Nienke Bloem presenting her keynote presentation on “Bridging the Starter Gap”

The 2017 Golf Management Australia (GMA) National Conference closed at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Thursday, 12th October with a gala closing dinner in the Panorama Ballroom attended by 250 golf industry delegates and sponsors.

The conference, roundly viewed as the best yet by way of professional development content and networking opportunities, is a biennial gathering of golf club managers, support staff, industry leaders and sponsors and it proved to be a huge success with more than 300 registered delegates including 28 sponsorship support partners and exhibitors on site, showcasing their products and services within the expansive Adelaide Convention Centre exhibition space.

The Conference commenced on Sunday with a welcoming party in the historic Mortlock Wing of the State Library of South Australia. The venue showcased the rich heritage and culture of South Australia but more importantly, allowed attendees to meet in a relaxed atmosphere with colleagues and friends from all parts of Australia and also several international guests.

In the lead up to the conference, Toro Australia, in conjunction, with Golf Management Australia, offered two eligible clubs the chance to make submissions for a grant to win one of two pre-owned Toro Triflex 3400 mowers through their Support & Grow Grants program.  Toro Australia Business Manager, Laurence Bingham, had the pleasure in announcing the two winners –  Gisborne Golf Club in Victoria and Gloucester Country Club in NSW. With a resale value for each machine of $18,000, the philanthropic gesture of Toro was an outstanding contribution and the recipients were, undoubtedly, extremely grateful.

An outstanding educational program was delivered to delegates over three days by 18 keynote speakers with a range of other speakers in masterclass sessions.  Topics included the future, resilience, health and nutrition, building peak personal and club performance, seizing the opportunity and vulnerability.

Opening with a presentation from Futurist, Tim Longhurst, delegates were inspired to embrace the future, which led perfectly into Nienke Bloem’s keynote presentation highlighting the importance of connecting with the newbie golfer, the future customer, to ensure their journey meets their expectations.

High level presentations on strategy, future planning and governance were interspersed throughout the conference with presentations and masterclass sessions on more operational matters such as business financial intelligence, food and beverage, marketing and technology, and human resource management.  Personal development was an important educational component with renowned speakers such as nutritionist, Dr Joanna McMillan, Hugh Van Cuylenburg from the Resilience Project, and Nam Baldwin, presenting on the psychology of performance.  The importance of a good work-life balance was key to these presentations, with an emphasis on mental health and well-being.

Key presentations were also provided by the PGA and Golf Australia by their respective CEOs Gavin Kirkman and Stephen Pitt.  A further highlight was the Governance Panel which addressed several typical scenarios with the expertise of panel members Malcolm Speed (Board Member – Golf Australia), Stephen Spargo (Chairman – Golf Victoria), Sarah Chia (Kain Lawyers), Paul Hinton (Global Golf Advisors) & Paul Vardy (Club Support Manager – Golf Australia) all providing sage commentary on the important issue of good governance.

Early feedback from delegates and sponsors was enormously positive, with many great comments on the location and accessibility of the Adelaide Convention Centre as a conference venue, along with the adjacent Intercontinental Adelaide hotel, home to most delegates for the week.

GMA President, Andrew Gay, summed things up:

This year’s conference in Adelaide was an outstanding success once again providing an ideal platform for improved professional development of golf management professionals.

“The combination of national and international speakers provided exceptionally high quality professional development and this combined with networking opportunities allowed golf club managers to converse about industry issues with their peers and golf’s key stakeholders.

“GMA would like to thank all those that supported the conference by attending or through their financial support and we look forward to the 2019 GMA Conference in Melbourne”.

With the theme of this year’s conference, “Now is the time to be different”, many aspects of the program were changed slightly from previous years, turning up the professionalism, improving the experience and maximising educational opportunities – something the organising committee for the 2019 conference are sure to improve on once again when the conference returns to Melbourne.

Notably, as an aside, the introduction of the first GMA Chautauqua saw eight eager cyclists spend three days with the always effervescent Gregg Patterson riding through the renowned McLaren Vale wine region creating a reflective opportunity to bond and connect with ideas and people in a totally different setting.

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