with nearly one million rounds played per year.”


news

Topturf scoop Otterbine award for the fourth year Topturf Irrigation has won the title of Otterbine Contractor of the Year for the fourth consecutive year. The sports irrigation specialist, was once again the clear winner after another successful year installing and maintaining Otterbine’s aerating fountains the length and breadth of the UK. Managing director Colin Clark said: “We are delighted to have won this award

for the fourth year running. Our success is testament to the team’s hard work and dedication – although it does make our job easier that Otterbine is the RollsRoyce of aeration! “I believe our unique rolling maintenance programme, which provides constant support to customers rather than waiting until a machine breaks down, makes for an award-winning service.”

Anfi Group win appeal to continue development The Anfi Group and the town council of Mogan have won an appeal which gives the green light for the continuing development of the Anfi Tauro Golf and Luxury Resorts project in the Canary Islands. The judgement which was handed down from the Supreme Administrative Court confirms the feasibility of the whole project, allowing the 7500-bed tourism

development to go ahead without interruption. The resort, which is targeted at the high-end European tourist market, already boasts a luxury hotel, a selection of freehold bungalows and villas, a 9-hole pitch and putt course and an 18-hole championship course and an international golf academy. With a planned investment of €400 Million, Anfi

Tauro Golf and Luxury Resorts will be one of the most important tourist developments in the Canary Islands, creating substantial wealth for the island of Gran Canaria as well as being instrumental in the regeneration of the surrounding local economy. Creating around 1,000 jobs, the finished resort will consist of another 12 hotels, two artificial beaches, a

500-berth leisure harbour, a shopping centre and a clinic for respiratory diseases. Since its inauguration over 20 years ago, the Anfi Group’s first resort, Anfi del Mar, has been considered as a European market leader within the vacation membership industry and has over 33,000 member families from more than fifteen countries and a staff of almost 900.

iPhone App

Flybys & PC Simulation

Free Yardage Book Artwork

3D Rendering -15th Hole at Bunclody Golf & Fishing Club

www.golfgraf�ix.com info@golfgraf�ix.com

“The attention to detail and ability to reproduce our course exactly as it is in real life made Golfgraf�ix our only choice when we went in search for new �lybys and course visualisation for Roganstown. Quite simply, no-one else is offering this level of detail and we see this as a valuable addition to the Roganstown website”

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Ian McGuinness. Managing Director of Roganstown Hotel, Golf and Country Club

september 2010 GME 9


news

IN BRIEF;

Ransomes Jacobsen has appointed Deano Golf Warehouse as the sole distributor for the Ransomes, Jacobsen and E-Z-GO product lines in Nigeria. Located in the Nigerian capital Abuja and the coastal port of Lagos, Deano Golf is a major wholesaler and retailer of golf equipment across West Africa, distributing brands such as Calloway, Taylor Made, Ping, Nike and adidas. The Nottinghamshire Leisure Group has bought Cotgrave Place Golf Club, near Nottingham, from Crown Golf. The new owners comprise a group of Nottinghamshire businessmen, Simon Robinson, Leigh Dyson and Alan Hardy who said: “Cotgrave Place Golf Club has an excellent reputation and we are delighted to be acquiring such a fantastic facility.” The Luffenham Heath Golf Club, in Lincolnshire, will host Regional Qualifying for the 2013 Open Championship, it has been announced. The course has recently been upgraded and extended, and joins an elite list of 14 courses in Great Britain and Ireland to be selected by The R&A as venues for the first step towards qualification for the Open Championship at Muirfield, Scotland. The Region of Valencia in Spain, has three brand new golf courses opening this year, bringing the total in the region to 28: Las Colinas Golf Country Club and Font del Llop Golf Resort in the Alicante province, and La Galiana near Valencia.

10 GME september 2010

Newlands re-opens after road building scare The official re-opening of the Newlands Golf Club, Dublin, Ireland, took place in the summer, following a major redesign undertaken by architect Jeff Howes Golf Design. Thought to be an original James Braid layout, the parkland course, which is adjacent to a major motorway in Dublin, was at one point under threat from a road widening project.

Following a compulsory land purchase served on the club by the National Roads Authority in 2007, Newlands Golf Club lost approximately eight acres of land, including the entire 7th hole. With the club receiving financial compensation from the Irish Government, the club was forced to re-route some of the course with the help and guidance of Jeff Howes Golf Design.

Six of the best for John Deere at Bearwood Lakes Bearwood Lakes in Berkshire, has recently upgraded its mower fleet with six new John Deere machines from local dealer Golf and Turf Equipment. They include three 2500E hybrid greens mowers, two 7700 PrecisionCut fairway mowers and an 8800

TerrainCut rotary semiroughs mower. All the cylinder mowers are equipped with John Deere’s new Quick Adjust QA5 or QA7 cutting units, which are described as “awesome” by course manager and master greenkeeper Daniel Lightfoot.

After a period of discussion, the club decided to remodel a total of 12 greens, all of which were re-designed and constructed to USGA specification. In addition, another five greens had their immediate surrounds modified whilst 12 tee complexes were also renovated. In total, 14 fairway bunker complexes were added as well as the construction of two new practice putting greens. Finally, a comprehensive mains drainage and slit trenching programme was also undertaken ensuring top class all year round playing conditions To mark the completion of the re-design, the club was officially reopened on June 20, with an exhibition match involving European Tour players Peter Lawrie and Damien McGrane, Newlands pro Karl O’Donnell and member Cian Curley who is the current East of Ireland Champion. “We have run John Deere tractors and Gator utility vehicles for a number of years, and the QA cutting units were a big factor in persuading us to change to the new mowers after I first saw them being demonstrated at The Berkshire and at BTME,” says Lightfoot. “We like to change the cutting heights to suit ground conditions each day, if possible, and these new units allow us to do them all in just a few minutes, they really save a lot of time. “They stay on cut really well too, and all the greens staff like using the machines, which are very comfortable with very good controls. “Regardless of the quality of the machinery, the deal was effectively sealed by the way John Deere and Golf and Turf put it together, and their attention to detail.”

Moors Valley gains planning approval Golf Course Architects Weller Designs acting as planning agents and course designers for operators Mack Trading recently gained planning permission at Moors Valley Golf Club,

near Bournemouth, for an additional nine holes to compliment the existing 18 hole layout. In addition to the new 27 hole complex Mack Trading will shortly be constructing a

new clubhouse designed by architect Charles Mador. The new nine hole course forms part of the Moors Valley Country Park, a large part of which is designated SSSI for its valuable wetland.


news

GDC proves a hit for both Toro and Blackwell Blackwell Golf Club has become the latest course to benefit from Toro’s Golf Decoder Controller (GDC) irrigation system. The 18-hole parkland course’s previous system had reached the end of its useful life and hence the club turned to irrigation consultant Irritech Limited and contractor Ocmis to specify and install a new greens, tees and approaches system.

“What really swung it for us was the GDC controller system and pop-up sprinklers,” said course manager Peter Fletcher. “Our old irrigation system featured Toro sprinklers and, even though they’d since worn out, we’d never had any problems with them. “Others in the industry also recommended GDC.” Toro’s GDC system now boasts over 200 successful installations worldwide.

Environmental objections to Inchmarlo scheme The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has lodged a protest against plans for a £100m golf resort on Royal Deeside – despite the development having the backing of national tourism chiefs. The huge leisure scheme – thought to be the biggest development in Deeside for 30 years – would add a number of homes and a luxury hotel to the existing

golf centre at Inchmarlo, near Banchory. Scottish Enterprise has hailed the planning application as “a major step forward” in the provision of quality leisure accommodation in Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms. VisitScotland said the proposed development would “sit well” with the Scottish Government’s plans to expand tourism.

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However, Sepa has told Aberdeenshire Council it objects to the plan because of a “lack of information” about drainage. Inchmarlo Golf Centre started as a driving range in 1994 and now boasts two courses — the 18-hole Laird’s Course and the 9-hole Queen’s Course. Frank Burnett and business partner Colin Wilson bought a controlling stake in the

centre last year and now want to build on land around it to create a top resort. As part of the re-development, the Laird’s course would be improved and would adjoin an upmarket hotel which is at the centre of the project. Frank Burnett Ltd chairman Stan Troup said a “world-class” name would run the hotel.

