Camiral Golf & Wellness successfully gained a prestigious Gold Flag at our recent Service Excellence Awards, not only this but Marta Castells was crowned F&B Manager of the year. Camiral uses the in depth data provided from the Golf, Hotel & F&B journey as well as the sales enquiry calls to enhance their experiences, we asked David Ashington (Director of Golf) to share his thoughts on working with 59club Europe South.
“I have been working with 59club across three properties over many years, all of different dimensions, needs and requirements. At each venue we have found a wide range of extremely qualitive points of use and quite often more than 59club actually announce as their main purpose
Firstly, having so much data to analyse at your starting point and then measuring your quest for change allows you to detail and study your strengths and weaknesses of the customer journey and most importantly in the eyes of an independent client. With so many customer check points along the journey this ensures, as a leader, you are focused in the right areas for improving. The support of having the 59club team visit you on property to then demonstrate and quantify this to your teams is invaluable and quite often enlightens the teams to areas they might not see as overly important, in equal measure it allows you to praise certain areas that they are improving in their performance levels.
Secondly, I find it invaluable to spend time on the visit to allow myself and my senior staff to brainstorm ideas and processes you might wish to implement. Given that 59club evaluate a huge number of properties worldwide they can often assist with support or valid points of view towards operating procedures that are successful (or not) which in turn can add justification to your decision making or systematic processes.
Overall, I am absolutely delighted to have been working in close capacity with 59club and can only highly recommend that other fellow Managers and Directors take serious consideration towards utilizing the benefits that 59club can offer to your venue”
Many of the UK and Europe’s leading Venues, Teams and Individuals were in attendance as 59club recognised those who delivered the very best service to their Members and Guests during 2022 at their Annual celebration of Service Excellence, which this year took place at The Hilton, St George’s Park on Thursday 2nd of May.
Delegates enjoyed educational seminars during the day, which included Olympic Gold Medal winner and now Head of Performance for the League Managers Association, Tim Foster MBE; Bestselling author of “The Habit Mechanic” and founder of Tougher Minds Consultancy, Dr Jon Finn; and former Manchester United Captain and Premier League winner, Steve Bruce.
As day moved to evening; host for the evening, seasoned presenter, Vernon Kay opened the glittering awards ceremony that has long been regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the golf & hospitality industry, since 59club’s honours list began some 13 years ago.
The event recognises the finest customer service providers for having achieved the highest standards of excellence across 2022. 59club’s accolades are determined by scores collected from their impartial mystery shopping audits, which evaluate the experience afforded to guests, club members and prospective members, in accordance with 59club’s objective benchmarking criteria.
On the night, 59club saw their UK & Southern European teams present 38 individual & team awards spanning 18 categories, recognising ‘service excellence’ across all areas of the businesses; sales, service, operations, retail, spa, golf course, food & beverage and management. With 59club continuing to reflect the very best performances, regardless of a venue’s size, scale or profile, by segmenting several individual accolades into 3 categories, based on a venue’s average green fee rate.
Of this year’s awards, Will Hewitt, General Manager of 59club UK, commented; “With a growth of over 20% in the number of venues taking our services, an award nomination this year represented an outstanding achievement across a number of hugely competitive categories.
59club awards are based on an objective analysis of the service provided at a venue, therefore recognising the venues, teams and individuals who truly do deliver world class service on a consistent basis”.
The Grove and Belvoir Park Golf Club collected the highest prized awards of the evening – Ultimate Golf Resort and Ultimate Members’ Club respectively. Both venues also achieved multiple individual and team successes; with Brad Gould and his team at The Grove collecting the enviable Golf Manager and Golf Operations Team of the Year titles (>£130 green fee category); with Alice Kozlowski adding the Leading Individual Golf Sales Performance award to The Grove’s trophy cabinet.
Belvoir Park’s celebrations continued long into the night with both Aaron Small and Stuart McDonald having been crowned Greenkeeper and F&B Manager of the Year, before rounding off the evening with the forementioned Ultimate Members’ Club Designation.
Another club seeing multiple successes was Long Ashton, who scooped Golf Manager of the Year for departing GM, Gareth Morgan; F&B Manager of the Year for a 4th consecutive year for Glenn McNaughton; Golf Operations Team of the Year; and also a coveted Gold Flag Designation. In addition to this they also claimed the Ultimate Service Excellence Award for their fantastic efforts in utilising survey data to enhance their service offering.
Both Finca Cortesin and Branston Golf Club received a double dose of crystalware after Rocio Sanchez was crowned 59club Europe South’s Golf Manager of the year; and their Golf Operations Department claimed the Team of the Year accolade. Meanwhile Branston celebrated with a my59 Service Excellence Award; and a second victory after claiming Leisure Membership Sales Team of the year.
The Awards became a landmark moment for Matt Aplin, Golf Course Manager at Goring and Streatley, who has now retained the title of Greenkeeper of the Year for an incredible 5th consecutive year – an outstanding achievement given the quality of those competing in this category.
Alcanada, Camiral Golf & Wellness and Golf Son Muntaner were flying the flag for Spain, having each secured Gold Flag Designations. Marta Castells (Camiral) claimed victory in the Food & Beverage Category, while Paco Gavira (Son Muntaner) was crowned the regions Greenkeeper of the Year.
In Portugal, Quinta do Lago continue to lead the way by also securing a coveted Gold Flag, and in Italy, Royal Park I Roveri celebrated with a Silver Flag, and a again as Fabio Vido claimed Retail Manager of the Year.
Lee Mathew Waggott, General Manager59club Europe South said; “Celebrating success is a key pillar of what we believe in and promote within 59club. Our venues across Europe South not only continue to deliver memorable experiences but are always striving to continue to develop their journeys by searching for those extra 1%’s day in and day out.
