It took twelve months to plan and when it finally happened, it went off like clockwork precision, writes Geoff Russell.. This is how the 2008 Asia Pacific Golf Development Summit panned out at the world’s largest golf complex – Mission Hills China.
More than 270 delegates representing 27 nations attended this high-level golf summit which involved the participation of more than 60 world class speakers and panellists drawn from virtually every area of the golf industry.
There were senior executives from equipment manufacturers, some of the greatest names in golf architecture, world renowned experts in turf care, water management, the environment and club management.
“The speaker list looked more like a Who’s Who of the global golf industry,” remarked Mike Sebastian, managing director of Asia Pacific Golf Development Conferences Pte Ltd.
Sponsors provide solid backing
Staged under the thematic banner of GOLF DEVELOPMENT – MAKING ASIA WORLD CLASS, the Summit received the solid backing of the following sponsors: The R&A, Club Car, The Toro Company, Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architecture, Troon Golf, Nicklaus Design, John Deere, Golfplan – Fream, Dale & Ramsey Golf Course Architecture, Rain Bird, E-Z-Go, Jacobsen, Schmidt & Curley Golf Design and Simplot.
The Summit was staged over three days. Starting on 2nd December and wrapping up on 4th December. The tone for the Summit was set on the opening day by the R&A’s Duncan Weir, director of golf development, who provided the gathering with an excellent, around the globe overview on golf development.
Amongst some of the top speakers at the Summit were Dr. Andrea Sartori from KPMG, Dennis Himan, group executive vice president from The Toro Company, Dan Wilkinson, president of Jacobsen, Jonathan Smith, CEO of the Golf Environment Organization, Hud Hinton, president of Troon Golf and Robert Trent Jones Jr, the legendary golf course architect.
‘A fabulous Summit’
Immediate reaction to the Summit was swift with delegates responding with compliments within 48 hours of the end of the event. Denise Adams, senior vice president of Kitson & Partners had this to say. “Thank you for a fabulous summit! I met so many fabulous new contacts….which quickly turned into new friendships. And, it was wonderful getting caught up with many industry peers I have not seen in years.
“Finally, I learned a lot from my fellow summit attendees and see so many promising opportunities for future summits and for the Asia Golf Industry Federation. I express my thanks to you and everyone behind the coordination of the summit. It was so well organized.”
Two of the highpoints of the Summit included the launch of the inaugural Asia Life-Time Achievement Award. This prestigious award was presented to Dr David Chu, Founding Chairman of the Mission Hills Group and Robert Trent Jones Jr, Chairman and Master Architect of Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architecture. Both award winners were presented with a custom-built golf car by E-Z-Go, an Omega watch by Jacobsen and a specially commissioned portrait by Asian Golf Business.
The other award that made its inaugural appearance at the Summit was the Golf Course Environment Award sponsored by The Toro Company. The award was picked up by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Course in Hong Kong.
This is how another delegate, Martin Moore, President of Flagstick GCCM responded to the Summit: “I just wanted to send you a brief note and thank you very much for putting together a fantastic Golf Summit at Mission Hills this year. As expected, it was first class in every aspect. I know this required a tremendous amount of organization and effort on the part of your entire team, and the results showed. WELL DONE. I look forward to seeing you again next year in KL, and being part of another beneficial gathering of our golf industry professionals.
A total of 23 special awards were presented during the glitzy award ceremony for the Asian Golf Monthly Awards which entered its tenth year this year. The top award for Best Golf Course in Asia was hauled away by Indonesia’s Ria Bintan Golf Club and the Top Golf Course Architect’s Award was claimed by Nicklaus Design, the company headed by Jack Nicklaus.
A fitting wrap-up to the Summit comes from a delegate, Jinder Aujla, golf manager at Singapore’s Orchid Country Club who had this to say. “I would like to congratulate you and your team for successfully hosting the event. You guys were great in all aspects. The speakers were great and the breakout workshops were excellent as it gave us an opportunity to share our experiences. Most important of all was that each one of you took time to check with us to see that we were comfortable and if there was anything that you could do to make our experience even more enjoyable.”
Launch of IAGTO Asian chapter
The 2008 Summit marked the launch of the Asian Chapter of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) which was announced by its President, Peter Walton who was also a speaker at the Summit. The other launch was announced by Howard Swan and Gill Wilson who used the Summit platform to introduce First Golf China, a revolutionary new way of playing golf that is taking Europe, South Africa and India by storm.
Gill Wilson had this take on the Summit, “You guys must be on your knees after last week – but feeling ten feet tall after such a resoundingly successful Summit on all counts – superb venue, excellent speakers, outstanding panellists (!) and clearly a first class opportunity to do business, network and have some fun!”
The 2009 Summit will be staged in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. Full details about the Summit date, venue and format will be announced within the next few weeks.
Asia Pacific Golf Development Summit www.golfconference.org