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september 2010 GME 11


news

One of golf’s rising stars signs up with Toro

Nestled in the heart of the Fens, near the town of Kings Lynn in Norfolk, the tranquil village of Tydd St Giles hides one of golf’s rising stars. Having been snapped up by Pure Leisure Group two years ago, Tydd St Giles Golf and Leisure Estate is undergoing a radical transformation that includes an 18-hole golf course with two ninehole putting areas, 44 luxury log cabins and 35 threebedroom detached holiday homes, and the building of a £3 million leisure centre. At the helm on site is operations director, Adrian Hurst. As the estate’s former owner for over 20 years, Hurst’s passion for Tydd St Giles means he’s perfectly placed to realise new owner John Morphet’s vision to bring firstclass facilities to the region. Swan Golf Designs is set to expand its pioneering work to a new country as it puts yet another course on the international golfing map – this time in Tanzania. Howard Swan, architect at the Essex-based practice in England, has just returned from a trip to the TPDF Lugalo Club in Dar Es Salaam with a view to setting the project in motion next year. The intent is to create the country’s first course designed, built and maintained to a true international standard. The existing 18 holes will be revised and upgraded and will include a comprehensive academy with practice facilities. It is also the aim to enlarge and improve the existing clubhouse and eventually establish a Country Club with a dormy house, spa, swimming pool and recreational facilities. Howard Swan said: “It will be a challenge to produce a course of true international standard in a country that has nothing like it already.”

12 GME september 2010

But in order to bring Tydd St Giles’s golf course up to the standards required, Hurst needed to improve the course’s presentation and performance, something he simply couldn’t accomplish with an ageing fleet prone to breakdowns – and so he turned to Toro. “We were having lots of breakdowns with our old machines, so were looking for reliability, consistency and a better quality of cut,” says Hurst. “I’d seen Toro machinery still going strong some seven or nine years later so we decided to demo their machines along with all the other top makes. “Toro was just in a different league, plus it fits the aspirations of where we want to take the club.

“We want quality surfaces and you can’t achieve that without quality mowers. If it’s good enough for the likes of St Andrews and Woodhall Spa then it’s good enough for me!” To achieve a superior quality of cut, Pure Leisure has invested in a full Toro fleet including Greensmaster 3250-D, Reelmaster 3100-D and Reelmaster 6700-D mowers fitted with Toro’s

Campey Turf care announce UK tour dates

When it comes to choosing new machinery for your golf course, Campey Turf Care Systems understand the value of the ‘hands on’ approach. You simply can’t beat seeing it in action on sports turf surfaces!

That’s why a team from the UK’s largest independent machinery distributor is heading back out on the road this autumn, covering the length and breadth of the UK on a 16-date demo tour.

legendary Dual Precision Adjustment (DPA) cutting units. “The mowers are going to make a massive difference. We’re feeling very positive about their arrival and are looking forward to seeing the difference they make. “Our mission is to drive quality up without driving prices up and we really believe our new Toro fleet will help us to achieve that.” The events will provide a unique opportunity for anyone involved in turf maintenance – from grass roots to professional level – to see a wide range of renovation and maintenance machinery at work, with the company’s experienced and knowledgeable staff on-hand to answer any questions you might have about the products and how they’re used. Beginning in Scotland on October 12, the Campey team will be demonstrating a variety of different machines including the Koro by Imants TopMaker, Dakota Turf Tenders, Raycam Aeraseeders and the Imants Shockwave, Rotoknife and Rotoblast. Attendance to the events are free, and more details are available online at campeyturfcare.com.

NUJ to investigate Trump allegations The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has protested about the arrest and detention of two documentary film-makers who were investigating complaints about building works at Donald Trump’s golf resort near Aberdeen. Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney were arrest-

ed for breach of the peace, held for four hours, and had their DNA, photographs and fingerprints taken, after the Trump organisation accused them of entering its offices at the site and filming documents without permission. The two men were arrested as they investigated allegations that contractors

working for Trump accidentally cut off the water supply to several local residents, including his fiercest critic Michael Forbes, for several days. The journalists said their camera equipment was held by police for five days, preventing them from filming.


news

New E-Z-GO fleet for Golf El Chaparral in Spain Golf El Chaparral near Malaga on the Costa del Sol in Spain is one of the latest golf clubs to purchase the electric RXV golf car. A fleet of 50 buggies were delivered at the beginning of the season by local distributor, Green Mowers, with a further ten hired in at the height of the season during June to September. Commenting on the new fleet, club manager Domingo Gavira said: “El

Chaparral Golf Club has reasons to celebrate. These buggies are fitted out with the latest technology, security and comfort in the golf car industry. “In short, this new luxury fleet fully complements the quality and service epitomized by the El Chaparral brand. Since our reopening El Chaparral has become a point of reference among the Costa del Sol golf courses.”

Troon Golf to manage 45-hole Lumine Golf Club Troon Golf has been selected to manage the 45-hole Lumine Golf Club within the exclusive Mediterranea Beach and Golf Community (MBGC), near Portaventura in Tarragona, Spain. The luxurious community situated on 500 hectares adjacent to the sea boasts some stunning views of the Mediterranean. Home to three courses, two of which

are designed by Greg Norman, MBGC is regarded as one of the most exciting and rapidly growing golf and leisure destinations anywhere in Europe. Owned by one of Europe’s most renowned financial establishments, Criteria CaixaCorp, MBGC is beautifully designed to face the Balearic Sea and is ideally located in the heart of the Mediterranean and

only an hour’s drive from the Club will soon be recognised cosmopolitan city of amongst the finest golf resorts in the region,” Barcelona. Home to glorious weather explained Luis Rullan, president and managing director all year-round, MBGC will of Mediterranea Beach and see Troon Golf manage its three golf courses and tranGolf Community. “Troon Golf’s expertise in quil beach club, which together create the perfect managing the golf courses, combined with our team will blend of leisure and tradienable us to further develop tion. our project and services and “With the collaboration of a high-end product to Troon Golf, we areaw:. 3/3/09offer AFT45>PPC port 11:57 Page 1 convinced that Lumine Golf our customers.”

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company profile

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golfbuggiesdirect.co.uk

Golf Buggies on the up

Offering what it describes as the ‘complete golf buggy service from the people that know’, Golf Buggies Direct is set to expand its range of services throughout Europe as Peter Simm reports. While green shoots of recovery are being spotted around Europe, the effects of the economic downturn are still being felt across the continent in all parts of the golfing industry. Whether it be at clubs, resorts, in manufacturing or in sales, there is little doubt that 2010 has been a far tougher year than was forecast in January. Just ask the owners and members at Loch Lomond, who only recently have managed to come up with a rescue package to save one of golf’s most spectacular locations. But, thankfully, there are exceptions to the rule and a small company in Abingdon is bucking the trend for cutbacks after unveiling plans to expand into Europe before the end of the year. Founded nearly eight years ago, Golf Buggies Ltd has already created a niche in the golf car market specialising in the leasing, hiring and selling of new and re-conditioned buggies to courses in the south of England. But it was the company’s decision to offer a spare parts and accessories service www.golfbuggyspares.co.uk to both the commercial and private sectors three years ago that has really delivered dramatic results.

14 GME september 2010

During that period, Golf Buggies Ltd has doubled its turnover each year and owner Paul Male now feel the time is right to explore new markets further a-field. “We don’t want to take on anything that we can’t handle but we feel now that we can logistically handle Europe,” said Male. “Shipping a buggy is one thing but shipping parts and accessories is quite another and is a lot easier. Golf buggy spares is a fast-growing business and it is something that we are keen to expand in and exploit. “We have been looking at selling spares and accessories in Europe for some time. The volume of orders has been increasing but most of them have come from the private sector and this is something we want to change. “We have done some work in Spain and France and we want to build on that, as well as expanding into other countries such as Portugal. “I think a golf buggy will last between ten to twelve years and there is a tendency for clubs to keep them four years now instead of three. “This means that there are a lot more of the older buggies around than there were, whether it be in clubs, resorts, airports or factories, and a lot more spare parts are needed as a result.


“Originally, we started just bringing in spares for us and a few of our friends. The business has grown from there and now we want to expand it. “At the moment we bring in specific parts according to orders but it could be that we will have to start bringing in container loads to deal with demand. That is something we will have to look at. “We met with our main supplier recently, who is based in America, because we didn’t want to upset them and they told us we will not be stepping on their toes and to go for it in Europe. “Selling spare parts may not be the most glamorous side of golf buggies and could be considered the mucky end of the business but it’s where the money is.” With more than 16 years’ experience in the business, Male is better qualified than most when it comes to deciding the right time to expand. The 66-year-old used to hold the licence for selling Club Car vehicles in the UK before health problems forced him to sell the business. But Male’s passion and enthusiasm for golf cars still burned as brightly as ever in his words, it was either retire, go shopping with his wife every week, look after the grandchildren or go back to work – and he is now well on the way to being a resounding success once again. Golf Buggies Ltd may only employ seven people but it offers a highly-specialised and personal service to its clients and it is this that, Male believes, sets his company apart from some its rivals.