“In an extremely competitive landscape to receive a nomination and claim an award is a wonderful achievement, and the ability to share this recognition with individuals and teams across the property is incredibly important. We are extremely excited about the season ahead and welcoming even more forward-thinking & progressive properties into our Awards next year.”
Celebrations continued into the night, as 59club’s Industry Benchmark of excellence, it’s Gold, Silver and Bronze Flag Designations, were announced. These highly prized accolades recognise member clubs’ and resorts that provide excellent facilities for golfers to enjoy, as well as having achieved the required standard of customer service throughout 2022.
This year, 59club presented 28 ‘Gold Flags’. The deserving winners were: Belvoir Park Golf Club; Camiral Golf & Wellness; Celtic Manor Resort; Club de Golf Alcanada; Delta Hotels by Marriott, Forest of Arden Country Club; Dunbar Golf Club; Edgbaston Golf Club; Finca Cortesin; Foxhills Club & Resort; Frilford Heath Golf Club; Gleneagles; Golf at Goodwood; Golf Son Muntaner; Gullane Golf Club; Hanbury Manor, Marriott Hotel & Country Club; Harpenden Golf Club; JCB Golf & Country Club; Long Ashton Golf Club; Mount Juliet Estate; Panmure Golf Club; Quinta do Lago; Rockliffe Hall; Royal Dublin Golf Club; Royal Dornoch Golf Club; The Belfry Hotel & Resort; The Grove; The London Club and The Mere Golf Resort & Spa.
17 ‘Silver Flags’ went to; Barnham Broom; Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort; Branston Golf & Country Club; Carton House; Cameron House; Clevedon Golf Club; Infinitum; Ladybank Golf Club; La Moye Golf Club; North Foreland Golf Club; QHotels Collection, Slaley Hall Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort; QHotels Collection, Belton Woods Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort; Royal Park I Roveri; Slieve Russell; St Mellion; The Kendleshire and West Herts Golf Club.
And a further 15 “Bronze Flag” Awards were presented to; Conwy Golf Club; Delta Hotels by Marriott, Worsley Park Country Club; Golf Son Quint; Golf Son Vida; Goring & Streatley Golf Club; Hickleton Golf Club; Newport Golf Club; Pula Golf Resort; Teignmouth Golf Club; The Astbury; The Bristol Golf Club; The Vale Resort; Vale Royal Abbey Golf Club; Woodsome Hall Golf Club and Wychwood Park.
Gold Flag Designations 2023: Belvoir Park Golf Club; Camiral Golf & Wellness; Celtic Manor Resort; Club de Golf Alcanada; Delta Hotels by Marriott, Forest of Arden Country Club; Dunbar Golf Club; Edgbaston Golf Club; Finca Cortesin; Foxhills Club & Resort; Frilford Heath Golf Club; Gleneagles; Golf at Goodwood; Golf Son Muntaner; Gullane Golf Club; Hanbury Manor, Marriott Hotel & Country Club; Harpenden Golf Club; JCB Golf & Country Club; Long Ashton Golf Club; Mount Juliet Estate; Panmure Golf Club; Quinta do Lago; Rockliffe Hall; Royal Dublin Golf Club; Royal Dornoch Golf Club; The Belfry Hotel & Resort; The Grove; The London Club and The Mere Golf Resort & Spa.
Silver Flag Designations 2023: Barnham Broom; Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort; Branston Golf & Country Club; Carton House; Cameron House; Clevedon Golf Club; Infinitum; Ladybank Golf Club; La Moye Golf Club; North Foreland Golf Club; QHotels Collection, Slaley Hall Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort; QHotels Collection, Belton Woods Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort; Royal Park I Roveri; Slieve Russell; St Mellion; The Kendleshire and West Herts Golf Club.
Bronze Flag Designations 2023: Conwy Golf Club; Delta Hotels by Marriott, Worsley Park Country Club; Golf Son Quint; Golf Son Vida; Goring & Streatley Golf Club; Hickleton Golf Club; Newport Golf Club; Pula Golf Resort; Teignmouth Golf Club; The Astbury; The Bristol Golf Club; The Vale Resort; Vale Royal Abbey Golf Club; Woodsome Hall Golf Club and Wychwood Park.
Golf Manager of the Year (59club UK)
Brad Gould (The Grove) Over £131 Green-Fee
Sean Graham (Foxhills Club & Resort) £61-£130 Green-Fee
Gareth Morgan (Long Ashton GC) Under £61 Green-Fee
Golf Manager of the Year (59club Europe South)
Rocio Sanchez (Finca Cortesin)
Food & Beverage Manager of the Year (59club UK)
Jacques Hobson (The Belfry Hotel & Resort) Over £131 Green-Fee
Stuart McDonald (Belvoir Park GC) £61-£130 Green-Fee
Glenn McNaughton (Long Ashton GC) Under £61 Green-Fee
Food & Beverage Manager of the Year (59club Europe South)
Marta Castells (Camiral Golf & Wellness)
Golf Retail Manager of the Year (59club UK)
Russell McIntyre (Gullane GC) Over £131 Green-Fee
Andrew Crerar (Panmure GC) £61-£130 Green-Fee
Ryan Crowley (Clevedon GC) Under £61 Green-Fee
Golf Retail Manager of the Year (59club Europe South)
Fabio Vido (Royal Park Roveri)
Greenkeeper of the Year (59club UK)
Scott Fenwick (Gleneagles) Over £131 Green-Fee
Aaron Small (Belvoir Park GC) £61-£130 Green-Fee
Matt Aplin (Goring & Streatley GC) Under £61 Green-Fee
Greenkeeper of the Year(59club Europe South)
Paco Gavira (Son Muntaner)
Golf Operations Team of the Year (59club UK)
The Grove (Over £131 Green-Fee)
Delta Hotels Forest of Arden Country Club (Arden Course) (£61-£130 Green-Fee)
Long Ashton GC (Under £61 Green-Fee)
Golf Operations Team of the Year (59club Europe South)
my59 Service Excellence: Stoke by Nayland; Celtic Manor Resort; Branston Golf & Country Club; Edgbaston Golf Club; Radyr Golf Club; Farleigh Golf Club; The Vale Resort; Rockliffe Hall
my59 Ultimate Service Excellence
Long Ashton GC
Leading Individual Golf Sales Performance
Alice Kozlowski (The Grove)
Leading Individual Golf Membership Sales Performance
Philomena Wilkinson (Delta Hotels Forest of Arden Country Club)
Golf Membership Sales Team of the Year
The Mere Golf Resort & Spa
Leading Individual Leisure Membership Sales Performance
James Flesher (Dunston Hall – Q Hotels Collection)
Leisure Membership Sales Team of the Year
Branston Golf & Country Club
Leading Spa Experience Performance
Leading Individual Corporate Golf Day Sales Performance
Leading Golf & Hospitality properties from across Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and the UK, have been shortlisted ahead of 59club’s Annual Service Excellence Awards Ceremony, which comes to Hilton St. Georges Park on the 2nd of March 2023.
