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Waldemar Bac³awski

Interview - Waldemar Bac³awski - Owner of Mazury Golf & Country Club

My adventure with golf began ...

Quite unexpectedly and in very unusual circumstances, at first my Inter Parts Distribution Company, dealing in the sale of parts and accessories for motor vehicles, acquired the assets belonging to the MG&CC golf course and entered a new and completely unknown industry. It was only in the wake of my first golf club swing, which was about two months later. To summarize it briefly, the acquisition of the golf course and the first contact with golf was ... a great coincidence.

How is the "master class field" built after many years of failure of several predecessors?

The master class course, designed by a great architect - Martin Hawtree, was practically built by its predecessors. We showed up there when the golf infrastructure itself was almost in its present shape. On the other hand, some neglect of the predecessors was visible, which resulted from the lack of funds and financial outlays on the part of the then owners. It was the "last call" for the takeover. We were faced with the fundamental question of what to do next, because it was clear and obvious that without large investments in further infrastructure, clubhouse and hotel facilities, it is impossible to build and ensure a future for this beautiful and unique place. Such strategic decisions were made at the turn of 2011/2012 and since then Inter Parts has been consistently implementing planned investments. They mainly included: construction of a large and functional club house with catering and hotel facilities, two apartment blocks in the heart of the golf course, large, positive quality changes on the 18-hole championship course, revitalization of a small 6-hole course, commissioning of tennis courts and many more.

We assumed a certain organic development of local golf, an increase in the activity of Polish golfers in our facility and a greater interest of foreign guests, these assumptions were the driving force behind large investments in the facility. Finally, some kind of feedback arose, the development of infrastructure and quality of the facility additionally attracted a large number of Golfers to Warmia.

Consistent action and a long-term construction of the strategy for the facility and its development is probably the key to the positive change we are witnessing after 2015, i.e. from the date of opening and putting into use the new Club House.

The secret of the success of creating a large group of golfers in 170,000 population city of Olsztyn?

For many years we have tried our best to convince the local community to golf activity, unfortunately without much success. A new impulse, an idea was needed, and the project leader and supporters to implement it. And it surprised, there was a new idea of collective training, under the supervision of the Mitukiewicz’s family.

With the help of many Volunteers - Golfers from our Club and the support of the MG&CC Association, we started an adventure called "Senior Academy", an initiative that was financially supported from the very beginning by local authorities and the Marshal of our Province. Since 2017, we have consistently and passionately implemented a local golf development project among Seniors, but not only. We did not refuse anyone, everyone interested had an open door to go through the golf training program completely free of charge and close it with a Green Card exam. During these few years, over 1,000 people passed through the Academy. Some of them joined the proud ranks of the Mazury Golf & Country Club Association, and the rest have very fond memories of the time spent with us. This is a marketing value that will come back to us in the future. Changing the golf stereotype among Poles is not an easy task, and we have certainly managed to do it locally, of which the entire Club is very proud. Our success is our Golfers, their commitment is the determination to share their passion for golf with other local friends. As you can see, this path turned out to be the right direction. We will continue this and advise other Clubs to follow this path.

The impact of Covid19 on the club's day-to-day operations?

It was quite a surprise and it can be summed up in one sentence - we had more individual traffic, but there were no mass or small events. And this trend will surely continue in the following year.

Unfortunately, the almost complete lack of events such as "Corporate Events" affects the financial situation of the project. It is a "hole" that the increased individual traffic was unable to fill. We try to balance the necessary budget for the maintenance of the facility by increasing the number of Individual Golfers, intensifying golf events, introducing new services, etc., so as not to lead to a significant increase in Green Fee prices or the amount of annual memberships for our Players.

Covid effectively blocked the development of international golf tourism in 2020, the actions taken earlier clearly showed that we can greatly benefit from a new group of golfers from abroad, especially from the Scandinavian direction, this season. Unfortunately, it was not possible, but we still believe that this direction will work in the coming years. We are prepared for it and invite you.

Interest in golf after quarantine?

Personally, I do not feel that Covid and the subsequent quarantine periods have positively influenced interest in golf this year, despite the fact that there are such signals coming from the direction of Clubs in Warsaw and trainers' friends. At the local level, here in Warmia, we did not notice any major impulses that would result in increased interest in this beautiful sport. Does running a successful non-golf business coincide with that of golf? These are two completely different areas. After my 10 years of experience, I must say that running a golf business in Poland is extremely difficult and requires great determination and patience. Since 2010, since we manage the MG&CC golf facility, the number of golfers registered with the Polish Golf Union has increased from 3.5 thousand to 5.5 thousand. people, which shows how weak is the dynamics of Golf development and the changes taking place in the consciousness of Poles in this discipline. So I had to revise my initial plans to make the facility commercially viable 5-7 years after the acquisition. We will probably have to wait some time for this, but I still have faith and conviction that running a golf course in Poland may pay off in the future. I wish it for myself, of course, but also for my colleagues, owners of other golf facilities in Poland.

Does establishing a real and active "Golf Course Owners Association" make sense, especially in the face of a pandemic and high land taxes? If so, where should you start?

Every new initiative that will be effective makes sense, it's clear ... Let me just remind you that such an Association of Golf Course Owners was established once, but unfortunately it did not survive. As usual, there was no Leader, a charismatic person with great determination that would draw others with him in order to achieve common goals and interests. Each environment should strive to have its own representation and voice in social, economic and political life. Without such an organization, any positive changes for the environment of owners and managers of golf facilities in our country are and will remain a "passing fantasy". So, if we want to have an impact on our business, we want to be an "active and developmental environment", there is no other way. We are waiting longingly for a LEADER.

This is a prerequisite for success !!!

Plans and strategy for the future.

In the era of a pandemic, it is difficult to build a strategy in the short or medium term, as the year 2020 showed.

We certainly have to survive difficult times, for a few days Mazury Golf & Country Club has been an independent legal entity, independent of Inter Parts, this is the strategy we have chosen some time ago. We realized the slogan: "time for independence". This will determine and motivate us to further intensified work and new, creative ideas, supporting all business processes in our Club and independent maintenance of the MG&CC sports facility.

Continuation of local activities promoting golf, plus maintaining the status of a "Golfers friendly club" are key tasks for further active development, and the goal long defined by the MG&CC Management Board is the Largest Golf Club in Poland. It seems we are on the right track.

For which I would like to sincerely thank everyone who contributed to this.

Author: Waldemar Bac³awski; Translation: ABK Grupa Team

photo: Golf&Roll/Filip Klimaszewski