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October 2018

Final Thoughts

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Conrad Benitez, President , The Orchard Golf & Country Club Dasmariñas City, Cavite, Philippines

What is the golf industry’s biggest hurdle right now and how should it be addressed in your opinion?

In this digital age, golf has much competition in the form of other leisure preoccupations – electronic gaming, as well as other sports that do not require as much time for the incoming generations.

Here in the Philippines, horrendous traffic discourages after-school golf development, and also, honestly, the elite youngsters here have many more options. We need to develop more middle class golfers with access to reasonably priced muni and public golf courses.

 The long leisurely rounds among club cronies are coming to a close. Shorter formats need to be tried and promoted. The game is quite difficult to learn, takes very long to start being enjoyable, so programs must be developed that make skill development fun and rewarding rather than tedious.

 It’s a shame because as we all know, the returns are enjoyment for a lifetime, and unmatched opportunities for children to make lifelong friends in safe, secure and character-building environs.

What is the most unique thing about your course in the Philippines?

We have two championship courses of different types, the Palmer is a typically “what you see is what you get” course where all the problems are visible, and the Player is more a “thinking course” that’s more like the Scottish courses where you have to know how to play the bounces.
 
How do you deal with pace of play and time restraints that seem to keep some people off the course?

We try to get our marshals to move players as briskly as possible on 10-minute intervals so we don’t get people waiting on every shot, but this is not very successful in conditions where we cannot allow carts on the fairways because of heavy rains. Pace of play is not as much an issue as demand for prime tee times even on weekdays.
 
Do you offer any different types of entertainment at your course that generates additional revenue?

We have extensive ballroom facilities in our expansive clubhouse, so we do generate considerable revenue from banquets, celebrations, weddings, corporate events and related income streams. We are constantly trying out driving range programs and activities to expand dependent and member benefits.
 
What is your most difficult staffing problem?

Good, dedicated maintenance people. We just have to check them out by trial and error.
 
Do you face different concerns than your colleagues in the United States?

We’re fortunate in being probably the busiest private club in the country, but also with 2,500 dues-paying members, over 1,500 of whom play regular golf.
 
Do you have any activities in place to encourage more women to play?

Not as much as we should, but this is because we are precariously overbooked for prime tee times, but we have been considering promoting the off-hour tee times for women.

 

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