59club’s prestigious accolades, recognise those outstanding Venues, Teams and Individuals within the global golf & hospitality industry who consistently deliver outstanding customer experiences for their members and guests.
Qualification is unbiased; and determined by scores achieved through a detailed and objective mystery shopping program, which measures the experience afforded to members, visitors and prospective members spanning Golf, Leisure, Spa and F&B operations.
A number of the finest Golf Resorts & Member Clubs in the UK & Europe receive multiple nominations this year; and leading the stakes is four-time Ryder Cup host; The Belfry with nominations realized across seven award categories.
Camiral Golf & Wellness – voted the number #1 golf resort in Spain, join 2010 Ryder Cup host; Celtic Manor Resort, Delta Hotels – Forest of Arden and The Grove as they each receive five nominations across multiple service excellence award categories.
Hot on their heels with four nominations are; Long Ashton and The Vale, both regulars in the 59club winners arena, and Quinta do Lago – also no stranger to the 59club spotlight having impressively scooped four of the main award titles in the ceremony just 12 months ago. They are all followed closely by Branston Golf and Country Club who uphold three nominations.
A newcomer to the 59club community having started their journey with the customer service specialists back in 2022; is Finca Cortesin, host of the 2023 Solheim Cup who find themselves in the running for two accolades.
With Belvoir Park, Bristol Golf Club, Clevedon, Foxhills and Ryder Cup giant Gleneagles – who famously claimed 59club’s highest accolade of Ultimate Resort in 2022 – also in contention for two accolades.
Gullane, Harpenden, JCB, Panmure, The Mere and Royal Park I Roveri – another previous winner having seen Riccardo Russo crowned European Greenkeeper of the Year – also feature double nominations.
Others hoping to receive a prestigious Service Excellence Award include a selection of 2022’s 59club Gold Flag bearing properties; Alcanada, Son Muntaner, Hanbury Manor and Mount Juliet Estate, who each feature in the Golf Retail, Greenkeeper, Golf Membership Sales and Golf Manager of the year nominations respectively.
Finally, the nominations listing see’s Barnham Broom, Carton House, Delta Hotels Worsley Park Country Club, Dunston Hall, Eden Hall, Fornby Hall, Goring & Streatley, Hoar Cross Hall, North Foreland, Oulton Hall, Rockliffe Hall, Slieve Russell, St Mellion, The Astbury, The Kendleshire, West Herts, Woodsome Hall and Wychwood Park all in contention for a service excellence award.
Looking ahead to the Service Excellence Awards, and the first for Lee Mathew Waggott, 59club Europe South’s new General Manager said: “We are extremely excited that this year’s Service Excellence Awards are now just around the corner. This day allows us to celebrate and recognize venues and teams delivering great experiences from across the continent. Additionally, with colleagues attending from properties across Europe, it gives property leaders a unique networking opportunity.”
59CLUB EUROPE SOUTH ‘SERVICE EXCELLENCE’ AWARD NOMINATIONS (in alphabetical order):
Food & Beverage Manager of the Year:
Marta Castells (Camiral Golf & Wellness); Attilio Girello (Royal Park Roveri); David Maderia (Quinta do Lago)
59club, the industry’s leading Customer Service Management Specialist, has today announced that Lee Mathew Waggott will continue 59club’s growth across the South of Europe, supporting golf and leisure clubs, hotels, restaurants, and spa destinations to drive customer service & sales performance across their respective properties.
With nearly 15 years industry experience gained during time with Yas Links Abu Dhabi and European Tour Destination, The London Club; Lee is well suited to the role, and is no stranger to the 59club model either.
Under 59clubs direction, Lee played an instrumental role in developing the customer journey at Yas Links, realised at the 2022 MEA Service Excellence Awards, as the property scooped four gongs which included Golf Agronomy Team of the Year, Golf Operations Team of the Year, a Gold Flag Designation, and the leading award of the year; 59club MEA’s Ultimate Resort of the Year. All at a time when Yas Links hosted the 2022 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships.
Lee went as far to say “Having used and experienced what 59club can do first hand as a customer makes me extremely excited to start my new role within Europe South. To be able to explore different visions, and support venues in the region following our Measure, Train, Support, Reward mantra, I strongly believe 2023 and beyond can truly be history making for all types of properties across the continent”.
Simon Wordsworth, CEO of 59club added; “We are all delighted to see Lee join 59club’s expanding network, representing clubs across Spain, Portugal, Italy & Greece.
