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Switching strategies: Attracting domestic golfers

22nd June 2021
Global travel restrictions have brought international golf travel to a standstill. But a number of destinations, including Le Golf National in France, have taken the opportunity to strengthen their connection with the domestic market and minimise pandemic disruption to business. We speak to Philippe Pilato, Director of Operations at the former Ryder Cup venue to find out more.

The rise of the long stay home

22nd June 2021
Second homes were traditionally bought with a desire to escape from routine, to destress, unwind and recharge. But the ability to work from home and the desire to flee to a safe haven during the pandemic has changed all that. European Tour Destinations Real Estate Consultant, Sandra Ruttle, assesses why residents are extending their second home stays and what that means for resorts who are now wanting to match a different set of needs and wants.

Golf’s new target segments

22nd June 2021
As global golf participation continues to surge, the prospect of a strong recovery for golf travel is strengthening. But who are these golfers and what are they looking for? Head of European Tour Destinations, Ian Knox, takes a closer look and tells us how venues are preparing to appeal to golf’s newcomers… Resorts can be forgiven for feeling frustrated. Inundated with stories of ‘golf’s renaissance’ and surging popularity, but unable to translate this to success on the ground due to ongoing travel restrictions. Savvy resorts will be well aware that the rising popularity of the sport (2020 participation numbers were the strongest in 17 years) opens up opportunities to connect with a new generation of customers. The question is, who are these new players? Let’s take a look at three prime segments to understand the scale of the opportunity, and how some resorts are already making moves to appeal to golf’s newcomers. Experience chasers Off-course golf participation has experienced a stratospheric rise – with no signs of slowing down. Great Britain & Ireland alone enjoyed a 2 million uplift in driving range use in 2020, primarily fuelled by the advent of technology and experience-led solutions, with similar trends across Europe and North America. For this group, golf alone may not be enough. They crave excitement, entertainment, activities. They want an experience. The more experiential the product a resort presents, the more attractive it will be to this segment. Across our network of venues, we have already seen the likes of PGA Catalunya Golf & Wellness embrace driving range technology, and bolster the experience they can offer to this new wave of players.  Families Family dynamics have shifted dramatically over the last year. Pandemic lockdowns have resulted in families spending a far greater amount of time together; welcome for many, a source of tension for others. But whether they are looking for a release or quality time away from home together, resorts can be perfectly positioned to appeal to a family’s needs. A key to this is the promise of a safe and secure environment. And with the likelihood of continued localised precautions, families may look to stay within the sanctuary of the resort for extended periods of their break. This paves the way for opportunities around new on-site amenities and family-based products and services, from golf lessons to playing experiences and everything between. Terre Blanche, nestled between Provence and the French Riviera, has put family at the heart of their product offering. While its location and surrounds make it a natural choice for families, its amenities, such as its 5-star kids club, and services, such as its bespoke excursions, sets it apart from competitors and puts the resort in a prime position to rebound strongly. Health advocates Whether it’s physical or mental, health has never been at the forefront of people’s minds more than it is now. The notion of self-care is no longer an abstract one, but a fundamental part of daily routines. Fortunately, golf’s evidenced health benefits have

Preparations for first Ryder Cup on Italian soil gather pace

22nd June 2021
With a spectacular new golf course open for play and a first tournament just round the corner, excitement is building at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club as it prepares for a drama-filled showpiece in an iconic city. When footage was recently released of Marco Simone Golf & Country Club’s newly-opened 18-hole course, the world sat up and took note. What will be the scene of the 2023 Ryder Cup in just over two years’ time looked magnificent. The culmination of 18 months of work by European Golf Design together with Tom Fazio II focused on creating a layout which will provide match play drama. The extensive renovation has created a masterpiece on the outskirts of Rome, maximising the natural rolling terrain to offer many vantage points for views not only of the on-course action but of the famous Eternal City in the distance. The course will not have to wait long before its first test of elite golf, with some of the world’s best players arriving to contest the Italian Open this September. It will be the second time Italy’s national Open heads to Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, following the 1994 staging when Argentinian Eduardo Romero triumphed. Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, President of Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, said: “Hosting the 2023 Ryder Cup for us is not only a dream come true, but the beginning of a new journey. Our motto is ‘playing the future’ and we are committed to growing the next generation of golfers.” Of the forthcoming Italian Open, set to take place from 2-5 September, she added: “We are now ready to host champions and amateurs from all around the world.”

