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Spencer Robinson: “Vietnam Golf & Leisure Awards will drive up the standards of golf courses!”  

VGL talks with Spencer Robinson – representative of AGIF about the next event in Hanoi and the cooperation with VGL at Vietnam Golf&Leisure Awards.
Mr. Spencer Robinson - Chief Communications Officer with the Asian Golf Industry Federation

Can you introduce about yourself and your works at AGIF and APGC? 

Having cut my journalistic teeth in England, I arrived in Hong Kong in 1984 to take up a position on the editorial staff at the South China Morning Post. This year (2024) marks my 40th anniversary in Asia, working in sporting media, predominantly golf. During that time, I’ve been a writer and editor for newspapers, magazines and websites, and a commentator for radio and television (ESPN, Fox Sports), covering many hundreds of sporting events including 30 Open Championships in the UK, The Masters, US Open, Ryder Cups, Olympic Games, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

In February of 2014, I assumed the position as Chief Communications Officer with the Asian Golf Industry Federation, setting up a communications platform, building extensive industry and media databases and assisting in organising and running conferences and educational programmes. As well as acting as Communications Manager for the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, Asia’s ruling golfing body, and Media Officer for the Faldo Series Asia, and sitting on various Awards panels, I’ve also had the privilege of acting as a speaker and moderator at numerous high-profile conferences around the region. 

How do you rate the Vietnam Golf & Leisure Awards event?

Vietnam Golf&Leisure Co has been a vitally important player in golf’s development in Vietnam over the course of the past two decades. The work that Vu Van Yen and her team have done in promoting golf via Vietnam Golf Leisure magazine is a key reason behind the growth and prosperity of the game in Vietnam that we see today. Launching the Vietnam Golf&Leisure Awards was another fabulous initiative that is helping drive up the standards of golf courses and golf clubs around the country.

“Vietnam Golf & Leisure Awards 2024 is part of the agenda of AGIF will certainly add a new and fresh dimension to the Conference!”

What role will AGIF play at Vietnam Golf & Leisure Awards? 

It was at the start of January that Chris Gray, the AGIF’s President, and Vu Van Yen announced a new partnership between the AGIF and Golf & Leisure Vietnam Co. I know that the AGIF Board is excited to be working with Golf & Leisure Vietnam Co on a variety of areas related to the AGIF Conference in Hanoi in September. The fact that the Vietnam Golf & Leisure Awards – the country’s most established and respected awards programme – is part of the agenda will certainly add a new and fresh dimension to the Conference. We hope that all the golf clubs in Vietnam will be able to send representatives to the Conference where they will have a unique opportunity to meet and network with AGIF member companies who span the spectrum of the golf industry.

How do you assess golf's potential in Vietnam? 

I’m fortunate to have played around a dozen courses in Vietnam – and hope to get the chance to at least double that number in the coming years! In terms of design and maintenance, I’ve been especially impressed with the quality of the courses. Originating from the United Kingdom, I’ve always loved links-style golf and Vietnam is blessed to have some outstanding venues that I would classify as world-class. As both a golfing destination and a country that is capable of producing talented players, I’m convinced that Vietnam will continue to develop at a rapid rate and will become increasingly recognized as a significant power in the game. Credit should go to the Vietnamese Government for their vision is wishing to promote the country as a prime golf tourism destination; to the high-profile developers who have invested heavily in creating such fabulous golfing landscapes; and to the Vietnam Golf Association and its dynamic young and enthusiastic senior office bearers who are doing an excellent job in driving the game forward.

Mr. Spencer Robinson praised young and talented leaderboad of Vietnam Golf Association.

In your opinion, what are the criteria to evaluate a best golf course?

The first thing I look for when I’m visiting a golf course is how the existing landscape has been incorporated into the project. I’ve always been a supporter of ‘least disturbance’ approach. I respect course architects who succeed in ‘fitting’ the course into the natural lie of the land and make the most of the local landmarks. I will also always mark up a golf course that is walkable and does not include lengthy distances between greens and tees that enable clubs to make it compulsory for players to take a buggy. As a golfer, I always enjoy courses that have a variety of holes – a mixture of long and short par-threes, par-fours and par-five. Over the course of a round, you should be able to use every club in your bag. From the results to various surveys conducted by the AGIF, it’s clear that course conditioning is a major factor when golfers decide where to play. It’s all very well having a great layout, but if it’s poorly maintained then it won’t attract customers – no matter how good the location. 

It is known that AGIF's annual conference will be held in Hanoi, why is have this change? 

It has always been the intention of the AGIF to stage the annual conference in different locations around the region. Based on the feedback from AGIF member companies, Vietnam, with the active state of its golfing industry, was the overwhelmingly popular choice. After two successful years in Danang, it was felt the time was right to change locations. Numerous cities and countries around the region expressed interest in hosting the conference, but the majority view was that Vietnam remains the number one option. With its easy accessibility and top-rate facilities, Hanoi was the obvious choice for 2024.

What will be special about the AGIF Hanoi program? 

The first two days of the 2024 AGIF Conference (September 17-18) will be devoted to presentations and debates about the state of the industry and latest golfing trends with golf course architects, sustainability and club management gurus, golf tourism experts and prominent golfing administrators among the high-profile list of speakers. On day three (September 19), delegates will attend the Vietnam Golf & Leisure Awards in the morning and have the option to play a round at one of the city’s premier golf courses in the afternoon. All of these elements are special in their own right. What makes this Conference ‘extra special’ are the opportunities for networking and the chances for golf clubs and any companies involved in the golfing industry to meet new contacts and grow their businesses.

After two successful years in Danang, the next AGIF Conference will be held in Hanoi city of Vietnam.

What plans does AGIF have to attract more members here in Vietnam?

The AGIF has various categories of membership – Executive, Full Business, Associate Business – depending upon the size of the company and the benefits they wish to make use of. The majority of AGIF member companies are multi-nationals, many of whom have a strong presence in Vietnam, including Martin Moore’s Flagstick Company, Jebsen & Jessen, Smartscore Global, Sports Turf Solutions, IMG Golf Course Services, Golfplan, Greg Norman Golf Course Design and Faldo Design, to name just a few. The AGIF also has a membership category for Facilities with the BRG Group, Novaworld Phan Thiet and Laguna Golf Lang Co among those who have joined. Given that we have the AGIF Conference in Hanoi in September and with the Federation’s relationship with Golf &Leisure Vietnam Co, the profile of the AGIF in Vietnam will be raised this year and will hopefully lead to more Vietnam golf companies and golf clubs joining the AGIF.

Profile

Full name: Spencer Robinson

Position: Chief Communications Officer at AGIF, Communications Manager at APGC

Career: Sport writer/ editor/commentator 

Famous quote:‘The more I practice,the luckier I get!’ – Gary Player

Hobbies:Golf,Tennis,Football(Arsenal),Theatre,Music

Handicap:12.2

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