The Celtic Manor Resort, host to the 2010 Ryder Cup, scooped one of the big prizes for the second successive year at the annual 59club golf service awards – regarded by many as the ‘Oscars’ of the golf service industry.
The Newport venue was awarded the title of the ‘Ultimate Golf Resort’ at a ceremony – compered by talkSPORT presenter Georgie Bingham and held at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club – following a series of outstanding assessments in 59club’s regular mystery shopper visits and its status as the top-performing club of all the Gold Flag winners.
The awards are designed to reward the top golf venues across all business elements – sales, service, operations, retail, food and beverage, and management – while 59club’s industry benchmark, the Gold and Silver Flags, recognise the finest membership clubs and commercial venues. The awards’ evening was also the culmination of a day of membership sales and retention seminars open to all golf/leisure staff and club managers, which attracted more than 150 delegates.
Ten other venues received their Gold Flag awards – The Grove; Gleneagles Hotel; Monte Rei Golf & Country Club; Belfry Hotel & Resort; and Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club, in the resort category, while Dubai Creek; Emirates; Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel; Wentworth Club; and Al Badia took the members’ club awards.
Nine venues secured the Silver Flag: Duke’s, St Andrews; Rockliffe Hall; Club de Golf Alcanada; Son Muntaner; St Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club; and Foxhills took the resort honours, while Close House; Broadstone; and Manor House (Castle Combe) were the honoured members’ clubs.
Collecting the award on behalf of Celtic Manor, Will Hewitt, director of golf, spa and leisure, said: “Seeing the name of the resort up there, among the calibre of competitors you’re up against, the guys back at the resort are going to be chuffed to bits. We’ve got massive respect for the other resorts; I know them well, I know what they offer, which is a great experience, so we’re very happy.
“It’s the start of the golfing season, we’re already thinking about the ways we can do things differently. A number of our visitors are repeat business and se we’re looking to tinker a little bit to improve their ‘journey’ with us.
“Improvement is key. We were the ultimate golf resort but there are a number of other awards I’d like to see us in the frame for – food and beverage; membership; dealing with sales calls, and so on – that we can work towards to make it a more rounded offering.”
The award for the ‘Ultimate Members Club’ went overseas, to Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, whose parent company Dubai Golf won ‘Golf Group of the Year’, for the second year running, while Craig Haldane, from the Majlis course at Emirates GC, was ‘Greenkeeper of the Year’.
Three other awards went to overseas winners: Monte Rei Golf & Country Club won ‘Golf Operation Team of the Year’, while the club’s director of golf, David Shepherd, was awarded the title of ‘Golf Manager of the Year’, and the award for ‘Most-Improved Golf Operation Team of the Year’ went to Son Muntaner, in Mallorca.
Four Marriott Hotels won five awards: Billie McKenna, from Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club, was recognised for ‘Leading Individual Golf Sales Performance’; Simon Howell, from host venue Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club, won ‘Golf Retail Manager of the Year’; and Breadsall Priory Marriott Hotel & Country Club took the title of ‘Golf Membership Sales Team of the Year’. For venues with a green fee less than £75, Marriott Worsley Park’s Ian Brawn and Adam Moule took the awards for ‘Greenkeeper of the Year’ and ‘Golf Manager of the Year’ respectively.
Also in the <£75 category, Mytime Active’s Dibden Golf Centre, on the edge of the New Forest, in Hampshire, also saw two members of staff take individual titles, with Paul Smith named ‘Golf Retail Manager of the Year’ and his colleague Ellie Gray scooping the award for ‘Food And Beverage Manager of the Year’.
Other awards went to Macdonald Hill Valley Hotel, Golf & Spa (Most-Improved Golf Sales Team); Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel (Golf Sales Team); the Vale Resort (Leisure Membership Sales Team); and Margaux Park, of the Duke’s, St Andrews (Food and Beverage Manager).
Simon Wordsworth, chief executive at 59club and a fellow of the PGA, said: “Congratulations to all of the winners who have, during 2015, displayed an unerring desire to provide only the very best in service and professionalism across all spectra. These outstanding performances highlight just how lucky we are in the golf industry to possess consummate professionals across all different size and manner of venues.”
59club is fast becoming the industry standard for measuring and comparing customer-service levels and analysing all key revenue streams for golf venues, and is committed to the on-going development of club managers and PGA professionals.
This year, the company will launch a new benchmarking software system, my59, which will enable clubs to arrange their own member surveys and mystery tests, generating detailed feedback to analyse and improve their sales and service offerings on an unlimited basis.
This follows the launch last year of Golftell, a validated feedback site which publishes a golfer’s review of the golf course condition, food quality, general facilities and standard of service offered by club staff. Golftell strives to provide ‘genuine’ feedback and offers club managers the ability to validate reviews before they go live, interact with their clients, share positive ratings to enhance their brand reputation, and advertise their business to potential clients.
All of this is available alongside 59club’s proprietary training services which help get a change of focus and behaviour from staff in order to improve customer service levels and maximise sales opportunities.
Award winners: Leading individual golf sales performance – Billie McKenna (Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club); Most-improved golf operation team of the year – Son Muntaner; Most-improved golf sales team of the year – Macdonald Hill Valley Hotel, Golf & Spa; Golf operation team of the year – Monte Rei Golf & Country Club; Golf sales team of the year – Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel; Golf membership sales team of the year – Breadsall Priory Marriott Hotel & Country Club; Leisure membership sales team of the year – the Vale Resort; Golf retail manager of the year – Simon Howell (Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club); Golf retail manager of the year (average green fee below £75) – Paul Smith (Dibden GC); Food and beverage manager of the year – Margaux Park (Duke’s, St Andrews); Food and beverage manager of the year (average green fee below £75) – Ellie Gray (Dibden GC); Greenkeeper of the year – Craig Haldane (Emirates GC, Majlis course); Greenkeeper of the year (average green fee below £75) – Ian Brawn (Marriott Worsley Park); Golf manager of the year – David Shepherd (Monte Rei Golf & Country Club); Golf manager of the year (average green fee below £75) – Adam Moule (Marriott Worsley Park); Golf group of the year – Dubai Golf; Ultimate members club – Dubai Creek; Ultimate golf resort – Celtic Manor Resort. Gold flag (resorts) – Celtic Manor Resort, the Grove, Gleneagles Hotel, Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club, the Belfry Hotel & Resort; Silver flag (resorts) – Duke’s, St Andrews, Rockliffe Hall, Club de Golf Alcanada; Son Muntaner, St Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club, Foxhills GC; Gold flag (members clubs) – Dubai Creek, Emirates, Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel, Al Badia, Wentworth Club; Silver flag (members clubs) – Close House, Broadstone, Manor House.