MARCH 2009

Golf cluB MAnAGeMent

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SA Golf Summit
Also In thIs Issue

At fAncourt – the officiAl preview
When too many cooks spoil the broth ■ handling the fallout from substance abuse ■ Manager of the month ■ Golftek’s success story ■ Graham Corbett – adjusting to managing cool-season grass ■ handicaps – nGn’s problems and solutions ■ the last word – dealing with burn-out

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March 2009

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Business MAGAzine for the Golf Industry


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leAd story
the fourth SA golf Summit preview New environment management programme too many cooks

eDitor’S letter
4 13 15 17 19

the envIronMent hr developMent hr leGAl pGA

Substance abuse – handling the fallout golf’s latest survey Country Club Johannesburg’s Eugene van Wyk Fancourt’s graham Corbett

MAnAGer of the Month

20 23

turf MAnAGeMent

froM the eDitor
Let common sense prevail.
The fourth SA Golf Summit will again get people talking, which is what the summit is all about. It will also hopefully get people listening – not something the local golf industry is known for. There are those in the industry that have viewed this summit with something of a jaundiced eye, claiming that it is less about golf than tourism and more about the development of golf estates rather than the traditional clubs that make up the vast majority of our facilities. So what, the point is, everyone involved in this game has a vested interest in whatever affects the golf business, and we should all take heed. There is a tremendous amount to be learnt from knowledgeable speakers; be they South African or from abroad, but all too often we are slow to learn. We may pride ourselves in living in the age of information, but often we view the sharing of information with suspicion. Many of us have to live with committees who still cling to outmoded ways of doing things, but it is up to the managers, directors of golf and club captains to change this culture. Of course, one of the main issues that will be discussed at the Golf Summit will again be the issue of the ‘umbrella body’ that will hopefully ‘speak with one voice’ to government (see page 11). Should this united front get beyond the first tee (up to now we’ve seen little more than a flurry of practice swings), hopefully the government will listen, then act. I’m not holding my breath. We simply have to have a concerted effort that will result in golf in South Africa being aggressively marketed abroad. The South African tax rands would be well spent on a major campaign abroad. Of course, one would hope that it would be more effective than the bungle in Beijing during the Olympics, when our esteemed representatives organised a costly shindig to punt South Africa, and then forget to invite anybody. Understandably, during this year’s summit there will be a strong slant towards the effect of the global economic woes and the effect this is likely to have on the game. Perhaps, as at the Economic Forum in Davos, this will overshadow the perennial questions surrounding environmental issues. I know that it has become a hobby-horse of mine, but I am still waiting for a reasonable explanation as to why golf courses continue to be blamed for ruining our ecology while our mines continue to pump toxic waste into rivers. I will resist asking our friends from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry why our water supplies have reached crisis proportions, how they allow sewage plants to be hopelessly mismanaged, yet consider developers of golf estates to be the devils incarnate. Finally, I would like to make a final appeal for anyone in the industry to forward nominations for GCM’s Service Excellence Awards. Compleat Golfer and our new sponsor Bell’s is determined to make these awards ‘extra special’, so please let us know if any member of your staff regularly goes beyond the call of duty to make members and visitors feel ‘extra’ special. No one from DWAF need apply.

golftek’s success story

Course ConstruCtIon And MAIntenAnCe hAndICAps lAst Word

27 28 30

NgN – everyone’s an expert Dealing with burnout

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March 2009


the fourth South AfricAn Golf SuMMit

in search of solutions
Fancourt hotel and Country Club Estate will again host the annual South African golf Summit from 29 March to 1 April 2009. Many challenges remain for the golf industry and delegates will find a broad spectrum of speakers highlighting both local and international trends, writes larry Gould.
“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” wrote Victor Hugo, and so it was with the inaugural South African Golf Summit first held in March 2006. Since then the world has changed and this year’s summit will illustrate how both the clichés that ‘one must adapt or die’ and the ‘more things change the more they stay the same,’ are very apt.

lookinG BAck
The Golf Summit, initiated by Ingrid Diesel, the CEO of the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate, and marketing director Kwakye Donkor, was first formulated when Fancourt was asked to attend the KPMG Golf Business Forum Conference in Budapest in 2004. There, international delegates debated many diverse topics on the multi-faceted characteristics which make up the global components under the easily identified slogan ‘golf’ (excluding golf equipment and merchandising). Diesel and Donkor identified that in South Africa there was a need to bring together the private sector and government to discuss the long-term future of golf in this country. This became particularly pertinent, as at that time there had been many media reports on the Cape provincial government’s alleged ‘moratorium’ on the future of golf estate developments and the apparent lack of support from the government tourism bodies towards

the summit does not mean all work and no play – this year the delegates will be treated to a round on the links course.

promoting golf tourism to this country. The first summit certainly proved to be memorable. Keynote speakers Tasneem Essop (then the MEC for Environmental Affairs and Economic Development for the Western Cape) was much maligned in the golfing and property media for her stance towards golf estates, and Moeketsi Mosola, the CEO of SA Tourism, admonished the attending delegates for their lack of unity in the development of a unified body representing the business of golf. Essop suggested that developers should

Some of the movers and shakers in the course design and construction business during a panel discussion at last year’s summit. from the left: John Strawn, Michael March, Bruce Glasco, Gustav putter, Bernhard Mostert and riaan Gouws.

create a body to become self-regulating, so potential golf developments presented to the government authorities for approval would have a chance of being approved far more speedily in the knowledge that the industry had regulated the required criteria for such developments to proceed. While many of the attending developers were of the opinion that Essop was out of bounds with her strict and restrictive environmental guidelines, she made it clear that adhering to these rules would result in the go-ahead for developments, and it was made quite clear that there was not a ‘moratorium’ to hold back potential developments as had been reported in the media. Mosola explained that golf tourism was indeed an important niche tourism market for South Africa. However, it had to be understood that soccer, rugby, athletics and cricket were the top-priority sporting activities as far as promoting South Africa as a sporting destination. He stressed at the conference that the business of golf tourism was highly fractured and an overall representative body should be formed to approach government to maximise the opportunity for SATOUR to benefit the industry as a whole.


March 2009

Golf Club Management

the fourth South AfricAn Golf SuMMit
This would also ensure that the body would then be seen as being representative of all population groups, as required by law, and to present a well-coordinated marketing plan to complement the overall SATOUR marketing strategies. Colin Hegarty, CEO of US-based Golf Research Group (GRG) told the delegates that SA had had the fastest golf real estate growth in the world and that he was surprised by the low-density component of these estates. Andrew Golding, CEO of Pam Golding properties, while outlining the economic necessities of the existing models to survive, did allude to the fact that these models could be adapted to lower-cost developments, especially as growth in townhouses and flats was still exceeding demand at 170 percent as the growing middle class emerged. On the tourism side, Professor Ernie Heath, head of the University of Pretoria’s tourism department, clarified the potential of golf tourism. “There are 60 million registered golfers in the world, 44 percent of them in the USA, 22 percent in Japan and 12 percent in the European Union. The continuing levels of growth in both the US and the East (the game shows every indication of continuing to expand) means there could be 200 million golfers, with a high proportion of them being golf tourists,” he concluded. “This tourism potential needs marketing by government and private enterprise,” said Ian Peacock OBE, a former vice president of UK Golf and consultant to Sports Marketing Surveys Ltd. Peacock gave examples of the successes of Ireland and Wales as they both

fancourt’s ceo ingrid Diesel with wendell J haskins, the founder and president of original tee inc.

created ‘handles’ for coordinated campaigns to develop this lucrative niche market. Grant Wilson, marketing director of the Sunshine Tour, responsible for the success of the professional circuit in South Africa, suggested that more high profile major tournaments would bring awareness to the world of our facilities, people and marvellous landscapes and would without doubt bring people to ‘Play SA’. The ‘handle’ was grasped by the summit. The delegates issued a mandate for a steering committee to bring together the major industry players and to form a body for golf with one voice to speak on the ‘business of golf’ to government and to take full advantage of the ‘open door’ offered by both SA Tourism and the environmental provincial office.

the ‘voice’ to SpeAk to GovernMent hAS DefineD itS AiMS
“The aim of the SA golf business association is to grow and sustain all aspects of golf for the benefit of South Africa and its people, with transformation a strategic priority.”