Male said: “It’s not our aim to compete with the big national companies. We want to be a logical alternative instead, and one thing we are very keen to emphasise is the level of personal service that we deliver. “The problem with big companies is that you never get to speak to the same person twice when you are after something. “We have got one guy here who has been in the spares business for 12 years while we have engineers who have been very well trained and will give good advice on spares. “We want to build a relationship with our customers that will take us forward in the future. We are a small business who put the customer first and our service division is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “That’s very important and people have told us that’s why they use us. If something goes wrong, we put it right; it’s as simple as that. “If we don’t know the answer to a problem, we will tell the customer and will find someone who can solve their problem and phone them back.” While buggy sales continue to tick over for the firm – it sells around 200 a year – Golf Buggies Ltd will soon add a new arm to its website just for selling new cars to truly make it a one-stop shop. With Male’s head for business and his team’s desire to deliver a service to the highest level, it’s easy to see them going from strength to strength. GME

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september 2010 GME 15


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randa.org

RSPB

from the r&a

A sustainable future for the game? Chief executive of The R&A, Peter Dawson, discusses the impact that golf has on the environment.

There are always many issues that have an impact on the future direction of the game, but those covered by the sustainability agenda are the most far reaching yet probably the least well understood. The R&A has been working for a number of years now to get a grasp on this topic so that we can offer assistance to those building and managing courses that will provide the same long-term security of tenure that we rather take for granted from the courses at the Home of Golf. We consider the challenges being faced under four categories: playing performance, economic performance, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. When discussing sustainability, many commentators make the mistake of simply considering environmental aspects. There is so much more to address. If golf is to have a future, it must continue to produce courses that people want to play. The problem is that we are in a rapidly changing world and there are powerful external forces that are having a greater impact on the game now than has ever been seen before. Climate change is, probably, the overriding influence, notably the trend

16 GME september 2010

towards increasingly extreme weather witnessed around the world. Golf courses now have to cope with record heatwaves, cold snaps, downpours and droughts. The R&A believes that its desire to see firm, fast and healthy courses does provide some respite from the vagaries of the weather, with the focus being on good drainage, securing a viable water supply and correct grass selection. Mind you, however good your initial grass choice, it will only stand the test of time if you manage it appropriately. The current global recession is affecting course construction and management of existing facilities. In our view, this may bring some rationalisation to course provision as the history of golf development often sees an outcome of oversupply as the process is under the control of developers who seem to have little sense of the real market potential. Cutting maintenance budgets is a fact of life during difficult economic times but many take the easy route of reducing the most expensive item – the staff and, often, those with the most experience. This can be short-sighted as qualified greenkeepers who have spent years working on a course will usually have a much


better idea of where efficiency savings can be made without sacrificing the quality of the end product. If you want to retain customers, never compromise on quality. Caring for our environment is an important part of the sustainable approach, particularly with ever increasing regulation targeting key elements of most golf course management programmes, e.g. water, fertiliser and pesticides. Again, this is where our preference for dry, firm and healthy turf offers a realistic option for the majority. Lush, verdant fairways and greens reliant on high levels of water, fertiliser and pesticide input have to be considered a thing of the past. Economic and environmental considerations are the drivers behind this reality and more golfers are coming to appreciate the enjoyment and challenge of a course with firm, running fairways and greens that will hold a well struck approach shot, whatever the colour of the turf. Unless your course can be managed with fewer pesticides and less water (or can source a more socially-acceptable supply), then there will be some parts of the world where golf courses exist today that simply will not be able to support them in the future – courses of the grassed variety, that is. Not content with restricting what we can apply to our courses, regulators are now looking at soil conservation and biodiversity. Golf presents a mixed outcome here.

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New builds need to be far more aware of their responsibility towards preserving soil and nature. Erosion during construction must be minimised as must the loss of important habitat for wildlife. Real estate may be necessary to fund some golf courses but developers need to realise that leaving ample space to provide a home for native flora and fauna is just as important as supplying homes for people. The permanent turf cover to existing courses provides great protection for topsoil and they often provide opportunities for a greater diversity of wildlife than previous land uses. Most, however, can still do better in setting aside more room for nature and enhancing what we already possess through appropriate management. The R&A and RSPB joint publication Birds and Golf Courses might be just the help you need to achieve this goal and is available via the The R&A website. With increasing environmental awareness among the population comes greater social responsibility for all business sectors. Golf facilities, and golfers, need to be seen to be using energy efficiently

and reducing waste, and dealing safely with any that is produced. Affordability and accessibility (to the golfing countryside not necessarily the game) also need to be higher on our agenda. Do we need to take up so much land when we build a course? Could we leave more to nature and provide access to other land uses, e.g. walkers and cyclists? Could better, more strategic design reduce the hectares taken up by so many “championship” courses that will never see a tour event? Potentially, golf has a lot to offer local communities and non-golfers, but it needs to show far greater awareness if it is to make a positive contribution that will be recognised by those with the power to force the game to change. Despite this catalogue of rather daunting challenges, we believe that golf has a bright and sustainable future – but only if we all act positively to meet the demands of wider society and the environment as well as those of our (better educated) customer. Visit the course management section at www.randa.org for more details. GME

september 2010 GME 17


Turf Equipment & Irrigation Solutions. The right choice.

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Hole 3 The Twenty Ten Course Celtic Manor Resort Š2010 The Toro Company All rights reserved


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moraygolf.co.uk

club focus

Finally ‘Lossie’ has something to shout about

Mark Alexander finds out how Moray Golf Club is increasing visitor income through a proactive approach to customer service. Scotland’s coastline has the knack of producing some fine golf courses. It might be the salt in the air or the sand in the soil, but whatever it is; it works. Indeed, links golf in Scotland is practically unrivalled in terms of its quality, diversity and history, which convinces golfers from across the globe to make their way to the likes of St Andrews, Muirfield and Turnberry in their droves. Scotland’s links are so ingrained in the golfing psyche that they have become part of the fabric of the sport; a key component without which golf wouldn’t be so appealing. So to unearth a classic Scottish links course that has remained relatively unnoticed is a rare and wonderful thing. One such gem is Moray Golf Club on the northern-most extremities of the Speyside Valley, where whisky distilleries mix freely with fabulous tracks penned by some of the legends of golf course design.

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As it turns out, Moray is a wonderful exponent of the genre, not only as it is perched on a slice of land that has been shaped by the winds and waves of the Moray Firth, and not simply due to its fast-running fairways and smooth greens, but because it was laid out by the granddaddy of them all – Old Tom Morris. “It’s a true Scottish links in that you play nine out of town, turn, and play the back nine towards town, so it’s very similar to St Andrews,” says Steve Crane, secretary of Moray Golf Club. “It’s fair to say that our 18th, which is our signature hole, is recognised as one of the best finishing holes in Scotland.” The 408-yard closing hole is certainly exciting to play with the tee set tight against a cliff face which runs the length of the hole. Indeed, with such a stunning location, an illustrious creator and an imposing finisher, you’d image Moray –

september 2010 GME 19


FACTFILE;

Moray Golf Club Stotfield Road Lossiemouth IV31 6QS Scotland TEL; (44) 01343 812018 FAX; (44) 01343 815102 email; secretary@moraygolf.co.uk secretary; Steve Crane (pictured) COURSE MANAGER; George Paterson Club founded; 1889

20 GME september 2010

or Lossie as it is know locally due to it proximity to Lossiemouth – to be a mustplay for visitors. But it isn’t. In fact, there will be some who will have never heard of the Old Course at Lossie, or indeed its companion The New which was laid out by Sir Henry Cotton in 1979, which is perplexing. It was certainly an issue Steve Crane was eager to tackle when he took up the secretary’s post at Lossie eight years ago. “I felt we could do more to attract visitors,” he recalls. “I’ve always felt that members are the most important part of a golf club, but you have to attract visitors. If you have good visitor income, that will off-set the cost of the members’ annual fee. You have to strike a balance.” First up, Crane updated the club’s booking software, and then quickly set about changing attitudes to customer service. “We weren’t as visitor attractive as we could have been,” he says. “There wasn’t the flexibility that I believe I’ve introduced. Before there was a strict rule that no visitors were allowed on before 10am or between 12 and 2pm. “Today, I can look at the day’s programme and know exactly when my members are going out. I allow a bit of flexibility about taking visitors before 10am and between 12 and 2 as long as it doesn’t disadvantage the members.” The shift to a more service-orientated approach worked. Visitor numbers gradually picked up so that by 2006, the club was generating £112,000 in visitor income.

