The Value of Independent, Third-Party Review & Transparency

By Alistair Collier | From The Business of Golf Magazine

During the course of each year, two independent surveys are published, which focus on different, yet inter-related aspects dealing with golf. South Africa’s TOP 100 Courses focuses on what has been implemented around the courses, while the findings of the John Collier Survey’s focus, is on identifying risk, and its mitigation, through good governance and
environmental compliance.

The point being made, is that these surveys are different sides of the same coin, and emphasise the importance, and value of, independent third-party review and transparency. South Africa’s TOP 100 Courses, ranks golf courses according to 6 criteria, namely – conditioning, playability, aesthetics, design variety, memorability, consistency and shot values.

The John Collier Annual Survey focuses on compliance and good governance in respect of the following 9 key areas; environmental management planning, biodiversity, landscape and cultural heritage, water resource management, turf-grass management, waste management, energy management, education and working environment, and communication and
public awareness. The recently published TOP 100 Courses declared Leopard Creek as the new number one, the Links at Fancourt second, and Pearl Valley in third place.

At the other end of the ranking, we see golf courses such as Katberg Eco Golf, Orkney Golf Club, and Emfuleni as new entries. In between these poles, we see well established
courses experiencing significant drops down the ranking, while others are holding their own against the newer courses.

In terms of the newer courses, such as Elements and the Club at Steyn City, these clubs are starting to make their presence felt. The John Collier Survey collates data received from golf clubs throughout South Africa, in respect of the abovementioned 9 key areas. This information is analysed, and the findings are published in the John Collier Annual Survey in late February early March of each year.

This year’s 16th edition, once again highlights how South Africa’s golf clubs are faring in respect of environmental compliance and good governance, both from an overall perspective and in respect of the key areas. The results of both independent surveys, provides a wealth of specialist information, which may assist golf courses’ management in planning, implementing and maintaining a golf course to the standards set by their own management committee, and keeping it acceptable to members and visitors.


In order to achieve these standards, there are two statements which are applicable to golf management that are regarded as being established, accepted or self-evidently true (i.e an axiom) to golf courses namely; “that which is monitored can be managed”, and “a plant placed in a dark, dry corner will eventually wither and die.” The point is that independent third-party reviews encourage greater compliance and good governance, linked with transparency, which instils trust with current customers (i.e., golfers and members) and potential
customers (i.e., growing the game), and helps new customers to guide their decision to purchase a club’s core product, i.e., a club membership.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email or visit the John Collier Golf website at