On the cover...
Experience total control with the next generation of sprayers from Smithco, the unmistakable leader in spraying
ÂŁ7.50 golfmanagement.eu.com Issue 127 | September 2019
The essential business magazine for every golf course owner, director of golf, CEO and general manager operating a golf facility
As chief executive of Carnoustie, Michael Wells discusses his plans for the iconic Scottish venue and his past career at The R&A
CONNECT to Upcoming technologies Simplified upgrades A partner dedicated solely to irrigation
“One of the nice things about our 20-year partnership with Rain Bird has been the ability to evolve as we go. We can run our IC System™ and satellites with the same Central Control. They definitely give us the flexibility we need.” Chris Dalhamer, Director of Golf Course Maintenance | Pebble Beach Golf Links Discover the benefits of a Rain Bird system at rainbird.com/TheFuture. Rain Bird is the Official Turf Irrigation Supplier of Pebble Beach Resorts®. Pebble Beach®, Pebble Beach Golf Links®, Pebble Beach Resorts®, The Lone Cypress™, The Heritage logo and their underlying distinctive images are trademarks, service marks and trade dress of Pebble Beach Company. Used by permission.
On the agenda september 2019 46
Intern Wells back at Carnoustie
Just over 20 years ago, Michael Wells took an internship at Carnoustie, and after a spell working with The R&A, is now CEO of the famous Scottish Links.
Damian still Hungry for Success
With a layout designed by Robert Trent Jones II, together with a contemporary clubhouse, Zala Springs Reort in Hungary is managed by club manager, Damian MacPherson.
The Name Game for Duffy
As the former head of golf ops at Doha Golf Club, Chris Duffy has returned to the UK as general manager of Huddersfield Golf Club, or Fixby, as it’s more commonly known.
President of Southwest Greens Construction, Kevin Holinaty is very much hands-on in the day-to-day operation of the business, and is not afraid to get his hands dirty.
Niall’s Living the Dream
Located in the Loire Valley, Château du Coudreceau is an exclusive private golfing estate, managed by Niall Carroll, and offering guests the chance to live life as a multi-millionaire.
GMé a shortened form of Golf Management Europe is published and distributed six times per year by Portman Publishing and Communications Limited Deben House, Main Road, Martlesham, Woodbridge IP12 4SE Telephone (44) 01394 380800 | www.portman.uk.com
Michael Lenihan David Bowers, Samuel Frederick, Kevin Holinaty, Hannah Mulliner, Ellie Parry, Aidan Patrick, Chris Stratford, Bill Whittingham
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from the publisher
“surely The R&A and the European Tour, respectively, need to follow cricket’s lead and at least make overtures to Sky”
The Sky could be the limit if Golf followed-on from Cricket Like many people in England, I was delighted to see my country win the final of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup – my only disappointment the fact that as I was travelling overseas at the time, I was unable to watch events unfold live. Yet, I took some comfort in knowing that had I been back home, I would have been able to watch this thrilling sporting spectacle because of an agreement between Sky TV and terrestrial broadcaster Channel 4. The subscription-based broadcaster had the rights, but shared the coverage with Channel 4 and sister station More4. That meant yours truly could have watched one of the most dramatic finishes in one-day cricket, as I consigned Sky Sports to the bin some time back due to the high subscription charges. As a ‘Category B’ event, the semi-finals and final can be shown on pay television, provided sufficient secondary coverage – highlights/delayed broadcast – is made available to free-to-air broadcasters. Therefore, Sky did not have to grant permission to C4, but Sky’s UK and Ireland chief executive, Stephen van Rooyen, said: “Thanks to our strong relationship with Channel 4, we are partnering to make the game available to everyone, so the whole country can get behind England, and be part of a special national sporting event.” They did; and we did. And Sky won universal – well, across England, anyway – praise for making the big-hearted gesture. It was a good PR move.
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BOWLED-OVER England celebrating winning the Cricket World Cup
Many have been concerned about the recent drop-off in cricket audiences, and with the ECB pocketing £1.1billion from Sky, for the rights to show all of England’s home and domestic games from 2020 to 2024, those critical voices are likely to surface once more. Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has been one of the most vociferous critics of the decision to allow cricket to be sold to the pay-toview broadcasters, amid fears youngsters won’t be introduced to the sport. Both the Open Championship and Ryder Cup are also ‘Category B’ events so surely The R&A and the European Tour, respectively, need to follow cricket’s lead
and at least make overtures to the Sky to see if those competitions, too, can be shared with terrestrial broadcasters, to allow the final day of both events to be aired simultaneously on both free-to-air and pay TV? Just imagine what that could do for participation in the game. GMé
Michael Lenihan email@example.com
TURF HEALTH SOLUTIONS Bernhard and Company is a specialist in sports turf technology, committed to providing leading turf care solutions to golf course and pitch care specialists worldwide. From blade sharpening systems, sports surface air movement and moisture control to supplementary lighting, we will provide you with the solution to achieve the best turf quality and playability.
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Hold the front page With 50 years experience serving the golf industry, Smithco are set to embark on a brand awareness campaign in order to grow the brand this side of the Atlantic.
“Supported by an international network of dealerships, Smithco is renowned for the high level of customer and technical support provided to its customers”
Cover sponsored by Smithco (1) 877 833 7648 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Smithco has just celebrated 50 years of designing and manufacturing some of the finest golf course maintenance equipment in the industry. Based in Wayne, Pennsylvania with manufacturing facilities in Cameron, Wisconsin and Humboldt, Kansas, Smithco offers a vast array of machinery to the golf industry including dedicated spray vehicles; bunker rakes; turf sweepers and vacuums; rollers and aeration systems. Yet is it probably in the field of spraying and bunker raking where Smithco are widely regarded as setting the standard. Through an exclusive agreement with TeeJet – a leader in application technology – the formidable duo have teamedup to create the Star Command Series of spray vehicles, offering a level of control that’s never been available before on a golf course. Accuracy is paramount, with the system capable of ensuring that spray patterns can be directed to within a two inch accuracy. The DynaJet Nozzle Control System uses pulse-width modulation to control the individual droplet size, allowing users to choose the ideal drop size based on wind, speed and height of cut – beneficial when it comes to preventing drift in high winds.
The on-board Aeros Computer amplifies precision with tip-flow monitoring, pinpoint guidance, optional auto steering, application rate control, mapping, automatic boom control and USB data transfer. With 25 years experience in turf sales, service and support, John Moore, the European sales director for Smithco commented: “The dual nozzles allows for an increase range of speed and control of the sprayers output, and gives a greater range of options when compared to standard nozzles. “The high output pump ensures the mixing of the sprayer materials through the Venturi style nozzles mounted in the tank, regardless of the boom output,” continued Moore. “Smithco, manufacture and supply a wide range of turf rollers both for fairways and greens, GPS sprayers and bunker machines available in both diesel and petrol engines. “Supported by an international network of dealerships, Smithco is renowned for the high level of customer and technical support provided to its customers.” Discover a level of control and productivity that’s never been available before, and learn how the Star Command series will change the way your spray. GMé
Leadbetter learning never stands still, as Stoke Park hosts latest coaching summit He’s enjoyed a stellar career in passing on his wisdom to a string of Major winners, but David Leadbetter insists he will never stop learning valuable lessons from others. The 67-year-old was at Stoke Park last month to host the eighth edition of his coaching summit for The Leadbetter Golf Academy as around 50 golf professionals and experts from around the globe pooled their knowledge on all aspects of the game across the two-day gathering. As part of the event and an extension of his coaching methods, the Leadbetter University was launched – an online platform that uses the latest interactive training techniques to educate and train golf coaches. And Leadbetter – who has played a pivotal role in 26 Major victories and supported seven players to become the world number one – admitted his own desire to learn, remains as strong as ever. He said: “It’s an exciting next stage to launch the Leadbetter University. I never attended university myself, so I had to create my own! But my philosophy is all about new ways to learn – it is not a methodology which is restricted to certain parameters. You learn by asking questions – not by getting the answers you already thought you knew. “It’s happened to me often that when I thought I had the solution, I then found something else I hadn’t thought about
before. The more questions you ask, the clearer the subject becomes. You learn from people you work with and some of them have disproved what I’d previously thought about something. “If you are open-minded, you become a better coach and unless you are learning, you are going backwards – that has always intrigued me as a coach.” Aside from his passion for golf, Leadbetter’s interest in other sports has seen him take ideas from other elite professionals, which saw former England
Hesperia buys La Manga Club
BGL Grows Membership by 25 per cent over Five Years
Hesperia Investment Group (GIHSA), headed by its president Jose Antonio Castro Sousa, has reached an agreement with Arum Group to acquire a majority stake of La Manga Club in Murcia, Spain, which until recently belonged to Inmogolf, a company linked to Arum Group. Additionally, GIHSA will invest in the improvement of the complex in order to create the best leisure and sports resort in Southern Europe. Arum Group will continue to run the real estate business in La Manga Club through its subsidiary Inmogolf, with a great development potential due to the touristic appeal of its excellent location. Jesús Abellán, CEO of Arum Group, said: “Hesperia is the optimal partner to continue with this expansion project as this deal strengthens not only the resort’s further extension but also the development of the whole area, with a huge potential for residential tourism growth.”
8 | GMé September 2019
David Leadbetter, left, speaking with Andrew Strauss at last month’s coaching summit at Stoke Park
Burhill Golf clubhouse
Burhill Golf and Leisure (BGL) continues to go from strength to strength as the group has seen significant increases in membership revenue at its ten venues across the UK. Since 2015, BGL is reporting a 25 per cent increase in membership across all categories and venues as it continues to buck the trend in an increasingly competitive market.
cricket captain, Andrew Strauss, among the speakers. Strauss, who played 100 Test matches for his country, discussed the balance of using technical analysis from his own sporting background and also delved into the make-up of an international sportsperson’s mentality during the highs and lows of his career as part of an extended Q&A with Leadbetter. The four-handicapper also took the opportunity for a practical lesson with the world-renowned coach.
With many golf clubs struggling and some notable closures over the last few years, BGL has been able to reinvest in its portfolio with enhanced facilities and improved sustainability measures on, and off, the golf course. Recently, the group has undertaken several key projects including a £5 million investment into brand-new health and leisure facilities at Birchwood Park Golf & Country Club and the development of a state-of-the-art Toptracer driving range at Wycombe Heights Golf Centre. Along with investment into new and improved facilities at the venues, the group have made a concerted effort to prioritise customer service and deliver an outstanding experience to members and guests, without exception. “I am delighted with the continued success that we have achieved at each of our venues over the last few years,” commented BGL operations director, Guy Riggott.
