This article is my opinion. My observations. The only knowledge I have is that I have been a member of a private golf club for over 50 years. I have served my club in many areas, but the recent actions of my club in the wake of CV-19 has really made me think about the future of private clubs and how they will exist in the future. As I said these are my opinions.
Private golf clubs over the last 20 years have been a fragile operation at best. The 1950’s and 1960’s generation that were the foundation of the club have since passed, and the Gen X and Gen Z are now the future of the Club. The problem is that private clubs are still stuck in a default mindset that is resistant to change, impulsive, and functions on auto pilot.
CV-19 has caused havoc on the golf industry and private clubs in particular. For years membership dues have increased because they have gotten into a dick measuring contest with other private clubs. Leadership made strategic moves that were based on an outcome, instead making the response one of clarity and purpose to the changing times. As a result of this Big Thinking we now have survival problems and our club leadership from what I have seen to date does not have an idea, because nothing has been communicated to us as yet. Pay your dues because we need your money is the only communication we have received. Like I said auto pilot. I understand there are an abundance of problems, but executive leadership has created them. The leaders may know business, but do they know their own business and CV-19 has exposed that they do not.
There is an opportunity to connect with our membership and the game of golf. Communication as we once knew it is gone. Golf used to be a contact sport. We touched rakes, pins, benches, ball washers and even those we played with a post round handshake. These are gone for the moment. If and when they return who knows. Private clubs are in default mode instead of the growth mode. The growth mode takes heart, imagination and creativity. Private Club leadership needs to hit the pause button, find their purpose and get their purpose right. They need to adjust, adapt, make a difference, and build new revenue streams to survive the next challenge. BTW raising dues is NOT a revenue stream. It is your last option. Change is inevitable, it is the way the world works. Forget the dick measuring and get on with your business. The best operations are always learning and moving forward. Time to engage your membership and use them as a resource.
A few years back I went overseas on golf holiday with a friend. At that time, I was for whatever reason losing interest in a game that I was always passionate about. From the moment I stepped on that first course I could feel the passion return. Conditions were rugged, raw, and challenging. My first tee shot was a cut where I aimed at the sheep on the left side of the fairway. After ten minutes I knew they had it right and North America has it wrong. Why do fairways need to be green other than the fact that it looks nice? So really, what we are talking about is aesthetics. It is ego. My golf course looks better than yours. Who really cares? It is about the golf course and the experience of playing golf.
In my part of the world, the grass we have is prime in September and October. So for the previous 12 weeks we water the crap out it to keep it green and lush. Why? So it looks nice. Instead we should be watering just enough to keep it functional and ready for the last eight weeks of the season. BTW be prepared in the coming years for watering restrictions, they coming. Now is the time to prepare your surfaces for that. As a wise man once said “What the hell do I know.”
Writer and lecturer Tim Kight said “Culture is not built on what you proclaim, is what you practice, promote, and permit. “ It is going to be very interesting how the Private club culture, especially mine will act over the coming months. Will we rise to the opportunities we have or will we fall to the level we tolerate.
Until next time!
Be well, be safe.
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