Snow joke... golfers worldwide hope they will get more use out of their clubs in 2021 than they did in 2020. Picture: SUPPLIED
Snow joke... golfers worldwide hope they will get more use out of their clubs in 2021 than they did in 2020. Picture: SUPPLIED

It has been a tumultuous year for all the wrong reasons, not least for the golf industry, which was shut down for months, while the world grappled with the effects of the pandemic.

This gave the golf business series a platform on which to deliberate, discuss and comment, very different angles and challenges to those that had been anticipated. A variety of topics were covered from trends, processes, governance, the importance of tourism and marketing, to the game’s relationship with the environment and the need for golf to evolve, to keep pace with a rapidly changing world, but without losing its essential character.

The dual ideas of necessity being the mother of invention and of it being an ill wind that blows no-one any good, saw the lockdown providing an opportunity for reflection, with many improving their business efficiencies as a result. My personal and heartfelt thanks to our panel for committing their time, inputs and expert experience to this project, to Ian Sadler, Business Day’s unflappable sports editor and to those colleagues and readers who took the time to offer comment and feedback.

These contributions will be invaluable in developing this discussion series into what we hope will become one of the definitive platforms off which to debate and deliberate on the golf business. You are only as good as your next tournament, so we shall not rest on our laurels, but further broaden the scope and reach of the discussions in 2021.

From February, this will involve talking to colleagues of our panel members, involved in various business sectors, which have a direct involvement with the business of golf, examples of which will be on-course hotels and lodges, golf tour operators and the property sector, the latter being so vital to the wellbeing of our regions’ golf estates.

As the discussion features’ writer, co-ordinator and virtual host, I have needed to be Grinch-like during the year, in order to poke and prod at golf’s business fabric so as to invoke and indeed provoke comment. Adopting the guise of the good elf, which is more in keeping with the spirit of the season, I have asked each panel member to share their wishes for golf for 2021.

Peter Dros — director of sales and marketing, Fancourt: “It has been very much a case of — reset, rethink and restart for most in our sector and with much reduced budgets in many cases. Limited resources will require astute marketing and I hope, during 2021, we will harness our collective strength, develop a united voice involving more effective collaboration between everyone in golf and tourism, thereby releasing the full potential of golf tourism in SA and in the region being one of the world’s best golf destinations.”

Damian Wrigley — GM, Country Club, Pearl Valley: “There is no need to offer further comment on a very difficult year for everyone, but it was teamwork that pulled us through at Pearl Valley — so, my wish for golf is that we work more effectively together in 2021, both to grow the game and to showcase what a fantastic golf destination SA is.”

Alistair Collier — CEO, John Collier Survey: “I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing for a 2021 bringing a return to a ‘new’, but more ‘normal’ way of life. My golf wish is that despite many clubs throughout SA suffering the effects of the pandemic, which will continue into the coming year, they will, in terms of environmental compliance and good governance, continue to grasp the nettle to achieve their goals, which if reached can add real operational value from a sustainability perspective.

“It will take a methodical approach, but as Francis of Assisi said:  'Start doing what’s necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible’.”

Jason Rowe — CEO, Golfers Club: “My overall Christmas wish is that the powers that be perfect and distribute an effective vaccine to get a handle on this virus, so we can all go back to our normal lives — one with no masks, social distancing and hand sanitiser. My wish for golf is that more people of all ages, shapes, sizes and ethnicities are drawn to play and enjoy the game and that all golf courses, golf retailers and golf’s administrative bodies prosper, amid a renewed enthusiasm for this great game”.

Robert Jasper — GM, Sandton Sun Hotel: “I would like to see continued growth in rounds’ numbers and for normality to return to how the courses operate, though many clubs have done an excellent job in relation to Covid-19 protocols. In broader terms, I hope events like the Nedbank Challenge will be back on the calendar and perhaps more selfishly, as a hotelier, that golf tourism and travel in general for whatever reason, return to something approaching more normal levels sooner rather than later.”

Wishing all of our readers a relaxed, peaceful and happy festive season and New Year and wherever your holiday plans might take you, travel safely and in the inimitable words of the late Dave Allen — “may your God go with you”.

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