Golf course designers tee up £6m Brazil deal

A GOLF course design firm backed by former Ryder Cup captain Mark James is set to land two contracts worth £6m to build courses in Brazil.

A GOLF course design firm backed by former Ryder Cup captain Mark James is set to land two contracts worth £6m to build courses in Brazil.

Newcastle-based A World of Golf, which has developed over 160 golf resorts around the world, is in negotiations with Brazilian developers to build two courses near Sao Paulo.

Chairman Andrew Mair, a former professional golfer, will fly to Brazil next February as part of a government-run UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) trade mission in the hope of finalising the deals.

Mark James

The company, whose team of directors includes ex-European Tour golfer Mark, also has in the pipeline projects in Croatia, China, Russia, the Czech Republic and Cyprus.

Mr Mair said the Brazilian deals would be “huge” to the company.

He said: “The economy in Brazil is the strongest of all the South American countries. It’s a huge economy where they are looking to develop golf centres and resorts.

“Obviously there is competition in Brazil from American companies out there but we can offer traditional British golf course designs.”

The two golf resorts would take up to three years to develop with the firm using its own construction team as well as employing Brazilian labourers.

A World of Golf is a consultancy group covering specialist services such as soil analysis and drainage and water feature construction.

The business has developed a number of UK courses including Burgham Park in Northumberland.

It’s international portfolio of courses and resorts includes Golf Disneyland in Paris, Desert Falls in the US and Tianjin Warner Golf Club in China.

Mr Mair has been a golf course architect since the 1980s when he was forced to leave the professional golf circuit behind due to a weakness in his wrists.

The former managing director of Newcastle’s Parklands Golf Centre launched his business with Mr James in 2001 under the name of Golfplan.

Three years ago the company, based on Trafalgar Street, Newcastle, was renamed A World of Golf as it targeted global expansion.

Mr Mair said the firm is now in huge demand across the world with its website receiving up to 200,000 hits a month.

Mark James served as European Ryder Cup Team captain in 1999 and currently plays senior golf on the Champions Tour in the US.

Up to 15 companies are expected to sign up for the UKTI’s trade mission to Brazil next February with firms from a range of sectors having shown an interest.

Companies expected to join the mission include a property developer, an engineering business and a TV documentary maker.

See page two to read about the business enterprises of other former sports stars.

Sporting success in the business world

While former Olympic runner Brendan Foster is largely credited as the man who created the Great North Run, he has also made a name for himself as a successful businessman.

In the early nineties he set up niche running label View From which, ten years later, he sold to Marks & Spencer in a multi-million pound deal which included royalties.

Meanwhile Brendan's sports marketing firm Nova International continues to go from strength to strength. The company organises mass participation sporting events for television and its portfolio includes some of the biggest events in the UK including, of course, the Great North Run which is now the world's biggest half marathon with 50,000 participants every year.

Boxing legend Glenn McCrory has proven he packs a punch not just in the ring but also on the business scene.

The 42-year-old was International Boxing Federation (IBF) world cruiserweight champion in 1989 and British heavyweight title-holder and Commonwealth champion who traded punches with the likes of Lennox Lewis. He even sparred for more than 100 rounds with the fearsome Mike Tyson.

In business he has set up The Glenn McCrory Foundation to help youngsters, particularly in the Newbiggin Hall area of Newcastle, to realise their potential and to fulfil their dreams via an innovative boxing academy. His burning desire is to get a handful of young people from the North-East to reach such a pitch of athleticism they will represent Great Britain at the London Olympics in 2012.

Chris Teasdale is a former Newcastle United apprentice who last month was appointed to the helm of the new Teesside branch of Swedish bank Svenska Handelsbanken which will open on the back of the success of its Newcastle branch.. Chris, 37, was in the FA National School of Excellence from 1984-86 and an apprentice for the Magpies after that. Although the Teessider, while proud of his achievements, is still sensitive about his association with Middlesbrough FC’s deadly rival.  


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer