KPMG’s seventh annual Golf Business Forum, at the Gloria Hotels and Resorts, Belek, Turkey, May 12-14, welcomed two of golf’s greatest stars, Greg Norman and Annika Sorenstam, to present them with special awards for services to the sport. More than 250 industry professionals from around the world attended the three-day conference, established as the leading international event for the golf resort and community industry, this year focusing on the theme of ‘Developing Networks, Knowledge and New Business.’
Stars on the GBF podium
Former World Number One golfer, entrepreneur and course designer Greg Norman, received KPMG’s Lifetime Achievement Award 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the global game of golf, while Sorenstam, who has developed a portfolio of successful businesses under the ANNIKA brand, received the Forum’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
In a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Greg Norman has won more than 90 tournaments worldwide and has become an influential business leader, building his hugely successful Great White Shark Enterprises, as chairman and CEO. Addressing the audience of more than 250 golf business leaders, investors and developers, Norman said: “It’s been a tough time for the golf business, but things are picking up and credit is being freed up, although it’s not like flicking a light switch on.
“Will we ever get back to the halcyon days? It’s difficult to say. But the era of unlimited budgets for golf developments, as we experienced in the 1980s and 1990s, are gone. I’ve told people in countries such as China that we don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, because that has a lot to do with the situation we are in now.”
Norman added: “In the bad times you forge the best relationships and this is why this event is so important. To be given this award is humbling. The golf business is something I’m truly passionate about and to be recognised by a business brand like KPMG is a genuine honour.”
Annika Sorenstam, one of the greatest professional golfers of all time and herself an emerging businessperson, was honoured with KPMG’s Golf Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2010, in recognition of the way she has built her significant ANNIKA golf and lifestyle brand since withdrawing from professional play in 2008.
Her businesses now include ANNIKA Academy, ANNIKA Course Design, ANNIKA Financial Group, an online retail shop, a high-end wine business, a clothing collection and a perfume range.
During a fascinating live, on-stage interview with CNN Living Golf’s Don Riddell, Annika said: “My life has moved on since my playing days, both from a business and personal perspective and I now enjoy golf in a different way, which is equally rewarding and still allows me to give something positive back to the game.”
Recovery yet to come for the golf industry
During a captivating opening session discussing the ‘new golf business landscape’, an electronic poll of delegates was undertaken on when they expected to see an end to the economic downturn – 44% believed it would be during 2012 or later, 40% said 2011, 11% thought the latter part of this year, and 5% were already seeing signs it was over.
Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice in EMA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) added: “It is our opinion that it will take some time for the golf industry to recover. Many developments have stopped, been delayed or even cancelled due to the global economic crisis and this is being driven by a lack of confidence, liquidity in the market and a change in consumer demand.”
This view was reinforced by Giovanni Gregoratti, director of European real estate investment banking at Citigroup. He said: “It has been a tough couple of years for real estate finance, in particular. There has been a massive shockwave where lenders were unable to fund new projects and the equity markets have collapsed. Golf, in particular, has been hit badly and it may take longer than most industries to return to where it was.”
Other comments from speakers in the headline session included:
- Gary Michel, President and CEO, Club Car Inc: “The last 18 to 24 months have been difficult for most businesses. Customers have delayed purchases and it has given many businesses the opportunity to look at how they do things and adapt to what customers are looking for and, essentially, that is value.”
- Marc Player, CEO, The Gary Player Group: “Our business has been spread internationally so our exposure in one particular area has been limited. The economic downturn has affected our business in the US and, like most companies, I can’t say we saw it coming, but we are now equipped to manage it.”
- Steve Mona, CEO, World Golf Foundation; “On the operational side at resort golf destinations, people stopped travelling and the corporate market collapsed. On whatever metric you use, the US is way off where it should be, but it would be unfair to say every aspect of golf is down.”