BoardRoom magazine May/June 2019

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C E L E B R A T I N G 23 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 ISSUE 282



Vo l um e X X III, May/ Jun e l 2 0 1 9









PICTURED L-R: Matt Lambert, GM/COO, The Country Club at Mirasol; Craig Martin, GM/COO, St. Andrews Country Club; John Herring, GM, The Club at Admirals Cove; Brett Morris, GM/COO, Polo Club of Boca Raton; Michael McCarthy, CEO, Addison Reserve Country Club; Achal Goswami, GM, Frenchman’s Creek Beach and Country Club; Matthew Linderman, President/COO, Boca West Country Club





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:


Competitors Yet Collaborators What Makes It Work?

BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs focus on identifying the most outstanding clubs in the country, and in some cases, excellent member experiences help identify some of the best. Our cover story this issue, Intelligent Risk Takers Focusing on Incubating Ideas, does just that. It identifies seven clubs in southern Florida who have taken their member experiences to a new level, and why. Our publisher, John Fornaro, also CEO of BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs and Keith Jarrett, the Distinguished Club’s president, are well attuned to clubs across the country with the best in member experiences simply because they’ve visited so many of these clubs during their extensive travels across the country. So, what makes these Florida clubs – all BoardRoom Distinguished Clubs: Addison Reserve Country Club, Boca West Country Club, The Club at Admirals Cove, The Country Club at Mirasol, Frenchman’s Creek Beach and Country Club, Polo Club of Boca Raton, St. Andrews Country Club and Woodfield Country Club – so different? Yes, it the member experiences they all deliver to their members, but there’s another significant aspect. About 30 years ago, Jay DiPietro, who for many years served as CEO of the Boca West Country Club, after first arriving in Florida, took the step of getting some of the clubs in the Boca Raton region together for regular chitchats and exchanges. Even though they’re competitors, these clubs and their general managers collaborate on almost everything from soup to nuts! It’s a camaraderie that has continued down through the years, not only with the general managers of each of these clubs, but also with their wives and families. They’re all well aware of the intricacies of the private club industry and yes, each club has what Brett Morris, GM and COO of the Polo Club of Boca Raton, calls a ‘bit of a different feel.’ It’s a unique situation…competitors and collaborators, all within miles of each other. Have a read and you’ll understand why this interesting arrangement works so well for these southern Florida clubs. n n n

Gordon Welch, in the first of his BoardRoom Perspectives, writes about a private club’s Pathway to Collaborative Gov4


ernance, and the necessity, in today’s environment, for continuing education for a private club’s board of directors. Board education, as Welch, president of the Association of Private Club Directors, explains, is just as important as professional development for a private club’s senior management, because collaborative governance is a pathway to clarity and a new standard of excellence. “Meanwhile, board members have been ‘hidden’ in the boardroom without proper knowledge, tools and resources to collaborate with staff to operate at their clubs at the highest standard, which enables them to create an excellent member experience,” explains Welch. “Board members, who are shareholders (owners) of the club, are also the customers. Often board members run successful businesses or have retired as successful business owners. But let me caution you, there is no other business like a private club. The governance of the club remains, and should be, the key link to its success.” This thinking, of course, has led to the establishment of BoardRoom Institute, the educational arm of APCD and BoardRoom magazine, and production of an array of current and relevant videos that will inform you and your board of directors about the ‘basics’ and education in areas and subjects specific to private clubs. BoardRoom Institute provides a blue-ribbon list of presenters who can help your board members better understand their roles and responsibilities in an environment of collaborative governance with your club’s senior management. Have a read of Welch’s BoardRoom Perspectives and contact Gordon at (918) 895-APCD (2723) for a personalized tour of what BoardRoom Institute has to offer. n n n

We continue with the presentation of our top board presidents for 2918 and in this issue include stories about Buck Claussen, president, Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte, North Carolina; Mike Curry, president, Midland Country Club, Midland, Texas; Valerie Fitzpatrick, president, Victoria Golf Club, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; Larry Guy, president, Birnam Wood Golf Club, Montecito, CA, and Terry Hill, president, Country Club of Spartanburg, Spartanburg, SC. B R



