‘We provide free lessons to 30,000 beginners every year’

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick May 23, 2024 11:08

Antoine Nizan is the marketing and commercial director for UGolf Bluegreen, which runs more than 100 golf venues around the world, the majority of which are in France. He talks about working for one of the biggest golf club operators on the planet, this summer’s Olympics and how the biggest academy in the world, featuring 200 pros, is introducing the game to people.

Can you talk us through your career and how it has come full circle, moving from France to the US with Reebok, and then back to France and working with UGolf Bluegreen?

I have been a huge sports fan since I was five or six years of age so it was natural that I mixed my love of marketing and consumer behaviour with my passion for sport.

The journey with adidas and Reebok led me through incredible times in Europe and in the US with partners like the French football team, Olympique de Marseille, CrossFit, Spartan Race and Midnight Runners, to name a few.

In 2018, I had the chance to engage in a very exciting challenge: to join Bluegreen and bring my non-golfer eye and marketing expertise to help create more and more new golfers.

What was it in particular that attracted you to working for Bluegreen?

The challenge was clear (and I love challenges!): target the 99 percent of people who don’t play golf. Change the image, increase awareness and consideration for our sport and make them try it out.

The job of defying conventions was very exciting, and in less than two months, I moved with my family from Boston to Paris to join the Bluegreen family.

What are the main skills that you learned from working in America that you have been able to transfer to the golf industry in France?

If I narrow down everything I learned from my experience in America to one thing, it would be the capacity as an individual or as a company to inspire others: focus on the bright side and celebrate all the good things. Confidence and positivity rub off on others within the company and feed all the way down to consumers.

UGolf Bluegreen is now the largest golf management company in Europe. How did the merger between the two companies change your role and the scale in how you were able to look at things?

I took over the responsibility for the two brands from day one of the merger, on July 1, 2022.

I’m convinced that revenue is only a consequence of the added value that we bring to the consumer in his / her golf journey. So my team and all our golf clubs embraced this vision and we took swift action to propose new products like multi-venue memberships across Bluegreen and UGolf or the brand new ALL4U, which is the ultimate new golfer all-in-one product.

Can you describe the ethos and business model behind UGolf Bluegreen and what you are trying to achieve?

At Bluegreen and UGolf, we believe the best moments in life are the ones that we share.

This is why we engage day in, day out with our golfers to create a strong sense of community. We want them to share exhilarating moments on and off the course, whether they are playing for fun or as part of a competition. Golf has the power to unite people from all generations, all levels and physical conditions.

The business model is simple: be the best at creating new golfers and create the most special, social and engaging atmosphere so that our golfers want to spend most of their time with us for the years to come!

What plans and events have you got in place for 2024 to enhance your position as one of the driving forces in French golf?

We have plenty of ideas and events to create a fun atmosphere in our clubs each and every day, but one stands out for me in particular.

We like to mix things up and this is why the 17th edition of the Blot Open de Bretagne, a professional tournament on the Challenge Tour, will combine a professional golf event with a music festival and a concert featuring the international bands, The Avener and Synapson. We’re expecting 3,000 spectators to attend the event on June 22 and it should be a lot of fun.

Golf has enjoyed a resurgence in numbers since the advent of Covid. How can you and the game in general make the most of the opportunity available?

The game itself and the atmosphere in our clubs is great. Our job is to create the conditions for these new golfers to make new friends, feel this sense of community and, hence, have the most amazing time. From there, let’s trust the process and the oldest marketing technique out there and best ally: word-of-mouth and recommendation.

One of the ways that UGolf Bluegreen has succeeded in encouraging new people into golf is with your academies, with the Fédération Française de Golf that 70 percent of new players in France were created by UGolf. Can you give us more insight into how the academies work and why you think they have been so successful?

You are right, 70 percent of the new golfers in France in 2022 and 2023 were introduced to the sport at Bluegreen or UGolf. But other clubs also do a tremendous job as well and we try to work hand-in-hand with the golf industry and the French Golf Federation (FFG) to grow the sport.

At the very core of this success is a mindset, a culture that has been developed for decades and shared by our 200 pros – the biggest academy in the world – and each and every employee in the company: we want to share our passion for golf.

Then obviously, we invest a lot of time and energy. Each year, 30,000 people are offered a two-hour session to learn the basics and play one or two holes on the course with one of our pros for free.

From this first introduction, about one third sign up for our one-year, all-inclusive ALL4U solution: a golf kit, unlimited lessons and unlimited access to the course for one year!

The lessons are on a group basis with music on the range, but most of the time is spent on the course. Why? Because our way to live golf is to make it fun and social.

A lot of sports have a challenge to attract new people and golf is one of these. What new ideas do you have to attract more men, women and children to take up the game?

The second edition of our Green Festival will take place from June 28 to June 30 in all our golf clubs. The ambition is exactly what you described: we want to attract people to the golf club before attracting them to golf as an activity.

We will host lots of different activities such as yoga, local market, outdoor cinema, running, concerts, buggy races and so on… The goal is to embrace our ethos as a company and share good moments so that visitors may want to return to try out golf next time!

France has the honour of staging the biggest sporting event in the world this summer with Paris hosting the Olympics. How important is it for golf to make the most of this spotlight to help create the country’s next generation of golfing stars?

Céline Boutier, Matthieu Pavon and other French golf players have been doing a great job these past few years. We are rooting for them to bring home the gold medal at the Olympics.

And I hope whatever the results they inspire lots of young girls and boys watching to check it out and follow their lead.

We are very involved in school programmes with many long-term local partnerships to create the next generation of golfers.

We also support our young golfers chasing their dream of playing professional golf through a project called ‘Race to the Finals’. We offer a special individualised coaching programme to the 12 most ambitious ten-to-16-year-old golfers in our clubs and a chance to attend the Tour Championship in Atlanta in August.

How optimistic are you about the French golf industry going forwards for the next few years?

The French golf industry is very aligned, professional and innovative compared to other sports. I’m convinced it will keep growing in the next few years.

More importantly, I am sure the golf industry has a tremendous growth potential globally. Golf as an activity fully aligns with many social trends: it helps reconnect with your inner self, with nature and with others in a genuine way. It unites people of all ages and physical conditions.


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick May 23, 2024 11:08
Write a comment


  1. Nexxchange May 29, 10:11

    Antoine Nizan über die Arbeit für einen der größten Golfclubbetreiber der Welt und wie die größte Akademie der Welt mit 200 Profis das Spiel den Menschen näher bringt https://lnkd.in/e7jxiugD

    Antoine Nizan sich der Förderung des Golfsports verschrieben und setzt sich gleichzeitig für die Gemeinschaft und soziale Aspekte ein, und damit sicherstellt, dass die Vorteile des Golfspiels und -lernens für alle zugänglich sind.

    hashtag#golfmanagement hashtag#saas hashtag#cloud hashtag#nexxchangefamily hashtag#nexxchange

    Reply to this comment
  2. JoAnn May 24, 11:29

    Not only “one of the biggest golf club operators on the planet” but in my opinion, one that is truly dedicated to grow the game while engaging in community and social aspects – ensuring the benefits of learning & playing golf can be experienced and available for all.

    Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:


For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: