Troon Golf seeks to expand in Korea

Upscale golf course management firm Troon Golf is hoping to

expand its presence in the Korean market, which it considers as one

of the fastest growing markets for golf courses around the

world.

Hud Hinton, president and CEO of Troon Golf, said the company is

focusing much of its efforts in Korea, as well as China, in the

next few years.

“I think it is one of the fastest growing golf markets in the

world. First, the popularity of golf here is increasing

exponentially, partly because of the increasing number of Koreans

on the PGA and

LPGA

tours. Second, there is generally an

undersupply of golf courses throughout the country. There are a lot

of private clubs, but I think growth will come from the daily fee

golf courses that are open to the public,” Hinton told The Korea

Times, Wednesday, at the Troon Golf Academy, Banyan Tree Club &

Spa, Seoul.

Troon Golf, which oversees operations at properties located in

31 states in the U.S. and 26 countries, is known not just for its

superior golf courses but also excellent guest service and food and

beverage experience. Some 39 Troon Golf facilities are ranked in

the Top 100 by U.S. and international publications.

“We bring in-depth knowledge of the game, how to attract

customers, how to market golf and how to train employees so that

they give a very high level of experience. We believe our brand is

powerful enough to attract new members and golfers to our

facilities once they know the facilities are managed by Troon

Golf,” Hinton said.

In Korea, Troon Golf manages Alpensia Golf & Country Club,

Alpensia 700 Golf Club, Paju Golf Academy, Banyan Tree Club &

Spa and Tuscany Hills. It will also be in charge of managing M’s

Club in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province and Pine Tree Luxury Condo

& Spa in Ui-dong, Seoul, both of which are currently under

construction.

Pine Tree, a private residential development/club, will be the

first high-end property management project in Korea under the

“Prive Residences” brand.

“Pine Tree will be very upscale with membership. Members will be

able to access all Troon managed golf courses and clubs around the

world, free of charge. We are going to expand beyond golf, with

residential and small hotels. But our bread and butter will

obviously still be golf, the daily fee and private clubs,” Hinton

said.

His years of experience in the hotel industry proved to be

valuable for Troon Golf. He has served as managing director of New

York’s Plaza Hotel, and as senior executives for Starwood Hotels

& Resorts Worldwide and Westin Hotels & Resorts.

“The brand was built on golf, but we are gradually expanding our

brand so we can run other hospitality-related businesses. If you

think about golf, it’s really about service, products and

hospitality and that’s transferrable to other businesses as well,”

Hinton said.

Had it not been for the global recession, Troon Golf would have

expanded at a much quicker pace in Korea. “I think we would have

had eight or nine (golf courses) by now, if not for the recession,

which has caused a lot of courses that were being planned to not be

continued. But I think in the next five years, we can have 10 golf

courses in Korea and have a good presence for our company here,”

said Hinton.

The American executive believes Asia will be the key driver of

the company’s “profitable growth” in the future.

“I really believe Asia is going to be a growing region for golf

in the next few years. Golf is overbuilt in a lot of areas around

the world but Asia there is a lot of demand to be satisfied. I see

Korea, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and India as the big

growth areas in the next 10 years. We are looking for more

opportunities here,” Hinton said.