Dellanzo Global Golf Business Advisory Services to change the face of golf
Golf needs a revolution to retain its significance and grow the game says Emilio Dellanzo PGA, Director of Dellanzo Global Golf Advisory Services part of the Dellanzo Group of Companies. Our view is an international one as we operate worldwide and we see common significant patterns throughout. We have collated intelligence and completed detailed surveys over the last two years on a wide range of subjects concerning the golf industry, especially with regard to statistics and what is preventing people from taking up the game. In our view new players, women and children and it being a multi-generational family game could have a big impact on many markets and the most positive impact on revenues. The important key is how you market to them. Sports minded men and women of a certain age have responded that they would love to actively get into golf. Golf rounds are generally down but this is not wholly to do with popularity or interest but price and economic factors, even Dubai and the UAE is down despite their excellent product but high prices. Dubai for example is almost a victim of its own success. Most rounds are actually played by expatriates living there not tourist rounds, the exception being Al Hamra Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah as it is a true relaxed beach destination forty minutes from Dubai with its own airport, first class infrastructure and wide range of hotels and ancillary tourist facilities. Dubai Golf is down partly because the drop in oil prices means many expatriates have had to leave their jobs but it is also viewed as a chaotic and expensive city, like trying to find a course in the chaos of downtown Manhattan traffic. We expect there is a chance some discounting may happen there this winter. A litany of excuses instead of solid measurable solutions and commercial management to aggressively improve revenues.
Golf for thousands surveyed is too slow, too expensive, too many rules and too dress code oriented, takes too long in some countries to learn, the speed of society has passed the game by and golfers are generally seen by non- golfers as snobbish, overly traditional and a too male oriented game, especially in the UK compared to continental Europe. Clubhouse design itself does not attract, ladies, children, millennials and the private club concept of not being overtly commercial in their marketing just does not work. Now it is all about data marketing, dynamic pricing, speed, volume, social media, and golf has just not kept up. If clubhouses at “traditional clubs” do not change their atmosphere to attract all the family, they may as well be converted to old age people’s homes. Maintaining tradition and thinking outside the box can co-exist.
At the same time, it would be great if the media stopped jumping on the “golf is finished” bandwagon feeding that message into the public and realised that golf is not finished and some of the golfers at the clubs are very decent people and salt of the earth who are actually a good example for some other segments of society. After over forty years in golf I still see it as the best game in the world and golfers’ tournaments contribute to numerous charities and other good works said Paul Dellanzo, Chairman of Dellanzo Group, but the game needs help now so we plan to work on that and golf’s image as part of our Mission Statement. Fact is golf, other than for those who have time and money, tends to be aligned to the economy to a great extent. Golf is truly a game for a lifetime and it is important that it stays a game that people actually play and not another sport that is just watched on television, laptop, phone or via a video game. Fortunately, if we look into the future one of the anchors of golf facilities in ten years will be positive factors such as the health and wellness element. Golf needs to be considered a “cool” option for millennials to get into the game.
The health element of golf is often very under rated but one which can be great for all ages and especially setting a good example for the youngsters getting into the game and older people to maintain fitness and friendships, so can reduce depression of loneliness and positively affects mental health too.
I believe each company in golf needs to take responsibility and create a budget for promoting the game and trying to be a change agent where possible, not just promoting their product says Paul Dellanzo. We plan a campaign to change the image of golf, who golfers are across a broad range of media including the images of famous photographers and really try to bring new players into the game but we cannot pretend to do it all on our own. We plan to change things via our leading edge management concepts, strategy, systems and staff, our marketing /PR company targeting new players, our innovative design concepts including short courses and entertainment centres with relaxed dress codes, by allowing courses to be played by all handicap levels and some in half the time normally required .It is a big financial commitment but we hope that some major golf companies will also see the benefit of supporting a stronger image of the game that matches society as we know it today. We will put pressure on clubs and resorts by applying quality standards and service levels across a specific range of criteria that they must meet to be Dellanzo Approved.
Ladies golf has huge potential and in golf there is no glass ceiling they cannot break and no ambition they cannot realise. The players of the Ladies European Tour do a fantastic job of promoting the game at every event they participate at. Their members deserve a medal each for their commitment to promoting the game considering how few events there are just now in Europe. Given that ladies golf can help change the game and they are a primary market segment to promote too, we would love to see LET events be considered by resorts and developers as surveys showed they could well drive more people to them for rounds, vacations and real estate sales than other events. Women are often the decision maker for spending in all those areas. The Ryder Cup this coming week will be golf’s greatest advert, exciting match play, presented professionally and hopefully spirited international competition between some of the best players in the game. I look forward to seeing the European and other professional tours develop new, different and shorter formats to attract interest in golf in 2017.
