Re-Opening of Golf Courses ‘Not Just a Case of Turning on the Lights’

Absolute Golf Services acts as a management consultant at Thailand’s Nikanti Golf Course.

Bangkok, Thailand: Setting out a strategic road map for re-opening is of paramount importance for golf clubs that are primed to recommence operations in the coming weeks.

Although approval for golf courses in and around Bangkok to proceed with their operations had been expected to be given in May, according to various reports the lockdown is now likely to be extended until June 1.

James Shippey, Managing Director at Bangkok-based Absolute Golf Services (AGS) and a Board Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF), said: “The situation is fairly fluid at the moment. There are varying announcements that have been made by courses around Thailand, potentially re-opening sometime in May. But we haven’t heard anything direct from the Government or from any of the local authorities at this stage.”

Nonetheless, after a month-long lay-off brought on by Government restrictions imposed by Covid-19, Shippey says it’s unrealistic to expect an immediate return to ‘normality’.

Speaking in the latest in a series of podcasts with leading industry figures that are being broadcast on the AGIF’s revamped website – www.agif.asia – Shippey said all golfing establishments need to have a proper plan of action prior to re-opening their doors for business.

“When you’re re-opening a golf course, it’s not just a case of turning on the lights and away you go,” said Shippey, whose company manages Thana City Country Club and acts as management consultants at Nikanti Golf Club, Royal Gems City Golf Club and Royal Gems Salaya Golf Resort.

He said: “Ahead of re-opening, it’s really important that plans are drawn up and all heads of department and stakeholders are involved so you have a strategic road map for re-opening. That way, when you do actually have your first guests back through the door, you’ll be able to deliver great service from the get-go.

“It’s very prudent that everyone looks at how they operate their facilities to make sure that social distancing is a key factor, making sure that staff and members and guests are safe.”

Shippey predicts that clubs will initially have to focus on their domestic markets as golf tourism takes a back seat until it becomes safe for people to travel again.

He also suggests that ‘green fee price wars’, especially in areas with a high concentration of golf courses, will prove counter-productive.

He said: “The golf market is price sensitive, but we certainly don’t want to be dropping our rates to gain traction. Our focus will be on trying to maximise our yields, providing a great service and looking at adding value to the experience … and not necessarily reducing the price.

“If you have 2,000 rounds per month at let’s say $100, or 2,300 rounds at $70 it makes a difference to your operating revenues and profitability. If the facility isn’t profitable then you have to look at ways to manage those expenses so that you’re at least breaking even at the end of the day. Yielding your rounds and your revenues is critical for the success of any facility.”

*To listen to the full interview with James Shippey, please visit https://agif.asia/agif-podcast/

**Absolute Golf Services is an Associate Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation. If you’d like to reach the Federation’s 10,000+ global audience via newsletter, website, Facebook and LinkedIn, become an AGIF member. For further details, please visit https://agif.asia/join-the-agif/

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