More than 270 golf industry professionals attended the second Golf Business and Industry Convention (GolfBIC) at the Marriott Forest of Arden, 11-12 March.
The event, a joint venture between The UK Golf Course Owners Association (UKGCOA) and The Organisation of Golf & Range Operators (OGRO), featured presentations, workshops, networking and an exhibition of golf industry suppliers.
The diversification of golf clubs, customer serviceand membership topped the agenda for a special ‘State of the Industry’ panel discussion featuring golf business leaders.
Mike Tinkey of the National Golf Course Owners Association of America said: “Non-golf revenue has been a savior of clubs in the United States. Food and beverage in particular has brought different people into golf venues.”
However, Sandy Jones, Chief Executive of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA), said: “There was a spell when every golf club thought they should have a squash court. But where are those squash courts now? They are indoor driving ranges. Let’s focus on what we do, golf, not diversification.”
Colin Jenkins of OGRO, a PGA Professional, golf course and range owner explained how adventure golf had proved successful at bringing new people into golf venues and adding value.
“The returns on adventure golf are astronomical – that’s new revenue not available anywhere else in golf. If you look at diversity, putting is the simplest game to play. We are not giving enough people the opportunity to putt. It’s an inexpensive activity and it is fabulous fun for everyone, from cradle to grave.”
Analysis of the supply and demand factors affecting the golf market, and the changing nature of customers, including the growth of nomadic golfers, was also addressed.
John Bushell of SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC presented ‘The Economic Impact of Golf on the Economy of Europe’ – a report commissioned by the PGA – revealing golf is worth €15.1 billion and generates 180,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
It also showed European golfers spend more money on direct services than golfers in Great Britain & Ireland.
John Bushell said: “We don’t need to increase the number of golfers, but we need to increase the frequency with which they play.”
Keynote speaker for the two days was Gregg Patterson, General Manager of The Beach Club, Santa Monica, California.In two upbeat and engaging presentations, Patterson offered insight and trends affecting the club industry in America, and how to create ‘World Class Customer Care.’
“People are looking for relationships and community in a club,” he said. “Just having a great golf course isn’t enough, it doesn’t distinguish you.”
He also identified an opportunity for the UK: “Research shows women are more active than men, but only 17% of golf rounds played in the UK are by women. Women are the growth market for golf.”
All delegates were invited to a charity gala dinner in aid of The Golf Foundation. Among the auction prizes was a lesson with the legendary golf teacher and former Ryder Cup Captain John Jacobs OBE, who attended the event in person in the week of his 88th birthday. In total, more than £6,500 was raised to support and develop junior golf.
Colin Mayes, chairman of the UKGCOA, said: “What’s impressed me with this event is not only the number of people attending, which is more than last year, but also the breadth of golf facilities and businesses represented. We have heard some thought-provoking debates and some great ideas, including inspiration from America, which is just starting to see an upturn in the number of rounds played. Now, it’s up to golf owners and operators to activate the ideas relevant to their businesses and make a difference this season.”
Rohan Barnett, managing director of OGRO, said: “There was a great buzz about the conference this year, and that wasn’t only down to the dynamic presentations from Gregg Patterson. Gregg’s message, that the key to success for golf clubs of the future will be creativity, is one that all of us should keep in mind as clubs look to adapt to the changing commercial environment.”
Golf Business and Industry Convention (GolfBIC) www.golfbic.com