How will the COVID-19 transform the Mauritius golf industry’s future?

By: Priscilla Guranna, Sales & Marketing manager, Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club April 21, 2020

Has there ever been any universal concern that has monopolized the attention of the whole planet? Definitely, not! This is a first of its kind, an incomparable and historical situation that, has brought the world to a halt.

Among the major disruptions, resulting from this pandemic, health and safety remain the fundamental focus. However, the growing global economic impact of the novel coronavirus is becoming alarming.

The island of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, relies significantly on tourism, one of the main pillars of our economy, contributing considerably to the national income.

The golf business is a key component of tourism. Whilst our leaders of the industry are pondering on the financial aspects with budget reviews, cash flow and cost management, hypothetical forecast and preparing for the awaited recovery phases, as a Sales and Marketing manager, I must admit that my thoughts are mainly revolving around the change in our golfers’ behavior.

It is, indeed, a perplex yet exciting time and I cannot help but see, in the long run, some positive transformation arising from this testing situation.

Ile aux Cerf Golf Club, Mauritius.
Photo by Jacob Sjöman

The golf industry of Mauritius has a very distinctive model.

Though the number of local golfers is gradually increasing, the nine golf courses are predominantly dependent, on golf travel, whereby our high season is mainly from October to April when winter starts to perturb the habits of our keen golfers in their home countries. Our main market is Europe. Thus, we are heading towards our low golfing season.

This lapse of time, before resumption in October, will be instrumental in our strategy for the relaunch of the business.

The majority of the local golfers are members at the oldest golf course of the Southern Hemisphere, Gymkhana Golf Club, which makes it a total of ten 18-holes on the small golfing paradise island.

It is quite evident, that normality, will no more be the usual standard. This weird period of confinement is obliging everyone to pause in our daily routine, break our habits, take time to reflect on our life’s aspiration and question our actions. We are adjusting our sails to navigate through this unknown storm.

We are learning how to go back to basics, to be human again and to grow as an individual that we have taken, too long, for granted. To live with intention and purpose will also be the motto of our esteemed golfers.

Thus, I strongly believe that managing the business accounts go along with a projection of the future and how we will anticipate and be prepared to welcome golfers with their new mindset.

It is the perfect time to re-think our business, our marketing message, our brand image as well as our products and its benefits. Isn’t it the ideal timing to

  • review our market positioning?
  • And how our brand is being valued?

How innovative can we be? Are we optimizing our digital tools? And more importantly, how can we improve, our guest journey? How can we fulfill the purpose of our golfers after the crisis?

Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club at the end of the island from the air Mauritius
Photo by Jacob Sjöman

The evolution of the situation remains very uncertain, as today. Nevertheless, having been close to the golfing community for over a decade, I am convinced that the urge to swing the club will be at its paramount once the restrictions are lifted up.

Why should Golf be among the few sports to be encouraged and considered as safe?

Although it is perfectly understandable that travelers will apprehend boarding their next flight for a long-haul destination, such as Mauritius, I am firmly convinced that it will not be too long before the travel bug of our keen golfers incite them to look for the next golf vacation.

Mauritius is recognized as a dream golfing destination, offering world-class golf courses designed by famous golf players with a myriad of quality resorts, respecting international norms, to our visiting golfers.

Direct air access from renowned airlines, departing from big cities in Europe, Asia, and the regional countries, contribute hugely to the choice of golf holidays.

Besides, Mauritius is reputed as a safe destination which will be a prime factor for future travel decisions.

Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club is a playground that extends over 38 hectares

Doesn’t golfers have all the perquisites to appreciate the after-confinement effect?

Golf is an outdoor game! Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club is a playground that extends over 38 hectares, set on its own islet with amazing flora and fauna.

The wildlife: preserved mangroves, shoal of fishes, endemic birds, protected corals, and multiple biodiversity projects are conformed to our commitment to conserve the natural habitat of the island.

