KPMG Golf Business Forum Reflects the Importance of Sustainability & Innovation

September 26, 2012

By Ismail Uddin

The Ninth annual KPMG Golf Business Forum was staged in the beautiful  Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa, Italy, 17-19 September where over 220 delegates from 30 countries engaged in networking sessions on the current issues on Golf.

Innovation and sustainability proved to be key recurring themes throughout the three-day conference with a special keynote speech from Twenty20 cricket creator Stuart Robertson, addressing how to drive participation in sport and linking directly to an enlightened panel discussion on sustainability in golf and ‘triple bottom line’ benefits – people, profit and planet.

Opening: Innovation in Business: Need for new ideas to Generate Growth

Adam Bates, the UK Head of Foresight & Innovation, KPMG began the session by  suggesting “the world is changing and we need to move with the times.” To demonstrate this he asked the attendees to get up on their feet. He asked “how many people have previously owned a Nokia phone, if you have please remain standing”. Majority of the audience remained standing but when asked “if they still had a Nokia phone” the majority sat down reiterating his point that technology constantly changes.

Session 1- Golf in Italy

This session focused primarily on Golf in Italy and the need to improve participation in Italy.

“A lot of people want to play golf but there is not enough space in Italy,” according to legendary Italian golfer Constantino Rocca. His sentiments reflects the facts that there are less than 102,000 golfers playing on 232 courses in Italy. But this is a 137% increase in the past 20 years, resulting in a net increase of 161 new golf facilities. KPMG’s findings also reflected that 71% of participation in Italian golf courses came from the north of the country.

Andrea Sartori, Head of KPMG’s Advisory Practice and moderator of this session delved a little deeper into the reason why Italian golf has not reached its pinnacle yet. He said he was “a little sceptical of bringing KPMG to Italy due to the Politics and bureaucracy” in the nation, creating barriers for Golf.

A key component of why Italy has not seen high Golf returns was membership fees on courses were high compared to most European countries. Approximately one-third of clubs require a payment for an initiation fee which may be a deterrent to budding golfers.

Flavia Coccia from the ENIT (Italian Tourism Board) suggested politics have never promoted tourism in golf. Golf courses in Italy are very guarded, private clubs very hard to sell. This creates barriers for golf.

Arnaldo Cocuzza, vice-president of CMAE, suggested a solution to the participation problems by allowing non-club members to play on courses.

He added: “Everyone speaks about golf. But there are barriers.  What is missing is municipal golf courses.”

Carlo Manca, Director of Advisory Services and Study (instituto) paid tribute to the advancements in TV coverage of Golf in the region by saying: “Sky has made golf more accessible. This has increased demand.”

Romy Gai, Member of the board of Royal Park, added: “Growth of female percentage is very important. Updating family packages and female participation.

The session ended with the audience voting that Italy are 38% likely for HIGH golf Tourism in the next few years.