5 best practices to consider for golf club leaders

By: Francisco de Lancastre David - Cluster GM, Troon Abu Dhabi October 12, 2020

A year ago, I asked Francisco de Lancastre David as the new cluster general manager of Troon Abu Dhabi (=Yas Links Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club) about his future plans in the new position.

This time I am curious how Troon Abu Dhabi and its partners are managing the these 5 golf business challenges:

  1. Turf management & technology
  2. Sustainability & food waste management
  3. Employee experience development
  4. Golf tourism after the coronavirus crisis
  5. B2B & B2C tee time sales
Troon Abu Dhabi Gazelle at Saadiyat

What technology solutions have you implemented to improve turf quality and save water at the same time?

At Troon Abu Dhabi we are fully committed with our high standards from an agronomy standpoint, we’re fortunate to have a dedicated team led by Clinton Southorn, our Group Director of Agronomy, and to have the ongoing support of the wider TROON network.

We are able to optimize every inch of irrigation water through investing in the latest technology; we currently utilize POGO moisture reading tools, on-site Weather Stations, and the full deployment of the TORO Lynx irrigation systems.

What are you doing for the sake of sustainability?

Sustainability continues to by a high priority of ours at all three clubs. At the beginning of 2020, we were delighted to eliminate single-use plastic at all three golf courses and clubhouse facilities.

Earlier in the year, we were also very proud to be awarded the Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary Certification at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club recognizing our commitment to protecting the surroundings.

To be awarded this, the course must demonstrate a high degree of environmental quality in areas like

  • environmental planning,
  • wildlife and habitat management,
  • water conservation, and
  • outreach and education.

At both Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Yas Links Abu Dhabi, we are currently working with GEO Foundation, the international sustainable golf non-profit, to become fully certified.

We are also working closely with the GEO Foundation to see how we can have all major events hosted at our clubs GEO Certified.

The distinction serves as a credible platform to recognize those who achieve real results and continual improvement around nature, resources, and supporting the community. 

Troon Abu Dhabi Yas Links 13th

How do you create an attractive workplace and achieve engaged workforce?

The main goal to create an attractive workplace at Troon Abu Dhabi is being transparent, strong leadership, and accountability.

We aim to give space to our associates so they can thrive in their areas, put creative ideas forward – there is no wrong, and overcome challenges along the way.

Working in a cluster with three magnificent golf clubs and being part of the wider TROON network, provides incredible opportunities to keep our associates engaged and motivated to work hard.

Career growth or development opportunities will always be right around the corner for those who want it; we obviously want to keep everyone with us at Troon Abu Dhabi.

We understand there may be a desire for a new challenge and working with TROON and their incredible network of clubs in the Middle East and Europe means that opportunity is never too far away.

engaging challenging Troon Abu Dhabi

What is the outlook for golf tourism post-pandemic in the Middle East?

I strongly believe the Middle East will have a bright future for golf tourism post-pandemic.

Taking the UAE as an example, the approach to the pandemic and was second to none in terms of reacting quickly to the everchanging situation and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all residents – it will be no different for visitors and Tourists once normal air traffic resumes.

We are very fortunate in the Middle East to have a great collection of golf courses supported by the world-renowned hospitality industry.

The two major carriers in the Middle East, Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways are synonymous with a commitment to having the highest standards in the world.

Their dedication to the highest safety standards will be outstanding and valued by residents and tourists alike over the coming months.

How do you boost B2B & B2C tee time sales?

From a B2B standpoint, keeping the engagement with the stakeholders – DMC’s, Travel Agencies, Corporate partners, partner Hotels, or Tour Operators – has been a key priority over the past few months and will remain so as we now look ahead to international travel resuming.

Ensuring our product is well placed in the market and provides value to our industry partners, and of course the end consumer.

Looking at B2C, technology is becoming more and more pivotal in selling tee times.,

In the last couple of years, we have really focused on our online platforms such as the TROON International App, our Online Booking Widget.

All the partners that work with us and sell tee times via their own platforms with direct access to our tee sheets. It is clear that golfers want the quick and easiest way to see the tee times available and book, we are committed to offering this service and continually improving all three avenues.

Tee times sales Troon Abu Dhabi

How did you prepare for the 2nd wave of the coronavirus crisis? What are you doing differently now?

We certainly still have challenging times ahead, however, it is important to remain optimistic.

The government has done tremendous work in the UAE to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all residents, it has and continues to provide a comprehensive set of guidelines that allow us to control the current crisis while striking a balance to continue with our daily lives.

It has worked extremely well from a health perspective but also from an economic perspective.

We remain conscious of protecting our business and ensuring we are in a great position for when the recovery starts.

We are very much looking ahead and are ready to welcome tourists to Abu Dhabi, as well as continue to progress and develop our properties to offer the best possible experience during our high season months.