“We have been fortunate to work with some incredible managers in the region over the years and have some of the finest properties in continental Europe within our portfolio. Many of whom have been with 59club from the very beginning of our overseas expansion. It was their willingness to work with the 59club brand, that led to our globalisation, and ultimately the formation of ‘local’ 59club divisions, serving its immediate community.
“That expansion from our headquarters in the UK led to openings across Europe, the USA, Canada, Asia, Middle East, Africa; and most recently within Australia & New Zealand, and we are delighted to strengthen our support in Europe South as we welcome Lee to the family.”
With leading venues such as Finca Cortesin, PGA Catalunya, Son Muntaner and Alcanada in Spain, as well as Quinta do Lago in Portugal and Marco Simone in Italy all engaged with 59club Europe South, Lee will continue to support the regions current roster of mystery shopping audits and customer satisfaction surveys, whilst introducing education pathways, networking opportunities and new innovations to Club Managers.
Those interested in a proven strategy to measure, train, support and reward staff performance to elevate the overall customer experience and operational outcomes, are urged to visit www.59clubeurope.com or reach out to Lee Mathew Waggott firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
59club are the industry’s leading customer service management authority, dedicated to advancing the customer experience across Golf & Hospitality.
Our Eminent Collection includes those individuals and properties responsible for consistently delivering the finest levels of service within our global network, since the inception of 59club.
Eligibility is based solely on achievements across the 59club Service Excellence Awards; with individual, team, and property accolades all contributing towards the Eminent Benchmark of Excellence.
Independent non-subjective scrutiny underpins the integrity of The Eminent Collection.
The individuals and properties within the collection are held in the highest regard, they are an outstanding example of high-performance leadership.
The Belfry Hotel & Resort The Celtic Manor Resort Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club Emirates Golf Club Forest of Arden Foxhills Club & Resort Gleneagles Golf Son Muntaner The Grove Rockliffe Hall Trump International Golf Club Dubai Yas Links Abu Dhabi
Andrew Whitelaw GM/COO, Aronimink Golf Club Anna Darnell Resort Director, The Grove Barney Coleman Club Manager, Emirates Golf Club Bernat Llobera Area Golf Director, Arabella Golf Mallorca Chris May CEO Dubai Golf Gary Silcock General Manager, Murrayshall Stuart Collier Director of Golf, Stoke Park
Brad Gould Director of Golf, The Grove Chris Reeve Director of Golf, The Belfry Fraser Liston Director of Golf, Forest of Arden Sean Graham Head of Golf Operations, Foxhills Stephen Hindle Golf Manager, Worsley Park Stephen Hubner Club Manager, Jumeirah Golf Estates
Angus Macleod Director of Golf Courses & Estates, The Belfry Craig Haldane Golf Courses Manager, Gleneagles Jim Mckenzie MBE Director of Golf Courses & Estates, Celtic Manor Jonathan Wyer Golf Course Manager, Rockliffe Hall Phillip Chiverton Golf Course & Estates Manager, The Grove Rob Rowson Golf Course Estate Manager, Forest of Arden
Jacques Hobson Food & Beverage Outlets Manager, The Belfry
Simon Howell Golf Operations Manager, Forest of Arden Tom Hughes Head of Golf Retail & Operations, The Belfry
Trump International Golf Club, Dubai affords an exquisite championship links-style golf course, world-class golf, leisure & retail facilities, and the finest dining experience complete with the promise to exceed all members and guest expectations.
We caught up with the Director of Golf Operations at Trump International Golf Club, Phil Waine to discuss how the stunning property located in the heart of the DAMAC Hills ensures its promise of ‘excellence’ is realised.
Utilizing the feedback from 59club’s Mystery Shopper feedback over a 5-year period has enabled us to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the business at all touch points of the golfer’s experience. From here, we have been able to conduct our internal training around the areas of opportunity that have been collectively flagged within the audits. For example, upsell training in the retail department combined with product knowledge seminars and utilizing our preferred vendors such as Taylormade to conduct additional training.
We were also able to highlight potential staff shortages within certain areas of the operation and used this indicator to schedule staff amendments and instigate additional recruitment. Using the Mystery Shopper feedback, we can highlight and justify to our ownership the areas of recruitment required to ensure the Trump brand standards are provided on a consistent basis, and to also benchmark our experience against other leading golf facilities.
In addition, 59club’s mystery shopper feedback has been utilized for supporting justification around staff recognition awards such as employee of the month/quarter/year, combined with annual performance reviews.
We deliver our annual membership survey with 59club and without doubt it’s the most important satisfaction survey that we conduct each year at the facility. We deliver the survey in May each year and it is active for around a 3–4-week period. We feel it is important to provide members with a constructive communication platform to express their opinion on the membership experience at Trump International Golf Club, Dubai, and to highlight the strengths and areas of opportunity from their own personal standpoint. Members can also remain anonymous when conducting the survey which allows them to feel comfortable when expressing certain views.
Each year we have received excellent feedback and there is always a new concept or idea that appears within the comments that we have implemented into the membership experience. This can range from a new competition event/schedule, tee sheet format, additional practice facilities on the TrackMan Driving Range, golf course upgrades, menu item/pricing amendments within the restaurant outlets etc.
Once the survey is closed, the results are distributed to the membership via a newsletter communication with the summer (June – August) action plan attached. Since we launched the membership survey in 2019, we have seen an increase in overall membership satisfaction each year, with 2022 being our record satisfaction score.
On the back of the 2022 Member Survey action plan, we have outlined further facility enhancements and renovation projects for 2023 to ensure we can continue the member satisfaction trend into next year. These enhancements will not only benefit members but also visitor golfers and non-golfers from the surrounding community. In addition, we also deliver a daily guest survey, which is sent to each non-member just 24 hours after their round of golf. On completion, each participant will receive a personalized response from the golf team within 24 hours of receiving their survey response. This is an opportunity to address any concerns from the golfer, and to potentially encourage repeat play by applying a Promo Code for the next visit.