John G. Fornaro

John G. Fornaro



Dave White

Keith Jarrett

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

Innovative Ideas Editor

Chief Analyst Frank Gore

Chief Information Officer

Meghan Thibault

Jeff Briggs

APCD Executive Director Bill Thomas

Editorial & Marketing Director Dee Kaplan

Accounting/Subscriptions Susan Giem

Executive Director Bill Thomas

Contact Information (949) 376-8889

Contact Information (949) 376-8889

Featured Columnists Henry DeLozier John G. Fornaro Bonnie J. Knutson Richard Kopplin

Nancy M. Levenburg Jerry McCoy Gregg Patterson Whitney Reid Pennell

Robert Sereci Dave White

Dave Duval John R. Embree Kevin Fry Steve Graves Steve Green Susan Greene Rob Harris Angela Hartmann Larry Hirsh Lynne LaFond DeLuca Kevin Lichten Sam Lindsley

David Mackesey Tim Marks Russell Miller William Nauroth Macdonald Niven Corey Saban Robyn Stowell Meghan Thibault Brian Watkins Gordon Welch Bruce R. Williams

Contributing Writers Joe Abely Nancy Berkley Chris Boettcher Bill Boothe Lisa Carroll JaeMin Cha Ron Cichy Frank Cordeiro Trevor Coughlan Addison Craig Michael Crandal, CNG Dave Doherty

Strategic Partners and Allied Associations

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 282 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

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2012 - 2018









Over time, and especially more recently, the focus for many private clubs has changed significantly, and for a variety of reasons, including the financial crisis that impacted the industry several years ago. But what of the future? What will be the draw to join a private club? What experience do members want? How do clubs provide what members want?

Business people talk a lot about benchmarks and benchmarking these days. The purpose of benchmarking is to establish a standard against which performance can be evaluated, and, ultimately, to identify avenues for improvement to more successfully compete in the marketplace. So, it’s the “how” to accomplish your goal. However, some private clubs don’t seem to get it.










Many private clubs are tax-exempt under the U.S. tax code and wholly legal in their registrations and permits. But they bear little resemblance to most other businesses in one defining aspect – ownership. It was Robert Dedman Sr. who famously put this distinction in focus: “Most clubs are run like nobody’s business because they are nobody’s business.” Spoken like a statesman.

The time is now for deep reflection and thought-provoking conversations around attracting new members and employees of the Millennial generation. How do we: attract, satisfy, retain, talk to Millenials? Hint: if the article headline puzzles you, you have some Millennial research to do.

Following my presentation, “Stop Coaching and Start Mentoring” at this year’s Club Management Association of America conference, several peers approached me after the seminar saying how much they enjoyed it, but… Yes, there’s always a but. They didn’t necessarily agree with my professional sports analogies referencing teams and coaches









It seems that everyone has a favorite story from their childhood. A story where they knew what was coming in the narrative before the page was turned. For some it might have been one of the classics like Cinderella or Snow White. For me, it was none of these. But I sure did have a couple of un-favorite stories when I was little. One is Hansel and Gretel. I just can’t fathom abandonment.

Too often strategic planning in clubs starts as an agenda driven process. Usually these agendas surround capital investment issues and the participants want to get to these issues first and gloss over the early steps including identifying the core values of the organization. Roy Disney had it right when he made this quote, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”

Imagine this. The board is proposing a dues increase. They’re saying, “Trust us because we’re doing the right thing.” You’re a 30-year member and are asking yourself (and your drinking buddies) why should we trust THIS board to make the right decision for this club this time??? This “why trust” question is a biggie.


Over 12 years ago, Stephen M.R. Covey wrote the best-selling book, The Speed of Trust. Our Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace team often talks about this concept when we conduct private club board retreats. The characteristic is very relevant to every club board we meet with. As the author outlines in his book, “This concept changes everything.”




ON THE FRONTLINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

A SSOCI A TI ON OF P RI V A TE CL UB D I RE CTORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

By Macdonald Niven

By Meghan Thibault

When Support Leaves the Manager

BoardRoom magazine’s Top Private Club Presidents 2018

LAW & LEGISLATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62

G OL F D I SP UTE RE SOL UTI ON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

Goldilocks Minutes What’s Enough Information?

