BoardRoom magazine 25th Anniversary Commemorative Issue

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C E L E B R A T I N G 25 Y E A R S O F E D U C A T I N G T H E P R I V A T E C L U B I N D U S T R Y T he Bo ardRo o m m ag az ine



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2020 Best Club Software, Best Mobile Application, Best Point of Sale Company LEADING THE WAY.


This cover belongs to you. You are the reason this industry is great. You are the reason BoardRoom is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the #1 magazine in the private club industry.



APRIL 26 – MAY 2, 2021


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DAVE WHITE Dave White is the editor of BoardRoom magazine. If you have comments on this article or suggestions for other topics, please send Dave an email to:


It’s Time to Celebrate! It’s not that often today that a publication, in an ever-changing media landscape, hits a 25th Silver Anniversary. But that’s what it is for BoardRoom magazine, 25 years of service to the private club industry. It all started as a dream for BoardRoom’s publisher John Fornaro, who, at a very opportune time, launched his idea of helping private clubs. His understanding that many boards of directors failed because board members simply didn’t understand their roles and responsibilities. That was true 25 years ago, and it remains true today in an industry where a board generally faces a complete overhaul every three years. In Fornaro’s mind, educating board members has been and remains paramount. For a private club to function efficiently and effectively, board members must understand their roles, replacing decision making spurred on by emotion. BoardRoom’s mission statement – Replace Emotion with Facts – remains as valid today as it was when Fornaro and partner Keith Jarrett founded BoardRoom magazine 25 years ago. Over cover story ¬– BoardRoom magazine’s 25th Anniversary – Celebrating Collaboration – focuses on others in the industry who have had an impact on and also who have been impacted by BoardRoom magazine. It’s a success story that now includes BoardRoom’s Distinguished Club, Club IQ, BoardRoom Institute, our online educational program for board members, and most recently, BoardRoom’s Distinguished Destinations. Kudos to all, and here’s to another 25 years! n n n

It’s recognition time again and a tip of the hat this year goes to Kim Robak, president of the Country Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, upon her selection as BoardRoom magazine’s Distinguished Club President for 2020. BoardRoom magazine is honoring 28 Private Club Presidents of the Year – 2020 for practicing what they preach – leadership for the betterment of their clubs – board presidents or chairs that have served as their club’s volunteer leaders. 4


It’s the 13th year BoardRoom magazine has recognized the industry’s top private club presidents for their outstanding work. President Robak completely embodies so many of the volunteer leadership qualities we see in outstanding club presidents. The Country Club of Lincoln features an 18 hole, 6,500yard links, one of the state’s most highly regarded courses. The club’s roster sits at 700 members, 60 percent of whom are golfers with the remaining 40 percent social members. Like many across the country, it’s a club that had to figure out how to operate under new rules demanded by the COVID-19 pandemic, all while keeping its members happy. President Robak met that challenge head-on. “Sometimes, the right leaders are just in the right place at the right time. That’s evident with Kim Robak and CCL in 2020. Kim possesses a rare combination of confidence, accountability, determination, and humility that allowed her to be tremendously effective,” James Anderson, the club’s president-elect, explained. Our congratulations go out to President Kim Robak, BoardRoom’s Distinguished President for 2020, and the many outstanding presidents for their work as volunteer board members for their private clubs. We’ll feature stories of other top presidents beginning with our March/ April issue. n n n

And we offer congratulations to BoardRoom’s magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipients for 2020 – Judd Brown III of Studio JBD and Jefferson Group Architecture and Rick Snellinger of Chambers; Tom Wallace, partner with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace as BoardRoom’s Gary Player Educator of the Year Award; Tim Schantz of Troon as the recipient of the John Fornaro Industry Impact Award and Dr. Bonnie Knutson, who receives recognition with the Dave White Editorial Award. The stories of these ambassadors to the private club industry will appear in issues later this year. B R



John G. Fornaro

John G. Fornaro



Dave White

Keith Jarrett

Assoc. Editor/VP Creative/Co-Publisher Heather Arias de Cordoba

Chief Analyst Frank Gore

Innovative Ideas Editor

Chief Information Officer

Ellery Platts

Quality isn’t Expensive It’s Priceless!

Jeff Briggs

APCD Executive Director

Executive Director

Bill Thomas

Editorial & Marketing Director Dee Kaplan

Business Development

Bill Thomas

Executive Assistant/ Director of Support Joshua Nuzzi

Joshua Nuzzi

Accounting/Subscriptions Ronni Dana

Contact Information (949) 376-8889

Contact Information (949) 376-8889

Featured Columnists Enrique Brito Henry Delozier John G. Fornaro Bonnie J. Knutson

Nancy M. Levenburg Jerry McCoy Gregg Patterson Kevin F. Reilly

Bill Schwartz Len Simard Dave White

Contributing Writers Mark Bado Rita Barreto Bruce Barilla Nancy Berkley Bill Boothe JaeMin Cha Jarrett Chirico Ronald F Cichy Frank Cordeiro Dave Doherty John R. Embree Keith Fisher

Steve Graves Angela Hartmann Philip J. Harvey Larry Hirsh MiRan Kim SeungHyun “James” Kim Lynne Lafond Deluca David Mackesey Phillip Martin Steve Mona Jeff Morgan Dave Moyer

Steve Parascandola Mike Phelps Greg Pieschala Ellery Platts Whitney Reid Pennell Ted Robinson Steve Schendel Eliza Selig Robyn Stowell Frank Vain Gordon Welch

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BoardRoom magazine is published by APCD Inc. 1100 S. Coast Hwy. #309 Laguna Beach, California 92691 The BoardRoom magazine (USPS 022516, ISSN 15537684) is a bi-monthly trade publication. Issue 293 Periodical postage paid at Laguna Beach, Calif. and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE BOARDROOM magazine, P.O. Box 9455, Laguna Beach, Calif. 92652. Reach The BoardRoom magazine at (949) 376-8889 ext. 1 or email or or visit the website at












As a GM or COO, it’s important to stay abreast of the latest industry trends, including your team’s compensation plan. It’s never too late to evolve or revamp, and there are many ways to present this shift in approach to your staff, committee and board.

Many Michiganders migrate to Florida in the winter, and I’m one of those snowbirds. I often spend time during winter months at a golf resort in Florida that boasts four championship golf. It’s a resort where the pros play. And it’s a resort where we’ve vacationed for over 20 years – it’s been our tradition. Last year, however, we noticed some disturbing differences versus earlier years, which tarnished our experience.









In many clubs, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed new trends involving operational staffing and members’ expectations. Richard Edelman, an expert who studies trust issues, says people’s emphasis on trust will shift to the business sector, “…the story is being written for business. The return to the workplace is a fundamental part of that. People are going to go back only when companies answer their fears…”

Our research shows that by improving certain practices, food costs can be lowered by more than two percent of sales. In other words, if you ran a 40 percent food cost, you may have been able to run a 38 percent food cost buying the same goods. An F&B operation with revenues of $1 million annually could save at least $20,000 each year by implementing the best practices I recommend.











Accepting responsibility as a club director is better known in the industry as “taking the heat.” It’s not uncommon for directors to regularly run into members who have problems or concerns about the board’s actions. Ideally, when confronted by such a circumstance, a director has committed to supporting the board’s majority opinion by presenting a unanimous front.

People here in Southern California are devotees of “good health.” They wax poetic about hot yoga, Zen retreats and vile tasting, gluten free, macro biotic, “certified organic”, kale based, “ugly as sin but guaranteed to purge your toxins” uber-fashionable blended libations. Yet these good health enthusiasts never mention the good health virtues of golf and the “Magic Elixir” delivered with every swing on every hole at every club on every day.

Most private club board of directors today are male-dominated…mostly older people, especially white males. In fact, board members aged 50 are often viewed as ‘young’ board members. There have been some moves toward greater inclusion of female board members, and it seems the percentage of women on private club boards runs around 20 percent, so, slowly, change has been happening.

When we first started looking at the numbers for 2019, we were very impressed. Spending per member was up and back to pre-recession levels. Membership continued to grow... The economy in general, while good, showed a bigger divide between the haves and have nots and the income disparity increased. Clubs experienced the same trend. Then 2020 hit.


Like many of you, our family’s TV screens are now stocked with online streaming sites. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and others are complimenting or replacing our cable service. I’ve always been fascinated by the user profile identities everyone uses for these sites. For instance, our grandkids carefully chose the family’s Disney+ characters to reflect what they see as our personalities.




E XE CUTI V E COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

CMAA’s 2021 World Conference & Business Expo Goes Virtual


By Mark Bado and Jeff Morgan

Software Reengineering Explained By Bill Boothe

TE NNI S COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62

NANCY’S CORNER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

Impacting the Job Market - USPTA Launches New Certification Program

By Nancy Berkley

E XE CUTI V E COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86

INNOVATIVE IDEAS . . . . . . . 106, 108, 109

By Eliza Selig

By John R. Embree

Advice for Directors of Golf from The King and I

Finance-focused Tips Every Club Professional Should Know

The Colleton River Country Club Myers Park Country Club Verity

E XE CUTI V E COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

A United Front

By Angela Hartmann E XE CUTI V E COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92

Member Engagement - Capturing the unforeseen momentum from COVID-19 By Keith Fisher

E XE CUTI V E COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98

10 Tips for Directors Plus One - Part I By Gordon Welch

COVER STORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

CUL I NA RY & CA TE RI NG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112

By Dave White

By Lynne Lafond Deluca

Celebration of Collaboration

Culinary & Catering - New Year, New Outlook, New Rules

COMMITTEES EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

By MiRan Kim, JaeMin Cha, SeungHyun “James” Kim and Ronald F Cichy

By Whitney Reid Pennell

Health Wellness Research in Private Clubs The Change Agent Needs Key Skills

FEATURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58

PGA Professionals Growing the Game Says PGA’s President, Jim Richerson Special to BoardRoom

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

Governance Perspective

By Dave White

PRESIDENT’S BACKGROUND . . . . . . . . . 79

By Dave White


By Greg Pieschala

By Steve Mona

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

By Rita Barreto

By Frank Cordeiro and David Mackesey

Country Club of Lincoln’s Kim Robak Selected Boardroom’s Distinguished Club President for 2020

Stewardship of Your Golf Course

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

Corporate Hybrid Governance Model – Part IV

FEATURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

Embracing Change and Cultivating Innovation

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . 52

Committee Service

By Robyn Stowell

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

INSURANCE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

RACQUET COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64

MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . 82

Build A Winning Membership Department Team By Ted Robinson

MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . 84

Innovation for the Duration By Steve Graves

MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . 85

When to Introduce Membership Pricing By Mike Phelps

GREEN COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88

Innovation Takes Center Stage By Steve Schendel

Find, Fund, And Fulfill Your Club’s Why Truth Be Told To The Club Industry!!!! GREEN COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 By Philip J. Harvey The Anatomy of a Golf Green By Phillip Martin By Dave Doherty

FINANCE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94

By Steve Parascandola

The One-Two Punch of Paddle and Pickleball

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

RACQUET COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66

HOUSE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100

By Dave Moyer

By Bruce Barilla

Pandora’s Box

2020 - The Year of the Member By Frank Vain

By Jarrett Chirico

Will 2021 Be The Year Of Tennis At Your Club?

Planning Remains Vital for Clubs By Larry Hirsh

Does Your Locker Room Make the Grade?



John G. Fornaro is the publisher/CEO of BoardRoom magazine, co-founder/CEO of Distinguished Clubs and the CEO of the Association of Private Club Directors (APCD). If you have comments on this article or suggestions for other topics, please contact John Fornaro at (949) 376-8889 or via email:

Board Diversity

What Does That Mean in Today’s Private Club World? Most private club board of directors today are male-dominated…mostly older people, especially white males. In fact, board members aged 50 are often viewed as ‘young’ board members. There have been some moves toward greater inclusion of female board members, and it seems the percentage of women on private club boards runs around 20 percent, so, slowly, change has been happening. “The days of ‘100 percent male dominance’ are not over, but they are beginning to shift to a more inclusive culture,” expressed Steve Graves, CEO of Creative Golf Marketing, an industry consulting firm. “As Peter Drucker famously states, ‘Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast.’ Private clubs are a victim of a very consistent male culture that has been very resistant to change. Board diversity means as much about an exchange of new ideas as it means specific

of The Oaks Club in Osprey Fl and one of BoardRoom magazine’s top presidents for 2020. “When I left, we had a very diverse senior operating committee and the workforce reflected that. One of the men I mentored and who took my senior role announced last year at age 55 he was transgender and began a life as Kate. The organization embraced her,” Lockie added. “Now, here I am retired and on a board of nine, with seven white men. It does feel like a different place, but so is the community in which I live. It’s nothing like the subway full of people from all over the world I once traveled to work with. In some ways, it does feel like a very traditional and safe haven in a changing world. “As the first female president, announced a month into a COVID-19 world, we have been overwhelmed with ways to innovate and manage through these past months. While I have approached women at our club and encouraged them to ‘play their part’, there have been more urgent issues. A diversity plan was far from even my agenda,” Lockie explained.

If you belong to an older traditional men’s club with an older membership, maybe a diverse board with women and younger members doesn’t make sense. However, if you are one of the 97 percent of private clubs that champions a diversified membership, a diverse board is a must! Having a board representing your entire membership, gender, ethnicity and age, social background, and ableness provides an opportunity to widen the board’s influence and change perspectives: Diversity is a strength. individuals. An example of diversity also is changing to a family-oriented club dynamic. Another is allowing more women on the board of directors. There are now many presidents of private clubs that are female. Thank gosh,” Graves added. “I spent a great deal of my career at Royal Bank of Canada, trying to both educate and implement diversity strategies,” explained Anne Lockie, president

“To me, board diversity means that there are multiple perspectives around the table. The board reflects the full membership and has the breadth to think about the communities and the world in which we live. “We should be asking, ‘Are we preparing our clubs for the future and the individuals (both members and staff) that we hope to attract, rather than those that reflect the past and the way things have always been done?’” Lockie queried. SEE PUBLISHER’S PERSPECTIVE | 114





Len Simard, PTR, USPTA Master Professional Racquet Sports, Fitness & Wellness, GM/COO search and consulting executive, Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace. Under Len’s guidance, KK&W has partnered with The Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) to provide PTR members, clubs and employers the opportunity to be the most educated and connected in the business. Len can be contacted via email:

Does Your Director of Racquet Sports Compensation Plan Benefit Club Stakeholders? As a club general manager or chief operating officer, you have likely already realized that the racquet sports operation is the unsung hero of a successful club organization. With a vibrant and robust racquet sports program (tennis, pickleball, squash, platform tennis, Padel and POP tennis) serving as the heartbeat of your club, it is important to review the different components of your director of racquet sports compensation package to attract and retain top talent. For some clubs, a director of racquet sports compensation package may be structured as such: • Base salary (generally 20-40 percent of overall compensation) • Teaching commissions (generally 60-70 percent of overall compensation) • Bonus (generally five percent of salary) This compensation plan includes a relatively small base salary with most of the potential income coming from teaching lessons and clinics taught by the entire staff, director included. The potential year-end bonus is typically given at the GM or COO’s discretion and frequently not based on a set of specific goals or metrics. These packages are often not enticing enough to incentivize and impact director behavior to create a dynamic, multi-dimensional racquet sports program. In this structure, no one benefits. The director does not benefit unless they want to teach most of their weekly hours at the club. The assistant professionals do not benefit because the director is taking many of the lessons instead of creating more teaching opportunities for the team of pros. Unfortunately, the club membership does not benefit because the director is spending all of their time teaching instead of building a program and introducing more people to the diversity of sports offered. Lastly, the GM and the board do not benefit. They will be handcuffed with a stagnant racquets program with limited growth, a non-motivated, burned out director/staff and a membership complaining adamantly about a lack of activities. Industry leaders are taking a very different approach. Consider the following director pay structure: • Higher base salary • Limited on-court weekly lessons and clinics • Personal higher teaching commission percentage • Percentage of assistant professionals’ commissions • Higher bonus structure based on the growth of lessons, clinics, social and competitive opportunities, satisfied members, increase in teams, events and casual play. Other criteria may include: 12


• Increasing tennis playing members compared to the previous year • Increasing tennis revenue compared to the previous year • Increasing other racquet sports event participation compared to the previous year • Increasing USTA/interclub participation compared to the previous year. In this structure, there are endless benefits. The director benefits because they feel empowered to build a business and will ultimately make equal or higher income without being on the court. The assistant professionals benefit because their director is incentivized to create more teaching opportunities and turn over more lessons to them, which also fosters strong, positive relationships within the team. Furthermore, your club membership benefits by developing new programs, events, teams, members, increased customer service and a more thoroughly trained staff now that the director has the time and energy to grow the department. And finally, the GM and board benefit because the value of the membership increases dramatically because of the powerful and diverse racquet sports offerings. As a GM or COO, it’s important to stay abreast of the latest industry trends, including your team’s compensation plan. It’s never too late to evolve or revamp, and there are many ways to present this shift in approach to your staff, committee and board. Take the opportunity to review at the end of the fiscal year, compare performance from the previous year and set clear and tangible goals for the upcoming year. After all, the most dynamic racquet sports programs are led by a director who has a clear vision of how to enhance the overall experience of a club member! B R

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Nancy Levenburg, Ph.D., is a recently retired professor in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She has published numerous articles in business and professional journals and has assisted over 200 organizations with strategic planning, marketing strategy, and improving operations. She is the President of Edgewater Consulting, and is a member of Spring Lake Country Club in Spring Lake, Michigan. For more information, contact her at: or (616) 821-5678.

When Tradition Becomes Tarnished Many Michiganders migrate to Florida in the winter, and I’m one of those snowbirds. I often spend time during winter months at a golf resort in Florida that boasts four championship golf courses and a listing on Golf Digest’s “Best Golf Resorts in Florida.” It’s a resort where the pros play. And it’s a resort where we’ve vacationed for over 20 years – it’s been our tradition. Last year, however, we noticed some disturbing differences versus earlier years, which tarnished our experience. Upon arriving in December, we saw a dented, rusty and inoperable (four flat tires) resort service van with no license plate parked in the lot directly in front of our condo. It’s a lot that’s shared with one of the resort’s golf courses. “Surely the van will be repaired… or moved,” we thought when we first saw it. “It’s a real eyesore.” Curious about what might be inside the van, we peered in the windows. We saw plastic remnants from plumbing repair jobs, a bucket and an assortment of dusty tools. In short, a lot of junk.

But as the days became weeks, and the weeks became months (yes, that’s plural), nothing happened to the van. It remained in the same spot, its tires deflating a little more each day. In fact, by the time February rolled around, it was resting on its rims and probably couldn’t be moved. Nearly three months had passed. 14


During that time, we only saw another human being approach the van once – when a maintenance worker either removed something from the van or placed more junk inside it, or possibly both. The Ford Econoline 150 was like a scuttled ship… the only difference being that instead of water, it had been abandoned in a residential parking lot of an acclaimed golf resort. And worse yet, it was right in front of our living room window! The thought occurred to us that many – if not most – condominium associations explicitly prohibit parking inoperable vehicles, as well as those with expired license tags, on common elements. One condominium association’s bylaw even states, “No inoperable motor vehicle shall be allowed on the property.” Offenders face having their vehicles towed away… at their expense. Why? One obvious reason is that the number of parking spaces is finite, and a parking space can be occupied by only one vehicle at a time. So, parking an inoperable vehicle in a valuable parking space prevents it from being used by anyone else. Another important reason for disallowing inoperable vehicles, as stated by one property management firm, is simply because it keeps the community looking nice. “Even covered vehicles give the appearance of neglect.” And that neglect is precisely what the abandoned service van outside our window screamed at us. But isn’t neglect also precisely what every smart club or resort manager wants to avoid communicating to the general public? After all, tangibles – including equipment, physical facilities, appearance of personnel, and communication materials – is one of the five dimensions consumers use to evaluate service quality. (The other four are reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy.) So, if its physical facilities and equipment appear to be in poor condition, this rubs off onto overall poor perceptions about the club/resort. If condominium associations don’t allow their resident owners to park unlicensed and inoperable vehicles on the property, why would a golf resort allow it for its disabled service vehicles? What message does this communicate to not only the condominium owners but also the general public? Management By Walking Around (or MBWA) is a concept that was popularized during the 1980s by management consultants Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman in their book, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies. The essential idea was that managers should get out of their offices and spend time in the field, observing operations and talking with people directly. In doing so, they will be better equipped to solve problems… like dealing with a rusty monstrosity in the form of a Ford Econoline 150. BR

Our Online Ordering platform became a must have in 2020 and has empowered members with the ability to order meals for pickup or delivery, shop online from club retail outlets, and even schedule grocery pickups. Online Ordering is just one way that we are continuing to help clubs thrive in 2021.

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HENRY DELOZIER Henry DeLozier is a partner at GGA Partners. He can be reached via email:


New Solutions for New Opportunities In many clubs, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed new trends involving operational staffing and members’ expectations concerning services being provided to them. Leaders of top clubs must understand the shifting landscape and introduce new solutions. Richard Edelman, a smart person and an expert who studies trust issues, says people’s emphasis on trust will shift to the business sector. Edelman recently told Fortune editor Alan Murray, “…the story is being written for business. The return to the workplace is a fundamental part of that. People are going to go back only when companies answer their fears…” Here are a handful of smart moves being made by smart people leading private clubs: 1. Take care of your staff. Across a wide spectrum of recent polls from Gallup, Harris, and Axios/Ipsos, employers are receiving high marks for their performance during the pandemic. Almost three in four (72 percent) employees responded favorably that their employer was looking out “for the best interest of you and your family”, while 34 percent believed that the federal government was looking out for them compared to 60 percent from local and 53 percent from state governments. Show your team members that you care for their well-being and respect their dedication to their duties. • Write a short note of thanks to each of them • Enable a brief one-on-one exchange and look them in the eye when you remind them of their importance • Invite them to bring their family to the club for a “family day” to show families where their loved one works. 2. Understand shifting market conditions. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, recently told Fortune magazine that the further you get from Wall Street, the deeper the dismay about the state of the economy. According to a recent Gallup survey, America’s satisfaction with the way things are going hit a nine-year low. These external influences are changing your club and the people who appreciate and benefit from it. Understand the unbiased and unvarnished trends influencing private clubs. The National Golf Foundation, with its finger squarely on the pulse of golfer participation, observes the 2020 surge in golf participation happened after the early course closures as people came to understand the novel coronavirus. When there are few other distractions, golf seems to be a popular, socially distanced alternative entertainment. 16


3. Be realistic with your expectations. Hopefully, a successful coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out soon. If it does not, hope for the best and plan for the worst. For club leaders, realistic planning requires a careful review of revenue capabilities and overhead arising from on-going operational costs. Here are some steps to take in preparing for 2021: • Review your staffing model and search for efficiencies. Now may be a time to update and refine your organization of management. Many workers may prefer more flexible schedules in favor of family time. • Re-think your plan of work model. Perhaps mowing in the afternoons opens up more much-sought-after morning tee times and makes your work on less crowded afternoon fairways more efficient. Likewise, evaluate project work for outsourcing and off-season options. • Monitor your inventory levels. There is no need for a full fuel storage tank or freezers during the off-season, for example. Procure what you will use more efficiently. 4. Plan for the future. Bank of America economists predict that the U.S. economy will not return to the pre-pandemic level until early 2023. As a result, facility managers and club leaders of every description must look ahead and around the corner. Among the changes with a high possibility for impacting golf are: • More golfer participation as families and friends use golf courses as a primary platform for socialization and outdoor exercise • More outdoor dining options at clubs were picnicking, farm baskets and patio-dining alternatives are expanding • More eager employees applying at your course or club. With high unemployment levels, many clubs have opportunities to upgrade staff performance levels. 5. Be bold in your planning. Remember the description of a BHAG in “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by James Collins and Jerry Porras? Big, hairy, audacious goals. Imagine your facility on its best day ever. Work toward a future that delivers the best of your talents and imagination. Dramatic times like the pandemic enable new ideas, technologies and opportunities to emerge. Seize them and put them to work in your shop. New options are available for private clubs. The keys are being relevant to members and efficient with the club’s resources. B R


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The Summit Club of Tulsa, Oklahoma



Bill Schwartz is the founder and CEO of System Concepts, Inc. (SCI). Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, SCI specializes in F&B procurement and inventory management and is the developer of the FOOD-TRAK Food and Beverage Management System. Bill can be reached at (480) 951-8011 or

Invoice Errors

Getting the Credit You Deserve The tight squeeze on the food service industry makes it imperative to secure the best pricing possible on food and beverage products from your vendors. Consider the following scenarios: 1. The chef calls in orders to vendors who may or may not quote pricing, and you have no purchase order or other document with which to reconcile the invoice. 2. Truckloads of goods show up and invoices are signed with very little time spent counting the goods and scrutinizing pricing 3. You order in case lots and typically don’t use the full case before your next delivery from that vendor, but the pricing is better than if you were to split the case 4. You typically buy the same things from the same vendor or perhaps have a single vendor source for a majority of your purchased items. Each of these scenarios poses a significant potential for spending more than you need for food and beverage items. Our research shows that by improving these practices, food costs can be lowered by more than two percent of sales. In other words, if you ran a 40 percent food cost, you may have been able to run a 38 percent food cost buying the same goods. An F&B operation with revenues of $1 million annually could save at least $20,000 each year by implementing the best practices I recommend. While the result is slightly more labor if performed manually than with an automated F&B management system, the difference in labor cost is less than the savings – not to mention the peace of mind that comes with stronger controls. To achieve the savings, start with vendor bids. Vendors can typically provide price quotes for the goods you purchase at least a week in advance and, in many cases, a month in advance. Using multiple vendors for the same goods provides additional benefit since you can compare pricing to make sure you are aware of the differences and seasonal fluctuations. With the pandemic, many goods became less available and thus more expensive than normal, making it even more critical to have options. With or without bids, you should always use purchase orders that include quantity and vendor pricing. Purchase orders are the only way to enforce quoted pricing without relying on the vendor’s good will in the event of a disagreement. 18


The purchase order is also used to receive goods and reconcile invoices. The purchase order is your contract to pay for the amount you ordered at the price you agreed to pay. The invoice is the vendor’s contract for the goods they delivered at the price they are charging. If you accept the invoice as is, you agree to their terms, even if you thought the quantity or price was different. Finally, when the goods arrive, you should take however much time is required to properly receive them and reconcile the invoice. This is where the rubber meets the road. Taking the time to inspect and count the delivered items is the first step. Any time the quantity or quality is not what you expect, you make a note. Opening cases, weighing tare-weighted product and doing unexpected things like counting lemons in a case, for example, will help keep the vendors and drivers honest and prevent them from providing substandard goods or shorting product. Do things they don’t expect you to do. They should not be able to determine your receiving habits other than to know they will be thorough. Once the goods have been properly received, the next step is to compare invoice pricing to purchase order pricing. And here is where you actually save money – correct the invoice to reflect the actual quantity and the purchase order price. Don’t sign the incorrect invoice and try to get a credit later. By adjusting and recalculating the invoice, you will never have to worry about credits, which can be delayed into subsequent periods or simply not provided at all. Getting the driver to countersign the corrected invoice, while not essential, seals the deal. One last thing. Check into the additional cost of split cases and determine the effect on your monthly food cost. While that individual item may be more expensive, it will typically have an insignificant impact on your food cost. On the other hand, it will improve cash flow and reduce the potential for waste, spoilage and over portioning. As I’ve said many times, inventory is simply cash sitting on a shelf waiting for something bad to happen. If all this seems like a lot more work than you previously do, keep in mind the savings. If you give this approach a chance and don’t see the benefit, go back to your old ways. I believe you will be surprised by how much this improves your costs and the quality of your product. BR


Many years ago, John Fornaro packed his bags, left his home in Calgary, AB, Canada, moved to southern California, and embarked on a mission…to make an impact on the private club industry. Now 25 years later, the incubator — BoardRoom magazine — that Fornaro fostered so carefully, is celebrating its Silver Anniversary with 25 years of outstanding service to the private club industry. “It’s certainly a Celebration of Collaboration with so many people in the private club industry,” recalled Fornaro, BoardRoom’s CEO and publisher, recently. Fornaro, earlier in his career in Canada, as a fast-rising entrepreneur, ranked as one of Alberta’s top 40 people under 40. No matter the undertaking, Fornaro aced it at the forefront of a number of entrepreneurial adventures. But his heart belonged to California, the home of his wife Denise, and it’s here that Fornaro really unfolded his vision. “I’ve also been attracted to the lifestyle the private club industry offers,” remarked Fornaro, and to the younger, enterprising businessman the private club industry represented a world full of opportunities. “My experience suggested to me that there was much we could do to help improve the private club industry.” So, the private club’s board of directors became Fornaro’s point of focus, much to the chagrin of some of the industry’s skeptics, and he co-founded, along with partner Keith Jarrett, the Association of Private Club Directors (APCD) as the parent organization of BoardRoom magazine. Jarrett today is President of BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs.