The daily visitor survey provides additional data obtained from the mystery shopper and member survey to again benchmark the golfing experience we are delivering to all non-members. We have applied incentives for guests to complete the survey to ensure we maintain a healthy capture % rate throughout the year.
In addition to the staff training, we align all satisfaction survey scores to individual and departmental annual KPI’s and include these within the annual business plan at the start of the year. All survey scores are reviewed monthly and benchmarked against the budget, prior year, and industry averages. They are included within all owner and management reports.
The action plans and training implemented on the back of the satisfaction scores from members, guests and mystery shoppers has been supported with positive trends on commercial performance year on year. We have seen growth in areas such as merchandise spend per round, membership and green fee in all non-member round segments. In addition, the Golf Club has received prestigious global accolades within the golfing industry in recent years and continues to be nominated in 2022. We feel the service provided by 59club has been a huge support mechanism to help us achieve these goals.
The 59club service excellence awards are recognition that the club is delivering the Trump brand standards to members and guests throughout the year. Working within golf facilities in the Middle East with demanding commercial targets, it is important to ensure service standards are not compromised when achieving these objectives.
The current Director of Golf role involves a lot of administration tasks and attending meetings throughout the week. Therefore, there is a limited amount of time where I can personally oversee all touch points of the operation firsthand. We operate a floodlight facility on the Par 3 Course which means we have tee times starting from 6am in the morning until 9pm in the evening with over 70 thousand rounds of golf accommodated during the year. The 59club software we implement at Trump International Golf Club, Dubai basically provides the team and I external feedback on the golf experience we delivery on a daily basis throughout the year. The information received can be measured and allows us to make key strategy decisions based on factual data received from all golf round segments.
To anyone not working with 59club, I would have to question how they are auditing their member and guest experience, and what information they are using to make key operational strategy decisions to help them advance and deliver excellence in a competitive marketplace.
59club are industry leaders in Customer Experience Management, with a wealth of ground-breaking Mystery Shopper Audits, Customer Satisfaction Surveys, and Employee Training Programs. They support many of the greatest names in the Golf, Leisure, Spa, F&B and Hotel Industries, to elevate Sales Performance and the Customer Experience across their respective client properties.
Stoke by Nayland is one of the busiest 36-hole venues in the UK with a significant membership who like to play a lot of golf.
Managing the differing needs of members, hotel residents and pay-and-play golfers represents a challenge, but also being just one moving part in a significant resort business means I have to coordinate the activities of the various elements of my own department – booking, retail, starters and marshals, greenkeeping and academy – as well as managing a relationship with key partners such as membership committees and other hotel departments, such as rooms and F&B.
I’ve worked with 59club for around 11 years – the last three here at Stoke by Nayland. Of all the many benefits we’ve enjoyed from working with 59club, I would say the most significant – and something that helps us grow as a golf club – is the ability to benchmark against other venues.
For example, how do you know that what you’re doing is any good, in comparison to other properties? The beauty of 59club is that it gives us the ability to choose a cluster of venues that are very similar to us and our operation and to see how they perform as a collective; and with that peripheral view ultimately, we’re able to benchmark ourselves in terms of where we lie in the market.
And that mystery shopper intel isn’t limited to those competitor properties either; we also benefit from insight into 59club’s industry benchmark defined by the 3 best performing venues, which is always slightly higher than the actual industry average data. So, we’re comparing ourselves constantly not only to our immediate competition but also with a range of properties, which really helps us.
I have an excellent relationship with 59club and we speak regularly, whether it is to discuss ideas related to the club, or to discuss challenges. We also use the data we receive as part of our internal induction process and ongoing staff training. We have monthly team debriefs where we use that data as the key training issue or the tool to highlight the training need.
If, let’s say, our mystery audit comes back and it appears that a retail member of staff wasn’t particularly clued up on an item of clothing they were trying to sell, that indicates, clearly, a requirement for further training for the team. Pretty much every month we’ll highlight the big downfall, for want of a better word, within any audit and we focus our training on that area over the next few weeks.
Again, the ability to benchmark our member and guest survey data against similar facilities, is absolutely vital for us. An example is where I ask the members to survey the bunkers – and we score six out of 10. To the untrained eye that score may look pretty poor, but what 59club can do for us, in terms of the survey platform, is telling us the average score that club members across the industry have rated their bunkers, and a lot of the time that industry data is not as high as you’d imagine.
In a perfect world you’re aiming for a 10 out of 10 but the ability to know that some of the better courses may only be scoring 8.8, for example, is a good tool for us to be able to manage what we’re trying to achieve. Six no longer looks as low as it might have done previously.
The benefits to staff training and planning are also manifold. It could be somebody in the halfway hut, who hasn’t greeted a guest in a particularly great manner, or the example of the retail staff. We go through a series of meet and greets and building relationships with people.
We sit down at the start of the year and one of the big things we do is we review the mission statement we have with the golf club. The mission statement doesn’t necessarily change much, year to year, but some of the measurements we use to ensure we’re on track do change.
In the last couple of years, we’ve set benchmarks in terms of the member satisfaction scores generated from our 59club surveys and a guest satisfaction score from our mystery shopper audits, and, additionally, one of the measurements we aim for has been the 59club silver flag award, which are presented to the venues that not only achieve the required standard of service as part of the mystery test audit criteria, but also provide excellent facilities for customers to enjoy… It plays quite a big role in the bigger picture.
We didn’t get to win the silver flag award we covet, so that’s something we’re aiming for this year, but we have seen multiple success at the awards based on our appetite for gathering feedback from members and guests and the effective management of the survey data we received. We won an ultimate service excellence award in 2019, being one of only two venues recognised at that standard, and again in 2020 we retained that premium title, and also in 2021, we were honoured with a service excellence award in the same category.