Genzon Golf Club named in Asia’s Top 100 Golf Courses 2021

10th June 2021
The Top 100 Golf Courses 2021 in Asia were recently announced, with European Tour Destination, Genzon Golf Club, featuring in the rankings. A total of 15 countries and regions featured in the ranking, with Genzon Golf Club placing 56th. Asia’s Top 100 Golf Courses inaugural list was selected in 2015 with the best courses across the continent being recognised. The ranking also included fellow European Tour Destinations Emirates Golf Club, Jumeirah Golf Estates and Black Mountain Golf Club & Resort. Genzon Golf Club prides itself on high quality customer service and being ranked within the Top 100 Courses cements its place as an industry leader across private members golf clubs in the region. The state-of-the-art golf club is made up of a 36-hole Championship course, split into two and classified as A and B, and is designed by renowned designer Neil Haworth, following ecological principles and preserving the original mountain vegetation and topography. Course A is sculpted around the 700-acre Dragon Lake, while Course B is set against a mountainous backdrop and incorporates deep undulating fairways. A vast practice area accompanies the outstanding courses, with 33 grass bays and an indoor smart driving range. In addition, two putting greens with top quality surfaces give players the chance to hone their short game.

European Tour extends Green Drive sustainability initiative

7th June 2021
On World Environment Day, the European Tour launched Green Drive – a strengthened commitment to sustainability with a vision for the Tour to become a showcase for social and environmental responsibility, delivering net positive impacts around the world. The Green Drive underlines an intensified approach towards priority issues such as climate change; biodiversity loss; air and ocean pollution; and sustainable and ethical procurement. It also sees the Green Drive take a formal position within Golf for Good, the European Tour’s overarching Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme. Implementation will encompass all aspects of the business including operations, partnerships, technology, tournaments, TV production and venues (including European Tour Destinations) across the Tour community, which typically involves staging, promoting and sanctioning over 100 tournaments in over 30 countries each year over the European Tour, European Challenge Tour and Legends Tour. The Green Drive extends to European Golf Design, the golf course design company of the European Tour, and the ethos will be encompassed within projects for new courses and redesigning existing member and resort courses to host tournaments and The Ryder Cup. The Green Drive will be delivered with support from the GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf (GEO) — a non-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring, supporting and recognising sustainability in and through golf around the world. Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “As an organisation that celebrates the best of professional sport in a diverse range of environments and cultures around the world, we want to both respect and enhance communities wherever we travel. That means we need to act responsibly as a business and find new and innovative ways to deliver tournaments with lighter environmental footprints, and even greater social value. “Under our Golf for Good banner we are committed to using the game we love as a force for good, whether that is through charitable endeavours, promoting health and wellbeing, or environmental and social responsibility. We launched Golf for Good in 2020 during a challenging time for our sport and the wider world, but we see it as a central part of the Tour’s service to stakeholders and society in the long term – making a difference on some of the priority issues of our time; providing a platform for our many valued venues and partners around the world; and helping to advance and grow golf. We believe all of those things will also make the Tour stronger. “We are embarking on this important journey with our close partners, GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf. Together we believe we can deliver world class sport and entertainment in a way that not only respects, but also helps to replenish the landscapes and communities that ultimately provide so much to us.” GEO brings a wealth of experience, working collaboratively with golf governing bodies, associations, athletes and media over the last 15 years. More widely, GEO has been highly active in the mainstream movement of sustainability, consulting with government agencies, NGOs, business and supply chain platforms to bring latest knowledge and insights to sustainability solutions

