A while back I wrote an article about the private golf club and how it was a thing of the past. Well, last week after a round of golf the discussion of private golf clubs came up. One of the guys in the conversation was a former Club President of a high end club. He stated quite clearly that if you cannot provide tee times to your membership on a walk on basis, you are not private, but merely an exclusive public club. His statement caught me off guard, but after closer examination he was correct.
In my part of the world we have approximately 170 golfing days. At 10 minute intervals you get 24 players per hour on the course. With 10 hours of tee times available that is 240 rounds available in a day. Multiply that by 170 days, that means 40,800 rounds are up for grabs in a single season. Our golf course is designed to handle 30,000 rounds in a golf season. That means we are 10,800 rounds over capacity. Even if you take 10% off this number due to no shows and other reasons, the number is 38920. You are still 8920 rounds over capacity. When you look at the numbers, you are not private, but a top end public facility. Just like public properties, members are competing for times.
Personally, the fee structure of golf clubs is so dated and archaic. Clubs are all competing for the same dollar using the same old marketing bullshit. Do I really care that we are a top 100 club? Would it influence my decision? Not likely.
What I want from my “private club “is great greens to putt, good tees to play from and fairways that are firm and fast, not green and soft!. As for practice ground, a good putting green that is reflective of the course surfaces is a requirement and a range with a variety of targets. A grass surface that lets you practice 2-3 days a week on turf. There are too many “choppers” on the range that have no clue on how to strike a ball that absolutely destroy the turf. If you do not believe me take a look at your fairways and tees! Apparently, people are practicing more, but by judging from the average score they do not seem to be getting any better! In my opinion the practice ground is place where people who play golf, go to try out the latest piece of golf technology in the hope that it help them play better.
The fee structure of “private clubs “needs to change. Fees should be based on golf course capacity. If your capacity is 30,000 rounds, then you sell 30,000 rounds at a price that supports your greens budget. If your greens budget is 2.1 million dollars and your round capacity is 30,000 then your price per round is $70.00. If your club wants 500 full playing members, then each member is buying the equivalent of 60 rounds. That works out to $4200.00 in annual dues.
Now, boys and girls here is where it gets fun. The Club decides to have junior members (19 years or less) and Intermediate members (20-25 years) and a membership cap those at a total of 100 at an average fee structure of $1150.00 times 100 members that is $115,000 in revenue. That money is applied to the full time fee structure and your dues are now $3970.00. The full playing members should get the economic benefit for sharing their golf course for they are the ones who have paid the initiation, served on committee’s and have supported the clubs food and beverage operation.
Food and beverage should provide top service and “reasonable “prices to its members. Hamburgers that cost $17.00 and soup that costs $8.00 plus 30% charges for tax and service that hamburger now costs $21.96 and $10.24 soup respectively. Members should be encouraged to stay and socialize and not think twice about leaving to go elsewhere because they feel they are being taken advantage of.
Every day my golf course has a captured audience of 240 people. Now, if every person spends just $10.00 that is $2400.00 per day. Multiply that by 170 playing days, that works out to $408,000.00 in revenue. Based on a food and beverage minimum of $800.00 for the 500 members the Club is plus $8000.00 of projected sales. I think at my Club I am being fed a crock of crap and all it takes is a little attention to detail and some imagination. If you belong to a private club you have disposal income and all the members need is a little encouragement to spend it. Sure, obstacles get in the way; it how the obstacles are looked at determines your Club’s fate.
I guess it boils down to one thing. Do you really understand who you are? In my Club’s case we started out as a blue collar club and thought we could become an elite club. That decision has caused us to spend millions of dollars unnecessarily and thus jeopardizing our Club’s future. I understand we need to evolve, and stay current, but your culture is something live every day not merely what you proclaim. If you are proclaiming your existence then you are saying “hey look at us, aren’t we wonderful “instead of being really good at of who you are.
This year I have decided to step away from my “private “club membership. I am on the outside looking in and really do not like what I see. If I had to place a bet on things changing I would say no, not with this leadership group. They do not understand who they are and take the easy way around obstacles.
Too bad, they could have been really good.
Until next time.
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