■ Establish a unique and distinctive golf branding with a competitive positioning and

marketing framework and strategy.
■ Build a research agenda, database and a golf knowledge system, and gateway for

South Africa.
■ dentify and remove unnecessary constraints and barriers that hamper the sustainable

development and growth of the game of golf and the business of golf.
■ Establish golf as a strategic niche tourism segment. ■ Develop a strategic alliance to establish a framework for public-private sector partnership. ■ Create an awareness of the game among all people in South Africa. Facilitate upliftment

and capacity building at all levels.
■ Start an annual ‘Oscar’s of golf’ recognising excellence at all levels (eg recognition for

responsible development, community upliftment initiatives, caddie excellence, etc).

the fourth South AfricAn Golf SuMMit
having set a programme in 1998 to fund a private-public initiative to promote itself as the world’s most favourite golf destination. At the 2008 summit, Matt McNulty, the initiator of this ambitious project, presented the strategy followed by Ireland and suggested South Africa (if it got its act together) was bound to reap financial, sustainable benefits if it committed to the principles set out for Ireland. McNulty was to conclude that, with our service standards, friendly people, high-quality golf courses, many in sensational scenic locations with excellent off-course choices, and excellent weather, we should be competing as one of the world’s most popular golf destinations. The summits also highlighted the need for golf course owners, managers and members to understand the environmental concerns towards golf courses. Developers have surely been aware of this for some time, but are the South African golfing public au fait with the worldwide campaign to portray golf as a serious environmental threat to the benefit of the population as a whole? John Strawn, the CEO of the Robert Trent Jones II design group, presented the current best practices in golf course developments internationally. Without doubt, in the future we will have to find discarded locations which can be rehabilitated (for example disused quarries, etc) and where the utilisation of grey water is a prerequisite. The latest trend emerging in America is for courses to be designed with limited fairway areas, and only landing areas to be irrigated, thus reducing water usage.

last year’s delegates were treated to some exceptional presentations, and this year the programme is no less impressive.

In 2006, Ingrid Diesel, Fancourt’s CEO, summed up succinctly at the end of the first summit: “We have been offered an open door by the government and we must move quickly to form a body representing all aspects of golf and find a voice to maximise the co-operation between government and ourselves. This will ensure the long-term growth and sustainability of golf in all its forms in South Africa.” By 2008, despite a steering committee having been established, little progress had been made towards creating this ‘representative body’, though its aims and objectives have been defined. Understandably, the difficulty is that golf has a myriad established representative bodies, both national and regional (SAGA, Sunshine Tour, PGA of SA, COSAG, Golf Development and many others), and they saw little need for yet another body to be formed. Perhaps more of a barrier was finding a sustainable financial model for such a body. The consecutive summits were nevertheless to highlight the continuing need for such a body, with the SATOUR representative Sugen Pillay emphasising the potential the tourism body can achieve with a representative body in a private-public partnership to compete in the international marketplace. Compete we must, as we have major competition on the horizon. Andrea Sartori from KPMG Eastern Europe, who was the initiator of both the KPMG Golf Business Forum (the conference attended by Fancourt in 2004) and the KPMG Golf Benchmark for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, told the conference, “Eastern Europe is to become a major golf destination, with

such countries as the Czech Republic (with 55 courses) and Poland (24 courses) leading the way. Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary have defined golf tourism as a priority niche market to augment their tourism portfolios, and even Cyprus, currently with only two courses, has committed itself to developing 12 additional courses in the near future. The Middle East has also emerged as a golf tourism destination (with the most profitable golf courses) and even Turkey and Mauritius are now regarded as highly popular golf tourism destinations.” A sleeping giant has also awakened as China, with only one golf course in 1984, now has more than 500 courses and 100 more under construction. China, in a short space of time, has not only become a popular tourist destination, but has also developed a strong golfing culture and now has an estimated two million registered golfers! Ireland is at the forefront of this industry,

lookinG forwArD
So on to this year’s summit, and the need for the unified body – Golf SA, if you like, is

the summit can certainly claim to be the South African golf business’ premier event when it comes to knowledge sharing and networking.


March 2009

Golf Club Management

the fourth South AfricAn Golf SuMMit
sporting choices of South Africa. Fancourt’s marketing director Kwakye Donkor said the survey outcomes should stimulate interesting discussion at the Golf Summit about the South African golf industry’s role in the wider market. “We know inherently that our industry plays an important part in the local economy, but quantifiable evidence will go far in emphasising our significance and may ultimately give us the clout we need to motivate decision-making. We look forward to the PGA of SA’s involvement in the coming Golf Summit and encourage role players to book their attendance as soon as possible,” said Donkor. This year’s programme will included: ■ Moeketsi Mosola – SA Tourism’s CEO will once again be the keynote speaker and will no doubt voice his concerns that ‘golf’s unified voice’ has yet to be heard. ■ Andrea Sartori – KPMG Eastern Europe

Master of ceremonies larry Gould, (a former general manager of fancourt) is the publisher of Gould’s Guide to Golf (where to play and where to stay in South Africa) and Gould’s Guide to the cape’s finest wine estates (where to, what to taste and where to stay). he is a director of oncourse worldwide, a company specialising in the business of golf.

still to be formulated (and still necessary). The summit will find that things have changed economically and, without a doubt, the developers will need to adapt their business models to survive the local and economic downturn. Golf course revenues are also going to be a concern for many managers and committees, as the number of international guests is likely to be reduced in 2009 and the corporate golf day might also be a casualty of tight economic conditions. Maintenance and water management will again feature. However, the main focus at this year’s summit will be on the economic benefits of the golf business in South Africa. As part of the wider theme of global economic turmoil and its effects on the South African and world golfing industries, the Professional Golfer’s Association of South Africa (PGA of SA) will present to summit delegates some relevant findings of its commissioned survey. Conducted by Sport Marketing Surveys South Africa (SMS SA), the economic impact study will focus on measuring the size and value of the game of golf by evaluating every component within the industry and its subsequent contribution towards the economy. Following extensive consulting with golfing associations, businesses and golf clubs to obtain accurate and relevant information, the report will surely quantify just how important this ‘game’ is in the kaleidoscope of

Mcnulty’S GuiDelineS
Six tourism essentials:
No destination can host international growth tourism without all of these in place. 1. Access and transport 2. Accommodation range 3. Cuisine 4. Day-time activities 5. Night-time activities 6. Tourism services A destination is a fusion of many things, but must have the following characteristics. a. Advantages created through planned investment. Inherited advantages are added value, but not essential. b. Themes with strong specialities. c. Anchor projects/sectors of scale. d. Excellent international access and internal transport. e. Truly meet the six tourism essentials. f. Marketing capability and media savvy to tell the world. g. Strong governance and organisation to achieve an integrated approach and competitive focus. Special note: Use your brand ambassadors: Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman.

the fourth South AfricAn Golf SuMMit
(Golf Business Forum) will highlight the key success factors of top-performing real estate in golf resorts and communities. ■ Professor Magnus Enell from Sweden heads research and development for the Scandinavian Turfgrass and Environment Research Foundation (STERF), a leading international centre of competence in sustainable golf course management. He will introduce the ‘Swedish model’ of how to set up and run environmental programmes at golf facilities. Other international speakers from Ireland, the UK and USA (including a representative from Arnold Palmer), as well as the South African contingent, will tackle varied topics with the main interest no doubt being the headline topic: ‘The impact of the current global economic turmoil and the impact on the golf industry. Investor’s and developer’s perspective.’

Sugen pillay, general manager of events, SAtour, will again be among the speakers at this year’s summit.

In the last three years, while the summit has brought together some of the world’s, and some of South Africa’s, best golfing experts to present best practice trends in many aspects of the golf industry, it has yet to gain a substantial credibility as a meaningful force to the industry. Many in the industry (not attending the summit) have declared this not only a Cape initiative, but also a Fancourt vested-interest event. In my capacity as MC for all three summits, and with the opportunity to attend several similar international conferences on the business of golf, I have to disagree. The summit has both international and national relevance. Listening to McNulty’s presentation on the development of the Irish golf tourism strategy, no-one in the audience could help but agree that South Africa has all the ingredients to compete in the global marketplace. No-one listening to John Strawn’s best practices in golf course design and development could help but learn what is necessary for the sustainable future of golf. No-one hearing Rain Bird’s Steven Sundtrom’s presentation on the intelligent use of water could fail to grasp the importance of the information. Colin Hegarty, from the Golf Research Group out of the US, telling us that maybe we should look at diversifying the real estate components inside the gates to encompass international trends of mixing the levels of entry might resonate in today’s current

economic climate. And the government’s request (it is still asking) for the golf industry to speak with one voice has to be a ‘must do’. Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Australia, Mauritius and even Austria have formulated public and private partnerships to develop and market their countries as golfing destinations. The Middle East (that now retains McNulty as its advisor on golf tourism) is at the forefront as a golfing destination – huge budgets it has, I know, but also huge bunkers and, while I know shopping is a wonderful off-course experience, I cannot help but feel that we offer a little more! This year’s summit will have the PGA of SA presenting the economic benefit of the business of golf – the PGA of SA is headed by Dennis Bruyns, renowned golf expert in many capacities. In his capacity as the head of the PGA of SA, he has offered his association’s infrastructure to assist in creating that one voice needed to maximise our potential to market ourselves as one of the world’s best golfing destinations. I trust the delegates will absorb the lessons at this year’s summit and that meaningful immediate action will result. And if we don’t adapt? Well, things will then indeed stay the same. The South Africa Golf Summit will be held from 29 March to 1 April at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate. ■
■ for information or reservations e-mail

sagolfsummit@fancourt.co.za or phone 044 804 0020.