With Crane’s new regime in full flow, it was time to make a splash in cyberspace with the club’s new website. “On the front page there’s a photo looking up to the clubhouse with a welcome message, accommodation details and a weather report. “Some websites are overloaded with information, but I think ours hits the right balance by giving just enough information to make people look into it a bit further,” added Crane. This forthright approach seemed to resonate with visitors, who began making a beeline for the northerly course. The year following the website’s launch, visitor income rose by £1,000 and then by £4,000 and in 2009 it jumped by £10,000. Not bad considering the crippling economic conditions that were plaguing other clubs. And it didn’t stop there. By his own admission, Crane says the website is looking dated so the club is preparing to update the design to give it a more contemporary look. In the meantime, he has taken another great leap forward in the form of on-line bookings. “This year, for the first time, we’ve added an online booking system so that members and visitors can reserve tee times and can see the tee-time availability throughout the year,” he says. “It’s been received really well by members because, from the comfort of their own home, they can book tee times without having to phone me or the pro shop.


And from a visitor perspective, initial bookings through the system have been good and hopefully will increase throughout the year. “What we’re trying to do is to attract the American and European markets. These guys often have difficulty communicating with us directly, so with this booking system they can see what tee times are available immediately.”

With so much progress being made at the club, there is one niggling aspect of playing golf at Lossie that Crane has no control over, and it unfortunately resonates around the course with a thunderous roar. The RAF jets from Lossiemouth, which skim over the flag sticks on their way to the nearby runaway, at best offer a welcome distraction if you’re having a bad

“This year, for the first time, we’ve added an online booking system so that members and visitors can reserve tee times and can see the tee-time availability throughout the year.” While a lot of emphasis has been put on improving the service side of Lossie’s operations, it is reassuring to hear that more mundane tasks are also being highly valued. The significance of good greenkeeping, for instance, is certainly not being lost in the race to secure a healthier balance sheet. “The best investment we ever made was in our course manager George Paterson,” he says. “He joined us five years ago, and he is without doubt our best asset. “I’ve seen him change this course. Everybody comments on how tidy and smart it is, and that’s down to George, his team and their pride in the condition of the course. The work they do is tremendous.”

round. At worst, they can overshadow (metaphorically and literally) a wondrous course. But while sharing the course with fighter-bombers can be novel, Crane concedes visitor income is affected. “If I am absolutely honest, I could probably do without them,” he admits, “but in eight years, I’ve only had two visitors complain and we felt we had to give them their money back, which isn’t bad because it can get particularly noisy. “There are people who play here and don’t come back because of the noise, so if we didn’t have the jets, we could probably increase visitor income. “It is a factor,” continues Crane, “but the figures prove we’re increasing visitor income anyway, so we must being doing something right.” GME

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left skycaddie hand page gps

skycaddie.co.uk

SGX; The Next Generation

Already a runaway success in the UK and Ireland, SkyCaddie is expanding into Europe for 2011 as Peter Simm reports. Rangefinders have come a long way in the last decade since their introduction into the game of golf. While the first models to hit the sport were considered revolutionary at the time, they look positively archaic now and as if they should be consigned to a museum when compared to the latest GPS products that are available on the market. With detailed yardages and course images displayed on LCD screens in brilliant colour, rangefinders are becoming more and more advanced in what they can deliver to help the modern-day golfer improve their game. SkyCaddie is one of the leaders in an increasingly competitive industry and its latest model, The SGX, has been described as the latest generation in rangefinders following its hugely successful launch in the UK in April this year. To say the SGX has been well-received would be a massive understatement. The newest member of SkyCaddie’s family has taken these devices to a entirely new level, and very soon Europe will be able to find out what the fuss is all about. “At the moment we have nine agents in the UK and one in Ireland,” explained Jacqui Hitchcock, managing

22 GME september 2010

director for SkyCaddie in the UK and Europe. “We have one coming on board in Germany and are looking for one in Sweden as that will be a big market for us. “The biggest focus we have at present is mapping the courses, which is a continual maintenance programme, and finding someone for Sweden. “We have had distributors in Europe before but we have now changed our distribution policy. We want to distribute from the UK into the continent and we are doing a new distribution through our sales agents. “We have mapped around 90 per cent of the courses in Europe and we are now ready to push hard with our sales. “Countries we are ready to move include Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden and Denmark, and France will follow a little bit after that.” Unveiled six months ago, the SGX is the latest rangefinder from SkyCaddie since the company launched its first model eight years ago, and it’s on course to become the companies most successful product to date. Boasting a durable, new sleek design with a large three-inch easy-to-read, transflective LCD screen that provides brilliant colour images even in the brightest sunlight, the SGX is powered by a long lasting rechargeable Lithium-ion battery which offers up to 14 hours’ continuous play.


The SGX uses an innovative, dual navigation option, to provide easy one-handed operation and precision positioning without blocking critical screen information with fingers and smudges and also includes SkyCaddie’s proprietary TruePoint Precision Positioning Technology in a high performance GPS engine with ultra-fast satellite acquisition for unmatched accuracy and reliability. Hitchcock said: “The SGX has received a fantastic reception since it was launched. “We have had several models in the market for the last couple of years and the good thing about golfers is that they always want to have the latest gadget. They are interested in anything that will improve their game. “What we offer golfers that sets us apart from other rangefinders and is the key is accuracy. It’s not hard to get hold of a piece of some cheap piece of plastic and put a screen on it with a GPS engine. “After all, sat navs and mobile phones use them all the time. But we are the only people that go out and map a golf course on foot. “Other products just use straight aerial images which can very quickly become outdated, and the only way to properly map a golf course is to do it by walking the course. “This not only ensures the most accurate of readings, but limits any possible returns to the retailer due to inferior mapping techniques.

“You wouldn’t buy a sat-nav for your car if it sends you down a cart track in a field, and it’s the same thing with golf. It’s important that golfers buying product from a golf club can place their trust in the product, and have the peace of mind to know that the information displayed on the screen is correct. “That’s why SkyCaddie always has – and always will – map courses on foot as it’s the most accurate way of obtaining the map of the course. “You haven’t got longevity with your product if the information you provide is wrong and people are going to very quickly stop buying. “We work closely with the PGA and EGU each year and they know how much work we put into our products. As official endorsers of our products, we get

them to send stuff out to their members so that we get feedback on what changes may have been made at courses. “Last year we updated just under 500 courses in the UK alone and we are already up to 200 this year. Golf courses are always doing something and it’s up to us to keep track. “Golfers are the most critical and impatient people in the world and they are on to you straightaway if things are wrong.” Retailing at £329 in the UK, the SGX will cost €399 when it is made available in Europe next year and SkyCaddie is expecting a similar reception to that which they received in the UK. And not content with resting on its laurels, the company is preparing additional improvements to the SGX over the next 12 months to aid the golfer in their quest for perfection. “With the SGX, we now have a user interface that we can use as a platform for future development which will enhance the product even further. Technology doesn’t stand still, and we are all very excited about building the brand in 2011,” concluded Hitchcock. GME

Tour Caddies Walk every yard of The Course To Provide disTanCes Their Pros Can TrusT only skyCaddie does The saMe for you. Before you trust your club, you have to trust your caddie. Tour players demand reliable distances from their caddie. That’s why Tour caddies always walk the course to verify every target from the ground and never use shortcuts like satellite images to map a course before a tournament. Because you deserve the same detailed and reliable information that the pros count on, only SkyCaddie uses the only method trusted by the pros and their caddies.

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september 2010 GME 23


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standrews.org.uk

in person

Outgoing chief executive of St Andrews Links Trust, Alan McGregor, talks about instigating change, local relations and the joys of early morning drives to work. Article and pictures by Mark Alexander.

A Matter of Trust

Every morning for the last 12 years, Alan McGregor has driven from his home in Perthshire through the heartlands of Fife to the Home of Golf. His journey concludes when he draws up to Pilmour House, an impressive white-washed country home on the outskirts of St Andrews. Surrounded by trees, the building is the administrative headquarters of the St Andrews Links Trust, and as chief executive of the Trust, McGregor is responsible for the most famous links courses in the World.