From a personal perspective the most important and valuable element 59club delivers for me, is the data; collecting data, helping make sense of the feedback and being able to action any kind of changes accordingly, because of what our actual customers and a panel of mystery shoppers are telling us. Ultimately, it’s a really objective measure of the performance of the golf business.
Furthermore, every year we run the members’ survey and, as a result of that, we identify the three or four lowest scoring areas, and we implement changes based on the feedback. The changes we’ve made in the past are ongoing, and we will address any further necessary changes when we complete this year’s member survey.
We deliver pretty much the same survey, annually – albeit we break it down into three different parts: you and your membership; the course and its facilities; and staff. So, we can track progress that way.
In 2020 we used the survey platform more frequently for really nuanced stuff. For example, when coronavirus hit, we surveyed the membership on its preferred choice of touch-free hole inserts and, from the golf-club perspective, it’s really factual. It’s not my decision to use option A, for example, it’s the decision of the membership, because they’ve voted on it. I’ve found it’s far easier to justify a decision with a set of data to support you.
Without doubt, if we weren’t working with 59club we’d have a really subjective view of the golf club’s performance. I would only have opinions to judge my business on, rather than truly objective measurements.
If you look at the real top-quality venues in the UK, there’s a very high possibility those venues are working with 59club and what that says to me is that 59club gives you a really good, stable platform upon which you can build your business, whether that be a service or a product.
There’s a very experienced team of people inside 59club, and, ultimately, if you follow the guidance of these guys you’re not going to go far wrong.
Knowing that, I don’t understand why clubs in our sector wouldn’t work with 59club, to be frank. It’s a tool that offers so much in terms of looking at the broader picture, as well as somebody who wants to look at minute details in terms of, for example, selling golf shirts.
It’s a no-brainer for me. I’ve worked with 59club for years and I will continue to work with them wherever I go in the future. It’s incredible value for money.
Tom Rourke is general manager of Troon Golf’s The Els Club, in Dubai. Here he explains how working with 59club has achieved an unprecedented level of membership at the facility and why he regards 59club as an essential service provider, both now and in the future.
Although I had worked with 59club previously, I hadn’t utilised the membership sales experience audit as I was previously based at a daily fee only facility. Upon joining The Els Club and better understanding the membership structure, I thought the best thing to do would be to have 59club involved with some membership enquiries and mystery shops – to go through that experience to see where enhancements could be made to improve the conversion of our prospective member show rounds.
I met with 59club MEA director Mark Bull who discussed the expectations, the history of the previous membership enquiries from past mystery shoppers at The Els Club, the benchmarking process, audit criteria, and the recommendations to get the most success out of a potential new member or membership enquiry.
Subsequently, I sat down with our membership manager, Thomas Nicolson, and gathered his feedback before we instigated the first membership related mystery shopper enquiry. After receiving the initial audit report, Thomas and I analysed the feedback and established there were quite a few areas where improvements could be made.
Thomas is a great member of the team and together we very constructively worked our way through the audit feedback; with Mark Bull on hand to provide his insightful recommendations on further measures to advance.
Thomas took all of the data and feedback within the audit on board, and, worked to improve the membership enquiry process, and the following month, achieved a near perfect show round appointment mystery audit. The process has transformed our membership sales procedures, and, after receiving this great feedback, we started to look at the membership offering and made some additional adjustments.
And it’s really paid dividends. Thomas did a fantastic job: in December we had around 30 new members sign up; in January we had 40 new members; and, in February, another 15 – so it’s been a huge success. Since working with 59club, we’ve had more new members sign up at The Els Club than ever before.
It illustrates that by reviewing the customer journey and the show-round experience, utilising the 59club tools, and doing a refresher of all the Troon Golf operational standards as well, makes a massive difference, even at an incredible property such as The Els Club. We’re delighted with the results.
With 59club, the attention to detail from the tester is incredible and, when you’re able to review recordings of the telephone call, when you’re able to analyse the sales techniques demonstrated, and in other audits the upselling measurements in the golf shop, the photographs and the reports from the agronomy perspective as well, it is hugely valuable detail.
There was already an agreement in place with 59club when I arrived at The Els Club, but I would be looking to work with them at any facility that I would go to within Troon Golf. It’s an absolute no brainer – the costs you’re looking at for 59club, the detail and information you’re going to receive, and the improvements you can make, mean you’re going to get back that investment 10-fold, with all the enhancements you’re able to identify and implement.
As a new general manager or department head, there’s great value in reviewing the previous 59club mystery shops, so you start to understand the operation with a different set of eyes. And then to be able to meet with 59club and engage with them and understand what’s happened previously, the feedback that was given, and whether any adjustments were made, is a big help.
I’m also a believer in the integrity test side of the business, especially on the driving range or areas where, maybe, there’s fewer associates, or they’re further away from the main hub of the clubhouse. It’s fundamental for department heads and the GM to study these mystery shops and integrity checks, just to have some eyes on those areas from an experience side and a security perspective.
To be engaged with 59club to monitor your business, make improvements, and for it to complement Troon Golf, is for me, just the minimum standard. After the first couple of mystery visits and the results of the integrity tests, associates begin to see things differently and take call handling, sales processes, and cash handling more seriously.
It’s really been an eye opener for the team – you always get a few shocks, speedbumps and hiccups along the way, but you start to make improvements and the revenues will start increasing. Certainly, using 59club services will only increase revenues, whether that be on membership, green fees, retail, or on the driving range. To receive that detailed feedback helps enormously.
