Bangkok, Thailand: In the concluding instalment of an exclusive two-part interview, David Townend, Principal of Azalea Hospitality and General Manager at Amata Spring Country Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, looks ahead to next month’s inaugural Amata Friendship Cup presented by Toyota and discusses his vision for the future of the award-winning Thai venue.
AGIF: What is the ambition and vision for the club and how does the renovation programme fit into this?
DT: The vision is to maintain Amata Spring Country Club’s status as one of the premier clubs in Asia and a leading championship venue in Thailand.
One of the features of our club is the belief in how hosting events positively impacts the Thai community and how it helps inspire youngsters, but also brings people together.
The journey of Thailand’s top-flight golfers is perhaps only comparable to Korea and Japan. The abundance of great players is a by-product of the vision the likes of our Board has for the game and the extraordinary ability to pull them off.
Everybody at the club wants to have a course that lives up to its billing, day-in, day-out. That means having quality surfaces, with a healthy eco-system that encourages the best experience possible.
AGIF: How do you feel the club has benefitted since employing Azalea Hospitality?
DT: Any time you have a group employing a specialist group, it is to benefit from knowledge, intel and expertise. I feel I have been able to provide the Board with the critical intel that has helped shape their philosophy on how they want the club to run, whilst bringing some creative ideas.
The golf industry is a niche sector, awash with nuance. How you navigate this is in most instances based on levels of understanding. My job is to implement a new best-practice model for club management and operations, injecting a new culture of hospitality, bringing state-of-the-art technology to increase communications and efficiencies, framed by a world-class golf course, flanked by some of the finest private residences.
As a private club, the emphasis is always on delivering product and service to our members that goes well beyond their expectations. We have a membership that is almost perfectly balanced between Thais and Japanese, therefore creating activities and events that appeal to them and allow them to interact and socialise both on and off the course has been paramount to the outstanding results that we have achieved over the last year and a half.
We have had a record year in terms of financial performance in 2018, with positive trajectory and plans for 2019. For me, that is my focus – balancing short-term revenue performance with a clear and achievable long-term sustainable plan.
AGIF: You are the Tournament Director of the Amata Friendship Cup presented by Toyota. How will you have the course set up?
DT: It is going to be a great privilege to be Tournament Director. We have a great team working on the event, with Jed Moore and his team from Performance54. I am focused on working with Mike McKenna, our Superintendent, and someone I rate as one of the most diligent professionals, on getting the course in optimum condition.
I have spoken with each of the team Captains on my vision for how the course will play its best and have had their unanimous support.
I don’t want to give too much away – but the course will be second only to the players in putting on a great show. Expect some firm conditions, pure and slick greens – but all in all a fair and fun test for the players.
AGIF: So, what is next at this pantheon of Asian golf?
DT: We have a lot to do still on the course. Our programme will take another two years, so the teams are focused on realising the end vision.
We have continued developments to the residential community, which has undergone its own makeover in tandem with the course. We have some further news in store on plans for the Amata Spring Country Club residential masterplan and some additional exciting new additions – which will come to light in due course.
Technology investments are also right around the corner – which is something we will be telling the golf industry more about in due course.
Hanoi, Vietnam: Le Hoang Phuong, a respected figure in golf in Vietnam, has been appointed as a Senior Advisor to the Asian Golf Industry Federation.