Gleneagles and Silcock turns to E-Z-GO RXV ELiTE
In brief... Amendoeira Golf Resort is already turning its attentions to 2020 after the success of the 11th World Kids Golf Championship. The Algarve resort hosted 80 players from 14 countries from the ages of seven to 18 at the oldest junior golf tournament in Portugal, played on both The Faldo and The O’Connor courses. Portugal’s Troia Resort has been recognised for its continued sustainability by the Golf Environment Organisation after receiving GEO Certification. Alexandre Barroso, Troia’s golf director, said: “As an area preserved by strict environmental protection directives, Troia has to meet certain provisions in terms of development, but, as a resort, we have gone above and beyond these provisions to make it a first-class sustainable destination that blends seamlessly with the beautiful natural surroundings.” Club Car has implemented a new fleet of electric utility vehicles at Atlantis, The Palm, to help one of Dubai’s most iconic resorts deliver its legendary five-star customer service. The emission-free electric utility vehicles are being used to meet a diverse range of needs across the 46-hectare resort, from escorting guests around the ocean-themed complex in complete comfort, to delivering goods and resources across its numerous five-star facilities, and even serving as medical service vehicles and mobile kiosks. Concept users can now benefit from 59club’s expertise, mechanism and freedom to independently deliver customer satisfaction surveys using their industry specific benchmarking assessment criteria, flexible survey templates and automated software. Simon Wordsworth, 59club CEO, said: “Our recent partnership with Concept is hugely exciting for 59club.”
Glenagles has recently taken delivery of a fleet of 45 bespoke RXV ELiTE E-Z-GO buggies, which director of golf, Gary Silcock, hopes will add value to the ‘Gleneagles experience’ at the Scottish resort that will this month host the Solheim Cup. Since joining Gleneagles in March 2015, Silcock, has been on a journey to improve the visitor experience for golfers of all abilities, with replacing Gleneagles’ previous fleet of buggies top of his agenda. Lithium batteries and an accurate GPS system were the stand out functionality that Silcock desired, with the customer journey paramount at every stage. For Gleneagles, lithium batteries are at the forefront of golf car technology, with multiple environmental and practical benefits making them the key factor. Lighter buggies allow guests to go on the fairways more often, increasing both revenue and the golfers’ experience, while reducing stress on the turf and preventing wear and tear on the course. Silcock assessed a number of lithium options, but it was the combination of features on the RXV ELiTE range that stood out: “We looked at the TFM system E-Z-GO offers, and it did everything we wanted it to, and we’ve been very surprised at the ease and usability,” he said.
“The topography of the land at Gleneagles has a lot of interesting slopes, and the IntelliBrake system on the RXV EliTE prevents any skidding. We were focused on health and safety when making our decision, and the braking system was an interesting piece that was unique to E-Z-GO.” With the new fleet to be parked on the approach to the clubhouse, it was important that the new buggies were aesthetically pleasing to the eye, providing guests with a valuable first impression. To show how what could be achieved, director of sales for E-Z-GO, Andre Andrade, produced a sample buggy with Gleneagles branding to show precisely how a high-specification RXV ELiTE could look and perform, which for Silcock, was a crucial stage in the decision-making process.
E-Z-GO at Gleneagles
Welsh governing body partners with Golf Business International
John Ashworth and Hannah McAllister
A new partnership between Wales Golf and Golf Business International, the collective of independent, experienced golf industry professionals, will enable member clubs to access specialist knowledge and expertise. Golf Business International’s 24 members have more than 300 years’ collective experience across all areas of golf business and can provide Wales Golf’s 143 member clubs with valuable advice and practical help.
Wales Golf’s existing strategic plan calls for ‘50 strong, accessible clubs achieving gold standard’ and ‘50 clubs achieving Junior Accreditation’, as well as introducing a quarter of a million people to the game before 2022. Commenting on the partnership, Wales Golf’s director of development, Hannah McAllister, explained: “We are delighted to announce our new partnership alongside Golf Business International. “Working with such a wide variety of professional and experienced consultants, we will be able to expand the areas of support we provide to clubs throughout Wales. “The partnership will also perfectly complement the work we deliver to clubs through our Business Support Schemes.” Golf Business International chairman John Ashworth added: “We are aiming initially to work together with Wales Golf to promote a number of roadshows throughout the country focusing on the ‘hot topics of the day’ and showcasing how our membership may help golf clubs in coping with them.”
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PING announces agreement with Arccos Golf to offer Smart Set technology In PING’s continuing quest to help golfers optimise their performance through on-course data access and analysis, PING president John K. Solheim announced a collaboration with Arccos Golf that includes offering its Smart Grip and Smart Sensor technology on all PING golf clubs through the company’s customorder process. Solheim also announced Golf Pride as PING’s exclusive supplier of the Arccos Smart Grip, which is engineered with an embedded sensor to automatically record and analyse every shot taken during a round of golf when paired with the Arccos Caddie app. “With our long-time focus on data collection and the ability to improve product performance and custom-fitting techniques through expert analysis of a golfer’s tendencies on the golf course, it’s a tremendous opportunity for us to join with Arccos to help bring more visibility to the benefits of playing ‘smart’ golf,” said Solheim. “They’ve pioneered the game-tracking category and are recognised as the clear leader when it comes to providing on-course ‘caddie advice’, performance
PING and Arccos partner to offer smart set technology
tracking and post-round analysis. Now golfers can realise the benefits of the Arccos technology on PING clubs through our custom-order program, which offers both the Smart Grip and Smart Sensor technologies.” “We are honoured to join forces with PING in furthering the promise of data
for the everyday golfer,” added Sal Syed, Arccos CEO and co-Founder. “The benefits of this data span the golf equipment spectrum: from smarter club selection decisions in play, to a more intelligent custom-fitting experience by augmenting the data captured in a hitting bay.”
PhD for Spink Modry Las Golf Resort confirmed in Female study as PGA National Poland Alastair Spink, founder and head coach of women’s coaching initiative love.golf, has announced that he will be expanding his research and aiming to break new ground in global female golf participation with a PhD study at the University of Birmingham. The research will follow hundreds of women across the UK, Australia and Canada from their first expression of interest in the game through to participation or drop out, over a period of at least two years, with the aim of telling women’s stories through their own eyes and learning from their experiences. Spink says: “The simple goal through all of my work is to give women more opportunities to get into golf. “I hope the findings will illustrate the value of empirical study and its role in shaping the industry’s response to participation challenges. Ultimately, golf needs evidence-based solutions which introduce and retain more women in the game.” Spink’s previous research at the University of Birmingham, for which he was awarded an MSc with Distinction, helped to form the unique philosophy behind love.golf – a ground-breaking approach to female coaching.
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Modry Las Golf Resort, Poland, has become the country’s sole PGA branded property joining the likes of PGA National Cyprus at Aphrodite Hills, PGA National Turkey at Antalya Golf Resort, PGA National Italy at Argentario Resort and PGA National Ireland Slieve Russell. The announcement coincides with the tenth anniversary of Modry Las, and is especially significant for the Gary Player-designed course as The PGA restricts membership of its PGA National brand programme to only one resort per country and prospective members are only approached if they offer the very best golf, leisure and accommodation possible. Arthur Gromadzki, chairman at Modry Las, said the announcement was the realisation of the vision for the West Pomeranian resort. “Modry Las has always been clear about its ambition to be one of the leading golf resorts in Europe,” he said. “This began with the commissioning of Gary Player to design our award-winning course and continued with our PGA National Academy Course Orli Las and on-site accommodation options. “Our objective has been to deliver a golf experience that exceeds the
expectations of the most widely travelled golfer. The PGA recognised this goal and we graciously accepted their invitation to join the PGA National brand programme.” He continued: “Timing is everything and we are especially pleased to announce our new relationship with The PGA as we mark our tenth anniversary. All this comes at an exciting time with the final touches being made to our new, purpose-built clubhouse which measures over 2,000m2. “It will be a fabulous addition to the resort with world-class facilities and stunning views across the property. With The PGA brand now in place, we look forward to welcoming golfers from around the world to PGA National Poland at Modry Las.”
Modry Las in Poland
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EcoBunker invests in people to ensure better golf course bunker renovation Ecobunker Ltd, specialists in synthetic solutions for erosion control on bunker edges, has made three key appointments designed to strengthen its technical team, and help it deliver better engineered and more logistically optimised services to its many clients across the world. Huw Morgan MG, who joined the company almost two years ago, has become EcoBunker’s business development manager for the UK and Europe. In this role, he will manage new business across the region, whether direct to clubs or via one of EcoBunker’s growing team of distributors, but he will also be freed up to offer technical advice and consulting agronomic services where needed. EcoBunker founder and CEO Richard Allen said: “Huw is a highly experienced and qualified Master Greenkeeper. His previous role combined sales and construction work in the UK and Ireland. “Though Huw enjoyed the site-based work, we all realised his time was better spent using his skills and knowledge on a wider range of projects, and expanding his market to include Europe, where he has a strong network of contacts. “Releasing Huw from construction work will present the market with more oppor-
tunity to benefit from Huw’s passion for sustainable bunker construction and his 30 years’ experience in senior roles at some of the UK’s premium parkland and links golf courses.” Louis Palser has joined EcoBunker as deputy construction manager after completing a civil engineering degree at Salford University, and, alongside longstanding construction manager Llewelyn Matthews, will increase the company’s capacity to deliver contracting projects, such as the large scale bunker build completed last summer at the new
England Golf lends support
Lumine Mediterránea reopens renovated Beach Club
England Golf, the national governing body for amateur golf in England, has announced its full support for Sport England’s new ‘We Are Undefeatable’ campaign which has been launched to help people of all ages in England living with long-term health conditions to remain active. The new campaign was launched to support the one in four (15 million) people currently living in England with diabetes, cancer, arthritis, Parkinson’s and other long-term health conditions. That figure is set to rise to 18 million by 2025. For the first time, 15 leading charities have come together with the support of Sport England and the National Lottery to launch the ‘We are Undefeatable’ campaign to help people living with health conditions to get active in a way that’s right for them. The decision to collaborate was taken after research showed that while 69 per cent of people living with long-term conditions would like to be more active, this group were more than twice as likely to be inactive.
The Beach Club at Lumine Mediterránea Beach & Golf Community, has reopened following an extensive €95,000 renovation. Starting in April, the upgrade began with a remodelling of the bar that serves the Isola and infinity pool areas, including the installation of a new open kitchen and branded cocktail bar. The kitchen and serving area in Solemare, the principal dining area at the Beach Club, has also been upgraded to feature another open show kitchen and a cold prep area, which allows for 160 guests to enjoy the fantastic cuisine and panoramic views of the Mediterranean. For those looking for some peace and quiet in the sunshine, a new ‘adults only’ premium pool has been built, along with extra cabanas to create the ultimate spot to relax in. This is one of seven different pools the Beach Club offers – ranging from those for families, where children can splash around safely, to spectacular infinity pools where the horizon merges into the sea. Hidden within a pine forest and sat above Playa Larga, Lumine has invested €70,000 for the installation of the new
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(L-R): Richard Allen, founder and CEO of EcoBunker with Huw Morgan
Dumbarnie Links in Fife, Scotland, where EcoBunker’s team spent 18 weeks building all the course’s bunkers. Finally, Ryan Jarman has joined the company as operations and logistics manager, based in its Cardiff head office. Formerly a logistics specialist with one of the world’s largest metals recyclers, Jarman’s role will be to organise the movement of EcoBunker’s product around the world, ensuring customers always have the synthetic turf they need to complete their jobs on time and on budget.
