“I have not travelled for the longest period in my entire life”

“I have not travelled for the longest period in my entire life”
Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International, talks with GCA about the status of Gary Player Design’s projects amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our projects fall primarily into three buckets,” said Player. “Those we have been selected for but still require financing, permitting, master planning or regulatory approvals. Secondly, those that are on our drawing boards and in the design phase and lastly, those that are actually under construction.

“Most of our projects in the planning or design stages are on hold indefinitely, such as in Montenegro, Morocco, Vietnam, Australia, Cuba and Benin, until we all know how long the global effects will be. Most under construction have either stopped or slowed down tremendously, such as in Rwanda, Angola, South Africa, Colombia and China. We have several redesigns or projects being upgraded, for example in Australia, that have cautiously continued. It really depends where in the world you are and how each country is handling the specific lockdown requirements.”

For the projects going ahead, Player Design is following all the standard protocols, protecting the team and others from the spread of the virus.

“Practicing social distancing, having only essential workers on site, maintaining our distance, and wearing cloth face coverings are just a few of these usual precautions,” said Player.

The virus has severely affected Player’s travel plans. “I am working from home, home-schooling our three boys with my wife Claudia, and I have not travelled for the longest period in my entire life,” he said. “Last year I flew over 500,000 miles and this year not one. Now with the ‘corona conundrum’, it means we have no idea when everything will all open up again. Business and family have accelerated the digital services for shopping, education, medicine and entertainment that will not all go away when life opens up again.”

Black Knight International’s offices are currently closed, but given that the business is global, the group has continued to use many remote client tools.

“The world has seen years of digital transformation in two months,” said Player. “My last flight booked and cancelled was to Morocco and now we are all operating from home by utilising Zoom, sending drones to site visits, video conference calls and email. I have made a goal of contacting 10 people a day to stay in touch. Enjoying family meals and exercising together, playing golf and going for long walks, but there is simply no substitute for personal contact, so we have enjoyed online ‘house parties’ with several friends around the world.

“I think this entire fiscal year will be devastating to most developers, hotel resort traffic will take time to return and delays in construction will undoubtedly present financial hardship to most. The golf industry will certainly take time to return to normal, and what will the new normal look like? Hopefully, this quality time spent together will bring families and colleagues closer and with a better understanding of each other. Hopefully we will all have a greater appreciation for the freedoms that we previously took for granted. We shall see.”