The Groundsman

July 2016

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Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions stablished in 1892, the key to the success of 18-hole Oldham Golf Club is its ability to adapt to change and its latest venture, footgolf, is proving to be a great diversification success story. "When you're open seven days a week, it means every new opportunity should be explored to optimise club usage," says head professional, Andy Earlam. He believes that diversifying to attract new users is all part of keeping in business and, already catering for conferences and weddings, as well as offering a wide range of bespoke golf lessons for all abilities, the club is no E Footgolf helps courses maximise their assets An increasing number of golf clubs are creating new income streams by devoting areas of their courses to footgolf, the sport where players have to get a size 5 football into holes using the fewest number of 'shots' By: Sophie Wilesmith different to many others in seeing a decline in membership. The aim with footgolf is to not only encourage younger people onto the course but also to subsequently get them to try their hand at golf. "We are struggling like most golf clubs to attract the younger generation and footgolf provides that opportunity." He continues: "We constantly have to look at alternative revenue streams and at what could complement our existing business. During the hours when golfers are usually not around is an obvious time to encourage other people to come along for footgolf." Adapted use The semi-rough areas of the course are used; not the greens. The footgolf area is treated and maintained in the same way as the golf course but much less intensively than the greens, which are obviously mowed shorter and more often. "Our diversification activities do help to bring in extra income," says greens chairman Ray Fry, "but we are equally aware of the importance of keeping the actual course in top condition since it provides our main source of revenue; our customers expect a certain level of play." That means keeping the greens smooth and playable, and mitigating the risk of disease. "Like so many other courses we have been challenged by the recent warm, wet, damp conditions which has tested our disease control regimes. But we have worked with our suppliers to develop a strategy to minimise disease risk with, for example, Bayer's Interface fungicide (with Stressgard Formulation Technology) playing a key role." Sophie Wilesmith is with Pinstone Communications, www.pinstone.co.uk l Footgolf is attracting the younger generation to golf club courses Footgolf uses the semi-rough areas AHEAD OF THE GAME 28 the Groundsman July 2016

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