DLF’s Gary Player course was awarded the best new 18 hole golf course by Indian Golf Industry Association, promoters of The India Golf Expo 2016 which saw participation from over 50 of India’s leading golf clubs, golf coaches, superintendents and greens keepers and a host of international delegates writes Tilak Malaviya.
The fifth edition witnessed a galaxy of eminent speakers including Gregg Patterson, General Manager of The Beach Club, Los Angeles; Iain Roberts, Group Executive Director, Missions Hills, China; James Graham Prusa, Director, SKY72 Golf, Korea; Anil Seolkar, President, Indian Golf Union; Cui Zhiqiang, former Secretary General, China Golf Association; Harish Bijoor, brand expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.; Phil Ryan, Pacific Coast Design among others.
The two-day event, supported by Ministry of Tourism – Government of India, the Indian Golf Union (IGU) and Golf Course Superintendents & Managers Association of India (GCS&MAI), witnessed a series of panel discussions ranging from golf tourism, sustainable development, best practices, resource management and branding of golf.
Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board made a strong pitch and sought help from various stakeholders to explore golf potential in the State particularly in Orchha, Khajuraho and Sanchi where land parcel is available for golf course development.
“Madhya Pradesh is wooing foreign investors and the key will be development of social infrastructure including clubs, hotels and golf courses. The State is home to nine National Parks, five Tiger reserves, 25 Sanctuaries and three world heritage sites. We would like to put Madhya Pradesh on the golfing map,” said Ms Tanvi Sundriyal, Additional Managing Director of Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation
In line of the support extended, the Ministry of Tourism has suggested creation of better marketing network. Mr Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India emphasized on the need to package and market world class golfing facility to the International audience using overseas branch offices of the Ministry. The Ministry of Tourism will be developing a micro site on the Incredible India website that would feature and give a unique perspective of the golf industry in India. Golf Clubs can also approach the Ministry through the National Federation for caddie training program under ‘Skill Development’ scheme of the Ministry.
The Leela Ambience, Gurgaon which has recently opened a nine-hole, par-three Ambience Greens course, has taken the lead by providing all caddies a monthly salary, uniform, meals, medical insurance and training in soft skills.
“We are in the hospitality business and we want our guests to experience the best of everything. Caddies normally spend close to two hours with a golfer for a game of nine holes and two-way communication is very important to enhance the overall golf experience. They need to feel good to treat the guests well,” said Michel Koopman, General Manager of The Leela Ambience, Gurgaon.
A good quality golfer – caddie relationship can improve a golfer’s performance by 30%, according to research published by Loughborough University.
Keeping that in mind, Oxford Golf Resort has taken a cue from Thailand where all caddies are women. “We believe in women empowerment and we have inducted 50 ladies from the North-East for our caddie training program,” said Fatehjang, CEO of Oxford Golf Resort, which also won the “Most Tourist Friendly Golf Course” award.
Gregg Patterson, President, The Reflective Experience and General Manager, The Beach Club, was one of the star speakers at the Expo.
From his reflections on the club experience, Patterson emphasized on creating communities: “The Club leaders and club managers need to see what we’re selling a little differently. We may think we’re selling food and beverage, but what we’re really selling is the social encounter realized through the culinary experience. We may think we’re answering phones and providing information at the front desk, but what we’re really doing is extending the warm communal embrace to all who call or visit. We may be explaining rules and regulations to member children when we hold our ten-year-old orientation, but what we’re really doing is socializing the next generation of club members.
“Once we understand the business we’re really in-creating communities, club managers will change the programs we provide, the emphasis we give to various events, the strategic directions we adopt and the selection criteria we use for the people we hire as managers and as board members to “sell” the real club experience. Community attracts and community ‘sells’. Members join and stay. Staff join and stay. Guests see it when they visit. Get the community. It sells,” signed off Patterson, creating enough ‘Buzz’ among the golfing community in attendance.
Winner of Indian Golf Industry Association Awards:
India Golf Expo www.indiagolfexpo.com