Times a changin' for European golf

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By Sean Dudley

The major topics to be covered at the upcoming third annual European Golf Business Conference have been revealed.

The convention, titled The Big Change, will take place from 5-7 November in Berlin, Germany and will see the top business minds of international golf come together to debate some of the game's hottest topics.

Speakers at the conference will include David MacLaren, director of property and venue development for the European Tour, who will discuss how to make a golf course profit. Bill Sanderson, a consultant known as 'The Golf Business Coach', will speak on how to best market a venue. In addition, Laurence Pithie, group golf course manager at Crown Golf, will speak about greenkeeping and maintenance issues.

The primary thematic concern at The Big Change will be recent developments in the consumer's attitude to golf. This will include discussions on the growth in popularity of nine hole golf, the increasing importance of societies and a detailed look at the demographic of newcomers to the game.

"The popularity of golf has not diminished in the last year or so but there has been a definite change in the public's approach to the game," said Lodewijk Klootwijk, CEO of the European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA). "To continue to thrive, the golf industry needs to know why these changes have come about. We feel strongly that the EGCOA is the best organisation to bring about the required change in golf on various levels."

EGCOA will present the results of research carried out in which the organisation compared the structure of golf in various European countries and asked what we can learn from each other, as well as what is unique to some countries.

Another confirmed conference topic will be speed of play: how can you get golfers moving at an ideal pace in order to improve their on-course experience? On the money-side of things, KPMG will announce the outcome of its European Economic Impact Study, indicating the true value of the golf industry in Europe.

This article first appeared in issue 14 of Golf Course Architecture, published in October 2008.

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