The golfing experience in Carnoustie Country

ONLINE bookings, visitor data and collaborative marketing were all discussed at the latest meeting of the Carnoustie Country Golf Industry Group.

Sixteen local golf clubs were represented at the half day session at Forfar Golf Club.

The group, which is open to all Carnoustie Country clubs, was instigated by Angus Council, a body which still supports the group.

The council’s golf tourism spokesperson councillor David May said: “Golf is one of the cornerstones of the Angus tourism strategy and the council is working hard to promote Carnoustie Country to the global golf community.

“However, it is the golf clubs who provide the actual golf experience, so we established the industry group to give us the chance to work together to develop and sustain golf in this area, to attract more visitors and local members.

“While our economic development team still support the group it is increasingly being driven by the golf clubs and their growing participation indicates they are finding it to be a very useful forum.”

Stuart Wilson, the managing secretary of Forfar Golf Club is a keen supporter: “The industry group is a great way to for clubs to work together and promote the area as a golfing destination and it is a good forum to generate and exchange new ideas amongst the members of the group. Hopefully the group can grow and include other areas such as accommodation providers.”

Jason Boyd, head professional at Montrose Golf Links said: “The meeting just past contained some excellent presentations which led to some first class ideas being raised and discussed such as marketing, websites, online booking, catering and packages with accommodation providers.”

The half day session was facilitated by Stewart Walker of Business Tourism Solutions with presentations from the Scottish Golf Union and Lesley Walker, a business development officer with Angus Council. Kevin Fish, the golf union’s golf club development manager, was full of praise for the industry group saying: “Many areas are beginning to recognise the benefits of collaborative working, but few are as enthusiastic and as well supported as the Carnoustie Country Golf Industry working group.

“When the industry meets in clusters like this it can have a powerful effect on how those clubs plan and perform, and with an agenda focused on business development the results are clear to see.”

Lesley Walker presented the findings of the first Carnoustie Country Benchmarking Survey “Your Future Success – Are You Making the Cut?” which offered some valuable insights into the state of health of local golf clubs.

The findings show the steady decline in the number of members of local golf clubs, most of which have no waiting list.

The majority of visitors were identified as being from the UK but a lack of data made it difficult to ascertain exactly where they were from and where they stayed during their visit.

Some clubs had reported benefits from online booking systems.

The industry group agreed that clubs need to improve the collection of customer information and feedback to inform marketing activity; develop junior and ladies golf to boost future membership; and work more productively with accommodation providers in the area.

Ian Macmillan, the vice-captain of Scotscraig Golf Club, leads the marketing sub group set up in November and believes the benchmarking survey was a very useful way of showing each club their strengths and weaknesses.

“This will help them focus on specific development areas,” said Ian. “I feel that the industry group gives us a fantastic opportunity to pool resources, market the clubs more effectively and move them into the 21st century.”

Among the marketing proposals outlined to the group were a loyalty bonus scheme, deals with local hotels, and the development of an online Carnoustie Country golf pass.

The date of next meeting of the Carnoustie Country Golf Industry Group is April 26 at Royal Montrose Golf Club.