Published on : Monday, June 13, 2016
At the end of May, for the first time was organized FAM trip to Russia. Representatives of the international golf-elite had a chance to explore Russian golf-potential during unforgettable couple of days. They visited two Russian major cities- Moscow and St. Petersburg together with beautiful Russian golf courses. Specialists from nine different countries (Switzerland, Slovakia, Spain, Hungary, Finland, Brazil, USA, Portugal and Szech Republic) agreed to recommend Russian golf clubs to their clients, however noted that golf in Russian is still a sport for selected few.
The trip was organized by Go2Golf.ru – project of Moscow travel company “Phileas Fogg”. The main aim of the event, according to the director Boris Burykin, was to promote Russian golf, which currently is only the beginner in the world arena.
In Russia golf is actually not as popular as other types of sport. This can mainly be explained by lack of promotion during the soviet times and by high capital investments required by the golf courses. First golf course for 18 holes was built in Moscow neighborhood Nahabino only in 1994 and for more than 10 years was the only large golf course in Russia.
“Coming to Russia only to play golf doesn’t make any sense”- states Mr. Burykin.- “There are not enough courses, and most of them are closed for public. As far as prices go, Europe has many more courses and for that reason, they are much cheaper. In Moscow one game at 18-hole course costs around 180 dollars, while in Europe 60-80.”
Then what are the event planners are hoping for? “ Golf as an additional option to sightseeing of Moscow and St. Petersburg”.- Explains Mr. Burykin- “Lovers of this game are very unique people- just sightseeing is not enough for them, but together with the game- why not?”
During the four days foreign journalists and tour operators visited 4 different golf clubs: “Tseleevo Golf and Polo Club” – private country club, within 42km from Moscow; “Agalarov Golf & Country Club”- golf club with the most beautiful course, projected by American agency Cal Olson Gold Architecture; “Moscow Country Club”- oldest golf club built with international standards within 13 km from Moscow and finally, “Gorki Golf Club” – first golf club in St. Petersburg with 18-hole course.
Trip participants were truly amazed by the things they saw. “All the places we saw were much better than I expected”- says Mikko Koivisto, representative of finnish company TravelOn Matkat Oy (OnGolf & OnSale). – “In Finland there are 140 courses, in Moscow, to my knowledge, 15-20 and if nature doesn’t surprise Finnish people, the quality of courses and service-very impressive.”
Mikko is involved in professional golf for longer than 25 years and has 0 handicap, which says a lot to the people involved in golf. “I will definitely recommend my tourists and friends to come to Russia.”- Says Koivisto. – “This summer we are planning to develop weekend tours, so this destination is very relevant to us.“
Unstable Russian weather does not scare the players. “Golf is an open-air activity, so we always have to adjust to the weather”- explains Mikko. “A lot of people are playing even under the rain, completely ignoring it. Take for example golf courses in Ireland or Scotland, where weather isn’t perfect either, golf still remains very popular.” Moreover, for many participants, this trip was their first visit to Russia, and good weather played a major role in their first impression.
Sean Kelly, journalist from California, partner with LinkedGolfers- biggest golf page on LinkedIn social network, says: -“Not only I will write about everything I saw, but will also discuss in detail with the world golf-representatives and of course, I will recommend everyone to come to Russia. Yes, there isn’t many golf-clubs, but they are in perfect condition.”
Fritz Arm, director of Swiss company Chrisway Travel, started its golf-career back in 1978. He also supports Mr. Kelly- “Golf in Russia is only available to very rich people. In Switzerland things are different- to change the situation we are trying to involve young generation by creating training programs for children. Only this way a base will be created to build things further.”
Mr. Arm was mainly impressed by Agalarov Golf & Country Club- “This is something incredible. In Switzerland there may be only one golf course like this.”
He was also surprised that a huge 16million megalopolis Moscow is so close to the golf courses. “Here you are alone with yourself, the nature, in comfort and silence, and it’s exactly what gives this place exclusivity.”
Fritz Arm has a lot of plans after coming back to Switzerland: “Next month I’m starting a website, where I will place information about my experience in Russia. First of all, I am going to offer combined tours of Moscow and St. Petersbrug. Of course the trip is not going to be cheap (much more expensive than similar trip in Europe) but good quality will be guaranteed. I know my clients and already know whom should I offer this trip. They are not even going to ask how much it costs. Those who are willing, will pay, others- probably not, because will not be able to afford it.”