The new bar at Lumine
Beach Club facilities and an additional €25,000 on furniture, sunbeds and seating, to ensure the comfort of every guest. Calle Carlsson, general manager, Lumine Mediterránea Beach & Golf Community, said: “I am very proud of the work we have done to upgrade the Beach Club at Lumine into a first-class facility. “Our courses are known internationally for their pristine conditions and varying test, and now we have a leisure offering to match that quality. I am sure no one who visits will ever tire of the stunning view out over the Balearic Sea!’
Movers & Shakers A brief pictorial round-up of some of the individuals shaping the golf business, including news that legend Greg Norman is to become a global brand ambassador for Garmin.
In brief... Europe’s largest driving range facility, ToppGolf AS, in Norway, has become the latest to join the Toptracer Range revolution. The installation of the expansive Toptracer Range golf complex near Oslo has now been completed, and with 78 bays, the facility is the largest and most technologically advanced practice facility in Norway. Foremost Golf has announced a recent milestone for its EMP database profiling, with over 100,000 golfers signed up to receive targeted, more relevant newsletter content. As part of the group’s extensive range of advancements to its industry-leading Elite Marketing Programme (EMP), enhanced customer profiling delivers benefits all-round; to the golfer, Foremost member and EMP partner supplier. Le Touquet Golf Resort’s Le Manoir Hôtel, voted France’s Best Golf Hotel since 2017, has unveiled the latest phase of a significant long-term investment programme at the awardwinning venue on France’s northern coast. The most recent refurbishments concentrate on the bungalow rooms that sit within the expansive grounds of the historic manor house, with new interiors inspired by a maritime theme, combining soft hues of whites, browns and blues with large windows to fill the spaces with light. The EIGCA has signed up to The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter with the first step in this commitment being the appointment of EIGCA member, Kari Haug AEIGCA, as the Institute’s Equality Advisor. Haug says: “I am honoured to be appointed to the position of Equality Advisor for the EIGCA and so glad that our organisation has committed to play an important role to improve the climate for women in the game, and in the golf industry.”
Garmin has announced that golf legend, Greg Norman, is to become its global brand ambassador, highlighting his experiences with golf products such as the Approach S60 golf watch and the Approach Z80 laser range-finder.
International hotelier Andreas Schandl will bring his vast global experience to bear to deliver a fresh new flavour to La Manga Club after being appointed as the new director of food and beverages at the top Spanish resort.
Royal Dornoch Golf Club has for the first time licensed the use of its famous crest and tartan on a unique Highland single malt. Neil Hampton, the club’s general manager, said: “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest assets.”
Andy Ward, boasting more than 20 years’ experience in the golf industry, has joined HONMA Golf Europe as key account manager to handle business with leading customers in the UK, Ireland and distributor markets.
Rockliffe Hall’s chief executive, Eamonn Elliott, recently successfully completed an Olympic triathlon at Castle Howard, the first stage of his bid to raise £5,000 for the family of a former colleague who died in March.
A spectacular Graeme Baxter painting of the signature 18th hole on Royal Mid-Surrey’s JH Taylor course, was unveiled at the club in Richmond in July in the presence of members, guests and the artist himself.
golfmanagement.eu.com | 13
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14 | GMé September 2019
Pro Shop & Retail A brief pictorial round-up of events from the retail side of the industry, including news that Motocaddy has upgraded its GPS app to include potential life-saving features.
In brief... The PGA has reinforced its status as a leader in golf education and coaching after transforming its teaching space with the installation of a state-of-the-art golf simulator at its National Training Academy based at The Belfry. Designed, built and installed by Foresight Sports Europe, the brand-new simulator will be used to enhance education for Members across The PGA Training and CPD Programmes. Golf Pride an industry leader in grip innovation and the #1 Grip on Tour, has announced it will be expanding its popular Tour Wrap family with the new high-performance Tour Wrap MicroSuede. This new line extension to the Tour Wrap series, is engineered with an additive finishing process that produces a brushed surface finish, delivering both a uniquely soft feel and added traction. Quinta do Lago is leading the race to discover Portugal’s next generation of golfing stars following a period of unprecedented success for its juniors that has seen them win multiple national titles over the last five years. The world-renowned sports and leisure resort has laid claim to having the most successful junior golf coaching programme in the country, with boys and girls of all ages and abilities enjoying victories on the national stage. Exhibition organisers The Elite Luxury Events have announced a series of investments in next year’s British Golf Show, following a successful first event in May 2019. A much-enhanced driving range and the addition of a host of new visitor experiences are highlights among the developments. Commenting on the enhancements, event organiser Alex Ayling said: “We’re pulling out all the stops to put on the best show possible in May next year.”
Motocaddy is upgrading its GPS app to incorporate potential lifesaving features that indicate the location of on-course defibrillators and provide golfers with CPR instructions to administer to anyone suffering a cardiac arrest.
Danish golf footwear pioneers, ECCO GOLF, have combined two highly innovative technologies to produce new levels of performance with the launch of ECCO BIOM COOL PRO which provides excellence through fusion.
PING has released details of its new 2019 Autumn/Winter men’s apparel range, which enhances the brand’s Sensor technology platform and, for the first time, features innovative and revolutionary PrimaLoft Gold Insulation.
PowaKaddy has recorded a strong sales performance in the first half of the year, with the brand currently sitting at a 60 per cent share of the UK electric trolley market for combined sales across the on and off course channels.
This year PrideSports celebrates the 1.5 billionth PTS golf tee – a proprietary system of colour coded golf tees – that has been sold worldwide since the revolutionary range was introduced over a decade ago.
TaylorMade Golf Company has introduced the new Kalea line, a new complete set of 11 clubs designed utilising many of TaylorMade’s proven technologies to deliver meaningful performance to female players.
golfmanagement.eu.com | 15
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Machinery & Turf A brief pictorial round-up of course management related events including news that Campey Turf Care has appointed Brynjar Samundsson as their Icelandic distributor.
In brief... In a bold move away from expensive to run oil-fired boilers, The Oxfordshire Golf Club, Hotel & Spa is set to reduce its energy bills by one third as it switches to a far more economical and sustainable supplier – its own natural resources. Working in close conjunction with Geyser Thermal Energy, The Oxfordshire’s building will, in just a few months’ time, be using water from one of the lakes on its golf course to provide its energy – instead of using oil boilers and be at the mercy of ever-increasing utility bills. The new Royal Norwich course in Norfolk, England, which opens this month has completed the installation of the Capillary Concrete liner system in its 60 bunkers. The course, designed by Ross McMurray of European Golf Design, is located on the site of the former Weston Park course, which Royal Norwich acquired after selling its existing site for housing development. Highlighting the company’s focus on golf course technology solutions, John Deere has announced the acquisition of OnLink, an industryleading golf course performance optimisation software platform based in the US. As a result, John Deere will acquire the OnLink platform and service agreements with all existing OnLink customers. Julia Campey has been appointed as the new managing director of Campey Turf Care Systems, with former MD, Richard Campey, taking the position of chairman. As part of the restructure, John Campey and Lee Morgado have been appointed directors and Neil Armstrong, will take up the position as company secretary. Richard is stepping aside from his previous role and handing over the day-to-day activities to his daughter, but will remain an integral part of the company.
Grastec ehf has been appointed as the new Campey Turf Care Systems distributor for Iceland, with the company offering the full range of Campey products, including Imants, Vredo, Air2G2, Dakota and the Campey own brand lines.
Chigwell Golf Club in Essex has taken delivery of its second Toro fleet as it proves itself a winner in the eyes of its membership. For a golf club managed by its membership, investment in the course is central to achieving a happy collective.
Well known in the greenkeeping industry for his work at Frilford Heath Golf Club where he was course manager for 25 years, and as a past president of BIGGA, Sid Arrowsmith has now retired after 42 years in the industry.
Royal Norwich Golf Club has already been benefitting from Toro machines as it builds its new golf course from scratch, but now course manager Peter Todd has also enlisted the help of a second Reesink Turfcare brand, 1st Products.
Working closely with Grundfos, a leading supplier of water pumps, Dom Pedro Hotels and Golf Collection has installed an innovative new water management system that is 23 per cent more energy efficient than before.
Thanks to Reesink Turfcare’s 24-hour delivery service customers can have their stock of Toro Titan Tines – the turf professional’s secret weapon – replenished and their machines back up and running as quickly as possible.
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Reflecting on the brand’s performancedriven ethos, the SS20 collection incorporates the PING proprietary Sensor Technology Platform
PING Apparel SS’20 on-course with style More than ever, golfers are demanding that their apparel helps them to play their best, and with PING’s latest SS 2020 collection, their designers have done just that, as Hannah Mulliner reports. GIRL POWER Apparel from the PING ladies collection for Spring/Summer 2020
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PING has announced details of its Spring/Summer 2020 apparel collection, which offers golfers more engineering, more performance, more style and more choice than ever before. Epitomising the company’s dedication to helping golfers to look and play their best in all conditions, the new collection combines stylish and eye-catching designs with the performance-driven fabrics and unwavering attention to detail that PING is renowned for. Staying true to core values, PING continues to research and develop every detail of performance golf apparel. For the SS20 collection, PING designers explored and incorporated more of the latest innovations, fabric technologies and manufacturing techniques to create an apparel range specifically engineered to meet the needs of all golfers. The latest collection features a selection of garments with vertical and linear stripe detailing, which has been executed through Jacquard; a premium knitting technique that works texture into a fabric. A subtler look than more traditional horizontal stripes, the vertical effect still delivers real impact for those golfers seeking a fresh spring/summer style on and off the course. Reflecting on the brand’s performance-driven ethos, the SS20 collection
incorporates the PING proprietary Sensor Technology Platform – a system that ensures the range meets the demands of the game, so that golfers can perform at their highest level, whatever the weather. A key component of the Sensor Platform is SensorCool technology, which provides a focus for the Spring/ Summer season, offering moisturemoving, quick-dry, crease-resistant and stretch properties. Recognising the need for naturalbased blended polo shirts with performance benefits, SensorCool Cotton, engineered with technologically advanced COOLMAX® fabrics, continues into the new season collection. Leading styles deliver the exceptional softness expected from cotton-based shirts, while lasting performance is guaranteed by COOLMAX® fibres moving moisture away from the body, keeping the skin temperature low and enabling the wearer to feel cooler and more comfortable during the round. Not only does the latest apparel range perform to the highest levels, it is also designed for the golfer who wants to look – as well as play – their best. Seasonal patterns, prints and designs work together to offer functional, yet fashionable styles for both on and off the course wear.
