Participation and the opportunity for golf clubs and courses to attract new players was top of the agenda at the Golf Business Industry Convention (GolfBIC), 16-17 March.
More than 270 delegates attended the two-day event at the Marriott Forest of Arden, which is a joint venture between The UK Golf Course Owners Association (UKGCOA) and The Organisation of Golf & Range Operators (OGRO).
Among the speakers was 2015 European Solheim Cup Captain and Syngenta Golf Ambassador Carin Koch, who spoke in a special question and answer seminar, ‘Women in golf – the industry’s big opportunity.’
The multiple Ladies European Tour and LPGA winner was joined by Emma Clifford, GCMA Club Manager of the Year 2014 for her work recruiting 115 new members in 12 months at West Essex Golf Club, and Alastair Spink, Fellow Professional of the PGA and founder of the Here Come The Girls coaching scheme at Fynn Valley Golf Club, Suffolk, which has introduced nearly 300 women into golf.
Speaking after a market research presentation by Syngenta’s Simon Elsworth, based on the findings of the report, ‘The Opportunity to Grow Golf: Female Participation,’ Carin Koch said: “It’s clear there’s real momentum in the UK to encourage more women to try golf. With The Solheim Cup coming up in September, I hope the spotlight on world-class women’s golf will showcase what a great sport this is.
“I also hope that clubs and courses will take the opportunity to use the free research Syngenta has published, which gives great practical information on what female customers want, to ensure they develop the right product and experience to attract and retain women in golf.”
The theme of inclusivity and accessibility continued with presentations from EGCOA Chief Executive Lodewijk Klootwijk on ‘Vision 2020: Friendly, Fun, Flexibility, Family,’ and National Golf Month, presented by Doug Poole.
Clubs and courses also benefited from insights from the PGA’s David Colclough, who spoke about how PGA Professionals are clubs’ best recruiting officers for new members and characterful encouragement from Gregg Patterson, General Manager of The Beach Club, Santa Monica, California.
The two-day event also featured a charity dinner, which raised £6,400 for the Golf Foundation.
Andy Lloyd-Skinner, Chief Executive Officer of the UKGCOA, said: “There was a notable sense of optimism among the golf course owners and operators attending this year’s GolfBIC. It is clear that a majority of golf facilities are becoming fun places to be for families and the messages at GolfBIC gave further encouragement to those golf facilities that have begun to embrace the ‘fun, family and flexible’ ethos.”
Colin Jenkins, co-founder of OGRO and GolfBIC, said: “We are thrilled with the results from GolfBIC. This is the fourth year of the collaboration between the UKGCOA and OGRO and it’s getting better and better.
“All of the presentations were very good and the delegates that I spoke to had a really good time. GolfBIC is the only event where golf operators and owners get together in such numbers – it is part of the golfing calendar now.”
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