Golf Course Management

APR 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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28 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.19 As golf course superintendents in the United States continue to struggle with labor issues and keeping their maintenance teams fully staffed, one of Vietnam's newest golf facilities set to open later this year, Hoiana Shores Golf Club in Hoi An, has taken an in - novative approach to training and retaining individuals to tend to the golf course — it cre - ated its own school to train those workers. e Golf Operations and Maintenance Vocational College in Quang Nam, Vietnam, is the first such golf-specific enterprise in all of Asia. e first graduating class of maintenance staffers joined the grounds crew at Hoiana Shores GC in January, while the inaugural class of caddies enrolled in December 2018 and graduated at the end of February. Another class of 50 enrolled this winter and will gradu - ate in May. All students from this program are guaranteed employment with Hoiana Shores. After five years of supplying staff directly to Hoiana Shores (in addition to its sister hotel and casino development next door), the school itself will be turned over directly to the Quang Nam Peoples Committee. "ere has been an explosion of develop - ment, golf and otherwise, in Vietnam, and Quang Nam province has wisely supported this activity with a local tourism college that has trained thousands of resort and hotel workers to date," says Ben Styles, vice presi - dent of golf and residential development at Hoiana Shores. "However, a golf course has specific needs when it comes to staff. Even someone with superb hospitality training doesn't know how to handle a greens mower, or read the undu - lations of golf greens, or handle point-of-sale software specific to golf shops. is is the first program with a specialized autonomous 'bricks and mortar' home ever created in Asia, and judging from the reactions we've received Homegrown talent (business) Hal Phillips hphillips@mandarinmedia.net from within the golf industry, it's poised to meet a glaring need." Since his 2007 arrival in Vietnam, Styles, a native Australian and member of the PGA of Australia, has witnessed firsthand that devel - opment boom. Labor, staff and training have been persistent issues throughout his time in country, he says. "is problem isn't particular to Vietnam. We've all seen how golf courses across South - east Asia open in a certain condition, with certain agronomic and hospitality standards, only to abandon those standards over time," Styles says. "at's a result of staff not being trained up properly by the time the original superintendent, director of golf or general manager moves on." e Golf Operations and Maintenance Vocational College is part of Hoiana-Quang Nam Vocational Training Centre, located in Duy Phuoc district. According to Styles, Hoiana Shores has so far spent more than $300,000 rehabbing and outfitting the college. e first class of 24 students in the course maintenance curriculum arrived in October 2018. Technically, they arrived as employees of Hoiana Shores, a Robert Trent Jones II de - sign set for a soft opening this summer, with a grand opening set for late 2019. When they graduated, they transitioned directly to their work at the golf course, where the grassing of golf holes was already well underway. e course superintendent at Hoiana Shores, Rob Weiks, a six-year GCSAA mem - ber, is the turf expert who supplied an in- ternational-standard syllabus for the course maintenance curriculum at GOMVC. His Hoiana Shores colleague, Director of Golf Kelly Nguyen, did likewise on the caddie and operations front. Each graduate, in either track, will receive the first accredited degrees for golf operations and maintenance in Vietnam. "Without those degrees accredited by the Vietnamese government, golf course workers in Vietnam are not recognized as professionals with legitimate wage-earning positions," Styles said. "at may sound like a bureaucratic fine point, but it's not. Right now, golf course work - ers are not so recognized, by the government, and so they cannot do things like go and get a bank loan, for example. is accreditation is a huge development for Vietnamese nationals who work in the golf business." Styles was quick to point out the assis - tance GOMVC has received from golf indus- try companies such as LinksShape, the outfit now building the RTJ II-designed course at Hoiana Shores, and Sports Turf Solutions, which has supported the venture by donating a full complement of maintenance equipment. "We've received so much support, I think because people in the golf industry recognize the need and want to see it succeed, then rep - licated all across Southeast Asia," Styles said. Hal Phillips is the managing director of golf and resorts for Mandarin Media, a public relations firm with offices in Portland, Maine; Park City, Utah; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He is the former editor of Golf Course News and a frequent GCM contributor. The instructional staff at the Golf Operations and Maintenance Vocational College (from left): Hoiana Shores Golf Club Director of Golf Kelly Nguyen, Sandy Nguyen, Minh Nguyen and HSGC course superintendent Rob Weiks. Photo courtesy of Hal Phillips

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