The golf industry’s very best clubs, resorts and individuals descended on St Andrews on March 13th for the 9th annual 59club Service Excellence Awards. A day which started with a golf tournament on the Jubilee and iconic Old Course, ended in a celebratory awards ceremony at The Old Course Hotel, within the Hall of Champions.
The Belfry Hotel & Resort and Emirates Golf Club picked up the highest prized awards of the evening, The Ultimate Golf Resort and Ultimate Members’ Club, respectively. The Belfry Hotel also scooped a ‘Gold Flag’ and three other awards, including Chris Reeve being crowned UK ‘Golf Manager of the year’ based on their PGA National Course audits, and Angus MacLeod crowned UK Greenkeeper of the Year for the second consecutive year in recognition of his work on The Brabazon Course.
Dubai Golf-managed venues were left revelling on the night, with Emirates Golf Club collecting four awards, while Dubai Creek went one better claiming five, including both the Leisure Membership and overseas Golf Membership Sales Teams of the Year. Dubai Golf were also awarded Golf Group of the Year, both venues awarded ‘Gold Flags’, whilst Stephen Hubner of Dubai Creek crowned overseas Golf Manager of the Year for the second year running.
After collecting numerous awards on behalf of venues across the Dubai Golf portfolio, Chris May, CEO, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have achieved such success here at the 59club Service Excellence Awards, and it is with much personal pride that I was able to collect so many awards on behalf of Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek, as well as for the sought-after Golf Group of the year title. The expertise, information and staff training that 59club has provided us over the years have become mainstays of our business, and have allowed us to deliver a consistently high level of customer service across our entire group operation. We pride ourselves on being amongst the very best venues in terms of the visitor and member experience in world golf.”
The awards, which recognised the leading golf venues that consistently achieve ‘service excellence’ across all areas of their businesses – sales, service, operations, retail, golf course, food & beverage and management – are determined by scores collected from an independent visitor panel who evaluate the experience presented to both visiting golfers and prospective members, all in accordance with 59club’s industry-leading, non-subjective benchmarking criteria.
To ensure venues of all sizes are recognised for their outstanding levels of achievement, 59club introduced two categories for selected individual and team awards, thus segmenting clubs who charge an average green fee of either above or below £75. This ensures clubs of all sizes and budgets have the chance to receive the credit they deserve, based on the market segment they have chosen to compete in.
This year, 59club presented 19 ‘Gold Flags’. The winners were: Forest of Arden, Foxhills, Yas Links, The Dukes St Andrews, Monte Rei, Celtic Manor Resort, The Grove, The Belfry Hotel & Resort, Gleneagles, Rockcliffe Hall, Son Muntaner, Royal Bahrain, Stoke Park, Abu Dhabi, Trump International Dubai, Dubai Creek, Emirates, Saadiyat Beach and Roehampton Club.
Los Naranjos was the only venue to receive a ‘Silver Flag’, while 12 ‘Bronze Flag’ Awards were presented to Forest Pines, Slaley Hall, La Manga Club, Castelconturbia, Worsley Park, Club de Golf Alcanada, Frilford Heath, Hanbury Manor, Gullane, Woodhall Spa, Royal Automobile Club and Sandy Lodge.
Philomena Wilkinson (Forest of Arden) received the Award for the ‘Leading Individual UK Golf Membership Sales Performance’ and Forest of Arden had further reason to celebrate by winning the ‘Golf Sales Team of the Year’, being awarded a ‘Gold Flag’ and Simon Howell claiming the ‘Golf Retail Manager of the Year’ UK award in the over £75 green fee category. These successes for the Marriott Golf Group culminated in a total of nine awards throughout the night which included a ‘Bronze Flag’ for Hanbury Manor, Breadsall Priory claiming UK Golf Membership Sales Teams of the Year, and Worsley Park earning a Bronze Flag and UK Golf Operation Team of the Year for the under £75 category.
Meanwhile, alongside a ‘Gold Flag’, Trump International, Dubai, were also crowned overseas Golf Operation Team of the Year. Special acknowledgement should be reserved for Royal GC Bahrain, which claimed two individual awards (Paul Gindra and Candice Hall for Overseas Food & Beverage Manager of the Year, and Jamie Faulkner and William Evans for Overseas Greenkeeper of the Year) and also a ‘Gold Flag’ Designation.
In recognition for venues which have shown continued commitment to engage, analyse and enrich their member and guest experience, utilising a collateral of survey tools across 59club’s ‘my59’ software platform, 19 ‘my59 Awards’ were presented. Recipients included Ashburnham, Colchester, Dalmahoy Hotels & CC, Dunscar, Ferndown, Gog Magog, King’s Lynn, Langland Bay, Maxstoke Park, Old Thorns, Orsett, Radyr, Sherbourne, Stoke Park, St Ives (Hunts), The Scandinavian and The Vale Resort. Two venues received distinction in this category – Celtic Manor Resort and Macdonald Hotels.
Other award winners on the night included Houssem Belabed (Gleneagles), claiming the UK Food & Beverage Manager title within the under £75 category, while Ben Hunt (Rockliffe Hall) received the same accolade within the over £75. Matt Aplin (Goring & Streatley) was crowned the UK Greenkeeper, with Sandy Smith (LadybankLady ban) receiving UK Golf Retail Manager, both within the under £75 green fee category.
The Grove had reason to celebrate success, retaining their ‘Gold Flag’ status, Brad Gould claimed the UK Golf Manager title, and the Resort crowned UK Golf Operation Team of the Year, both within the over £75 green fee category.
Of this year’s awards, Simon Wordsworth, CEO at 59club, commented: “St Andrews Old Course Hotel has not disappointed in providing an exciting and memorable evening celebrating our 9thAnnual Service Excellence Awards. The winners have all showcased the very best client experiences possible, a trait that will consistently see them advance standards across the industry and ensure they stay at the forefront of the golf and hospitality industry.
“The team at 59club has consistently pushed the boundaries with customer service standards and thanks to our proven benchmarking tools and training support, the success stories amongst our client base continue to grow. I’d like to congratulate all of our winners, nominees and venues we work with, who continue to dedicate themselves to delivering the best experiences possible for their members and guests.”
For a complete list of winners, click here.