Golf is going through a period of self-analysis as to where the game is under-delivering, losing green fees and memberships globally. I feel that there is a gap which a small group of experts possessing hands-on experience can deliver a strong and consistent message. Our backgrounds speak for themselves so we can speak with the authority which is only acquired after years of travel, independent advice and delivering solutions at the highest level.
At present there is no centre of experience-based knowledge for the golf industry which has been estimated at $200 billion a year. There is considerable wastage of water, human resources and land. In short a University of Golf but not remaining on the intellectual level but also as a viable business.
By bringing together less than ten persons with complementary experience on a global level, we could become the go-to entity centralising good ideas not only from ourselves but by uniting best-practice examples experienced around the world.
The fact that the St Andrews Golf Festival which I created and own reached 500 million persons with a very small team with limited budget shows the reach which a “pocket battleship” can reach. We are preparing to take the World Golf Festival to China, Pebble Beach, France and South Africa. This could be twinned with the consultancy practice as a way of developing a global platform.
We all have worldwide expertise so our knowledge of the industry is more applicable to the wide spectrum rather than confining it to a hyper-political mini-sector with its “can’t do” attitude.
What is evident is that my conclusions that French golf is performing to 5% of its capacity is also relevant globally.
One can imagine a scenario whereby clubs anywhere could communicate information about their course, clubhouse, maintenance programme, schedule of club activities to a central information-gathering entity. They could use a standard form so that their club could be analysed efficiently.
Specific site visits by our team of approved consultants who would carry out detailed audits of the business. This would generate fee revenue for the business.
Some errors are so blindingly obvious that one cannot believe that they are being committed. On an audit of a Japanese-owned club south of Paris I noticed that the practice range was 400 metres to the left of the clubhouse and the tee for the par 5 first tee was 400 metres to the right, so 1,200 metres to walk before teeing off! I also saw that the tenth tee was adjacent to the practice range. I suggested that they flip the nines.
This suggestion was rejected by the manageress who didn’t have a clue about any aspect of golf for three reasons:
1. The architect would not agree to the change. So I called the French designer who had absolutely no problem with the re-numbering of the holes
2. It could not be a good idea, she said, as they had been in operation for fifteen years and within minutes of my starting the audit I had come up with an idea which nobody else had ever evoked!
3. She said they might give the concept consideration but only after they had run out of the existing stock of scorecards!
The beauty of the above concept of a knowledge-centre is that we can operate the business from wherever we are in the world. It would need a very small team to manage the business, allocate the work and act to communicate with the press.
So in conclusion I feel that there is a vacuum which existing entities have not identified and are powerless to address: the global golf industry and the message of the game’s core values to future generations.
I am convinced that we have the competence, authority and worldwide reach to contribute to this dialogue and run a profit-making business. One of our roles would be to address golf conferences such as the HSBC World Golf Forum as to the solutions to the problems which the industry faces.
22nd January 2016