INTERVIEW WITH SONJA GSCHWENDTNER, CLUB MANAGER AT ZALA SPRINGS 

1 – After a challenging 2020 the Club has been really busy this year, particularly in the summer period. Do you notice an increase in the number of international golfers at the resort?

Definitely and we’re extremely pleased about that. Once the lockdown ended and borders re-opened we saw a significant increase in the number of international guests booking to stay with us. Since then we also had the opportunity to host the
Hungarian Open Championship which was a successful event and brought

more international players to Zala Springs.

Even during the lockdown period we never really stopped working and thinking of ways to continue to push the business forward. Our team works daily with IMG and together we continued to spread the news about Zala Springs and think about new strategies.

We also had the pleasure to host a Media Trip in October, with most of the journalists coming from Germany, which is a huge market for us.

2 – Zala Springs recently opened a 5-star Spa & Wellness centre within the resort. How is it all going with the new facility and do you notice an interest from golfers wishing to enjoy it before or after their round?

For a long time our owners had planned to add a new leisure facility to the resort and we were all happy to be able to open our spa after such a challenging year. Even though golf continues to be one of the main focuses for our business, thanks to the wellness centre we can offer everything inside the same property: world-class golf, gourmet cuisine, fantastic accommodation & real estate investment opportunities and now a luxury spa.

Golfers love the new spa facilities and it’s definitely a plus for us as they use it regularly either before or after their round. Our new gin & tonic bar (located within the spa) also prove to be very popular amongst guests, members and residents.

3 – Talking about junior golf, you have been organising a very interesting Junior Camp every summer. What is included in the programme and from which areas do most of the kids come from?

Indeed, the Junior Camp has been a great addition to the Academy summer schedule and we see kids coming mainly from the local area and Budapest. At present Hungary has only around 2,000 registered players so we really want to contribute to developing the game here.

We offer different options to parents and one of them is that kids can join the Junior Camp and spend the day learning about golf, while adults can stay with us and enjoy the different parts of the resort.

The Zala Springs Junior Camp is in English, offering kids a great platform not only to learn golf but also to develop their English. As part of the programme we also teach them about the basics of golf operations and greenkeeping so they can understand more about the golf club general business.

At the end of the course they also receive a special buggy driving license!

4 – One of the biggest news around the Junior Camp this year was that thanks to your partnership with IMG, kids had the option to also register for a junior programme at the IMG Academy in Florida, USA. Do you feel that brought an extra motivation for all kids visiting Zala Springs this summer?

The special access to the IMG Academy in Florida is definitely a massive opportunity for kids who want to improve their skills and invest in their future in golf, especially when you see players like Nelly Korda, who is an IMG Academy Alumni, winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games a few weeks ago.

We actually had a lot of interest about this opportunity, although many parents are still slightly worried with the current global situation. But we’re confident that in future and once things improve, we’ll see more kids from Zala Springs and Hungary attending these special golf camps in Bradenton.

We’ll continue to do all we can to develop Hungarian juniors and help them achieve great successes in their future golfing careers.

IMG Golf Course Services is a global leader in the design, development, marketing and management of world class golf courses. For more than 25 years, the group has set the standard for excellence in golf course design and golf club management. IMG’s golf course services team currently provides a diverse range of management and marketing services to more than 20 award winning clubs and resorts. 

About IMG

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.