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the fourth South AfricAn Golf SuMMit

SA Golf Summit 2009
leave the brolly behind
From 29 March to 1 April, Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate will host the fourth South African Golf Summit, an event that can claim to be golf business’ finest networking and knowledge-sharing opportunity. This year, local and international speakers will focus on the economic value of the golf industry, as well as the impact of the global financial fracas, which has seen the economic world developing a monetary shank that seems set to get a lot worse before it gets better. This year’s speaker list is impressive. Joining the perennial favourites, which include Andrea Satori (KPMG, Hungary), Professor Ernie Heath (SA’s foremost tourism authority), Andrew Golding (PGP), Matt McNulty (now a golf consultant in Ireland) and Howard Swan (Swan Golf Designs), are two speakers from Sweden, Maria Strandberg (Environmental Director) and Professor Magnus Enell (director of research at the Swedish Golf Federation). Setting a value on the wealth of hands-on experience and golf development war stories that these and past speakers bring to the conference is difficult. Certainly for the past three years delegates learnt a lot, but specifically that while this country was on the path to becoming a worldclass golf tourism destination, several other countries were on the leaderboard, forcing SA to focus on getting things right at every level of golf business. Impossible to quantify is the networking. Fancourt brought together many of the stars of golf business, in an old-boys-club setting. Late evening socialising appeared to solve the world’s golf problems, never mind SA’s. Had the summit stuck to knowledge and networking, where there was expertise aplenty, the success was a certainty. It didn’t. At the first conference the 250-odd delegates persuaded themselves that a steering committee representing golf business should investigate forming an umbrella body to channel all the interests of the sport, with the exception of the playing aspects. Today that must go down as a no-return. Getting swept away by one’s own PR, especially in the wake of what was a very successful opening conference, is as dangerous a right-hander’s snap hook in a right-toleft gale. Yet some of the best-known names in business golf went for the idea, probably prompted by SA Tourism CEO Moeketsi Mosola’s demand during his address that golf business get organised and “speak with one voice,” or forget about any government teamwork. A chant picked up by the many other government delegates who were eager to shift the blame for their own ineptitude in dealing with private-sector developers and tourism groups. A post-conference steering committee was quickly formed, with no shortage of privatesector volunteers. Goals were agreed, meetings set up; but that was the last quick thing that happened. While the steering members all publicly admitted that the task was immense none, it transpired, thought that ‘immense’ was more like impossible. Other tried-and-tested representative bodies, it was learnt much later, were suspicious that the summit crowd were trying to hijack golf, and most were not even prepared to talk. Overtures to the only other fully representative group, the benign Confederation of South African Golf, were unsuccessful, as were attempts to involve SA’s golfing godfather, Johann Rupert. Undaunted, the committee members gave it their best shot, but had to report to the 2007 Summit that they were not past the first tee, or even on it. Nonetheless, such was the perceived importance of ‘one voice’, raised again by government representatives during the second conference, that delegates voted unanimously to continue, this time with funding from several large estates. A more-than-capable group was convened, representing most facets of the industry.

Despite reservations regarding the summit’s annual quixotic quest of building a broadly represented umbrella body that bosses the business of golf, the three-day event is a marvellous networking opportunity, writes ted Keenan.
It is worth remembering that a key driver for change, aside from government’s intransigence when dealing with applications for new estates, was that SA Tourism was blind to golf’s potential role in luring high-spending visitors to SA. To assist, this Sunshine Tour’s Grant Wilson suggested building a ‘Play SA’ brand, a concept that Dennis Bruyns said the PGA would support, despite his openlyvoiced scepticism that the summit’s umbrella would ever open over golf business. There is no argument against golf business ‘getting organised’. Rupert himself has called for it. The Irish went one better, and did it. McNulty, who will again address the summit, was appointed director general of tourism by the Irish government, and given full backing. His job was getting the industry in shape, particularly golf. The job, he said, “ruffled feathers.” But he got it right. He unified the business of golf, but spilt business blood doing it. However, during his tenure golf tourism grew eight-fold, and 50 new courses were built. In addition, total tourist numbers rose from less than three million to eight million, dragging GDP up 12.5 percent. But the initiative came from the top, backed by a big budget. So it is worth aiming for, but is the summit the forum? Sadly, the wealth of information emanating from the second summit, which built successfully on the first, was diluted by the focus on the umbrella body. The quality of local and overseas speakers, all with pertinent messages and advice to the industry, was overshadowed by the elusive umbrella. Had the mutterings of a few attendees been heeded, with their concerns that the proposed body was intent on pushing tourism and development, then the umbrella could have been put away, or at least packed in a tourism and development bag, to be dealt with outside the orbit of the summit. Continued on page 29 Golf Club Management March 2009 11

the environMent/technoloGy

environmental Management System
– for continuity and sustainability in golf management
No-one needs reminding that many South African golf courses are going to have to change their modus operandi and, while legislation is likely to soon force clubs to comply with environmental guidelines, some are already moving in the right direction.
EMS (Environmental Management System) offers the course superintendent the most efficient method of keeping tabs on the various facets involved in managing a golf course. This programme monitors every aspect of the operation, including financial/budget controls, the environment, landscape, water, agronomy, waste, energy, resources and communications and public relations. The system simplifies management tasks, results in greater insight, improves the image of the operation, saves costs, monitors quality (ISO related) and allows for multiple users. It cannot be denied that South African courses, with a few notable exceptions, have lagged behind the United States and Europe when it comes to environmental awareness. The trend has fortunately been for this to change radically in recent times, and the EMS programme now offers a simple and effective way for managers and greenkeepers to ‘green up’ their act. As long ago as 1994, the European Golf Association, together with the Royal and Ancient and the European Tour, founded an Ecology Unit. With the financial aid of the European Commission, the Committed to Green programme was developed. In particular, the Dutch Golf Federation embraced the ideals and objectives of this green initiative, and itsgreenkeeping committee drew up a manual to assist golf managers in implementing best environmental practices. It is going to be difficult for many course managers, course superintendents and committees to adapt to new environmentally-friendly principles, but EMS is guaranteed to help in establishing a base from which to work towards a greener culture. In helping clubs to establish guidelines and monitor their progress, EMS is at the forefront of golf’s green revolution – also encouraging club members to buy into a new, greener culture. This web-based programme allows members to keep abreast of the aims and achievements of their course superintendent and encourages them to help. ■
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wAter MAnAGeMent

Managing our most precious resource
WATER – with it, a golf course becomes lush and green, enticing golfers to choose a round of golf over other activities. Without water a golf course dies, and with it, the golfer’s desire to be there. Water is, undeniably, the lifeblood of a golf course. Storey ENG (Pty) Ltd, a professional firm that aspires to be the engineering, management and consulting solutions provider of choice, understands this. As a firm that is actively involved in the broader field of water engineering, it has over many years gained experience in all aspects of water as it relates to golf courses. construction and mandatory safety inspections of Category II and III dams must be carried out under the supervision of engineers who have attained Approved Professional Person (APP) status. The status of APP is granted by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). Every engineer who qualifies to receive APP status must re-submit for approval by DWAF for every dam project worked on. The APP’s own staff with Storey ENG have designed many new dams, undertaken even more dam safety inspections, and have investigated a number of dam failures. defining the risks for the contractual parties. Clients rely on Storey ENG to also advise them on the selection of the correct contractual arrangement for the specific situation.

puMp StAtionS
Few golf courses are blessed with irrigation systems that rely on gravity to distribute the water. As such, one or more pump stations are invariably required. Depending on the circumstances, these may be low-cost manuallyoperated fixed-delivery pump stations, or fully-automated remote-controlled variable delivery types. Storey ENG has designed pump stations across the full spectrum. Central to the assistance Storey ENG provides is information on the life-cycle cost of constructing and operating pump stations. Contrary to popular belief, this information often shows that the pump stations with the least overall cost over a 10-year period are seldom those with the lowest capital cost.

wAter reSource plAnninG
When a new golf course is planned, even before the character of the course is decided on, the developer must determine how much water the course needs, how water is to be used, and where the water is going to come from. This information is obviously also critical to the dayto-day management of existing courses. A comprehensive water-resource investigation is the most reliable method of obtaining this information. It will identify water sources, establish water rights, calculate water demands, and develop water usage plans. Armed with this information the course developer is then able to plan a suitably styled course for the water that is available and the course superintendent is able to optimally utilise his most sacred resource. Storey ENG has, for a number of clients, undertaken such investigations.