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“It takes 40 minutes on the way in and 50 on the way back. I am in the office at 6.45am,” he says. “On the way, I listen to the Today Programme but depending on what’s in my diary for the day, I often don’t hear a word. I think about how pleasant it is driving into the Auld Grey Toon as opposed to driving into NW10 Park Royal, where my last office was. “Driving into the rising sun, you think yep, there are worse places to be than this.”

september 2010 GME 25


The rest of his day is spent co-ordinating the various arms of an organisation that generates £15 million annually and employs 350 staff, and despite the stresses and strains which go with the territory, McGregor remains affable and generous with his time. He’s a personable type; gracious and welcoming and possesses the rare skill of making everyone feel comfortable in his presence. It’s a talent he’s put to good use while at the Trust. Approaching retirement, the 64 yearold is in a reflective mood. “It’s extremely important to understand how to manage and give leadership to people,” he says. “To that end, I found my background as chief executive of the United Auctions, and previous roles, extremely useful.” Despite his accomplished golfing patter, McGregor’s background is immersed in international management, rather than the ebbs and flows of the links at St Andrews. In fact, following various managerial positions around the world, he found himself at the helm of Scotland’s largest livestock auctioneering company, United Auctions, when the Links Trust advertised the chief executive’s role in 1997. “I heard about the job from my younger brother,” McGregor recalls. “I was then chief executive of United Auctions in Perth and perfectly happy. I hadn’t looked at the Sunday Times recruitment pages, but my brother had. “We were in the middle of BSE and Foot and Mouth, so I started thinking about it. I applied in hope rather than expectation because I realised it would be a fairly popular job to go for. I gave it my best shot and I am delighted to say that for some reason, I came out top of the crop.” Perhaps one of the reasons McGregor bagged one of the most prestigious jobs in golf was his aptitude to change. After all, the Trust in 1997 was an insipid version

26 GME september 2010

of the multifaceted organisation that blossomed with McGregor at the helm. But before he could chart a new course for the charity, he first had to find out what he had let himself in for. “When I came into the job, I did nothing but ask questions,” he says, “just as I had done when I went into the livestock auctioneering industry which I knew precisely zero about in 1992. I had to find out as much as I could about running a multi-course complex as quickly as possible, and the best way to do that was from the people who were doing the job.” After his induction, McGregor set about reorganising the Trust by first appointing a PR manager and then a director of golf. Major decisions swiftly followed including bringing the Trust’s catering and retail functions in-house. “They were major steps for the Trust which had to be handled in a professional yet diplomatic way,” says McGregor. “It was a big change. Suddenly we were a big player in the local restaurant business, and in St Andrews that was controversial. “People were concerned that the Trust, with all its resources, was taking on local restaurants. What we wanted to do was improve the service offered to golfers thereby attracting more golfers and making the whole cake bigger for everybody, and I think there is good evidence to suggest that has happened – I don’t notice a shortage of restaurants in St Andrews for instance.” The relationship between the Trust and the townsfolk of St Andrews has been cordial although it can lurch between a fervent co-operative and an uneasy alliance. With his time at the Trust coming to end, you get the idea that McGregor views this edgy relationship with unease. “We are now recognised by the industry as doing a good job, but getting that across locally can be difficult,” he admits. “The marketplace has changed dramatically since 1974 when the Links Act was


written. Today, the two economic drivers in St Andrews are the university and golf. “But St Andrews is also viewed as a key economic driver for golf tourism throughout Scotland, so its role has changed. The people who have golfed here all their lives have difficulty understanding this wider role. There is certainly a challenge to foster a better understanding of this wider remit.”

He continues: “Actually, whenever we do anything major there is an outcry. Whether it’s the Golf Practice Centre, the Links Clubhouse, the Eden Clubhouse or the Castle Course – every single one was going to be a white elephant. “We’re really getting quite good at white elephants.” Despite his broad smile, there is a sense of McGregor’s frustration, although that

“If anyone’s going to remember me for anything then please let it be that the standard of service has improved during my time.” The bond between golfing bodies and local communities can be tenuous at the best of times. In the case of the Trust, this affiliation is underpinned by an act of parliament which established the charity’s raison d’être to continue the public nature of golf on the Links. How to interpret this role is up for conjecture although McGregor believes the right balance has been achieved. “There was a stage in the development of the Trust, probably in the mid 1980s, when Trustees could have taken the decision to touch nothing,” he says. “St Andrews would have become the historic Home of Golf where people came and had a look and then played Kingsbarns. But they made a decision to maintain the best traditions while being at the forefront of golf and starting an investment programme. The Trustees needed courage to do that.”

will dissipate when he says his goodbyes by tipping his hat on the Swilken Bridge. Indeed, the legacy he’ll leave will be a slick, progressive Trust that has grown in stature under his guidance. “If anyone’s going to remember me for anything then please let it be that the standard of service has improved during my time,” he implores. “To deliver that took a lot of work because we had to change the culture of the Trust. While you can open practice centres and golf courses, changing the culture of an organisation is a slow process that can be quite painful. Some people will come with you on the journey and some won’t. “That said, while we’re not perfect, the feedback we get is that we’re not bad at meeting or beating customer expectations, but there’s no complacency, no arrogance. We’ve just got to keep improving.” GME

Greens l Tees l Short Courses

All year round natural play on a synthetic green Endorsed by top European Tour professionals

Lee Westwood

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golfmanagementnews.com

september 2010 GME 27


egcoa

weblink;

egcoa.eu/conference

Helping to Grow the Game For the first time since the European Golf Business Conference was inaugurated, the event comes to the UK at the end of November. Article by Sanne Begemann After a turbulent economic period, the time has come again for the golf industry to start considering its own future – “Back to the Future” is therefore the theme of the European Golf Business Conference 2010. The fifth edition will be held in London: the first time the event moves to the island. From November 30 untill December 2, an international group of representatives from the golf industry will gather in this city, to get together and exchange new ideas of how the game can grow, to discuss current developments of the industry and to share knowledge and information on golf course management. ‘Grow the game, Grow your business’ is this year’s slogan. After an unstable period for the business, the EGCOA is trying to get the focus back on the growth and the future. Topics that will be discussed by the speakers are in line with the question how we can increase the number of players and how we get more people interested in golf. In addition, best practices from different countries and Europe’s national golf course owners’ associations will be presented. Finally management situations will be put forward, as in how can maintenance, human resource management and marketing strategies be improved and professionalised. The EGCOA recently announced one of the first speakers for the conference: James Cronk is a business leader with over 20 years experience in the golf business and owner of both Westwood Plateau and Predator Ridge Golf Resorts in Canada, where he was instrumental in developing their Above & Beyond service

28 GME september 2010

philosophy which has been key to the success enjoyed by these award-winning golf and real estate communities. His first presentation during the conference is entitled Growing Your Golf Business. Cronk will focus on some of the best practices being implemented by successful golf/resort/real estate developments to ‘grow their golf business’ with topics such as: one golfer at a time, the re-invention of golf and loyalty programs. His second presentation The Five Keys to Consistency in the Golf Business will outline the five steps implemented by successful facilities that keep them ahead of their competition. From ‘motivating employees’ to ‘developing your club’s brand’ to ‘being a better manager’, learn practical and inexpensive methods to create more consistency and increase your member/ guest/employee satisfaction and therefore, your profits. ‘Grow the Game’, the theme of the European Golf Business Conference 2010, is also the central topic in a worldwide project run by the EGCOA to outline best practices. Creating a handbook for golf course owners and building an informative website with downloads and sample documents is the purpose of this project. The website will be useful for everybody in the world of golf who wants to join and help growing the game, and the results of the best practices research will be presented during the conference in London. During the award ceremony at the conference the best practice which exceeds all expectations will receive the ‘Grow the Game Award 2010’, to be voted for by delegates of the conference.