Following Fornaro from Calgary, AB to California on a separate business venture, Heather Arias de Cordoba, BoardRoom’s associate editor and VP, creative, joined the Professional Club Marketing Association (PCMA) in 1998, designing the monthly newsletter and initial website, eventually assuming all creative and branding for BoardRoom magazine and the Association of Private Club Directors (APCD). PCMA, another industry success story, also was co-founded by Fornaro and Jarrett. Rick and Donna Coyne joined them a year later in the professional association for private club marketing directors, again with the objective to inform and educate. “I’ve known and worked with John since our time together in Calgary, AB in the early ‘90s,” said Arias de Cordoba. “Outside of his visionary leadership, I am extremely grateful to work with such an incredible group of dedicated individuals, knowing that what we’ve accomplished at BoardRoom over the past 25 years has helped progressively propel our industry through some of its largest and most substantial changes. “The writers, vendors and leaders of the private club industry have trusted to lend their voice to BoardRoom, talking about complicated issues, and in turn, opening the door for conversation, change, collaboration and growth. I congratulate everyone for their efforts and I’m very excited for what the next 25 years hold for BoardRoom magazine and this incredible industry.” I came onboard 17 years ago as BoardRoom’s editor following several years of proofing and printing the magazine through my Calgary-based printing firm (and the Canadian exchange on the U.S. dollar made a substantial difference in the printing costs). The impact of our writers’ contributions over the years has been enormous as the focus tightened on relevant and timely articles for boards of directors. Today, there’s often a queue of writers lined up wanting to tell their stories. As a long time journalist, both radio-television and print, and university journalism professor, there’s been great satisfaction in watching BoardRoom grow and become such a vital link for the private club industry. Dee Kaplan, BoardRoom’s editorial and marketing director, a fixture in this industry even before joining BoardRoom 17 years ago, says, “I am so grateful and honored to be associated with Boardroom magazine. It is, and has been, a great source of information to those who receive it, and who have helped build an outstanding environment and club for their members.” It’s a compact, tightly knit, cohesive group that produces BoardRoom six times a year. From this singular beginning, BoardRoom magazine today sponsors the BoardRoom Excellence in Achievement Awards, the only recognition program of the industry’s vendors, and BoardRoom’s top presidents’ program, which each year, recognizes the industry’s most distinguished club presidents for their outstanding achievements with their clubs. ➤


Hard to imagine that it’s been 25 years of BoardRoom magazine. How YOUNG we were! I’ve always been a bit irreverent with my writing, so here’s my “take” on the last 25 years. BoardRoom has been a big part of my professional life for the past 25 years. It gave me the BUZZ while managing and is still giving me the BUZZ in retirement. BoardRoom has often been amusing, sometimes irreverent, always stimulating and never boring. It delivered the facts, provoked my curiosity, recharged my batteries and provided insights into governance, leadership, strategic thinking, operations, facilities, staff development and the member experience. BoardRoom always delivered the BUZZ!!! Thanks John, Dave and Heather for giving managers and boards the tools they need to do club right!!! You created something special. Thanks!! BOARDROOM, APCD, DISTINGUISHED CLUBS AND DISTINGUISHED GOLF DESTINATIONS STAFF PICTURED BELOW (LEFT - RIGHT) Dave White, BoardRoom editor Heather Arias de Cordoba, BoardRoom vice president creative Dee Kaplan, BoardRoom editorial & marketing director Ellery Platts, BoardRoom Innovative Ideas editor Gordon Welch, APCD president Bill Thomas, APCD executive vice president Frank Gore, Distinguished Clubs chief analyst Jeff Briggs, Distinguished Clubs chief information officer Steve Briggs, Distinguished Clubs lead technology developer Paul Levy, Distinguished Golf Destinations Tom Fitzgerald, Distinguished Golf Destinations Christine Fitzgerald, Distinguished Golf Destinations Laura Keller, director of member relations Josh Nuzzi, web designer/digital marketing Ronni Dana, accounting Dante Fornaro, circulation manager Keith Jarrett, Distinguished Clubs president John Fornaro, president/CEO/publisher, BoardRoom magazine, APCD, Distinguished Clubs and Distinguished Golf Destinations

from Cover Story | 21

RICK COYNE CLUBINSIGHTS John, it is hard to believe 25 years have passed since you and Keith launched BoardRoom magazine. What an amazing vision and what an incredible journey. I am so honored to have been there nearly every step of the way as one of the many industry professionals contributing such incredible content for the past 25 years.

And there’s the annual selection of the industry’s most outstanding and who are recognized for their lifetime achievements as industry educators and for the impact they’ve had on the industry. OUR MISSION

“I felt a magazine, aimed at the private club’s board of directors, would have a significant impact,” Fornaro commented. “People so often made decisions guided by their emotions and that’s not the best way to govern a private club.” All of which led to BoardRoom’s mission statement: Replace Emotion with Fact! Twenty-five years later, that statement holds true, and Fornaro’s vision of being a guiding light for board of directors has stood the test of time. His steadfast, laser-like approach to a board member’s education of their roles and responsibilities had given rise to the private club industry’s Number One magazine and educational resource for a private club’s board of directors, as so many in the industry have recognized. Today, BoardRoom magazine serves as the umbrella for several other Fornaro ventures, including BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs, Club IQ, BoardRoom Institute, the board of directors’ online educational program, with president Gordon Welch, and Distinguished Golf Destinations.

Testimony to the industry’s thirst for trusted information, BoardRoom quickly became an accepted source to general managers and volunteer leadership. The early days had their share of skeptics, but not for long. Your dedication to providing support for industry professionals, as well as the soundness of the narrative, catapulted BoardRoom to its rightful position as the industry’s leading source of timely information. BoardRoom has been there for the entire industry. Thank you, John and the capable staff, at BoardRoom magazine for 25 years of leadership, insights and opportunities. Here’s to 25 more…

DICK KOPPLIN, PARTNER KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE “It was 25 years ago that I met John Fornaro and he outlined to me his plan for a magazine that would be directed to private club board members and club general managers. A magazine that would educate club board members about their role as volunteer leaders at their clubs and how they could effectively govern with a club general manager as their partner. His philosophy and the mission statement of BoardRoom magazine has been in concert with my beliefs as a previous club manager, who had launched a new search company focused on the private club business. I have watched BoardRoom magazine develop into one of the most important educational voices for the private club industry. Congratulations to you and your group, John, on a great 25 years!”


Tried and true, BoardRoom magazine has become a “household name” in private clubs. This magazine is the conduit for critical conversations between general managers and boards of directors, opening the way for better communication. Filled with best practices, thought-provoking ideas, depictions of the future, and acknowledgment of industry achievements, we continue to count on BoardRoom magazine as an essential tool for our industry.

“For all of us at BoardRoom magazine, APCD, ClubIQ, Distinguished Clubs and Distinguished Golf Destinations, our Silver anniversary, this issue, and 2021 marks more than a milestone. It’s a Celebration of Collaboration with so many people in the private club industry.” John Fornaro, BoardRoom’s CEO and publisher 22


Golf Maintenance


BoardRoom Magazine’s mission statement: ‘Replace Emotion with Fact’ is a strong one and has withstood the test of time. For 25 years, it has led the way to educate not only the governing bodies of private clubs but the general managers, owners and department heads. It is the only publication of its kind designed to do so by offering solutions to the many challenges facing the club industry. Over the years, BoardRoom magazine has provided insights to empower clubs as every issue contains relevant and timely content that both provokes and redefines our great industry.


GCSAA and our members know that great communication leads to successful golf clubs. When key decision makers educate one another on responsibilities, expectations and challenges, it builds a cohesive team. With BoardRoom, we have the opportunity to educate club leaders on what superintendents bring to the table for the facility and how they can help drive its success.


Throughout my professional career, I have been a subscriber, and more recently, a contributing writer, to BoardRoom magazine. It is a vital reference tool for club boards, committees, and management teams. From highlighting industry trends to offering insight to management techniques, construction projects, member amenities, or board governance, BoardRoom magazine is a reliable, comprehensive package that uses the knowledge of seasoned industry veterans and industry experts to ensure its readers are informed and knowledgeable to execute their job in the most professional and effective manner possible.




BoardRoom is much more than an industry magazine; it’s a platform and vehicle for education, innovation, intellectual rigor, and reliable data about the issues of the day and the developing trends on the horizon. BoardRoom magazine has been a champion for advancement and positive change in the boardroom and in the offices of club professionals around the world. Congratulations on 25 years of making a meaningful difference in our industry. Clubs are indeed better and smarter for it.


Club board rooms are often filled with well-intentioned people who come to their positions after distinguishing themselves in business and the professions, experienced in ways unlike the demands of club leadership. For them and countless others, BoardRoom has been a source of education and guidance that has made them more knowledgeable, capable and sensitive stewards of their clubs’ and members’ best interests. For that, we all say thank-you.


Boca West Country Club has enjoyed a long-standing working relationship with John Fornaro and BoardRoom magazine since day one. BoardRoom has been an invaluable resource for our board and me for many years, especially since my transition into the COO position three years ago. The entire team are very in tune with clubs not only around the country but also around the globe and are always forward thinking with the needs of the industry as well as what trends will be forthcoming. On behalf of Boca West Country Club’s board members, management and staff, congratulation on 25 years of publications, we look forward to the future and your next 25!


When I first met John Fornaro about 25 years ago and he mentioned that he was starting a magazine specifically for the leadership of private clubs, I thought he was crazy! Well, fast forward to today and John and his group has THE most successful and most widely read industry publication … period. Congressional Country Club was privileged to be featured in the January 2001 edition, when the emerging chief operating officer concept was first published, with a follow-on article in the January 2007 edition to see how things were progressing. A ground-breaking concept at the time, John and his team saw fit to not only break this to the industry at large, but then do the follow-up in-depth article five years later speaking to the acceptance of this concept and its longevity. This is one example of many that have been featured in BoardRoom magazine over the many years and the information is still relevant and pertinent today. John and his team are industry leaders, for industry leaders. Congratulations on 25 years of EXCELLENCE and here is to 25 more.


Twenty-five years ago, BoardRoom magazine was destined to fail because of the fact its intent was to educate the board. Many within the industry of private clubs felt to educate the board was to empower those who were over empowered. BoardRoom magazine obviously felt different and by educating the board also helped general managers and others in management roles. A board that better understands the issues is more knowledgeable and capable of making sound decisions to benefit the club overall and therefore, enhances the managerial staff within each club.


25 years…that was yesterday, right gang?? Congrats to all of you !!! You have created more than a magazine. You have created a place for general managers and club management to get support from credible third parties on how to let your professionals run the club and educate the boards to set direction, give the GM and their team the resources they need, resources and get out of the way…and so much more!!! Here’s to all of you...



STEVE GRAVES, PRESIDENT CREATIVE GOLF MARKETING Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary. What an accomplishment! Creative Golf Marketing was founded five years before your first issue. Put very simply and forcefully, Creative Golf Marketing would not be the company it is today without our partnership with BoardRoom magazine. Period. Being one of the original advertisers and featured columnists gave me and my small company instant credibility and notoriety. I knew exactly when BoardRoom magazine had arrived at private clubs because our phone would immediately ring off the hook with requests for marketing assistance. BoardRoom magazine has given the private club industry sophistication and the credibility for private club leaders to realize the enormity of all who participate in the “private club profession.” Private clubs are now viewed and run like truly viable and legitimate businesses because of the platform provided by BoardRoom magazine. BoardRoom magazine has positively and successfully influenced every aspect of the entire private club industry.

JIM SINGERLING, FORMERLY CEO CLUB MANAGERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (CMAA) My support for your efforts to shine a light on the club industry 25 years ago was well placed. The content in BoardRoom magazine is second to none. The contribution of BoardRoom magazine through your vendor and professional awards programs also have had a significant positive impact upon the club industry. Your bold venture into the structural and operations issues of a boutique industry like we enjoy requires the insight that you and your publication are providing. BoardRoom has provided a profound eye-opening examination of the unique business of private membership clubs and a look into the governance models that exist. The value that a club provides to so many facets of the communities in which they exist makes a club operation the most sustainable small business in their respective communities. The club members will always find ways to enjoy their social and economic success’ in life. However, it is the club employees, the local community small business’ (florists, laundry services, plumbers, painters and carpenters and food service vendors) who see the club as a vital business partner for decade after decade. BoardRoom magazine has become an important part of the curriculum for those who govern the club as an elected volunteer, as well as the compensated management team at each facility. My hat is off to you and your colleagues at BoardRoom. The industry needs you now more than ever as the club industry begins a new chapter in the “Life Book” of clubs.

And so, after 25 years of working collaboratively with many people in the private club industry, BoardRoom magazine sets its sights on another 25 years of service to the private club industry.

Celebration of Collaboration 26



Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace Continues to Expand

Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, for 25 years, continues to methodically add the brightest and most accomplished industry executive talent to our team to better serve our clients and industry leaders. We would like to welcome Jodie J. Cunningham, SPHR, SHRM-SCP as our HR/ talent strategist, consulting and search executive. “We see Jodie’s addition as being in complete alignment with our commitment to our clients’ success, the professionals we place or help develop, and the industry that we love. Jodie brings with her a breadth of human resource and five-star hospitality knowledge and her career expertise will allow us to help Clubs with their entire human resource programming, including recruitment, selection, orientation, development, recognition, retention, and performance reviews. Her ability to conduct executive searches in this area will also open new avenues for the firm and, more importantly, enhance the industries we serve,” expressed the partners, Richard Kopplin, Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM and Thomas B. Wallace III, CCM, CCE, ECM. Cunningham replied, “I am thrilled to join KK&W’s elite team of experts to further assist the private club industry with their 28


talent development and people strategies. KK&W’s commitment to leadership education in the private club industry is unparalleled and it is an honor to be joining this talented group of trusted advisors.” Jodie J. Cunningham is currently the CEO and talent optimization expert with Optimus Talent Partners, LLC. As part of the KK&W team, she will provide club leaders with guidance, a framework, and resources to design strong leadership and support teams, select top talent and create productive work environments that maximize business results. Additionally, she provides robust management development programs to enhance your leaders’ effectiveness with their teams. Classes are tailored to your unique industry and provide attendees with applicable management and leadership skills they can immediately apply in the workplace. Cunningham is a human resources executive with over 20 years of experience. She started her HR career in the hospitality industry, most recently with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. She then transitioned into professional sports as the human resources executive with the Los Angeles Rams. Her strategic workforce planning experience is extensive, creating and executing data-driven people strategies related to talent acquisition, leadership development, organizational acquisitions and employee engagement. With her unique background in high-end luxury hospitality, private golf and country clubs, and professional sports, she brings a wealth of knowledge as a trusted human capital advisor. Her goal is to provide analysis and consulting that effectively balances the needs of the organization with the talent it currently employs. Cunningham is also an instructor at the CMAA Business Management Institute, facilitating leadership education at Michigan State University several times as year. She regularly offers highly attended educational workshops on human resources, talent acquisition and leadership topics at the CMAA World Conference, CMAA Mid-Managers Conference, CMAA Student Chapter education and local CMAA chapter education. She is also a regular speaker with the GCSAA and the PGA of America chapters. Cunningham earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Arizona State University, and a master’s degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix. She has also achieved the highest human resources certifications of SPHR and SHRM-SCP. Jodie can be contacted at: or (602) 690-1074. B R

KK&W recognizes that every club has a business strategy. And, at the end of some time period, there is an expectation to achieve the results set forth in that strategy. Clubs have a variety of plans to achieve those results: financial plans, marketing plans, agronomic plans, capital plans, operational plans, etc. But the plan so often skipped is the people plan. This plan is called: talent optimization. What stands between success and failure is in the hands of your people. Your largest club expenditure – labor — needs to have a plan connected to it. Top 5 Steps to Creating a Successful People Strategy 1. Strategic HR audit – review and recommendations on best practices 2. Recruitment structure and process 3. Onboarding and training 4. Performance coaching 5. Grow your team KK&W can provide club leaders with guidance, a framework and resources to design strong teams, select top talent and build productive work environments that maximize business results. We can help with: Policy/process/procedure development and implementation; Strategic program development and implementation, and; Leadership education development for club management and boards. B R

“I’d like to begin by saying you provided the most thorough ‘search package’ I’ve seen in my professional career. I’ve hired executives in three countries using some of the biggest search firms in North America, this is the most thorough presentation I’ve received. Thank you.”

Tim Condon, President Diablo Country Club, Diablo, CA












Specializing in GM/COO, CEO, Assistant General Manager/Clubhouse Manager, Director of Food and Beverage, Executive Chef, Director of Golf/Head Golf Professional, Golf Course Superintendent/Director of Agronomy, Director of Tennis/Director of Racquets, Fitness & Wellness Director, Chief Financial Officer, Director of Finance, Controller, Membership and Marketing Director Searches, and Consulting Services for Private, Resort and Developer Owned Properties, Clubs and Communities as well as Senior Living Communities and Property Owners Associations.


















Health Wellness Research in Private Clubs Board of Directors Involvement


How much is a private club’s board of directors involved in a club’s health and community.” What is being done to let the community in on the club’s contribution to wellness? health wellness in the club? That’s the focus of this research study, conducted in collaboration with The second mean rank was: “Our club presthe Club Management Association of America (CMAA) and the Club Fitents better image in the minds of club memness and Spa Association (CFSA). This study, conducted before COVIDbers.” The third rank: “Our club has a positive 19, is one of the first such studies with the two associations, led by impact in our community.” And the fourth Michigan State University researchers. was: “Our club has a better image in the minds Earlier in the May/June 2019, July/August 2020, September/October of our staff members (TALENT).” TALENT 2020, and November/December 2020) issues, we presented our health deliver the promises made to each member wellness research findings. Here the focus is the Board of Directors. regarding the experiences. BOARD OF DIRECTORS INVOLVEMENT Our survey also asked respondents’ level of agreement for board of directors’ involvement in health wellness business practices. The top mean score in this category was: “Our board of directors supports our club in offering health wellness promotion programs and initiatives.” The programs and initiatives have to be about experiences members receive at their club. The next was, “Our board of directors supports our club with a budget for new health wellness initiatives.” The third ranked mean was: “Our board of directors supports our club in participating in health wellness practices.” And the fourth – “Our board of directors communicates the positive potential value of health wellness practices.” How do these stand up to the practices in your club? Are there areas that could be improved? Some health wellness programs may be designed for senior members. These club members intentionally use activity to live longer, enjoy life longer, work longer, and focus on personal health wellness much longer. Coaching in health wellness is included. The coaching begins with an assessment of member values and beliefs relative to health wellness. Next the member’s vision is added of the ideal outcomes, and the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals are developed to achieve the desired results. The coach is present to point to behavior changes, give guidance, and be there with support for the practices. CLUB AND COMMUNITY The image and the reputation of a club in its community is of concern of all members, particularly the board of directors. The BOD is ultimately responsible for implementing and utilizing the practices for improvement in concert with the club’s general manager/chief operating officer and finance director. “The top mean rank was, “Our club has a good reputation in the nearby community. Health wellness practices affect the club’s standing in the 30


CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES Additionally, budgets are required to finance improvements, determine space availability, build a new facility, cost of qualified TALENT to staff the space, identifying and providing ongoing operating resources needed to engage both club members and TALENT to maximize the enjoyment of the member, and the returns on investment. BOD use the direct feedback from various age groups in the club to offer those programs that members need, want, and desire. A top priority is to provide support for members to feel safe at their club. The club’s treasurer, COO/GM, and Finance Committee, and perhaps the fitness director, all must agree how much will be invested, and what are the measurable outcomes are as a result. Budgets are more than capital expenditures (CAPEX). While in the past emphasis was placed on CAPEX, today the totality of investment – facilities (club house, spa, golf, fitness facilities), equipment, TALENT experience all must be considered. Metrics are essential. Support also includes participation by BOD. By participating, the BOD shows others the way. Board members are utilized as role models, guides for what is new. Additionally, the BOD must communicate the potential value of health wellness programs. SEE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE | 32

IDENTIFY AND HIRE TOP CANDIDATES for key executive leadership positions by utilizing the expertise of the PGA of America’s Career Services department and Senior Consultant, Michael Leemhuis, owner of Leemhuis Consult LLC.

STEVE MONA Steve Mona is director of governance and leadership for Club Benchmarking. He can be reached at


Governance Perspective Review, Reflect and Reset

day-to-day management and month-to-month governance. At the same time, a club’s leadership is evaluating strategic priorities for the future, it should also consider reviewing and updating, if necessary, its board policy manual and by-laws. While a review of governance documents is generally not considered a high priority or mission critical, it is key to a board (and by extension, a club) operating as effectively as possible. Again, the shift in consumer behavior around club membership presents While a level of uncertainty remains in 2021, the an opportunity to tackle a thorough document review. industry has adapted well for the most part and Finally, we offer one more opportunity for reflection at the end of a many have figured out how to survive and even challenging year. Through Club Benchmarking analysis of data from thrive. With a vaccine and therapeutics for COVID more than 1,000 private clubs annually and our direct interaction with likely to be in wide distribution by mid-2021, it hundreds of private club boards, we have witnessed the full spectrum seems reasonable to expect that pent-up demand of governance – from poor to excellent – and observed the following as will be unleashed for activities that were either common characteristics of exceptional club governance: shut down or severely limited by the pandemic. • Reliance on objective data in decision-making. Consumer values have shifted in a way that • Clear understanding of roles and accountability between the board, seems to be driving demand for the club lifestyle, GM/COO and committees. which presents an excellent opportunity to take a • Current vision, mission, values and strategic plan that permeate the fresh look at your strategic plan. Is it still relevant? club’s culture. Does it account for changes in the club’s offerings • Realistic operating and capital budgets that connect directly to the and member expectations? Does it leverage the strategic plan. “lessons learned” over the last nine months? • Regular surveying of membership on components of member loyalty. Experience tells us that the most effective stra• Annual business plans that connect directly to the strategic plan and tegic planning is dynamic, meaning an ongoing member survey results. process versus an event. It should be fully trans• A strategic governance model that is embraced and lived by the parent and understood by all stakeholders. Implicit club’s leadership. in this dynamic model is a shift from a short-term, tactical and operationally focused philosophy to a As we put this difficult chapter in the rearview mirror and turn the forward-looking, market-centric, flexible, strategic page on a fresh new year, the path forward is wide open. The timing has mindset. The process should be comprehensive, never been better for club leadership teams to embrace the opportunity member-centric, and integrated into the club’s to review, reflect and reset. B R

In 2020, private club leaders confronted a year unlike any other. For many clubs, thoughtfully developed strategic plans were moved to the back burner as urgent matters impacting the club’s very existence commanded the full attention of the board and management.

from Executive Committee | 30

An example is personal training with S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals (e.g., weight loss, increased strength) in a one-on-one scenario specific to the member’s customized needs. Professional staff can assist each member clarifying personal values and vision, mission, and S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals setting, based on the individual’s health wellness needs. A health wellness coach will introduce guidelines, directions, support, actions to change behaviors, and guidance. One obvious further question remains: Hhow has health wellness been affected post - COVID-19 in the club? Some have suggested that members are using their club more frequently 32


with cuts in travel and meetings/conferences grounding members at home. Golf clubs have promoted the social distancing that the sport affords. Outdoor performances by theatrical companies in the area will appeal to some members. BR This research, which revealed fresh insights into health wellness in private clubs, has been a joint venture with CMAA and CFSA and MSU researchers Dr. MiRan Kim, associate professor, The School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University; Dr. JaeMin Cha, associate professor, The School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University; Dr. SeungHyun “James” Kim, associate professor, The School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University, and Dr Ronald F Cichy, O.M., professor emeritus, Michigan State University.




Corporate Hybrid Governance Model Is Micromanagement An Issue? Part IV Editor’s note: Through this governance series, we introduced our readership to the principles of the Corporate Hybrid Governance Model, a more functionally sound governance model for clubs with underpinnings from corporate best practice and business literature from around the globe. This model replaces the most common governance model now found in clubs, which can best be described as a “social governance model.” The four principles of the Corporate Hybrid Governance Model, as published in the introductory article, are (1) Board Qualifications, (2) Manager Operates (Misnomer), (3) Continuity, and (4) Micromanagement. The fourth and final principle, “micromanagement”, is the focus of this issue.

quick review of the minutes. Board minutes, committee minutes and disciplinary hearing minutes are telling. A club’s level of micromanagement will be evident based on the nature of the issues, discussion and decisions found in the minutes. Are you discussing peanuts, popcorn, pots, and pans, or are you discussing strategic issues such as branding, differentiation, long-range plans and the balance sheet? Does the discussion in the minutes reflect thinking that involves projects and opportunities that extend beyond 12 months, or is the discussion limited to an annual operating plan? The answer to these questions will help determine if a club is micromanaged. WHY DO BOARDS MICROMANAGE?