irriGAtion SySteMS
Central to every golf course is the irrigation system. The selection of the correct type of system is thus vital. Based on the available water and the character of the course, the system may, among others, be: ■ Wall–to–wall, irrigating both the playing areas and the roughs. ■ Two or three rows on the fairways. ■ Block or valve–in–head. ■ One or two rows around the greens. ■ Hard-wired or decoder-controlled. ■ Hard-wired or use radio links to the central controller. Storey ENG understands how irrigation systems work. It also knows the pros and cons for each and can make invaluable recommendations as to the compatibility of each system with the target course. This knowledge comes not only from the many systems that it has designed, but also from good relationships with the suppliers of irrigation equipment/ hardware and software and with irrigationrelated product vendors. A number of contractual arrangements exist for the installation of irrigation systems. Each places different responsibilities on the contractor as well as risks on the owner. Storey ENG has engineers on its staff with contract law training. It thus plays an invaluable role in clarifying the responsibilities and

The perception often exists that consultants such as Storey ENG contribute to the total cost of a golf course project. Storey ENG, however, is adamant that its participation in golf course projects has repeatedly proven the exact opposite. In fact, it contends that its involvement results in a lower overall project cost (even when taking its fees into account). Considering the fact that water is the lifeblood of a golf course, it makes financial sense to call in the help of Storey ENG that makes it its business to know all there is to know about water resource planning, dams, irrigation systems and pump stations. ■
■ for more information contact

Having established what water is available, it is invariably necessary to make provision to store water until it is required on the course. Most often on-course dams serve this function. Dams fall under the requirements of the Water Act. All dams have to be registered and classified as Category I, II or III dams based on their capacity, wall height and the safety risk they pose in case of a breach. The design,

on 021 949 2140 or e-mail info@storey.co.za.


March 2009

Golf Club Management

huMAn reSource DevelopMent

Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th century philosopher, is quoted as saying that “mighty waters draw much stone and rubble along with them; mighty spirits many stupid and bewildered heads.” Another quote of Nietzsche’s is that “madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups.” So why is it that so often the dynamics of decision-making or problem-solving groups lead to stale, unimaginative and often crazy, yet unanimous, thought processes? Is it that more often than not, an individual dominates through their position or power of personality? Or is it that as a group becomes more close-knit, they start to think the same, reward like-minded thinking and avoid conflict. There are only two reasons why you should consider putting a group of people together to solve a problem, come up with ideas or plan for the future. The two reasons are: 1. Is the quality of the decision likely to be increased? 2. Is commitment to decisions made likely to be increased? If the answer to these two questions is no, then you are wasting your time convening a meeting. If, on the other hand, you are of the belief that either the quality of, or commitment to the decision can be increased by putting a team together, then you have to ensure that the sum of the individual parts is greater than the whole. So how do you ensure that people’s creativity and commitment is increased by the meeting of minds and the sharing of ideas? For a group to be effective there are five aspects to consider.

when too many cooks spoil the broth
how often do we come away from a meeting thinking ‘that was a waste of time’? In spite of this, we still spend many hours in groups battling with issues that could more easily be solved by individuals. Why is this, and what can we do about it? Andrew Wilson of GCM gives some suggestions.
of thinking must be protected. People must be allowed to disagree, not be disagreeable. There is a big difference between the two. It is equally important that no one individual be allowed to dominate proceedings. Very often, and especially with regard to new members of a group, they feel that they have to contribute to be productive. Quiet members of the group should be encouraged to share their views, but it should be equally acceptable for people to declare that they do not have an opinion on a certain issue or need time to think about it. The leader must create space for all the personalities to feel safe to contribute to their fullest, without fear of ridicule or resentment. group leader you should discourage any form of evaluation until all ideas are on the table.

4. the evAluAtion proceSS
Once all ideas have been tabled, look at each proposal or idea from all sides. What are its advantages and disadvantages? Will it be easy or difficult to implement? What likely barriers to implementation are you likely to face? Will the potential returns or rewards be worth the efforts and resources required for implementation? As a result of going through this process you are not only likely to make the best possible decisions, but are also likely to build team commitment to implementation. A further spin-off will be that you have identified most of the issues and barriers you will have to consider when planning the implementation process.

2. the Structure of the Group
Appoint members to the group who are equally committed to a successful outcome, but who hold differing view points and/or who represent different interests. Loyalty to the group rather than loyalty to the outcome should be discouraged. Very often when teams have worked together for some length of time they create a ‘group-think’ process with no-one wanting to rock the boat or be seen to be ‘the devil’s advocate’. Each person in the group should take on the additional role of critic. The focus should always be on the task at hand and not individual egos.

5. the neeD for outSiDe intervention
It is a good idea, every now and again, to test ideas generated by a group on people outside of the group. If the same group of people meet regularly, the tendency can exist for decisions to be made that suit the interests of the group rather than the interests of the broader environment. In a golf club environment it could be useful to get a group of members together every now and then to evaluate decisions being made in their interest. It may also be worth asking members to occasionally attend a group meeting to share their ideas. This is one of the best ways of ensuring that a homogeneous group avoids the terminal illness of ‘group-think’. ■
■ for help or advice concerning human

3. the GenerAtion of iDeAS
There are two major barriers to identifying the best thinking or best ideas. The first major barrier to a great idea is a good idea. Someone in the group comes up with a good idea that everyone feels comfortable with and creative thinking stops there unless people are encouraged to build on the idea. The second major barrier is to allow analysis or evaluation of each idea as it is generated. As

1. the role of the leADer
This is probably the most critical component. The leader of the group sets the climate and culture of the group. He or she must encourage free thinking. People who are attacked by other members of the group for their line

resource issues, contact Andrew wilson, human resource strategist, on 082 575 3861or at consultaeq@iafrica.com.

Golf Club Management

March 2009


hr leGAl

handling the fall-out of

substance abuse
Andrew Wilson of GCM suggests a pro-active approach to substance abuse and recommends steps that can be taken to identify and deal with possible cases.
The festive season is now behind us and 2009 is well under way. Have any of your team members suffered collateral damage from all the opportunities to over-indulge? The early part of the year is always a good time to be extra aware of possible signs and symptoms of substance abuse amongst your team members. Do you have a substance abuse policy in place? Are your management team trained to identify substance abuse warning signs? Are your absenteeism records accurate and informative? All these components need to be in place if you are to be properly equipped to deal with a possible case of an employee’s substance abuse. Let’s look at each component in turn. possible signs of substance abuse as well as the procedural processes to follow when dealing with substance abuse. Management should be held accountable for monitoring work standards, absenteeism and signs of possible substance abuse. Management should be expected to act professionally and in line with club policy at the first sign of possible substance abuse by a team member in order to avoid performance and team morale problems. Initial interventions should aim to support and rehabilitate the employee and, where possible, should involve the services of a qualified health-care counsellor. Confidentiality, outside of those assisting the suspected abuser, should be maintained throughout the process. If abuse has been established and the employee has committed him or herself to rehabilitation, they should be expected to sign a contract stating that they understand that the club will be covering the costs of the rehabilitation programme only if the employee concerned successfully completes the programme. If not, the employee grants the club the right to deduct the costs of the rehabilitation programme from their earnings. If the indicators of substance abuse continue, such as absenteeism and/or poor performance, then the club will revert to a more formal disciplinary approach dealing with the matter as either sick leave abuse or incapacity, depending on the circumstances.
■ Poor and inconsistent attendance ■ ■

A SuBStAnce ABuSe policy
In order to ensure consistency and fairness when dealing with cases of substance abuse you should have a written policy in place. The policy should cover the following points: ■ The reason why you have the policy. It should include a statement indicating that the club is primarily concerned with the health and well-being of its staff. ■ The fact that employees are responsible for their own health, and that substance abuse will negatively affect their performance, productivity and reliability in addition to the morale of other team members must also be included. ■ A definition of what you mean by ‘substance’. Tobacco should be excluded from this list as it should be covered by a separate ‘smoking’ policy. ■ Employees should sign consent forms giving permission for them to be tested for substance abuse if and when their performance/attendance records could indicate a possible substance abuse problem. ■ Appropriate professional counselling should precede testing and should be available post testing if required. ■ Management should be trained to identify

with confusing and conflicting reasons for absence. ■ Regular absences from the workstation. ■ Inconsistent behaviour and mood patterns. ■ Unexplained aggression. ■ Dilated pupils and/or skin problems. ■ Fluctuating work performance. ■ Absenteeism or poor work performance after weekends or public holidays. ■ The smell of alcohol anytime during the day. ■ Unsteady or structured movement. These signs are only possible indicators and you cannot accuse someone of substance abuse if they are displaying one or more of the above symptoms. You should, however, raise your concerns with the employee as soon as possible so that the matter can be dealt with professionally and sympathetically. Are your absenteeism records accurate and informative? The more information you have at your disposal, the better equipped you will be to spot the substance abuser. Watch out for regular absence on Mondays or Fridays or the day before or after a public holiday. You should also have a clear club policy that staff are to phone in on their first day of absence before 09h30 and speak to either their manager or another member of the management team giving the reasons for the absence and the expected date of return to work. In cases of extended absence it is worth considering visiting the employee and you should always hold a ‘return to work’ interview. In both cases, you are not only showing concern for the employee, but can also learn a lot that can’t be picked up over the phone. ■
■ for help or advice concerning human