Besides this central topic, the EGCOA will present their manual How to buy and sell a golf course, that describes all aspects of selling and buying a golf course in Europe, which will offer a clear view for members of the EGCOA who are willing to sell their business and non-members who are planning to invest in a golf course or extend their current portfolio. To complete this project a website is being built for agents and golf course owners to promote their golf courses for sale and for potential buyers this website will offer a database to find a course. A first glance of the website will be presented during one of the session of the conference. This year the conference will take place in the Royal Horticultural Halls near Victoria train and tube station in London. Nicely central located, this offers delegates the opportunity to fly to all London airports and into the city by train. The opening reception of the event is on Tuesday, November 30, starting at 8 pm. Prior to the reception, the annual European Multi Course Owners Meeting is scheduled, an exclusive meeting for the biggest owners and operators of golf courses in Europe. Conference participants are encouraged to think about the future steps they will have to take to make their industry and businesses grow. Owners and operators of golf courses, managers, greenkeepers, subcontractors, architects, suppliers and representatives

of golf organisations get the chance to learn about the future developments that are to occur in the nearby future. A unique opportunity to discuss these with peers from the golf industry. Besides an informative and educational conference, there are also opportunities for networking and a social program to get to know the other delegates and to visit the main touristic attractions in London. On the second evening all delegates will enjoy a dinner during a spectacular cruise along the river Thames. Conference delegates are able to stay at the City Inn Westminster hotel for a special rate. The hotel is near the Royal Horticultural Halls and within walking distance of all tourist attractions. For partners there is again the possibility to join the opening reception and the dinner event on the Wednesday evening. Golf course owners and companies who are interested in participating with more than one person or a group can be granted a special price. More information about the program, speakers and location can be found at www.egcoa.eu/conference where you can also register. But please be aware, that there is a limited number of places available, so early registration is necessary. Ideas for topics or discussions that you think should be addressed at the conference, or suggestions for speakers you would like to see on stage are welcomed by the organisation. See you in London! GME

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golfmanagementnews.com

september 2010 GME 29


ppcgolf.com/property

PPC Golf

For Sale Northern Ireland Established 18-hole parkland golf course with practice area, clubhouse and a unique opportunity to own one of Ireland’s best golf courses. Guide Price – GBP 2.75 Million To view this, and other golf properties for sale throughout the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa, register your interest at ppcgolf.com/property

sales@ppcgolf.com +44 (0)1394 380800


weblink;

coltmm.com

cmm solutions

Is your company fit for business? Newly launched CMM Solutions is an important and highly focused business support service from Colt Mackenzie McNair. It will ensure senior managers are equipped with the correct tools to make an effective and measurable difference to business performance. John McKenzie looks at the key benefits of this new service to the global golf industry. Given the current economic climate, there are some important questions you need to ask yourself as a manager in the global golf industry. Do you have the right processes and infrastructure in place? Do your staff have the right skills? Are they willing to use them? Ultimately, are you fit for business? The right attitude involves a team conscience, a willingness to step up to the plate, to be accountable, to accept coaching and feedback, to self manage and selflead, to act honourably and fairly to customers, suppliers and your own team. In difficult times, this is hard to maintain but it is possible and will create the real businesses of the future.

golfmanagementnews.com

This ethos has helped craft CMM Solutions, a blue-chip service that offers senior managers in the golf industry measurable benefits focused on three key areas that influence the performance of any business: Process, Skills and Attitude. Colt Mackenzie McNair director, Richard Wood, explains: “We have launched CMM Solutions because we identified a key need in the market place. “In order to recruit successfully into a business, CMM likes to get underneath the skin of the business to ensure the best possible candidate is placed in the role, not only one with the right talent but also one with the right attitude to fit into the current culture of that business.” Led by Colt Mackenzie McNair’s new head of consultative services, Biddy Lloyd-Jones, CMM Solutions is a first of its kind for the EMEA golf industry, offering tailored solutions for a wide range of issues facing business leaders and senior executives in the world of golf.

september 2010 GME 31


During CMM’s in-depth research it realised that businesses would also benefit from solutions it could provide using the combination of its experience of the golf industry and marrying that to Biddy Lloyd Jones’ experience of the business world.” Biddy Lloyd-Jones (pictured left) commented: “In order to develop a business successfully, senior managers often have to take a step back from the issues which are influencing a business’s growth and then make practical and measurable decisions which will positively impact its performance. “Having someone with whom to bounce ideas around and who brings an experienced, fresh and keen eye to the business can add significant value to those decisions.” Lloyd-Jones’s expertise is founded on years of hands-on experience, coaching teams and business leaders across all areas of industry, including the travel and hospitality sectors and healthcare and large-scale public service providers.

She created a plan which was bespoke for my business, not something which goes with her from client to client.” Lloyd-Jones has also previously supplied leadership development programs for Transport for London; change management for London Underground, safety and crew management programs for EasyJet and relationship building and coaching for the NHS, along with 1:1 executive coaching with various senior business figures. Jonathan Holland, senior training captain at EasyJet, said: “Biddy was able to educate our crews that the attitude they show in the workplace is very relevant to their effectiveness. “In our industry we have two very different types of team on an aircraft – pilots that are very technically focused and cabin crew who are the complete opposite, they are generally people that are recruited for their ‘soft feel’ approach. “It was a huge challenge to get such different types to working smoothly and consistently together.

“I’ve no doubt many golf businesses, large and small, will see a positive return on investment from the services we have to offer and it is exciting to be bringing them to this industry.” A strong advocate of Lloyd-Jones’s business consultancy techniques is travel industry expert, Rory Pilkington, who initially employed her to enhance the sales process at his business, which employs 45 people and has been operating for 20 years. Pilkington, managing director of luxury holiday business, Bailey Robinson Travel, said: “Biddy’s approach helped me to personally re-evaluate what we are trying to achieve as a business and to look at the way all my employees work together. “All businesses can become ‘flabby’ and inefficient over time and with Biddy’s help we made Bailey Robinson Travel meaner and fitter for the future, as a result. “We created better processes which I am certain will influence different areas of the business, including an increased conversion rate in our sales department and an uplift in the number of holidays sold. Ultimately, I expect to see a more profitable operation in the future.” Pilkington also raises the point that many companies waste money on training because they just bring in consultants with a one-size-fits-all method that has no flexibility and understanding of the individual needs and challenges facing the business. He added: “To guarantee the success of Biddy’s work, it was very important that my employees bought into her as a person and her professional, understanding and trustworthy manner was embraced by the whole team.

32 GME september 2010

“It was vital we got all crew to understand it was their responsibility to do so and combine their talents for the good of the customers and the safety on our aircraft and Biddy’s charisma and flair, coupled with her ability to motivate others, helped us achieve something which, quite honestly, was ground-breaking for EasyJet.” Lloyd-Jones adds: “Every business has different needs and different challenges, but sometimes a ‘spring clean’ is necessary to refocus on appropriate aims and objectives which will positively influence performance. I’ve no doubt many golf businesses, large and small, will see a positive return on investment from the services we have to offer and it is exciting to be bringing them to this industry.” CMM Solutions is the perfect compliment to existing services Colt Mackenzie McNair currently offers the EMEA golf industry, including CMM Search, which helps businesses find executive-level bestof-breed professionals; CMM Select, an advertised solution for finding new talent and CMM Interim, the short term solution to temporary recruitment needs. Colt Mackenzie McNair director, Richard Wood, said: “Our desire has always been to offer the golf industry a 360-degree solution to their business requirements, and I’m certain the addition of CMM Solutions to our portfolio will positively help all senior leaders finetune the performance of both themselves, their staff and the overall health of their business operations.” GME


in partnership

weblink;

ransomesjacobsen.com

Joint-Venture proves to be a lasting success

As Kevin Marks explains, a partnership which has lasted almost half a century is still proving to be highly lucrative for both manufacturer and distributor.

Back in 1962, Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies Limited and Landre and Glindermann – the distributor who for over 100 years had marketed Ransomes products in the Netherlands – formed a joint venture company to service the growing German turf care market. Known as Landre and Glindermann GmbH, the company operated out of a small office in Munster, which had a large cellar that served as a warehouse. The business expanded year on year and larger premises were required, so in 1970 they moved to their current premises in Borkstrasse, Munster. Six years later, Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies purchased the Landre and Glindermann shareholding and renamed the company Ransomes Deutschland GmbH, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ipswich-based manufacturer. In 1989 the company name was changed again, this time to Ransomes GmbH with responsibility for all export business to Europe, with the exception of UK and France. Shortly afterwards Textron purchased Ransomes and merged it with their existing Jacobsen business. Across Europe, Textron marketed Jacobsen, E-Z-GO and Textron (JET) through whollyowned distributors; in Germany the JET business

34 GME september 2010

was closed and integrated into RansomesJacobsen GmbH, with responsibility for all the brands across Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In 2002 Textron took the decision to distribute through independently owned companies and Ransomes Jacobsen GmbH was sold to three investors, two from Austria and the former managing director, Alfons Gottemeyer and the name changed to The Turfcare Company (TTC) Explaining the composition of TTC, Alfons Gottemeyer said: “We have a staff of 26 in the Munster office, who were with the company when we were a wholly owned subsidiary of Ransomes Jacobsen under Textron ownership. “We still feel an integral part of the Ransomes Jacobsen family. John Moore, Ransomes Jacobsen’s export sales manager, began his career here some 20 years ago, when he left the RAF and became one of our technical assistants. “The staff here have over 500 years combined experience in the turf care sector and although we may have had several name changes we have provided continuity for the Ransomes brand in Germany for almost 50 years and for Jacobsen for more than 20 years. “This is evident at the entrance to our office, where we have a door handle in the shape of a large ‘R’, so everyone who enters TTC knows where we’ve come from. “I’ve now been with the business for 33 years, the last 15 as managing director. We continue to be a very important business unit within the Ransomes Jacobsen distributor network and have seen yearon-year growth, making a significant contribution to the profitability of the organisation. “All of my team are characters and are very well known within the German market and we will continue to support


the turf sector over here, as we have always done.” TTC has five regional sales managers responsible for a network of 20 independent dealers across Germany. Together, these managers have over 140 years of experience within the sector, and this wealth of knowledge has a positive impact within their regions.

