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Opportunities Abound in Asian Golf Industry

February 13, 2017 Golf Tourism No Comments Email Email

Asia must grab the opportunities that abound in the golf and club industry.

Speaking at a Club Management Mini Summit at Sentosa Golf Club, Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF) Chief Executive Officer Eric Lynge said he was optimistic for the future of the Royal and Ancient game in Asia.

Asian Golf Industry Federation Chief Executive Officer Eric Lynge

Lynge said: “Despite all the doom and gloom which is reported and is fashionable pertaining to the golf industry, we believe that going forward there is plenty of opportunity and upside in the industry, in Singapore and the rest of Asia.”

Lynge singled out Myanmar and Vietnam as golf’s hottest current markets, while acknowledging that more mature markets such as Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand are in a stage of slower growth and aging facilities.

He said: “Rather than predicting disaster, we believe that there is a growth story in each of the markets which belie some of the negative reportage in the marketplace.

“There is a growing realisation in all markets by owners, boards and committees that they cannot rely on traditional methods to maintain and grow their clubs any more.

“As a golf course is such a capital heavy investment it is still not common to see clubs closing down due to economic reasons or the much more rumoured lack of golfers.

“The industry is finding a way to adapt. In Japan, where the overbuild was severe, rationalisation and consolidation took over and these clubs are now rebounding. This is sure to follow in Korea in the next few years.

“It has not resulted in closing of courses, but just better financial and centralised management.

“We do not see the same multi-course owner consolidation in Southeast Asia, but we do foresee a move where first generation courses are now looking at the reality of becoming second generation operations.

“For whatever reason the course was built – (1) the owner always wanted a golf course; (2) the golf course was built to support a real estate development; (3) the golf course was built to serve a certain community – many facilities are looking at the honeymoon being over and assessing how to run the property as a profit centre.

“This has already happened in North America and Europe where many courses are in their third or fourth generation. It has resulted in these complexes being run more like a business than previously.”

Like a traditional business, Lynge argued they are more likely to hire qualified professionals. In the United States this prompted the development of organisations like the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA).

Lynge said: “In Asia it is fine time to elevate the profile and competencies of the turfgrass management professional and the club management professional.

“This is the reason that the primary focus of the Asian Golf Industry Federation is developing and providing turfgrass management and club management education.

“We believe that there is a bright future for those who are in this business … and those that will join it in the future.

“We do not see club closures as a massive trend in Asia. In fact, the most recent closures that we have seen in Asia have been more linked to Government policy than pure economics.

“The closure of China courses by the Chinese Government is well documented and has reached 111 clubs.

“Is this a result of a shortage of golfers? No. If anything, golf is a victim of its own success as it is a target for over-development and corruption.

“There is no shortage of golfers in China. In fact, demand is pent up, waiting for the shadow to lift from golf in China. We believe that it will rebound strongly.”

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