GolfBIC 2019

GolfBICGolfBIC - the Golf Business and Industry Convention - was back at the Forest of Arden, following a three-year stint at Harrogate as part of BTME, the BIGGA exhibition. 

The UK Golf Federation has undergone considerable change over the last 12 months, with a new name and purpose, having previously been known as the UKGCOA. The aim of the new Federation is to consistently champion open access to golf. This is open access for those supplying golf to the public and also to help the public locate user-friendly courses that genuinely want to see them enjoy this great game. OGRO, the Organisation of Golf and Range Operators, who also hosted and staged the event, are totally committed to broadening the appeal of golf across the country.

Being a key trade convention for members of the UK Golf Federation and OGRO, GolfBIC was keenly supported by many varied areas from the golf industry and suppliers, from adventure putting course owners, modest golf ranges to giant golf complexes as well as many leading brands and suppliers to the golf industry; the common theme was people who are involved in delivering golf in all its various forms to those people who want to play. 

Linda Moir was the first speaker of the day. Linda has a history of superb customer service with major stints at Virgin Atlantic and also her responsibilities around the London Olympics and Paralympic Games in 2012. 

She explained what she had learnt throughout her career, and also how she managed to increase value, without significantly increasing costs. A marvellous example of her time with Virgin Atlantic was when the new flat bed seats were introduced to the business class section. This involved the acquisition by Linda of 40,000 teddy bears, all sporting Virgin’s sweaters. A bear was placed on each pillow and passengers were encouraged to take the bear home for their children or family friends. The cost of the teddies was negligible, but the value to Virgin was immense. At the same time, their rivals had introduced even more luxurious and expensive beds for customers that they were competing with, but none offered the teddy bears - and so Virgin was still able to win the hearts and minds of their customers in what is a highly competitive market place.

The next speaker was Marcus Childs. When Marcus was at school, he did not seem destined for an academic career. Until an engaging and charismatic teacher from his secondary school encouraged him to go rock climbing and then to retake some of his ‘O’ Level exams, all of which he had just comprehensively flunked. A few years later he gained a first at Cambridge and has been rock climbing ever since. The biggest lesson that he learnt was from his exceptional teacher from his secondary school, who never gave up on him and encouraged him in the face of very poor results. 

Marcus, who has an impish bearing and an infectious youthful style of delivery, mildly hectors the top brass of British industry into making great decisions for their various businesses. 

Marcus explained and described how the basic lessons of encouragement are at the heart of good leadership: everything is informal communication and win-win is the only game in town. The session was highly regarded by all of the delegates. A breath of fresh air.

Paul Stewart is a senior tax expert at KPMG. VAT is his specialist subject and he has been heavily involved in various VAT rulings that have affected the golf industry. He updated the delegates of the current situation in relation to VAT and how the recent ruling in favour of Stoke by Nayland could affect other proprietary businesses. Whilst he held out no hope of a change to the overall position on VAT in the golf industry in the near future, he did explain how the tax authorities have accepted the Stoke by Nayland situation and how it could be replicated for other facilities.

Throughout the day the main hall was filled with exhibitors and delegates. Coffee and tea was served throughout the day along with a very pleasant buffet lunch, between 12.30 and 2.30: the layout of the event is designed to allow plenty of time for commercial golf operators to meet other colleagues and also to consider the various options provided by the exhibitors. 

The main hall was cleared for the dinner in the evening. Rob Maxfield, Chief Executive of the PGA, was the guest speaker. He laid out how the PGA was changing to meet the various and increasing challenges of the golfing world. He was particularly keen to increase the engagement with the owners of golf facilities and his comments and understanding of the issues that golf operators face, were broadly appreciated and well received.

The bar stayed open long into the night. 

On the following morning, the UK Golf Federation held its AGM. The board committed itself to increasing the numbers of clubs, courses and ranges that it represents, having seen substantial growth over the last few months. There have been several frustrations in the past when the views of those running courses and ranges have been largely ignored by the ancient authorities, despite a rich vein of logic to their input. 

The board thanked Alastair Booth of Frilford Heath for his time as treasurer of the Federation, as he stepped down following his four years in post. He was replaced on the board by Neil Burke from Horsham Golf and Fitness. 

GolfBIC was so much more than just presentations, it was about commercial opportunities with golf industry leaders, who are involved in delivering golf to the masses coming together and discussing everything that is important to them, both in the exhibition and also over pre-dinner drinks and the gala dinner. It was agreed it was a great time to informally chat to other owners, operators, suppliers and industry figures. 
Richard Haygarth – Chairman UK Golf Federation stated:
“This was a trade convention, so we thank our industry exhibitors and our key corporate partners who joined us as they make GolfBIC happen, and their inputs to all our businesses is very important. GolfBIC is about growing business relationships and making all our business develop strong partnerships that grow our profitability.”
Doug Poole – CEO commented:
“In coming together we provide both a social function and a useful business opportunity. Supporting we had a superb line-up of speakers with Linda Moir, Marcus Childs and Paul Stewart who spearheaded our presentations. Delegates confirmed there was much to learn from all three of these top-class professionals and could not wait to input changes in their businesses.”

GolfBIC 2020 is now booked for a return next March to the Forest of Arden, who managed the convention so professionally and ensured everyone’s day was a success.  

Colin Jenkins, OGRO Chairman and co-founder of GolfBIC added:
“The event has been a terrific success with exhibitors and delegates coming together in a convenient and interesting format to discuss things of critical importance to the industry, whilst renewing the relationships which are vital to running a good golf course or range. The presentations were all of the highest calibre and we are delighted to be back at the Forest of Arden, which is so easy to reach for most of our delegates.”