Dubai: Karl Whitehead has created a small slice of golfing history by signing up as the Asian Golf Industry Federation’s (AGIF) first Individual Member.
“I’m excited at the opportunity to join such a forward-thinking and supportive Federation. The AGIF team have a fantastic reputation for providing innovative educational opportunities, in addition to providing exposure to what is a quality network of industry leaders,” said Whitehead, a PGA professional who is currently General Manager at the Els Club Dubai, a Troon-managed property.
“I seek to capitalise on all of the opportunities that the AGIF provides to improve myself, my respective club, and what I deliver for Troon and my team,” he added.
Eric Lynge, Chief Executive Officer of the AGIF, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Karl as the Federation’s first Individual Member.”
The AGIF launched its Individual Membership category last month in a new initiative aimed at offering another option for those interested in joining the Federation and gaining access to its benefits and community.
“We offer a Facility Membership, which continues to be a great option for an operation to provide AGIF benefits for its staff and promote their facility’s activity to the industry. However, over the years we’ve had many inquiries from individuals who also want to join independently. So, we developed the Individual Membership to serve turf and club professionals who want to join the AGIF as an individual,” added Lynge.
At a cost of US$150 per annum, this membership is specifically for individuals who work, or are seeking employment, at a facility, be it golf, sports or social.
“With an Individual Membership you will receive access to AGIF education and events at a special membership rate,” said Lynge. “That, in turn, will open up fabulous networking opportunities, presenting a unique chance to meet like-minded individuals from the industry around the region as well as prospective employers.”
Whitehead, who graduated from Birmingham University in the English Midlands with a degree in Applied Golf Management Studies, has a wealth of operations, service and hospitality knowledge.
Following his graduation in 2007, he completed a PGA placement in Dublin, Ireland before beginning his full-time career as a golf co-ordinator with the Marriott Forest of Arden. After two years there, he moved to Celtic Manor in Wales, where he experienced the Ryder Cup first hand.
From there he returned to the Marriott Forest of Arden as Golf Operations Manager. In 2012, he moved to Abu Dhabi to assume the position as Golf Operations Manager at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. Directly prior to joining the Els Club Dubai, he was Director of Golf at The Address Montgomerie Dubai.
Those who sign up for an Individual Membership enjoy discounts at a variety of AGIF-organised education, including the Certificate in Greenkeeping (CIG), a programme aimed at developing assistant greenkeepers for the golf industry.
To date, the AGIF has trained 50 greenkeepers from 32 clubs in China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. With support from The R&A, the CIG will be expanded to more countries in the coming years.
Individual Members will also enjoy a member rate for registration for Club Management Association of America (CMAA) education run by the AGIF. The AGIF is an Affiliate Partner with the CMAA in Asia, running the Certified Club Manager (CCM) education, recognised as the gold standard in club management globally. To date, more than 40 managers from seven countries have been involved in the ‘Pathway to the CCM’.
Individual Members will also receive a member rate to attend AGIF Turf and Club Management Seminars organised by the AGIF. For events at which the AGIF partners other organisations, Individual Members will be eligible for the AGIF rate, usually the same as the ‘local rate’. Annual events have traditionally been held in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Preferential access to online and distance learning options is another benefit of Individual Members. Lynge said: “With Covid-19 and a shift to online and distance learning, we are happy to be able to offer Individual Members exclusive access to Golf Course Superintendents’ Association of America (GCSAA) webinars and other education through July, 2020.
“The CMAA has also offered exclusive access to CMAA webinars and education credits to AGIF members as well as complimentary access to the CMAA World Congress every two years.
“We are very grateful to these education partners who are availing special access to their education for our members.”
All AGIF education and events are recognised and credited by GCSAA, CMAA, PGA of America and the PGA of Great Britain & Ireland so that their members can attend AGIF events and obtain much-valued education credits from these esteemed education partners.
Individuals who are suppliers or work for suppliers to the industry do not qualify for an Individual Membership or Facility Membership but can apply to join the AGIF in another category – Executive, Full Business or Associate Business.