Are your management trained to identify warning signs? There are drug rehabilitation centres in most regions of the country and it is worth asking their advice and calling on their services to assist when necessary, especially with the training of management. The following are some of the signs that you should be looking out for as possible indicators of substance abuse:

resource issues, contact Andrew wilson, human resource strategist, on 082 575 3861or at consultaeq@iafrica.com

Golf Club Management

March 2009


BeDforD Golf cluB

Bedford Golf club
An ‘open’ with a difference
There is a danger that snobbery elitism could be creeping into the game of golf. Among my circle of golfing associates, the talk is often about the top courses they have just played or are about to play. The bigger the course designer’s name or the more the course cost to build, the more important it is to be seen to have played the course. It’s a bit like road runners not being rated unless they have run the Comrades Marathon. If you haven’t played such-and-such a course, then you haven’t lived! I tell the following story as it shows what can be done by an ordinary golf club, with ordinary members, a limited budget and buckets of enthusiasm. Towards the end of 2008 I had the privilege of being invited to play in the Bedford Golf Club’s Open Championship. The club lies two-and-a-bit hours north of Port Elizabeth and was founded in 1892. (See our lead article in the August 2008 issue of GCM). This isn’t a designer course. It is a classic country-style nine-hole/18-tee layout, playing 5 874 meters off the tips. It has no bunkers. The rough can be punishing and should be stayed out of as much as possible, as it is home to the local species of puff adder, cobra, etc. The format for the ‘Open’ was a betterball Stableford with 56 couples competing for the honour of winning, which was far more important than the prizes on offer. The fact that J and M Price won with a final score of 45 (which shows that the course was no push over) was almost secondary to the fact that everyone, young, old, male and female, had a ball. Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. Youngsters and females were as welcome to participate in the ‘Open’ as us males. So what can other clubs with limited means learn from Bedford? There were three things that stood out for me as a first-time visitor to the club, all beginning with ‘F’.

the bedford club may not qualify for Compleat Golfer’s 5-Star golf Experience Award, as it lacks the ‘bells and whistles’ associated with big budget facilities. but it still understands the value of great hospitality, as Andrew Wilson discovered.

the club is not big on enforcing strict dress codes, rather focusing on friendliness, food and fun in a laid-back atmosphere.

1. friendliness. The Eastern Cape is renowned for its hospitality. I wasn’t the only visitor there that weekend, but we were all made to feel as if we were part of the club and had been members for ages. They were genuinely delighted to see us. One visitor even phoned the week before to order a case of Castle Milk Stout for the weekend. He thought he was going to be the only person drinking it, but little did he know that it is also one of my favourite tipples. We ran out early on the Saturday evening so had to move on to more common brews! 2. food. The Wags (wives and girlfriends) of the local farming community really went out of their way to ensure that nobody went home hungry. The supply of food was endless, the quality of ‘home cooking’ was exceptional, and no wonder those Eastern Cape farmers are big guys! 3. fun. The whole emphasis of the weekend was to have fun. There was a fourball alliance on the Friday afternoon with the main event being on the Saturday. The cost for the Saturday golf was R200, which

included the round, the caddie’s lunch and the dinner in the evening. Don’t get me wrong. The competition was intense, but far more important than who won or lost on the day, or what prizes were on offer, was that everyone enjoyed themselves and had a few stories to tell anyone willing to listen in the bar afterwards, on both the Friday and Saturday evenings. It’s a simple, but successful, formula. There is no doubt that a lot of hard work went into the event, which will pay handsome dividends for the club. As a result of the hard work and enthusiasm, the clubhouse has become the social centre of the town and attracts golfers and non-golfers alike. The Bedford Open will certainly will be in my diary for December 2009, and if I am passing that way during the year, I will certainly make a detour and pop into the clubhouse to renew a couple of friendships. ■
■ for more information on Bedford Golf club or

its ‘open’ in December, contact its club manager Di truter at dtruter@ananzi.co.za.


March 2009

Golf Club Management


Much to be revealed
Chief executive of the PgA of SA dennis Bruyns explains the significance of the 2009 golf Summit and the much-talked-about golf industry survey which will be reported on there.
The annual Golf Summit takes place at Fancourt in George from 29 March to 1 April. Fancourt has hosted this event since its inception in 2006 and the PGA of South Africa views it as a major gathering for anyone involved in the business and development of the game of golf. It provides a platform for government, golfing bodies and those not necessarily represented by formal bodies to come together and discuss, learn and participate in the future of the game. It is a great opportunity for developers and some of the golf estates and resorts to be heard and, particularly for those involved in golf tourism, it is an opportunity to plan and strategise for the future. It is for these reasons that the PGA has chosen the Golf Summit to present an overview of the results of the extensive survey undertaken by Sport Marketing Surveys South Africa on the impact of the golf industry on the economy of South Africa. The economic impact study will focus on measuring the size and value of the game of golf by evaluating every component within the industry and its subsequent contribution towards the economy. This has been done by unprecedented consultation with golfing bodies, businesses and golf clubs to obtain accurate and relevant information that accurately assesses the economic state of the game and gives all those involved in the industry a tool with which to plan for the future. In these times of global financial crises and downturns in economies worldwide, the Golf Summit provides the perfect opportunity and vehicle for all involved in the admin-

cMASA MAnAGer of the yeAr 2008
CMASA has resumed the presentation of this award for the 2008 year. The winner will be announced at the 2009 Compleat Golfer Awards Dinner. The finalists were interviewed by a panel during a one-hour session during which a structured and well-defined interview process was followed consisting of 11 key competency areas which include: ■ Communication with members, committee/boards, staff and suppliers ■ Relationships with stakeholders, ■ Involvement in the club industry ■ Involvement in development of junior members ■ Corporate governance ■ Risk management ■ Long-term plans for the club ■ Ethics ■ Leadership ■ Strategic perspective ■ Commercial awareness

istration and business of golf to meet and develop strategies that could grow the game and its business offerings. The significance of this survey that sets it apart from previous surveys is its extent – to the point that absolutely all aspects of the golf industry have been investigated and reported on. There is relevance for every individual or business that is involved in the game, no matter in which particular sphere

or area. It is for this reason that the PGA would encourage attendance at the summit where the results of the survey are a major focus, with indepth discussion sure to come from many of the findings. Given the bleak nature of the immediate future, the benefits of extensive knowledge of the economic state of the industry is simply vital. When deciding to be the motivating force behind this survey, the PGA of SA recognised the need to study the industry so that its members, the PGA professionals of South Africa, would have at their disposal information that could assist them within their businesses. But then the PGA also recognised the importance of this survey to the industry as a whole, as growing the game is one of the PGA’s major focus areas. It was for this reason that the PGA decided to share the results of the survey with all interested parties: the fact that PGA professionals report that some 25 of learner golfers do not make it from the driving range to become regular players on the golf course as a result of frustration is concerning. Or, did you realise that, on average, 40 percent of golf club members play once a week at their home course and away as a visitor once a month? Did you know that non-members’ rounds constitute 52 percent of total rounds played at the average club, with members making up the difference. On average, the total number of rounds is estimated at 31 154 per golf course. Hopefully, with the knowledge gained, golf can continue to grow and to contribute significantly to the economic wellbeing of so many in this country.

lABour pAinS – Severence pAy
Severance pay relates purely to the monies you must pay a person you are retrenching for operational reasons. It doesn’t apply to any other form of termination of contracts. If you are retrenching a person, it is known as a nofault termination and the severance pay is to compensate the person for having to terminate their services through no fault of their own. The law states that you must pay a minimum of one week’s remuneration per completed year of service. This is in addition to any other contractual notice pay, leave pay, commission or any other form of remuneration that the person is entitled to. To calculate the length of service you must take the date that the person first started in your employment, including any breaks in service of less than a year.

