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Golf Business Forum to explore innovation and collaboration in public sector golf

Golf Business Forum to explore innovation and collaboration in public sector golf
June 22, 2016

The inaugural Golf Business Forum, taking place in Melbourne in July, promises to have a significant impact on Australia’s golf industry, focusing on public sector golf facilities – where two thirds of Australia’s 1.2 million active golfers participate in their sport.

Rather than private sector courses and clubs, which have traditionally been at the core of golf industry conferences and events, the two-day Golf Business Forum is designed to bring together operators and owners of public golf facilities, not only those where the entire focus is on the public but those where the operations comprise a hybrid member/public facility approach. It promises to be Australia’s largest ever gathering of golf facility owners, operators, industry leaders and business partners who will not only benefit from a program of educational sessions but networking as well as a trade exhibition featuring key industry business partners and suppliers.

The event is the brainchild of Guy Chappie of WellPlayed Golf Business Consultancy and Andrew Davies, a Director of WellPlayed and Chief Executive of a private family group whose businesses include Eagle Ridge Golf Course on the Mornington Peninsula.

Davies explains “today’s golf consumer is engaging with golf in many different ways and via different golf facilities.

“Public-access golf courses, member-based clubs, driving ranges, mini-golf facilities and the new breed of golf simulators, all have a vital role to play in golf’s development.”

The idea for the event was born out of a visit that Chappie and Davies made in 2015 to the USA’s National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. This long-standing event brings together golf owners and operators from North America and is coupled with the huge Golf Industry Show as well as the annual conference of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

The trip had a lasting impression on the Australian pair.

Davies recalls “during the trip, it became clear there was a need for the Australian market, including both operators and owners, to have access to this kind of experience.

“The need for educational sessions, custom-designed for the golf industry, is a clear standout. However, the personal interactions delivered far more than we had hoped. Sharing ideas and challenges with your peers is as old as business itself, but the golf industry - in particular those facilities serving the public golfer - lacks a forum to make this happen.”

The Golf Business Forum aims to provide just that opportunity - a forum to learn about the latest in best practice golf facility operations, as well as a platform to share knowledge and make connections.

The speaker program over the two days will focus on three key themes: Market Dynamics, Facility Development and Innovation, and Customer Engagement and Experiences.

Keynote speakers on the Market Dynamics theme will provide insights into international and local sports and golf participation trends. Speakers include NGCOA Chief Executive Jay Karen, who will share some of the important developments and trends in the USA market, as well as Paul Fairweather of the Australian Sports Commission will be presenting on their recent findings on sporting participation trends and how these will impact Australian golf facilities. International speaker Lodewijk Klootwijk, Chief Executive of European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) meanwhile will be explaining how the EGCOA are encouraging facilities to focus on ‘Fun, Friendship, Family and Flexibility’ which has paid massive dividends in Europe.

A fascinating line-up of speakers from some of Australia’s leading golf facilities will also be showcasing their successes in Facility Development & Innovation and what lessons can be learnt from their stories. Speakers from Moore Park Golf in Sydney, Wembley Golf Course in Perth as well as Victoria’s Yarra Bend are scheduled as well as the extraordinary facility of Club Parkwood on the Gold Coast, a facility that “has to be seen to be believed” according to Davies.

Club Parkwood Managing Director Luke Altschwager will be taking delegates through the complete renovation and extensions to Parkwood International which now incorporates not only the golf course, but also three function rooms, an alfresco restaurant, a day/night ‘Boulders and Badlands’ mini golf course, a day/night undercover driving range, as well as a teaching studio/academy, hot yoga studio and chiropractic facilities.

Looking forward to Altschwager’s presentation, Davies adds “Luke’s energy is limitless.

“Delegates will find it invaluable hearing about the highly effective marketing and engagement strategy behind Club Parkwood and the key relationships Luke has developed with other businesses in the area, to leverage their audiences and drive visitation.”

Altschwager’s innovative ideas cross over into the Customer Engagement and Experiences theme where other speakers include the WellPlayed Golf Business Consultancy who will present in conjunction with THINK Global Research and Directivity. Following extensive research over the past few months, they will deliver a critical two part presentation on what drives public golfers in their decisions to play golf followed by the essential steps facilities need to take in order to engage the customer whilst maintaining a profitable loyalty program

Another undoubted highlight of the two day program is the scheduled presentation by Stephen Pitt, Chief Executive of Golf Australia and Brian Thorburn, Chief Executive of the Australian PGA. They will be explaining the collaborative approach the industry is adopting in delivering programs and initiatives that will grow the game focusing on how many facilities are developing their own introduction-to-golf programs,

In addition to the speaker program, the two day event is structured to ensure that there are ample networking opportunities as well as sufficient time to engage a comprehensive range of exhibitors; the latter ranging from providers of the latest golf business software needs, to specialists in digital media as well as providers of innovative turf and landscape maintenance equipment and irrigation solutions.

Davies believes the format and content of the two days will deliver exactly what he and Chappie planned all along following that inspirational trip to the States:

He concludes “it’s time everyone stopped working in isolation.

“It’s critical to Australia’s public golf industry that we find time to share success and drive innovation through collaboration.”

James Croll. 
James Croll manages Partner and Client Relationships at Australasian Leisure Management.

The two-day Golf Business Forum is being held at the Melbourne Park Function Centre on 25th and 26th July 2016.

Click here to view event details in the Australasian Leisure Management industry Calendar. 

Images: Wembley Park Golf (top), Andrew Davies (middle) and Club Parkwood (below).






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