Details regarding the marketing efforts of some of the world’s top platinum golf and country clubs during this global pandemic have been outlined below. These platinum golf clubs include Hong Kong Golf Club, Sentosa Golf Club, TPC Kuala Lumpur, Winged Foot Golf Club, Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles Country Club, Trump International Golf Links, and Bel-Air Country Club.
1. Hong Kong Golf Club
- The Hong Kong Golf Club has been home to “two of Hong Kong’s premier professional sporting events – the Hong Kong Open, a European and Asian Tour co-sanctioned tournament that has been held every year since 1959.” It ranks 56th in the top 100 platinum golf and country clubs in the world.
- The Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling reopened recently and it held an Open Day last October 1, 2020 to raise funds for Operation Santa Claus which is a yearly charity campaign organized by the public broadcaster RTHK and the South China Morning Post. The event was not just a mark of the fundraising event but also a celebration of the club’s reopening which has been a few weeks prior to that. The club’s usual practice is to not operate during public holidays but it set that aside as the Open Day coincided with the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day.
- The gold club was previously closed starting mid-March to early May, then it was closed again from July to mid-September as the Hong Kong government tightened its social-distancing measures.
- According to Ian Gardner, general manager of the golf club, “We were closed for a long time because of Covid-19. We wanted to welcome everybody back to play on a public holiday, which they normally don’t get to do, and at the same time try to raise money for a worthy cause.” He also said, “A lot of people realize playing golf is a healthy way of getting out in the open, getting exercise and fresh air without exposing yourself to danger. We see this as an opportunity to develop and help people play the game.”
- During the Open Day, the club was able to successfully raise around HK$80,000 or about US$10,300. This also includes proceeds from souvenir sales as well as extra donations from the players. Around 3,300 people registered for the event, but as a safety measure, the golf club used a lucky draw to select 156 from those who registered due to limited spots. The selected players were able to enjoy greens fees that are on a special discount. They just paid HK$500 for 18 holes which normally cost HK$1,200.
- According to Daniel Yeung Chi-ming, one of the golfers, “I’m excited to do my part for charity by joining this event. I also really admire this golf course and many of my golfing friends say this is a good opportunity.”
- Hong Kong Golf Club is also set to host the Hong Kong Open which was rescheduled to next year (2021) due to the global pandemic.
2. Sentosa Golf Club
- The Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore is a 36-hole golf club that offers a resort-style ambiance and personalized service that also has the latest conference facilities. It ranks 81st in the top 100 platinum golf and country clubs in the world.
- When asked in an interview about the safety measure that the golf club is implementing, Andrew Johnston, general manager of Sentosa Golf Club, said “We will continue to follow the guidelines developed by the Singapore Government. Removing bunker rakes, adjusting golf holes so that the cups are raised, and only allowing one golfer per golf cart, as per social distancing regulations, are just a few of the many measures that have been introduced around our golf courses to ensure that our members remain safe whilst playing at Sentosa Golf Club. Additionally, we plan to adopt training practices and hold frequent meetings to update all of our staff on the current procedures and safety measures that are in place around the club, as well as introducing them to new procedures that may be implemented at a later time.”
- Johnston also said, “During this period, we will also be focusing on our efforts to drive deeper into our environmentally sustainable platform. Fitting electric car charging stations in partnership with Porsche, acquiring bio-digesters for our food and horticultural waste in partnership with the R&A, and installing some experimental floating solar farms in partnership with Sembcorp, are just a few of the many new initiatives that we are looking to push forward with. Lastly, we are excited to share that we will be joining GEO this year and will work to become certified in an effort to continue to build on our ‘Game On’ programme.”
- The Sentosa Golf Club’s general manager has also spoken in a LinksAsia webinar and said “We’ve made a big investment in making sure all of our doors are now automatic. We’ve also reduced all the touchpoints and purchased over 40 touchless hand sensor soap dispensers.” He also added, “The most important question today is health and safety. None of us can afford to have a breakaway problem, so every day we’re consumed with health and safety, making sure that we’re doing the things that are important. We’re in a club where everybody is wearing masks. All of our staff wear masks and we make sure we’re providing that proper freedom that people can come and go, but that we’re giving them the best health and safety possible.”
- The golf club has been emphasizing in its messaging the importance of creating an environment that instills a sense of confidence and assurance in all its visitors. Sentosa Golf Club significantly invested in ‘safe-proofing’ the 36-hole golf club against the spread of Covid-19. As the club re-opened last June 19, 2020, after a 10-week lockdown because of the Coronavirus outbreak, the club has seen the successful result of its marketing messages as the club has reached full capacity with its members returning to play golf again.
