News Roundup

Prince’s Golf Club Celebrates Finished Course Improvements with Opening of New Hole, Smugglers’ Landing

Prince’s Golf Club in Sandwich Bay, Kent has celebrated the completion of a major renovation project at the 27-hole property with the opening of Smugglers’ Landing, a completely new par-3.

The three-year project undertaken by internationally acclaimed golf course architects, Mackenzie and Ebert, began with the now lauded ‘reimagination’ of the Himalayas nine, completed in Spring 2018. 

Since then, significant course improvement works have been completed on both the Shore and Dunes nines leading up to the opening of the signature new par-3, the final checkpoint in the club’s master development plan.

Rob McGuirk, General Manager of Prince’s Golf Club, commented: “The last three years have been an important step in the history of Prince’s and the transformation of the courses, under the guidance of Martin Ebert and our Links Superintendent, Sean McLean, has been spectacular.

“Culminating with the opening of Smugglers’ Landing, the entire project is something for everyone involved with the club to be proud of. We’re thrilled with the outcome and the dramatic improvement in the visual and playing aspects of all 27 holes at Prince’s.”

The new hole plays as the fifth on the Shore nine at Prince’s replacing the current eighth and breaks up the direction of the layout facing north east out toward the sea.

To set the scene for the history of the Sandwich Flats and the fight against smuggling in Sandwich Bay, for which the hole is themed, the club have installed a replica scene by the walkway to the tee.

The four peninsula tees provide a variety of different yardages to play to the tricky green complex ranging from 103 yards from the red tee through to 158 from the blues at the back.

Commenting on the finalised works, Martin Ebert said: “Following the creation of a new short hole on the Himalayas nine, it was equally exciting to do the same with Smugglers’ Landing on the Shore. The challenge was to create a hole with a different character from Bloody Point and the away-sloping green has achieved that, not to mention the extensive bare sand areas in the carry and to the right of the hole.

“The creation of these sand areas throughout the entire landscape of the Shore and Dunes nines in this phase of work has created so many stunning links vistas but none better and more impressive than for Smugglers’ Landing. The incredible aerial photography Jason Livy has taken of the hole must surely entice even more golfers to come to Princes to enjoy the classic links experience on offer.”

The wide-ranging improvements made across all three loops have directly led to the club breaking back into the Great Britain and Ireland Top 100 rankings for the first time in 35 years with Top100GolfCourses.com, Golf World and National Club Golfer magazines.

Rosette Brasserie on the Bay.

For more information on Prince’s Golf Club, visit www.princesgolfclub.co.uk.

GCMA Announces New Chief Executive Officer

The Board of the Golf Club Managers Association (GCMA) announce Tom Brooke will be the new CEO, taking up the position in early September. Tom is currently the MD of Glendale Golf Ltd, a position he has held for six years.

Tom brings with him a wealth of transferable skills from many years in the golf industry. His strong operational knowledge and leading of large teams successfully, make him already a renowned business leader. He has multi board level experience in both Glendale Golf Ltd and as Vice Chair of the UK Golf Federation and is perfectly placed to bring a new dimension of leadership to the GCMA.

Chairman, Phil Grice said: “With over 100 applicants for the role of CEO, many of which had a lot to offer, Tom was a leading candidate from the outset. Throughout the process Tom’s attention to detail and his progressive mindset became increasingly evident. We are in challenging times and strong strategic leadership is needed, Tom evidenced throughout the interview process this is a key attribute of his.

“Tom is unique in that he completely understands the challenges of the modern General Manager and their associated teams, from his current and previous roles and he also has strong board experience that will enable him to lead the Association into a new era.”

The recruitment process was managed by Richard Wood, Colt Mackenzie McNair with the first sift reducing first round interviewees to 10 candidates, with four being shortlisted to be interviewed and deliver a presentation to an interview panel.

Tom added, “I am absolutely delighted to be joining the GCMA as its new CEO. This is such a fantastic opportunity and I join at a particularly interesting and exciting time for the organisation. 

“I’m really looking forward to getting started and working with the board and the team to a focus on developing the service offering for the members, as well as broadening the appeal of the organisation, progressing the educational side of the business and leading the culture of excellence in golf club management that the GCMA has always been proud to stand for.”

The GCMA currently supports more than 1,700 members through a network incorporating a national head office in Bristol and 16 Regions spread throughout the UK. Through its renowned education programme, networking opportunities and a programme of professional support the GCMA helps the development of golf clubs and helps golf club managers and secretaries to fulfil their potential.

Golf Rounds Played Post Coronavirus Closure June 2020

It is early days but it appears golf has split the fairway on the opening hole of its return from Coronavirus related course closures and regulations. 

With courses in England reopening to 2-ball play from Wednesday 13th May and other countries in Great Britain following suit over the subsequent weeks, the competition for elusive tee-times has been fierce for members and visitors alike, with many courses reporting record levels of demand.

Sports Marketing Surveys’ rounds played monitor tracks the volume of rounds being played at a consistent panel of over 250 courses throughout Great Britain on a quarterly basis. Amid the disruption of Covid 19, SMS has collected figures from over 100 courses for May 2020 to provide some early insights into how the sport is bouncing back in the first month of opening. 

