UK: Mint Greens Interview

Last Updated: 5 August 2015
Article by Daniel Geey

In a break from my usual football blogs, over the next few months, I will be speaking with a number of sports companies to publicise how they are making strides into the sector. First up, is Mint Greens; a corporate golf concierge offering exclusive terms and access to many of London's finest golf courses. I had a brief chat with Managing Director, James Rogers.

Where did the idea for Mint Greens come from?

We'd been working in golf for a number of years and had seen changes in the corporate golf market, particularly in the way companies are using golf for client entertainment – or how they aren't using it, more to the point.

We felt there was a need for a different kind of golfing solution. Something more flexible and which focused on access and value for smaller groups, not just the big corporate golf days. That's what we set about creating with our partner clubs.

What is that value?

I like to think we provide value in a number of ways, not least the quality of our personal service, but the headline is around the terms of access our clients enjoy. We have fifteen of the best courses around London in our portfolio and our clients enjoy the privilege of playing "at the courtesy of the club" when they take along a guest or a few guests. We have special rates for the guests too, so there's a sizeable double saving, as well as the variety of accessing multiple courses.

So, which courses are you working with?

I wish I could tell you here! Our agreement with the clubs is that their names remain confidential, in public at least. Of course, we tell prospective clients. What I can say is that it's an impressive list. We also have more than 200 clubs around the world that welcome our members on preferential terms too.

How does the service work?

Think Quintessentially for golf, basically. We serve as the golf concierge for our clients and handle everything, so our clients and the clubs only have one point of contact and we ensure they get booked in as per our terms at the club. If requested, we can also deal with payments, so there's only one supplier.

You mention Quintessentially, where do you sit with the other concierge companies?

We started as industry insiders so our partner clubs know and trust us, which is fundamental. We're also exclusively golf and can spend the time building the right relationships and contacts. Some of the generic concierge companies have actually started turning to us for help, so I'd say we compliment rather than compete.

Where do you see the appetite for your service stemming from?

Tighter budgets is one place. Ultimately we save our clients a lot of money playing great golf courses, which also helps overcome compliance issues and spending thresholds.

I think a lot of companies have also come to see smaller outings with key contacts as more effective for their businesses than the big golf day. That's not to say the golf day doesn't have a place too, it's just a different kind of interaction with the client.

And what about specific markets?

We've seen higher engagement with certain market sectors, like finance and media, but ultimately any company could use us. It really boils down to whether golf is played with clients, or even just among colleagues.

Is it purely for corporate use?

No, we have a private client service too and already have a good number using us just for their personal golfing.

And the big question, how much does it cost?

To some degree it depends on the extent of flexibility a company requires, but as a guide the corporate service starts from £2,500. The private membership is even less, £1,200 per annum. I know I would say it, but it's ridiculously good value!

When did you launch Mint Greens?

Officially, July 2014. Though we're still operating the golf marketing company we set up in 2010, so I don't really see us as a start-up, even though Mint Greens is a separate service.

We've recently started a partnership with Wall Street Journal in the UK, so we're well and truly on the map now.

Don't the clubs worry your service will impact their own memberships?

We're very sensitive to that but, personally, I don't see the service we provide as being in competition with club membership in any way. The fact that so many top names bought in to our idea I think confirms that they agree.

It's very much a case of us working closely in partnership with our clubs and we remain really vocal advocates of traditional club membership. It's a very different proposition.

What was your background?

I studied law at Durham, and then worked for a research organisation and then in marketing at a software business. I founded an online golf service called iSpyGolf in 2010 and with my colleague, Ed Saxel, we've built great connections which led us to developing Mint Greens. We've got a great team together now too.

Is working in golf the dream job?

Everyone assumes we spend our lives on the golf course, I wish that were the case but it really isn't. There's a lot of hard work to do but one day we will!

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