RIPPING IT The men’s collection from PING
The men’s collection centres around the Tranquil Coast colour story, which is split into three key themes; Grasshopper Green/Mint; Blue Water/Lagoon Falls; and Asphalt/Sunset Gold. Providing a stylish on-course look, the themes can be combined for impactful colour blocking, or worn with neutrals for a more contemporary, trans-seasonal look. More combinations mean more choice. The SS20 styles and colourways work together to allow golfers to reflect their own style across flexible colour stories. At the centre of the men’s collection is a stunning new range of polo shirts that are fashionable and functional in equal measure. New for SS20, the Carbon polo features an engineered vertical Jacquard design to the upper front body, as well as a stylish contrast colour rib placket and concealed button-down collar. Other bold designs featured in the new polo shirt range are the Linear Jacquard and Spencer polos, with both featuring moisture movement, quick dry, crease resistant and stretch properties, which are key benefits of PING SensorCool technology. The Vertical half-zip mid-layer features a subtle, on-trend, vertical Jacquard knit pattern through the body, with contrast
colour through the sleeves and a chiselled PING Eye logo. SensorCool technology ensures it is a versatile garment that can be worn in all playing conditions. Packed full of technology, the Impact jacket is engineered from a waterproof, windproof and breathable fabric that offers outstanding performance and versatility on and off the course throughout the seasons. Also available as a vest, Impact is available in snorkel blue or silver and features SensorWarm technology. The Bennett, a new trouser offering for SS20, is a slim leg performance chino, which is available in four colourways and features a soft touch micro peach finish to the fabric. Inner waistband gripper tape maintains the highest levels of playability, while contrast tape detail on the back pocket adds a stylish finishing touch. The stunning Botanical polo, which is a highlight of the new ladies’ range, features a Botanical printed fabric design throughout, with contrast detail to the side body. A metallic raised PING logo on the sleeve adds a premium finish, while SensorCool technology ensures the female golfer has everything and more this season.
The Rosemarie printed zip neck polo is another new addition to the range, featuring texture printed fabric to the front body and available in eye-catching mint/white and navy/bleached denim colour combinations. New for SS20, the Skye mid-layer is a performance grid-back fleece top with SensorWarm technology to provide thermal, stretch, water resistant and breathable properties. Available in two colourways, the sleek mid-layer features contrast piping at the front and back body, along with a raised metallic PING logo on the sleeve. The Cascade skort features the same bold Botanical printed fabric as the Botanical polo, with contrast detail to the sides. A knitted skort with inner shorts, Cascade features two zip front pockets and an inner pocket on the shorts to ensure style and playability go hand-inhand. The Daisy printed crop trouser is another new addition to the collection and comes in the mint/white or navy/ bleached denim colour choices that work seamlessly with the polo shirt offering. A lightweight playing option, the trouser sits just below the knee and features SensorCool technology to ensure premium comfort on even the warmest of summer days. GMé
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“Carnoustie Golf Links has a terrific story, which really hasn’t ever been told properly, and that’s something we’re really trying to make inroads into”
Intern Wells returns to lead Carnoustie Just over 20 years ago, Michael Wells took an internship at Carnoustie, and is now CEO of the famous Scottish Links. Article by Samuel Frederick.
PRO SHOP The impressive new pro-shop at Carnoustie
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If you want to be successful do some photocopying or bang in some fence posts – it worked for Michael Wells. In 20 years he went from an internship at Carnoustie to chief executive – although he spent 18 years at the sport’s governing body, the R&A, in the intervening period. And, as 39-year-old Wells recalled, a job in golf wasn’t on his mind when he was a ‘gopher’. “It was a bit of a mistake really,” he smiled. “Golf wasn’t a career I’d been after for a long time. I had a summer job, here at Carnoustie, in 1999, in the run up to the Open, the year Paul Lawrie famously won. “I was running around doing all sorts of things: buggy driving, photocopying, knocking fence posts in the ground. At the end of it, Sir Michael Bonallack was handing over the reins of secretary of the R&A to Peter Dawson, and, obviously, I didn’t make too much of a mess of what I had to do, as they very kindly asked me if I wanted to join the championship team, which was looking to expand at the time. “The timing was good for me, the sixmonth probationary period came and went, and I didn’t really hear much about
it. And 18 years later I decided to come back to Carnoustie.” After 18 years as part of the team organising the Open Championship – he’d risen to the position of ‘director championship staging’ by 2011 – it was, understandably, something of a wrench to leave for pastures new. But he felt, once again, the timing was just right. He explained: “I absolutely loved my job at the R&A. I was there for so many years; I’m still very close to it and have many friends there. It was difficult, but the opportunity, and the challenge here at Carnoustie, was just too good to pass by and I felt it was the right time in my career to broaden my experience a little bit. “The staging director for the Open Championship was a huge role, but I wanted to run my own ship and get experience in all areas of the business, so it was a difficult decision to make and there were some things I would have liked to have done. “Not seeing through Portrush, for one, because that was a big project for me personally at the R&A; from announcing that we were going back to Northern
LANDMARK The world-famous hotel at Carnoustie
Ireland, to the Northern Irish government supporting everything behind that – but I was very happy to come across to Carnoustie.” Every golf fan is familiar with Carnoustie. It’s one of those venues where you imagine everything is just perfect. Yet, when Wells walked through the door he realised his initial task was to modernise the venue – in many ways. He added: “The first thing was consolidating the vision: what is it we’re really wanting to do here? The priorities were quick and we had to look at the business, first and foremost, to ensure we were in a responsible and sustainable position in terms of income and expenditure; that goes without saying. “But then we had to think ‘what is the foundation stone from which we can launch the next evolution of Carnoustie?’ “That meant things like shoring up our brand position. Carnoustie Golf Links has a terrific story, which really hasn’t ever been told properly, and that’s something we’re really trying to make inroads into. “There was a confidence thing as well, because being so close to St Andrews, we always looked upon ourselves as second best, if you like. But, in reality, we’re anything but that. “We have golf’s greatest test: I would argue the design of our golf courses here
cannot be beaten. It’s a true test of links golf: it requires strategy, it requires intelligent play, elements which are much stronger than at other golf courses. “We have a tremendous authenticity to our brand, of which we need to be proud and to let people know what Carnoustie truly looks like. That confidence building was a huge thing for us...” He continued: “It’s been a very fastpaced couple of years. In terms of what we’ve delivered I would say our new premises, Links House – which was a £6m investment with seven state-of-theart golf simulators; a new bar and restaurant – has been a success, so there are a lot of operational changes we’ve made. “Also we’re going through quite a cultural change to try to be as lean as we can with the business to give the biggest amount of value back to our charitable obligations. “We opened a new professional shop, we had the Open here last year, and we’ve looked at our people, our environmental qualifications, GEO accreditation, and our business efficiency. “So there’s a lot that we’ve tried to do to modernise who we are as a business, to make sure we’re leading the way rather than being shown how to do things – we want to do things first at Carnoustie,” he adds.
“We feel we’ve got a responsibility to lead from the front in the modernisation of golf and become more relevant in today’s society, and we absolutely stand up for those beliefs. Change is not easy but it’s important. “There’s so much competition out there... men, women, boys, girls, families, we need to do what’s right for our customers in a changing environment to remain relevant and I will make sure Carnoustie Golf Links is still as relevant in 30 years time as it is today. But we need to be innovative and dynamic to keep up that pace-of-change.” This world-renowned venue is no different to your average proprietary club in wanting to attract more golfers, but it certainly has more of a lure. Wells added: “Short term, our plans would be to be a hub of golf development. We have a dedicated golf development team now, headed up by Keir McNicoll, our head pro. “He looks after nothing but golf development. “We have 200 youngsters in our Carnosustie Craws programme; we’ve given them a new look, they have a nice collegiate feel about them now. It’s about trying to give kids ownership; making it as accessible as possible and I make no apologies for trying to be different.
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MODERN CARNOUSTIE The Links Clubhouse
“We’re not a traditional golf club here but we like to think we hold the traditions of the game highly. But we’re not going to tell you off all day long for doing things that we don’t think are right... this is about making it easy to play golf, making sure kids don’t feel intimidated to come along; making equipment affordable. “Family golf is something that is really important to us. We’re looking at how we can encourage families... the priorities are to increase the participation in the sport, but also trying to modernise the game as much as we can in our little area, without losing the ethos of the sport.” Wells does not sit in the proverbial ivory tower; he has his finger on the pulse. And he’s not afraid to ruffle a few feathers in saying how he thinks things could be done better throughout the sport. He said: “Modernisation is a healthy process but creating a welcoming culture, I think, is a big issue for us. There are a lot of different stakeholders – whatever we want to call them – all trying to do similar things but they are perceived to be disjointed. There’s a lot of noise from a lot of people. “Look at an organisation like the International Olympic Committee – golf got back into the Olympics after a very long time and one of the requirements for that was that they wanted golf to have a single voice.
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“The International Golf Federation was the body chosen and, for me, there’s some sort of harmonisation of effort required to achieve better results. There are too many different bodies out there. “So we need to collaborate more, whether it’s through golf development, the rules of golf, the governance of the game, whatever. We just need to be a bit more joined up to really move the dial and meet modern-day requirements, because as a sport we’re working in a culture that has so much competition that only the fittest will survive. “We’re seeing fewer people joining golf clubs but that doesn’t mean fewer people are playing golf, they’re just doing it differently, so we have to move and adapt to that, like encouraging kids to play. “Trying to harmonise this approach, whether from initiatives to programmes, databases to communication strategies, I feel there are far too many out there to have a real effect. I believe things are done better together. Being territorial isn’t conducive to good business.” Wells insists he’s happy in his role and he has plenty to look forward to, but when pushed to name his perfect job in golf, he smiled and said: “Probably my last one: staging director for the Open at the R&A.” Having achieved his ideal role he’s now creating a Carnoustie Golf Links for the future – and the resort is enjoying having him at the helm. GMé
MacPherson still hungry for success at Zala Springs With a layout designed by Robert Trent Jones II, not too mention a contemporary clubhouse, Zala Springs Golf Resort in Hungary has a lot to offer. Michael Lenihan took time out of his busy schedule to visit club manager Damian MacPherson on a recent visit.
“We always have our members on our minds, and to the extent that we’ve given up all our executive spaces in the parking lots and handed them over to our customers!”
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zalasprings.hu GUIDING LIGHT Club manager at Zala Springs, Damian MacPherson (right) pictured outside the contemporary clubhouse (main picture)
When you think of golfing hotspots across Europe, it’s fair to say that Hungary doesn’t spring to mind all too often as a must-visit golfing mecca. Landlocked in Central Europe by seven neighbouring countries, golf in the former Eastern-bloc country is still relatively undeveloped, with only 14 courses and 2,300 registered golfers – according to the Hungarian Golf Federation. One could argue that the country is still hungry for success, if you pardon the pun. There is an undeniable appetite to grow the sport which has been driven in part, by an Englishman from Yorkshire who since arriving in the country has almost single-handedly helped develop the game. Yet, if it wasn’t for a chance encounter, not to mention the affections of a female caddie, events may well have turned out differently. In 1997, aged 27, Damian MacPherson was playing on the Challenge Tour when a friend who sold golf equipment invited him to meet with some Hungarian businessmen in Leeds. That meeting led to an invitation to play in the European Teaching Pros Championship at Budapest Golf Park, and the start of a love affair, both on and off the course.
