2017 GMA Conference hailed a great success

The 2017 Golf Management Australia (GMA) National Conference closed at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Thursday, 12th October with a gala closing dinner in the Panorama Ballroom attended by 250 golf industry delegates and sponsors.

The conference, roundly viewed as the best yet by way of professional development content and networking opportunities, is a biennial gathering of golf club managers, support staff, industry leaders and sponsors and it proved to be a huge success with more than 300 registered delegates including 28 sponsorship support partners and exhibitors on site, showcasing their products and services within the expansive Adelaide Convention Centre exhibition space.

The Conference commenced on Sunday with a welcoming party in the historic Mortlock Wing of the State Library of South Australia. The venue showcased the rich heritage and culture of South Australia but more importantly, allowed attendees to meet in a relaxed atmosphere with colleagues and friends from all parts of Australia and also several international guests.

Celebrating its 125th birthday, the iconic Royal Adelaide Golf Club played host to the Jack Merrick Memorial Trophy (GMA State Team Championship) on Monday, with Queensland taking the title, with a team score of 153 points, in a tight contest from WA and SA.  The result required a double countback and the need to go to the 7th best stableford score to determine a winner.

With the remainder of the golf field split between Royal Adelaide and the equally impressive Glenelg Golf Club, the Leon Thompson Memorial Trophy went to Massey Park’s Anthony Rosillo with 38 points around Glenelg’s challenging layout.  The Ted Coker Championship Cup was won by Bunbury Golf Club’s Des Shearer with a scratch stableford score of 34 points, also at Glenelg.  In the Billie Friedlander Trophy at Royal Adelaide, WA Golf Club’s Melissa Castaldi took out top prize with 34 points.

The Intercontinental Adelaide ballroom was Monday night’s venue for the official conference opening dinner.  Former Australian test wicketkeeper, Wayne Phillips, was introduced to delegates as MC for the week, and, with a quick wit and wry sense of humour, Wayne kept everyone entertained from the outset through the entire conference to the closing dinner on Thursday.

In the lead up to the conference, Toro Australia, in conjunction, with Golf Management Australia, offered two eligible clubs the chance to make submissions for a grant to win one of two pre-owned Toro Triflex 3400 mowers through their Support & Grow Grants program.  Toro Australia Business Manager, Laurence Bingham, had the pleasure in announcing the two winners –  Gisborne Golf Club in Victoria and Gloucester Country Club in NSW. With a resale value for each machine of $18,000, the philanthropic gesture of Toro was an outstanding contribution and the recipients were, undoubtedly, extremely grateful.

An outstanding educational program was delivered to delegates over three days by 18 keynote speakers with a range of other speakers in masterclass sessions.  Topics included the future, resilience, health and nutrition, building peak personal and club performance, seizing the opportunity and vulnerability.

Opening with a presentation from Futurist, Tim Longhurst, delegates were inspired to embrace the future, which led perfectly into Nienke Bloem’s keynote presentation highlighting the importance of connecting with the newbie golfer, the future customer, to ensure their journey meets their expectations. 

High level presentations on strategy, future planning and governance were interspersed throughout the conference with presentations and masterclass sessions on more operational matters such as business financial intelligence, food and beverage, marketing and technology, and human resource management.  Personal development was an important educational component with renowned speakers such as nutritionist, Dr Joanna McMillan, Hugh Van Cuylenburg from the Resilience Project, and Nam Baldwin, presenting on the psychology of performance.  The importance of a good work-life balance was key to these presentations, with an emphasis on mental health and well-being.

Key presentations were also provided by the PGA and Golf Australia by their respective CEO’s Gavin Kirkman and Stephen Pitt.  A further highlight was the Governance Panel which addressed several typical scenarios with the expertise of panel members Malcolm Speed (Board Member – Golf Australia), Stephen Spargo (Chairman – Golf Victoria), Sarah Chia (Kain Lawyers), Paul Hinton (Global Golf Advisors) & Paul Vardy (Club Support Manager – Golf Australia) all providing sage commentary on the important issue of good governance.

Early feedback from delegates and sponsors was enormously positive, with many great comments on the location and accessibility of the Adelaide Convention Centre as a conference venue, along with the adjacent Intercontinental Adelaide hotel, home to most delegates for the week.