Golf Club Management

March 2009


eXtrA SpeciAl MAnAGer of the Month

eugene van wyk
consistency is the key
Country Club Johannesburg is one of South Africa’s largest and most successful clubs. It is generally agreed that the club’s pair of golf courses, together with its modern, functional clubhouse, makes it a strong contender for the finest facility in the land. GCM spoke to the man at the helm. It is hard to believe that not that long ago, the Woodmead/Khyber Rock area in Johannesburg’s Northern Suburbs was farmland. When Country Club Johannesburg purchased what was then Cullinan Farm in the late 1960s, even the most astute gentlemen on the committee could not have envisioned the boulder-strewn land being transformed into lush swathes of tree-lined fairways, and that the surrounding property would be gobbled up by the urban sprawl. Close to the M1 highway, it is difficult to imagine what this 600-hectare property must be worth today, but more importantly, the fact that it exists has prevented the area from being completely clad in concrete. Driving through the security gate and winding along the road to the clubhouse, one enters a very different world – the “Caution: hedgehogs crossing” sign is a nice touch, although few people ever see these timid creatures. The clubhouse which overlooks the verdant Woodmead course has an understated opulence about it, the clean lines and spacious design allowing for a logical flow. The structure went up in 1999, after the existing building had simply become too small. Ten years later, the clubhouse has again been expanded, an exercise that has tested the patience of club manager Eugene van Wyk. “There have been various challenges operating a club of this size while the construction work has been going on, but we have manwas through the catering contractor that his association with Country Club Johannesburg began. Working under the well known and respected Tony Beart at Country Club Auckland Park, Eugene tells us that he again learned a lot. “Tony was a total perfectionist with a background as a hotelier, and he was happy to share his knowledge and he set the highest standards,” says Eugene, who was effectively ‘poached’ from Fedics and now runs the Woodmead club. “It was a sort of a crash-landing into golf,” he says, admitting that he is not a great golfer. “I occasionally get out there and play nine holes, but the idea of spending almost five hours playing 18 doesn’t really appeal to me. We are fortunate in having Richard Fulford (director of golf) who grew up at this club – a brilliant golfer who understands the culture of Country Club Johannesburg. He looks after all the golf-related matters and he is well liked by the members.” There are some 2 800 golf members at this club, and filling both the Rocklands and Woodmead courses is never a problem. “We do over 90 000 rounds on both courses – in fact, with both courses in operation (prior to the eight-month closure of Rocklands for major renovations) we did 93 000 rounds. I am budgeting on doing 95 000 rounds this year,” he says. Add to this the many corporate days and Eugene and his team have their hands full. Clearly blessed with the right sort of personality and temperament for the job, Eugene van Wyk has endeared himself to even the most difficult members at this club. “Some individuals, and I suppose every club has them, seem to go out of their way to create problems – some seem to love complain-

eugene began his career as a chef, and has found the recipe for successfully managing one of South Africa’s premier clubs.

aged,” he says with a shrug, explaining that various contractors have let the club down in terms of schedules – nothing unusual. Eugene began his career as a chef, in a sort of roundabout way. He was doing his National Service when he sought a way to avoid going to the border – and becoming a chef was a cunning plan which worked. He clearly developed a love for food preparation, and became very good at it. He joined the Southern Sun hotel group and swiftly rose through the ranks. “I worked with some real ‘fruitcakes’ there,” he says, referring to the temperamental head chefs rather than the confectionary baked in the ovens. “I did learn a lot though,” he admits, and after being involved in various aspects of his trade with Southern Sun he joined Fedics, and it

not for sale to persons under the age of 18


March 2009

Golf Club Management

A major revamp to the clubhouse has resulted in considerably more space, including a function facility that will accommodate 360 seated guests.

have a more relaxed atmosphere, where jeans and t-shirts will be the order of the day – we will hopefully become a more family-oriented club, even if the more conservative members raise their eyebrows,” says Eugene. Country Club Johannesburg has been a regular recipient of Compleat Golfer’s 5-Star Golf Experience Award, and the club is clearly not resting on its laurels. Its policy of offering a discounted rate for under-30s to join the club has paid dividends, and the large membership continues to grow. The founding fathers of this premier club would be proud of what it has become, and with his passion and enthusiasm, Eugene van Wyk is determined that standards are not about to drop on his watch. ■

ing about the slightest imperfection, but we handle every complaint with a smile, and do our level best to please everybody,” he says. “There are rules and they are applied to everybody. I believe that consistency is the key.” He is also quick to point out that his young team (and he is still on the right side of 40) has much to do with the successful management of his club. “There is a great spirit among all the staff – we may have our arguments from time to time, but we resolve any problems quickly, and get on with the job.” The staff complement at the club is made up of 60 food and beverage employees alone, and including the course staff, more than 140 people keep this operation running like clockwork. At a time when many clubs are facing a rough ride due to the uncertain economic climate, Country Club has experienced none of the slowdown, and the huge investment in expanding its conference/function facilities and bar, a new pool and pavilion and the improvements to the Rocklands course has cost in excess of R45 million. The club has been fortunate in owning land that has been sold for development, and this money has been ploughed back into the club. “There is no question that the high percentage of accountants on our committee has been a good thing, and while the club is run very much as a business, we like to think that a good spirit prevails among the members. “At our new pavilion we hope to

ABove: richard fulford is a key member of the management team. the former tour professional is highly popular with the members, and runs a smooth operation. riGht: what was the cullinan farm is now magnificent parkland in the middle of Johannesburg’s northern Suburbs.

not for sale to persons under the age of 18

Golf Club Management

March 2009


turf MAnAGeMent

At the cutting edge
graham Corbett took up the position of senior golf course superintendent at the Links and bramble hill at Fancourt on 1 July 2008, with one of his mid- to long-term goals being the implementation of tighter budget control to ensure greater profitability for the courses, while maintaining the exceptional quality of both products. opportunitieS
Even with the state of the world’s economy being what it is, with all downturns, there are opportunities. With this in mind, The Links will be embarking on an improvement programme for four months in 2009, starting mid-April and lasting until the beginning of September. The team will be revamping greens, improving the bunkers and attacking the invasive grasses. number one enemy after poa annua. During the course closure, The Links team will aggressively spray to kill the invasive kikuyu and re-sod as much as possible from Fancourt’s own sod farm of 1.6 hectares. Other areas will be seeded. Some of the challenges Graham has faced since joining Fancourt have been the weather, the cool-season grasses and labourrelated issues. “These three factors are far more challenging than I thought possible. Take the weather for instance – it changes daily and within a 24-hour period. What the weatherman predicts, either does not happen, or is far greater than first expected – be it rain, temperatures or wind. We do have the most up-to-date irrigation system with a full weather station, without which we would be at sea (14km away),” he says. mindful not to compromise on the standards that golfers expect from The Links. Our emphasis is on better and improved management.”

The site on which The Links was developed has evolved from an old airport strip to a wonderful eco-friendly links-type golf course. In the last six years, 95 bird species have been identified with seven mammals and various snakes. The wetlands were established with only indigenous plant species, such as the macrophites that convert any toxins. Sterilised grass carp help maintain the grasses and algae. All these and many other things help the quality of the water before returning to the river system. Alien vegetation such as black wattle, bud weed, pampas grass and bull rushes are all removed, adding to water saving. Chemical pesticides have been reduced and compost trials are underway, with biological applications being run through our irrigation system. The team’s objective is to qualify for Audubon Certification in the next few years. Graham ends off by saying, “It is a great opportunity to implement all the experience and test the resolve and knowledge of a good golf course manager. The course will continue to challenge the best in all of us. If I think back to when I started at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington in 1976 at the age of 30, I never thought the challenge would be so intense and varied, as was the case when I started at The Links, where for the first three months I had little idea of the day-to-day requirements of a cool-season golf course. Now we have the right background and knowledge to cope and, more importantly, improve beyond expectation.” ■

The greens will be seeded with a new variety of Penn A4. This is not an easy decision, but other golf courses in the area have been very successful in using A4 and a combination of A1 and A4. The aggressive nature and high density will allow for fast greens, excellent recovery from pitchmarks and low mowing. Characteristic of A4 is its upright and finetextured leaf growth, allowing for excellent putting quality.

In Graham’s words, “kikuyu management is a walk in the park compared to cool-season grasses, where we are constantly spraying for fungus, weeds, insects and invasive grasses. We walk a tightrope, balancing between dry and drought, especially in the low-lying areas and hot spots on the mounds.” Hand watering is the order of the day, on the rough, fairways and greens. Commenting on the maintenance team needed at The Links, Graham says, “We need 55 people to maintain the condition of this baby. Five are dedicated to the wetlands, seven or eight work on the scrub, and another three focus on kikuyu spraying in the rough and fairways.” All tees and greens are hand mowed with walk behinds and all 18 holes plus the practice area are prepared before the day’s play, so that members and their guests do not experience noise interruption. “A significant challenge in today’s times is raising the standard of our product, while reducing the maintenance costs. We work hard to reduce our expenditure, but are ever

In consultation with Gary Player Design and Fancourt’s owner Dr Hasso Plattner, various bunkers on The Links will be revetted, two will be closed and three repositioned. The sand will also be amended, allowing for a firmer texture. With these changes taking place, the ever-nagging question of consistent and firm bunkers will hopefully be answered!

cool-SeASon GrASSeS
The fairways and rough are all established to a Links Mix. This cool-season grass variety is not endemic to Southern Africa. The Links has 26 hectares of these grasses, which are at their best during the cool months of the year, but in January, February and March they certainly keep the greens staff on their toes! The site where The Links was developed, used to be the old George Airport, and the grass found in the area was mostly kikuyu. Over the years, kikuyu has become the