If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you there. If a board is a social board, social priorities drive behavMicromanagement remains ever-present in modern-day ior and dialogue. Do board members serve to gain perceived corporate parlance; it’s often found in governance lit- social status, to enjoy unique privileges (preferred parking spot, erature and is debated daily in boardrooms across the free green fees, tee time priorities), or to accomplish a personal country, including many private club board rooms. agenda (reduce the price of the house wine, building a fitness center bigger than the neighboring club down the street, change Micromanagement has been part of the conthe club’s logo etc.)? versation in clubs and corporate America dating If so, board members will be more interested in discussing back to the early 20th century, yet it remains the wine list than an in-depth analysis of fixed assets and the largely misunderstood and a persistent challenge balance sheet. in many clubs. Branding, strategic thinking, differentiation and innovation are This begs the question, why has the ongoing dehard; focusing on trivial issues and details like speed of play and bate, extensive professional research and endless why the price of a hot dog in the dining room is $1 more than writings not elevated our understanding? Why are we not progressing? Perhaps it has more to do with the snack bar is easy. Again, human nature explains why micromanagement is prevhuman nature, natural self-interest and personal alent. Like water, people seek the path of least resistance, paragendas than intellectual honesty? How does a club determine if micromanagement ticularly if the board culture and governance structure permit and promote it. is an issue? Boards will also tend toward micromanaging to fill a void. This Signs of micromanagement will be readily visible void often is created in the absence of a membership approved if you govern as a «social board” and not a stratestrategic plan (long-range plan); quality governance processes gic board. If your club has not adopted a modern corporate hybrid form of the COO/GM governance (nomination process based on qualification versus an open election based on social attributes such as popularity, club inmodel, micromanagement will surface. volvement, and availability); updated governance documents Testing the degree to which micromanagement occurs at your club can best be determined with a SEE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE | 36 34


from Executive Committee | 34

(modern bylaws and board policy manual), and the absence of leadership from professional management. Remove the void, know where you are going, and a thoughtful, strategic and supportive board will replace the micromanaging board. The dialogue will shift from peanuts and popcorn to branding and growth strategies. Which board would your most qualified members want to serve on, and which board would you prefer to work with? Why should you be concerned about micromanagement on your board? Micromanagement by board members undermines professional management, disrupts the strategic process, stunts innovation, violates tenets of the fiduciary role, and exposes the club to greater risk and liability. Other than the COO/GM, do employees report to management? The board? Both? If both, formally or informally, who does an employee approach to address a grievance or to discuss wages and benefits? Who should the employee go to, who responds and under what authority? The conflict is apparent, and if not avoided, management will be undermined, and risk will increase. The employer/management relationship is clearly defined in labor laws and insurance policies. The issue is blurred if a two-way employment relationship becomes a three-way relationship involving an employee, employer and a non-paid fiduciary who is also a customer and an owner. The risk is increased, the complexity of the risk is increased and directors’ and officers’ insurance plans are insufficient for some exposures and will fall outside of coverage both for the club and the board member personally. Innovation, growth, strategic thinking, insight and foresight are valuable opportunities for club members to make a meaningful and lasting difference in their club. Boards will not contribute in important ways if the board’s time is consumed by the pace of play, the length of a skirt, or by endless debates about if the coffee in the locker room should be complimentary. Remove micromanagement from the dialogue and you will attract qualified, thoughtful and strategic thinkers to your board. Your club, the membership and the family of employees will thank you. B R David Mackesey is a Diablo Country Club member, vice-chair, 2018 strategic planning committee and retired president, The Wine Group, Inc. Frank Cordeiro, CCM, is chief operating officer, Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas and can be reached via email:



Tools for quality governance and to avert the micromanagement trap: • Adopt an effective form of long-range planning, facilitated by a third-party expert • Employ a current board policy manual with clearly articulated roles and responsibilities • Conduct annual board retreats to review roles/ responsibilities and the long-range plans • The club’s goals and objectives are set at the board retreat and derived from the long-range plan • Board and committee agendas are derived from the club’s goals and objectives • Any issue with less than a 12-month horizon is management’s purview • Board agenda items have a horizon longer than 12 months • Operating budgets are the exclusive purview and responsibility of management • Board approves annual budgets and provides budget oversight • Member operational complaints and grievances are addressed by management > Like personnel issues, board involvement in operational complaints will undermine management and result in a declining member experience. Board’s oversight role is monitored with broad data (i.e., member satisfaction surveys) and not isolated and anecdotal complaints heard on the courts, 19th hole, or first tee. • Member complaints and grievances about the board or other members are the sole purview of the board and are administered by the president • Personnel and employment issues are management issues

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PHILLIP MARTIN Phillip Martin is a senior vice president with Troon and can be reached at


Find, Fund, And Fulfill Your Club’s Why The beginning of a new year brings excitement and anticipation for great things to come. More than ever, I believe we’re all optimistic that 2021 will be an improvement over 2020. Over the past decade, we spent a lot of time discovering a club’s why and driving the marketing message on why the club exists. The why is based on Simon Sinek’s best-selling book, “Start with Why,” and has been a popular subject in his Ted Talks and videos. The logic is sound and elevating the marketing past the amenities of the club has produced solid results. In further analysis, the why needs to evolve with the club to impact the financial statements. For example, the why of some clubs is centered on the members’ enjoyment and the delivery of a consistent, high-quality member experience. However, when the financial statements are examined, the results are quite different. One reason for this is that these clubs rely on outside revenue to drive the staff’s focus and attention to create a sustainable financial model. For instance, over half of the food and beverage revenue at some clubs is driven by weddings and banquets. The clubs were built to drive this business and be the place for these types of events. The result is a food and beverage department that comes close to breaking even or making money. But at what price is this achieved? The focus and attention of the food and beverage team is on managing the outside business, which also dictates most of the capital spend on items that support the operation. At the same time, the member dining experience is far from a priority. The return on investment for the daily dining experience is far less than the banquet business. Or is it? It’s well documented that the member dining experience is a key driver in creating promoters of the club. The net promoter score (NPS) is a key statistic that measures the health of the club’s culture. On a scale from one to 10, how likely are you to refer the club to a friend or colleague? If the member answers nine or 10, then they are considered a promoter. If seven or eight, then the member is considered a passive, and at six or less, a detractor. The percentage of promoters is then subtracted from the percentage of detractors, thus giving the NPS. If the club were truly living the why then the financial statements reflect the focus. The food and beverage department would serve as an amenity and provide an excel38


lent member experience at the club. The financial result would be different, but so would the dues line too. The club would invest in a membership sales director instead of a catering sales manager. The club would be open for members and not closed for special events. The longterm effect is a club that will continue to grow and reinvest in the amenities that provide members joy and an enhanced experience. The bigger question is, how does a club change? How can you simply forego the Monday outings and big weddings that are so vital to the club? Change is difficult for any organization and to create change, leadership has to measure what is important and use a balanced scorecard as a lens. The member, financial and employee factors are all equally important in a sustainable club. The focus of increasing member dues and measuring through Full Member Equivalents (FMEs) or overall dollars is a great start. Growing the member dues ratio from 45 to 60 percent over five years with specific strategies will measure and keep momentum. The strategies encompass reducing reliance on outside events, using Mondays to further detail the golf course and creating programs for members on the weekends instead of closing for weddings. The focus on the results, along with smart strategic solutions, will create a change. More importantly, it will create a focus for the volunteer leaders of the club. Defining success and charging forward to reach the goals is crucial. Successful clubs will use the recent world events as a catalyst to create change. The pandemic created an environment where people are restricted in the ways they can be together. But since golf is a sport that can be played socially distant, the clubs that were open during the lockdowns saw record usage by their members. All of the clubs saw more rounds played in 2020 than in 2019, despite most of them eliminating outside play. Most clubs are seeing a renaissance with strong member sales and the result is increased dues revenue. The clubs that are succeeding also saw the crisis as an opportunity to be the solution for today’s environment. The future of clubs and leaders is dependent on living your why. Find it today and the plan for the future will become much clearer. B R



Steve Parascandola is a partner at the Smith Anderson law firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was the president of MacGregor Downs Country Club at the time of its acquisition by Concert Golf Partners. He can be reached at (919) 821-6775.

Pandora’s Box

Opening it can be scary at first, but the rewards can be great. You get elected to the board of your club, and you soon start to realize that you signed up for a thankless job. A job that comes with a lot of critics who are certain they know all the answers, but a job for which there are few good answers. Sound familiar? I was first elected to the board of governors of MacGregor Downs Country Club in Cary, North Carolina, in 2012. I knew almost nothing about our club, other than the menu and the tee sheet. But after about six months on the board, it hit me: We didn’t have any money. We could continue operating (barely), but we had no money for capital projects. And although our membership director could live with rain dripping onto her desk, prospective members were always asking why the roof looked like it leaked all the time. The following year, I was elected president of the board of governors. With membership levels too low and improvements needed to raise them, I decided we would simply issue an assessment to add some improvements that might help us out of the rabbit hole. The assessment didn’t go over well. We lost close to 40 members. Although the improvements began to help us attract new members, we still had no money to improve our single greatest asset: our golf course. Another assessment didn’t seem like a wise idea. We began assessing alternative ways to raise money. Hole naming rights, lifetime memberships, selling club land… we looked at all of them. Although we’d been an attractive target for acquisition by lots of different club operators over the years, that was a Pandora’s Box no one wanted to open…or did we? I decided we couldn’t credibly go back to our members for more money without first exploring ALL the alternatives. I never believed for a minute we could get enough members interested in a sale anyway (I was adamantly against the idea



myself). But my thinking was, we’ll find out what others are willing to invest in our club and then present the membership with either a member-funded assessment or outside investment. Of course, they would choose to fund their future by themselves. Wrong! As it turned out, our membership was pretty weary of always “just getting by”, and dreading the next member-generated scheme for fixing things. The folks our membership chose to negotiate with, Concert Golf Partners, were willing to invest money in our club and didn’t seem interested in doing much beyond righting our ship. That is, they were selling exactly what our members wanted to hear: Keeping us - our culture, our traditions, our staff - just the way they were. CGP would simply take away the things that kept dragging us down (debt and fears of assessments) while adding improvements we couldn’t fund ourselves (and would probably botch anyway). So, here we are, six years later. No more member gripe sessions. No more worrying about getting an assessment letter. No more membership “petitions.” No more doing much of anything other than enjoying the club and going home. Even up until the actual vote, I was against the sale, convinced we could and should remain member-owned. But after being all too privy to my three and a half years on our board (two as president) and learning more about private club operations than she ever wanted to, my wife threatened a divorce if she couldn’t take our ballot to vote “yes” to the sale. Thank God she did. B R

FRANK VAIN Frank Vain is president of McMahon Group, a consulting and planning firm service to private clubs. He can be reached at


2020 - The Year of the Member Forced by COVID-19 to adopt a member-centric operating plan in 2020, country clubs are having new found success. Making it a permanent focus is the key to a sustainable future. The events of this past year have shown just how flexible and agile club leaders need to be. At the start of the year, we were dealing with the challenges of a burgeoning economy – getting member’s attention when they were so busy with work, family and travel and increased competition from hot new restaurants and new age clubs. The industry was facing another year of flat to declining golf participation or trying to find staff in a world of near-zero unemployment. By the second quarter, it was all turned on its head.

increases. And guess what, members liked coming to their club; from availability of parking to a staff totally focused on them, clubs took on a different character. Operations and programs were simpler but enjoyable all the same. Members received better service because the staff knew they were coming because there were tee times and reservations for diners and pool users. It is easier to be effective when you know who and what is coming at you. That staff may have been better able to do that because they were not distracted by wedding planning or tired from putting in overtime during the Monday outing. Taking a cue from Rahm Emanual, club leaders should not let this crisis go to waste.

Eventually, 2020 became the Year of the Member. Clubs stood out in a world in pursuit of safety and sanctuary. Members had a desire for smaller social circles and safe places. Clubs also faced far fewer competitive outlets and with no travel, the staycation was back in force. To protect their members and staff, and because of a lack of demand and local rules, there were few group activities and very limited outside events or guests. The amazing thing is how well it all worked. Most clubs were trying to figure out if they would be able to operate, and if not, how would they keep their members. If they could open, how could they do so safely and effectively? Club leaders faced a patchwork quilt of new rules, had to learn new health terms and establish safety protocols. Clubs became everything from take-out restaurants to commissaries of highly sought-after essentials, like toilet paper and Clorox Wipes. Eventually, 2020 became the Year of the Member. Clubs stood out in a world in pursuit of safety and sanctuary. Members had a desire for smaller social circles and safe places. Clubs also faced far fewer competitive outlets and with no travel, the staycation was back in force. To protect their members and staff, and because of a lack of demand and local rules, there were few group activities and very limited outside events or guests. The amazing thing is how well it all worked. Golf play went off the charts, tennis play was up significantly, and club usage was high. Instead of losing members, many clubs saw 42


While clubs were forced into a member-centric operating model due to COVID, they should use the lessons learned to make it an intentional part of their strategy for 2021 and beyond. The big takeaway is that this is a great time for clubs to clarify their priorities, effectively doubling down on their members. Anecdotal comments on financial performance, and validation from our friends at Club Benchmarking, indicate all those supposed revenue-generating activities did more on the revenue side than they did to generate net income. Doing the things to keep members happy and satisfied and generating more “whole-dollar” dues and fees is the path to success and sustainability. Under the cover of COVID, club leaders should take the opportunity to focus on the member experience, reduce the distractions and stop chasing commercial activities. Your club will be better for it today and in the postCOVID world. B R

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The Change Agent Needs Key Skills Change management is challenging, yet in 2020, we learned that our very existence was dependent on the ability to adapt to business disruption. Organizational change management has become an important piece of every club’s strategic plan and business model. Real estate patterns, societal diversity, workplace transformations, health care priorities, the expanding labor market, an uncertain economy and rapidly evolving technology will force clubs to respond in order to survive. How club leaders implement their plan will make or break the club’s success. Organizational change is a process that takes contemplation, determination, and practices to minimize employee resistance and cost to the company while simultaneously maximizing effectiveness of the change efforts. Transitioning from ‘here’ to ‘there’ in a private club brings a complex layer because it must be done without jeopardizing the member experience in the process. A pretty tall order! Clubs are thinking about strategy right now, for good reason. Yet, how much thought is going into successful implementation? According to Harvard Business Review, 60-70 percent of organizational change projects fail. Research shows that employees resisting the change and poor internal communication are two main reasons for organizational change failure. CHANGE CONCEPTS Traditional change models had top-level management or leadership as the originators of change concepts. Without input from employees and mid-level managers, leaders miss important insights and innovative ideas from those serving (or supporting) the member daily. The new change management model includes input from employees and mid-level managers because they are the main drivers of impactful change. In 2020, there was an unquestionable impact from middle managers and employees who stepped up in a time of crisis and showed true innovation and leadership abilities. From general management to the line-level employee, we saw club employees collectively help their club’s design processes in a way that enabled continuous adaptation to a changing world. An unexpected benefit was the camaraderie and team spirit that happened as they collaborated and leaned on one another. Their example teaches an important lesson. When club leaders delve into updating strategy, the impact must be vetted as part of the discussions. What are the im44


pacts of the change? Who will be affected the most? How will it be received? Soliciting feedback from those who recently ‘stepped up’ when needed, the change agents will help determine where training investment is warranted and where support is most needed, which in turn feeds into capital or operating budgets. Without their valuable feedback and buy-in, employee resistance and communication failure will be roadblocks when trying to implement a new strategy. In the next few years, change management skills will be fundamental for club leaders. Capable behaviors, talents and skills must include risk-taking, letting go of old responsibilities and embracing new ones while collaboratively managing a structured change process. The effective change agent must be equipped with key leadership skills: • comfortable with seeking feedback, asking for help and input • offering help to others, generously • openly and transparently sharing information, solidifying trust in the process • able to identify and suggest improvements to processes, people, or systems • able to experiment and troubleshoot new ideas or practices quickly • able to learn from failures and mistakes and redirect efforts. Honest, transparent and two-way communication is crucial with employees, which is never more important than during times of transition. In 2020, leaders fine-tuned their awareness and communication skills by recognizing employees’ psychological needs and taking appropriate action. When embarking on organizational change, it’s imperative to manage employee alignment by developing (or continuing) the change-centric mindset with the group. Successful change agents align their respective team with the change desired. Change agents are adept at ensuring employees grasp their role in the implementation process and are firmly on board by cultivating a work environment where employees feel a sense of belonging and care for one another, helping those who are naturally resistant to change. A strong focus on rewarding positive behaviors can transform organizational culture, and change agents know to recognize employees at every level and with every deSEE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - PENNELL | 102

GREG PIESCHALA Greg Pieschala, president of BrightView Golf Course Maintenance. He can be reached via email:


Stewardship of Your Golf Course A Board Members Guide

For most private clubs, the golf course is critical to the success of the club. The characteristics of the course and its condition are key factors in attracting and retaining members. Maintaining the course is a large, if not the largest, cost element in a club’s budget and improvements to the course and infrastructure are major draws on capital. Yet, few board members have a frame of reference for evaluating the conditions, expense or capital needs of the golf course. Over the next five issues, we will focus on critical questions, frameworks and tools that board members can use to fulfill their stewardship role. We will cover topics from a board member’s perspective (we will NOT be discussing topics such as the merits of different fertilizer types!). It’s not a board member’s role to micromanage the golf course superintendent but rather to have enough knowledge to ensure that results and resource usage are optimized to support the club’s success. “How much should we be spending on golf course maintenance?” Right up front, that’s the wrong question to ask. Club Benchmarking published an insightful article on its website in 2017 ( golf-course-maintenance-how-much-should-you-spend). It concludes that while multiple benchmarks (per hole, per acre, etc.) can be found, none explain why two courses of similar acreage just a few miles apart may spend radically different amounts maintaining their course – sometimes by a factor of two. Based on their data and insights, Club Benchmarking concludes that clubs “spend what they can afford to spend” on golf course maintenance and that the share of total spending on the golf course as a share of total club costs is remarkably consistent across clubs. Spending depends on the resources available to operate the club overall – clubs with more resources spend more on their golf courses. The right question for a board member to ask about spending is: Are we getting the most out of what we spend on our golf course? and two ancillary questions: What conditions improvement would we see if we spent 10 percent more?, and What conditions changes would we see if we spent 10 percent less? Here are key areas for board member oversight and a high-

level summary of how a board member can play that oversight role effectively. We will treat each area more fully in subsequent issues. 1) Are course conditions giving the club a competitive advantage? This is the critical question. Industry research has shown consistently that course conditions are the most important factor for golfers’ satisfaction. How do your course conditions stack up against a relevant (and realistic) set of competitors? Do you have explicit, written standards for golf course maintenance? Many, if not most, clubs rely on implicit assumptions and anecdotal evidence on both of these points. 2) What agronomic and operational plans underlie the budget? Consistent with any other business, developing well-documented annual plans can have a tremendous impact on your superintendent’s ability to manage your maintenance program. A board member’s role is not to review these plans in detail but rather to be satisfied that they exist explicitly in written form and link to the budget and club priorities. It is also very important for you to be aware of how operating programs and practices comply with local, state and federal regulations pertaining to labor, water and chemical usage. What safety programs are in place to ensure a safe workplace? An annual compliance report for key regulations and practices should be available to the board. 3) How is the maintenance leadership team being developed and managed? A group of knowledgeable and skilled professionals leads your club’s golf course maintenance. How are they evaluated and compensated? Do they have specific performance metrics to meet beyond a budget? The art and science of golf course maintenance is constantly changing. Are there development plans and objectives in place for key managers to keep their knowledge current? Are there outside reviews or audits of conditions and programs? 4) What are the golf course infrastructure and equipment capital needs? While less exciting to discuss than capital for golf course (or clubhouse, or pool . . .) improvements, the infrastructure and equipment needs of a golf course are substantial. SEE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - PIESCHALA | 102



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RITA BARRETO Rita Barreto, president of Top Tier Leadership, is a leadership consultant, trainer, and keynote speaker. She can be reached at (561) 775-3396. www.


Embracing Change and Cultivating Innovation We are all too familiar that the year 2020 presented unprecedented challenges that most executives never dreamed possible. Facing the COVID-19 pandemic, government mandates came down quickly with curfews and ordinances requiring non-essential businesses to close. Business leaders quickly shifted and created remote workforces. I am sure that many of you experienced the immediate chaos and then adjusted, leading your club into the uncharted territory that followed. Most companies found that their crisis management plans weren’t relevant to a global pandemic and savvy executives were mobilized into action. Human resource managers were confronted with retooling the traditional office setting while developing new lines of communication with anxious employees. Home offices were promptly set-up with computers and relevant equipment to leverage the latest technology so productivity could be maximized. Meanwhile, CEOs, upper management, division directors and supervisors navigated the new normal and the corporate boardroom became a catalyst for change and innovation. Zoom became the new 2020 buzzword.

How to Thrive During Organizational Change 1. 2.

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Let go of the past. There is no turning back. Savvy leaders drive a future- focused agenda. Conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis through every department to gain clarity around your new reality. Review, refresh and recommit to a new vision engaging all levels of employees in the process. Be BOLD in eliminating programs and processes that no longer support your mission. Create a process that rewards new ideas and innovation. Become a talent magnet by creating extraordinary employee experiences. Step up internal communication to keep employees motivated. Lead with empathy. Everyone is affected in one way or another from the boardroom to the front line. There is no playbook for today – create one! Be sure to capture lessons learned. Establish change management as a core competency for everyone to embrace. Change fast. Your business has no time to wait!


As the saying goes, “Hindsight is always 20/20”. While many businesses floundered, and others declared bankruptcy, it’s also a remarkable testament to the creative human spirit that many companies and clubs survived and are now thriving. What were the key factors that led to success? What is the secret sauce? Recently published studies point to the industry leaders who had already cultivated a culture of innovation among their managers and employees were in the best position to pivot when COVID changed the status quo of their business-as-usual. Golf clubs across the country saw a spike in play triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, during the first two months that the pandemic hit, many warm weather country clubs and courses were closed, and revenue suffered. However, golf emerged as one of the few relatively safe outdoor activities that can be enjoyed despite the coronavirus, and members showed up in record numbers. Players adhered to new mandates, such as wearing a mask inside the clubhouse, keeping a safe distance on the course, and keeping the flagstick in the hole when putting. Golf shops got innovative, providing curbside service for retail items and holding “sidewalk” sales outside to reduce inventory. As weddings were canceled and club dining rooms closed, seasoned club managers updated outdoor dining spaces and added lunch and dinner menus to accommodate a more casual dining experience. Private clubs quickly implemented, adhered to and well communicated all CDC guidelines. Chefs offered to-go menus for members, residents and guests, and the majority of clubs operated with reduced hours and fewer employees. Despite these adjustments, the average loss of club revenue reported is in the 35 percent range. When innovation and new ideas are embraced, promoted, and championed from the CEO right down to the entry-level worker, the employees already understand the value of a new idea. They are more flexible to change. It was an easier transition for the places where communication flows freely in a positive direction. Employees are confident, motivated and loyal when they feel valued, appreciated and communication flows freely. SEE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - BARRETO | 102

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Bonnie J. Knutson, Ph.D., is a people watcher. A professor in The School of Hospitality Business, Broad College of Business, Michigan State University, Dr. Knutson is a member of the Country Club of Lansing and the Michigan Athletic Club. She can be reached via email:

Were You a Cinderella, an Aladdin, or Pooh-Bear Kid? This exercise helps you step into your members’ shoes and see your Like many of you, our family’s TV screens are now club from their perspective. It helps tell the story of your members’ stocked with online streaming sites. experiences with their club across all touchpoints. Social media. WebNetflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and a sites. Reservations. Family events. A round of golf. A tennis match. An host of others are complimenting or replacing afternoon at the pool. And even chits/billing. our cable service. I’ve always been fascinated by In other words, member journey mapping gives you the picture of the user profile identities everyone uses for these every point of interaction that members have experienced in their club, sites. For instance, our grandkids carefully chose helping you gain insights into any “pain points” that need changing. I the family’s Disney+ characters to reflect what guarantee that there are more touchpoints than you might initially guess. they see as our personalities. I’ve seen data that show that visitors to one of the Disney theme parks We have Edna and Jack-Jack from the Incredibles, have about 20 touchpoints before even setting foot on the property, and Ariel from Under the Sea, Russel from Up, and Roger once there, experience more than a hundred. That’s 100-plus opportuniRabbit, Darth Vader and the Mandalorian. Me? Well, ties for Disney to WOW its guests. How many touchpoint opportunities I am represented by Rafiki from The Lion King. to WOW your members does your club have? Journey mapping will help At first, I wasn’t too sure about the grandchilyou find those obvious ones, as well as many hidden ones. dren seeing me as a baboon, but Rafiki is really Have you ever wondered why the lines for the Indiana Jones Adventure a mandrill, which is somewhat related to the baride meanders back and forth through caves, mineshafts and temple ruins boon family but does have its own classification. before you board the actual ride? And all along the way, there are enticing Although a little eccentric, Rafiki is a “sage with videos that build excitement and anticipation for what is to come? a deep connection to magical and spiritual eleDisney realized that waiting around in long lines with nothing to ments. With his Bakora staff always on his person, do but wait did not reflect its “Happiest Place on Earth” mantra. And Rafiki uses his wisdom to guide those in need…” it sure wouldn’t be personal. Identifying this key touchpoint on the Whew! I feel better now. guest’s journey map helped turn a potential negative into a magical part As I opened the site and looked at our user proof the whole experience. files, I started thinking about how Disney is the But one of the biggest reasons for any business to journey map its expert in personalizing the visitor’s experience and customer experience is personalization. It can identify opportunities how customer journey mapping is critical in making to “create personalized experiences across all touchpoints for every sure this personalization is met at every consumer individual, across all channels.” Here is where Disney shines. And it is touchpoint. Here, something as simple as relating where any business can shine. each user to a Disney character on its streaming Take, for example, the case of a prominent east coast university. Like app achieves that aim and reinforces the connecDisney, it realized that a “customer’s” journey can begin as a child. So, tion between consumer and brand. when it learns that an alum has a baby, it sends an “acceptance” certificate If you have used customer journey mapping for with the child’s name to the parents. Hello! Can we say personalization? your club, you know its value and it might be valuCan we say possible personalization touchpoint idea for your members? able to do it again, given these turbulent times. If Personalization goes beyond the conventional birthday card or comyou have never used it, I urge you to run, not walk, plimentary birthday dessert. Those are expected. Those are traditional. to your friendly search engine to discover how Those are not WOWs. Journey mapping will help you identify nuggets of this process can strengthen the bond between personalizing WOWs for members and identify openings in the future. members and their club. There are myriad helpful Just as journey mapping has proven valuable to the entire Disney sites available to you. organization, it can give you a deeper understanding of how your memSimply put, customer (member) journey mapping bers respond to every aspect of their club experience. And just as it is the process of creating a visual story of your cus“motivated the company to try harder at making every [touchpoint] tomers’ (members’) interactions with your club. The a magical one,” journey mapping can help you make every member operative word is visual because, as we all know, a touchpoint more magical. Your bottom line will thank you! BR picture is worth a thousand words. 50




Robyn Nordin Stowell is a partner in the law firm of Sherman & Howard L.L.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona. Robyn may be reached at (480) 624-2736 or by email at

Committee Service

My Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades Most member-owned clubs are formed as nonprofit corporations under the laws of the state where they operate. The law refers to legal entities, such as nonprofit corporations and other corporations as being a “fictitious person.” A corporation has a birth certificate (Articles of Incorporation), tax identification, the legal ability to contract, etc. To the law, it looks like a human. Using that analogy, the board is the brains (decision maker), the committees are the body’s eyes and ears (provide input and information to the brain so that it can make decisions), and the general manager (with others, such as lawyers and consultants) are the hands and feet (execution of the brain’s decisions). For example, the committee can see the club’s facilities and those of clubs around town and hear what other comparable clubs are doing. It provides that input to the board, which decides if a clubhouse renovation is needed and instructs the general manager to put that renovation into motion. Looking at committees’ roles within the club’s legal structure, here are some improvements you might make. Committee charter: The committee charter should not be included in the bylaws. By including this in a separate document that the board has authority to revise without a member vote, the board can redirect a committee’s focus from year to year. For example, the clubhouse committee might be focused on one set of issues as it plans for and implements a renovation, but more focused on social events and online connectivity during COVID-19. When the board can redirect committees, the eyes and ears can contribute more for the brain. Board makeup: Be sure that committees reflect the club’s diversity. Also, many clubs find that having a board member chair a committee or at least serve as a liaison to the committee helps facilitate effective communication between the committee and the board. Meetings and minutes: Schedule committee meetings to align with the board meeting schedule. This committee submits its written report before the manager circulates the board packet for their upcoming meeting. If the committee is providing a report only, without a requested action item by the board, this can easily be included within the consent agenda that helps make board meetings more efficient. If the committee is requesting action from the board, the committee’s written report should



include backup information and the specific proposed board resolution. Having a board member chair or liaison to the committee allows questions to be addressed efficiently at the board meeting. Auditioning for the board: Many clubs require a term of committee service before the member may be nominated to the board. During their committee service, members will show whether they are reliable, collaborative, thoughtful, or focused on their own single issue. This audition can help the nominating committee find great candidates. Things not to do: Committees should not direct staff, spend funds, or commit the club to a course of action. Pay careful attention to a committee’s ability or propensity to control club resources. For example, I have seen a city club that allowed a committee to control access to court times and a country club that still allows a committee to control access to tee times. I’ve been contacted multiple times by that country club’s various members to sue the club. Other clubs tell me about that club’s crazy process of blocking out groups of tee times essentially for an old group of members (in gross violation of the regular tee time policy and likely a breach of the board’s duty). This type of control should not be vested in a committee. Just remember, well-managed committees can be productive contributing parts of the corporate body. B R

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CMAA’s 2021 World Conference & Business Expo Goes Virtual The Club Management Association of America’s (CMAA) World Conference and Club Business Expo is being reinvented for 2021 with a new, entirely virtual presentation. CMAA’s World Conference, held annually since 1927, is the largest gathering of club industry professionals. Unparalleled professional development and education, career-enhancing networking opportunities, and a showcase of the latest innovations available – the Club Business Expo – make this a must-attend annual event for club management professionals. CMAA remains committed to bringing the club industry together in 2021 for stellar professional development, networking, idea sharing and more, acknowledging our nearly 94-year history as an organization. Throughout this year, we have proven that we are stronger together as we leverage the power of our connections and our network. Our entire membership has demonstrated leadership, innovation and resiliency as we faced COVID-19. We made this decision after extensive consultation with venue partners including Visit Tampa Bay, the Tampa Convention Center, and our host hotels, and in consideration of current state mandated operating restrictions, safety and health regulations, and the input from CMAA’s recent member survey. Tampa is an amazing location and we are working now to secure dates for our World Conference there in February 2025! With the new format, we have adjusted the event dates to better meet the schedule of our club management professionals.



