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Rob Bonnet & Ronan Rafferty in golf networking venture
February 16, 2011

Six of the UK's most prestigious golf courses are supporting a new and bespoke business networking organisation backed by Ronan Rafferty and Rob Bonnet.

Networkingolf has been established to provide business leaders with a tailored networking environment set against the backdrop of six of Britain's finest golf venues - Sunningdale, Wentworth and Walton Heath in England as well as Kinsgbarns Golf Links, Mar Hall and The Carrick on Loch Lomond north of the border.

The new business has respected BBC sports news presenter Bonnet on board as a director and former European Tour Order of Merit winner Rafferty providing post-golf entertainment in the form of a Q&A session chaired by Rob.

The innovation of Glasgow businessman and former professional footballer David Rae, Networkingolf's inaugural season begins this June from when groups of 24 SME business owners and directors will meet and play three of the courses twice within a six-date calendar. To maximise networking and new business opportunities, each member plays in a different fourball each time and no member will have a 'competitor' (someone whose firm operates in the same sector) in his or her group of 24.

The Networkingolf model provides identical networking opportunities north and south of the border with Scottish members playing each northern course twice and English members doing the same at the three southern venues. 

Membership in both Scotland and England includes post-golf entertainment at two of the six events, one of which is a Q&A session with Rob and a professional - with former Ryder Cup star Rafferty lined up to participate this year.

Explaining the concept, Rae said: "Networking is a vital element of any organisation's business development strategy, particularly for SMEs. Traditional marketing methods no longer guarantee an adequate return on investment while the growth of social media has also changed the landscape.

"As a primary new business channel for your company, networking regularly and effectively with the same group can help to create an invaluable network of ambassadors for your company - but only if you have selected the optimum networking environment for your business". 

"As a business owner myself I know of the need to focus on a networking strategy which facilitates meeting other business owners regularly in a quality environment - as opposed to a 'free for all' alternative. This approach substantially increases the likelihood of a positive outcome.

"Networkingolf has been set up to provide that very platform and in a cost-effective way. We are combining the best elements of traditional networking with a new corporate golf multi-day model not limited to a one-off event, which is usually insufficient to build the necessary rapport to cement a relationship.

"The fact that six of the UK's leading golf courses have come on board is an instant endorsement of Networkingolf and we look forward to facilitating many new business connections at these venues in the months ahead."

Scottish members will play six times in total, every few weeks this summer and autumn, twice each at Kinsgbarns Golf Links, Mar Hall and The Carrick on Loch Lomond - the first meeting is at Kinsgbarns on June 1. Networkingolf has the capacity to facilitate numerous groups of 24 as dictated by demand.

The set-up is matched in the south of England where Networkingolf director and BBC Sport journalist Bonnet will welcome English members to Sunningdale, Wentworth and Walton Heath and the business model means more venues could be added in the future.

Bonnet said: "I've been involved in the world of corporate golf for 10 years and I understand exactly why and how friendships and business relationships are built through the game, either on the course or in the clubhouse after.

"Networkingolf offers this opportunity and more at some of the UK's classiest venues, all in a format that allows members to make a whole new network of connections."

The Networkingolf format is four-ball stableford and each meeting has a competitive element as well as networking opportunities before and after play.

In Scotland the membership fee is £1,850 plus vat per annum and in England £2,980 plus vat per annum - both well below the standard rates for a similar format of play at these venues.

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