GMA members across the country having been receiving regular e-news announcements over the last few months to update the impressive line-up of confirmed speakers and presenters to deliver on all the important topics being talked about in the golf club industry. It is encouraging to note the number of conference registrations received as of this week are in fact ahead of those received for the Sydney Conference in 2013 in comparison at the same time in mid-July. Planning for the 2015 Conference commenced almost immediately following the 2013 Conference held in Sydney when all attendees were surveyed for feedback on subjects such as the quality of the education program, the line-up of speakers and were also asked for ideas which could improve the next Conference in two years’ time. Roll forward almost two years and the theme being presented for the 2015 GMA National Conference is “GOLF – It’s more than a Game”.
When the 2015 Conference Committee sat down over 18 months ago to start planning for this year, it was clear from the successful blueprint used in 2011 (Melbourne) and 2013 (Sydney) that the program for 2015 needed to go to another level to stimulate the minds of golf club managers attending this year.
Some potentially risky strategies have been introduced to the Conference program this year, but the committee is confident all the planning will come together to deliver a memorable and highly beneficial program of education, networking and professional development. The previously successful formula of a single Conference MC for the entire week has been replaced with a different “Day Facilitator” on each of the three days of education. Each of the facilitators have been selected for their ability to compliment the range of educational topics to be presented on each day, probe each speaker on their topic content, and engage the audience to dig a little deeper and encourage discussion on the issues being presented each day.
Well-known golf identity Bruce Young (pictured left) has been recruited to MC the “Golf Industry Day” on Day 1 (Tuesday). The first day will be somewhat ground-breaking in that the opening speaker is a female and the opening session is all about women – when the guru of marketing, sales, customer service and consumer behaviour – Amanda Stevens will deliver a presentation on the subject “Understanding the relationship between Women and Golf Clubs”. It’s a topic not many Clubs have cracked but are very keen to try and understand so not doubt delegates will arrive early on Day 1 to get a front row seat!
Day 2 (Wednesday) features a man who has, with distinction, served as club manager of the Beach Club in Santa Monica, California for an incredible 33 years. Gregg Patterson (pictured left) is a dynamic and energetic speaker who has featured at the last two GMA Conferences delivering his own unique brand of ideas and techniques for engaging members and customers. A group of Australian delegates attended a golf conference in Singapore last year and saw Patterson in the role of a Day Facilitator where he was undoubtedly the star of the show. Accordingly, Gregg will operate as Day Facilitator on Day 2 (Wednesday) and also deliver one of four different workshop sessions available for delegates on the same day. Day 2 is branded as “Operational Day” and provides a great opportunity for managers to bring along some of their operational staff members to benefit from a range of topics that will help them in their everyday roles. The impressive line-up of workshop sessions offer a range of subjects designed to give your Club operation a boost in more ways than one! Topics to be presented include; Rules of Marketing in this Technological Age; Maximising Income Potential from Food & Beverage Operations; Presenting with Confidence; and Creating a WOW factor in your service operation.
A feature of the 2015 Conference Program is the number of new faces from different countries in the line-up of industry and professional speakers. Of course it is not simply a case of finding just any new speaker – the search for speakers could only commence once the educational program was confirmed from the survey results collected in 2013 and collated into the highest ranking topics of interest to golf club managers.
Heading up an impressive overseas contingent is Dominic Wall, Director Asia Pacific from the R&A, who have also come on board as a conference sponsor this year. Lodewijk Klootwijk (pictured left) is flying the European flag as Chief Executive of the European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) and will provide a different perspective on the topic of Membership Recruitment and Retention in Europe. Representing golf in the UK will be Claire Middleton who works with the Scottish Golf Union as a Club Development Officer. Claire works closely with 250 golf clubs in the West of Scotland to deliver products and services that support the growth of golf in Scotland through those clubs, and will present an overview of Membership Trends in the UK. Rounding out the overseas contingent is Greg DeRosa from the USA who ranked so highly in the 2013 survey it was clear his special talents couldn’t be ignored. DeRosa is padding up for his second consecutive GMA National Conference to give his own insight and philosophy on the “10 Keys to being a successful Golf Club Manager”.
The final day of education on Day 3 (Thursday) is focused on the managers and their senior support staff. The focus of the day is more aligned to issues such as Leadership and Personal / Professional Development with a range of subjects from improving your ability to build positive and effective relationships to understanding how to strike a balance between work and lifestyle.
Many people who play golf or are in some way associated with the game – often look from the outside in, and consider the job of a golf club manager one of the dream jobs in the golf industry. Whilst the majority of golf club managers consider themselves fortunate to be working in an environment detached from the hustle and bustle of the City with views of the golf course and the responsibility to create an environment of leisure and enjoyment for members and guests – there are many hidden challenges to a day in the life of a golf club manager. The Conference this year will address all the key issues facing golf club managers and their respective Clubs in a modern society where people have more choice than ever before when deciding how to spend their spare time and money outside of the workplace.
So as golf club managers across Australia (plus a few Kiwis) look forward to the first week in September, many friends and fellow colleagues will converge on the Gold Coast for the most important week of the working calendar this year. At the end of Conference Week delegates will undoubtedly come away with many new innovative ideas, reinforcement of existing strategies and techniques and the confidence to go back to their Clubs ready to meet challenges head-on, and explore new opportunities to enhance the Club experience for the benefit of their members and guests and perhaps improve that bottom line.
At the end of the day (from a Club manager’s perspective at least), GOLF – really is More than just a Game!