“I was teeing off towards the end of the championship and was asked if I wanted a caddy, so I replied ‘yeah, why not’ and then this girl arrives who spoke great English. We got talking and basically we got on very well with one another,” recalls MacPherson. “After the tournament had finished, I returned to the UK and was then asked if I’d be interested in representing the Hungarian team in the PGAs of Europe team championships. “As you didn’t need to be Hungarian to play for the country, I agreed, and was then asked if I’d be interested in returning to Hungary to work. “As I had a job lined-up in Dubai starting the following year, I said that I would go for a year and see what happens. It kind of made sense, as I wanted to see more of the girl who caddied for me and hopefully develop a relationship with her. “So, I agreed to go for a year, and I’ve been here ever since!” MacPherson joined Budapest Golf Park in February 1998 and spent just over two years working as the head golf professional before moving to the west of the capital and taking-up the role of director of golf at Old Lake Golf Club in March 2000.
“I wanted to become a teaching pro and really develop my name in Eastern Europe as a teacher, and as a coach” golfmanagement.eu.com | 25
zala springs SPRING IN THE STEP Left, the Trent Jones II designed golf course at Zala Springs; below-left the practice putting green; topright an aerial view of the clubhouse and belowright, one of the stylish penthouses overlooking the golf course
“it was, once again, another challenge to see if I could get this to work in Hungary”
“Basically, I spent a lot of my time there,” recollects MacPherson. “That’s really where I started to develop the teaching side; the event side; the corporate side; the retail side; and where I started to meet a lot of people in Hungary. “And when you get to meet these people and you build a network, things become a bit easier. Of course, I learned the language and that, probably, in Hungary, is one of the biggest assets to have – your world is very different when you can speak to them in their own language.” Responsible for all golf-related aspects of golf operations, MacPherson spent 12 years working at the Old Lake, whilst at the same time taking on the responsibility of coaching the Hungarian national team. “I wanted to become a teaching pro and really develop my name in Eastern Europe as a teacher, and as a coach,” added MacPherson. “But then I decided that I didn’t want to be standing on the driving range for the rest of my life. And – not being arrogant – but, for me, the teaching didn’t really provide a challenge. It was too easy.
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“You see in the first ten seconds – a few swings – what they’re doing. And somehow, it wasn’t a challenge. “So, then I decided to go more into the business side of golf,” added MacPherson who was offered the role of general manager at Pannonia Golf and Country Club, once again in Budapest. And it was whilst MacPherson was plying his trade at Pannonia that in 2015, he was asked to help with the opening of a new golf resort, located two hours southwest of the nation’s capital. Zala Springs Golf Resort, located in Zalacsány close to the town of Hévíz, has Lake Balaton nearby – which is the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe – and one of the regions foremost tourist destinations. Designed to capture the cultural and natural heritage of the surrounding area, Robert Trent Jones II has crafted a 6,351-metre-long course that fits beautifully between the picturesque Zala Valley, and the surrounding vineyards, complemented by a two-storey contemporary clubhouse affording visitors unspoilt views of the countryside. “We were delighted to have the opportunity to create a truly memorable golf
experience at Zala Springs, soon to become one of Europe’s best golf resorts,” commented Trent Jones II shortly after the resort was opened. “This very flexible facility situated on a spectacular area adjacent to the Zala River and near Lake Balaton is designed to become the new hotspot for golf enthusiasts around the world. “Our design skilfully provides all levels of players just the right combination of challenge, beauty and fun that will certainly be instrumental in growing the sport in Hungary and beyond.” With a glowing endorsement from one of the world’s most eminent golf course architects, it was no surprise that curiosity got the better of MacPherson when he was initially asked to assist the owners on a consultancy basis whilst still employed at Pannonia. “I was contacted in the middle of 2015 by the owner, or the son of the owner,” recalls MacPherson. “He was looking for somebody to help him, advise him, and maybe help to develop golf in Eastern Europe, so I agreed to come down as an advisor one day a week.” With Zala Springs opening for play in September 2015, MacPherson began his
Real Estate is the key for Zala Springs
consulting role the following month, but as he explains, that soon evolved. “I came in October as an advisor one day a week, but then the manager who was here, left and moved to the United States, so they asked if I’d come down three days a week. From March the following year, I was full-time.” That was in 2016, but as MacPherson accepts, being so far away from Budapest has presented its own challenges: “It was interesting for me,” he admits, “and it was, once again, another challenge to see if I could get this to work in Hungary. Because, as I always say, when you wake-up in the morning, you don’t think about driving down here to play golf. “The biggest challenge I have is to try to find ways to get people here. Because, once they’re here, I feel they can be satisfied with the golf experience. And it’s a difference mentality to the rest of Eastern Europe.” And that different mind-set has been influenced by the frequent visits that MacPherson takes to similar golf destinations around Europe. “I go to Spain twice a year to see what they’re doing,” he states.
“When you look at the service there, it’s first class. And I think if you go, and you experience these things, you come back with a slightly different view. “Because often you can get into a daily routine, and you miss things that you would normally see. But when you step back a little bit, and see something on another golf course, you realise that you can do that here as well. “When you have a brand like this, people have expectations when they come. And you’ve got to meet those expectations as you don’t want to disappoint. If you go to a golf resort that’s not a branded golf course, your expectations are lower. “We try to work really hard with the condition of the golf course as well, as golfers are going to judge you by the greens first, then the tees, fairways and bunkers. Whether you come on a Monday, or a Saturday, you should always have the same playing conditions.” And it is that attention to detail, and the love for his adopted country that has placed MacPherson, now aged 48, at the forefront of golf in Hungary. And that can only be to the long-term benefit of Zala Springs. GMé
Besides the beautifully-crafted golf course that has been designed by Robert Trent Jones II, Zala Springs boasts an attractive luxury residential development within the private gated facility, affording investment opportunities for golf and non-golfers alike. The investors behind the Zala Springs Golf Resort project aim to create not only the number one golf destination in Hungary, but also a stylish village of contemporary-designed apartments and penthouses offering either lake or golf course views. The studio apartments provide more than valuable holiday properties: they also represent an investment into an incomparable quality of life, whilst providing a long-term rental fee guarantee. Spacious apartments with a choice of either one, two or three bedrooms are also available, some key ready for immediate handover. Featuring 3m high ceilings and spacious balconies or private gardens, these exclusive dwellings have been designed with large windows providing amazing views across the lake or golf course. For the more discerning client, a limited number of penthouses with a unique design are also available, featuring panoramic terraces typically between 40-100m2. All apartments are elegantly furnished, fully automated and are equipped with flat-screen TVs. Furthermore, clients may select from five customised design packages, all created by an internationally respected interior design firm.
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HOT SEAT Chris Duffy at work in his office
IMPOSING The impressive clubhouse
Duffy aiming to put Fixby on the Map As the former head of golf operations at Doha Golf Club in Qatar, Chris Duffy has returned to the UK as general manager of Huddersfield Golf Club, or Fixby, as it’s more commonly known. Words by Chris Stratford. Think of golf in Yorkshire and the chances are the courses that come immediately to mind are such as Ganton, Moortown, Alwoodley or Lindrick. Chris Duffy, Huddersfield Golf Club’s general manager since the start of the year, hopes to assist in elevating Fixby, as it is generally known, to a place if not quite alongside them then certainly within range of a good drive. But do not suggest to him that the task will involve helping people to discover one of the White Rose county’s ‘hidden gems’ as it is a label the Middlesbrough born-and-raised man eschews with a deal of passion. “I’d love to see an Open Regional Qualifying held here, or the R&A’s Boys’ or Girls’ Championships, just to get the stature of the golf club even higher,” he says. “But I hate the term ‘hidden gem’, Why’s it hidden? I put that on Twitter and got trolled. “I don’t want Huddersfield Golf Club, Fixby, to be hidden. I want people to know about it.
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“I think it’s reasonably well-known in Yorkshire and parts of Lancashire, but it needs to grow nationally overall as well,” he adds. Sitting with the 37-year-old in his office situated just inside the entrance hall at Fixby it quickly becomes clear how he was able to make a favourable impression on the board at his initial interview – despite the disadvantage of being 6,000 miles away in a Thailand hotel bedroom during the process. Duffy was 48 hours from flying out for a three-month trip to Asia when he was invited for an interview and Huddersfield agreed to his request to carry it out via Skype. When he was called for a second interview the club met half the cost of his flights to and from Thailand, and he was on a shortlist of two. He was offered the job the day after the second interview, no doubt having impressed the Fixby board that he is indeed the man of managerial substance that his extensive and impressive CV would suggest.
WEEKEND WARRIOR Chris Duffy, general manager at Huddersfield Golf Club
Duffy has worked for the European Tour, been event manager of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and head of operations at Doha Golf Club. He created and developed Oryx Events, a Doha-based company that proved so successful a German concern came to him in 2015 and made him an offer to buy the business that he could not refuse. “The initial plan was to do a 50-50 partnership, but after I’d sold up my 50 per cent I lost the soul of it,” he explains. “They wanted to go on a slightly different direction and it made sense for me to finish my time in Qatar. It’s the size of Huddersfield, pretty much, and
when you’re driving around the same city for 12 years it’s like a hamster in a wheel. The money set me up for life. It’s invested, that’s my pension, so I took two years out.” During those two years he travelled the world playing courses on his bucket list – such as Kiawah Island, Hilton Head, and Fancourt, in South Africa – and attended the Masters in 2016 and 2017. “Then at the end of the two years, I thought, ‘What am I going to do now?’,” he says. What he did was apply for managerial posts, mainly in Spain – where he had lived with his then wife, a Spaniard – Asia and a few in the UK, Huddersfield obviously included.
“When I applied for the job at Huddersfield I’d never played here, I’d never been here, but I knew a lot of people who knew Fixby,” explains the three-handicapper and former Middlesbrough FC School of Excellence pupil. “I spoke to a couple of friends who said it was a good club with a good history. I did some research on line, and I applied. “I started here on January 2 and the first three to five months was just looking at what the club currently does, operational procedures-wise, and saying, ‘can we make some quick wins? Can we make some marginal changes at the club that will help the members going forward?’
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“They wanted to increase the commercial side of the golf club, not just on the golf course”
BUNKERED One of the re-worked bunkers
FLOWER POWER Chris Duffy, pictured by the first tee
“One of the things was communication to the members wasn’t really streamlined. I remember one day, beginning of January, I got into the system and I saw there’d been five emails sent to club members from four different members of staff or board members. “If you’re getting four or five emails from a golf club in a day you are going to start to ignore them. “So for me it was about going to the board, the pro, the events team, the finance and to the kitchen and saying, ‘Look, let’s put everything through me. I’m not trying to control what goes out, but at the same time at least we can deliver one message a week to the members and say what’s happening, what’s going on’. “They wanted to increase the commercial side of the golf club, not just on the golf course, but from other events, from partnerships – rather than sponsorships I like to look at them as partnerships between businesses and the golf club – and to increase the awareness of the club. “I hate to say improve the golf ranking because I think they’re very subjective and what people look for in golf courses compared to golf clubs, they’re different.