Golf Club Management

March 2009


turf MAnAGeMent

Greenmaker – too good to be true?
greenmaker is a soil additive that promises to result in considerable savings of water and fertiliser, besides having other advantages. this product has been subjected to stringent field tests with positive results, and is certainly a ‘must have’ for South African course superintendents.
What exactly is Greenmaker, and how does it work? The product is made up of 99 percent clinoptilolite, known to chemists as hydrated sodium pottasium calcium aluminium silicate – quite a mouthful! Although relatively new to turf management applications, this stable, natural zeolite has been used for some time as a chemical sieve, a gas absorber, as a food additive and as a filter for drinking water and in aquariums. This natural substance is chemically neutral, and thus ecologically friendly, and has the ability to absorb ammonias and other toxic gases from the air and water. Research has proven that when applied to turf the results are astounding. Because Greenmaker has the ability to retain as much as 70 percent of its weight in water and nutrients and slowly release them into the growing medium, the correct application will result in a saving of some 40 percent of both water and fertilisers. At a time when water usage is a hot topic and the costs of fertilisation are spiraling, the value of this cannot be overstated. The additional advantages of Greenmaker are: ■ Increased stability and permanent improvement of turf structure ■ Optimum water and air management ■ Improvement in drought resistance ■ Improved control of fungus ■ Limited thatch build-up ■ Better root structure and vitality of leaves ■ Reduced maintenance
■ Optimum nutrient intake due to

slower release
■ Accelerates turf growth after initial and

continued sowing
■ Improved drainage ■ Reduction in leaching of fertilisers and

other chemical applications Greenmaker is mixed into the growing medium when greens and surrounds are being constructed, but can also be applied to mature putting surfaces after hollowtining. Ratios of application are calculated by Greenmaker’s representatives, who will undertake the analysis of your soil. ■
■ for further information contact Anthea van

Breemen on 082 773 1960.

profile – DeSiGn AnD conStruction

A match made in heaven
turftek has been established for over two decades and has evergreen contacts with blue-chip companies throughout Mpumalanga, gauteng and the Cape. the company has been selective in who they work for and is, as a result, financially sound. turftek is the industrial, golf course and sports turf maintenance division which falls under the greens Division umbrella of Servest (Pty) Limited.
Turftek’s real strength and ability to operate away from its home base lies in the calibre of the person employed on site as the contract manager and in a team of dedicated support personnel at management and senior management level. They include horticulturists, engineers, soil scientists, greenkeepers, accountants and managers. Over the years, the company has diversified from industrial-type maintenance, to more intensive utilisation maintenance of sports facilities, such as playing fields, bowling greens, cricket pitches and golf courses. It’s hard to believe that it has been just over three years since Golftek officially opened its doors. Starting out as a sub-division of Turftek in order to broaden the services offered by Servest’s Greens Division, it soon became apparent that there was a definite need for itsspecialised services. Golftek is run by Vic van Eck who has 18 years experience in the grounds and turf maintenance industry and has been involved in all Golftek’s golf course construction projects. With this wealth of experience in the industry and with Servest’s ample financial backing, it seemed a logical step to form a new division in golf course construction. Initially, being the new kid on the block and with some stiff competitors in the industry, it was difficult for Golftek to make significant inroads into the market. Building a golf course is a major project and is something you don’t want to employ the wrong people to do. Apart from anything else, the financial risk is huge. However, with Servest’s considerable financial backing and the team’s combined experience, Golftek has positioned itself to be able to tackle any construction project, no matter what the size and location. Golftek made its début on the golf course construction scene when it was awarded the contract to build the back nine holes the Bushman Sands. Situated in Alicedale in the Eastern Cape, the course is a Phil Jacobs/

with its work on projects such as eye of Africa and the unresolved development at highland Gate (pictured above), Golftek has started to show its potential to lead the field.

Gary Player design. It then honed its skills on a few upgrade projects at Eagle Canyon, Randpark Country Club, Bryanston Country Club and Centurion Golf Estate. Golftek also completed the construction of Waterford (nine-hole, classic par-three course) designed by Robert O’Friel. In 2006, Golftek took on its first major project when they were awarded its first signature course contract to construct Highland Gate, an Ernie Els design. Thirteen holes have been completed, grown and are ready for play. Unfortunately the developer ran into financial difficulties, so Golftek are awaiting the go-ahead to complete the course. With the ink barely dry on the Highland Gate contract, Golftek almost immediately landed the construction of a Greg Norman signature course at Eye of Africa, just south of Johannesburg. The construction of the golf course is now complete and it is currently in the process of being grown in with the expected opening in April 2009. Golftek recently completed the upgrade of an existing nine-hole golf course at Eersterivier called Fynbos Golf Estate, which was rede-

signed by Mark Muller. Currently Golftek is involved in a number of design-and-build projects, as well as the reconstruction of layouts. It has been a meteoric rise for Golftek and its staff, many of whom learn new techniques on almost a daily basis. Two years is not a long time in anyone’s book to build up a tight infrastructure, including all the necessary staff and equipment. Golftek’s biggest strength is its willingness and ability to invest in buying the best equipment on the market, setting up an internal workshop and employing permanent staff. Golftek has had to prove itself in a tough and unforgiving industry and, while many may be rather surprised at its rate of growth, Golftek have proved to all that it is a company to be reckoned with. There may be predictions that the golf course construction market will wane as the market becomes saturated, but Golftek still considers the future in South Africa to be bright. With the successful completion of its most recent projects, Golftek will have established itself as a brand and its sights will shift further into Africa and beyond. ■

Golf Club Management

March 2009



handicapping systems
Suddenly everyone’s an expert
“One of my favourite Afrikaans expressions is ‘die beste stuurman staan aan waal’. It is certainly pertinent in the golfing industry,” says NGN’s CEO Paul Smulders. “Many believe that they are all capable of doing a better job that anyone else – there is no shortage of experts,” he adds. NGN does not deny experiencing extraordinary problems at the end of last year, but it seems that eight or nine newly-licensed handicap service providers feel they can do a better job, and both the SAGA and The Pro Shop are claiming that they have all the answers. “What makes this a bitter pill to swallow is that we upgraded all our software and servers, without charging special levies, to accommodate the new SAGA handicap changes,” adds Smulders. “I am reminded of ‘Golf Orphans’, the title of an article describing the demise of Book4Golf that was funded by Primedia to the tune of R5 million, and made all the same promises and voiced all the same criticisms of NGN. What makes 2009 any different from previous years, when several handicap service providers failed? Either they realised that they couldn’t sell the consolidated club-owned database, or use the databases for their own gain outside of handicapping and club membership – for some reason they simply lost interest. No-one can promise you that their software would never suffer problems, or that their server will never go down – it happens to everyone.” This trend is not unique to South Africa, and most countries currently running a centralised handicap system have tried multiple service providers for the central database, but decided on a single commercial entity providing the service. There must be a reason for this. “The business model which has survived for 12 years relies on a cross-subsidisation element,” says Smulders. “Every golfer in the country pays NGN around R80 for the handicap service for which NGN provides a central server, a terminal at every single club in the country, the connectivity between the clubs and the server, as well as the handicap card. That fee is less than half the fee paid to the union and the many benefits are obvious. The electronic card has facilitated the discounts and reciprocity fees offered at most clubs because of the control it offers – the number of scores captured has increased, and unique and exclusive services like Discovery Vitality points for rounds of golf, DStv handicap info and a peer-review website, plus much more. What happens is that new competitors under-cut each other until the margins become so small that nobody wants to service the small clubs with the same solution (although new entrants always promise the world to the smaller clubs initially). Service providers start pulling out of small clubs and the country loses its national solution. A number of cards float around and the average golfer, pro behind the counter and clubs become so confused that it starts to unwind the entire concept. The union loses the ability to collect accurate numbers and the collection of its fees goes down. Golfers can’t enter scores and check handicaps and basically we take a giant step backwards.” Past SAGA presidents have lived through these periods. Three of the last four admit that it was not a great time and kept the SAGA’s focus off where it should have been. NGN has been under a partnership agreement with the SAGA for the last five years (12 months left to run under the current contract) and has improved the revenue of the SAGA and unions by between 15 and 45 percent by simply providing them with the correct numbers of golfers at each club. In addition, NGN has paid millions of rands over to the SAGA and WGSA as a contribution to their various development programs.

