O2 Golf LIVE tees off at Stoke Park Golf Club on Friday and the three-day event (14-16 May) promises to break new ground as an outdoor golf exhibition, with stars Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Colin Montgomerie and others entertaining the crowds in a fascinating mix of shot-making and coaching. Plenty of other attractions are on view for the public.
Brand Events – the name behind the Taste Festivals and Top Gear Live – runs the whole show and a key member of the company’s commercial team, Justin Clarke, answers our questions about O2 Golf LIVE.
Is everything ready: are you ready to produce a memorable Golf Live event in a week or so’s time?
Yes, we’re ready but with every new launch there are a thousand things that you need to do that keep you on your toes until the last day of the event. Will it be memorable, without a shadow of a doubt, yes!
What is so special in your opinion about the Golf Live concept? You have some big names involved, are they the key draw for this?
What’s special is golf theatre. We are asking the greats of the game to do something they’ve never done before which is to perform for no other reason than to inspire visitors. We believe that this degree of interaction between amazing talent and golf enthusiasts will be ground breaking. The rest of the day is about making sure everybody has an amazing day out loving golf.
What do the players involved think about this format?
They are as excited as we are with probably the same degree of apprehension. Thinking back to the launch we did back in September for key members of the industry, Colin Montgomerie appeared to us to be as nervous about demonstrating the event as any major tournament he has been involved in. I’m sure with the different characters we are working with some will be enjoying the environment of being able to show boat where as others will be working closely with presenters to draw out their talent.
What are you looking forward to in particular? Which area of the event do you think will excite visitors most?
I’m most looking forward to the event atmosphere in general. Hugely exciting, relaxed, enjoyable, inspirational and full of people who just want to enjoy a day of indulging themselves in all things golf. Professionals and visitors alike.
Are you pleased with the level of interest that Golf Live has created in its first year?
As with all launch events, ‘breaking the mould’ takes time and a lot of effort. I believe with our first event we have already made massive steps to innovate and reinvigorate the traditional golf event format. We are asking manufacturers to participate in a way they have never done before and we are asking visitors to come to an event they have never experienced before. So with such challenges I am delighted with the performance that we are currently delivering.
What feedback have you had for it from consumers, the golf industry and the media?
The two consistent themes of feedback is firstly, properly understanding the concept. Because there is so much to do it can sometimes be bewildering to fully get your head around the offering. The second, once people do understand how much is on offer they seemingly don’t believe it’s possible. When was the last time David Leadbetter, IP, RT, CM, PC etc all came together to give you as an amateur an amazing Masterclass. There simply is no reference point for this event.
What have been the crucial ingredients to create a successful show?
We don’t know it’s a successful show yet as it hasn’t happened and therefore we will not take our eye off the ball of any part of the event. However, if by the last day the players have enjoyed themselves, the visitors will have had a truly memorable experience and the manufacturers, sponsors and exhibitors all want to do the event again, the only people to thank for that are the hard working team who have put everything into this. They know who they are…
Tell us a bit more about the support of all the partners involved with Golf Live?
In creating this event we have had fantastic support from our partners, IMG, who have kept us on track, educated us about the sport and delivered us an amazing line up of professionals. Additionally, our corporate sponsors have shown fantastic vision and commitment to us enabling us to be as innovative and daring as we have been. A real team effort!
What other events have the company been involved with? How did these develop into successful products?
Our two biggest exports are our Top Gear Live events and Taste Festivals. The key to their success is the understanding of the visitor experience and the commitment to continually deliver a better experience year on year. We know what makes foodies tick and we know what make car lovers tick, rest assured we are doing copious amounts of research for our first event into what makes golfers tick.
What did you learn from these other shows and how will you translate their success to Golf Live?
A commitment to push the limit of what is possible. Just because something hasn’t been done before it doesn’t mean it’s impossible but equally it also doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea. Therefore to keep your perspective in the eyes of the visitor and what that visitor will consider to be an enriching experience.
Is it crucial that the first year’s event hits all the targets? Does the success of the show going forwards rely on Year 1?
We feel that we have already achieved many of the key indicators regarding our commitment to this event. The final key indicator is not what the manufacturers, sponsors, visitors tell us on the day of the event it’s what those people genuinely tell their friends and colleagues about the event. How good is the vibe.
What is the long-term plan for Golf Live?
Brand Events already has six offices in different countries around the world and IMG have offices in nearly every country around the world. Therefore the long term plan is to do as many successful Golf Lives around the world as we can. The rate of this growth will be dictated by the successes.
What has your personal involvement been in the growth of all the shows and where do you want to take the ‘Live’ brand in the future?
My personal role has been in the development of most events that Brand Events have created. Since 2007 I have focused my efforts into growing Taste Festivals into a global brand and universally successful business. The mission for Golf Live is the same. Make the visitors love the events that we do, be better than any other event and view Golf Live as a brand that can exist in many different forms.
What key things do you want people to talk about and feel when they leave Stoke Park after their day at Stoke Park?
That they had high expectations before they arrived and they leave with those expectations exceeded. We have no idea what each individual will consider to be their highlight, but we want to ensure that everybody has their own set of personal highlights.
How important is the sunshine at Stoke Park for the three days?
Not as much as you might expect. From running Taste festivals for the last few years the fact is the worse the weather the more people spend so it all depends on your perspective. One thing is for sure, Golf Live will operate effectively regardless of the weather.
Justin Clarke, thank you very much.