As you may have noticed in recent years, I have tried to provide more insight into the French golf industry. I interviewed
- Olivier Denis-Massé (CMO, French Golf Federation – FFGOLF),
- Paul Armitage (former GM, Golf National),
- Pierre-André Uhlen, (the Chief Executive of UGOLF), and
- Pierre Chevallier (former assistant GM, Golf de Saint-Cloud).
In October the French Golf Club Directors Association (ADGF) will have a new president: Jean-Franck Burou. He will replace Denis Fabre. ADGF is not new to me since I was their annual conference’s guest speaker in 2018.
Today, I am interviewing Jean-Franck Burou, the recently elected, new president of ADGF.
What are the biggest professional & business challenges of ADGF?
The ADGF currently has 360 members working in different structures, our Association is representative of the profession and works with all the actors of the sector for the development of golf in France.
Our desire is to make France a golf destination in its own right combining the multiple styles of courses that the country offers, a certain art of living that combines gastronomy and culture. The Ryder Cup and the Evian Championship have highlighted France at the international level and our know-how in terms of organization and preparation of courses, especially for high-level tournaments.
With these spearheads, it is our responsibility to highlight the entire range of courses in our territory and develop the practice towards all audiences by initiating the future golfers of tomorrow.
The ADGF must be one of the major players in the development of golfing with the FFGOLF, with the entire sector in order to increase the number of licensees and at the same time encourage players to register in golf clubs, whether they are members or subscribers.
What are your business plans as the new president of ADGF?
I remind you that our association aims to animate, represent, and defend the profession of golf director by promoting and defending the tradition of the game of golf in conjunction with the French Golf Federation.
For me, it will be a question of continuing the work undertaken in this direction in recent years, of promoting our profession as a representative partner with FFGOLF by the professionalization of our association, by the development of communication between our members by optimizing digital, by setting up exchange meetings around current themes, especially with professionals working on specific topics that will be considered within our structures.
The training of future directors is an important axis of work for our Association in order to be able to meet the demand of new followers of the small white ball in an environment in permanent evolution with medium-term deadlines requiring a questioning especially with regard to the ecological transition (=sustainability).
The role of our regional delegates is essential in order to promote the information of our colleagues throughout the territory and encourage them, on the one hand, to join the ADGF, on the other hand, to report on the various experiences so that they can be able to deal with the subjects specific to each structure.
Do you provide educational programs to club managers?
Our Association must inform our members of the various training opportunities available to them in the various fields that can be found within a golf club.
FFGOLF offers different themes and supports golf clubs, within the regions, in the development of their activity by offering short training sessions including a commercial theme for all those involved in the customer relationship of a golf course. New training courses related to current issues are being studied.
We have the project to set up with the International Academy of Golf Professions (AIMG) an executive MBA in Montpellier as part of continuing professional training.
How did you help French golf clubs during the COVID-19 pandemic?
During this unprecedented health crisis, we regularly informed golf clubs, via our website, of webinars and specific interviews with some of our colleagues, of the progress of the situation and government decisions in collaboration with the FFGOLF which worked on a daily basis with the Public Authorities to defend the interests of the sector.
The FFGOLF has carried out major works since the beginning of the health crisis, alongside other outdoor activities and also professional groups in the sector including the ADGF, which has led the interlocutors at the highest level of the State, to consider the benefits of golfing as well as our harmlessness in terms of risk of contamination.
The maintenance of the openness of golf courses in France is a major step forward and a very striking recognition for our discipline on the part of the Executive.
During the first deconfinement, we sent our colleagues examples of job descriptions containing health recommendations for all golf professions, documents that can be adapted according to the internal HR organization of each club.
The social security financing law offers exceptional contribution exemption schemes for employers particularly affected by the health crisis
We relayed the various questionnaires proposed by the FFGOLF to the clubs in order to promote the economic issues of golfing structures in France to the Ministry of Sports, the Economy, and Finance.
We were able to measure the overall impact on the year 2020 and the outlook for 2021.
Through these approaches to the clubs, our desire is to accompany, with the help of the FFGOLF, the revival of activities through various administrative and economic measures.
What is the financial situation of French golf clubs?
This health crisis has impacted the economy of our country and at the same time that of our golf clubs. During the pandemic period and following the questionnaire distributed by the FFGOLF to the 724 golf courses listed in France, the loss of annual turnover related to Covid, all activities combined within golf courses, was estimated between 20 and 30%, 40% of courses experiencing financial difficulties and 79% of golf courses estimated that the resumption of activity would be down.
Today, after a resumption of activity within all clubs in compliance with the protocol rules in place, the situation is not as sleepy as that envisaged during the confined period.
While the “closed” sports structures such as multipurpose sports halls, were not allowed to reopen, many golfers were eager to find the “green” and many rushed to the courses, a good number of golfers did not go abroad and took the opportunity to discover new courses just as and a good number of neophytes wanted to discover this activity directly in connection with nature and recommended for its benefits in terms of physical activity.
Associative golf courses were able to do well because of an economic model based on the collection of dues at the beginning of the year, a number of clubs saw their memberships increase by 15%, and clubs offering discoveries generated an increase in activity.
Admittedly, not all golf courses have been housed in the same brand and some whose activity is directly related to golf tourism have seen a significant decrease in their loan turnover of 40%. Foreign visitors absent, it is the entire economy of golf that suffers, between green fees, purchases at the pro-shop, and consumption at the restaurant.