“The course can be at a certain level, but do the other facilities, do the personnel in the clubhouse, in the pro shop, the greenkeepers – do they add to that experience on the golf course? “I believe they do here at Fixby, but a lot of clubs in the top 100, their ranking is built on the course and not on the experience. What can you do to create a memorable experience? “For me a warm welcome, memorable experience, and a fond farewell are the three things I look for us to provide. “I’ve been here seven, eight months now and I haven’t really had to do anything with the course. I trust the course manager, Ben (Turner) – he’s delivering the course. “The golf course has gone through significant change in terms of our bunker project; the redevelopment of every single bunker on the golf course is no small project and I have to say I’m happy I arrived after that one. “To come in and see that project has been delivered, I get the nice part at the end to help open it up to the membership and new golfers coming in, but when I met with Ben I said, ‘for me, it’s like if you go to the practice area and practise your driving, your putting is
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going to go off, if you practise your irons your wedges are going to go off. “You and the greens team have been ‘practising’ bunkers for the last three years; now go and be greenkeepers again and go and make the golf course how you want it to be’. We’ve had a lot of compliments and very few negatives about the course.” Duffy is open about harbouring a desire to work at an even higher level, with operating at a big club in America among his aspirations. But if his ambitions for Huddersfield – which will stage England Golf’s men’s county championship in September – are met then he believes he could become a long-term fixture at Fixby. He says: “There’s a number of directions that the club want to go and I think the board recognise that, and that’s why we are holding a Strategy Workshop in November. If a plan is put in place for the next three, five, ten years of where the club’s going and that aligns with what I’d like, there’s no reason to say I won’t be here in three, five, ten years’ time. “Mind,” he adds with a laugh, “who knows what may happen? Maybe I’ll get married again, have three kids, and that’s it – game over.” GMé
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WASCHSTATION A ClearWater system installed in Germany
ClearWater Breaks Ground with Pollution Prevention Much has been said over recent years about the merits of water recycling wash systems to prevent pollution and conserve water. Bill Whittingham reports on recent developments and how your club can safeguard itself. Having visited many golf and sports facilities I’ve learned and seen how machinery wash-off is handled. I’ve also heard the thoughts of those responsible for wash-off. It is quite clear that virtually all now know of the legislation relating to pollution prevention and the fines that can be imposed; much of which is regularly regurgitated in the trade press. All those I met are also aware of the growing need for water conservation and many have taken action to address both matters. What is apparent, and somewhat surprising however, is that despite this knowledge and concern, there are many establishments still with wash-off facilities that are, quite frankly, illegal causing pollution and wasting vast quantities of water. The Groundwater (England and Wales) Regulations 2009 and The Water
Environment (Groundwater and Priority Substances) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 were enshrined in law in 2009 and, more recently the EU Water Framework Directive has been implemented. So why the complacency and inaction? The ideal way to achieve legislative compliance and save water is to install an approved water recycling system. (i.e. WTL certified). Despite the best endeavours of the leading manufacturers, such a system is not considered cheap and, apart from the water savings, does not contribute to ‘the bottom line’. So, some take the attitude that they’ll take their chances and hope they are not inspected. To my mind this is not sensible thinking. Articles have appeared in the golf trade press reporting just that; a golf club being visited by the EA and told
they suspected pollution from the club’s washpad. The club in question responds rapidly, recognising its environmental responsibilities, and installs a below ground washpad water recycling system, satisfying all requirements. If cost is an issue, there are options offered by the main suppliers of recycling wash systems to help; spreading payments, retro-fitting or, in the case of ClearWater, carrying out a self-install with each and every UK made system delivered new, direct to site from the factory. One company, not offering self-install, does offer above ground refurbished units however. So, which way do you go; above ground or below ground? The choice is yours but there are distinct differences between, what most consider to be, the two leading contenders.
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SELF-MADE Brookmans Park GC’s Nick Billington using his new self-installed ClearWater system
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Both do the same job: treat contaminated water by biological treatment producing clean recycled water. One system offers simple, effective engineering with few moving parts and gravity feed to the system. The other system relies on more elaborate engineering and the pumping of washwater into the system. Press coverage of late appears to have focused on above ground systems, so it seems only reasonable to redress the balance and look at the merits of a below ground alternative. One point that is raised frequently and that some, including myself, have difficulty understanding is the statement regarding a certain above ground system: “…you can see what’s going on.” The inference supposedly being that below ground is not to be preferred. Now, unless I’ve been missing something for many years, I understood that, in the main, waste water treatment is carried out below ground and is in surely the safest location? How many separators, septic tanks and sewage plants do you see above ground? However, if you really want to see “what’s going on” you can in a ClearWater system; simply open the turret covers and take a look. You can actually witness exactly what’s going on; effective treatment! So what advantages does this particular system have? Being below ground means that it is unobtrusive; away from prying eyes and vandalism. It is also safe being encased in concrete and operating at a temperature of 14.5 – 16.5°c. This is important as a stable operating environment means that the unique micro-organisms perform better and
also allays fears of Legionella and other harmful bacteria forming. Below ground means water flows into the system by gravity via a simple grass trap, so no complicated sumps, pumps and chutes. Valuable washpad space is not required either to site a ClearWater system and a key decision maker seems to be that it’s not unsightly but looks good; with just four modest green turret tops sited at ground level. Self-install certainly does seem to be popular, with over 70 per cent of ClearWater’s customers taking this cost-effective route – take a recent installation of a ClearWater system at Brookmans Park Golf Club for example. Asset & equipment manager Nick Billington, not happy with the above ground system and repeated maintenance issues, removed that system and used the concrete plinth to good effect; installing his diesel tank on it and created a pollution prevention area. Installing the ClearWater system was easy and straightforward he says and further cost savings were made by modifications to the existing washpad. Billington is pleased with the team’s work and the ClearWater system. Buying a washpad water recycling system is a worthwhile investment and will ensure that the costly kit you have invested in will be washed so much more effectively. Also, a ClearWater system would cost less than 20 per cent of the price of a typical fairway mower by the way! However, to ensure you spend wisely, do research the systems thoroughly, see them in action and talk to users. So, below the ground or above the ground? The choice is yours; but make it an informed one! GMé
We run this ad every 100 years. I
t reminds us of what it takes to maintain and grow â€” the purpose, the pride and the passion this business requires. From our grandfather who started National Mower in 1919, to our father who launched Turfco. We recognize the privilege of being part of an industry where we all love what we do, and pledge to continue the tradition of bringing innovations to beautify the game. We look forward to working with you for the next century.
Thanks, The Kinkead Family
“I will always say that it is better to play on a quality synthetic surface than a poor natural one”
In conversation with Kevin Holinaty President of Southwest Greens Construction, Kevin Holinaty, is very much hands-on in the day-to-day operation of the business, and is still not afraid to get his hands dirty.
MR PRESIDENT President of Southwest Greens Construction, Kevin Holinaty
GMé You’ve worked for Southwest Greens for the past 16 years, so what did you do beforehand, and how did you get involved in the business? KH Prior to my Southwest Greens life, I worked in corporate management in the financial markets sector. I moved to Spain from London looking for a change, wanting to start a business in the golf sector. When I reached out to Southwest Greens back in 2003, the match was immediately evident – it just made sense to bring their great product to Europe. GMé Currently you’re the president of Southwest Greens Construction, so how many other people are involved in the business, and what territories do you cover? KH Southwest Greens is broken down into two business units – the residential business unit that handles backyard putting greens and synthetic lawns, and the commercial/professional business unit that handles golf course construction projects on a larger scale.
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In Europe we oversee several offices that focus on residential sales, but the majority of my focus is on the commercial business unit for the brand, as Southwest Greens Construction is responsible for all commercial golf course projects for the brand on a global basis. On the commercial side we have defined three clear business units from market demand, those being golf courses, entertainment venues and academy/ driving range facilities. We have developed a product portfolio with specific solutions for each unit, based on the specific market demands. GMé Since your time with Southwest Greens, how many installs have you overseen, and how have synthetic surfaces evolved in that time? KH I have personally been involved in countless projects of all different shapes and sizes, so it’s difficult to put a number on it. We have seen it all, in so many different countries, cultures and languages, so it has always been a challenge, no matter what the size of the project.
TOP DECK The top tee-line at the Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy
Our team enjoys the prospect of going to a new country to execute a project that has never been done before in that market – we feel like pioneers forging new possibilities in a game that has historically been conservative and closed to the mass market. We feel our synthetic turf systems help bridge the gap and allow people from all walks-of-life to learn the game. GMé What are the key differences between a full synthetic installation, and a hybrid equivalent? KH We define a full synthetic installation as being a golf course that features all components of the course with synthetic systems – tees, greens, bunkers, fairway, and rough. A hybrid course would have a combination of synthetic components with natural turf. For example, typically tees, greens, and bunker zones would be in synthetic, and the fairways and rough would be natural. A hybrid course has the benefit of having all of the technically difficult components of the course in synthetic which allows for a much simpler operation and maintenance plan. This strategy has worked very well. As we move into the future, we see a lot of clients looking to consider the complete
synthetic solution due to the challenges that they face with water restrictions, the ban of pesticides and herbicides, and the wish to simplify their maintenance operations due to the difficulty of finding skilled labour or simply because the ROI calculation makes sense for their project. GMé What warranty system is included when a club installs a SWG product, and what’s the best way to maintain the playing surface? KH We have developed the industry’s only three-tier warranty, that apart from warranties from the manufacturer and installation, we offer performance warranties. The strength of our vertical supply chain, along with our commitment to creating best-in-class products, allows us to stand behind in this regard. As an integral link to our warranty, we have a comprehensive maintenance program that we set up for our clients, giving them all the knowledge and support to make sure their SWG product is optimised at all times. GMé Has there been any specialised machinery developed specifically to maintain synthetic surfaces, and what benefits do they offer?
KH For years, our R&D department has been developing better synthetic turf systems, effectively improving the acceptance and look-and-feel of the product, whilst also improving the ROI. Maintenance is a large part of that, as we have always stood behind the strategy that even though you are choosing a synthetic turf system, it does not mean that it is maintenance free. We have created equipment that can greatly assist in maintaining synthetic surfaces, not only to ease the way the surfaces are maintained, but with the objective of increasing the life span of them. We believe that we have created a line of maintenance equipment that can effectively add years to the product. Our golf green product can now last up to 15 years, which makes the financial analysis so much easier for the golf course manager. If you know that you can amortize the up-front investment of a synthetic green over a 15-year period versus seven years or even five years with some products, it becomes an easy decision. GMé With growing demands on the environment, and water an increasingly precious commodity, do you foresee more synthetic surfaces in use on golf courses worldwide?
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NATURAL LOOK A practice putting green at Golf Up in Grimaud, France
KH No doubt in my mind. It is inevitable – as water becomes scarcer, there becomes more and more of an emphasis on responsible green solutions. This all leads to a move towards synthetic solutions as they greatly help in lowering water consumption and lowering the need for harmful herbicides and pesticides. GMé Is the plastic in a Southwest Greens playing surface recyclable? KH All of our turf products are 100 per cent recyclable and 100 per cent heavy metal free. GMé Despite being president, do you still install greens, and what would you say is the best part of the job? KH As an organisation we created a Master Installer program to ensure that our installation teams are the best trained in the world. As a Master Installer myself, I still like to roll up the sleeves from time-to-time and join the boys. But typically, I spend most of my time talking with the industry, listening to clients, architects and their needs, to the development of our product portfolio and growing the brand and company globally. We believe in the classic advise structure of our industry and work with many architects to better understand their wishes and needs. I have always enjoyed the installation – it is rewarding as it gives us a lot of pride to build a beautiful green or golf course – especially when we shake the client’s hand at the end, and see their satisfaction.
