Looking back on the achievements of 2018

By Dean Murphy
New Zealand Golf Chief Executive

As 2018 is now completed, it’s a great opportunity to look back and reflect on our recent activity. There are many reasons to feel satisfied as across many indicators, golf has enjoyed considerable recent success.

Participation, as measured by Sport New Zealand, is up by two percent, world class courses have opened, golf tourism is booming, and the positive profile of golf has arguably never been higher through media coverage of championships and the winning performances of kiwis on the world stage.

There are many challenges to be faced, however, the leadership and progress of New Zealand Golf over recent times has been very pleasing.

Our operations fall under three strategic priorities:

Leading the game;

Growing the game; and

Supporting the game.

This article offers a brief review of our recent activity in these three areas.

Leading the game highlights

· Strengthened governance with a highly professional gender balanced executive board and directors ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s.

· Enhanced the relationship with NZ government including securing increased investment from Sport NZ.

· Deepened our connection with international bodies including the R&A, the IGF, Augusta National, APGC and Golf Australia. A highlight was securing increased R&A investment to support golf in New Zealand.

· Developed a new home of golf with the PGA at the Remuera Golf Club.

· Founded the NZ Golf Industry Council as an advocacy body for the whole golf industry.

· Founded the golf sector environment group to help us understand and improve the environmental impact of golf in New Zealand

· Secured strategic memorandum of understanding agreements with nine supporting golf organisations.

· Actively participated in the development of the worldwide handicapping system.

· Invited to continue as representative on the R&A rules of golf and rules of amateur status committees.

· Adopted an inclusion charter to ensure we focus on developing and leading our sport in an inclusive manner.

· Adopted a new women and girls in golf charter to ensure appropriate focus is given to this very important area.

· Grown New Zealand Golf equity from $1.6m in 2013 to $2.7m in 2017 with further growth forecasted in 2018.

Growing the game highlights

· After significant planning, we have developed a brand new approach to young golfers with our futures programme. Visit https://www.lovegolf.co.nz/futures for more details.

· Expansion of the award winning love golf campaign – a programme that is changing the perception of golf and driving participation with initiatives such as she loves golf and love golf play – a promotional platform for clubs to target over 150,000 golfers. Visit https://www.lovegolf.co.nz/ for more details.

· Launch of casual golfer registration programme that now has over 90,000 players registered and connected with our golf club network.

· Development of flexiclub – online virtual club designed to engage the nomadic casual golfer and connect them with the golf club network.

· Growth of the New Zealand Open Championship in terms of co-sanctioned status, prizemoney and media coverage.Visit www.nzopen.co.nz for details of the upcoming 100th staging of this very special event including the special news that Michael Campbell will be competing.

· Establishment of an LPGA tour event for the NZ Women’s Open – sadly on hiatus until 2020. However, we are working hard to bring this event back for the golfing community of NZ.

· Growth of The Charles Tour (prizemoney) in partnership with the PGA.

· Growth of the media reach and exposure for golf; particularly across digital channels.

· The golf tourism initiative developed with Tourism New Zealand and led by Ryan Brandeburg has grown annual returns to NZ from $145m in 2012 to over $400m.

· In the last strategic period, New Zealand players have won international amateur events, PGA tour events, LPGA tour events, Major Championships, and an Olympic medal.

Supporting the game highlights

· We are pleased to have now employed five dedicated club and sector support staff who work each day with grass roots clubs around the country.

· Delivery of the national conference series where almost 300 people engage in learning sessions.

· Recently, we launched mobile apps for our golf.co.nz MyGolf features and for tee bookings. These apps are proving very popular and will continue to be enhanced in the future.

· We are big supporters of the GMA and in particular the BMI education programme with over 40 people now completed three years of education courses

· Launch of the business course mentoring programme that connects tertiary students with New Zealand’s leading business personalities.

· A golf sector plan for Auckland has been developed with support and engagement of a wide range of stakeholders in the Auckland region.

· Reintroduced the national golf awards with a new focus on celebration success across the golf sector.

· Over $1m saved for golf clubs through our lite club partnership.

· Over $150,000 now annually being saved by golf clubs through our national group buying scheme.

· Creation of over 150 case studies and resources for the use of the sector.

· Further investment and support of PGA professionals. We now directly employ five professionals and contact many others to assist us in our work. This added to our 50 percent investment into the PGA coach live project, our investment of over $150,000 into The Charles Tour and the staging of the NZ Open Championships. We are truly committed to the PGA professional and the role they can play in growing our game.

· Through significant commercial negotiations, we are delighted to now own 100 percent of DotGolf – a world class golf technology platform.

While there is much to look back on with pride, there remains a great deal of work to complete. In particular, we are yet to make significant inroads into reversing the club membership decline and we have much more work to do to assist golf clubs navigate the challenges before them. These are some of our top priorities for 2019.

To guide our future direction beyond our immediate priorities, we are currently completing the development of our new strategy for the period through until 2025. Our intention is to complete this work in the first quarter of 2019 and we will share the thinking with all our stakeholders in due course.