Golfer Dies After Falling from Back of Cart By Rob Harris

By Robyn Stowell

A SSOCI A TI ON OF P RI V A TE CL UB D I RE CTORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64

SALES CENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

A Pathway to Collaborative Governance

Can We Talk? Taking Social Networking Back to Where It Started

By Gordon Welch

E XE CUTI V E COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

By Susan Greene

What Is the CCM?

By Brian Watkins

NANCY’S CORNER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84

Women Welcome Here Don’t Miss This Market

E XE CUTI V E COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72

Success in Hiring Happens with Hard Work And a Good Team!

By Nancy Berkley

By Tim Marks

INSIGHTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88

CUL I NA RY & CA TE RI NG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74

What Do You Do with Poor Performers?

Employee Education ROI Education Dollar$ Make $ense By Lynne LaFond DeLuca

By Michael Crandal, CNG

G RE E N COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE . . . . . . . . . 89

Exploring Creative Solutions For Golf Course Labor Shortages

How Effective Is Your Club’s Technology Support?

By Angela Hartmann

By Bill Boothe

TE NNI S COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86

The Four Ps Augment Your Tennis Program

ON THE FRONTLINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

By John R. Embree

Drive to Membership Cap Marks The Revival of Dana Point Yacht Club By Russell Miller

INNOVATIVE IDEAS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94-96

By Meghan Thibault

Champions Run Houston Racquet Club St. Andrews Country Club CLUB SERVICE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110

CMAA’s Conference Fascination - Education and Opportunity By Chris Boettcher

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

HOUSE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

GREEN COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82

By Ron Cichy and JaeMin Cha

By Lisa Carroll and Sam Lindsley

By William Nauroth

Health Wellness Does It Mean Happiness?

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

How Clubs Can Put the Intelligence Back in Business Intelligence By Trevor Coughlan

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

Are You Losing Members in Your Parking Lot? By Kevin Lichten

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

Corporate Hybrid Governance Model Reflects The Evolution of Governance By Steve Green, David Mackesey and Frank Cordeiro


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

By Kevin Fry

By Larry Hirsh

Whitney Reid Pennell

Private Clubs Impact on Value of Membership Refunds

Cooks are from Mars, Servers are from Venus - Part II

Breathe Some Life Back into Your Older Irrigation System

HOUSE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

GREEN COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

By Corey Saban

By Bruce R. Williams

How to Engage and Attract Members FINANCE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

Are Boards Burdening Private Clubs with Too Much Debt?

By Joe Abely and Dave Duval MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . 75

Focus on the Trees, Not the Forest To Maximize Membership Retention By Steve Graves

GOLF COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

Start Breaking Par Now! By Addison Craig

GREEN COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80

Aerification and Science By Dave Doherty

Ways of the Future

COVER STORY PACKAGE By Dave White, editor

Intelligent Risk Takers Focusing on Incubating Ideas Page 20

Sharing Ideas And a Warm Welcome Highlights of Jay DiPietro’s Career Page 30

Families Foster Friendships and Camaraderie Page 36



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:

Why Clubs Will Be More Relevant Than Ever! Over time, and especially more recently, the focus for many private clubs has changed significantly, and for a variety of reasons, including the financial crisis that impacted the industry several years ago. But what of the future? What will be the draw to join a private club? What experience do members want? How do clubs provide what members want? For many clubs it all starts with defining who and what they want to be? What their brand is and how they appeal to people who want to be members of a private club today. One fact is certain… private clubs have had to adapt and evolve with the time and for many clubs that has brought about change. So how do clubs make sure they’re more relevant than ever so they can retain members and appeal to prospective members today?

“I recently read that Disney is offering end of life or funeral experiences. Can you imagine a rocket going up, exploding and hearing someone say, ‘There goes uncle Jim! He loved Disney!’ Clubs have to start thinking way out of the box!” Shannon Herschbach, principal and co-founder of Pipeline, a brand marketing agency for clubs, says, “Studies have proven the more connected we are, the happier we feel and the healthier we are.” But there’s another side to that coin – technology. “As technology connects us, we are becoming more disconnected than ever. The need for offline places that foster authentic connection is becoming more and more pronounced. “In addition, our entire economy is being reshaped by a population that favors access over ownership, and a culture that prefers experiences over material items. By