GMA President, Andrew Gay, summed things up, saying “This year’s conference in Adelaide was an outstanding success once again providing an ideal platform for improved professional development of golf management professionals.

“The combination of national and international speakers provided exceptionally high quality professional development and this combined with networking opportunities allowed golf club managers to converse about industry issues with their peers and golf’s key stakeholders.

“GMA would like to thank all those that supported the conference by attending or through their financial support and we look forward to the 2019 GMA Conference in Melbourne”.

With the theme of this year’s conference, “Now is the time to be different”, many aspects of the program were changed slightly from previous years, turning up the professionalism, improving the experience and maximising educational opportunities – something the organising committee for the 2019 conference are sure to improve on once again when the conference returns to Melbourne.

Notably, as an aside, the introduction of the first GMA Chautauqua saw eight eager cyclists spend three days with the always effervescent Gregg Patterson riding through the renowned McLaren Vale wine region creating a reflective opportunity to bond and connect with ideas and people in a totally different setting.

Board Nominations

In accordance with the GMA  constitution the 5 state associations were invited to nominate a member to be a director of GMA. Directors are appointed for a term of one year and are eligible for re-appointment.

The following nominations were received: 

NSW – Cathy Neagle

Queensland – Aaron Muirhead

South Australia – Andrew Gay

Victoria – Peter Busch

Western Australia – Brad Dawson

Up to 2 independent directors will be appointed by the board. 


Toro Australia machinery grant

Golf clubs, do you need help maintaining your turf?

The Toro Support & Grow Grants program is now open and offers machinery grants for Australian not-for-profit golf clubs.

Toro Australia, in conjunction, with Golf Management Australia, is giving two eligible clubs the chance to win one of two pre-owned Toro Triflex 3400 mowers (estimated value of $18,000 incl. GST each).

To be eligible to win applicants must be a not-for-profit golf club with an annual turnover of less than $1.5 million and be able to supply a public balance sheet.

Clubs must have a superintendent or employed greens staff.

For more information on, and to apply, visit www.toro.com.au/grant.

Applications must be received by the 29th of September 2017.

Eastern Golf Club’s GM, Ben Telley, on “Inside the Ropes” podcast

“Inside The Ropes” is an innovative new podcast arrangement between Golf Australia, Radio RSN and the state golf associations.

Each week, hosts Andy Maher and Mark Hayes bring you news, views and special guests from around the world, across Australia and even your local club with no noteworthy story too big or small. Join your hosts as they delve into what makes golf tick, right around the nation.

We encourage you to promote the podcast to your members.

Episode 7 features an interview with The Eastern Golf Club’s General Manager, Ben Telley, discussing issues currently impacting on golf clubs and golf club management in Australia.

For more information on the “Inside the Ropes” podcasts, visit the Golf Australia website.

GMA Education Survey – Detailed Report

As a consultant to the golf club industry and partner of Golf Managment Australia (GMA) in his role as the Golf Club Benchmarking administrator, Jeff Blunden has produced several reports for our association such as the Salary Census and the Golf Operations, Course Breakdown & F&B reports.

 Jeff has kindly provided GMA with an in-depth report from the analysis of responses received in the member education survey undertaken earlier this year.

ALERT: Golf industry scam

In recent months some concerning reports of brazen con artists attempting to scam various businesses seems to have become more prevalent in the hospitality industry around Australia, and golf clubs are not being spared.

Most recently a major metro club in Sydney was approach via email by a fraudulent person wanting to book a function for his 80th birthday, claiming to be old and hospitalised.

After weeks of organising with dates, menus and seating arrangements, when asked to pay a deposit for room hire, the client then asked the club to pay $3,000 for entertainment on his behalf.

This sent some red flags to management and with further review the club eventually found the scheme dubious and now wants to alert others in the industry of similar encounters.

“Initially you tend to allow a little for a person’s age and unfamiliarity with emails and EFT etc., especially as we had been dealing with this person for a few weeks,” the club GM said.

“I checked on Google and apparently it is a scam where a person pretending to be old and deaf wants you to pay someone on his behalf after he has paid you by credit card,”

“I have never received a warning about this and the scammers have obviously progressed to the hospitality industry as targets. The scam is well thought out and they are happy to take their time preparing you for the hit.”