There is such incredible value in the level of detail in the reports, it’s a set of independent eyes, seeing it through the eyes of the guest, which is so incredibly valuable. Nine times out of 10, you are going to see an increase in revenue, and that is an absolute no brainer.
The wider business goal for The Els Club is to become more of a country club and engage with the local community. The Els Club will always be, fundamentally, built on an incredible golf course – Ernie Els did a fantastic job with the design.
But we’re currently underway with the construction of two padel tennis courts, a spa, ladies hair salon and a gents’ barber shop, and, because 59club does not just specialise in golf, we will also be engaging with 59club in these areas of the business.
59club is very much across the whole area of hospitality and the business – which Troon Golf also specialises in – and it will further enhance the guest and member experience, help drive revenues and give the general manager, and his decision makers, and department heads the information they need at their fingertips.
As the flagship facility, all the fantastic standards we have within Troon Golf are at the very highest level at The Els Club. But, with 59club – whether it be SOPs, training, uniform standards, or something else – we’re just going to get additional feedback, which will only further enhance what Troon Golf has in place and ensure it is followed, consistently. We’re already at such a high standard, but it will give more information, data and feedback – and it’s always great to receive.
We can also utilise other platforms within 59club that might not be on the guest side of things, such as associate training. There’s always something, for example, upselling, that you can never improve enough. If you want to improve the engagement with the guest, improve product knowledge, and the way that information is delivered, 59club is a great partner to guide you through that process and deliver training sessions. Department heads at Troon Golf always do an incredible job, but it’s additional support, and that goes a long way.
Having a 59club division ‘on the ground’ here in the region has made a big difference. I was very fortunate, previously, to do my PGA training with (59club CEO) Simon Wordsworth, and have worked closely with both Mark Reed, Matt Roberts and Andrew Etherington, so I know it’s an incredible team; but, having Neal Graham and Mark Bull on the ground here, is a great addition to the club. They are on hand with recommendations, training, or support, and will pop over at any time.
You don’t ever feel with 59club – unlike some – as if you’re on ‘the meter’; you know you’re calling them over to have a coffee, catch up and go through some feedback. You feel they are a pure partner and that they simply want to enhance the guest journey, and the operation, and genuinely care about The Els Club as a business. Both Mark and Neal have great experience in the region and it just further complements the club.
I feel the 59club team understood our goals from the start; the key part for us is we are all about membership – so we want to hit our full membership cap of 200 members which we’re now very close to achieving. They understood that, and, also, the history of The Els Club: that the number one focus is golf. They looked at how they can assist us and give recommendations, improve that mystery shop and guest journey, so that we could attract more members. Then we looked at the F&B experience, the upselling in the golf shop, the engagement during the experience with the guests, the experience on the golf course – every part of the business. But, number one, was membership and, then, the driving range, just looking to make sure policies and procedures were being followed.
It’s an absolute pleasure to be associated with and work alongside 59club and I’m sure the relationship and support will continue to enhance and complement The Els Club and Troon Golf’s operating and hospitality standards.
This year we were delighted to receive two 59club Service Excellence Awards, in both Golf Retail Team of the Year, and, The Els Club was awarded the highest honour, the Gold Flag Designation, which is credit to the hard work and high standards we all work to achieve.
I do genuinely respect and value what 59club offers and to see it branching out now all around the world, is wonderful. It’s something golf never had previously, and I just hope everyone else values it as much as we do, and doesn’t see it as an expense line. Properties need to see their products and services as something that provides tangible value; with 59club your guaranteed to improve the overall experience, and ultimately that will make a difference to your profits.
Philippe Pilato has worked at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National for more than 26 years and now holds the position of general manager. He outlines how 59club helped elevate the facility to a top service provider and explains how its processes can help French golf in general.
We have been with 59club since 2016, just two years before the Ryder Cup, and, at that time, we were not able to provide a good service to the visitor, in particular, to international clients. Working with 59club helps us improve our services and the quality of our services.
In 2015 and 16 we were only used to working with French visitors and members. Two years out from the Ryder Cup we started working with foreign visitors and it was clear we needed to improve the quality of our service. We needed independent analysis of our strong and weak points, which is important for both the manager and the team.
We use 59club’s visitor-experience analysis and the my59 customer survey tool, as we needed to know better the needs and wishes of our clients.
We have many different clients at Le Golf National – we have subscribers, we have players who play one or two times a week, visitors from abroad including a lot from the USA, corporate customers and day guests – and, at the beginning, we didn’t know what they needed or expected when they played here.
We segment by type of customer with the survey tool and it’s very interesting and beneficial to receive the varied feedback it gives us.
When we started with 59club, in 2016, our initial results weren’t particularly good – we’d been geared up primarily for domestic visitors until that point. When we started receiving the results of the visits we shared the information with the whole team – the greenkeepers, the welcome desk, in the back office – which was hugely beneficial and we also started staff training with 59club.
We focused on our strong points, which we knew – the golf courses and the pro shop – and the weak areas, such as the service. We’re in France and it’s very expensive to have a lot of employees. We can’t have the same number of employees on the service side of the business as our contemporaries abroad. We needed to be very strong when the customer arrives in the pro shop because this is the first contact they get with a Le Golf National employee.
Across the five years of testing we’ve seen around a 50 per cent improvement in our mark for the ‘meet and greet’ part of the test, and this comes because, thanks to 59club, we trained our staff to be focused solely on the client. Previously, employees were only focused on themselves; we showed them that the most important person at Le Golf National is not them, but the client in front of them.
We did that a lot; it remains a job we do every day as a matter of course and this is why we have improved substantially since 2016. We are much more focused on the golfers, what they expect, and why they’ve chosen to come to Le Golf National. That simple thing – and the way we were able to do it – is the reason our scores are now so much better.
We’ve also tried to be better before and after the arrival of the client. We achieved more consistency with reservations and written confirmation, and things we did not do before partnering with 59club.
