Any conference organizer who achieves growth in attendance of around +400% in three years and who manages to get Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Peter Thomson all in the same room at the same time must be doing something right.
It would be fair to say that the energetic and ebullient Mike Sebastian, Managing Director of Asia Pacific Golf Development Conferences Pte Ltd, deserves all the congratulations that he regularly receives for creating this event, backed by a small but dedicated team based in Singapore.
“In three short years the Asia Pacific Golf Summit has become a ‘can’t miss’ event in the calendar of the Worldwide golf industry, not just of the Asia one,” said Tenniel Chu, Executive Director of Mission Hills Group, and he’s not wrong.
Patron of the Summit was Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, owner of The Mines Resort and Golf Club, whose company is behind the development of Mines Golf City, a 63-hole development which will be largest in Malaysia www.minesgolfcity.com, and support was also given by Tourism Malaysia.
In truth it is not hard to see why the galaxy of Major Champions was in attendance. Nowadays each one of them is an active golf course designer and, especially with the recent announcement that golf will be an Olympic Sport from 2016, Asia is where the work is.
“In September this year,” said Jack Nicklaus “we analysed the work that is going through the Nicklaus Design business. Just 0.3% was in the United States; 2.3% was in the Americas; 7% in Europe and 90% in Asia. Now you know why I’m here!”
In fact, of course, there are significant differences between countries and regions, however, so the Regional Focus Sessions gave invaluable insights into the state of the golf sectors in China; India; Japan & Korea; the South Pacific; and South East Asia.
Also in attendance either as delegates or exhibitors was a full set of suppliers of the products and services that golf development needs, many of whom were thousands of miles away from home.
Amongst the European firms represented were Braemar Golf, Colt Mackenzie McNair, Indigrow, KPMG, Mackenzie & Ebert, Pinpoint Visualisation, Tacit Golf, Thomson Perrett & Lobb, and the Golf Environment Organisation, along with magazines ‘Golf Course Architecture’ and ‘Golf Business Development.’
One exhibitor (who asked not to be named) said, “The show was very good. It is growing well and next year in Thailand they should get even more people. Is the future of exhibitions going to be where people pay to attend a high profile speaker line up? All the customers I saw were key decision makers, unlike many other shows where only 20% are serious and the rest think it’s a 3 day party.”
Tom Mackenzie of Mackenzie & Ebert Limited said, “Our stand was certainly worth taking. We seemed to get a decent amount of genuine leads, although it is impossible to know how many will be converted to real work. We are pretty confident that overall it will have been worthwhile. It was good to see that the entire world is not filled with the doom and gloom that seems to have seeped through much of British golf.”
Also present were Howard Swan and Gill Wilson of FirstGolf. “FirstGolf was welcomed with open arms,” said Gill, “as delegates realised both the potential and simplicity of offering golf facilities on existing or new golf courses, driving ranges or community/school playing fields. They saw it as a sure way to increase golf participation and more importantly retention of golfers in a time starved world where families are craving healthy lifestyle options.”
Naturally there were some delegates who had strongly held views about the Summit which were very critical. The scale of the Putrajaya International Convention Centre is such that the Plenary Hall, although impressive, was always going to look sparsely populated even when every delegate had taken their seat. The much smaller break-out conference rooms were more easily filled and allowed more direct contact between the audience and the platform. The fact that most delegates had to endure a twice-daily 40-50 minute bus ride between their hotel and the conference was unpopular, as was the lack of any form of attendance list and the very limited time and opportunity for ‘networking’.
In 2010 The Asia Pacific Golf Summit will be staged in the exotic city of Bangkok. The tentative Summit dates are 18-20 October and among the speakers already booked are Greg Norman and Annika Sorenstam. Will attendance once again increase by 100% or more? Who knows, but one thing is for sure: for now and for the foreseeable future Asia is where the most exciting things in golf business development are happening. Anyone who wants to contribute to and to be part of this process NEEDS to be there. Simples! www.golfconference.org