The World Conference will be presented in a Monday through Friday format, March 8-12, 2021. This fall we have presented multiple virtual events including the Leadership/Legislative Conference and Mid-Management Conference. We’ve learned from these efforts and will be focusing this knowledge on creating a stellar attendee experience. Our platform will be accessible, innovative, and engaging, enabling attendees to join from anywhere with internet access. While the format will be different, returning attendees will still have the opportunity to partake in what the event is known for. Attendees will hear from insightful featured speakers from inside and outside the club industry; select from concurrent educational opportunities, earning education credits towards achieving or maintaining the Certified Club Manager (CCM) designation; connect with companies offering innovative products and services at the Club Business Expo; network with fellow attendees during multiple opportunities; borrow an idea or two from the Idea Fair, presented in a completely digital format, and celebrate CMAA’s award-winning Members and Chapters. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the World Conference to the entire club industry and we hope that without the added expense of travel and accommodations that more professionals will be able to attend. We are already hearing about entire club management teams who will participate together. For the latest information and full schedule of events, please visit cmaa. org/conference/. B R Mark Bado, MCM, CCE, is chair of the Club Management Association of America and Jeff Morgan, FASAE, CAE, is president and CEO, CMAA. Founded in 1927, the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) is the largest professional association for managers of membership clubs with 6,800 members throughout the US and internationally. CMAA members contribute to the success of more than 2,500 country, golf, athletic, city, faculty, military, town, and yacht clubs. The objectives of the Association are to promote relationships between club management professionals and other similar professions; to encourage the education and advancement of members; and to provide the resources needed for efficient and successful club operations. Under the covenants of professionalism, education, leadership, and community, CMAA continues to extend its reach as the leader in the club management practice. CMAA is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, with 42 professional chapters and more than 40 student chapters and colonies. Learn more at

XHIBTZ business cards.qxp_Layout 1 8/25/17 9:32 AM Page 1


Steve Berlin 2012 - 2020

954.614.1505 Steve Berlin 954.614.1505

PHILIP J. HARVEY Philip J. Harvey, Sr. is founder of Preferred Club, Venture Insurance Programs. He can be reached via email:


Truth Be Told To The Club Industry!!!! If you can recall in the May/June Strategic Renewal issue of Boardroom, I touched on the many implications of COVID-19 especially on the supply chain and effects on the insurance industry. Aside from the effects of the pandemic, a year ago I started to notice the turbulent times ahead for commercial insurance buyers. What was a fortuitus thought at that period has become a reality heading into 2021.

years past is the rapid reduction of carriers providing supply to the marketplace. This is creating a severe price push in lines of business that have not fared well in the recent years. Recently in a leading trade report it was noted that rate increases are exceeding in most cases 25 percent in the property lines as well as substantial increases in deductibles. Also, substantial changes to coverage forms, i.e., limitations on flood and wind have created major liability on the shoulders of members in assuming uninsured exposures. Liability covers are being attacked. As previously noted, in past insurance reviews, social inflation is the main culprit in the liability marketplace. Clubs are being held accountable for social ills involving members and guests.

When preparing for the rapidly changing market, keep in close contact with your advisors, as well as taking advantage of risk management perspectives. This will help you in your coverage decisions as well as better positioning your club in the marketplace. Clubs need to continue to invest in preventive measures, thus avoiding the next potential expensive event! The combination of literally non-existent investment income and at the same time an Armageddon of loss causes across the globe, has finally hit the wall and initiated what the industry terms “The Hard Market.” What began as a modest effort in turning the tide in the 4th Quarter of 2017 of a one percent adjustment in composite pricing across lines exceeded 20 percent in Q3 of 2020, according to global Broker Marsh and their Insurance Market Index. This market result over the past year has rapidly created a pressure on the providers such as reinsurers and primary insurers across all lines of business. The valuation on loss dollars have been pelted by catastrophic weather and wildfires. This also has been compounded by the substantial increase in material costs and services across the board. How is it affecting the club industry? The major issue of today versus several 56


Directors & Officers coverage has tightened its availability to the marketplace with many limitations on valuable extensions of cover necessary in providing the broadest assumed cover to the client. By coverage type financial and professional liability has had the greatest price increases coming in at 40 percent up from 37 percent in quarter three. Cyber cover is getting very costly because of the substantial increase in ransomware incidents across the globe. As an example, excess umbrella liability was normally an option in the market with no shortage of limit or pricing options. Today for clubs to buy standard limit structures, it requires several carriers to fulfill at a multiple of what was paid last year. “Based on current conditions, the marketplace expects the pricing environment to remain challenging in most regions and across most products, with the firming market extending through the first half of 2021,” Marsh also stated. When preparing for the rapidly changing market, keep in close contact with your advisors, as well as taking advantage of risk management perspectives. This will help you in your coverage decisions as well as better positioning your club in the marketplace. Clubs need to continue to invest in preventive measures, thus avoiding the next potential expensive event! B R

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PGA Professionals Growing the Game SAYS PGA’S PRESIDENT, JIM RICHERSON Special to BoardRoom “A big surge in new golfers, a big increase in the junior space, and a big increase in first-time players” are all positives for Jim Richerson, PGA, as he takes over as the newly-elected President of the PGA of America. “It’s been great to see the renewed interest,” Richerson explained recently following his election as President of the PGA of America. “Once we have them for the first time, it’s reaching out and inviting them back. It is the invitation, the follow-up and the engagement that delivers the experience that golf is a community social hub that’s welcoming to all. “Again, it’s about providing as many educational and career-enhancing resources as possible to our PGA Members, so they remain on the cutting edge of the industry – while at the same time staying focused on growing the game,” Richerson added. “We’ve had great player development programs like PGA Jr. League and Drive, Chip & Putt that have been very successful in getting juniors introduced to the game. It’s also about first-time adult golfers and welcoming them and bringing them out. “It’s really concentrating on providing as many resources as possible to our Members, and then helping them to continue to grow the game through junior programs and beginner programs around the country,” Richerson opined. “Golf is a very unique sport in the fact that people of all ages can enjoy it together, and all skill levels can enjoy it together. There are just not many other opportunities to take advantage of a situation like that. We just need to tell that story to more people.” The PGA has gone on record ensuring that PGA Professionals and Associates have the tools and resources to continue leading this game, so what does this mean for PGA Professionals? “The Association’s mission hasn’t changed in over 100 years: To serve our PGA Members and to grow the game. Recently, we looked at and updated our strategic plan, and we talked about our purpose statement - to elevate and advance our Members, the profession and the game. It was written intentionally to have our Members at the forefront of our mission. “The role of PGA President should be focused on supporting PGA Members,” Richerson emphasized. ➤ 58



Leadership training and coaching g

g g


Strategic planning



Skill building workshops


Board governance and retreats Talent management strategies Respect in the workplace strategies Keynote speaker

“No matter what type of program we can develop, and no matter how good of a new Member benefit we can provide and promote from a national level, it’s never successful without the hard work of PGA Members throughout the country. We must continue to elevate each other for the good of the profession. “We are laser-focused on our strategic priorities, especially enhancing our award-winning PGA Member Education and Career Services programs. We will work hard and smart to increase engagement through our partners, so PGA Members have the resources and support available to grow their individual careers, businesses, and the game. By doing so, we ensure the value of the PGA Member badge for generations to come,” he added. With the educational certification programs and different career tracks available to PGA Members, what are the PGA’s goals for Members when considering the private club industry? “There are currently 1,617 PGA Members and Associates serving as general managers across the golf industry,” he responded. “PGA Professionals are the caretakers of the game, working to grow it on a daily basis. During one of the hardest years on record, PGA Professionals have routinely helped bring millions of people together by providing an unmatched experience that only golf can deliver. “In serving our Members, we provide them with as many resources as possible. Our Education and Career Services Departments offer the most relevant and advanced education programs through our Operations and Executive Career tracks – in addition to specialized career counseling for PGA Members to remain at the forefront of the golf industry,” President Richerson added. “As a result, PGA Professionals are well trained and educated leaders, and with that distinction comes the ability to manage private clubs, their memberships and staff, as well as mentor young professionals and associates to guide them to their next level. “This enhanced training, coupled with the widespread respect of the PGA badge industry wide, makes PGA Professionals 60



uniquely qualified to lead as general managers in private clubs and throughout the industry.” Richerson has a long history of involvement with clubs, especially as senior vice president of operations for Troon. There’s no question this background will stand him in good stead for his role as the PGA’s President. “Troon Executive Chairman Dana Garmany, the first-ever PGA Golf Executive of the Year, is one of my most recent mentors. He built a company that employs more PGA Members than anyone else. His calm demeanor and willingness to reach out and develop other PGA Members is something I want to bring to my role as PGA President,” Richerson offered. “Throughout my career, I’ve been the general manager of some of the top facilities in the country. To successfully lead a club, you need to listen more than talk. And develop a diverse and strong team to handle every situation. “As PGA President, I will commit to work with our officers, Section leaders, executive directors, and our staff to give them the best support that I can to be successful. “Troon has almost 500 golf clubs around the world, including more than 100 private clubs. We have a proven track record of success, fueled by the knowledge and expertise of PGA Members. I will try to make sure on both accounts, with Troon and the PGA of America, that we continue to introduce more people to the game, continue to grow the game, and give more opportunities for members and guests to enjoy the game,” he exclaimed. “The entire PGA membership should be proud of how we have adapted and demonstrated the positive impact of this incredible game, which can be played and enjoyed in a healthy and responsible way. “Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the game is surging again, and we have a stable foundation to grow moving forward. We brought golfers back in big numbers, opened doors for newcomers to the game, and we’re driving club membership growth like never before,” he injected. “Alongside our allied partners, we’ve championed a dynamic Back2Golf strategy, and the game has roared back from a lengthy shutdown. Fueled by our nearly 29,000 Members and Associates, the PGA of America advocated and embraced the return of golf at all levels, welcoming golfers with open arms, while adhering to the new guidelines of social distancing to ensure responsible workplace practices for employees, members and customers. “The business is now well positioned moving forward, and a lot of credit goes to our PGA Professionals. From coast-to-coast, they stepped up and showed tremendous resilience and leadership in standing on the front line, effectively pivoting, and managing the game through the hardest of times,” he concluded. B R


KINLOCH GOLF CLUB #1 Best New Course, Golf Digest America’s Top 100 Golf Digest “I have worked with several architects and have been asked to interview and select architects for several clients. Of the group, no one is as hands on as Lester…You will find no one as dedicated to the job or the management of the project…He is thorough, loves his work, and is always available.” ~ Vinny Giles

“His creativity in design is second to none…Lester's "Process" of building support was critical to our success. Lester worked tirelessly…meeting with hundreds of our members and understanding what they wanted. Even our most vocal critics appreciated his candor…Lester was an expert at diffusing their angst and even turning several of our critics into supporters.” ~ Alan Coshatt, Vestavia CC

BALLYHACK GOLF CLUB #3 Best New Course, Golf Digest

Photo by Evan Schiller

“Lester’s extensive research prior to the beginning of the project allowed us, at his direction, to truly understand all aspects of the original design and how it could be incorporated into a golf course that worked for the modern game of today.” ~ James E. Searle, Country Club of Florida



Photo by Jon Cavalier

Photo by Ryan Montgomery

New Course Design Renovation Restoration Practice Facilities Short Courses

JOHN R. EMBREE John Embree is CEO at the United States Professional Tennis Association and can be reached at (407) 634-3063 or via email:

Impacting the Job Market

USPTA Launches New Certification Program The paradigm shift is happening! Over the course of the last 12-18 months, I’ve used this platform to communicate the paradigm shift that the USPTA is undergoing to certify tennis teaching professionals. Gone are the days when a new applicant only had to take a six-hour on-line course and then pass a certification exam over two days. Starting January 1 of 2021, the NGB, along with the USPTA, has launched a new certification pathway that will truly “elevate the standards of tennis teaching professionals and coaches” (our mission statement). The requirements to become a newly certified tennis teaching professional are now much more stringent and robust. Anyone who wishes to become certified must now have six to 12 months of experiential learning (under the tutelage of a certification advisor) along with a comprehensive and extensive package of faceto-face workshops and on-line education. While the prospects of changing our protocols for certification is exciting, it’s daunting as well. We realize that we must improve tennis professionals’ training so that the consumer experience on-court is positive, which will keep people playing and become lifelong advocates. However, if employers, club owners, managers do not embrace this change and make a commitment to both hire certified tennis teaching professionals or encourage their tennis staff to maintain their continuing education credits and reinstate their membership, why are we going through this transformation to change the certification model? At the end of the day, if our “bosses” do not think it important enough to have their tennis staff certified and members in good standing with their respective professional trade association, why bother?



Would a country club ever consider employing a professional golf staff not PGA certified? The answer is, obviously, “no!” Why should it be any different for tennis? It’s imperative that country club boards and country club managers who read this message understand the value of certification and make it a point to: 1) Hire tennis teaching professionals who are certified from a fully accredited organization. 2) Ensure that their current staff has not let their membership lapse. Get them to reinstate! 3) Follow-up with each professional to ascertain whether they have complied with their continuing education requirements. 4) Require that every professional be Safe Play trained and background checked. Isn’t it the solemn duty of every club to protect your members’ children from the potential of sexual abuse when they are participating in club activities? We are not asking much. On the surface, this seems rudimentary. Yet, we have so many country clubs and commercial clubs that have not made this a priority. We need your help to support our new initiative to build a cadre of tennis teaching professionals of higher quality and better trained. Who does not want that? Coming on the heels of a challenging 2020, this next year is destined to be just as difficult. Even as we navigate the new norm, both in terms of the pandemic and our more rigorous standards, tennis is positioned well because of the safe environment and the social distancing inherent in our sport. Fortunately, tennis is experiencing a “mini” boom during the last half of 2020, with activity and programming better than those seen pre-pandemic. Let’s capture the new players who are experiencing tennis for the first time while encouraging those coming back to our game to stay involved. Just as golf has seen a spike in interest since last spring, tennis is experiencing the same. That’s good news for our professionals, for country clubs and our tennis ecosystem. If you have any questions or care to talk more about what is going on in your facility or market, please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and connect with me. I look forward to speaking: Thanks for your support of the USPTA. B R





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Jarrett Chirico, USPTA,PTR, PPTA, PPR, PPTR, is director of racquets of the Baltimore Country Club, Baltimore, MD. He can be reached via email:

The One-Two Punch of Paddle and Pickleball After nearly a year of uncertainty, one thing I can say with confidence is that this will be the winter of paddle tennis. If we have learned anything from the spring and summer months, it is that COVID-19 will only fuel an already booming sport. Tennis, which has been flat for over 15 years, saw a boom this summer and pickleball has grown from 3.6 million players to over five million in less than a year. The future growth in one sport is now dependent on growth in the others. Every person who plays one of these sports is a potential player of another if we make the effort to connect the dots by creating a total racquets program that gives members more options than ever before. As we enter the golden age of racquets, there is no greater one-two punch than paddle and pickleball to grow all racquet sports. Paddle has historically been the one racquet sport that can draw golfers off the course and onto the courts. The winter spotlight brings many different areas of the club together and provides members with greater value as they utilize their membership. Yet, when paddle season concludes in the spring, members are often back to the golf course, without pausing to consider continuing a racquet sport into the spring and summer. However, pickleball’s recent rise has given paddle players an appealing alternative in racquets during the paddle off season.



Pickleball and paddle have many similarities, including playing on the same sized court and using many of the same skills. This makes the transition between the two even easier in the already extremely accessible sport of pickleball. Most importantly, it keeps the camaraderie and relationships formed during paddle season alive all year long. The magical aspect of paddle is the passion of its players. Paddle has grown wildly because of the love and enjoyment exhibited by everyone who plays. You cannot simply play paddle. The sport has a way of turning everyone into a fanatic and that’s what makes it special. Pickleball is paddle on steroids. It is easy to learn, widely accessible, and fun for all ages and abilities. In many ways pickleball is a sport for everyone. These are the only two sports in the world that have seen this much growth, this much excitement, and help each other grow. And as paddle feeds the growth of pickleball, and pickleball feeds the paddle’s growth, growth in tennis begins to reemerge. We no longer have tennis members or paddle members, we have racquets members. When you have successfully accomplished this, you know you have connected the dots and created a thriving total racquets program. The only question that remains is just how big your paddle season can be. Similar to what we saw in tennis this past spring and summer, despite any COVID bump, it all comes down to staffing. Simply put, you can fake it in tennis, but you cannot fake it in racquets. It’s our responsibility to give our staff the tools they need to be both the best paddle coaches and players they can be. We need to light the fire that will rocket them into the future. As staff, we share our members love for paddle and pickleball and, because of this, will continue to grow these sports at unprecedented levels. Despite the many obstacles, there are limitless opportunities ahead. Focus on connecting the dots between racquet sports and you will find limitless success. Always remember that one sport feeds another and that it is this revelation that makes it our duty to be able to play, program, and coach all racquet sports successfully. B R





On behalf of all of us at Pipeline Agency, we appreciate your collaboration and support over the years. Thank you for your significant contributions to the private club industry.



Dave Moyer is a USPTA Master Professional and the director of racquet sports at The Country Club at DC Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona and can be reached via email at:

Will 2021 Be The Year Of Tennis At Your Club? We just ended one of the most tumultuous years in history and now is the time to look ahead to great things in a new year. One silver lining to come out of a pandemic year for the tennis industry has been the tremendous growth in participation and revenue at facilities all over the country. While many businesses were struggling to stay open and other areas of clubs were being shut down, the tennis courts were as busy as ever as players and families were looking for a safe and fun activity to do outdoors. A couple of things led to the growth in tennis this past year, including being rated one of, if not the safest, activities that you can do during a pandemic. With social distancing a priority, tennis provided that even with doubles. Tennis was also one of the few sports that didn’t really get shut down, especially in those areas of the country that wasn’t hit hard right away. Basketball courts were locked up; any indoor activity was shut down for the most part and gyms were closed. This left few choices and with clubs and facilities already having a captive audience with its members, it made for the perfect solution for those looking to play. Whether or not your club saw that growth in tennis in 2020, now is the time to set your program up for success in 2021. At the Country Club at DC Ranch, we have seen a 33 percent increase in revenue year over year during the pandemic and we are anticipating that will continue through this year.



As a staff, we are looking for creative ways to add programming and clinic offerings to keep up with the demand and maintain pro to student ratios. But our club isn’t the exception. I’ve heard from other clubs in Phoenix, New Orleans, Colorado, Kansas City and other parts of the country and they are hiring additional pros to keep up with the demand during this unprecedented time. So, what is your club doing to continue to capture the excitement around tennis and add value to your member’s experience? Tennis is a great amenity and can be the difference between having a singularly focused club and a wellrounded club. It starts with a staff that is willing to be creative and think outside the box. Are they putting programs together that get members out together in a safe and controlled environment? Right now, Americans are starved for social interaction and physical activity and having a program that doesn’t allow for groups of people to get together and enjoy the game of tennis is missing the mark. Socials that enable players to come together but still maintain safe distances are essential. Group lessons that focus on fun interaction and continuous movement fulfill the social and physical components. One change that we noticed early in the pandemic was the number of couples coming out to play together not only with singles but against other couples. We saw a rise in new men coming out for the first time with their wives, who were already active players. Because of that, we started a couples-only drill, which immediately became one of our hottest drills…routinely selling out. We offered a discounted couples’ price and made it a date night for them. Just a little thing like having your staff aware of changing trends at your club and knowing what members are looking for during this time can make a big difference in your program. I’m excited for the sport of tennis and this new golden era at the club level. Now is the time for your club to capitalize on an audience that is hungry for more. Make tennis a priority at your club in 2021 and you will not only have a more active club but increased member satisfaction. B R

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Cash Flow and Liquidity Setting Up a Plan

When we first started looking at the numbers for 2019, we were very impressed. 2019 was a good year for the club industry. Spending per member was up and back to pre-recession levels. Membership continued to grow, but still at a very slow pace. Some of the premier clubs were getting waiting lists back. The economy in general, while good, showed a bigger divide between the haves and have nots and the income disparity increased. Clubs experienced the same trend. The premier clubs succeeded while many other clubs struggled. Then 2020 hit. The advent of the COVID-19 virus decimated clubs for quite a while. Clubs were forced to close, started to pick up over the summer and with the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the fall, some states are starting to pull back again. While the stock market is strong, the economy is not. Hospitality is one of the most directly impacted industries. From restaurants being forced to close and hotels and airlines being impacted by a lack of travel, no one was spared. Clubs are no exception. The club industry needed to adapt and, all things considered, did so fairly well. City clubs were impacted the most not only because they had to close, but also because there was no one working downtown to use them even if they could reopen. In addition, much more of a city club’s revenue comes from non-dues sources, which are directly impacted by the closure. Also, since, in most cases, the cost to join a city club is not as much as much as a country club, members are more willing to drop the membership. Businesses are revisiting the need for maintaining a membership in a club if much of the workforce is working remotely. As a result, cash flow is critical as is the need to set up a liquidity plan. A liquidity management plan is a set of strategies and processes that minimize the risk of not being able to meet short-term obligations. 68


Developing such a plan involves conducting a systematic review of the key areas affecting the private club’s cash flows such as member dues, golf fees, staff wages and other fixed operating expenses. These reviews, in turn, provide the insights needed to make decisions that will accelerate cash inflows, justify cash outflows, and implement operational dashboards with metrics to provide timely feedback on the club’s liquidity position. At a high level, a comprehensive liquidity management plan has six components: 1. 13-week cash flow forecast to get a more granular view on the club’s cash inflows and outflows (along with their underlying assumptions) under different scenarios. 2. Accounts receivable management plan to review existing credit policies related to member dues and initiation fees and monthly charges (particularly for new members) and accelerate cash collections. 3. Accounts payable management plan to identify critical suppliers and vendors (such as food and beverage) and evaluate how to extend payment terms by negotiating terms and conditions whenever possible. 4. Funding options analysis to identify funding alternatives such as adequacy of cash reserves, debt refinancing or additional credit support from banks, or participating in government-sponsored programs. 5. Liquidity dashboard to monitor key liquidity metrics such as liquidity ratio, days sales outstanding, days payable outstanding and interest coverage ratio. 6. Liquidity contingency plan to determine specific thresholds and the actions that these thresholds would trigger, such as expense reduction plans, expenditures approvals and funding mix targets. At every organization, whether a corporation or a 501(c) (7) private equity country club, cash is the lifeblood of the business. It is a very valuable resource that requires careful management under normal conditions and timely intervention in crisis situations. This requires management to first stabilize the situation by developing a liquidity management plan to control the cash bleed, inject much needed resources, and monitor the situation SEE CLUB FACTS & FIGURES | 70

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from Club Facts & Figures | 68

on a weekly basis. In addition, it’s important to include an assessment of how circumstances are likely to play out in the short term. This is where a well-documented cash flow analysis comes into play. CASH INFLECTION POINTS

A good cash flow forecast is one of the most important elements of a liquidity management plan. Making projections about cash inflows and outflows, supported by well-documented assumptions, is a very effective tool in diagnosing possible cash pressures. In turn, this allows management to develop action plans to avoid or mitigate the impact of potential cash shortages. Cash flow forecasts also help to guide business decisions that lead to more efficient operations by optimizing the management of working capital. An effective cash flow forecast usually involves a rolling 12-month analysis of cash inflows and outflows and consists of three main components: key assumptions, operating projections (income and expenses) and a cash flow model (cash inflows, outflows, and running balance). Some of the key assumptions parameters to consider include projections for the next year on a monthly or quarterly basis involving revenue growth, gross margins, operating margins, working capital, capital expenditures and taxes. In formulating these assumptions, it’s also important to develop two scenarios: business as usual and worst case. This provides a more realistic perspective on potential operating outcomes for the organization. The second component of the cash flow forecast involves translating the assumptions into operating projections. This takes the form of a typical income statement (a.k.a. profit and loss statement) for the next 12 months. Operating projections give club managers and the board a good idea of how the assumptions play out in each of the two scenarios, while also allowing for adjustments to the assumptions as needed. The last component involves the cash flow model, which translates the club’s projected operations developed in the income statement into expected cash inflows and cash outflows while keeping a running total of the cash available. It is this running total of the monthly cash balance that will alert potential cash shortages with enough lead time to take corrective action. As managers see the effects of the operating assumptions in the business operating performance and cash balances, look for clues about what specific actions should be taken to avoid or mitigate impending cash flow pressures. 70


To facilitate the thought process behind the creation of an effective cash flow forecast, here are some important questions to consider: • What will the economic environment look like for each of the next four quarters? • What is the likely zero-cash date under the worst-case scenario? • What fixed costs and expenses (sales, marketing, and general) can be postponed, restructured or optimized? • What potential sources of capital are available? (e.g., lenders, vendors, investors) LEVERAGING WHAT WORKS

The process of developing a liquidity plan needs to be fluid in the sense that it must respond quickly to changing circumstances. This is not easy, as data collection and analysis rarely happen in real time, making the planning process more an art than a science. Nevertheless, there are several best practices that will help clubs adapt to changing circumstances and improve their ability to extend cash reserves. These best practices include: • Focus on short-term (13 weeks) and medium-term forecasting (one year). • Automate the process as much as possible. • Analyze forecast versus actual variances to calibrate assumptions. • Develop a forecast model driven by key metrics and then assign accountability for targets associated with each of those metrics. • Regularly share cash forecasts and performance information with lenders to encourage their support in lean times. Finally, it is helpful to think about the future in terms of probabilities and not certainties particularly during the pandemic. This will prompt a consideration of different values for the key assumptions driving the liquidity plan. The result will be different possible scenarios. A robust financial analysis including a liquidity management plan and cash flow forecast will increase the club’s resiliency and improve managers’ ability to make informed decisions under difficult conditions. B R Kevin Reilly, JD, CPA, CGMA is a partner at PBMares, LLP located in Fairfax, Virginia and has specialized in the club industry for more than 30 years. He may be reached at (703) 385-8809 or by email at kreilly@ Enrique C. Brito, MBA, CFA, CVA, CM&AA is a managing director of Transaction Advisory Services at PBMares, LLP, He has more than 25 years of corporate finance and investment banking experience. He can be reached via e-mail at or call (804) 977-5051.

