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An 848-Mile Golf Course No Interruptions

Tue, 08/18/2009 - 6:07am

Golf courses around the world pride themselves on designs that stimulate players’ senses as much as they challenge their skills. But a group in Australia has taken this concept to the next level, spreading 18 holes across 848 miles in small outback towns that have beautiful scenery and white sandy beaches, but previously lacked that one-of-a-kind tourist draw card.

I heard about this golf course from — of all people — Alice Cooper on his nightly radio show. He thought that it was a fantastic idea, because golfers like to travel around playing the world’s most famous courses, and more importantly they like to brag about it. The Nullabor Links course would be irresistible to a seasoned golfer.

Besides being a bit shocked that Alice Cooper was a golfing enthusiast, I also thought that this was one of those great ideas that showed what could be achieved by thinking outside the box. By weaving fairways and greens through these remote coastal towns, the designers were building much more than a golf course — they were laying the groundwork for a thriving tourist trade that would require new hotels, restaurants and retail outlets (stocked with plenty of plaid, I’m sure).

Unlike Dubai’s attempts to turn the desert city into a tourist destination by spending billions on extravagant hotels and indoor skiing slopes (don’t go to a desert if you want to ski!), the organizers behind Nullabor Links are bringing much-needed tourism to dozens of towns across two states by designing and building just 1 golf course. Admittedly, coordinating this across 18 towns is challenging, and marketing the course will require a global advertising campaign, but the potential for the communities and the businesses within them more than justifies the setup costs.

According to a press release, the concept was born “over a few beers.” What could have easily been dismissed the next morning as drunken bar talk was actually followed through with, an amazing feat in itself.

The course is due to open on October 22nd, and time will tell if it’s a success or a case of “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Golf has very little to do with chemical processing, but I thought that Nullabor Links offered a great contrast to what appeared to be one of the worst ideas in the past year.

At a backyard barbecue on July 5, Kurtis Popp decided to fire a military flare that his brother, a marine, had given him. It landed on the roof of Smithfield’s Patrick Cudahy meatpacking plant and started a fire that lasted three days, resulting in the evacuation of 15,000 residents, $50 million in damage and the idling of 1,400 production workers, some of whom are still not back at work.

We often talk about having emergency action plans in place for your facility, and taking measures to ensure that fires, leaks and explosions don’t occur. But in the case of the Cudahy plant, it’s very difficult to plan for scenarios involving a military flare randomly landing on your roof.

In this case, and also the tragic ConAgra explosion in North Carolina earlier this summer, policies that included business interruption insurance were in place which allowed each company to deal with the emergency at hand without having to worry about losses due to the break and shift in production.

I’m sure that the chances of a flare landing on your facility is about as remote as the Nullabor Links golf course, but it is certainly worth noting that both of these businesses were using business interruption insurance as part of their risk-assessment planning.

Would you go to Australia for a four day round of golf? Drop me a line at luke.simpson@advantagemedia.com.


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