Asia Pacific Golf Development Summit a Success

Over 270 delegates representing 27 nations attended the 2008 Asia Pacific Golf Development Summit at the world's largest golf complex - Mission Hills China - in early December. The high-level conference involved more than 60 speakers and panelists from virtually every area of the golf industry.

There were senior executives from equipment manufacturers, some of the most well-known names in golf architecture, and experts in turf care, water management, the environment and club management.

"The speaker list looked more like a Who's Who of the global golf industry," said Mike Sebastian, Managing Director of Asia Pacific Golf Development Conferences Pte Ltd.

Staged under the thematic banner of "Golf Development - Making Asia World Class," the Summit received backing from the following sponsors:

The R&A
Club Car
The Toro Company
Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architecture
Troon Golf
Nicklaus Design
John Deere
Golfplan - Fream, Dale & Ramsey Golf Course Architecture
Rain Bird
Schmidt/Curley Golf Design

The Summit was staged over three days, December 2-4. The tone was set on the opening day by the R&A's Director of Golf Development Duncan Weir, who provided an around-the-globe overview on golf development.

Other speakers included Dr. Andrea Sartori of KPMG; Dennis Himan, Group Executive Vice President from The Toro Company; Dan Wilkinson, President of Jacobsen; Jonathan Smith, CEO of the Golf Environment Organization; Hud Hinton, President of Troon Golf; and Robert Trent Jones Jr., the golf course architect.

Immediate reaction to the Summit was swift. Denise Adams, Senior Vice President of Kitson & Partners had this to say, "Thank you for a fabulous summit! I met so many fabulous new contacts . . . which quickly turned into new friendships. And, it was wonderful getting caught up with many industry peers I have not seen in years. Finally, I learned a lot from my fellow summit attendees and see so many promising opportunities for future summits and for the Asia Golf Industry Federation. I express my thanks to you and everyone behind the coordination of the summit. It was so well organized."

Two of the highpoints of the Summit included the inaugural Asia Life-Time Achievement Award, which was presented to Dr. David Chu, Founding Chairman of the Mission Hills Group and Robert Trent Jones Jr. Both received a custom-built golf car by E-Z-Go, an Omega watch by Jacobsen, and a specially commissioned portrait by Asian Golf Business.

The other award that made its first appearance was the Golf Course Environment Award sponsored by The Toro Company. The award was picked up by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Course in Hong Kong.

This is how another delegate, Martin Moore, President of Flagstick GCCM responded to the Summit: "I just wanted to send you a brief note and thank you very much for putting together a fantastic Golf Summit at Mission Hills this year. As expected, it was first class in every aspect. I know this required a tremendous amount of organization and effort on the part of your entire team, and the results showed. WELL DONE. I look forward to seeing you again next year in KL, and being part of another beneficial gathering of our golf industry professionals.

A total of 23 awards were presented. The top award for Best Golf Course in Asia was taken by Indonesia's Ria Bintan Golf Club, and the Top Golf Course Architect's Award was claimed by Nicklaus Design.

A fitting wrap-up to the Summit came from delegate Jinder Aujla, Golf Manager at Singapore's Orchid Country Club who said: "I would like to congratulate you and your team for successfully hosting the event. You guys were great in all aspects. The speakers were great and the breakout workshops were excellent as it gave us an opportunity to share our experiences. Most important of all was that each one of you took time to check with us to see that we were comfortable and if there was anything that you could do to make our experience even more enjoyable."

The 2008 Summit marked the launch of the Asian Chapter of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) which was announced by its President, Peter Walton, who was also a speaker. The other launch was announced by Howard Swan and Gill Wilson who used the Summit platform to introduce First Golf China, a revolutionary new way of playing golf that is taking Europe, South Africa and India by storm.

Gill Wilson had this take on the Summit: "You guys must be on your knees after last week - but feeling 10-feet tall after such a resoundingly successful Summit on all counts - superb venue, excellent speakers, outstanding panelists and clearly a first-class opportunity to do business, network and have some fun!"

The 2009 Summit will be staged in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. Full details about the Summit date, venue and format will be announced within the next few weeks.