BILL BOOTHE Bill Boothe is president and owner of The Boothe Group, LLC, an independent consulting firm. Bill can be reached at


Software Reengineering Explained It used to be that when a club became disenchanted with its management software, the focus was immediately put on finding a replacement system. Fast forward to today and we see clubs taking a very different tact – retaining their existing club management software (POS, inventory, reservations, accounting, website, communications, etc.) and maximizing its capabilities. In the past five years, about 75 percent of our club clients have elected to retain their club management software and reengineer it rather than replace the existing software solutions. But what’s involved in reengineering? Here’s a step-by-step description of the reengineering process.

management. Our experience with more than three dozen reengineering projects shows that the typical gap list includes between 100 and 150 items across all club departments. Step 3: Reengineering. Once the gap list is completed, the actual work of reengineering can begin. Items are assigned a priority rating (high, medium, low) and the more important ones are tackled first. Intrinsic throughout the process is remedial training for all software users. The goal of reengineering is to optimize the system’s configuration, train users to get the most out of the system and assure that all key requirements are satisfied. The actual reengineering work is performed by experts from the legacy software company, who work diligently to

Reengineering work is performed by experts from the legacy software company, who work diligently to address the gap list items and provide remedial training. In our experience, reengineering activity typically requires 30-50 hours of billable time from the software experts completed in a 90-day timeframe. The beauty is that the vast majority of the club’s requirements are satisfied without disrupting club operations or affecting the member experience. Step 1: Dissatisfaction analysis. Everything begins with software dissatisfaction. Displeasure can bubble up from the individual departments and users. It can come from executive management, from committees, from the board, or the members. Often the dissatisfaction comes from multiple sources. But what if the dissatisfaction is caused by unrealistic expectations, a lack of user training, poor system set-ups and configuration, or a lack of awareness of new features that have been introduced but not used? Enter reengineering! The reengineering process begins with a thorough analysis of the source(s) of software dissatisfaction to determine just how valid that displeasure really is. The analysis includes documenting all complaints, determining the severity of those complaints, determining the level of user knowledge of the system and deciding on the validity of the dissatisfaction. Step 2: Functional requirements analysis. This analysis documents the club’s key software requirements, which produces a functionality gap list detailing every shortcoming and wish-list item gathered from all club departments and 72


address the gap list items and provide remedial training. In our experience, reengineering activity typically requires 30-50 hours of billable time from the software experts completed in a 90-day timeframe. The beauty of software reengineering is that the vast majority of the club’s requirements are satisfied without disrupting club operations or affecting the member experience. Conversely, replacing the management software “turns the club upside down” as every department and every user must learn new and different features and procedures. Bottom line: Satisfying the software gap list with minimal business interruption has proven to be the magnet that attracts clubs to the reengineering approach. BR Bill Boothe is president and owner of The Boothe Group, LLC, an independent consulting firm that helps clubs understand computer technology, make good decisions and receive the highest value from their technology investment. During his 30-plus years in the club industry, Bill has assisted more than 400 private clubs with the planning, evaluation, selection and implementation of computer technology in all facets of their operations. Bill can be reached at

“As a private club, our members and guests expect the same caliber of Five-Star service that Forbes Travel Guide offers. Forbes Travel Guide worked with our leadership team to create custom standards, tailored training, and quality assessments which have been implemented throughout the club. We value our partnership with Forbes Travel Guide and look forward to continuing to raise the bar at The Union League of Philadelphia.” Jeffrey P. McFadden

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Country Club of Lincoln’s

Kim Robak Selected

Boardroom’s Distinguished Club President for 2020 Bill and I hosted two “social distance” gatherings recently. Chef Lorin created an amazing meal and Jon found two new wines to enjoy. It has never felt so good to stand far away from your friends and have a drink. AND I got to wear a dress! The first time in four months! And that’s typical of how Country Club of Lincoln President Kim Robak, and BoardRoom magazine’s Distinguished Club President for 2020, has responded with her work, emails and communication to her club members during COVID-19. BoardRoom magazine this year is recognizing 28 Private Club Presidents of the Year – 2020, for practicing what they preach – leadership for the betterment of their clubs – board presidents or chairs who serve as the volunteer leaders of their club. It’s the 13th year BoardRoom magazine has recognized the industry’s top private club presidents for their outstanding work. BoardRoom received nominations and applications from different clubs throughout Canada and the United States. “Our selection of the top 27 presidents and Kim Robak from the Country Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, as our Distinguished Club President signifies another successful search for leaders who have contributed so much to their private clubs and their member experience,” expressed John Fornaro, BoardRoom magazine’s publisher and CEO. The Country Club of Lincoln features an 18 hole, 6,500-yard links, one of the state’s most highly regarded courses. The club’s roster sits at 700 members, 60 percent of whom are golfers with the remaining 40 percent social members. ROBAK SHINES “We are thrilled by the great number of nominations we received this year, showcasing the outstanding work done by club presidents throughout the country,” Fornaro added. “We honor board leaders, exemplary individuals, who go beyond the basic requirements of governance and work collaboratively with the club’s management. The award underscores the role that a board president and her leadership play in driving a club’s success and contributing to its long-term health, particularly during such a difficult year. “The non-profit private club industry is the most difficult industry to be a board member or manager. Board members, who are also the club shareholders (owners), are also the customers. Often fraught with conflicts of interest, a private club can be very challenging to manage,” Fornaro added. “Through the process of collaborative governance, the general manager, the club’s president and the board members are meant to work collaboratively. We recognize board presidents that don’t delve into micromanaging. “Kim Robak shines as an excellent example of how the club’s president can work with her board and the club’s management, especially with the changes that have happened at the Country Club of Lincoln in the past year. “Micromanagement is not only frustrating for management, but also wastes board members’ often limited time to do their actual job, which is directing … setting policy, and not managing the organization or operations. That’s management’s job,” Fornaro emphasized. DIFFICULT TASK “President Robak had a more than difficult task ahead of her with the pandemic and replacing the GM/COO. Acting as the club’s true leader, she tackled the challenges head on with clear communication and determination. “Kim is not only a great club president but also a community leader. President Robak is the perfect choice for BoardRoom’s 2020 Distinguished Club President, and we are excited to bestow this honor to her, “expressed Gordon Welch, ➤





from Cover Story | 74

APCD, the spearhead behind the Boardroom Institute, the online training arm for private club board members. “Congratulations. The Association of Private Club Directors (APCD) is thrilled to recognize this outstanding achievement and award,” he added. The impetus for BoardRoom’s top president recognition program comes from its sponsors, the Association of Private Club Directors, the parent organization of Boardroom magazine, and Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, one of the country’s leading private club industry consultants and executive search firms. “Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace remains fortunate to partner with BoardRoom Magazine in recognizing the dedicated individuals who are willing to serve their club as president,” expressed Dick Kopplin, a partner in KK&W with Kurt Kuebler and Tom Wallace. “Our strong connectivity to club boards and specifically club presidents find us impressed every year with their level of commitment to the betterment of their clubs. Especially in 2020, during the pandemic, the leadership we have seen is truly impressive. That’s why we are so happy to assist BoardRoom in honoring these unpaid volunteers who give so much of their time and energies to improving the governance and management at the clubs they love,” intoned Kuebler. “Every year’s nominees offer such dedication and leadership, but we are pleased to see the recognition of President Kim Robak from the Country Club of Lincoln as BoardRoom’s Distinguished Club President of the Year. She completely embodies so many of the volunteer leadership qualities we see in outstanding club presidents. “She strongly supports her general manager, partners with her fellow board members to be strategic and stays focused on the club’s future, and most importantly, she feels honored to serve her fellow members,” Wallace added. “President Robak has done a tremendous amount of work while dealing with the pandemic and searching for a new chief executive officer all while pushing other plans for the club. It’s a very well governed club. She is a hands-off president who is really brave in clearing the path for things that need to be done,” Wallace commented. “We salute these volunteer leaders who are truly committed to enhancing the GM/COO’s effectiveness and the club’s success for their fellow members. Along with BoardRoom Magazine, we thank them and want them to know we appreciate their commitment,” Kopplin stated. A NEW CEO In early March 2020, CCL’s general manager announced he was leaving the club, and a new general manager wouldn’t start until September. So, those at the club had to figure out how to operate under entirely new rules, safely open the club’s pool and sports seasons, educate a membership on navigating a new reservation app, follow ever-changing health and safety rules, and, in the meantime, keep the whole show running. Enter Kim Robak… who served as club president and de facto general manager, working in tandem with the club’s 76


senior management to tackle challenging issues, but always with dignity and grace. “It’s important not to take yourself or the job too seriously. Having fun while getting the work done is essential,” said Robak recently. During the early days of the pandemic, president Robak composed frequent, thorough email messages to members, enlightening the membership on many club matters while balancing the heavy responsibilities of a presidency with moments of levity. Yay – the actual bar spaces of the club can now open. Knowing that we need to watch our expenses, we are looking at how we can open up our bar spaces across the facility with limited staff. The 19th Hole is open this week. I would venture to guess that there are a few spouses who are thrilled to hear this (I meant the wives!). n n n

Several of you have told me that you like these emails. Thank you for reading them — I can’t even get our daughters to read my emails. If it’s not a text, it doesn’t exist. So, I appreciate your reading them. n n n

Steve Jobs is quoted as saying, “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” Please know that we don’t take your membership for granted. You are the reason we exist. Our job is to make the most of your experience within the framework our health officials have provided. That framework will change over the next few months. In the meantime, thanks for sticking with us. But for president Robak, there are also other essentials, diversity for one. “Having a diverse board helped me to view the club through different eyes. Younger members have different needs than many of us who have been around for a while. Social members have different needs and expectations. “I recall modernizing our dining space for families several years ago. I was convinced that it was not the right move. I was wrong. The space has been the best utilized of the club and has helped to grow membership. It’s important to get varied backgrounds and viewpoints to keep your club strong,” Robak emphasized. DIVERSITY IS VITAL “This last year, we added language in our bylaws regarding diversity. Specifically, we added language to the nomination process for board members which states: ‘In its consideration of nominees for possible election to the board, the nominating committee shall give due consideration to diversity of nominees including, but not limited to age, gender, ethnicity, race, professional and occupational background.’ “Having a diverse board is, I believe, essential for the future growth of our club. Diversity comes in many forms – race and sex are the most obvious. But diversity of thought can be found in many places. Young and more senior members often have differing views; social members view the world differently than our golf members. “The architect brings a different viewpoint than the lawyer or CPA or even the fundraiser. The diversity of thought ensures that we don’t get stuck in our limited view of the world and that we can appeal to a broader membership base,” Robak emphasized. “We all tend to be comfortable with people we know and with people who are like us. That makes it difficult at times to expand the base of individuals considered for the board. We know the people we golf with or socialize with afterward. It takes effort to reach outside that small circle to expand the board’s expertise, but it is worth it. Robak talked about one example that happened recently. “When considering nominations for the board, I suggested a social member who is an architect. The committee didn’t know him and was a little leery of adding a social member and someone unknown. He was nominated and served. “The next year the club voted on a large capital project and our new board member was an essential part of the team to both select the builder and ensure that the project stayed on course. Reaching outside of our narrow focus was a huge advantage to the club.

“Talent comes in many forms. A good board knows that and acts accordingly. I heard recently that we shouldn’t confuse effort with results. It’s important to actually be inclusive, not just talk about it,” Robak stressed. That’s a point emphasized by Lindsey Bolander until recently, the clubhouse manager: “Kim was the guest speaker for the Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Conference during the fall. Her perspective on diversity is so refreshing. She’s keenly aware of the challenges that exist, told great stories and had practical insight on steps that can be taken to improve this. This kind of leadership will continue to help make important strides in the club industry.” ORIENTATION HELPS So, how has president Robak helped with the growth of the club’s board of directors? “Club leadership is different than leadership of corporate or other civic organizations. We are a service organization. It takes a little time to realize that we are stewards of the club’s resources, but we are not a ‘for profit’ entity. “The board’s focus should be on keeping the club financially strong and ensuring that our facilities are maintained for the future. A strong orientation program helps to set the stage for board participation and for the ability to focus on the big picture. “We started utilizing board retreats in 2019, and we are building on that process. We are updating our strategic plan and will use it as the focal point for each of our board meetings,” the Distinguished Club President intoned. In the minds of others at the Country Club of Lincoln, Kim Robak’s accomplishments are many. Take, for example, the thoughts of James Anderson, board member and president-elect. “Sometimes, the right leaders are just in the right place at the right time. That’s evident with Kim Robak and CCL in 2020. Kim possesses a

rare combination of confidence, accountability, determination, and humility that allowed her to be tremendously effective,” Anderson explained. Here, in his view, are some of her accomplishments. • Led the effort to recruit a new CEO to the club in a very organized fashion. • Mentored and guided key staff from April through September while we were in between CEO leadership. • Became an expert on Directive Health Measures and continually communicated with the staff and the board to ensure the club was in full compliance. • Tirelessly and consistently communicated with the membership during the entire pandemic. In talking with CCL members, people have come to not only appreciate but look forward to her email updates. You simply cannot over-communicate during times like these. Kim was transparent in her updates and provided calm to the membership but did not shy away from tackling a few tough subjects along the way. • A CCL President would rarely have to be the consistent face and voice of the club for so many months during their term, but she handled the challenge with grace, humor, and steadfastness. • In the last several months, once Wes arrived (Wes Hardin, the club’s CEO), she appeared to truly facilitate having new leadership here and then turned her attention back to completing or at least advancing, things she had set out to do at the beginning of her term. “Any of these items would have been a tall task on their own, but the combination of them and the success Kim had in leading all of them is remarkable. Even more impressive is that she had other significant community obligations concurrent to her term as CCL President, not to mention running her own business,” Anderson added. “Kim is among the best leaders I have had the opportunity to ➤ associate with, and this includes championship sports teams and

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from Cover Story | 77

Fortune 100 companies,” injected board and executive committee member David Slagle. “Her ‘servant leader style’ is evident in every interaction she has with everyone. Listening, communication, humility, engagement and delegation are hallmarks of her leadership. The entire board has commented at various times during 2020, we couldn’t have a board president more ready for the challenges we have faced than Kim.” Slagle viewed her leading the club through the process and hiring Wes Hardin as the club’s new CEO as one of Robak’s outstanding achievements. Additional achievements included: • Her calm, measured communication with the members regularly during the pandemic • Finishing this challenging year with the club in a strong financial position. • Keeping the club’s department heads and staff together, engaged and energized while as acting CEO for five months until the arrival of a new GM. “Kim has a naturally optimistic outlook. She refers to it as “pollyannish”, I prefer to think of it as great confidence and courage leading a team,” praised Slagle. “Kim will be known as the communication president,” added Lori McClurg, another board member. “She sent regular updates to all members about how COVID-19 was affecting CCL’s operations, the club’s revenue stream, closings and issues that CCL was working through. “Whenever I am with Kim at CCL, there are always people that seek Kim out and thank her for all her continual updates at the club. She has become somewhat of a CCL rock star with so many people wanting to thank her for information. CCL has been very open about COVID issues, including letting members know when someone who was at CCL was diagnosed with COVID-19 (we don’t print names).” Robak also has received high praise from CCL staffers. The management team and I are extremely excited about this award! Kim Robak embodies everything a club president should be. She is well respected, a wonderful leader and strong champion of what it takes to elevate a high-end country club to the next level. She handled all the challenges of COVID-19 in an incredible way, all the while searching for our new general manager position. I am thankful for her services during one of the most challenging times this world has ever seen. – Nick Muller, PGA, Director of Golf.

she fills within the community. I truly don’t know how she does it all. Kim was exactly the right person we needed in this exact position this year. Her calm demeanor, strong character and eloquent communication make her a leader in every sense of the word. And she’s incredibly intelligent and fun. If there’s a silver lining to being in the club business this year, it’s having Kim Robak as your board president. – Roxanne Filby, director of member relations.

“Kim’s ability to communicate to the membership during her presidency was second to none,” added Bolander. “Her communications kept the membership informed, connected and involved when those connections were oh, so important to the club, but also society in general. The sense of community was so needed during those first few months. “If I summarize Kim’s leadership style and philosophy in one word, it would be relatable. To have a leader with her combination of intelligence (she’s brilliant!), diplomacy and relatability is something rare. Add in her sense of humor and genuine kindness and we were truly fortunate to have her guiding the ship in 2020,” Bolander added. President Robak also spearheaded an emergency employee fund to keep staff employed and salaries in place. While the club reduced hours in departments, no employees were laid off. She explained that effort in an email to club members. We’re fortunate to still have access to some of the best food, and best staff, in town. A staff dedicated to putting member service first – making adjustments but keeping your club in operation with some sense of much-needed normalcy. However, our current revenue streams – take-out and golf – can only go so far. Several of you have asked how you can help. The board has heard you. For those of you who are able, we are setting up an emergency “COVID-19 Fund” to help our staff members who have been hit the hardest… If you’re strapped financially, we certainly understand. No pressure. But if you can contribute, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Time and time again, our members continue to amaze us with their hearts and kindness. Together, we can weather this hardship and emerge stronger than ever. And how has it been for a new chief executive officer arriving on the scene during a pandemic? “I envisioned a bit of chaos upon my arrival,” remarked CEO Wes Hardin. “Considering the club had been without a CEO since March, which marked the beginning of a worldwide pandemic, I think it was reasonable to expect I was walking into a bit of a mess. “This wasn’t the case. In fact, there was leadership in spades. Calm even. As ‘business-as-usual’ as it could be when you include the local health measures and restrictions, the club was facing. Many of our club leaders deserve credit for keeping the Country Club of Lincoln in the excellent position in which it has remained during this pandemic,” he related. “However, there’s a singular force that captained the ship through the hardest part – Kim Robak. Many clubs have survived the pandemic, and so far, CCL has flourished due in part to Kim Robak’s leadership. “Since my arrival, I have learned so much from Kim. Work ethic, kindness and positivity are three characteristics that I believe define her leadership,” Hardin added. “I have found myself wondering, ‘How does she have the time?’ Widely underOne of the coolest things that Kim has done as president stood as the busiest woman in town, she doesn’t seem to have a limit to what she of CCL is having individual lunches with each person on the can handle. Kim has an innate ability to make you feel like you are the priority, no matter how busy she is.” management team. Along with talking about ‘club stuff’, “She has proven, in this day and age, that it’s possible to be a great leader driven she also wanted to get to know each of us and what our interests were outside of CCL. It was also a great way for us by kindness and empathy.” “Any amount of time with Kim is quality time. And she shares it with everyone! to get to know her. Our two-hour lunch flew by. Kim is the Also, as this process will show, Kim is not concerned with adoration. She is the first best. – Rick Stempson, Director of Tennis and Fitness. to push credit onto others, even if she deserves some of it.” I didn’t know Kim well before she became board “Her positive outlook and unwavering belief in others breed trust in her mission. president. But that changed as the year unfolded. The Kim is the kind of leader that you would run through a wall for.” challenges of 2020 would sometimes put us in daily comAnd with that, we leave the final words to President Kim Robak: The best part of munication – consulting, positioning, collaborating. receiving this award is the recognition that the Country Club of Lincoln receives. We What makes that even more remarkable is her crazy are so fortunate to have a talented management team. They made my job easy and work schedule and the demands of the countless roles made me look good. They are amazing. B R 78


President’s Background Contributes To Country Club of Lincoln’s Experience Kim Robak, BoardRoom magazine’s Distinguished Club president for 2020, brings a wide range of experiences that positively benefit the Country Club of Lincoln, NE.

Robak, a senior partner in the law firm Mueller Robak LLC, joined the country club’s board of directors in 2016 and assumed her position as club president in 2020.

The former Lieutenant Governor of the State of Nebraska (1993-99) graduated Juris Doctor from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1985, ranking third in her class. She received her BSc from the University of Nebraska and continued with graduate work in communication studies. Robak is ranked among the Best Lawyers in America, Government Relations Law from 2009 to the present, and has received honors as a Great Plains Super Lawyer (2011-14). Along with her work at the country club, Robak has committed hours to community service over the years, including her position as Campaign Committee Chair of the United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County, Lincoln, NE. President Robak sits on the board of trustees of the Cooper Foundation, is chair of the Lincoln Community Foundation, where she has been a member of the board since 2004, and today is the Chair of the Nebraska Golf Association of Omaha, Nebraska, the first woman to hold this position.

She has been tireless in her volunteer work with groups such as Doane College, Crete, Nebraska; the Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, Nebraska; the TeamMates Mentoring Program State Board; Nebraska Foundation for the Humanities; Strategic Air and Space Museum; the First Plymouth Congregational Church of Lincoln, and the Foundation for Lincoln Public School. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2013. Robak remains a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association and served on its executive council from 2015 to 2019. President Robak has also served on numerous corporate boards of directors during her illustrious career. In addition to her membership in the Country Club of Lincoln, Robak is also a member of the Hideaway Golf Club in La Quinta, CA. She is married to William J. Mueller, J.D. and the couple has two daughters, Katherine and Claire. B R


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2020 Top Private Club Presidents & Board Chairs of the Year BoardRoom magazine for the 13th year, is recognizing 28 presidents as Private Club Presidents and Board Chairs of the Year – 2020 for practicing what they preach – leadership for the betterment of their clubs. Private club board presidents play a huge role in the professional operations of their club as volunteers working diligently with their board of directors and general managers, striving for well informed, but not emotional decisions. BoardRoom magazine’s 27 most outstanding private club presidentss and board chairs for 2020, plus the selection of Kim Robak, president of Lincoln Country Club as BoardRoom’s Distinguished President for 2020, exemplifies the focus on the leadership responsibilities, the accountability and the management of the board, while providing a healthy respect for the club’s macromanagement. “This kind of recognition for volunteers who give so much to the club has been long overdue, and since the first awards were presented 13 years ago, there’s been a steady growth in the nominations by club general managers and others in the private club industry,” exclaimed BoardRoom publisher John Fornaro.

These board presidents understand the importance of working, effectively and efficiently, with their volunteer boards and the dedication that’s required from everyone with whom they work. They practice what they preach – outstanding leadership to maintain best practices and an extraordinary member experience for their members clubs. Systems alone do not insure a good board. Key elements include commitment, competence, diversity, collective decision making, openness, transparency, effective communication with management and the membership, fiscal responsibility, development and establishment of the club’s mission, vision and policy direction, especially through establishment of a strategic plan. Successful board presidents draw upon the expertise of other board members, the club’s institutional memory and stewardship of the club’s resources. As well, board presidents provide new board members and future presidents with information they need to perform effectively as board members.