While the earth and Mother Nature is recovering, the golf course at Ile aux Cerfs is an existing tropical Eden.

The fresh air and green surrounding can only have a beneficial psychological effect in alleviating and reducing the stress of the lockdown period and, as well as, a physical result as an excellent exercise.

Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club and the very blue ocean and the island Mauritius
Photo by Jacob Sjöman

Golf is a social game! We rarely meet golfers that are not social. Many of the golf enthusiasts would travel the world to discover golf courses and meet other people with the same passion.

Having been fortunate enough, to have visited some of the finest golf courses in USA, Europe, Asia, Africa and UAE, I have, frequently been surprised how small the golfing world is.

Aficionado, sharing the same fervor for the small white ball will be longing to reconnect with their peers, savoring this first moment back to the golf club, ready to hit the first shot (and, if I may recommend, a Mulligan for this one!).

The positive side is since golf is played over 18 holes, with 10 minutes interval between each tee-off with a maximum of 4 players, there is ample space to practice and respect social distancing with some new customize COVID19 golf rules.

As mentioned, from May to September, it is our low golfing season, with very few players on the course. We have the privilege, at Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club, to have exclusive Lifetime Members, limited to only 100 memberships.

Our Lifetime members will have the opportunity to enjoy their golf course before we re-open to visitors. With only a handful members, the operations will be easily manageable.

Besides, our annual maintenance, which was scheduled for September, will take place before the due date, with all security observed for the skeleton team to ensure that our Members make the maximum of their time on the spectacular island golf course.

We are really looking forward to the reunion of our happy few members.

Our focus at Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club is to offer to our golfers the best golf and beach experience. Nothing about this island is ordinary, heading to the golf club by an exclusive boat shuttle or by a helicopter ride is the only way that you can tee-off.

The design of the course, by the German legend Bernhard Langer, is out of this world with most holes overlooking the turquoise lagoon.

It is undeniable that our golfers’ beach, the best 19th hole in the world, and the magical bubble lodges are a joy for our visitors. Our aim will be to continue to enhance the golfers’ experience in making each visit a lasting memory.

Golf is often associated with charities. Many of professional players have their own association, such as Els for Autism for instance.

Or, as we have recently witnessed the generosity of Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer donating funds to fight against Coronavirus.

Our philanthropic yearly golf competition in support of children with cancer is even more meaningful as part of helping the community to heal.

We have been pleasantly surprised by the golfers who participated in this event who are committed personally and engaged in the cause.

Undoubtedly, this year’s event will bring even more compassion among our fellow-golfers. Our involvement, as a group, will be even more symbolic.

Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club and the ocean Mauritius
Photo by Jacob Sjöman

Golf travel and golfers will go through a stage which, hopefully, will bring more consciousness on the chance we have to practice and enjoy such a beautiful sport that brings the world together.

Winning the 2020 Golfers’ Choice Awards as Best Golf Club in Mauritius is a recognition based on golfers’ reviews. Our pride and thankfulness lie in each of our team member who has made a difference to our golfers’ experience.

Each staff is a value to the team. Our managerial skills towards our colleagues would also need some re-adjustments. Let’s break the cycle.

If there is one image I need to choose to summarize the golfers’ mindset, and why am I so confident that golf business will kick off sooner than later, it would be this frantic crowd of thousands of people, united in a magnetic ambiance and so fervent about golf, clapping all together on Hole no. 1 at Le Golf National for the Ryder Cup.

Two years later, the reminiscence of this thrilling moment is still vivid and provoke goosebumps.

If you are still skeptical about the bounce-back of the golf business, just give a call to a golfer who is confined at home.

Mark Twain said it all: “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”

Our small island of Mauritius will also be going through the turmoil but, our hotel industry which comprise the golf courses will do our utmost to be ready to welcome back our regular, and new, traveling golfers back home with our legendary service and hospitality.

Stay safe! We will golf again!

Photos by Jacob Sjöman.