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GMé If you had to single out one project, which one are you the proudest of and why? KH It is a tough one as there are two that come to mind. The first, Hong Kong Golf & Tennis was built in 2015, and designed by Nicklaus Design – a 12,000m2 driving range and academy. It was an incredibly complex project to realise for so many reasons, but I am proud of that one because it was the first of its kind to be achieved in the world. The second project would be Golf Up in Grimaud, France, a 42,000 m2 9-hole fully synthetic par-3 golf course with driving range and practice academy that proved to the world that synthetics can be featured on a large scale and function really well. It continues to have great success. GMé Do you ever get the chance to play golf, and if so, do you prefer playing on real or synthetic greens? KH I don’t get to play as much as I would want, but yes, I do golf, and grew up loving the game. As a golfing purist, respecting the game and where it comes from, I would always want to play on natural surfaces, as it was meant to be played. But as a pragmatic realist, understanding the challenges the industry faces as we move into the future, I think our synthetic surfaces provide so many benefits and answer so many of the difficult questions that golf courses face today. I will always say that it is better to play on a quality synthetic surface than a poor natural one. GMé
Golf Course Solutions Great golf courses lie in the hands that build them. The industry has accepted the need for innovation to provide solutions for the many challenges it faces. Our company leads the charge providing these solutions through our engineered products and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. Historically, the connection for people between synthetic solutions and beautiful golf courses has been difficult to make.
PITCH or POSTCARD... ...What’s your angle?
We face scepticism on a daily basis. We are golf purists too and yet have started our initiative to help preserve and grow the game. We prove that our knowledge and skill coupled by our artistic passion makes it today’s reality. KEVIN HOLINATY President, Southwest Greens Construction
Mastering the Art of Synthetic Turf Installations
+34 616 582 787 • email@example.com • southwestgreens.eu
SWG Construction, construction arm for SWG International a Division of Shaw, a Berkshire Hathaway Company
cmae conference OCEAN VIEWS Clube Naval de Cascais, venue of this years conference
Cascais beckons as CMAE heads to sea This November, delegates and associates of the CMAE will head to Cascais in Portugal, just east of Lisbon, for three days of sun, sea and education as Aidan Patrick reports. The place to go to in November is Cascais, Portugal – at least if you are in the club industry – as the Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE) will hold their annual European Conference on Club Management between November 17-19, 2019. Over 100 managers from over 20 countries are expected to participate, with The Clube Naval de Cascais (Cascais Yacht Club), situated next to the ocean, the venue for three days of networking, discussions, interactions and inspirations from within the industry, and also from outside. Starting the conference will be Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, who will discuss this years theme which is ‘The Destination’, and what club managers should aim for, reach for, and how ‘the journey’ can change along the way. “We want to create an environment where presenters come to our event and are given a challenge, not only to reproduce what they said at another conference – but to actually be there to help form something which gives us a red thread through all three days,” said Torbjörn Johansson, director of education. As the CMAE operates a successful Management Development Program (MDP) that offers a global certification for people who want to pursue a career in the club industry, the conference will afford delegates an opportunity to come together in a different setting enjoying education in a new forum. On day one there will also be an opportunity to listen to the padel tennis
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explosion that is currently taking place across many European countries, and the Portuguese padel federation will be there to explain what the people within the padel community did to get where they are today. Two highlights will come on the second day when former Red Arrows pilot Justin Hughes – nowadays founder of Mission Excellence and author of The Business of Excellence – will speak. Hughes is a renowned speaker on high performance, operational excellence, leadership, decision-making and risk and behavioural safety and safety culture. He will be followed by associate professor Josef Fahlén from the department of education at Umeå University in Sweden who specialises in sports. Fahlén will explain how ‘Social Contracts’ are made between the club leadership and the members and how to avoid the problems created when such contracts are broken. How do we recognise the tipping points, and how can we mitigate these issues and how do we resolve the problems when they have been created? On the final day there will be a panel discussion with Roehampton Club’s CEO Marc Newey CCM, CCE; Milltown Golf Club’s general manager James Burns CCM and Real Club Valderrama general manager Javier Reviriego, who will share their insights on how they have navigated their clubs to long-term success. The discussion will be lead by Global Golf Advisors Rob Hill who will get as much info as possible on how you can understand and steer your club’s destination.
“What we also try to do is to get angles on the ten core competencies that our education framework is based upon”
FLYING ACE Former Red Arrows pilot, Justin Hughes
CENTRE STAGE Chief executive of The R&A, Martin Slumbers
IN DREAMLAND Phil Jones speaking at last years conference
Other subjects that will be touched upon during the Conference include sustainability; business intelligence, human resources and architecture and recruitment. Ed Edwards, former general manager of Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, who is now heading-up perhaps the biggest and most interesting new golfing project in the world – Golf Saudi – will discuss plans to build 13 new golf courses in the Kingdom. Edwards will also have the background to talk about the club industry in Middle East and where it is heading. In addition, John Kemp from the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO) will lead a session entitled ‘Your Purpose’. Whether intentionally or by accident, successful clubs understand and share their destination in a simple and compelling way that makes success much more likely.
Using examples from real life clubs, Kemp will explore how people can be confused by mission, vision, strategy and values – and suggest how your club can write simple, exciting ‘purpose messages’ that are most important to your members. “What we also try to do is to get angles on the ten core competencies that our education framework is based upon, and the core competencies that a club manager needs in order to do a good job at his, or her club,” added Johansson. “Then it is also important to have perspectives from all our territories which includes Europe, Middle East and Northern Africa. “We always evaluate everything that we do, and last year, the presenter who got the highest score was club manager Ross Matheson from the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon,” continued Johansson.
“Ross did an excellent job in highlighting the difficult, but rewarding journey that hosting Wimbledon year-after-year presents, whilst at the same time ensuring service excellence. “As a result, Ross will now feature at the 2020 World Conference for Club Managers in Texas, USA.” Other activities during the CMAE European Conference on Club Management includes golf, with two venues booked, and receptions near the yacht club. During the three-day conference, the CMAE will at the same time hold their AGM, which will see David Roy CCM, general manager at Crail Golfing Society in Scotland and current president of CMAE, handing over to vice-president, James Burns CCM, general manager at Milltown Golf Club in Ireland. It’s sure to be a packed agenda in Portugal mid-November. GMé
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château du coudreceau
Niall’s Living the Deam at Château du Coudreceau Located in the Loire Valley, Château du Coudreceau is a private golfing estate offering a taste of what it must be like to live as a multi-millionaire. Michael Lenihan was fortunate enough to spend a weekend at the French retreat, and catch-up with general manager, Niall Carroll.
“We always have our members on our minds, and to the extent that we’ve given up all our executive spaces in the parking lots and handed them over to our customers!”
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cducestates.com CHÂTEAU LIFE General manager, Niall Carroll, pictured in-front of the Château du Coudreceau logo, and right, the impressive view that greets guests upon arrival
The term ‘Millionaire’s Golf’ is an often-used phrase in golfing parlance to describe a course that may well be quiet, expensive or exclusive. With a growing number of clubs offering – for a price – access to their ‘private’ facility, you’d still be sharing the course with other golfers, even if your flight times are an hour apart. Seldom then, is a golf course truly private. But for a select few who seek not only a golf course to themselves, but also a clubhouse and perhaps even a Château thrown in for good measure, there is, 90-minutes south of Paris, an answer to their prayers, and the stuff dreams are made of. Château du Coudreceau, a 200-acre estate, redefines luxury golf with no members, no tee-times and no restrictions allowing guests the freedom to express their game on a world-class championship-quality golf course. Built in 1775 during the reign of Louis XVI – the last King of France – Château du Coudreceau sits quietly within the picturesque Loire Valley, and for generations, has been hosting discerning guests wishing to retreat to the French countryside. The Château and its grounds were developed by Francois Seurrat du Colom-
bier – a wealthy merchant from the city of Orléans – until, in 2011, The Williams family purchased the estate. Irish businessman, Paul Williams, a keen golfer who plays off 12, began to restore Château du Coudreceau, adding a guest wing, indoor swimming pool and most notably, designing – with a little help from Martin Hawtree, Arnold Palmer and Paul McGinley – a golf course for his own private use. Built to full USGA specification, no expense has been spared – on, or off, the golf course – and today, Château du Coudreceau boasts 14 beautifully-crafted holes of golf, nine of which feature water that come into play around a man-made lake, shaped to resemble a guitar. Currently, the ‘missing’ four holes are played from a hybrid routing of alternate tee boxes to adjacent greens, with the full 18-hole layout extending to a little over 6,000 yards. However, plans are afoot to extend the course to a full 18-hole configuration, as land has recently been acquired that will allow for the construction of four new holes, designed by an – as yet – unnamed architect. Last year, Williams recruited fellow Irishman, Niall Carroll, to oversee not only the construction of the four new holes, but the day-to-day running of the
“we want to give people who come here, the opportunity to experience championship quality services, on a totally private golf course” golfmanagement.eu.com | 43
château du coudreceau PRIVATE PLAYGROUND Left, the view from the eighth green; below-right, one of the tastefully-designed guest suites; top-right, a caddie walks down the first hole, and bottom-right, the TPC Sawgrass-inspired 14th hole
“we want to give guests a really good experience, one which is very hands on”
estate, which is now available to rent for a daily fee. “The Williams family purchased the Château in 2011 and developed the whole private estate for their own personal use,” said Carroll, who has assumed the position of general manager at Château du Coudreceau. “As the family got a little bit older, and Mr Williams began working more in the United States, the family stopped spending quite so much time at the Château, which is when it was decided to turn it into a commercial environment, and rent it out.” With a background working in golf operations, Carroll was the obvious choice to turn a private playground into an ultra-exclusive, private golfing estate. With experience gained from spells at The K Club, The Heritage and most recently, St Anne’s Golf Club in Dublin, 39-year-old Carroll has landed arguably one of the most exclusive roles in European golf, if not the world. But as Carroll explains, the decision to make Château du Coudreceau accessible to those wishing to hire the estate was taken more out of the desire to give people the opportunity to experience the
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facility, rather than as a money-making exercise. “It’s been a commercial business now for about two years,” explained Carroll, who has been involved for the past 14 months. “One of my key challenges was to get in a really good hospitality manager, and match that with my golf experience. We’ve got a really good team now, and I’m a huge believer in you’re only as strong as the team around you.” Carroll recruited fellow countryman, Éanna Hassett from Carton House as his director of hospitality, and keeping the Irish theme alive, recently announced that Gary O’Hanlon had joined the team as executive chef, with the celebrity cook flying over to France from his base in Dublin, as, and when, required. Château du Coudreceau features seven beautifully appointed suites – which can accommodate a maximum of 14 guests – all taking inspiration from French artists whilst paying homage to the Chateau’s heritage through the luxurious décor. Included within the daily rental fee is breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks – all prepared by your own private chef – coupled with all beverages except select high-value wines from the 250-year-old
cellar. Champagne is included and free flowing. Use of the onsite gym, swimming pool, indoor golf simulator and, naturally, the golf course is included, with guests able to play as much – or as little – as they desire. Personalised Club Car golf cars are also included, with only caddies charged extra, should the need arise. Water and snacks are complimentary and to be found on selected tee-boxes around the course, with lunch to be taken at the halfway point, overlooking the TPC Sawgrass inspired 14th hole – a 125-yard par three on to an island green. Nothing has been left to chance, and the visitor experience – from the moment you arrive, to the moment you depart – exudes French charm, coupled with Irish hospitality… a hybrid of cultures. But as Carroll openly admits, Château du Coudreceau will only be affordable to a select few. “We’re working off low-volume, high-quality guests,” he states. “So, from a commercial perspective, we want to give guests a really good experience, one which is very hands on.” And that experience, as one might expect, does come with a price tag that
Château Life awaits with the personal touch
99 per cent of the population could not afford. “We decided on €25,000 per night,” said Carroll, which is based on the rental of the entire facility irrespective of season, or whether one, three, or all seven suites are occupied. And just to put that into perspective, that equates to €1,785 per person at full occupancy, which compares favourably to €1,500 per person, excluding breakfast, lunch, dinner or alcohol, for a deluxe suite at the Four Seasons George V Hotel in Paris. “We’re going for the one per cent of golfers in the world who can afford this level of experience, and have mainly been focusing on the UK, the USA, and the UAE which is where most of our guests have come from. “But we’re now branching out into – believe it or not – Germany and Sweden, and we’re also looking at Russia and China. “We’re also looking into a membership model, similar to The Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle,” added Carroll. “We’re looking at a Country Club concept, which will allow members and their guests exclusive private use of the facility.
