Preberite si intervju s predsednikom PGA Slovenije Borisom Kosuto za revijo Sinfo, ki jo izdaja Urad vlade za komuniciranje. Sinfo je informativno-promotivna revija, ki prinaša izbor zanimivih prispevkov s področja gospodarstva, kulture, znanosti, športa in turizma.
“Slovenia has great potential with its golf courses and in teaching golf”
What kind of organisation is PGA Slovenia?
The PGAS is an association of professional teachers and players of golf. It is organised in sections which are responsible for education, junior golf, competitions, clubs and courses, fitness and health, women’s golf, senior golf and equipment. All members of the governing board, the supervisory board, disciplinary board and sections work for the PGAS on a voluntary basis.
How does the Golf Association of Slovenia function?
The Golf Association of Slovenia is an umbrella golf organisation and is a member of the European Golf Association. The GAS brings together clubs, while the PGAS brings together referees and golf course greenkeepers. It is a branch association which, with our help, conducts and manages the realisation of the strategy of development of golf in Slovenia.
Your role model is the PGA of Sweden. How do you cooperate with them?
That’s true, the Professional Golfers’ Association of Sweden is one of the best organised professional golf associations in the world. Our mentor is Mikael Sorling, the Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of Sweden, who visits us once a year. He greatly contributes to the development of our association with his experience. Sweden has 700,000 active golfers, who like to play golf outside Sweden since their golf season is short. They mostly play in traditional golf destinations, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Turkey. In future, we would like to attract a larger number of Swedish golfers to Slovenia, since in addition to playing golf at excellent courses, they can also visit attractive tourist destinations, such as Portorož, Goriška Brda, Terme Čatež and Bled. The air carrier, Adria Airways, is also working in our favour by opening a regular service between Ljubljana and Stockholm.
Slovenia is otherwise very successful in golf; is there a future Tiger Woods to look out for?
The PGAS is very proud of our member, Tim Gornik, who became a permanent participant at prestigious European competitions this year. However, the PGAS is primarily an organisation for golf teachers. If you wish to become a teacher and a PGA member, you have to undergo training and sit for exams. But you don’t need to do this if you just want be a golfer. Talent is required and above all a lot of practice. Tiger Woods can just play golf according to the PGA rules. But he could teach it only if he underwent suitable training. So, a licence is required for teaching golf, but for playing in tournaments, good results are required. The competitions are ranked and good results in a certain rank enable progression to a higher rank.
Golf is said to be a gentleman’s game. Why do you need a disciplinary board for?
This is stipulated in the Societies Act. The PGA is here to educate new golfers about the techniques of playing together with the rules and etiquette on the course. A training package, which includes eight hours of training with a golf teacher, four hours with a referee and playing nine holes, was prepared by the Golf Association of Slovenia. Playing with a professional teacher after the completed training course is much more pleasurable because you are guided and can progress faster.
What attracts foreigners to Slovenian golf courses the most?
In addition to our beautiful courses, it’s the fact that several different things can be combined with golf. I think Slovenia is perfect since it has many additional options for spending free time. Everything is within reach, which makes it a real paradise for golfers. I’ve just returned from South Africa where distances are great. When you arrive at your destination, you’re already tired from travelling. It’s similar in Iceland. Short distances are a great advantage in our case.
In your opinion, what grabs the attention of a foreign golfer in Slovenia?
Slovenia has wonderful golf courses and natural sights. Upon arrival, a guest can spend the night at Bled and play golf there. The next day, he can visit Ljubljana and the famous Jože Plečnik’s Central Market. He can play golf on two nearby courses in Arboretum Volčji Potok or Smlednik. The next destination is the Primorska region with Postojna Cave and Lipica which has a golf course next to the stud farm. The guest then goes to Portorož and plays golf at the Adriatic golf course. The experience is topped with the delicious Primorska culinary offer and supreme wines. The Padriče golf course is near Trieste and Goriška Brda with exceptional tourist offerings are also in the vicinity. Then there is also Otočec, Ptuj and Moravske Toplice. All golf courses are surrounded by beautiful nature and many other tourist attractions.
Is there any well-known professional athlete who plays golf?
The most known professional sportsman who also plays golf and is our honorary member is the ice hockey player Anže Kopitar, who organises a charity golf tournament every year. Other known Slovenian top sportspeople who also play golf are Jure Košir, Primož Ulaga and Tone Vogrinec. The greatest promoter of golf in Sweden was Sven Tumba Johansson, the legend of Swedish ice hockey, who completely committed himself to golf after retiring from professional ice hockey. He wasn’t active only in Sweden, but also in Estonia and other Baltic countries and Russia. He organised charity tournaments for children from socially deprived families and also some competitions which are still part of the European Tour. A good man, good organiser, good golfer and a popular Swede known round the world thus attracted to golf almost one million of his fellow countrymen.
NEW UNDISCOVERED GOLF DESTINATION OF 2015
At the 2014 International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) at Lake Como in Italy, Slovenia received the award for the Undiscovered Golf Destination of 2015 conferred by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO). The award can be compared to the Oscars in the film industry. This was big news in Slovenia and it received even more attention abroad – which was also the set objective of the MM Turist travel agency in cooperation with Slovenian golf courses. The next goal is to bring the IGTM to Slovenia. The submission of the candidacy poses an opportunity to host the IGTM in Slovenia in 2017 and thus welcome the global golf travel industry. After several strenuous years, the MM Turist travel agency in cooperation with Slovenian golf courses managed to obtain this award, whereby the “I feel Slovenia” national brand is being proudly included in all presentations. In 2006, the MM Turist travel agency specialised in golf, and since then it has been organising trips abroad for Slovenians under the PAR3 brand and welcoming guests from abroad to Slovenia under the GolfSlovenia brand. Their website, golfslovenia.net, is the best ranked Slovenian website for golf on the Google browser.
Since 2006, the travel agency has also been a member of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO), within which it represents Slovenia. The golf tour operators who are members of the IAGTO sell over 85 per cent of global golf tourism packages. All major world destinations which are renowned in the world of golf are featured at the annual International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) within the IAGTO. Some 1,400 major players in golf tourism participate annually at the International Golf Travel Market.
Žiga Osterc, Director of the Golf Department at MM Turist travel agency: “For some years, the MM Turist travel agency has been following golfers who come to Slovenia by their own private means of transport and also those who arrive by plane. Italians and Austrians arrive by vehicle, while golfers from Finland mostly arrive by plane, and to a minor extent also guests from the UK, Sweden and Denmark. We’ve had golfers from Singapore and Korea. I’m happy to say that they get excited about everything in Slovenia. Particularly because guests receive more than they expect. Slovenian golf courses are not the works of famous landscape designers, but parts of the natural environment. Golf can be played at tourist destinations abroad where the courses are frequently artificially sited in the environment, whereas our high-quality golf courses are above all natural – and in keeping with nature since here in Slovenia nature offers everything you need for a golf course.”
Slobodan Sibinčič, President of the PGA Supervisory Board and Honorary Consul General at the Consulate General of Sweden: “Danolf, the owner of a Belgium media house, and our partner at City Magazine, visited me a few times. I took them to Lipica and Postojna Cave. They were stunned by the fact that so many things could be seen in such a small area. After visiting Goriška Brda, I was asked to organise a meeting in Slovenia for their key clients to whom they wanted to introduce new products. They picked Slovenia because they would be able to really enjoy themselves during a short stay. Furthermore, almost every town in Slovenia can be reached within one hour’s drive. We have a mix of everything: good golf courses, beautiful natural sights and a good range of gastronomic offerings which is continuously improving.”
Besedilo: Danila Mašić
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