We have our country clubs, the yacht clubs or city clubs … today that’s the town square in America. We have to sell our clubs as a gathering place to meet people, socialize and develop friendships. However, just saying it isn’t enough. Your private club must have a usage and retention plan that will ensure new members use the club and meet people. The best clubs know this. They focus on 18 or 24-month plans to help their new members connect with others, to provide them with club functions, events and clubs-within-a-club. “Growing through member experience will be very relevant. That’s the key,” explains Gordon Welch, president of the Association of Private Club Directors, the parent association of BoardRoom Institute, the educational arm of APCD and BoardRoom magazine. “Member experience can’t be talked about enough. That’s why people join the club. Clubs will continue to play a vital role in family life. Clubs will need to be the center of the family home, offering “the experience” to all members of the family. “Many people talk about the Disney way and providing that type of experience. I used to get tired hearing that,” added Welch, “however, Disney knows what it’s doing! 10


definition, private clubs should be in a strong position to embrace these shifts, while continuing to satisfy our more fundamental human needs for belonging, safety and aspiration,” Herschbach added. A safe environment remains mandatory. “The attraction of community, and the attraction of a safe environment with a fully integrated lifestyle for the entire family where all your needs can be met on a daily basis from sports programing to entertainment and dining,” are reasons why private clubs will be more relevant than ever, offered Craig Martin, general manager of St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, FL. SEE PUBLISHER’S PERSPECTIVE | 104



Nancy Levenburg, Ph.D., is a 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) 331-7475.

Benchmarking… Against Who? Business people talk a lot about benchmarks and benchmarking these days. A benchmark is a goal or target – something you want to achieve. Benchmarking is the process of measuring an organization’s performance against the best in the industry, or against the best in any industry. The purpose of benchmarking is to establish a standard against which performance can be evaluated, and, ultimately, to identify avenues for improvement to more successfully compete in the marketplace. So, it’s the “how” to accomplish your goal. However, some private clubs don’t seem to get it. They, unfortunately, don’t seem to understand that the fundamental purpose behind benchmarking is to improve operations. If the focus is not on improving, all you’re doing is comparing yourself to others. But why? Exactly what will be gained – aside from a hopeful pat on the back – from simply engaging in comparison?

comparing your club to others that are generating profits? Or – at minimum – breaking even? I don’t believe it’s acceptable to merely be no worse than others. After all, isn’t your goal to be profitable? And isn’t that what benchmarking is all about? Here’s an illustration. Grand Valley State University (where I’m a faculty member) has two sets of benchmarks. One set is peer institutions (i.e., those that are comparable with respect to size and other characteristics, and includes Appalachian State University and Portland State University). The other set is aspirant institutions – those that GVSU seeks to emulate in some respect. The aspirant institutions include Miami University (Ohio), California Polytechnical State University and North Carolina State University. When the goal is to compare performance, peer institutions are used as benchmarks. However, when the desire is to improve performance, aspirant institutions are selected. I’m also reminded of when I return an exam in class and am questioned by a student about the mean score on the

“Why do you want to compare your score to the mean (average)? Why not compare your performance to the highest score?” That’s because by comparing your performance to the best of the best, you’ll have a clearer picture of what needs to be improved. I recently had a conversation with the treasurer of a private club (“Club A”) who told me that his club’s food and beverage operation was bleeding cash… to the tune of seven figures on an annual basis. However, he couched this rather complacently in telling me that his club was on par with its benchmarks (Clubs B, C, D, and E). In other words, while Club A was losing money, it shouldn’t be too concerned – in fact, it might even be acceptable! – because Clubs B, C, D and E’s losses were of a similar magnitude. What!?! I thought to myself. You view it as a positive thing if your club’s dollar losses are on par with F&B losses at other clubs? Why in heaven’s name do you see this as a good thing? Rather than viewing/comparing your performance to other clubs that are also losing money, why aren’t you 12


exam. I often reply by asking the student, “Why do you want to compare your score to the mean (average)? Why not compare your performance to the highest score?” That’s because by comparing your performance to the best of the best, you’ll have a clearer picture of what needs to be improved. If it’s experiencing seven figure losses, Club A is clearly under-performing in one – if not several – areas in its F&B operation. But it cannot determine improvement targets until it adopts a less complacent attitude and benchmarks itself against performance leaders, rather than similarly mediocre performers. According to motivational speaker Dr. Rick Rigsby, “Good enough isn’t good enough if it can be better, and better isn’t good enough if it can be best.” BR



