What it takes to market a world-class golf destination

Tee time with Yousuf Kazim, CEO, Jumeirah Golf Estates:

Jumeirah Golf Estates (JGE) will remain the host venue of the European Tour’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, until 2020. What strategies went behind winning the bid for a world-class event like this?

Jumeirah Golf Estates is actively involved in promoting golf, both locally and internationally.

We at JGE, along with our stakeholders, are looking to further enhance our current and future offerings to cement the community’s position as a highly desirable destination for its club members, residents and guests.

Our Greg Norman-designed championship golf courses have been extremely popular with golfers.

In fact, the Earth Course was recognised as one of the World’s Top 100 courses by Golf Digest magazine in 2016.

We are also engaged in several initiatives that are designed to introduce golf to newcomers, as we think it is important to encourage the sport, which is a fantastic game for the whole family; we have a number of training programmes at the European Tour Performance Institute (ETPI), which is one of only two in the world and the only one in the Middle East.

 

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Moreover, we have initiatives aimed at increasing the enjoyment and performance of those people who already play golf.

Additionally, driving greater golf tourism is one of the key goals we set ourselves on our establishment and that’s why we work as closely as possible with our key stakeholders and use a coordinated approach to make Dubai’s experience the best in the world.

We are all working together to develop a golfing legacy that portrays Dubai’s commitment to excellence in everything it does.

Expo 2020 is a couple of years away. What is your strategy for this event? Will you be hosting other tournaments apart from the annual DP World Tour Championship?

Our priority tournament is the DP World Tour Championship and we are delighted to host it until 2020.

In terms of real estate, investors and end-users alike are becoming increasingly discerning, with a focus on quality, access to amenities and a full lifestyle offering.

With a host of world-class facilities and amenities, JGE represents an appealing and valuable proposition for local and international investors and homeowners.

It is a very exciting time for Dubai and JGE in the run-up to World Expo 2020. We are al- ready feeling the benefits of being located in “New Dubai” and anticipate positive knock-on effects as the Expo draws closer.

For example, an estimated 277,000 jobs are due to be created, thus adding to market demand.

Golf in Dubai, as per a report by Deloitte, has grown into an industry worth $130 million per year. What’s the recipe for UAE’s success as one of the best golfing destinations globally?

We do everything possible to optimise performance and the pleasure of the game in a stunning environment.

Our golf courses at JGE are a paradise for golfers. Our two Greg Norman-designed championship golf courses, Fire and Earth, are praised by a world of golf lovers, recently being ranked as one of the world’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses – a listing published by Golf Digest, which makes me a proud CEO.

It is also a part of the network of European Tour Properties, on par with the world’s top golfing venues.

While the maintenance of the greens to a quality suited to world-class golfers and community residents is of utmost importance, minimising environmental impact is also a priority for us.

To address this, JGE established a one- of-a-kind Agronomy Centre comprising a team of more than 70 international experts – including 25 founding team members – dedicated to minimising carbon output, water usage and environmental waste by implementing industry-best practices and the latest technologies.

 

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We are also committed to nurturing a new generation of golfers in the Emirate through a number of training programmes at ETPI, offering an unrivalled, comprehensive service.

Finally, as an official partner of the European Tour, JGE has welcomed the world’s top 60 golfers as they compete in the final tournament of the Race to Dubai series every year for the past eight years, attracting more than 65,000 visitors from across the globe.

With the May 2017 contract extension, golf enthusiasts can rest assured that JGE will remain the host venue of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai until 2020, cementing JGE’s role as a leading golf destination.

The tournament is broadcast live and, in 2016, global household TV reach exceeded 503 million.

What are your favourite golf destinations in the world?

Dubai would be on the top of my list, of course. It is one of the world’s top golf destinations and there are several reasons for this, but, most importantly, the quality of the courses is one of the finest in the world.

My second favourite would have to be Wentworth, which is known for its Platinum Paspallum greens, golf history, breathtaking scenery and its great variety of courses. I absolutely love it there and try to make a visit at least once a year.

The conventional thought is that golf, both as a sport and a passion, is mainly meant for high-net-worth individuals. What’s your comment on this?

As is the case with any sport, all you need to get started in golf is a passion for the game. Beginning golfers can choose to rent rather than purchase golf equipment, for example, and there are certainly affordable ways to own that same equipment as well, such as buying pre-owned.

Similarly, new golfers don’t automatically have to become members of a golf club. In fact, at JGE in 2016, roughly 40 per cent and 35 per cent of golfers were non-members on the Earth Course and the Fire Course, respectively.

Could virtual golf become the next growth phase? What are your thoughts?

Virtual golf is great, but I believe that one of the main reasons people love golf is for the ability to be outdoors and enjoy a fun, relaxing game.

However, digital is certainly the future and it doesn’t have to distract from the appeal of real golf, but can help promote it. Virtual facilities might provide an alternative to golfers who are unable to play outside during winter or the intense summer heat, for example.

Moreover, digital technologies are an excellent way to improve performance.

At JGE’s European Tour Performance Institutes, we offer biomechanical swing studios, a putting lab, dedicated short- game holes, an expansive practice fairway and teeing areas, bunker practice greens, a large contoured putting green, physiotherapy treatment rooms and fully equipped business lounge and locker rooms.

All instructional programmes include the use of interactive high-performance video technology.

 

The interview appeared in the Dec 2017-Feb 2018 issue of Gulf Marketing Review. 

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