“That is why it is important that my team continue to provide continuity in all areas of the business. We will obviously be available to help and support anyone who is experiencing difficulty sourcing equipment and spare parts. “With their knowledge and experience, our sales guys can talk to our customers and really understand their particular

“The staff here have over 500 years combined experience in the turf care sector and although we may have had several name changes we have provided continuity for the Ransomes brand in Germany for almost 50 years and for Jacobsen for more than 20 years.” Bernard Niehoff is responsible for the western region and has been working for the company for 36 years; Manfred Wortmann, with 24 years behind him, works the north and east regions, while Claus Trinkel covers the southwest. He has been with TTC for 13 years having previously spent five years with a Ransomes dealer. Erwin Schlicher with 35 years in the industry, is responsible for the Rhine-Main area and Bavaria is the responsibility of Johann Doerr, 31 years in the sector. “Due to the current economic climate, everyone here in Germany is aware that our competitors here are experiencing difficult times,” said Gottemeyer.

needs and the equipment we have available to suit specific applications. They also know the strengths of their dealers and are able to ensure that they work to our exacting business standards.” David Withers, managing director of Ransomes Jacobsen added: “Alfons and his team are one of our premier distributors and their commitment to our business is of the very highest order. “They always feature in our annual dealer awards and, in the past seven years, have twice been our Dealer of the Year. “TTC generate significant orders for Ransomes Jacobsen products and their penetration of the golf market in Germany is excellent.” GME

BRITISH ASSOCIATION OF GOLF COURSE CONSTRUCTORS

BAGCC

Construction Remodelling Water Features

Promoting excellence in Golf Course Construction throughout Europe

Tel: 01604 468908 Fax: 01604 474853 www.deltagolf2000.co.uk 180 Ruskin Road, Kingsthorpe Northampton NN2 7TA

BAGCC

For further information about the British Association of Golf Course Constructors please contact the chairman, Brian D. Pierson on 01425 475584 or email brian.pierson@btopenworld.com

New Courses • Renovation • Bunkers Irrigation • Drainage golfmanagementnews.com

september 2010 GME 35


course construction

Building a Better Future

Following one of the worst years in recent history for the golf course construction industry, it would appear as if maybe, just maybe, things are looking up as Peter Simm discovers. Cyprus has long been touted as a future travel destination for the avid golfer without ever quite getting its act together. For a decade and more, there has been much talk and speculation about a raft of high-end golf courses being built to turn the sunshine island into a place to rival the more popular countries of Spain, Portugal and, more recently, Dubai and Turkey. After all, on the face of it Cyprus has it all with its idyllic climate, relaxing lifestyle and fine standard of living. Up until now, it has been restricted to three notable 18-hole courses with the re-branded Minthis Hills formerly Tsada - and Secret Valley supplementing the sumptuous facilities on offer at the five-star Aphrodite Hills Resort. Such a lack of variety is often touted as the reason why the island has not become more popular among the golf holidaymaker

36 GME september 2010

but Cyprus is set to hit the headlines again in the next month with the opening of the multi-million pound Eléa Golf and Spa Resort – and this time it could hit the big time for good. Situated close to Aphrodite Hills and Secret Valley near the town of Paphos, Eléa is the latest work of six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo and is no less spectacular than his previous creations. Set in the hillside facing south towards the Mediterranean, the course is the centrepiece of Eléa Estate, a premium development that will boast luxurious villas and apartments, a boutique hotel supported by a range of dining options and extensive spa facilities. With a par 71, the layout commands a striking location above the sea and has been meticulously crafted through dramatic landscape, featuring imposing weathered outcrops of limestone that offer a unique character across the course. Speaking recently about the project, Faldo said: “This golf course certainly has the potential to play a pivotal role in establishing this part of the world as a leading European golf destination.


E E L Y Y

ELYGOLF Construct Renovate Maintain ‘Specialist in Golf Course Construction’ Reading, United Kingdom Telephone +44 118 326 6168 Email elygolf@btinternet.com Appointed contractor for the renovation work being undertaken at Turnberry for the 2009 Open Championship

www.elygolfconstruction.com

Repton Short Course at Rudding Park Royal Birkdale, Royal St George’s Carnoustie, Goodwood

John greasley Limited Ashfield House, 1154 Melton Road, Syston, Leicester LE7 2HB Telephone: 0116 269 6766 Fax: 0116 269 6866 BAGCC Email: johngreasleyltd@aol.com www.johngreasleyltd.co.uk

International Golf Contractors and Construction Consultants With over 30 years experience of building, renovating and maintaining golf courses in more than 25 countries around the world, we have a reputation for work of the highest quality, for efficiency on the ground, and for the ability to complete contracts on time at competitive prices.

UK office: (44) 01926 400985 Portuguese office: (351) 282 763 770 www.southerngolf.co.uk

golfmanagementnews.com

september 2010 GME 37


“There are green shoots of recovery coming through but it has been hard for a lot of companies over the last year or two. This is down to a lack of funding which has really held the whole thing back.”

38 GME september 2010

“When we designed the golf course at Eléa Golf Club we decided to put the emphasis on thoughtful, rather than bighitting, golf and there are plenty of strategic riddles for the golfer to explore and unravel over all 18 holes.” The fascinating layout circulates through stands of mature carob and olive trees, while the limestone outcrops strike a contrast with the deep green of the seashore paspalum grass fairways and semi-roughs. In a carefully-planned ecological design, individual holes are fringed by undisturbed and unirrigated swathes of colourful native ‘garrigue’ flora. This stunning visual effect invokes a truly Mediterranean feel, while retaining the ethos of a traditional and dramatic experience for the golfer. In addition, the wildlife of partridges, birds of prey, butterflies and lizards thrive on the benefits of this carefully protected environment. As you can imagine with a project involving arguably the finest player the UK has ever produced, no expense has been spared in building Eléa and it was no surprise that the development’s owners turned to Southern Golf, one of Europe’s leading construction companies, to create their dream. Working closely in conjunction with Eléa’s owners and Faldo Design, Southern Golf were handed sole responsibility for sculpting another Faldo masterpiece – they even shipped out their own machinery to shape the course. The benefits of such a tight working alliance are clear for all to see. The moment you set foot on this course you will immerse yourself in a sporting challenge that will test every aspect of your game, masterminded by Faldo himself,

one of the greatest technicians and shotmakers in modern day golf. Neil Oldfield, director of Southern Golf, said: “It was a full turnkey contract and we were given absolutely everything to do with the course, right from earth shifting to putting in the bunker sand and that is what we prefer to do. It’s the best way to build a golf course because there is no confusion between different parties. “Guy Hockley from Faldo Design handled the design and the flexibility, trust and problem solving between the three parties was first class. That’s what brings together a successful contract. “With the location of the course, there was plenty of rock on site and there were the typical issues in Cyprus to deal with. Water permits had to be obtained and we were given the contract for the course because there is no one in Cyprus who could have built it. “We had a group of 20 guys working out there for the best part of three years and had to ship a fleet of specialist equipment worth around £500,000 out with us.” One of the key issues that have prevented Cyprus from developing as a golf travel destination has been water, but the developers at Elea found a solution to the problem by using grey water, or second hand water if you like. While Oldfield remains cautious about elevating Cyprus alongside the likes of Spain and Portugal as popular countries to play golf, he does believe that they are making significant progress with Eléa’s approach to water showing the example to follow in the future. He said: “Cyprus doesn’t have any surplus water but at Eléa, the grass that has been used is the kind that can tolerate a lower quality water.


