INTERVIEW WITH BRODIE MACDONALD, GENERAL MANAGER AT LA BAGNAIA
The stunning La Bagnaia Golf & Spa Resort provides guests with a world class experience, immersed in nature, culture and tradition in the heart of Italy. A converted authentic medieval hamlet, the resort features 101 rooms and suites decorated in an authentic Tuscan style enriched by an original selection of art, tapestries and antique furnishings, creating exclusive yet inviting spaces.
Managed by IMG and designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, Royal Golf La Bagnaia is set on magnificent rolling Tuscan hills, offering incredible views of the surrounding landscape and the medieval city of Siena in the distance. La Bagnaia has recently entered Golf World’s Top 100 Golf Resorts ranking for the first time, reinforcing its status as one of the best golfing experiences in Continental Europe.
In an exclusive interview, General Manager Brodie MacDonald tell us more about La Bagnaia and how the Club is reacting to the pandemic.
1 – Italy has been one of the most affected countries in Europe with COVID-19, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. How do you see things in the country at the moment?
The past 9 months has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. After several months of ‘new normality’ Italy experienced a second wave in November which prompted the introduction of a 3-tier system (yellow, orange and red). Daily cases and virus spread have fallen with thanks to the ongoing restrictions and measures in place which on the whole can be considered a success to combat contagion.
Despite the lowering trends of new and positive cases the Government are taking the pandemic extremely seriously and for protection of the countries population it will not lower its guard. Therefore, extreme decree measures are being implemented over the festive period to ensure there isn’t a 3rd wave. Looking ahead, between safety measures and vaccine progress, we hope that hardship endured in low season months, December and January, will allow us to kick start the 2021 season in February with lots of encouraging signs.
2 – Despite a very challenging year, 2020 also marks La Bagnaia entering Golf World’s Top 100 Golf Resorts ranking for the first time ever. What did you feel when the ranking was published?
We are extremely proud to be recognized within Golf World’s Top 100 Golf Resorts in continental Europe positioned at number 45, a fantastic achievement for us to celebrate!
We are truly honored to be selected for the prestigious accolade and look forward to using this platform and benchmark to attract more golfers to stay, play and experience La Bagnaia Golf & Spa Resort.
3 – IMG was appointed in 2018 to provide management and marketing services to the Club and you joined Royal Golf La Bagnaia shortly after as General Manager. How is it all going so far?
We’ve worked closely with the IMG team to raise club standards & the guest experience, and the marketing & brand support has been instrumental in developing the international profile of the facility thus, in turn allowing the resort to successfully grow its exposure and reach.
The past 2 years has been a game of two nines! 2019 was a record year for the Golf Club and kicking on from that strong momentum and success we had built up a lot of great business for this year which sadly dissipated due to the pandemic.
Nevertheless, with the support of IMG and their resources and experts, we have realigned our strategies, focuses and goals in the core sectors of the business including operations, agronomy and marketing.
4 – After a difficult start to the year, you hosted three very successful events this year: the IMG Trophy for members & guests, Rotary National Championship and the Lexus Pro-Am which was supported by over 120 players. Was that a good surprise after everything that happened over the previous months?
The team had worked incredibly hard to ensure we were in the best position to rescue what was left of the playing season. Therefore, we were determined more than ever to seize the opportunity to make up for lost ground!
Thankfully we were fortunate with timing and pandemic circumstances during the period of September and October which permitted us to safely host these marquee events. It has been strange and peculiar stop start year, so it was fantastic for these elite events to go ahead and to create a buzz around the Resort.
5 – What would you say were the main changes in your business model, since the start of the pandemic?
Understanding that footfall and revenues would be lower, we worked smarter and ensured that cost saving initiatives were implemented across all departments. Like most Resorts, the international market, TO’s, groups, meetings and event segments have suffered significantly. It was imperative that the business adapt to the micro and macro factors, we shifted our focus and strategy towards growing the membership, local market and drive market countries within the permitted travel corridor.
Post lockdown, golf was one of the first sports to be approved as a safe activity to resume and seizing the opportunity we ran various programs targeted towards beginners and first- time introductions to golf. Paying dividends, with our realigned focuses and local market performance, we were very pleased to enjoy positive months August – November.
IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events and media. The company manages some of the world’s greatest athletes and fashion icons; owns and operates hundreds of live events annually; and is a leading independent producer and distributor of sports and entertainment media. IMG also specializes in licensing, sports training and league development. IMG is a subsidiary of Endeavor, a global entertainment, sports and content company.