Essex design company tees off in China with 140,000 contract

Essex design company tees off in China with £140,000 contract

A contract worth £140,000 have ‘putt’ an Essex golf course design company on the map, with help from government export body UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).

Family firm Swan Golf Designs, based in Ongar, have been commissioned to design the 18-hole traditional course in the Chinese holiday hot spot of Mile.

William Swan, MD, who is the third generation owner of the firm, said:

“Interest in golf continues to spread from the traditional heartlands of the UK, Western Europe and USA across to Asia, and China has certainly caught the bug.

“Having previously favoured American style resort courses an opportunity exists to design a more traditional, British style of course in China. Scotland is the home of golf, and the UK is recognised as having some of the finest and most challenging layouts as seen at the Open Championship.

“There are currently less than 1000 golf courses in China, compared to around 3000 in the UK. With the number of golfers in China projected to grow to 20 million by 2020 there will be demand for many more courses, and we are aiming to ensure that British golf design is well represented.”

The firm was originally set up by William’s grandfather Alex Swan, a landscaper whose professional interest in golf was sparked by a friendship with three time British Open Champion Sir Henry Cotton. They now operate from their base in Essex, but travel extensively to projects on four continents.

William continued:

“We have designed golf courses around the world – from the USA and India to Russia and Brazil. China is a relatively new market for us and we hope this contract will be a springboard to many more.”

William has worked closely with UKTI International Trade Adviser Simon Fennelly throughout the process.

Simon said:

“Brand Britain is strong. From the Olympics to The Open, other countries are looking to the UK when it comes to sporting infrastructure.

“I’m delighted by the success of Swan Golf Designs and I hope to be able to continue to support them and help them win further contracts across China, alongside exploring the other burgeoning markets across Asia such as South Korea and Japan.”

The firm have been on UKTI’s Passport to Export and Gateway to Global Growth programmes and undertaken market research using UKTI programme OMIS.

William added:

“Simon, and UKTI, have helped us tremendously – from helping us exhibit at international trade shows to support with a market visit to Tanzania, to help and support to organise a drinks reception at the British Embassy in Delhi to helping us source good business contacts in China.”

For other firms keen to export their goods and services William says: Go for it.

“You have to be very flexible in the way you work and have to be aware that people don’t always work on the same time zone as you – so you can find yourself fielding phonecalls at 3 in the morning, but you have to take it as it comes and be as flexible as possible. You also need trusted help, such as local partners and translators, and UKTI can help you source the right people for the job.”

Swan Golf Designs will design and oversee construction of the Yunnan Province-based golf course as well as advise on the overall masterplan which will include a hotel, spa and golf village. They will work closely with the Golf Consultants’ Association, who will be providing architectural and management services to the project.

Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2013, with an anticipated opening during 2015.

Swan Golf Designs

Passport to Export

Gateway to Global Growth


If you are based in the East of England region and are interested in developing your business overseas please contact:

UKTI East of England International trade Team

Tel: +(0)845 641 9955

Email: [email protected]

Find your nearest International Trade Advisor via our postcode search facility in “Contacts in your region”.

Sectors: Creative & Media and Leisure & Tourism
Countries: China and East Anglia
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