“The whole system has been designed around the water issue, it’s a clever detail and is the road that our industry has to go in the future. “If we want to keep driving the industry into new areas, and water is a main driver, then we have to show prospective new developments that we are responsible in how we construct courses. “I think there is still a need in Cyprus to go on and build some more high-end golf courses. They now have Eléa and Aphrodite Hills. There are two more courses that are being planned nearby to Eléa (one Nicklaus Design, one Player Design) and if they can get those then the country will start to work as a golfing destination. “There is no doubt that having the name of Nick Faldo out there will help them, and I think the Faldo brand is right for there.” Southern Golf certainly is benefiting from its association with Faldo, and having finished working at Eléa in May, the construction experts are now involved in a major new project at Roncao D’el Rey in the Alentejo Region of Portugal. And, while other construction companies are struggling for work in the present economic climate, Oldfield has been given cause for optimism by events in southeast Europe. He added: “Our flexibility at Southern Golf means that we can work across Europe as well as the UK, where there is less work.

“The markets that still have room to operate are Portugal, which has a steady construction market with a few projects still bubbling away, and I see the new markets as being the south-east of Europe, from Italy down to Greece. “The nature of the area makes water the all-important issue which means the process of building will take a bit longer.” His views about Europe are backed up by Brian Pierson, chairman of the BAGCC, who is more optimistic about the state of the construction business on the continent than in the UK. Pierson said: “There are green shoots of recovery coming through but it has been hard for a lot of companies over the last year or two. This is down to a lack of funding which has really held the whole thing back. “There have been some firms who have succeeded in securing new contracts but they are the exception to the rule and it has been a struggle for most people. “Europe is going to be where things improve first. In the UK we have got too many golf courses and that is why there are no waiting lists at some of the more elitist clubs. “One of the things I’m enthusiastic about is putting reservoirs in to make golf courses self sufficient. Water is becoming more and more expensive and courses have to work towards having lakes that fill up in the winter that they can empty in the summer.” Let’s hope his warning is heeded. GME

Brian D. Pierson The Golf Course Builder project management • consultancy • CONSTRUCTION

1966 to 2010 +44 (0)1425 475584 brian.pierson@btopenworld.com

www.piersongolf.com golfmanagementnews.com

september 2010 GME 39


weblink;

my view

garia.com

Driving Ambition

Golf clubs and resorts find inspiration in a well-known business model according to Garia’s communication and pr co-ordinator Kristina Rohde.

Creating new revenue streams and optimizing existing ones are hot topics on golf conferences around the world. As for most other businesses, the golf business has also felt the reverberances of the global economic downturn, and many international golf business leaders have faced severe challenges in fighting off blood-red figures in their books. However, one business model well-known for airlines, car rental and credit card companies, have proved to be easy to adopt to the golf business and, more importantly, very profitable. For decades, these strong industries have offered their customers the possibility of upgrading, for a premium, to products or services of a higher standard: from Economy to Business class on airlines, from Basic to

40 GME september 2010

Platinum with credit card companies or from a Kia to a Mercedes when you rent a car. Knowing your customers’ needs and matching them with corresponding services and products is crucial in this business model because it gives businesses the opportunity to optimise their turnover on each customer. If she/he is willing to spend more money on your products than you charge you must respond to this need by offering more high quality products. This is an excellent way to develop your business and create revenue while offering customers better service and more products to choose from. By benchmarking against these industries in which product diversification has been a sustainable business model for many years, golf clubs and resorts have a unique chance to set new targets and securing a strong market position. With the development of new luxury golf products within the golf industry, golf businesses have the opportunity to use this well-known business model on their own turf and diversify their product portfolio with luxury alternatives to the broad range of basic products.


One way of adopting the model is by offering patrons of golf clubs and resorts the opportunity to rent a luxury golf car as an alternative to the ordinary golf car which for many years have had the same standard in terms of quality and design. In the 1940s, golf cars were originally built for golfers with disabilities. A golf car built for use in a supermarket was soon modified into the first mass produced golf cars, the first ones available to the general public. Later, golf cars produced in China, for example, were introduced to the market only to continue the development of medium to discount level products.

The Garia is manufactured at the same factory as the Porsche Boxster and Porsche Cayman, with components built by companies that also supply Ducati, Volvo, Jaguar, and Aston Martin. Luxury features include a built-in refrigerator, Formula 1 suspension and hand-stitched seats. “Golf clubs can supplement their existing fleet with Garias and offer their customers a choice of a premium rental upgrade,” said Garia sales manager Nicolai Andersen. “It is an excellent and simple way of enhancing your brand and improving your member service.

“Golf clubs can supplement their existing fleet with Garias and offer their customers a choice of a premium rental upgrade” Now, however, new players in the field offer top-quality luxury versions of the golf car, complete reinventions of a 70 year old product, offering discerning golfers a luxury alternative to the ordinary golf car while giving golf businesses the chance to create new revenue streams. One of Denmark’s best and biggest golf clubs has been a forerunner in trying out this new business model, and a fleet of 20 Garias, a new type of luxury golf car, now sit alongside 40 E-Z-GOs at the Himmerland Golf and Country Club. Perhaps unsurprisingly they’ve been a huge success. Garias have been rented out as much as the E-Z-GOs and with significantly higher rental values than a bog-standard car (+50% in some cases) they create very attractive returns on investment. And in an increasingly competitive field and at a time when many businesses must work even harder to survive, the Garia is a welcome new-comer in the club. In attracting new members, the Garias are an unrivalled sales tool, while they also serve as unique luxury cars suitable for the club’s many special events. As the first ever manufacturer to bring a luxury version of the golf car to market Garia has undoubtedly challenged the current golf car conventions in terms of design, usability and quality.

“We are confident that this business model will help many golf businesses to reach new targets, and with our online profit calculator at www.garia.dk/profit it is easy to see the black figures for yourself.” By using the upgrade and product diversification model and matching the needs of the club’s members to its range of products and services it is possible to optimise revenue based on the preferences and economic potential of each member. There is no reason to believe that this strategy will not spread to other parts of the golf business or to other products and services within the golf club and resort industry. The model is very flexible since you can choose to supplement your current products with just a few luxury products or you can choose to replace them all and it is therefore very likely to appeal to a broad range of clubs and resorts throughout Europe. The model’s sustainability has already been proved by other industries and it is therefore a welcome new strategy for golf businesses to strengthen their market foothold in years to come. It would appear as if the Garia will be a far more familiar sight on European courses in the next few years. GME

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news update

september 2010 GME 41


the last word

“Sport has taken a bit of a bashing in 2010 – particularly where the UK is concerned. Or England, if you’re reading this in Scotland, Wales or Ireland.”

Why we should all be thankful we work in golf

While cricket reels from yet another betting scandal and football’s credibility as a working-class sport falls quicker than Nick Clegg’s popularity rating, we should thank our lucky stars we work in golf. Sport has taken a bit of a bashing in 2010 – particularly where the UK is concerned. Or England, if you’re reading this in Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Pakistan’s disgraced cricketers were given a lifeline when Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt questioned the integrity of English cricketers in the worst ever sporting case of “I know you are but what am I?”. Presumably this fella is the Butt of jokes we hear so much about... Mancunian boxing legend Ricky Hatton was revealed to have feet of clay in a series of emotional admissions which included tales of drinking and Campey qtr strip:Layout 1 19/9/10 drug-taking.

Snooker saw a disciplinary hearing for former world champion John Higgins in which he was cleared of match-fixing but found guilty of the lesser offence of bringing the game into disrepute and subsequently suspended. You can interpret that your own way – and, dear reader, if you’ve never heard of snooker, suffice to say it’s an indoor pub game using sticks and balls beloved of late-night TV programme schedulers and lonely old ladies. England’s footballers performed abominably in the summer’s World Cup amid lurid stories of prostitutes, mutinies, the clashing of mighty egos, traffic violations and gagging orders. And my beloved Portsmouth FC fell deeper into the mire following all sorts of financial shenanigans of which we’re 23:18 probably Page 1 aware only of the tip of a particularly distasteful iceberg.

And, dear reader, if you’ve never heard of Portsmouth FC, don’t worry: chances are in a few years nobody will. Golf in the meantime carries on with what is a relatively – and it is relative – clean bill of health. Sure Tiger’s proved himself to be a lascivious philanderer but that seems sadly de rigueur for sports stars these days. But the only time golf receives any negative press on the sports pages, as opposed to the gossip columns, is when somebody fails to call a penalty on themselves for infringing one of the sport’s myriad unfathomable rules. If at the end of a journeyman sporting career you can honestly turn round and be ashamed of yourself because on one occasion you were disqualified for inadvertently signing for the wrong score, you can probably hold your head high. We may be stuck in the 19th century but at least we can feel good about the sport in which we work. Old values still hold true thankfully. Now if you’ll just excuse me I’m off to shove my nine-year-old son up our clogged chimney... GME

David Bowers mail@golfmanagementnews.com

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