Changes at GMA Board level

Stewart Fenton has formally announced his resignation as President of Golf Management Australia (GMA), with Royal Adelaide Golf Club’s Andrew Gay appointed by the GMA Board to replace Stewart in this important role.

After almost 20 years in the golf industry and nine years at the club, Fenton has proclaimed his departure from Huntingdale Golf Club and subsequently the golf industry after accepting the role of CEO at Royal South Yarra Lawn Tennis Club (RSYLTC).

“Whilst I am extremely sad to be leaving the golf industry, RSYLTC presents an amazing opportunity for me, which I am really excited about with some big plans for the future,” he said.

“Andrew is the current SA President and has been on the GMA Board for many years and will do an outstanding job as President.”

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Board of GMA for their support over my past two years as President. We are indeed fortunate to have such a wonderful group of people that are so committed to serving the membership of GMA for the benefit of golf,” Fenton added.

With extensive industry knowledge, commencing as general manager at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club in 2007, Andrew Gay said he is excited to take on the role as GMA President.

“I look forward to working with GMA Directors to ensure delivery of the board’s strategic initiatives for the betterment of golf club management and the industry in general.  The GMA Board are appreciative of the work and commitment shown by Stewart during his time on the board and wish him every success in his new role.”

The President is appointed by directors at the AGM which will be held during the GMA National Conference in Adelaide October 8-12.

Replacing Fenton on the GMA Board will be Golf Management Victoria President and Green Acres Golf Club General Manager, Peter Busch.

National Golf Club Salary Census – 2017

One of Golf Management Australia’s on-going strategic focus areas is member education with this including provision of resources and materials to clubs not otherwise available.

We are therefore pleased to make available to you the 2017 GMA National Golf Club Salary Census Survey, a follow up to our 2015 national report.

GMA has engaged Jeff Blunden of Golf Business Advisory Services (GBAS) to administer the survey and draft the report on its behalf, which is to be released at the GMA National Conference in October this year.

Read more

GMA Educational Insights Survey results

One of the key strategic pillars and objectives of Golf Management Australia (GMA) is the provision of Education and Manager Support.

In February 2017, GMA sought data from its members on a range of questions relating to Education and Professional Development.  151 GMA members participated in the survey representing approximately 43% of the membership . We were delighted in the response and thank members for taking the time to complete the survey. Whilst the vast majority of respondents were General Managers or equivalents, the length of tenure was evenly spread between those new to the industry, those with some experience and those who have held positions for over 10 years.

The survey has provided the Executive with valuable information on what our members believe are their key requirements for supporting their future development. This information will assist the Executive to ensure that we invest in appropriate and relevant programs for the benefit of members.

Golf Industry Central named Media Partner for 2017 GMA National Conference

Golf Management Australia (GMA) has formed a new partnership with Australasia’s leading news and information hub for the golf industry, Golf Industry Central (GIC), where GIC will assist in the ongoing promotion of the 2017 GMA National Conference.

This year’s GMA Conference will be held in South Australia at the Adelaide Convention Centre on 8-12 October, and will present an impressive lineup of renowned industry speakers throughout the week.

Supported by Schweppes, the conference, held biennially, provides education and personal development opportunities gained through the selection of professional speakers and facilitating the ability for delegates to network and share information and experiences with fellow managers.

GMA Executive Officer John Stamp said “the new partnership would enable golf managers and other industry leaders in the region to appreciate the many benefits of the upcoming conference.”

Golf Industry Central has been providing industry news, jobs and operational advice throughout Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia since 2008.

GIC Managing Director Mike Orloff said “As a previous Golf Club General Manager and a current member of GMA Queensland, it’s great to strengthen our involvement with the GMA.”

“I’ve attended all the GMA conferences since my first which was on the Gold Coast in 2008, and I see the event as a perfect educational and networking opportunity for everyone throughout the industry.”

“The event has evolved a long way since my first GMA conference and each event just seems to better the previous.”

GMA represents Golf Club Management in Australia and, through state associations, provide professional development and support for members.

Registration to the GMA National Conference 2017 will open soon and non-GMA managers working in the golf industry will be able to register to attend.