We tried to train all the team to adopt a 360-degree vision – the only job on the front desk is not just to offer a smile and to welcome the golfer, you need to be focused on every point: the car park, the driving range, on the first tee, and so on.
I think encouraging staff to think outside of their own sphere and look at the bigger picture has been instrumental in our overall improvement. Indeed, overall, I believe our average rating is among the best in France. The benchmark 59club offers is showing this with our above-70 per cent averages.
We still have a lot to do when it comes to on-course service because, as I explained, we do not have a lot of people in the marshalling team, the buggy bar, the starter, or speaking to the players on the course and asking if they need anything, for example. This area, admittedly, we can still improve upon and we will improve this aspect of the customer experience. I’m not saying we will be perfect but it will be a better experience – nobody’s perfect.
Much of this can be put down to the expense of employing people in France – as I have already mentioned – but the client expects a certain level, with a starter and a marshal, and somebody to take their golf clubs for them at the end of a round. We do have wonderful employees, really, because on some days we may have 200 people on the golf course and it’s very tough for them with so much to cover, yet our customer satisfaction figures remain good.
I would have no hesitation in recommending the services of 59club because it helps professionalise the service one offers to golfers. I think we need this is France. I recently visited a golf club with three of my colleagues from Le Golf National and was astonished that of the three people at the reception desk, not one looked up and said ‘Hello’ or welcomed us in any way. And that’s the simplest thing to do anywhere in the world.
In France we need to continue to professionalise our service teams because this is often the case at golf clubs in the country. We receive a lot of feedback from visitors to Le Golf National, and, because of 59club and what it does for us, they’re saying the services and quality of service here is one of the best they’ve experienced in France.
The problem is not the people, it is a management issue. The team needs to know what it has to do and, I believe, in France, they’re not sure what they should be doing, and that comes from the management. People come in, they take the credit card and take 50€ and send them out to the course and the job is done. But there’s so much more to it than that – or there should be. Sadly, in France, people on the front desk are not sure of what they need to do, so there is much training to be done across the industry.
Working with 59club has helped me, personally, to concentrate on the right things and I think that would help many general managers in France. I think it’s a ‘magic’ tool and has helped elevate Le Golf National to where it is now.
For those wanting a proven strategy to retrain and upskill their workforce, measure in-house standards, elevate customer acquisition, satisfaction, and profits, there has never been a better time to engage with 59club.
Le Golf National (Paris), Terre Blanche (Provence), Golf de Bresson, Golf de Chassieu, Golf de St Etienne, Golf de Grenoble Seyssins, Golf de Quétigny, Golf de Dinard, Golf de Pléneuf-Val André, Golf de Saint-Laurent, Golf de l’Odet, Golf de Baden, Golf de Rennes St-Jacques, Golf de Val Queven, Golf de Ploemeur Océan, Golf Lac au Duc Ploermel 9T, Golf de Rhuys-Kerver, Golf de Saint Cast, Golf de Tours Ardrée, Golf de la Grange aux Ormes, Golf du Touquet, Golf d’Hardelot, Golf de Dunkerque, Golf de L’Ailette, RCF la Boulie, Golf des Yvelines, Golf d’Ormesson, Golf de Bellefontaine, Golf de Guerville, Golf de Marolles en Brie, Golf de Villennes, Golf de Saint Aubin, Golf de Rueil Malmaison, Golf de Saint Quentin, Golf de Chantilly, Golf de Lésigny, Golf de Meaux Boutigny, Golf de Crecy La Chapelle, Golf de Bussy Guermantes, Golf de Vaudreuil, Golf de Houlgate, Golf de Seignosse, Golf de Gujan-Mestras, Golf de Pessac, Golf de Bordeaux Lac, Golf de Niort-Romagné, Golf du Domaine des Forges, Golf de Mazières en Gâtine, Golf de Rochefort Océan, Golf de Pau-Artiguelouve, Golf Lacanau-la-Méjanne, Golf d’Arcangues, Golf de la Grange aux Ormes, Golf de Moliets, Golf du Chateau de Vigiers, Golf Biarritz Le Phare, Golf d’Arcachon, Golf Nimes Vacquerolles, Golf de Grand Rodez, Golf de Saint Jean de Monts, Golf de Savenay, Golf de La Domangère, Golf d’Avrillé, Golf de Pornic, Golf des Fontenelles, Golf Le Croisic, Golf de Nantes Erdre, Golf de Sainte-Maxime, Golf de l’Estérel, Golf de La Grande Bastide, Golf d’Opio valbonne, Golf de Marseille la Salette, Golf de Servanes, Golf de Sainte Baume, Golf de Pont Royal, Golf Grand Avignon
Alcanada (Mallorca), Finca Cortesin (Marbella), Infinitum Golf (Tarragona), La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links (Sotogrande), PGA Cataluyna (Barcelona), Reial Pula Golf (Mallorca), Son Muntaner (Mallorca), Son Quint (Mallorca), Son Vida (Mallorca)
Bom Successo Resort (Lisboa), Quinta do Lago (Algarve)
Marco Simone (Roma), Royal Park I Roveri (Torino), Verdura Resort (Sicilia)
Carton House (Co. Kildare), Mount Juliet (Dublin), Portmarnock GC (Portmarnock), Royal Dublin GC (Dublin), Slieve Russell (Co. Cavan), The K Club (County Kildare)
Diamond Country Club (Vienna)
Brussels Drohme Golf Club, Cleydael Golf & Country Club
Lighthouse G&CC (Cape Kaliakra), Pirin Golf, Hotel & Spa (Bansko)
– After almost three years of unprecedented growth, David Shepherd, Chief Executive – The Scandinavian, reflects upon the power of 59club survey data and handing decision-making power back to his members.