The fourth annual South Africa Golf Summit, held at Fancourt in George this week (28 March to 1 April 2009), offered positive solutions and advice to the local golf industry to cope with economic challenges and turmoil.
Focusing on the effects of the global economic crisis on the golfing industry, the summit programme boasted top local and international speakers who offered research results and presentations on a wide range of related topics.
High on the agenda was the call for more affordable golf, easier and shorter golf courses, as well as ‘pay-and-play’ access to private golf courses – all in an effort to keep a traditionally costly industry afloat in financially difficult times.
“Organisations that welcome change, value flexibility, embrace innovation, and do small things better, are the ones that will consistently improve despite hard times. Positive vision supported by leadership and action as well as ruthless self-assessment will be essential,” said former director general of Tourism Ireland Matt McNulty who was responsible for increasing Ireland’s tourism economy by 300 percent, mainly as a result of golf tourism marketing. He also suggested exploration of new markets, better use of the internet for sales, and consistent focussed overseas campaigns to draw a stronger international market.
Potential surrounding next year’s Soccer World Cup was also discussed and expected to have significant impact on the economy, tourism and golf industries. Not only is it expected that property sales, including those on golf estates, will escalate and improve the market but also offers opportunities for the golf industry to benefit from sports mad fans who will want to be entertained and play golf.
Professional Golfers Association of South Africa (PGA of SA) chief executive officer Dennis Bruyns, who currently also acts as CEO of the recently legally registered Business of Golf South Africa (BOGSA), offered an update on the country’s first golf industry umbrella body.
BOGSA will in the next three months appoint permanent staff, establish a corporate identity, and develop a marketing framework and strategy for the development of the game.
Other imminent activities include the production of a South African Golf and Leisure Vacations Guide, lobbying government and identifying areas where dialogue and relationships should be established, setting up long term strategic objectives, and the facilitating of a research agenda.
“BOGSA will represent a special interest group that is critical to the ongoing sustainability and growth of the game in South Africa and will collaborate with other interest groups and games to achieve our objectives,” said Bruyns.
Other topics discussed included profitable golf club operations and maintenance practices, integration of the environment with golf, the role of homeowners associations, master planning, catering to the golfing customer, sustainable practices in running and managing golf clubs and homeowners associations, and golf tourism.
South African speakers and contributors at the summit included SA Tourism events platform general manager Sugen Pillay, SA Tourism global manager business tourism Nomasonto Ndlovu, South African Golf Association president Enver Hassen, Association of Residential Communities president Jeff Gilmour, On-Course Worldwide publisher and director Larry Gould, Pam Golding Properties CEO Dr Andrew Golding, Fancourt marketing director Kwakye Donkor and South African cricketing legend and commentator Barry Richards.
Nine internationals from the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Sweden contributed as speakers and panelists, among them KPMG partner and head of Golf Advisory Practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa Dr Andrea Sartori who discussed key success factors of top performing real estate in golf resorts and communities.
The fourth SA Golf Summit was endorsed by the Professional Golfers Association of South Africa (PGA of SA) and supported by South African Tourism, the Eden Municipality and Tourism South Coast. Sponsors include Airlink, All Golf Group, Aqua D‘or Mineral Water, Arnold Palmer Design Company, Brandhouse, Compleat Golfer, David Frost Signature Series, Golf Digest, Goose Wines, Matkovich & Hayes, Rain Bird International, Ransomes Jacobsen Ltd, South African Express, Tee to Green, Toro, and Tours for South Africa.
Initiated by Fancourt in 2006, the SA Golf Summit has become an internationally recognised forum for government, property developers, tour operators and investors to discuss the development and role of golf resorts, courses and estates.