Congratulations to BoardRoom’s outstanding private club board presidents and chairs for 2020. Kim Robak. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Country Club of Lincoln. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Bruce Behrens. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Susan Brenner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Martin P. Brunk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William Choate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ken Christian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert Drab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joe V. Gattone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Andy Greenberg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bob Hill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dr. Bob Hymes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Denise Kuprionis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anne Lockie. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brett Long. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stephan Lowy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lyndell “Lyn” Maddox . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christopher Manning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joe V. McCart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mike Meath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chris Novy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert Shelley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . R. Patrick Sheridan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Meredith Shorkey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Harvey P. Stein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Richard E. Straughn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kristi Thoutt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scott Urdang. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert C. Walter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Wycliffe Golf & Country Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Baltimore Country Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Charlotte Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA The Berkshire Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Hammock Dunes Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Medinah Country Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Beach Point Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Westwood Country Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Kenwood Country Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA The Oaks Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA The Quechee Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Hollywood Golf Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA The Club at Carlton Woods. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA The Apawamis Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA The Club at Admirals Cove . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Midland Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Evanston Golf Club. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Williams Island. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Athens Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Myers Park Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Addison Reserve. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Mountain Lake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA The Ranch Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Desert Mountain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA Country Club of Buffalo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . USA

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Ted Robinson is a partner with Private Club Associates, a boutique club and golf management and consulting firm, and can be reached at (478) 741 7996 or via email:

Build A Winning Membership Department Team “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Just as in any effective sales department, the team members must be motivated, trained, and excited about the membership sales task and recognized and “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care rewarded for successes. This requires a of itself.” – Henry Ford thorough indoctrination, understanding and lots of practice. For each of your team members, you “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re must provide guidance and training for done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs how to ask questions regarding the prospect’s specific interest area (for example, “How did you become interested in types The membership sales person’s job title has evolved over the last 40 of grasses?) and how to identify and overyears from membership secretary to membership director. Early on the come objections (for example, “I’ve heard change was made as in the U.S. (as opposed to England where private it is difficult to find a golf game” or “How clubs originated) the title “secretary” has lost luster and prestige – also much of your menu is sourced locally?”). evidenced by the transition in many businesses to the title administrative You must have confidence in your team assistant. members when you introduce the prosHowever, for a private club, there can be another valuable reason for pect - and that takes personal attention them using the title membership director. and time by you, the membership departTo recruit the desired number of new members each year, a successful ment director. membership director must become just that – the director of the memberAll of the club’s staff, department by ship department – the membership team. department, should be considered part But you say, “We have no budget line item to add staff to the memberof your team. I witnessed a front gate seship department” and, “I am the only team member!” Correct, in most curity guard recruit a new member when cases, so where to go to expand the team – and why? The answer is to a car whose occupants were looking for recruit the club’s department heads/managers, staff, and members. another club approached the gate. Recruiting members to your department/team will be addressed in a fuThe guard had been trained in “memture article. For now, let’s just look at the department managers and their bership awareness” and suggested the staffs. Why the department heads? couple “look here” before going to their Prospects are looking for a new club for many reasons – camaraderie, original club destination. They did and golf, tennis, clubhouse décor and art, pickleball, food and beverage, projoined our club because the guard was a gramming, family-centric events – all the offerings and activities we see trained member part of the membership featured every day in our industry journals. Some want to go very deep department. into details. Building your department staffed by the Imagine if you had a prospect interested in the turf and other agronomic club’s department heads and employees aspects of the golf course? Why not turn that agronomy aficionado over to can be one of the most effective and reyour membership department’s agronomy expert, the golf course superinwarding projects you undertake. In the tendent. long run, you will gain time, members, reThe same should be true for the golf professional (perhaps a complispect and the satisfaction that comes with mentary lesson?), tennis pro, the chef for the culinary centered prospect being a solid leader. B R – and so on.



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STEVE GRAVES Steve Graves is president and founder of Creative Golf Marketing. He can be reached via email:


Innovation for the Duration Innovation creates traffic and traffic becomes habit. Habits become permanent. Let that sink in! Private clubs’ amenities tend to be the absolute ‘gold standard’ in every aspect of their club with the best golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool, fitness options and social experiences in the community. Private clubs have found that they are the place of protocols, comfort, safety and security, in the minds of the members and the affluent potential member. Not only do members enjoy the access they have at their private clubs, but they also feel much safer and more comfortable at their private club when it is available. These intrinsic emotions may be optics, but they are playing out in a very big and positive manner. When COVID-19 numbers spiked everything, other than outdoor activities such as golf and tennis went virtual at private clubs. The homes of private club members suddenly became an extension of the club rather than the previous marketing tactic. This reversal of mindset, and the corresponding innovation that became a necessity of COVID-19, is an opportunity that should become mainstream for all private clubs. Some clubs mistakenly used COVID-19 as an excuse to cut back on services and innovation at their club. They chose to furlough staff and to go bare bones with member services and member relations. These clubs asked their members to pay their dues but to expect little to nothing in return but, hopefully, a club still in business when all of the COVID-19 dust settles. The most successful private clubs took advantage of this emotional opportunity and marketed the security and safety of private club life. While consumers see nothing but negativity on-line, in print and on television, these types of marketing efforts have given the private club industry a very powerful and emotional aura for affluent consumers. 84


Every aspect of member benefits was associated with being at the club. Clubs advertised to prospective members that they should think of their club as an extension of their home. Essentially, a private club was only defined by the members’ relations and the physical plant components of their club on campus. The National Golf Foundation reports that golf play continued in October, with rounds total jumping by 32.2 percent over a year ago! For perspective, the NGF also reports that the last rounds-played increase of five percent or more for a full year was 2012 when an early-season heat wave contributed to a major uptick in play in parts of the country. Exercising outdoors was viewed as an acceptable activity while everyone was being quarantined in their home with most businesses shuttered. The definition of exercise swiftly worked its way into golf and society, thankfully, embraced golf as an acceptable activity and golf courses soon became packed. Although most private clubs have not been able to have robust “indoor dining”, innovation took hold while attempting to meet the needs of their clubs through outdoor dining and take out. There are many, many stories of private clubs having food revenues, based 100 percent on outdoor dining and takeout food, to be well more than their budgeted monthly in-dining food and beverage budget projections. Clearly, private clubs overperformed their budgets and these efforts were a lifesaver. Many proactive private clubs that offered their members “pantries” for members to purchase products from the comfort of their home are having extraordinary sales success. Many clubs are delivering these desired products to their members or allowing safe, secure and convenient pick-up service by the members. Why would this type of service ever end? Why would private clubs determine that this exceptional member benefit would happen only during a pandemic? One reason is that the private club industry has consistently had a difficult time adapting to change. The private club industry has an opportunity to continue to transform itself into a very “hip and with it” social and recreational hub. This transformation should not be short term but rather a material element of a private club’s long term strategic plan. Using innovation to interact with members away from the club allowed clubs to overcome the most common reason for resigning from a club – “We just don’t use the club enough.” By having their club available to them, through a variety of innovative strategies, virtually eliminates this resignation excuse. SEE MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE | 102

MIKE PHELPS Mike Phelps is CEO and co-founder of Pipeline, an agency specializing in branding for private clubs and communities. Visit to learn about their services


When to Introduce Membership Pricing Tell me if this sounds familiar… A new lead fills out a membership inquiry form on the club website. Along with their request to learn more is a note that says something like “please send membership pricing.” And if they aren’t asking about price, it’s one of the first things that will come up. Here’s quick proof: type your club’s name into the Google search bar and scroll to the bottom of the first page of search results to the section labeled Related Searches. I’m willing to bet that one of the first related searches listed is your club’s name combined with the phrase ‘membership cost.’ Far too many clubs provide pricing details right away to people who don’t know anything about the club. It’s usually provided at this stage under the assumption that this will help disqualify anyone who can’t afford it and prompt discussion from those who presumably can afford it. But you aren’t going to hear back from these people unless, of course, you are priced in the bottom tier for your market. That’s because providing pricing upfront – before you give someone the opportunity to develop a sense of value – instantly creates silent objections. You’re either too expensive (e.g., snobby, stuffy, elite, etc.) or too cheap (“what’s wrong with the place?”). Providing pricing before you establish value almost always results in comparison shopping where price is the only variable for your club. It’s a situation that will certainly disqualify a lot of leads, regardless of whether they can afford it or not. You can’t just ignore requests for pricing either. Unnecessary friction isn’t something that facilitates a positive buying experience. It’s hard to insist that someone must have a club tour or be “vetted” before pricing can even be discussed. And while our definition of a “tour” has changed a lot in the past year, it will always be code for a sales pitch.

Today, according to a recent Gartner research study, 44 percent of Millennials and 33 percent of all consumers prefer to have a seller-free sales experience, a general trend that sees no signs of slowing down. So, what is the right answer for private clubs? When should we introduce membership pricing? Our recommendation is this. The core of any initial pricing conversation for any membership product needs to focus 80 percent of the attention on the private club industry as a whole. This means describing why some clubs are expensive, why some clubs are cheap, what drives the price up, and what drives the price down. When you explain the details and differences, it defines a framework for establishing value. The final 20 percent of the price conversation is focused on where your club is positioned within this value frame. This is where you convey your club’s value proposition. In the perfect scenario, you do provide a range, or at least a floor for pricing (“We have a variety of membership options with pricing starting at $__ and increasing based on __.”). But the real opportunity here is helping people understand why your price is what it is, without actually telling them what it is. This strategy allows you to confidently address pricing upfront while you reserve pricing details until you can gain emotional buy-in. The decision to join a country club is never something that will pencil out from a purely financial standpoint. Membership offers intangible lifestyle benefits, so before pricing is fully introduced, you have to connect on an emotional level first. Win the heart and the mind will follow. The mind of the prospect will always create logic to justify what their heart has already decided. This is where brand is so important. There is no official book that dictates what the price of a club’s initiation fee should be. Instead, the clubs focused on increasing their initiation fees tend to focus on their brand and the overall value proposition that it represents, not simply a competitive market analysis. Every membership marketing effort reconciles back to your club’s brand. As pricing is the most common question on people’s minds when they initially inquire about membership, the answer becomes much more compelling and actionable when you address it in terms of overall value. Just think of it this way…when a new lead requests pricing, what they really want to know is your club’s value proposition. Google just hasn’t caught on yet. B R





Eliza Selig is the HFTP director of communications. She can be reached at (512) 220-4026 or

Finance-focused Tips Every Club Professional Should Know But Have Never Asked - Part II

Many of us working in clubs are firmly focused on our own responsibilities, making sure our corner of operations is running effectively and positively. While operating a club is definitely a team effort, we often rely on our team members to do their job well alongside us, without knowing exactly what the details are to get their job done. We asked club finance executives, members of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®), to run through some tips that help make the club business side a smooth operation. Here in Part II we continue with more tips that may seem like a no-brainer, but we are hoping a few give you an “aha” moment. Tip 1: Prepare an operational stress scenario during budget planning. – Daniel N. Conti, Jr. CHAE, CAM, CFO • CFO • The Jupiter Island Club As we have learned during COVID-19, the ability to implement flexibility during sudden unexpected changes in operations is critical. As a part of your club’s strategic budgeting process, have the management team prepare a separate budget that addresses a significant stress scenario that would have a negative impact on the budget and outline how it would be addressed. This is a holistic look at the entire operation and not a one department solution. As an example: With the warnings of the imminent shutdowns because of the pandemic, our club implemented changes to our payroll and operational expenses based on anticipated reductions in revenues. But note, that this is not a scenario that would ever be used to set dues, as those should be based on normal member expectations and operations. Tip 2: Give incentives for going green. – Stephanie Anderson, CHAE, CPA, CGMA • CFO • River Bend Golf & Country Club The best way for a club to move toward “green” operations is to give members the option to take a discount on annual dues, if a member selects it. This option would provide digital-only versions of club communications such as newsletters and statements. Many clubs choose to instead charge for the printed materials, but I find that it is better 86


accepted and a lot easier to get someone to sign up for a discount. The discount does not need to be high, i.e. $20, but it will be meaningful. Tip 3: Get a capital reserve study done. A capital reserve study is a great starting point for your planning at the club. Understanding not just your current capital needs, but also your long-term capital needs will help to define what your capital fees should be going forward and is well-worth the expense to help support increases. Study results make it easier for members to understand why increases are necessary. I have implemented a 17 percent and 20 percent increase in two years after such a study and now our club is in a much better financial position going forward because of these changes based on the plan. Just make sure you have it done by a club-specific reserve study company and check the company’s references. Tip 4: Guard your controller’s time. – Thomas Smith, CHAE • Chief Business Officer • Imperial Golf Club A typical controller is known to take on many roles in the back office that are not usually considered part of the job descriptions. They usually have at least 30 hours of detailed work per week to focus on, before turning their attention to special projects, meetings and the multiple day-to-day interruptions. To ease the load of these superfluous distractions, take stock of what can be delegated away from the controller to bring focus back to their core responsibilities. Suggestions include cross-training employees to establish multiple in-house experts. Emphasize to all departments the importance of detailed financial reports submitted in a timely fashion and hold managers accountable to a timetable. Ask that board member requests be run through the general manager versus directly to the controller. Require all questions to the controller be sent via email to give them time to reply with an informed answer. Encourage the controller to work behind a closed door one or two days a week. Controllers want their clubs to run smoothly and are happy to help, but it can become over-

whelming with so much detailed work, plus the extras that come naturally with the job. Tip 5: Know your club and all its parts. —Eileen Sarris, CPA, CHAE • CFO • The Field Club Board members, how well do you know your club? You may have previously been involved on some committees before becoming a board member, but as a board member, there are many nuances to the club of which you are probably not aware. Serving on the board requires you to go beyond your favorite amenities and consider what is best for the club as a whole. Take the time to ask questions and get to know member demographics, attrition rates and the admissions process. Understand what is involved with operating the multiple departments and amenities, as well as the financial health of the club. Along the same lines of knowing your club, get to know who your membership is. Understanding this, the nominating committee can select directors who are representative of the membership. Consider the various member demographics, including age, gender, club amenity interests, membership span, family group composition and more. The better the member range is represented in club leadership, the better the board’s perspective will be when discussing club issues and strategic planning, engendering member satisfaction in their club. Tip 6: Fiduciary responsibilities. —Frank Wolfe, CAE, FIH • CEO • Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals Conflicts of interest can also breach the trust of a fiduciary. For example, if a board member and someone in their family has an interest in an issue that the board is deliberating on, they should recuse themself from all current and future discussions on the debate. Otherwise, it could hit the front page of the club news and give an appearance of improper action, even if that was not the intention to do so. Another director responsibility is that they are charged with overseeing its activities mandated in bylaws and rules. Boards who don’t hold regular meetings, don’t treat members equally, don’t pass budgets properly or engage in activities that are not proper may also breach fiduciary responsibility. As a board director, you should be able to act fairly, logically, and understand that the board does not solve member disputes. Otherwise, you might end up in an emotional battle that might cost more than you are willing to pay. One final bit of advice: Regardless of what your bylaws say, make 100 percent certain that your association has Officers and Directors Liability Insurance that covers your actions. Some of these insurance policies do have exclusions for acts considered illegal and it’s a good idea to understand what those definitions are. B R

Inspire and Support Excellence In Board Governance Through Collaborative Governance

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Do you believe effective club governance is critical? Are you looking to reduce micromanagement in your boardroom? Are you concerned about your club’s legal exposure? Are you concerned a board members may violate privacy issues?

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STEVE SCHENDEL Steve Schendel is vice president/agronomist with Golf Maintenance Solutions. He can be reached at (630) 220-5977 or via email:


Innovation Takes Center Stage As 2020 comes to a close, there is no doubt that innovation remains instrumental for most, if not all, in the golf industry and our daily lives. Merriam-Webster defines innovation as “a new idea, method, or device / the introduction of something new.” Along with innovation I also think of invention and the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” With the COVID-19 pandemic, we all were forced (due to necessity) to make innovation a priority to ensure success at our clubs and in our daily lives. As we entered the golf season, our standard operating procedures no longer existed, and everyone needed to become innovative out of necessity. While this made everyone uncomfortable, we have seen some great things happen with golf in 2020. I can’t think of a golf course that I’ve visited this year where rounds and or membership were not up. This is true for private, public and resort / daily fee courses alike. Certainly, getting outside and enjoying recreation quickly became a priority for many this year and golf was there to welcome seasoned veteran players as well as newcomers. It is important to reflect on 2020 though and see how innovation has really impacted the game and made it more enjoyable. Some of the innovative ideas involved outside-the-box thinking for new products, while other ideas and changes are simple concepts that quite honestly could have helped grow the game of golf years ago if we had the foresight to implement them before a pandemic forced us. I think of simple things like longer tee time intervals, leaving the flagstick in the cup, one rider per golf cart and reduced bunker rakes/amenities on the golf course. There is no doubt there’s a correlation between revenue and many of these items. I’m not a mathematician or accountant, but I can easily understand that two people in a cart are more efficient than one person per cart. However, because of this innovation, the pace of play has improved at most facilities and the game of golf has become much more enjoyable because of many of these adjustments. Will these innovations remain in place once we get through the pandemic? The truthful answer is that many of our operating procedures will revert to the way we operated before. It will be important though to embrace the positives that we have experienced over the past year and see how to keep interest and participation growing for years to come. Throughout the winter, we discuss attending various local events and the annual Golf Industry Show (GIS) in February. When we think of innovation, another thing that certainly has changed in our world is education.



Those who have kids in school can relate to this. Whether it’s on-line learning, in-person learning with elevated COVID19 protocols in place, or some sort of “hybrid” learning, the way we are educated in today’s world is very different from what we had become accustomed to. This is also true for how we continue our education within the golf course maintenance industry. As many are aware, the GIS originally scheduled to take place in Las Vegas in February of 2021 has been changed to an on-line virtual format. While I enjoyed the conversations and interaction with new and old acquaintances at the GIS, there are some positives with this new approach to learning. One of the nicest things about this virtual conference is the ability to include your staff and help develop them to build a stronger team for the future. As we head into 2021, keep innovation as a priority. Continue re-thinking how we maintain our golf courses and how golf course maintenance can continue adding to a quality experience and improved pace of play with gained efficiencies. It shouldn’t take necessity to make us keep looking for different ways of doing things. Innovation and invention should be part of our daily lives and foresight. BR

DAVE DOHERTY Dave Doherty is CEO and founder of the International Sports Turf Research Center, Inc. (ISTRC) and holds three patents regarding the testing of sand and soil- based greens. He can be reached at (913) 706-6635 or via email:


The Anatomy of a Golf Green When starting the International Sports Turf Research Center some 40 years ago, many experts and knowledgeable people in the sports turf industry were telling me the work I was undertaking was a waste of time and money. Why? Because the physical properties of sports turf were too complex and there were too many variables to ever come up with quantitative numbers that would have meaning or benefit to the sports turfs industry. Fortunately, those experts have been wrong. Learning to understand the physical properties of sports turf from working in my lab turned out to be very simple. The two most important things in a sports turf mix are solids and pores. Pores, which are the spacing between the solids, come in different sizes depending on the size and quantity of the solids. Gravity pulls water from the larger pores leaving them to hold oxygen and other gasses. The pull of gravity is not strong enough to pull water/moisture from the smaller pores leaving them to hold water/moisture. Simply put: • Larger pores contain oxygen and other gasses • Smaller pores hold moisture • Solids supply stability. Plant roots do not live in solids and they do not live in water. Therefore, the roots of our grass plants can only live in the larger pores, which have the capability of containing the oxygen and other gasses that our plants need. The smaller pores contain moisture, which our plants need to cool themselves. Now… the $64 million question: How many air pores do we need in a root zone to maintain a healthy grass plant? Ideally we would have a ratio of 1 X 1 of air pores to water pores but in most cases that is not possible. The number of air pores we need is dependent upon the number of roots we have that need oxygen. The newer grasses, because they have a denser canopy and a denser root system, require more oxygen than the grasses of 20 years ago. One of the questions most asked today in the golf industry is this: Do we really have to do disruptive aerifying in the spring and fall, when maybe we could skip a disruptive aerifying and have some additional outings to bring in much needed revenue? And another most asked question: Can we regrass and not totally rebuild?

One of the questions most asked today in the golf industry is this: Do we really have to do disruptive aerifying in the spring and fall, when maybe we could skip a disruptive aerifying and have some additional outings to bring in much needed revenue? Before either of these can be answered, we need to know the physically properties and especially the ratio of air to water pores. Recently while explaining the physical properties of golf greens to the green committee, board of directors and some prominent members of a golf course, and explaining what they had in their greens and where they were deficient, we engaged in a discussion about what the physical properties of their greens should be and could be, and how greens age and the major causes of green failure. Not one of the 32 people made a move to leave the meeting, which after three hours instead of the one-hour we had planned, came to a very positive conclusion. The attendees received the information, based on science that they needed to address the issues that they were being confronted with at their golf club. A meeting for the rest of the members, to explain the club’s options to solve their issues, followed. But my point is: Once the attendees understood the air to water ratios and the function of each, they were able to think clearly and objectively about what the club should do to resolve the issues with their golf greens. B R JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021 — 25TH ANNIVERSARY | BOARDROOM


ANGELA HARTMANN Angela Hartmann, GCSAA director, marketing and communications. She can be reached via email:


A United Front Golf was one of the unexpected (and few) success stories of 2020. As the heart of the golf season ended in August, rounds were up by double digits despite the temporary closure of golf courses in March and April because of the pandemic. And as 2021 starts with optimism that life will soon return to normal with effective vaccines, the lessons learned from 2020 will continue to benefit the golf industry for years to come. Whether on the national organization level or at the facility level, every facet of a club’s operations had to come together to embrace the new safety protocols and forget “business as usual” to help make golf a safe and healthy escape. For clubs across the country, the teamwork needed to adapt successfully can drive future success. GCSAA is highlighting the importance of teamwork during the two general sessions of the 2021 Golf Industry Show February 2-4. The 2021 event will be presented in a virtual format that will continue the GIS’s long tradition of connecting attendees, exhibitors and industry experts through a progressive week of unparalleled educational opportunities and access to golf facility solutions for golf industry professionals. At 11 a.m. EST on February 3, leaders of some of golf’s key organizations will come together for the general session, “Managing the Challenges of Disruptive Change.” Hosted by GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans, the panel will feature PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, LPGA Commissioner Michael Wahn, USGA CEO Mike Davis and PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh. “The session will take a look at how golf is managing the crisis, how it’s moving forward to face other challenges, and how golf facilities can use the same leadership tactics for their operations,” Evans said. In addition to discussing how to lead during disruptive change, other topics planned to be addressed include the future of the game, advocacy efforts, outcomes of the 2020 election, diversity and inclusion initiatives and environmental advancements. On a micro level, the February 4 session, “Behind the Scenes at PGA Frisco,” will give the inside scoop on the creation of the championship golf courses at the PGA of America’s future home in Frisco, Texas. It will be live at 11 a.m. EST. Evans will also host the panel for the PGA Frisco event, which will PGA of America Chief Membership Officer John Easterbrook; GCSAA Class A Superintendent Roger Meier; Gil Hanse of Hanse Golf Course Design (East Course architect); Beau Welling of Beau Welling Design (West Course architect); Matt Lohmann of Wadsworth Golf Construction, and Doug Wright of Heritage Links.



The panel will discuss the two golf courses’ design and build, which are scheduled to open in 2022. PGA Frisco will be the future home of both men’s and women’s major championships. “PGA Frisco is a unique project with lots of moving parts spread out over 680 acres,” Evans said. And while it will be a place that will host high-profile events, the lessons learned during its development can be applied at any golf facility.” Both sessions will be available live and through extended on-demand access for all GIS registrants. While a free trade show only package includes general sessions and other networking events, facility packages include targeted education for every golf course management team member for one price. The all-inclusive facility package includes 88 educations sessions, which can be viewed during the event the first week of February or on-demand with 30 days of extended access through March 6, the virtual trade show, opening and general sessions, networking events, virtual visits from special guests and more, for $850 ($1,000 for non-GCSAA members) for an unlimited number of team members. Each team member will receive 3.0 continuing education points (CEUs). Other packages are also available. B R To register your team or to learn more, visit

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Keith Fisher is a Certified PGA Professional in Executive Management and a PGA Career Consultant serving the Kentucky, Northern Ohio and Southern Ohio PGA Sections. He can be reached at (937) 475-4509 or

Member Engagement

Capturing the unforeseen momentum from COVID-19 Are you tired of hearing adjectives such as unprecedented, over-utilized, once in a lifetime, uncertain times and new normal? While 2020 has been all of these, well hopefully not the full new normal, the golf industry is far too familiar with these adjectives. As soon as the first COVID-19 government mandates were released, the industry experienced concern if our facilities would ever be allowed to open. As time has gone by, we have not only seen our facilities open, but we have experienced a record amount of play on our courses. This has allowed the facilities to offset some of our clubs’ losses from being unable to host banquets and weddings amongst other group events. Along with the record amount of play, we’ve seen an influx of individuals joining clubs as it is forecasted that travel and other forms of entertainment will be severely limited for the foreseeable future. While it has been great to see the increase in play and membership, the next question we must look at is how to ride this wave and keep it going past the pandemic. In my experience, continuous member engagement is the best way to retain members and build a waiting list.

Through ongoing research, it is evident that an activated golfer will outspend recreational golfers. The PGA of America has found that activated golfers spend 65 percent more on food and beverage, 79 percent more on retail, play 20 percent more golf and renew their membership 100 percent of the time if a major life change does not occur. Member engagement can start in a variety of avenues, including but not limited to all touchpoints at the facility. Engagement of the member in the golf operation translates into creating “activated golfers.” An activated golfer is someone who’s consistently working on their game, typically about five hours per year with a PGA Professional. This member travels away from the club with other members on a trip likely managed by the golf professional staff, or it’s someone who’s



played golf with a PGA Professional outside of a pro-am or similar type of event. Through ongoing research, it is evident that an activated golfer will outspend recreational golfers. The PGA of America has found that activated golfers spend 65 percent more on food and beverage, 79 percent more on retail, play 20 percent more golf and renew their membership 100 percent of the time if a major life change does not occur. PGA Jr. League has also brought an additional $44 million of incremental revenue for facilities across the country. In a recent case study, a general manager and a head professional analyzed 10 atrisk members whose member spend had decreased the most over the past year. The golf professional staff was tasked with contacting each member with the hope of re-engaging them through golf. Those members ended up increasing their spend the following year and all members were retained. It’s extremely beneficial for the facility’s long-term health to allow for the golf professional to create and implement instructional programming with the goal of further engagement. Fortunately, it seems that the demand for golf is greater than ever. It is imperative that we act strategically now for an even better future. We have the unique ability to capture and secure lifetime members through our most cherished service…building lasting relationships. B R

NANCY BERKLEY Nancy Berkley is an expert on women’s golf and junior girls golf in the U.S. Nancy is a member of the World Golf Foundation Women’s Committee, and a member of the National Golf Foundation. She shares news about women’s golf – along with her opinions on Nancy has served on the governing boards of two golf clubs and currently is on the green committee and marketing committee at Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club. She is a contributing writer for LPGA publications.