We already have some of the results of our “golfer to people” studies and questionnaires said Emilio Dellanzo and the results are quite striking across a range of countries. Some answers show how positively golf clubs and resorts could better promote themselves to non – golfing target markets. We found a lot of non golfers could be very receptive to getting into the game if marketed to properly. The game’s image though has to change, the profile and attitude of players will change and the clubs need to become a lot more social, entertaining and interesting to be at, not just golf focused but across a much broader lifestyle solution. Clubhouses need atmosphere and attitude.
I think our Dellanzo Global Golf Business Advisory Services have been successful because unlike other companies using young interns, we have a team of people who are highly qualified educationally but who also have real industry experience and who learned their skills at the coal face so to speak said Paul Dellanzo, Whether it be construction, irrigation, agronomy, management consulting, food and beverage, hotel, our travel and membership division or golf course design team lead by Dr Beatrice Franceschi PhD, who have designed over 60 golf courses including some of the best in the world. We respect staff at clubs and want to motivate them to educate and entertain golfers but at the same time have a practical and focused attitude where required to effect change and improve the bottom line for owners. We have been the consultants of choice for some of the most iconic courses and resorts in Britain, Europe and the Middle East for a reason, the ROI with us is a minimum multiple of ten for every pound, dollar or dirham spent, usually much more. When people work with our team they are confident they are working with the best. Now we are determined to do our best to change the image of the game, to be younger but also multi- generational, more inclusive, reflect society trends better and generally make it more interesting for people to consider golf as a sport that the whole family can play together or one where partners or the LGBT community and a wide multi-racial presence can be found and be comfortable. To be inclusive the atmosphere inside a clubhouse has to be more reflective of the community outside. Perhaps the old boys at clubs will be choking on their gin and tonics at that statement but it is 2016, it is time some golf clubs woke up before they go into a self induced coma. Brings new thought hopefully for membership committees as they consider new member applications and what “clubable chaps means!” Change is needed badly as everything points to more closures of clubs in the future.
Hot spots for golf? The hot spot design wise is Vietnam where huge amounts are being ploughed into the game. In the Middle East where we have just re-designed a course at Ghala Golf Club, The Sultanate of Oman has everything to be the next emerging luxury golf destination. Rated as the safest country in the world. The local people are considered the most hospitable, friendly and polite. France has a great opportunity to capitalise on their upcoming Ryder Cup and I have to confess we are very prejudiced to Italy via our Dellanzo-Valli partnership office in Milan, our pan European PR, Events and Sales and Marketing Company. We are currently doing a state of the art golf academy at Udine Golf Club/ Villaverde Resort and represent Le Robinie Golf Resort, a Nicklaus Signature course in Milan. We are very proud of our long association with Italian golf and where we have opened or managed other great courses there over the years. Having the Ryder Cup in Italy in 2022 should be a massive boost and the Italian Open last week experienced record crowds and a great atmosphere. Overall we like the younger demographics of Indonesia where there seems to be a very healthy ratio of quality, demand and price compared to Japan that is suffering for now from an older population and one of the highest national debts in the world. The USA? Still in a tailspin and the dollar expensive for Europeans. Only fifteen courses being built currently and still more courses closing than opening. However, there are some experienced operators there so we expect to see a leaner model that drives the business eventually. but the industry needs to remember that for the majority of players golf is a sport not a business. In Canada, British Columbia, Quebec and Toronto (where there are hundreds of courses) are still high volume areas for rounds of golf. Russia where like Canada one has to consider seasonality the country has some great golf courses in the Moscow area and more opening in and around St Petersburg. In Britain the price of playing famous courses is so high that it is often cheaper for the British to fly to southern Europe to play for a short holiday. The great thing though is the variety of choice and price and still the presence of public access golf to get into the game.
Where there is a challenge, there is an opportunity and our overall golf health barometer is that provided there is change, innovation and great marketing, golf will emerge healthier, cooler and more interesting for everyone as change agents and the excitement created by the professional tours, make sure it just doesn’t disappear. Whether you like Tiger or not let’s hope he has a reasonably successful comeback as he was a marketing gift to golf across many cultures and golf needs him still.