Clubs welcoming quality approach
FAILTE Ireland want golf clubs to pay them €500 each -- but it could be a big-value investment for a small outlay.
The tourism body is making a twin-track assault on declining numbers of golfing visitors to this country.
On the home front, clubs can gain a certificate of quality assurance via the first minimum standards guidelines applied to golf facilities in Ireland.
This scheme operates in the same way that ratings are given to hotels. For €500, the club gets an initial assessment and two years membership of the scheme. Ireland is the first country to undertake a nationwide scheme of this type for golf courses.
Already, assessors are at work in clubs around the country and one club official said: "We were very impressed with the detail that goes into this.
"Some of the items we just hadn't thought about, but we will implement them and it can only help if we can publicise the fact that we are 'approved to Failte Ireland standards.'"
Every aspect relevant to a customer visiting a club is assessed, including reservations systems, making sure staff are fully knowledgeable about green fees, promotions and cancellation policies, signage, health and safety.
Among the benefits are promotional opportunities on Irish tourism websites and the chance to take part in Failte Ireland promotional and marketing activities across all media.
A total of 18 clubs took part in a pilot programme throughout July and August last year and feedback was positive. Already 32 have received their quality assurance certificates, and another 50 are going through the vetting process in the coming weeks.
The guidelines were approved by the Golf Industry Forum last September.
On the international front, a €1.5m promotional campaign aimed at enticing golfers from Britain and Europe to play here will be launched within the next few weeks. Ireland and the excellent variety of golf we offer, particularly the links courses, badly needs a marketing boost.
Wales, which cannot match our golf product in terms of variety or quality, is making the best use it can of staging the Ryder Cup later this year.
Scotland has always been sold as 'the home of golf' and is vigorously revamping its own marketing in advance of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014.
Ironically, our golf tourism promotional activity in the eight years prior to the 2006 Ryder Cup was the envy of our near neighbours.
Golf dropped down the agenda of tourism chiefs after that, and it is not before time that a positive development is made to get golfers here to play.