Advice for Directors of Golf from The King and I The musical “The King and I” opened 70 years ago on Broadway. Twenty years der turn but forget the hip turn. He might later in the movie version, Julie Andrews sang the memorable “Getting to say: “Nancy, I know we can work this out – schedule a lesson.” Know You.” The song’s title is great advice for your director of golf. Golf is a safe-distance and healthy sport Several years ago, while speaking to 400 attendees at a two-state that has grown in numbers during the CovidPGA Section meeting, I asked: “How many of you have played at least nine holes with a female member with a 30-plus handicap?” Only seven 19- pandemic especially among women and girls. This is a great time to institute more hands went up! Frankly, I was shocked. I thought that “Getting to Know You” was part of the job description of Getting to Know You programs. Don’t delegate this opportunity to your the director of golf. It should be, and here are a few suggestions. staff. Getting to Know You begins with the di• Invite every new female member to sit down over coffee or soda to talk about her golf game. How long has she been playing? What’s going rector of golf. B R well and what isn’t? Introduce the teaching staff. Don’t forget to show off the pro shop! • Schedule some time to go out on the course for a couple of holes. Take along the scorecard and point out some special features of the course design. Explain the signup sheets and handicap system. Don’t delegate this to your staff. “Getting to Know You” starts at the top with the director of golf. • Stay in touch with her. Check back to see if she is looking for other women to play with. Is she ready for lessons on any particular shots? • Offer several “Play with the Director” tournaments during the season. The standard format is a foursome: The golf director and three or four women members. But, my favorite variation of “Play with the Pro” format includes an A, B, and C golfer as well as the director in a season-long tournament set up for different dates. • Invite the golf director to participate in a regular ladies day and on a designated hole hit the second shot from the fairway to the green for every foursome. After each member of the foursome tees off, select the best positioned ball for the shot to the green. – the shortest may be over water! The director can offer a brief lesson about selecting the best ball and some strategy regarding the pin placement. And then the foursome moves on to the green where everyone putts with advice, of course, from the director. • Compliment Your Members’ Progress. Print out the monthly list of women’s handicaps. When a handicap really improves, send a note to the member: “See you had great scores last month. Congratulations on your new handicap.” Wow! Is that member impressed and motivated. • As director of golf, invite a member to play a few holes with you. (Yes, take a break from your office!) The truth is that over my decades of playing golf, I remember only a few times that the golf director has asked to join me for a few holes. He would notice that I can hit 140 yards on the fairway but not if over water. He would notice that under pressure, I make a big shoul-

Whaley Suggests Golf Teams I recently checked in with my friend, Suzy Whaley, who has just completed her term as President of the PGA of America. Suzy explained how much easier it has been for female tennis players to make friends and find games at a new club compared to the difficulty for new golfers. She suggested setting up “golf team” programs that are friendly and welcoming to golfers of different skill sets. That’s a great idea!





Larry Hirsh, CRE, MAI, SGA, FRICS is the president of Golf Property Analysts (, a leading golf and club property consulting, appraisal and brokerage firm based in Philadelphia. He blogs on variety of club and appraisal issues at

Planning Remains Vital for Clubs Did you ever notice that politicians always want to tell us how great things are? We’re all way too familiar with the current Coronavirus issues, yet some of our political leaders seek to make us believe everything’s just fine. Country clubs have the same issue. Those in club leadership consistently seek to tell us what great shape the club is in until it’s not. We’ve all heard the term “kick the can down the road,” and many clubs have failed because of leadership’s inability or unwillingness to confront controversial problems often created by neglect. Assessments and dues increases are greeted with the same enthusiasm as tax increases. Members often have alternative options. Is the club prepared for large capital requirements? The American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) says in its Life Cycle Chart that irrigation systems last between 10 and 30 years. Just looking at the properties we’ve observed this past year, the age of irrigation systems ranged from 10 years to 50 years and many are in the 20–30-year range.

Most of us see our clubs as a recreational escape from the many problems we face elsewhere in our lives. For members at member-owned clubs, especially those who choose to become club leaders, the responsibility is now theirs. The often “rose-colored” emails distributed by leadership and management to members don’t always tell the whole story. If the club hasn’t planned for the replacement of the system, it’s not likely that an assessment can be avoided unless the club has the cash to pay for the new system. As outlined in the ASGCA publication, there are quite a few golf course components that simply wear out and require planning for replacement. Just like our homes, the buildings wear out as well (roof, HVAC, plumbing, etc.) thus clubs need to establish adequate reserves



for replacement. If they don’t, even before the capital investment is needed, everything is not great. Deferred maintenance is present in most golf and club properties, especially those that have experienced distress and are the most likely to be marketed for sale. While establishing reserves to address these items is recommended, it’s not often done, and it can impact value in a significant way. Even simply identifying and analyzing a club’s deferred maintenance is strongly recommended, if just to know where the problems are and for the benefit of potentially contesting the club’s real estate tax assessment. Most of us see our clubs as a recreational escape from the many problems we face elsewhere in our lives. For members at member-owned clubs, especially those who choose to become club leaders, the responsibility is now theirs. The often “rose-colored” emails distributed by leadership and management to members don’t always tell the whole story. There are clubs where leadership only wants to escape their term with no assessments or dues increases. Transparency about all club business, especially the real condition of the property, can avoid resistance when it’s time to reinvest, and preparation allows projects to be done in a timely and efficient manner. As a part of regular club planning, we recommend periodic facilities and equipment analysis to ensure that clubs know where they stand and hopefully prepare for capital needs. It’s good business and provides the club with long-term stability in offering members a quality experience. BR



JERRY MCCOY Jerry N. McCoy, MCM, is the president of Clubwise, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, master planning, operational audits and governance issues. He can be reached at or


An Open Letter to Club Directors You Need to Accept Responsibility

Accepting responsibility as a club director is better known in the industry as “taking the heat.” It’s not uncommon for directors to regularly run into members who have problems or concerns about the board’s actions. Ideally, when confronted by such a circumstance, a director has committed to supporting the board’s majority opinion by presenting a unanimous front. This should be the case, even when the individual director has argued against that majority opinion at the board meeting. About 15 years ago, while working on a strategic planning project at a club, the vice president shared a story of what happened after our last meeting. When the meeting was completed, he and another director went into the bar for a drink. On his drive home, he got a call from a member who was not part of the strategic planning process. The member asked him, ‘How the hell he could have passed that policy.’ Someone on the committee had called his friend right after the meeting and complained about what had happened. This director surely was not providing a united front and speaking with one voice. You would think that things have improved. Recently on a project, a very controversial issue passed on a very split vote, and a director immediately leaked documents to the membership that caused serious controversy. This was a very selfish approach for one who is supposed to have the club’s best interests at heart. So, some things haven’t changed much over the years. Unfortunately, when friends or constituents have cornered a director in the club, they are overheard to say, “Yea, the board passed that, but I argued against passage and certainly didn’t vote in favor of it.” These types of comments have a dramatically destructive effect on club governance. Based on a director’s commitment to the board, there are only two acceptable options available. They are: Active support – Take the position that, as a director, you supported the decision and present arguments why it was appropriate.



Passive support – Argue that, after full discussion, the board passed the resolution. As part of the board, you respect that position and will work hard to ensure positive results. It’s not acceptable to pan a board position in public or even to close friends. When someone cannot understand how you could have voted for a position based on your previous comments, you must be careful not to impugn the board or be derogatory to your fellow directors. Even if you were opposed to an idea during discussion, as a board member, it’s important that you accept responsibility for the decision. This is what it means to be a part of club governance and being able to “take the heat.” It’s not uncommon for clubs to have cliques that vie for power. One year a certain clique may get three new directors elected that changes the compliment of the board to vote for the position supported by that clique. The next year it may turn around completely. This has a terrible consequence on the club long term. It’s not uncommon for the cliques to be either status quo or pro-progress in their thinking. Club members run for the board on a one agenda issue. Maybe they want a course renovation or some other capital project. Their whole focus is on one agenda item at the detriment of the club. They refuse to listen to other voices or accept membership survey data if it conflicts with their agenda. Clubs that develop well thought out strategic plans will set the club up for success in the short and long term and on a course for prosperity. All of a sudden, the other clique gets elected and they immediately want to change course, move the club backward, and try to re-establish a former status quo that was determined not to be the most effective way for the club to grow and prosper. In the book, John L. Carroll writes that the best candidates for a club board have the following characteristics:

• A person who can be trusted to do the right thing without regard for external pressures or self-interest • Has clearly demonstrated the ability to work with others • An individual with leadership skills who can accept criticism • A well-rounded person who is respected by their fellow members. YOUR RELATIONSHIP

As a director, keep in mind that you represent all club members and not just a select few. Your decisions as a board member should be based on what you honestly believe is best for the members and the club as a whole. Disregard your personal feelings and try to be completely objective and statesmanlike. At board meetings, remember that your fellow directors are as sincere in their beliefs as you are in yours. If you don’t agree with an idea or a statement, analyze it impartially. Just as in most corporations, a director can act only through the majority vote of the board. Unless delegated special authority or responsibility by the board or bylaws, the director may act only in concert with his fellow directors, not as an individual. The individual director who short-circuits the board, officers and/or manager is harming the club and undermining its constituted authority. While you may not be expected to keep secret the proceedings of a club board meeting, it’s usually best to be discreet and tactful when discussing board actions with other club members. If you are on the minority end of a crucial board vote, try hard, as unpalatable as it might be at times, to accept and support the majority decision.

The proceedings of an executive session of the board are secret and are to be kept in confidence. As a very wise club treasurer once said: “Board members must advance the credibility of the board and establish confidence within the membership at large that its governing body operates openly, offers an opportunity to express dissent and operates with responsibility and awareness of its duty.” And always remember: “It ain’t about you.” B R Jerry N. McCoy, MCM, is the president of Clubwise, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, master planning, operational audits and governance issues. Clubwise is the 2017 Strategic Planning Company of the Year and 2018&2019 Strategic Planning and Capital Funding Company of the year. Jerry received the Lifetime Achievement Award for BoardRoom Magazine in 2018. He can be reached at www.clubwiseconsulting. com or

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Gordon Welch is president of the Association of Private Club Directors If you or your club are having issues with your board meetings or are interested in a board orientation, please call me at (918) 914-9050. I would love to help!

10 Tips for Directors Plus One - Part I As boards of directors prepare for their stint leading their private clubs, here are some tips to help your board members work effectively and efficiently. 1. Conduct an annual board orientation meeting. This meeting should be conducted as soon as possible after the new directors are elected. Even the directors returning for a second or third year in their term should make every effort to attend the board orientation. The incoming or outgoing president, together with the general manager, may conduct this orientation. You may also want to ask some of your professional advisors (primarily attorney and CPA) to attend. The board orientation should include, at a minimum, a review of the club’s key governing document, as well as its bylaws and rules. The new board members should also be briefed on all pending issues of any significance. The life span of many club projects, from planning and budgeting through implementation, will very likely exceed a board year. Therefore, the board members should be brought up to date as to where you are and where you are headed. A complete tour of the facilities is highly recommended. 2. Read the key documents for yourself – ahead of time. There is no substitute for reading the club’s bylaws, rules and membership plan, strategic plan, annual budget, etc. At least once a year, usually before the board orientation, it’s a good idea to sit down with the key documents and read through them. You may be reminded of requirements that you had forgotten. Another benefit reading the documents yourself is that you will be prepared to ask questions whenever the club’s professional advisors attend a board meeting. 3. The GM should prepare a great monthly board packet. The board should receive a packet from the general manager on a regular schedule each month. If your board meets 98


monthly, then these packets (paper or electronic) should be circulated at least several days in advance of the regularly scheduled monthly meeting. If you meet quarterly, these packets should be circulated monthly to bring the board up to date. This packet should include the general manager’s report of operations, budgets and financials (with comparable actuals and year-to-date), committee reports, etc. When the board packet is circulated, the general manager and president may also wish to provide proposed resolutions for each agenda item. This can save time at your board meetings by providing a starting point for board action. We highly recommend a consent agenda for your board meetings if there is no outstanding financial overage (10 percent). Many clubs have a Dashboard overview that is a clear picture of the club’s membership and financial standing. These dashboards can save time if everyone reviews and participates. 4. Maintain a functional board notebook. Ask your general manager to assemble a binder for each director (unless you are digital). The notebook should include an index and tabbed dividers, the club’s key documents (articles, bylaws, rules, strategic plan), minutes from earlier meetings, lists of all committee members and chairpersons, committee reports (possibly separately tabbed for each committee, depending on the number of committees), etc. You can decide for your club what information you need at your fingertips at meetings and when you consider board issues between meetings. This scenario occurs too often: extensive discussion, the board agrees upon a proposed course of action only to have one board member think they vaguely remember some applicable requirement from the bylaws, but no one has a copy of the bylaws with them. The board should be able very quickly to refer to its governing documents and return to its prior acts and key information submitted by its committees. 5. Let the general manager do their job. The general manager is a trained professional. If the board does its part (for example, being sure that the general manager can attend key professional meetings for the manager’s continuing education), then your general manager is invaluable too. If the board of directors sets policy and makes major decisions, and the GM executes those policies with assistance from the senior staff, you’re in good shape. However, your GM cannot maintain high staff morale and low turnover if the board undercuts the GM’s authority, injecting itself into the hiring and firing process for non-management personnel. The GM is your leader. Allow them to do their job so you may do yours effectively. B R

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Bruce Barilla has 20 combined years of golf locker room experience at The Greenbrier and Butler National plus 50 professional tournaments. He is president of Locker Room Consulting.

Does Your Locker Room Make the Grade? TAKE THE FOLLOWING TEST TO FIND OUT: EACH “YES” ANSWER IS WORTH 2 POINTS. YES NO _____ _____ 1. Locker room is staffed from before the first golfer arrives to after last golfer leaves? _____ _____ 2. Major cleaning is done night before; not in presence of members/guests? _____ _____ 3. Majority of lockers are full size tall or double wide tall? _____ _____ 4. Member locker nameplates personalized? (Club Champion (year), President (year), year joined Club, etc.) _____ _____ 5. Locker doors do not hit shoes on floor when opening/ closing? (Corner lockers should open towards corner.) _____ _____ 6. Shoe cleaning/polishing offered? _____ _____ 7. Shoeshine room has a sink with hot and cold water? _____ _____ 8. Have both clear and solid color plastic shoe bags with logo and drawstring? _____ _____ 9. Do spike changes? _____ _____ 10. Variety of shoelace styles and sizes? _____ _____ 11. Guest locker nameplates/welcome tags? _____ _____ 12. Guest only locker cove located near the shoe shine room? _____ _____ 13. Guest welcome gifts? _____ _____ 14. Shoeshine room with open greeting counter visible near locker room entrance? (Add cell phone charger, computer, fax, flatscreen TV, printer, radio, safe, house phone.) _____ _____ 15. Main phone line has locker room voice prompt, then voice mail greeting by locker room manager? _____ _____ 16. House phones, extensions list, writing ledge, note pads, pens and pencils with erasers? _____ _____ 17. Wak-in shoe drying room, shoe drying closest or QuikDryTM from Duffy’s Tri-C Club Supply? _____ _____ 18. “Loaner” golf shoes? _____ _____ 19. “Loaner” golf shirts? _____ _____ 20. Bathrooms feature private water closets, not stalls? (Add vacant/occupied latch, Freshends, trash can, touchless hand sanitizer, auto flush, auto scent.) _____ _____ 21. Urinal privacy dividers? _____ _____ 22. Separate sinks for bathrooms and showers? _____ _____ 23. Amenity shelf above sinks the length of counter? (Extend on sides plus add hat hooks, holder for retractable cord hair dryers, hot lather machines, electrical outlets.) _____ _____ 24. Recessed amenity shelfs between sink mirrors? (Add in sidewalls.) _____ _____ 25. Drop holes between sinks for wash cloths and trash? _____ _____ 26. Steam room? (Have eucalyptus oil spray bottle or injector system, panic button.) _____ _____ 27. Sauna? _____ _____ 28. Whirlpool? (Add large flat screen TV.) _____ _____ 29. Large glass door refrigerator to chill bath towels? (Add chilled bottled water and/or water fountain, honor system drinks, icemaker, plastic cups, disposal can.) _____ _____ 30. Chilled scented damp washcloths to wipe face on hot humid days? _____ _____ 31. Massage room? (Doubles as sleepover room if drank too much.) 100


_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

32. Workout area with treadmill/exercise bike or separate Fitness Center? 33. Food and beverage service inside locker room? 34. Private showers? 35. Private after-showering drying area with amenities? 36. Bath towels/soiled towel drops located throughout? 37. Water pressure and volume are good or excellent? 38. Full thick wide strong spray pattern showerheads without hollow spots? 39. High-end amenities? 40. Weight scale? 41. Barber shop? 42. Display cases to show history of the Club? 43. Golf course photos on walls? 44. Bulletin board? 45. First Aid training, supplies and defibrillator? 46. Grooming stations with amenities? (Add clothes hooks on mirrored/empty end panels.) 47. Flatscreen TVs for weather, sports, stock market? 48. Newspapers/magazines? 49. On-course food and beverage deliveries? 50. Do off site errands? = SCORE #1

EXTRA CREDIT: EACH “YES” ANSWER IS WORTH 1 POINT. _____ _____ 1. Washer, dryer, ironing board, iron? (Athletic Clubs provide laundry service.) _____ _____ 2. Heated floor in wet area? _____ _____ 3. Heated bath towels? _____ _____ 4. Robes with club logo? (Can be ofered for sale with name/initials monogrammed.) _____ _____ 5. Heated robes? _____ _____ 6. Windows in bathroom area for fresh air? _____ _____ 7. Two tier locker room with wet areas and bathrooms on both floors? (Ideal for pro tour.) _____ _____ 8. First/last initial of member engraved on flat front locker knob? _____ _____ 9. Locker room has view of golf course? _____ _____ 10. Game room? (Also used for private parties/meetings.) _____ _____ 11. Private room with soaking tub as part of massage treatments? _____ _____ 12. Swiss Shower? _____ _____ 13. Locker SuiteTM? _____ _____ 14. Cigar lounge? (Private room, outdoors, rooftop or combination.) _____ _____ 15. Private phone booth? _____

= SCORE #2

Score #1 _______ + Score #2 _______ = _______ / 115 possible points = ______ % Bruce Barilla offers onsite locker room evaluation “tune-ups” with staff training; providing a complimentary FOR A BETTER LOCKER ROOM online guide, PowerPoint show and Tip of the Week.

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from Executive Committee - Pennell | 44

partment consistently. Employee engagement, effective leadership/management communication, member satisfaction, retention and growth, and profitability are key metrics when managing change within a private club. Using profitability as the sole key performance indicator may have unintended consequences, increasing costs in employee turnover and membership dissatisfaction. from Executive Committee - Pieschala | 46

Most golf course infrastructure (pumps, well, drainage, irrigation, bridges, ponds, etc.) is long-lived, but its useful and efficient life is not infinite. Given the potential cost and critical importance, the board should understand the current condition of infrastructure and any limitations their condition has on course conditions. An annual, written assessment and five-year capital plan for infrastructure is an important stewardship tool. The same is true for course maintenance equipment, which has a shorter useful and efficient life but is equally important for success. 5) Where are we going with the golf course? Improving the golf course is like motherhood and apple pie – no one is against it and your superintendent and team should always be striving to get the most from current resources. Ultimately, having a long-term vision for the golf course and from Executive Committee - Barreto | 48

Many cities and states have started to roll back COVID mandates, and we see businesses initiating appropriate distancing and hygienic behaviors. Clubs, hotels and resorts are currently assessing which people need to return to the workplace and who can continue to work remotely. There are no hard and fast rules, but leaders need to be fearless and forging ahead with flexibility, stepped up communication, and empathy. To unite a fractured workforce behind an innovative strategy may be a formidable task, but it will be well worth the effort. from Membership Committee | 84

Membership retention is one powerful reason that innovation should be for the duration! Change is not good simply for change’s sake, but it’s really good when a private club discovers a service that will make their club unique from anything else in the marketplace. The clubs that have used innovation as a strategic plan of communicating with their members and providing them with services and benefits, even from their own 102


Ownership in the vision enables the team to accomplish it. The best investment made during organizational change management is in your people. B R Whitney Reid Pennell, president of RCS Hospitality Group, is a celebrated management consultant, educator, and speaker. She was recently recognized as one of BoardRoom’s Top Club Influencers. RCS has been recognized 10 times by BoardRoom with Excellence in Achievement Awards. RCS continues to offer innovative solutions through, an online virtual training portal for employees and managers. For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCS website at

turning that into a management program is fundamentally a club strategy issue. The question should be: What do we need in our golf course to prosper as a club? If the course is there today, focus on improving the margin and understand what is required to keep pace with improvements others are making. If your course is currently a competitive drag, what is the benchmark that you need to shoot for and what is the program for getting there? If the strategy is to upgrade the course substantially to become a competitive advantage or attract a different market segment, what will it cost and how long will it take? Master plans are great but often reflect a club’s dreams rather than its needs. What is essential is a shared, explicit and realistic vision and strategy for your golf course. From that basis, the club can make decisions about resources, capital and results. B R Take time to reflect on the culture of your workplace or club environment and jot down areas that could benefit from new ideas and innovation. Bring together your top-tier thought-leaders and collaborate on fresh, creative ways to empower your workforce into a dynamic force of positive change and innovation. Put some muscle and resources behind promising ideas, and relentlessly cut and defund questionable projects. We’ve all learned valuable lessons from COVID-19. Take heart and see that your club not only survives – but thrives. BR

homes, will have created a bond of gratitude and pride that will prove powerful for the long term. Opportunity is an enormous benefit for those willing to recognize it. I fear that clubs, which chose that easy path of doing nothing, will be in very bad shape when their competition is given the green light to open up and compete for the discretionary dollars and time of your affluent members. Innovate for the duration and your club will see traffic and member habits that make your club flourish. BR

Does it make a difference if you are a manager at a Distinguished Club? Of course, it does! Both general managers and department heads of clubs who have earned Distinguished Club status are widely recognized by Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace and boards as leaders at providing a great Member Experience. It makes you a very strong candidate for leading clubs searching for top club management.

Executive Search Firm Leaders for the Private Club Industry Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace Partners pictured left-right: Dick Kopplin, Tom Wallace and Kurt Kuebler

The only merit-based award program that recognizes private clubs and their management for outstanding delivery of exceptional Member Experience.



ELLERY PLATTS To submit an idea or story for this section, please email

We Are Family - A Familiar Refrain Those who work in the private club industry know how their club is more than a workplace – it’s a home-awayfrom-home. The Colleton River Country Club in Bluffton, SC, has found a great way to celebrate and strengthen its club family. Assistant general manager, Eric Bischofberger, knows, “There are many weeks where we spend more time together than our own families, so embracing this initiative reminds us of how special Colleton River is to us.” Though friendships remain after the season comes to a close, memories can fade. Colleton Rivers’ new “We Are Family” tradition helps refresh those memories and boost ties to the club. The namesake 70s song, “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, concludes every annual meeting. The classic lyrics speak to exactly the Colleton River culture they are promoting: I’ll tell ya what, we feel like one big family. Then the PowerPoint begins, and the smiling faces of staff roll across the screen. Images of wonderful memories captured during the previous season and a powerful reminder of why they do what they do. Since its inception, Bischofberger says, “We are Family” consistently brings a standing ovation – even this year when it had to be held over Zoom. “We live it every day and it cannot be forced.” Even the club’s motto: “Family Serving Family,” as general manager, Tim Bakels, points out, goes handin-hand with the “We Are Family” concept. It represents encouraging, caring, respect and investment into the team at the club. Colleton has consistently demonstrated that it “puts its money where its mouths is” in treating the club’s colleagues as family. It all began in 1998, 2,500 miles away in California, when Bakels saw it in action while working with the Bahia Corinthians Yacht Club in Corona del Mar, CA. When he later joined the team at Colleton Rivers, Bakels presented the idea to the board, who saw the initiative as a perfect fit. “Annual meetings can bring up difficult and challenging topics, so it’s refreshing when the entire membership and team puts everything into perspective.” 106


Bischofberger says that the initiative sends positive energy into each new year. He believes that the presentation is the epitome of the club that’s genuinely present throughout the year. By remembering the good experiences, it can be easier to discuss difficult moments. We could probably all benefit from practicing this sentiment. B R

Thank you Boardroom Magazine Staff for all your support the past 25 years. Here’s to the next 25! #1 Provider of Member Images for Club Use Since 1945.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: David Golumbic | Jeff Kinney | Brandi Applewhite | | 800.653.5766 |

30 Years

To: Boardroom Magazine From: Big John Grills





Safety Selfie Contest Taking Selfies Can Be Good For You…And The Club Too When the Myers Park Country Club created their Safety Selfie Contest, this simple action made a big impact. Karman Cassell McGee, human resources manager for the Charlotte, NC club, presented the idea for a contest to the safety committee with the goal of bolstering safety awareness and conscientiousness both at the club and at home. At face value, asking staff to photograph themselves working safely seems like a fun way to educate and involve staff in a safety program. But, after three years of running the contest, it has turned out to be so much more. Not only have injuries and accidents seen a remarkable drop both inside and outside the club, but the club has also enjoyed substantial financial savings as a result. The contest runs each year for two months with six opportunities for each department to submit images. Each week, the leadership committee chooses their favorites. The winning department is treated to a pizza party for their team. To keep the spirit going, photos are also posted on the walls around the back-of-house for everyone to enjoy. Images come from every area and any staff member in the club and can be anything from an employee simply crossing the street safely, to a worker handling sparks flying from a metal grinder. “I don’t often see employees from some of the other departments, so it was a neat way to get to know them,” says youth and activities director, Erin Schlegal. In the three years that the safety contest has been running, the club’s compensation rating has dropped from 1.54 to 0.86, directly correlating to a substantial reduction in Workers Compensation Insurance premiums, medical payments and payments for lost work time. Not only did the club realize the notable economic benefits but the contest contributed to an increase in comradery within and between departments. The separate sections hadn’t had much opportunity to interact previously and the contest gave them a chance to be introduced to one another in the spirit of friendly competition. The best part? According to Schlegal, it’s “seeing all the different departments get together to creatively come up with entries and stay competitive.” As the contest continues, every week the teams get increasingly determined and creative in their entries. McGee shared Schlegal’s sentiments, saying, “It created an opportunity for fun, creativity, and friendly competition between departments while promoting our own safety program.” The increased interconnection and fellowship have been a welcome bonus to improving safe work practices and decreasing costs. Previous year’s contest entries haven’t gone to waste. They are saved for the future as a way to remember the wonderful employees of Myers 108


Park and to help educate new staff. Congratulations for another safe and successful year Myers Park! Personally, I can’t wait to see the entries for next year’s contest. BR

ELLERY PLATTS Ellery Platts, Innovative Ideas editor, earned a Bachelor of Journalism (Hons) from the University of King’s College where she balanced her love for writing and photography with varsity athletics. An avid golfer, she has been in the club circuit since early childhood where she played as a member of Silver Springs Golf and Country Club, Calgary, AB. To submit an idea or story for this section, please email

Inspiring Club Leadership Success Through Helping Others Succeed “It’s about the benefits of bringing a network together; it’s a community.” For nearly 20 years, Toronto, Ontario, has been home to a unique, private club. Verity is an exclusive women’s only club residing in 65,000 square feet of prime real estate in downtown Toronto. It was created by a woman, for women, with the hopes of building each other to their fullest potential. Since then, it has become home to the city’s most successful women. Mary Aitken, entrepreneur and financier, founded the club in 2003 and has since grown to 800 members who enjoy the four associated on-site businesses operated by nearly 150 staff members. “In so many ways, women weren’t at the table to make important decisions. Women were not a part of a financial business or corporate life and so forth,” says Aitken. “So, I decided to start a women’s club.” Gwen Harvey, a long-time member and entrepreneur, is one of these incredible women at the club. For her, the club is a place that allows for relaxation and self-reflection while also providing the opportunity to progress professionally. “For me, what the club ended up being was that third space. I have an office space, I have a home, and this is my third space,” says Harvey. The thing she cherishes the most? The relationships and networks she has created with the other women. “The real reward is learning from different people in different disciplines with different viewpoints.” In a time of isolation and restrictions because of the Coronavirus, Verity, like many other private clubs, needed some good news. At the end of December 2020, the club received well-deserved recognition through a prestigious honor bestowed on Aitken, their CEO and founder. She was among 61 Canadians inducted into the Order of Canada in honor of her continued hard work and dedication to helping women. Her entrepreneurial leadership in the financial sector, along with her work to reduce gender disparity, have placed her among just 4,000 other Canadians who have been recognized since the award was established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Order of Canada is the highest honor a Canadian citizen can receive, comparable to the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the United States, recognizes people for their outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to their country.

