KPMG’s fourth annual Golf Business Forum brought together an array of the world’s leading golf companies for a summit on ‘Golf development in the emerging markets’ in Budapest, Hungary, 16-18 May.
With golf and real estate projects prospering in new markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, more than 250 industry professionals from 40 countries – including executives of the multinational golf course design companies headed by Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones II, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player – attended the three-day conference and networking event.
Numerous investors and developers from the fast growing Central and Eastern European markets were present, representing integrated golf and residential developments from countries including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Poland and Hungary. There was also a strong presence from the Middle East, Western Europe, the UK and Ireland, plus the United States of America.
Irish golf legend and Ryder Cup hero Christy O’Connor Jr announced his latest golf course design for the new Budapest Gate International Golf and Country Club and pledged his support to the growth of the game in Hungary.
Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s specialist Golf Advisory Services Team and founder of the Golf Business Forum, presented the results of the 2006 Golf Benchmark Survey, the industry’s first comprehensive study into the business performance of golf courses across the EMA region, and announced an expansion of the 2007 Survey into India, Southern Europe (Greece, Turkey and Cyprus) and the Caribbean (www.golfbenchmark.com).
“We are seeing phenomenal growth in golf and real estate developments across the EMA region and the number of developers here this week is testament to that fact,” said Dr Sartori. “The aim of the Golf Business Forum is to share incisive information about the golf market and benefit from each other’s experience and expertise. We are also here to do business and I know that as well as many business relationships being forged between developers, consultants and service providers, a number of highly significant deals have been struck this week that will result in future high-profile developments.”
Among the special guests was Ken Schofield, former Executive Director of the PGA European Tour, who was presented with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to golf and the spread of the game into new territories via professional tournaments from 1975 to 2005.
Addressing the audience at the Budapest Hilton Hotel, Ken Schofield said, “Thirty years ago, we didn’t have a conference like this or a benchmark survey. In the early days of the European Tour we didn’t know where the sponsorship might come from – we were often guessing and chasing shadows. But the patrons and sponsors of this Forum are worldwide brands and, together with KPMG’s expertise and the Golf Benchmark Survey, the guesswork is being taken out of the golf business.”
Andrea Sartori, announcing the results of the 2006 Golf Benchmark Survey, thanked the 800 golf courses in 27 countries across the EMA that had contributed, and encouraged even more courses to participate in the 2007 Survey, the questionnaire for which has now been launched online at www.golfbenchmark.com
There will be ten regional reports this year – Northern Europe, UK and Ireland, Middle East, Central Europe, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and South Africa, plus India, Southern Europe and the Caribbean – providing even more analysis of the business performance of golf courses across key markets.
“The vision for an annual Golf Benchmark Survey was to give golf course owners, operators and developers useful, comparable information that would allow them to make informed decisions,” said Dr Sartori. “Over time, as the historical data builds up, the survey will identify trends that will further enhance industry professionals’ ability to make decisions for the future.”
There was a compelling mix of topics and issues discussed at the Golf Business Forum, with a variety of lively, interactive sessions.
Among the most outstanding was a presentation about Dubai and the creation of successful golf developments by David Spencer, CEO of Istithmar Leisure, which includes the Jumeirah Golf Estates, the largest integrated golf and real estate community in the world currently under development. “We want to be the 21st century’s best golf destination. Not the biggest, but absolutely the best – we are well on the way to achieving this lofty goal,” Spencer told the Forum, outlining the secrets to Dubai’s success.
The importance and profitability of real estate in golf developments was highlighted throughout the event, with masterplanners WATG contributing to a presentation by KPMG on the key success factors of golf resort and golf community projects.
Dolphin Capital Investors detailed how to secure finance for golf development projects while the Toro Company contributed to the discussion on creating a winning development team. Greg Norman Golf Course Design and leading operations company Troon Golf took part in the lively discussion on commissioning signature designers, while Rod Bogg of Dubai Golf joined senior executives of The K Club, Fancourt and PGA European Tour Courses to share the best practices of the world’s most successful golf venues.
KPMG also gave analysis and insight into the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe, focusing specifically on Croatia and Hungary.
“The Golf Business Forum is now established as one of the most important gatherings of influential business professionals in worldwide golf,” added Andrea Sartori. “In every session, in every discussion, delegates benefited from high-quality speakers and panellists with unparalleled expertise and experience – and we would like to thank everyone who participated and attended for making this week such a success.”
Golf Business Forum www.golfbusinessforum.com
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