“It’s something we’re looking at and will probably roll it out over the winter. “We’re also hoping to get a named designer on the books as a brand ambassador in the next couple of months, with hopefully construction (of the additional four holes) started by the middle of next year. We’re also looking to tweak the current 14 holes at the same time and build 20 new guest suites as well. “We’ve got a top-quality conditioned golf course, but we don’t have the ambition to host a championship as we just don’t have the local infrastructure. “But we want to give people who come here, the opportunity to experience championship quality services, on a totally private golf course, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.” Carroll and his team use the hashtag #chateaulife on social media, and life really doesn’t get much better than this. From the champagne and canapes that greet you upon arrival, to the manicured lawns, impeccable gardens and exquisite cuisine, Château du Coudreceau stirs the senses and leaves you wishing you could live this lifestyle all of the time. And despite the price tag, it’s worth every single cent. GMé
Enjoy your own private golf course at Château du Coudreceau, an 18th century private home in the Loire Valley, now available for exclusive use. Château du Coudreceau redefines luxury golf with no members, no tee times and no restrictions allowing guests the freedom to express their game on a world-class championshipquality golf course. Each hole is perfectly designed around the rich landscape to provide a firm and fair challenge for golfers. Guests experience the perfect balance of risk and reward thanks to an expansive lake that features on nine holes, as well as clusters of bunkers. Caddies, buggies and golfing instruction are also available, plus staff will store and clean golfing equipment in your private, luxury locker room. A nine-hole putting green, adjacent to your own private swimming pool, offers a more relaxed opportunity to hone your game. Seven beautifully appointed suites take inspiration from French artists and pay homage to the Château’s heritage. Enjoy superb dining in the Château’s resplendent dining room with wine from the 250-year-old cellar, with Michelin-starred chefs commissioned for an extraordinary gastronomic experience. Lunch may be more casual in the recorder’s office or alfresco in the sunken garden. Fully-staffed, Château du Coudreceau provides an escape from your day-to-day life, allowing guests to truly relax and enjoy the sprawling grounds in quiet seclusion.
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CLUBHOUSE A view of the King’s House at Royal Bled
SPRAY LINE The putting green being irrigated
Royal Bled taps into Rain Bird expertise As Ellie Parry recently discovered, Rain Bird has delivered one of Europe’s most advanced irrigation systems at Royal Bled, a system that course superintendent Steve Chappell, can be justifiably proud of. If the strapline on its website, ‘Heaven on earth’, isn’t a bold enough statement to convince you that you’re poised to experience something both special and memorable, then your arrival at Royal Bled surely leaves you in no doubt. There cannot be many finer backdrops to any game of golf. The majestic rise and fall of the Julian Alps give way to the picturesque tranquillity of the destination’s courses, the King’s, the oldest and largest in Slovenia dating back in its original design to 1937 – renovated by Donald Harradine in the early Seventies – and complemented by the addition of the Lake’s Course two decades ago. Vistas from both take in the iconic precipice-perched Bled Castle. Established golf architect Howard Swan had worked at Bled for some ten years for a Slovenian conglomerate which owned and operated a number of hotels in the town, but it was when the Šolak family acquired the club that the long-planned renovation got underway in 2015. Over the next three years, William Swan and his father directed the design process to revolutionise what had been laid out beforehand, leading a project team of foresters, earthmovers, shapers,
46 | GMé September 2019
lake lining specialists, drainage experts and constructors from 17 nations in total, in addition to local specialists. The redesign resulted in a changed layout, extending the course to Championship length – some 6,563 metres from the tournament flight off the five tees on each hole, redesigned and reconstructed tees and greens, and ten new lakes to create a dramatic and spectacular design. Key to the design principles practiced by the Swans in the rebirth was a focus on protecting the natural environment and important habitats as the holes were built. Fundamental to this was comprehensive planning in the management of water for the courses; where it came from, where it was to be stored, how it was to be used and how its quality could be sustained. This was embodied in the system design specification developed in collaboration with Rain Bird Europe and its Zagreb-based Authorised Service Partner, In-Aqua, to provide Royal Bled with one of Europe’s most advanced irrigation systems. The design concentrated on conserving, harvesting, recycling and optimising the use of water on the golf course.
FIRST PRIORITY Course superintendent at Royal Bled, Steve Chappell
The comprehensive and long-term strategic plan drew together these interdependent elements of best practice and related them to the wider environment of the course, given its adjacency to the nationally important Triglav National Park. One of the requirements set out by the architects was to create a system to encompass the wholesale King’s Course renovation and the future development of the Lake’s Course. This was reflected in the pump station sizing and design as well as mainlines and cables. Royal Bled pays for irrigation water supplied from a lake at the hydropower plant some 5km away, but supply pipe limits the daily volume available. Consumption reaches 1,500m3 per day at peak, so In-Aqua was also asked to prepare a water management study proposing options for supplying water from a nearby river and for the movement of water through lakes at the course.
They also installed temporary flow measurement at a nearby spring to establish its capacity. The irrigation system proposal included water sourcing and lake management, in addition to irrigation system design, pumping and pH control, central control programming, advanced weather and soil sensing features, and other adjacent systems. Critical to In-Aqua being commissioned for the project alongside its ability to provide wider water management support and a comprehensive programme for the King’s Course, was Rain Bird’s capacity to deliver the requirements and its consistent commitment to its systems. Slovenia is prone to lightning strikes, recorded as often as three or four days of the week, so a Rain Bird IC System was specified, eliminating the use of satellites and decoders and providing multi-function real-time response along with powerful diagnostics and end-user control.
With so many heads on the course, it enables the course manager to run a status poll and voltage check of the whole site in three minutes – invaluable for fault detection and rectification after a strike. Having the IC System in the ground during construction also provided an invaluable way of monitoring the site, flagging up if machinery hit cables. Once the system was integral again, contractors could move on to the next hole. This time-saving, problem solving monitoring wouldn’t have been possible with a decoder system. A Rain Bird Stratus II Central Control operated via PC at the facility and on a mobile device from anywhere in the world is enhanced with the largest Rain Bird soil sensing system in Europe, with two sensors per green for soil monitoring. Other features include a weather station and a Rain Watch rain gauge all feeding data to the control system in real time.
golfmanagement.eu.com | 47
AERIAL VIEW A hot air balloon takes the scenic route over the King’s Course at Royal Bled
48 | GMé September 2019
Golf contractor All Golf Services Ltd was sub-contracted for the physical installation. The new system is under the experienced stewardship of course superintendent Steve Chappell who said: “Irrigation is essential for sustained plant health, and that’s my priority. “Last year was an evaluation season for us, learning as much as we could from our readings to ensure optimal turf health and playability and reduce water costs. With unpredictable weather and evapotranspiration rates as significant as they are here, it’s a leap of faith letting technology make those decisions. “In order to fully understand the characteristics of the greens we’ve had to programme the sensors – train them, by saturating each green then draining and evaluating it, seeing how long it takes to hydrate the profile and drain it down. “I varied the placement and depth on the front 9-holes, while they’re set at a depth of 150mm and 250mm on the back 9,” continued Chappell. “It’s essential that we can monitor moisture levels throughout the profile. When hand-watering, readings are very different in the top 50-70mm to those further down, hence the varied placement. “Rainfall can be sporadic so our weather station and the system’s Rain Watch feature, where rainfall is measured and deducted from the irrigation programme, ensures the course only receives what it needs. We now know that moisture content of 13 per cent at 50mm is optimal for performance.
“Below ten per cent, the surface is drying too much and we’re back to handwatering. At 250mm depth, we’re aiming to keep it at 15 per cent. The sensors keep us at that optimal point. Data feeds into my course management reports, detailing our water needs and usage. “It also helps with other turf management decisions, such as when to apply nutrients when coming out of winter,” concluded Chappell. Commenting on the project, In-Aqua partner Damir Čizmek said: “The architects looked to the long-term future in all aspects of the project and were prepared to advocate to the client for being ‘future-ready’. They really understand irrigation and put forward robust proposals.” Owner Gordana Šolak likened the skillfully remastered King’s Course to Sleeping Beauty when it was revealed to the golfing world in 2017. Reawakened after years of neglect, the stunning new jewel in Europe’s golfing crown was opened by HRH Princess Jelisaveta Karadordevic of Serbia and instantly tipped as a future Ryder Cup host venue. Furthermore, Royal Bled is also a member of worldclass.golf. The project’s success is testimony to the talent of all those who worked under the Swans’ direction and guidance, and was underpinned by the owners, with the architects taking a long-term view to masterplan the development to eventually comprise 27 holes. Their vision for the Lake’s Course remains to be put on the ground in the years to come. GMé
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“Apparently, the name Dechambeau means ‘of the fields’, so perhaps it’s understandable that he wants to stay out longer than everybody else.”
Is DeChambeau ... in a Time Warp? I was ... going ... to ... write ... about ... Bryson DeChambeau’s ... slow ... play, ... but ... we’ve ... only ... got so ... long. Apparently, ... the ... name ... Dechambeau ... means … ‘of … the … fields’, … so … perhaps … it’s … understandable … that … he … wants … to … stay … out … longer … than … everybody … else. I can’t … help … thinking
50 | GMé September 2019
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… he … would … have … done … himself …a … whole … world … of … good … had … he … just … admitted … he … was … slow … rather … than … taking
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