Aitken and Verity have produced repeated, very real positive outcomes in response to their work. These results come with providing the typical amenities of a club, along with special services for business. Rather than promoting typical club amenities, they focus on meeting rooms, mentorship programs and professional development. “It’s the community and it’s the ability for women getting together to make things happen,” says Aitken. “I’m proud when I hear how it’s changed people’s lives.”

Aitken received endless support and congratulations from the club members after receiving the honor, Harvey being just one of them. “She totally deserved it because I think she’s helped so many women. She’s a role model. She’s resilient.” But Aitken’s accolades came as no surprise to the membership. Before Harvey joined the club, she remembers coming for a day visit seeing the members truly becoming their best selves. She also recalls Aitken introducing herself, engaging with Harvey and the other women, making effortless connections. “I remember suddenly getting it and thinking how lucky I was that that happened,” says Harvey. “I remember thinking, ‘that’s who I want to be.’” Aitken is described as resilient, optimistic, creative and many other adjectives explaining a woman making the mark for many women to come after her. And now there’s a club to carry on the work of an individual. Verity’s mandate says it all: Created by women, for women, we provide camaraderie, connections, and business success. The goal has always been to help the members become the best they can be, whether through mentorship, providing luxurious spaces for them to relax, or professional settings to attend to important business. The memories and networks Aitken has helped create are noteworthy. Even her country says so. B R

GREGG PATTERSON Gregg Patterson is president, Tribal Magic, creators of WOW, builders of community. He can be reached at:


The Magic Elixir! People here in Southern California are devotees of “good health.” They wax poetic about hot yoga, Zen retreats and vile tasting, gluten free, macro biotic, “certified organic”, kale based, “ugly as sin but guaranteed to purge your toxins” uber-fashionable blended libations. Yet these good health enthusiasts never mention the good health virtues of golf and the “Magic Elixir” delivered with every swing on every hole at every club on every day. Fact is, these characters snicker, smile and chuckle at the very mention of golf as the deliverer of long term, big picture, broad spectrum good health and happiness. And it makes me droopy and poopy knowing that we who believe aren’t standing on our soap boxes and preaching to the cynical and the dismissive about the healthy why of golf, don’t upend their bowl of macro biotic gooey goop and smack ‘em in the noggin with the truth about the big picture health benefits of the golfing experience! It goes without saying that I’m a believer in golf as a deliverer of physical, mental and emotional good health. I’m convinced golf delivers more vitamins per dollar than the competition. I’m convinced golf is the magic elixir we need to defeat the maladies of modernity. We who believe need talking points to smack down the unbelievers, to bring the good health message to the masses. Fellow preachers prime yourselves with the message! Golf delivers back to nature good health: There’s no air conditioned, de-humidified, designer certified gym anywhere that can re-create a “re-creational” experience one seventieth as glorious as that delivered by the great outdoors. Golf serves up back to nature good health, the sort of joyous, uplifting, transcendent experience that comes from breathing fresh air, smelling cut grass, soaking up the rain or wrastlin’ with gators. Golf delivers. My body just got a workout – good health. It’s a fact, walking 18 holes is as good for physical good health as running a five “K” race, rowing two miles or climbing El Capitan (almost!). Count the calories 110


burned during a golf workout, yoga stretches at the starter’s desk, four-hour bag carry, multi-mile walk, bunker crawls, stream crossings, yoga stretch when it’s over, “elbow workout” in the bar, hundred yard dash to the car (hmmm). Talk about a workout! Talk about good health! Golf Delivers. What a Howl good health. People who laugh are healthier than people who don’t. Most players play golf laughably, and if they see their shortcomings as a hoot, with laughter as a “bonding opportunity” (as psychologists tell us it is!!!), they’ll be ingesting a huge dollop of What a Howl good health whenever they play. Golf Delivers. I escaped the madness good health. The world is filled with chaos. Traffic jams. Email. Voice mail. Snail mail. Bitches. Moans. Breakdowns. Golf is an escape, exiting the traffic, into the clubhouse, meet with friends, onto the fairway, the world evaporates. You’ve escaped and have discovered golf is the antidote for the madness of modernity. Golf Delivers. I love spending time with my family good health. A healthy family plays together and stays together. Golf delivers family good health when the kids walk the course with Mamma and Pappa, carry their clubs and eat their burgers and dogs…together in the clubhouse. Golf becomes the “common experience” shared by the entire family and “shared experience” is the foundation of family good health. Golf delivers talk time good health: Healthy people need relationships and community. Relationships and community are built on talk time with those relationships and that community. Golf delivers talk time opportunities and the social good health that talk time delivers talk time in the locker room, talk time on the first tee, talk time while playing, talk time in the debrief lounge, talk time on the ride home, and talk time post-play over the phone, on the net, around the dinner table and near the water cooler at work. People who have good people to meet with and talk to, who have a community of talkers to engage with, are lots

healthier than the verbally challenged but digitally connected of the world. Golf Delivers. Bump into others you know good health: Loneliness is corrosive, a demon that infects and corrupts and turns good health into bad. People need people, people who they know and people who know them. Golf delivers bump into others you know good health opportunities. Golf delivers serendipitous meetings with dozens of people, with the gardener who talks to you about weeds; with front desk Sue who gives you the hello and what have you been up to; with the retirees who sit around and moan about the way it was with the pro in the pro shop, with members on the first tee, with the greenskeeper who waves, the marshal who shouts and the waitress who serves you the burger. Lots of unplanned bump into other opportunities that deliver gobs of bump into others you know good health buzz.

Golf Delivers. We teamed up and defeated the enemy good health: In the face of a “common enemy”, people pull together and get healthier, win or lose, because they’re a TEAM, a tribe, out to spank the competition. Golf provides a foursome the opportunity to team up to defeat the golf course---and, win or lose, they feel good, healthier, a band of brothers. Golf Delivers. I just love doing this good health: For many who visit the gym, good health is work. Weights, ugh. Treadmill, ugh. Push-ups ugh. Healthy, yes, but there’s no “I just love doing this” expressed by the pushers and the pullers, the spinners and the grunters. Golf, by contrast, delivers the whole package –physical, mental and emotional, and the people who play, SMILE!!! They laugh. They glow. They feel The Buzz. And whenever you do something you love, good health happens.

Golf Delivers. What a Howl good health. People who laugh are healthier than people who don’t. Most players play golf laughably, and if they see their shortcomings as a hoot, with laughter as a “bonding opportunity” (as psychologists tell us it is!!!), they’ll be ingesting a huge dollop of What a Howl good health whenever they play. Golf delivers connect and reflect good health: People who reflect on what they’re doing, did do or want to do are healthier than those who let the demons grow and fester, infecting their psyches, corrupting their good health. A round of golf delivers four hours of reflective opportunity with friends and family, with mentors and followers, with the educated and the successful. Connecting and reflecting with interesting people helps purge the detritus that litters our lives and infects our spirits. Golf Delivers. I’m in control, and done good, good health: People who have psychic good health get things done. They start and finish projects, have control throughout, appreciate the complexity of what needs doing and find satisfaction in knowing that some of what was done was “done good.” Golf is hugely satisfying and healthy because the golfer’s entirely responsible for what gets done, for choosing the club, gripping the weapon and whacking the ball. They make golf happen. And being in control in an out-of-control world is hugely healthy.


Good health is the foundation of the good Life. Without good health you’ll be an underperforming boobie, fated to make less, enjoy less, absorb less, enlarge less and enrich less than the character who’s got The Goods. Modernity gives us lots of ways of climbing the good health mountain. The gym. Ugh. The macro-biotic juice bar. Ugh. The grapefruit diet. Ugh. Golf delivers broad spectrum good health, efficiently. Golf is The Drug of Choice, the “Magic Elixir” for curing what ails us. So, if you know someone who’s looking for a single good health investment, whack ‘em in the side of the head and deliver the message about the virtues of golf. Go golfing. Get healthy. Feel the glow. Spread the word. And enjoy the journey…. B R



LYNNE LAFOND DELUCA Lynne LaFond DeLuca, executive director of the Association of Club Catering Professionals (ACCP). You can also contact Lynne at


New Year, New Outlook, New Rules And New Ways to Engage Your Members If 2020 taught us one thing, it’s that when restrictions are put in place, it forces us to create and innovate! Nothing spurs creativity more than having a parameter of rules and restrictions to work within. The pandemic truly has handed us an invitation to re-think everything we do (and how we do it) in our clubs and this could not ring more true than with events and member engagement. So, here are two concepts that encourage and perpetuate an innovative team, inspiring ideas and member engagement strategies. First, do you ever notice those dynamic, active clubs on social media? The ones with incredible events, fantastic video documentation, employees that just seem to “get it” and infectious energy? You are not alone if you have thought, “Why can’t my club be at that level?” and “How do I find employees like that with that type of energy?” Creating teams where employees can initiate collaboration and create genuine and fun member engagement sometimes comes from the concept that “Mood follows action.” This means that once someone is actively on the “receiving end” of a great experience, or part of a dynamic team, their mood will follow and motivation to create more will be a natural response. In other words, “just do it!” Immerse your team in the action and that will generate the excitement to keep them motivated to keep going, keep innovating and the rest will follow! It is learned behavior. Secondly, let’s talk about the new rules we live with today and the need to create events in different ways than we have in the past. Obviously, the virtual aspect of engagement comes into play, but let’s face it, people are becoming weary of staring at their computer and most virtual events can be just plain boring! The key is to infuse high-touch, high-experience, unexpected elements to every virtual event to mimic live events as closely as possible. I will use an example close to home to explain the concept – our very own Association of Club Catering & Event (ACCP) National Conference. How did the ACCP go about accomplishing this? It’s all in the high-touch, high-experience details. We used stylized settings so that the look would be as professional 112


as possible. The attendee’s experience started when they received their “swag box”, filled with high-end products ($425 in value) in a custom created box. As well as amazing gifts, custom printed items in the box included beautifully designed agendas, a letter from ACCP, a whimsical door-hanger that said “Do Not Disturb! ACCP Conference in Progress!” and a “Meal Prep” recipe card. The meal prep was for a custom recipe, created for the ACCP Conference attendees, by Michael Ponzio, executive chef of the Union League Club in Chicago, along with a cooking demonstration so that everyone could prep the meal and share it together during the conference. The concept was to replicate one of the things that would be missed most at the live event - sharing a meal together. Mission accomplished. Everyone all over the country was eating the same meal together at the same time. Other factors that contributed to the outstanding experience included the socially-driven “Kick-Off Party”, including a virtual variety show with entertainment, networking in virtual breakout rooms, a Coravin pouring demonstration which enabled all of the attendees to use the Coravin they received in their swag box and become part of the largest Coravin pouring in history, and a custom “story,” about the role of private club catering directors/event planners. The fast-paced conference agenda included short presentations and infused with a DJ playing high-energy music throughout the day with a few dance breaks. The lessons learned by both concepts are to keep moving forward and keep the personal touch front and center when creating member experiences. Your members are craving interaction, fun and new events. Now is the time to deliver! B R Lynne LaFond DeLuca is the executive director of the Association of Club Catering & Event Professionals and a Private Club Industry Consultant. She has worked within the private club industry for 29 years and conducts seminars, workshops and a national conference focusing on club member and private events and the overall member experience. In 2014, Lynne was named “One of the Most Influential Women in the Private Club Industry” by Boardroom Magazine and in 2016 and 2019, awarded the Gary Player Educator of the Year Award. You can reach Lynne at, or visit the website at Follow the ACCP on Facebook at www.facebook. com/AsociationofClubCateringProfessionals; on our LinkedIn Group and Instagram at

“Can we fund capital projects and reserves easily?”


“Why would I want to pay for the new pool project? I haven’t been there in years…” “How do we keep up with the other clubs in town?” “How will our members respond to this dues increase or special assessment? How many might leave over this?” “We’re a smart group of rotating, part-time volunteers…are we the right people to be running this club?” “Should we go back to our bank, or test our members’ appetite to pay?” “What is our plan to keep up with attrition and to actually grow our membership?” “We should’ve gained a lot more members from our last renovation...what happened?” “What capital investments are needed in the coming years, and how will we pay for it?” “We’re having trouble finding people to run for the Board; our members just want to enjoy their club and not spend time in long Board meetings worrying about budgets, hamburger prices and new agronomic practices.”



“Our last member-vote was contentious, should we risk bringing this up to our members?” “Is our total member bill (dues + assessments) overpriced?” “Why can’t we seem to attract younger families to join?”

from Publisher’s Perspective | 10

To Lockie, diversity means more than gender. “It is about age, culture, skin color, singles, same-sex couples, significant others, and skills and experience. It means inclusion and having the courage to speak up when behavior and words are inappropriate,” she added. “Diversity should mean fair representation, not simply to equalize, but to provide a broad-based and unbiased response to the club’s fiduciary needs, the needs of its members and to drive objective strategy and vision,” commented Rick Coyne, principal with ClubInsights. “The world is changing, and so must the private club. More than ever before, clubs must examine their policies and become more reflective of society in general. Not the radical views, but views that respect individuality and the right to equal access. “Clubs have traditionally been behind the trend curves. As a private club, it was their prerogative. Many continue with those ideals. In my opinion, the pace at which we see the world changing will require an objective overhaul of the private club’s view of diversity. “Objective is the keyword. Each club must define its approach respecting its traditions and society’s mainstream values while avoiding radical objectives and demands. As intolerance seems to be more mainstream today, the club should be the bastion of civility,” Coyne opined. So, where are we today with diversity as a policy for private clubs’ boards of directors? “Not very far. Much of this is systemic. Nominating committees use word of mouth to talk with people they know. Friends talk to friends,” said president Lockie. “Most clubs have not or are only now beginning to talk about this subject. They probably have no set strategies to attract different-minded people. The way we structure nominating committees may have to change along with the questions we ask candidates. “Many individuals, who have different interests and attitudes, may not see themselves as appropriate board candidates and show little interest in getting involved,” Lockie explained. “We are dealing with volunteers; this is hard work and takes long term commitment. It often seems like this is just one more thing on the board agenda that can be pushed off.” Graves says, “It’s really, really slow. However, diversity is not just a talking point anymore. It’s now an action item at private clubs. Unfortunately, some clubs are simply talking about the concept of diversity at the leadership level, almost as a way to fend off the actual implementation of the concept. “It is much easier to talk about a concept than actually taking steps to make the change. The private club industry is a copycat industry. The more recognizable diversity that occurs at well-respected private clubs, the more change will organically occur and become mainstream,” Graves added. So, what must clubs do to create and promote diversity generally, not just for boards of directors? “It starts with a conversation, often an uncomfortable one. It is the beginning of a long journey that takes years, not months. It is a commitment on the part of club general managers and club presidents to work with department heads and boards and with their communities,” said Lockie. 114


“Speaking on behalf of my club, Hacienda Golf Club, we do not have language in our governance that defines diversity on the board. We see diversity as a function of the nominating committee in sequence, with the general manager inviting members from various groups to consider a board term,” said Russell Sylte, CEO of Hacienda Golf Club in La Habre, CA. “Diversity starts with the membership’s willingness to be inclusive to everyone. It is part of the club’s culture. Members talk about this during the prospect process, during the formal interview, and when speaking to their friends about the club. A club with good diversity can be witnessed on the 1st tee when observing group pairings, friends joining each other, money games,” he added. “It starts with the little things,” expressed Coyne. “Engage various demographics including age, gender, color, and sexual orientation in the organizational committee structure. Don’t create a process by which you simply endorse militant personal bias. That simply defeats the potential benefits of diversity. “Create the means of ingratiating/accommodating all members, regardless of beliefs, into a respectful and harmonious club community. Set rules of behavioral enforcement. No one should misconstrue the right to belong with the right to oppress opposing views or lifestyles,” Coyne stressed. “Boards should likewise begin to find ways to diversify. Create open, diversified forums to discuss the issues, what diversity should mean to your club and how it can be facilitated. Avoid radical objectives and embrace social acceptance and tolerance. The club should always be a safe haven community…respectful of alternative viewpoints, but not required to practice those viewpoints,” he added. “A fish will always stink from the head down,” emphasized Creative Golf Marketing’s Graves. “Success occurs when the current club leadership embraces, endorses and promotes their desire to have more voices in the boardroom rather than the same voices of the past.

“The reputation of a club that practices diversity in the leadership role and throughout the club will be embraced by a community and more desirable to prospective members. It can happen quickly if there is a dedicated desire and effort to make the concept a common practice rather than a passing fad,” he expressed. Graves feels diversity is important in the life of a private club “because private clubs have to mirror advancement in society. Private clubs can no longer be on their antiquated island that doesn’t recognize, embrace and empathize with a world that is becoming interested, and to a certain extent, fixated on the exercise of diversity. “Private club must get back to being leaders of a community and leading by example will be the best course of action,” Graves maintained. “The world continues to change at a rapid pace. Just as we have examined the psychographic generational variances, it is likewise critical to see the need for diversity of every kind. Few clubs will have the opportunity to remain isolated. Likewise, change can be very refreshing, positive and rewarding. Despite the narrative, the vast majority of members are fair, open-minded and already practicing these moral guidelines in their daily lives,” Coyne injected. “A diverse club eliminates the club(s) within a club downfall. When a club’s membership identifies as a multiple exclusive group of members, the ‘family’ feel of the membership body dissipates, resulting in stakeholder discrepancies. “An example of these discrepancies is seen in tee time disputes, event participation drop-off, governance disputes, and in worst-case scenarios, racial accusations,” added Hacienda’s Sylte. “Diversity is important because the economics of clubs are stark in terms of those that thrive and those that struggle. If we are to thrive into the future with a more diverse group of people taking to this sport and lifestyle, we need to understand them and give them a voice,” expressed The Oak Club’s President Lockie. ➤ JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021 — 25TH ANNIVERSARY | BOARDROOM


from Publisher’s Perspective | 115

“It means understanding the importance of new amenities, changes amenities, different values and attitudes. It can be both exciting and frightening for our existing members as this is often seen as a safe space from a changing world,” she added. “Private clubs, by their nature, have the right to pick and choose who they may want to accept as members. First, there must be a willingness to identify changes that may make sense to each club. “In my opinion, the strategic planning process, as part of the club’s vision, must address diversity. Core values are those ideals by which a club defines itself. As an existing or incoming club member, by association, you are reflective of these ideals. As we see greater pressure on diversity, members will begin to feel considerable pressure as part of a club that fails to openly accept change,” Coyne opined. Graves agrees a diversity policy must be part of the club’s mission and vision statement.

Diversity improves performance, particularly when an organization’s senior leadership – the club’s volunteer leadership and the paid senior managers – works collaboratively as a diverse team. A diverse board composition sends a powerful signal to current and future workforces about an organization’s commitment to equality of opportunity. It unquestionably enhances a club’s governance. “Diversity should be a long-term strategic fundamental that is practiced at all private clubs. It’s sad in 2021 that we are having this type of discussion when equality and diversity should be mainstream and not innovative,” he exclaimed. “If diversity is memorialized in mission/vision statements, you will see it become more engrained in the club’s culture. The changing of the guard at the leadership level will not then take away diversity because it will be recognized as a core value of the club.” “On December 1, 2020, the Nasdaq Stock Market filed a proposal with the SEC to require all companies that list on its exchange to annually report their board diversity statistics and/or reasons why they do not have at least two diverse board members. This one proposal elevated the issue of board diversity to a new level for all organizations – including private clubs,” outlined Bonnie Knutson, PhD, professor at the School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University and a regular contributor to BoardRoom magazine. “But board diversity on a club board begs a deeper issue – that is the diversity of its membership. In general, a club’s board reflects the composition of its membership. Herein lies the challenge. “If the membership is not diverse or if it just has its ‘token’ women or African- Americans, or Asian-Americans, or Hispanics, or LGBTQ+, how 116


can the board be diverse and still reflect the membership? I read somewhere that diversity has become a code word for nonwhite or non-male. “In a broader-spectrum, diversity is embedded in the DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) conversation – first for membership, and then for boards. But make no mistake about it, this conversation must and will take place in every club. Why? Because studies have found that when a company has a diverse board, it performs better across myriad metrics. And isn’t that what we all want for our club? Plus, it is the right thing to do,” Knutson intoned. “Golf clubs and country club communities that thrive will need to change and diversity and inclusion will be part of that. Thanks for reminding me about getting on with this important challenge,” said president Lockie. “It is easier to do nothing, but this exercise has made me think in the busyness of it all we need to find time. Small changes add up over time.” And we leave the final words to Rick Coyne: “Set easy standards of behavior and be prepared to discipline members not following those standards. Billy Jean King once inspired a commercial that proclaimed, “We’ve Come a Long Way Baby!” Our industry has too!” PUBLISHER’S FINAL THOUGHTS

If you belong to an older traditional men’s club with an older membership, maybe a diverse board with women and younger members doesn’t make sense. However, if you are one of the 97 percent of private clubs that champions a diversified membership, a diverse board is a must! Having a board representing your entire membership, gender, ethnicity and age, social background, and ableness provides an opportunity to widen the board’s influence and change perspectives: Diversity is a strength. Why is diversity so important? Diversity brings in new ideas and experiences, and people can learn from each other. Bringing in different ideas and perspectives leads to better problem-solving. Working

in diverse teams opens dialogue and promotes creativity. The value of diversity is true for our culture, too. From my perspective, diversity is essential for a board. A board should reflect the diversity of its members. Diversity brings competing views and is an important protection against groupthink at the board level. Diversity is also important to reflect a changing membership base. I have visited over 1,000 private clubs over the last 25 years and have participated in hundreds of board meetings and retreats. And I noticed that clubs with more diverse boards seem to be dealing with a broader range of issues…important issues that will affect many clubs in the future. I’ve also seen the clubs with board members all similar, deal with a much narrower range of issues. Regardless, all clubs should improve board performance because boards need to be accountable for their performance and a commitment to compliance. Diversity improves performance, particularly when an organization’s senior leadership – the club’s volunteer leadership and the paid senior managers – works collaboratively as a diverse team. A diverse board composition sends a powerful signal to current and future workforces about an organization’s commitment to equality of opportunity. It unquestionably enhances a club’s governance. Many of your current board members, most likely, have served on numerous for-profit boards and charity boards – 501(c)3 boards. The vast majority have never been part of a 501(c)7 board. Understanding the differences of a 501(c)7 club and a greater effort to train and improve board members on how to exercise proper governance strategies are key. For a low-cost way to reduce micromanaging of the board, reduce liabilities, increase board productivity and board accountability, visit online. At least, that’s the way I see it. BR John G. Fornaro, publisher



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BOARDROOM MAGAZINE ADVERTISING INDEX ACCP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Addison Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Ambassador Uniform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Angela Grande . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 APCD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Bambrella . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Big John Grills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103, 104 & 105 Bobby Jones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Boothe Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 Bozeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 BrightView . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 C2 Limited Design Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Castor Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Chambers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Clubdesign Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 ClubPay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 ClubTec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 Clubwise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Concert Golf Partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 Country Club Technology Partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Creative Golf Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 CSR Data Breach Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 DEI Foodservice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Duffy’s Tri-C Club Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 DuVal international . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 EA Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 Elm Planning and Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Emersa Waterbox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Ethos Club & Leisure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Eustis Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 FOOD-TRAK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Forbes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Gasser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 GCSAA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Gecko Hospitality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

George Golf Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Golf Business Network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Golf Maintenance Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Golf Property Analyst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 GSI Executive Search . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 HFTP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 High-End Uniforms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Hilda Allen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 HINT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Jonas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 KE Camps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5, 28 & 29 MAI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 McMahon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 MembersFirst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 MemberText . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 NanaWall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Northstar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Paisano Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Peacock + Lewis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 PGA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 PHX Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Pipeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Proform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Rogers McCagg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 RSM-US . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 Salsbury . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 St. timothy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 Strategic Club Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Studio JBD & Jefferson Group Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Top Tier Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Troon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 USPTA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Videobolt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 WebTec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 XHIBTZ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

BOARDROOM MAGAZINE COUNTRY CLUB INDEX Stephanie Anderson, CHAE, CPA, CGMA, CFO, River Bend Golf & Country Club Mary Aitken, founder, Verity Club, Toronto, ON, Canada Mark Bado, MCM, CCE, past GM, Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte, NC, and chair of the Club Management Association of America Tim Bakels, GM, Colleton River Country Club, Bluffton, SC Nancy Berkley, green committee and marketing committee, Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL Eric Bischofberger, assistant GM, Colleton River Country Club, Bluffton, SC Jarrett Chirico, USPTA,PTR, PPTA,PPR, director of racquets, Baltimore Country Club, Baltimore, MD Daniel N. Conti, Jr. CHAE, CAM, CFO, CFO, The Jupiter Island Club Frank Cordeiro, CCM, COO, Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, TX Boris Fetbroyt, USPTA, PTR, CTPS, is director of tennis, The Country Club of Fairfax, Fairfax, VA Roxanne Filby, director of member relations, Country Club of Lincoln, NE Wes Hardin, CEO, Country Club of Lincoln, NE Gwen Harvey, member, Verity Club, Toronto, ON. Canada



Dr. Bonnie Knutson, the Country Club of Lansing and the Michigan Athletic Club Nancy Levenburg, member, Spring Lake Country Club, Spring Lake, MI David Mackesey, Diablo Country Club member, Diablo, CA Lori McClurg, board member, Country Club of Lincoln, NE Nick Muller, PGA, Director of Golf, Country Club of Lincoln, NE Karman Cassell McGee, HR manager, Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte, NC Dave Moyer, USPTA Master Professional and the director of tennis, The Country Club at DC Ranch, Scottsdale, AZ Steve Parascandola, MacGregor Downs Country Club, Cary, NC Kim Robak, BoardRoom’s Distinguished President, Country Club of Lincoln, NE Eileen Sarris, CPA, CHAE, CFO, The Field Club Erin Schlegal, youth and activities director, Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte, NC David Slagle, board member, Country Club of Lincoln, NE Thomas Smith, CHAE, chief business officer, Imperial Golf Club Rick Stempson, director of tennis and fitness, Country Club of Lincoln, NE


APRIL 26 – MAY 2, 2021


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C E L E B R A T I N G 25 Y E A R S O F E D U C A T I N G T H E P R I V A T E C L U B I N D U S T R Y T he Bo ardRo o m m ag az ine



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2020 Best Club Software, Best Mobile Application, Best Point of Sale Company LEADING THE WAY.


This cover belongs to you. You are the reason this industry is great. You are the reason BoardRoom is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the #1 magazine in the private club industry.