Golf boss: Footgolf is having a tremendous impact for us

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 11, 2016 12:37

The chief executive of BGL Golf, which owns 22 golf courses in the UK at 10 venues, has said introducing footgolf at four of them has led to significant improvements.

Footgolf is the hybrid of football and golf. It follows similar rules as golf, but instead of using a golf club and golf ball, the objective is to kick a standard size football into an oversized cup. The sport only came to the UK three years ago and already there are more than 200 footgolf courses, mostly located at golf clubs.

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Colin Mayes, who is also chairman of the UK Golf Course Owners Association, said the introduction of footgolf added to a successful 12 months for BGL Golf in the last financial year.

“It was a successful year for BGL because we grew our rounds played. Our main 18-hole course rounds were five percent up on the previous year, which was significantly above the market,” he said.

“The other really positive area was our short course performance, which was up by 14 percent, and was helped on four of the courses by the introduction of footgolf which has had a tremendous impact for us.”

Mayes said that the industry has a positive future ahead for it – provided golf clubs research what customers want and are prepared to invest.

“I think the successful golf clubs in five to ten years’ time are going to be the ones that really understand their core market, understand what their customers want, and are prepared to keep investing in the business to deliver it,” he said.

“I’ve visited a couple of hospitality venues with my chairman recently and it’s interesting, attitudes are changing. We’re dealing with an ‘experience consumer’ now. They want experiences when spending time with friends and family, they don’t want to keep turning up at the same place getting the same thing.

“A lot of businesses will have a tough time with golf because I can’t see, at this moment in time, participation numbers rapidly improving because not enough people are engaged enough to stem the tide. Overall standards need to keep rising as that’s what our customers expect. Improved quality will in turn encourage more people into the game and then hopefully the industry will move forward.

“In the last five years, we’ve spent more time trying to make sure our par three courses are kept to the same condition as our 18-hole courses, because our short courses are very important in introducing new customers to the game; it is also an increasingly important revenue area. We are constantly looking at ways we can improve our customers’ experience, be it on improving our golf courses, clubhouse facilities, or installing new equipment.

“Little and often regarding investment is one of my key messages to our general managers. Such investment tells our customers and members that we are engaged in the business and constantly re-investing in our facilities and hopefully making them more attractive to visit. Standing still is not an option in today’s market place.

“We’re now into a rolling programme of looking at each of our businesses on a five year basis to try and stay ahead of the game. We’ve spent quite a lot of time, energy and money in making sure that our golf courses are in good condition, which takes a considerable amount of expenditure annually to make sure that we’re improving each of them. Every year we’re trying to get ahead and think through the longer term issues that are likely to impact us. For example, our water strategy has been a key discussion point in recent years.  We’ve been building reservoir facilities at all of our courses and upgrading irrigation systems in anticipation of when water is going to be very expensive and scarce in 20 years’ time.”

Mayes also said struggling clubs need to do more market to families.

“For the clubs who want to engage with women and children, there are families out there who want to get involved with golf, but you can’t sit back and wait for them to come in, you’ve got to actively do things,” he said.

“At Burhill we have a girls training session every Saturday that’s open to all, the girls can bring their friends and just sign up. I think that’s helped us, and we’re doing more of that at all of our other clubs. There’s recognition now that there are a lot of women out there who will come and play golf if the facilities are minded to accept them. I think we just have to make more of an effort to engage with women and kids across the board.

04-09 Colin MayesJPG

Colin Mayes

“Adventure Golf, along with other shorter versions, forms an integral step in the development of a junior golfer. You need that path when you’re growing up, and in my view, as soon as you can hold a putter you become a potential customer and that can start from three years’ old. Up to about 10 years old, you’re not ready to go out and play long par fours or fives; you’re not strong enough. I see Adventure Golf as the first step to engaging with a golf club and a putter. It’s mum and dad bringing their children from the age of three with their brothers and sisters, grandparents, cousins; everyone can be engaged. I’m a great advocate that Adventure Golf is for all the family, from the age of three through to 90. I’ve seen 90 year-olds come onto Hoebridge, come onto Abbey Hill with their great grandchild recognising that it’s a great way to spend active time together. I think that’s going to be one of the social changes we see in the next decade, that doing active things with kids is going to rise in importance and ultimately it will help us improve participation.”

Mayes also said that shorter forms of golf will attract more people to the game.

“I’m a great believer that the nine-hole facility will have a new lease of life in the future,” he said.

“Golf is such a great game that you don’t want to tinker too much with it. We are, after all, dealing with a game that has been around for a couple of hundred years and fundamentally, it has withstood the test of time. I don’t think golf is broken in any way, shape, or form, but I do believe that we have to take notice of how our customers are changing, and particularly their habits. Today’s society hasn’t got as much time collectively to play golf in the way it was played. Shorter forms are great fun and we need to get this across to encourage more people to participate in our great game.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 11, 2016 12:37
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1 Comment

  1. Betty Stic July 11, 17:17

    I feel that is helped us, and we’re accomplishing a greater amount of that at all of our different clubs. There’s acknowledgment now that there are a considerable measure of ladies out there who will come and play golf if the offices are minded to acknowledge them. Cute Golf Training : https://golf.searchub.com/training/

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