the National golf Network came in for some flak during a brief period of technological challenges, but since this has been resolved. GCM lets the company have its say.
NGN has also paid for handicap booklets and sponsored various tournaments, in addition to issuing the only approved SAGA/WGSA affiliation card. In the last six years its approach has been one of cooperation for the good of the game of golf. According to NGN, the data problems and server issues which have hampered the network since November 2008 have been resolved, and since then over 300 000 scores have been transferred, leaving only a few thousand scores of the resultant backlog to be caught up. The card data which is causing many cards to fail is catching up at a similar rate. “Twelve years of delivering a stable network should not be forgotten because of three months of issues caused by a regretful, but unavoidable, technical glitch or two,” says Smulders. NGN is ready to move forward on the base of the established network now that it has been stabilised, and to build on its successes without relying on a sponsor or without abusing the database of golfers. It seems strange that anyone would do things differently. NGN has cooperated with everyone, from the SAGA and WGSA through to The Pro Shop, Play-More-Golf and various other software providers, to bring solutions to the golfing industry. So we can question the new players’ motives – if they are profitdriven, any reduced price would presumably be made up somewhere else, or worse, the database will be aggressively ‘mined’ for profit – a temptation resisted by NGN for 12 years despite the obvious rewards. Marcel Smulders, MD of National Golf Network, had this to say: “I hope clubs think before they leap and consider possible motives rather than empty promises. Hopefully they will also consider contractual obligations as well as 12 years of support and service before making their decisions.” ■


March 2009

Golf Club Management


cMASA recruitment service to clubs

The recruitment of competent management staff is one of a club’s most important investments. The days of appointing a ‘friend of a friend’ are over. Would you, as the CEO of a large business follow this procedure for recruitment? A club’s investment in a proper recruitment strategy should be measured and evaluated annually. CMASA operates a recruitment service to the club industry and has done this extremely successfully for over five years. Our success in this sector lies in CMASA’s in-depth knowledge of the profession of club management and in the roles and responsibilities of support staff employed at clubs. Employment success in clubs is a lot about the particular culture of the club. Many employees make extremely successful careers in this industry and find that once they have worked in this type of environment they find it extremely difficult to move into the cut-throat commercial world. When employing individuals from outside the sector, clubs need to allow for a few months of socialisation into the club environment to avoid attrition. A comprehensive understanding of the individual club cultures is an important player when screening applicants for club employment. CMASA offers very competitive rates for this service and undertakes, at no additional cost to the club, credit and criminal checks on short-listed candidates. All these hiring processes have financial implications for clubs, and unless undertaken professionally could impact on the future sustainability of the club. When considering your next hire, contact CMASA for a quote – you may be pleasantly surprised. ■ for more information contact Beryl Acres on (011) 482-7542 or e-mail: gm@clubmanagement.co.za.


Continued from page 11. Mike Wilson, a Knysna developer, was tasked with establishing Business of Golf SA (BGSA), a Sect.21 company. After much effort he said that he had identified 15 golf-linked organisations, not including tourism and development, that needed to buy in. Getting consensus was, according to him, an impossible task. Yet business people in the world of golf are slow learners, because in 2008, at the third summit, out came the umbrella again, masking the intense problem-solving light that speaker after speaker, panel member after panel member, shone at the industry. It is a great pity that an event that attracts the leaders of golf business, both as delegates or speakers, should stray so far into the bureaucratic rough, hacking away at problems which are often political. If it were possible to coordinate a truly representative body, then the question must be posed as to why it was not achieved after the first summit, or at most the second? In the game of golf there are some shots that irregular amateur golfers will never pull off. The shot at the umbrella, by eager and highly skilled volunteers, who can unfortunately only meet occasionally, at their and their company’s expense, is unlikely to hit the pin. Is it not time to let tourism and development join one of the other representative groups, and let established bodies grapple with opening the brolly? The 2009 summit will be no different. It is arguably golf business’ best networking opportunity, and that, along with knowledge harvesting, must head the agenda, not umbrellas. ■

the lASt worD

is your life in balance?
this article was prompted by a feature Beryl Acres CCM, general manager, CMASA, read some time ago in Boardroom Magazine, a magazine published by John Fornaro for board members of clubs in the uS. Possibly she was agonising over achieving balance in her own personal life, and this is why the article made an impression.
‘Burnout’ is very much a buzzword and covers a host of complaints relating to illness, productivity and sports/work performance. The ‘management gurus’ warn of symptoms that are related to burnout and offer all sorts of advice on how to avoid it, but how do general managers in a club environment do this? The business is operational seven days a week and, in many instances, in excess of 12 hours a day. How can you help but be consumed by the nature of the job? If you did not have a passion for the industry, you would have quit within your first year. Gregg Patterson, general manager of the Beach Club of Santa Monica, describes in an article for Boardroom how GMs have succumbed to ‘the guilt’. They believe the fantasy that ‘being there’ at the club will relieve the guilt. Patterson says the club is a “guilt engine… A dog that needs to be chained. Balance is a requirement.” Burnout robs you of your ability to be productive and this often is evident at work and at home. Before you realise it, your home life is wilting under the pressure of always having to be at the club. Your family play while you work and vice-versa. How do relationships survive? Is that a cynic I hear saying, “Quite well. The less we see of each other, the better,” or, “We give each other the space to pursue our own activities.” Really? Our industry refers to ‘face time’; the time the GM needs to be seen by his/her members and/or committee/board. Being a club manager is an extremely ‘people intense’ profession. Club members have come to expect the GM to be available from dawn to the last drink in the evening. Realistic? I don’t think so! Mike Mooney, COO of Grosse Point Yacht Club explains: “To be sure, members like to see you, and like to talk to you and introduce you to their friends... Additionally, today’s jerk can be tomorrow’s board member, so you have to listen to them all.” Club business is sometimes 24/7 where service is required every hour the club is open. Service requires ‘presence’, but does this ‘presence’ need to be the GM? Patterson explains the culture of a club GM: “Hospitality managers are people orientated and want the opportunity to connect and to serve. It’s in the genes. Club Open? Be there. Service is needed? Let me handle it. That’s why club managers are in the business, and one of the powerful reasons for wanting ‘to be there’ to handle every incident and opportunity personally.” Joseph Coan, COO of Westmoor Country Club suggests “most club managers have probably been mentored by someone who stressed the importance of ‘visibility’.” The phrase most concerning to a GM is, “We haven’t seen you around lately.” Often this is not a vindictive statement, but more a conversation filler. The problem is that someone on the periphery could overhear and believe there is something behind the remark. Clubs are notorious for gossip! Finding a solution is never easy. Firstly, my recommendation is to be able to delegate some responsibilities, refining your committee expectations and creating your own life plan. Be honest and open with your employees, committee and members. Advertise the fact that you take one long-weekend every six weeks and that you are unavailable on Tuesdays as this is your day off. Let them know that you are not going to answer your cellphone and that you are going to enjoy your time away from the club. They need to understand that you have another life. Establish a transparent pattern in agreement with your committee and adhere to this policy. You cannot be productive if you are working in excess of 60 hours a week. Your club needs to understand that it does not ‘own’ you. I often receive comments from potential GMs when applying for a position that remunerates the GM exceptionally. “I don’t know if I am interested... At that kind of money, they own you.” What happens when you leave because of burnout? Does your club erect a memorial to the ‘one and only GM who worked 100 hours a week’? You bet not! They probably hire two individuals to do the same job you were breaking your back to do. Jim Singerling, CEO of CMAA believes that “having priorities in order” is what matters “Family first, work second, and then other affiliations.” If these are not order challenges could lie ahead. As a committee/board you can contribute to, or alleviate, burnout in your GM. Nobody wants a GM that is damaged goods. Most GMs are the highest paid employee, and if you as a committee/board believe that salary is really an investment in someone, it is your responsibility to insist on him/her having a balanced life. Patterson maintains that “while time off is important, just as important is ‘stuff to do’ with the time off. Those that are overly ‘job’ focused let their private passions atrophy, thereby demanding less leisure time and leaving more idle time for hanging around the club being visible as a GM.” He further believes that “managers need ‘the buzz’, and ‘the buzz’ comes from balancing the club passion with outside passions. Each feeds the other. Over focus on one diminishes the zip in others. The descent into ‘boring’ begins.” ■

cMASA incoMe tAX ADviSory

CMASA would like to remind all clubs that the closing date for applications for Partial Income Tax Exemption is 31 March 2009. This date is applicable to those clubs that would like to have the legislation applied retrospectively to their previous tax years since the implementation of the legislation. Should clubs require assistance or information on this, please contact Beryl Acres, general manager, CMASA on 011 482 7542 or on gm@clubmanagement.co.za.


March 2009

Golf Club Management

29 March – 01 April 2009

We invite all golf industry stakeholders to attend the fourth annual SA Golf Summit, where topics such as the economic value of the SA golf industry and the impact of the global economic crisis will be discussed by industry experts. The Golf Summit will be followed by a round of golf on The Links, so be sure to book early as tee times are limited.
Choose either a 2 or 3 night accommodation package. Rates start from R3370 per person sharing and include: • Breakfast per night stay • Welcome cocktail function • 11⁄2 days conferencing • Gala dinner • One round of golf on The Links with halfway house • Prize giving function • Return transfers to George airport
Terms and conditions apply

Contact Fancourt Reservations on 044 804 0037 email sagolfsummit@fancourt.co.za or visit www.sagolfsummit.com