For a fair comparison, SMS has only monitored data with clubs that have submitted figures in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and has adjusted figures to reflect the number of days that the course has been open in May.

The results show that rounds played across GB have seen an impressive average uplift of circa 40% compared to a similar amount of days in 2019 and over 30% compared to 2018. The South region has seen the greatest increase with high demand in the second half of May fuelling 2020 figures that are a staggering 51% higher than the equivalent period in 2019.

With 4-ball golf now back on the agenda, working-from-home the new normal and social distancing being easily achieved over the expanse of a golf course, SMS will be closely monitoring whether golf can sustain this increase in June and through the rest of the summer. Equally as importantly, SMS looks forward to supporting its clients across the industry to ensure that golf can capitalise on the reignited interest in the sport and secure the long-term future of the game. 

To understand how SMS can help your business navigate the new golfing landscape, please contact: Richard.payne@sportsmarketingsurveys.com

Golf d’Hardelot and Le Touquet Golf Resort re-open with course enhancements and new routings

“Golfers have been eager to return. In just three days, we received over 800 tee time bookings.” - Charles Debruyne, Golf Director at Le Touquet Golf Resort

(Le Touquet, France – June 19, 2020)

As France reopens its borders, golfers at Golf d’Hardelot and Le Touquet Golf Resort on the country’s northern coast can now enjoy a number of course enhancements, practice area improvements and new routings.

The lockdown period has enabled greenkeeping staff at Golf d’Hardelot to complete project work on its carefully restored Tom Simpson design. Work on the Les Pins course had originally started in November 2019 and included reducing the elevation of the 3rd tee and softening landing areas on the 14th green to allow for more pin positions. 

All changes have now been finalised and have rapidly bedded in, with recent course closures also allowing for levelling to take shape and renovated playing surfaces to fully recover.

Ludovic Hettinger, Head Greenkeeper at Golf d’Hardelot, who continued to manage the venue’s two 18-hole layouts throughout confinement, said: “Lockdown has helped the golf course changes bed in really well. We also used this period of closure to increase the size of the putting green at Les Pins by 25%, which, unintentionally, will now help with current social-distancing measures.”

At sister venue, Le Touquet Golf Resort, 12 miles (20km) further south, visitors can now experience more flexible playing options on the resort’s 18-hole La Forêt and 9-hole Le Manoir courses.

By re-routing two holes from each of the layouts and creating a new 18th green for La Forêt, players returning to the destination on France’s Opal Coast, now have the option of three loops of nine holes, which all return to the clubhouse. A full 18-hole round on La Forêt can still be played, if preferred.

Commenting on reopening, Charles Debruyne, Golf Director at Le Touquet Golf Resort, said: “Golfers have been eager to return. In just three days, we received over 800 tee time bookings. We hope the announcement by Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, which attested people would be able to take holidays within France this summer, will encourage visitors to come and play some of France’s best courses, including its no.1 links*.”

Occupying the dramatic terrain between the Côte d’Opale’s expansive duneland and swathes of pine forest, Le Touquet Golf Resort and Golf d’Hardelot sit just 12 miles apart in the southern region of France’s northernmost department, Pas-de-Calais, and are both managed Open Golf Club.

For more information about Le Touquet Golf Resort, visit www.letouquetgolfresort.com

and regarding Golf d’Hardelot, visit www.hardelotgolfclub.com 

*According to Top100GolfCourses’ 2020-2021 Top 100 French and 2019-2020 Continental European course rankings.

IAGTO opens up Covid-19 Recovery Hub to all golf courses and golf resorts

In a major step designed to give maximum support to the entire golf tourism industry, the Covid-19 Recovery Hub created by IAGTO for its 2700 member companies is being made accessible, from today, to all golf courses and golf resorts worldwide that receive golf visitors, along with all hotels currently working with IAGTO golf tour operators.

The Recovery Hub includes an Operational Status webpage that enables golf courses and hotels to upload and then regularly update their reopening schedule, current operational status and Covid-19 safety measures. 

Over 700 IAGTO-member golf tour operators in 62 countries receive a Daily Update notifying them of changes made to the site in the past 24 hours. Most importantly this means that there is now one global central resource for the golf tourism industry to keep track of the changes that are being implemented in golf destinations worldwide literally every hour, avoiding time-consuming administration and communication.

IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton said: “We made the decision to extend this essential service beyond our membership in order to ensure that every golf destination on the planet now has a mechanism to keep golf tour operators informed of the precise operational conditions in place at every golf course in their region. Access to our Recovery Hub site is now entirely free of charge to non-member golf courses and golf resorts.”

Walton added: “In our role as the global trade association of the golf tourism industry, our entire focus since March has been to provide guidance and create tools that will ensure that our tourism sector is the best prepared for the recovery from this unprecedented crisis.”

The Operational Status section of the Recovery Hub focuses on five aspects of golf course and hotel operation:

Current status and conditions of current visitor access

Date and details for reopening or next phase of reopening/increasing visitor access

Compliance with local government standards and regulations relating to Covid-19

Details of Covid-19 safety measures currently in place

Covid-19 safety certification

To gain access to the Covid-19 Recovery Hub, golf courses and golf resorts that are not currently members of IAGTO must first register, which is entirely free of charge, by going to: www.iagto.com/iagtolite