- Johnston said, “We’re busier than ever. Everybody’s playing golf again. We saw this back in SARS time. That’s when golf became very popular in Asia and it’s kind of that way again.”
3. TPC Kuala Lumpur
- TPC Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s premier golf club and ranks 82nd in the top platinum golf and country club of the world.
- It uses its website, press releases, and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as its marketing channels.
- In one of its press releases, TPC released a statement saying that disinfection exercise and sanitation commenced and was carried out” by a professional accredited sanitization company in line with Government and Regulatory standards. ” TPC added that “this is in addition to the hourly sanitization of common areas that have been conducted since March 2020, following the enforcement of the nationwide Movement Control Order.”
- Its Facebook and Twitter pages reveal the golf club’s announcements and COVID-19 updates, as well as marketing messages regarding the food that the club offers.
- Last November 1, TPC posted “The Argentinian Squid is marinated with homemade spices and seasoned with sea salt before it is grilled to perfection; complemented with sautéed garlic butter herb rice and topped with almond bits to give you that extra crunch. Try now at #tpckl Golfer’s Terrace!”
- On November 3, TPC posted “After your meal, wash your palate with the refreshing drink of the month – Coconut Lemonade, priced at RM12.00++, a favorite among diners. Only at #tpckl Golfer’s Terrace!”
4. Winged Foot Golf Club
- Winged Foot Gold Club is in 16th place in the top platinum golf clubs in the world. The golf club is located in Mamaroneck, New York.
- As part of its marketing strategy, Winged Foot Golf Club hosted the 120th US Open Championship last September 14-20, 2020. As a safety precaution due to the coronavirus pandemic, the golf club hosted the US Open without fans. The last time Winged Foot hosted the US Open was in 2006.
- According to Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA, “Following months of consultation and scenario planning with local and state health officials, we have jointly decided that hosting the U.S. Open without spectators will provide the best opportunity to conduct the championship safely for all involved.”
- Winged Foot golf club has also been using its Facebook page as a marketing channel as it posts in there some announcements and pictures of the golf club.
5. Riviera Country Club and Los Angeles Country Club
- The Riviera Country Club ranks 41st in the top platinum golf and country clubs of the world while the Los Angeles Country Club ranks 19th. These two country clubs are both located in Los Angeles.
- The Riviera Country Club has been gaining attention, together with the other LA elite country clubs, when it started a GoFundMe drive to raise support for their caddies. This fundraising drive aims to help caddies pay their bills while the golf course is still closed. Last March 25, 2020, Riviera Country Club was able to raise $95,920 out of its $100,000 goal.
- In the same way, the Los Angeles Country Club also launched a GoFundMe drive to raise financial support for its caddies. Last March, LA Country Club was able to raise $229,071 out of its $300,000 goal. LA Country Club also uses its Facebook page as its marketing channel.
6. Trump International Golf Links, Doonbeg
- The Trump International Gold Links in Doonbeg, Ireland ranks 71st in the world’s top platinum golf and country clubs.
- The Trump International Golf Links presents a marketing message of being a golf club that provides “a new generation of style and service.” It uses its website, review and booking sites, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook for its marketing channels.
- Due to the pandemic, the golf course struggled financially as it had to close just like most of the other golf courses. Thus, Trump International sought help from the Irish government in order to cover the wages of its workers though some workers have already been laid off.
- According to Eric Trump, “Like millions of businesses around the globe, we have been forced by Government mandate to temporarily close our hospitality and leisure facilities, and are doing all that we can to retain and support our highly valued staff. The job retention plan created by the UK Government has nothing to do with the Trump Organization and does not benefit the business – it is solely about protecting people and their families who would otherwise be out of work.”
- Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg’s Facebook page reveals the latest video post that showcases a portion of the golf course. The previous posts on the page show pictures of some sceneries in Doonbeg.
7. Bel-Air Country Club
- The Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, California ranks 36th in the top platinum clubs of America.
- The Bel-Air Country Club has used the press as its marketing channel to announce that the club has already evicted two of its top members who pleaded guilty to a crime. These two top members are the couple Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli who pleaded guilty to a conspiracy of committing wire and letter fraud as they bribed their daughter’s way to the University of Southern California. This has been part of a national college admission scandal that involved dozens of wealthy parents.
- The country club’s Board of Directors unanimously voted for the suspension of Loughlin-Giannullis, however, some club members were angry because the decision was a suspension and not expulsion. It was reported that Loughlin and Giannulli left voluntarily to avoid further conflict with the other club members.
- According to Michael Gallager, former council president, “BACC is a male and female club. Gentlemen are not criminals, and criminals in turn are not gentlemen. You cannot be a member of good standing and guilty of a crime at the same time, it is a non sequitur.”