IMG Prestige Q&A with Brodie MacDonald, General Manager at Royal Golf La Bagnaia, Italy
1 – Overall, how would you describe 2021 so far at La Bagnaia after such a challenging 2020 with the beginning of the pandemic?
We anticipated 2021 being a story of two half’s, starting off slowly and ramping up for the second half. Without doubt this season has been very much a hybrid year, after a turbulent stop start February – April, we have been able to build momentum and enjoy a relatively uninterrupted season from mid-May onwards. It’s been an interesting year, we have seen an increase in membership and the local market while understandably the international market will require more time to bounce back. Thanks to the Green Pass we feel more confident about the months ahead.
2 – You and the team had a busy Summer with multiple members events, but as well with hosting international tournaments such as the IMG Trophy and the QN La Nazione Pro-Am. Do you see an increase of interest for these type of events?
Member and local market events continue to grow and be well supported, despite the pandemic and economic climate, this season we collaborated with several new title sponsor companies such as Pirelli. International events is an area we are keen to develop and expand. Internally we have already began to discuss La Bagnaia Golf & Spa Resort being the inaugural host for the IMG International Trophy in association with IMG Prestige partner Clubs. Next year the Pro-Am will be a 3 day format, taking place in July.
3 – La Bagnaia is recognised as one of the best conditioned golf courses in Italy. How do you and IMG work together to keep this quality?
As golfers ourselves we understand the importance of a consistently well maintained golf course. We take great pride in the maintenance and care of our golf course and the team is passionate to ensure we continue to raise our standards. Tuscany is a notoriously warm and dry region during the summer months, to improve irrigation efficiency we invested in a TDR 250 moisture sensor which allows the Greenkeepers to measure valuable moisture data. IMG Agronomist Sylvain Duval continues to provide technical support and it was a pleasure to welcome him back at La Bagnaia in September for a site visit.
4 - With the US market being so important to the resort, how do you plan to take advantage of the Ryder Cup factor in 2023?
On average 5.5 million Americans travel annually to Italy and with the next instalment of the Ryder Cup around the corner, America’s appetite and desire for Italy will continue to grow. Interestingly America is ranked #2 on international arrivals to Italy, a country synonymous with incredible food, great wine, ancient history, rich culture, grand architecture and good weather. With Italy already able to lure and offer so much else, typically it is overlooked as a golfing holiday destination. Rome 2023 provides the perfect platform to showcase to the world that Italy should be considered up there with the best destinations in Europe. I firmly believe that the next Ryder Cup will put golf in Italy on the map. Notoriously tourists travel around Italy, exploring many beautiful different regions and iconic spots. To tailor towards this transient trend, La Bagnaia is collaborating with two other courses to create a bespoke Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) trail. With our Hotel set to reopen in April, we look forward to welcoming many guests from Easter onwards.