First look at Verdura Resort’s spectacular new course

1st June 2021
Ahead of the opening in October of this year, golfers can now enjoy a tantalising glimpse of the new golf course at Sicily’s Verdura Resort, part of Rocco Forte Hotels. Viewers can plot their way along the spectacular new par-four hole – and you can almost smell the ocean breeze along the coastline. The new signature ninth hole on the East Course is part of the major renovation project – scheduled for completion in October with nine of the holes ready for play in August – as world-renowned golf architect Kyle Phillips returned to the site of his original design in Sicily to work his magic again. The result is a remarkable success with the new hole offering those trademark, incredible views across the Mediterranean, while asking some serious questions of accuracy, strategy and distance control with a slight dogleg design. The tee shot demands careful placement to avoid water on the left and right, while a fairway bunker lurks on the right side. Once that is safely negotiated, an undulating green is guarded by two bunkers, which requires an approach shot with enough loft to clear more water and hold the green – and all with the beach and the lapping waves just a few steps away. Phillips said: “The drama of the coastline has been improved, so we have made the most of it. “That ninth hole is an example of what happened and how we have managed to make a fantastic new hole out of it. We have certainly made the most out of what was available to us and we’re proud of what has been achieved.” The extensive renovation will see a number of new features and modification of the course route, so some of the hole numbers have been adjusted. But this has allowed for the restoration of previous favourites and also some exciting new additions. Phillips said: “One of the things that we didn’t have before – but we have now – is a double green, a bit like some of those huge greens at St Andrews. It will be the new eighth hole (par five) and the new 10th hole (par four) which will share a green. “It was something I had pondered at one time before. But Sir Rocco is a golfer, we were out there walking one day and talked about doing it and he was excited about it. “The green is absolutely massive and could be very interesting if you are putting on the wrong part of it!” He added: “It is new, fresh, the result is great and I think it will be really well-received. I expected it to turn out well but it’s definitely reached the level we were striving for.” The resort – home of the European Tour’s Rocco Forte Sicilian Open – boasts a wealth of exclusive luxury facilities that have helped establish the venue as one of the world’s elite golf and lifestyle destinations and is nestled in 230 hectares of stunning Mediterranean landscape on

Terre Blanche ramps up protection of unique Provençal biodiversity

24th May 2021
Located in the heart of Provence Cote d’Azur, within 750 acres of unspoiled forest, five-star destination Terre Blanche is taking new steps to protect its flora and fauna, as well as inviting younger generations of guests to take part in actively making a difference to help improve the planet. Dedicated to delivering sustainable solutions that work for both nature and guests, the hotel was originally designed to allow wildlife to flourish since its inception. Now home to over 175 plant species, 54 bird, 41 insect and 20 species of mammal (the results of a recent initial study by ecological consultancy Eco-Med), 2021 will see a plethora of new initiatives introduced that build on existing protections. Re-opening on Thusday June 17th, Terre Blanche offers environmentally conscious travellers an idyllic and ecologically sound escape, with no compromise on exceptional service. In close proximity to wildlife reserve Saint-Cassien Lake, every effort is made to conserve the naturally rich and biodiverse, but fragile, habitat of the various native birds, mammals and insects; from buzzards, nightingales and tawny owls, to turtles, red squirrels, pine martins, bats, dragonflies and honey bees. New environmental initiatives: • Reforestation campaign (2021) – Having just carried out its first major planting programme, Terre Blanche has committed to planting 100 trees per year for the next 10 years, creating a sustainable forest to resist climate change. • Flora conversion (2019-2023) – Scheduled for completion by 2023, Terre Blanche is currently replacing every square foot of grass on its two 18-hole golf courses (around 30 hectares) with Bermuda Grass Riviera, which will require 50% less water, with the aim of respecting the objectives fixed by the French government to ban all phytosanitary products by January 2025. Already, all fertilizers used on property are organic. • Ecological survey brigade (2021) – In January 2021, three members of Terre Blanche Golf’s team were assigned to collect data within the resort in collaboration with Eco Med, in order to follow the ecological evolution of the resort and take measures to protect its biodiversity. Their mission is supported by a special App developed to easily transmit all pictures and notes taken on remarkable fauna & flora to Eco Med. This App may also by used by guests or other staff members who wish to get involved. • The Chateau Bouge forest park (2021) – Managed by Terre Blanche Golf’s team and made up of remarkable and endangered species, this wood requires special attention. Remarkable species of trees were planted by the then estate’s owner Auguste Bouge around 1900, including Redwoods, Incence Cedars and Gowen Cypress, native to California Rockies and red-listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The team ensures regeneration by creating clearings that allow the required light to help the development of undergrowth. • New chef and enhanced gastronomic ethos, championing the Provencal terroir (2021) – under the vision of new Executive Chef Christophe Schmitt, the F&B outlets have undergone an overhall. Serving seasonal, local produce and expanding the existing herb garden, the resort
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