My visit to Praia D’el Rey this week is a great example how LinkedIn is able to connect like-minded people. I met Alexandra Betamio de Almeida (Sustainable urban development consultant) on LinkedIn who offered me if I visit Portugal in September she would be happy to connect me with some local golf club managers.
Do I need to introduce you Praia D’el Rey??? Praia D’el Rey is one of the most spectacular courses in Europe and is rated as the continent’s 29th best layout, according to the benchmark Golf World ranking. Early this year Praia D’el Rey has joined the World of Leading Golf.
Thanks to Alexandra, I had the chance to meet with Francisco Cadete, the director of golf at Praia D’el Rey. I wanted to hear and see from first hand about Praia D’el Rey’s new golf course development project, the West Cliffs by Praia D’el Rey (designed by Cynthia Dye McGarey).
Progolf is in charge of the construction work who also worked on the construction of Fazenda Boa Vista II Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, in São Paulo, and Rio Olympic Golf Course, in Rio de Janeiro. The new golf course is scheduled to open in June 2017.
It will be an integrated golf resort, just like most of the Portugal golf resorts (60% according to KPMG).
- Par: 72 – 18 holes (seaside links golf course)
- Length: Black 6382m
- Max. handicap: -36 for men and for ladies
One of the positive elements of this golf course development project is the focus on environment protection and sustainability. In reality, it means that there will be more organic flora and they will utilize such advanced turf management solutions like Soil Scout and OnGolf USA.
In quality, I would compare the future West Cliffs by Praia D’el Rey to Bandon Dunes. I think Golfbéltico (the developer of the new golf course) is in a better position than Mike Keiser was in those days for several reasons:
- Since Portugal is one of the most popular golf tourism destinations, the supply of golfers should not be a problem.
- Praia D’el Rey is a well-established golf course, therefore there will be no need for huge marketing efforts.
- The perception of weather is positive. Maybe 1 or 2 months when the weather is not so good.
- The driving distance from Lisbon and neighboring golf courses (e.g. Royal Óbidos, Bom Sucesso) is ideal.
- The area is well known locally and internationally. This will make the area more competitive (vs. Algarve for instance).
- West Cliffs by Praia D’el Rey is not in a “start from scratch” situation.
- Even if they don’t build a hotel next to the new course (it is part of the plan), accommodation will not be a big problem since at Praia D’el Rey there is already a Marriott Hotel.
What are the challenges of West Cliffs by Praia D’el Rey?
What I would recommend is to focus more on mobile services (for tee-time booking, online booking, on and out of course services) since mobile is the most popular booking channel today. Social media presence is also essential to create a favorable image and awareness. I would you Tripadvisor, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Furthermore, they should think about how to differentiate themselves from other Portuguese links golf courses (e.g. Oitavos Dunes, Oceanico Laguna golf course) to avoid sameness. How about, for instance truly personalized services?
KPMG found that 75% of coastal integrated golf courses are offering only one golf course and only 20% have 2 golf courses. This is why I think, the development of West Cliffs by Praia D’el Rey can make Praia D’el Rey even more competitive. At this moment and in the near future, they will not have to worry about Turkey due to the political and security climate.
The importance of brand name architects is still high. I hope people will easily connect her with Pete Dye (grandfather??).