Dick Kopplin is a partner in Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, an executive recruiting firm providing services to the private club industry. The company has offices in Scottsdale, Arizona and Jupiter, Florida. He can be contacted at (480) 443-9102 or via email:

Engage the Speed of Trust in Your Board Room Over 12 years ago, Stephen M.R. Covey wrote the best-selling book, The Speed of Trust. Our Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace team often talks about this concept when we conduct private club board retreats. The characteristic is very relevant to every club board we meet with. As the author outlines in his book, “This concept changes everything.” Before conducting our club board retreats, we ask each board member a series of questions and one of them is to rate on a one to five scale the level of trust that exists among the current board members. The national average that we have seen after surveying over 300 club boards is 4.10, which is very good. Over a year ago, one of the club board surveys had a 2.09 on the question regarding the trust level in the board room. Upon seeing result I requested a conference call with the club general manager and the club president and said that one of the first issues we would need to discuss in our all-day Saturday board retreat was the issue of trust among board members.

When we started the board retreat, I shared the survey results with everyone, and then stated that in order to have a productive day we would need to immediately address “the elephant in the room”, which was the very low trust level. I shared with the board the following five specific tactics on how to build trust in the board room. The first is what we call “leveling”, or the honest and forthright communication among the board members when dis14


cussing club issues. There should be a culture in the board room that encourages open dialogue and healthy discussion of differences, no matter what the issue happens to be. The second is “listening”, (the best communication skill of all). While that may seem obvious, many board members are so intent on making their specific point that they don’t take the time to truly listen to what their fellow board members believe. The third is “support.” Most board members who chair a club committee will give a report at the board meeting, which may require a board vote, especially if there is a financial component. There should be a level of mutual respect for the work that each board member does within their committees and correspondingly it should be easy to support their committee recommendations to the board. The fourth is “unity of purpose.” When the board has made a decision, it is critical that everyone supports the outcome no matter how each board member may have voted. It doesn’t matter if it was a close vote or unanimous, once the board members walk out of the Board room their decisions should be supported regardless of personal preference. The fifth is “circle the wagons.” When a club member expresses dislike or negative comments regarding the club president or for that matter any board member, they need to be reminded that board members are volunteering their time as they sincerely attempt to serve the best interests of the club as a whole. Returning to the same club after a year, the survey results had dramatically changed and the new “trust rating” was 4.20 – a significant improvement. The club president would say that the engagement of the five “trust builders” was very impactful on how the club board members viewed their roles and responsibilities to the club and to each other. The club was truly benefiting from “The Speed of Trust” and board meetings had gone from three hours to 90 minutes, which is one of the many positive results that can occur when there is a high level of trust in the board room. BR



HENRY DELOZIER Henry DeLozier is a principal of Global Golf Advisors. You can contact him at


Dealing with Emotional Ownership Many private clubs are tax-exempt under the U.S. tax code and wholly legal in their registrations and permits. But they bear little resemblance to most other businesses in one defining aspect – ownership. It was Robert Dedman Sr., the founder and chairman of what is now ClubCorp, who famously put this distinction in focus: “Most clubs are run like nobody’s business because they are nobody’s business.” Spoken like a statesman. Dedman’s point was that ownership simplifies and clarifies priorities, needs and commitment. In the absence of a traditional ownership structure, many private clubs are a witches’ brew of competing egos, ineffective leadership and misguided strategy. That’s often a concoction that makes their governance as challenging as leading a major corporation. The problem is “emotional ownership.” “Emotional ownership adds an extreme element to governing private clubs,” says Fred Laughlin, a 40-year nonprofit governance expert at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and now an associate at Global Golf Advisors. He likens emotional ownership in private clubs to the same intense feelings people have for their churches and homeowner associations. “Faith and community are overpowering emotional factors and can rob the normal good sense of good people.” Laughlin explains that the pangs of emotional ownership often stem from board members’ own financial investment in the club, their personal identification with its mission, their relationships with fellow board members, competing family priorities and the financial strain of membership. Effective governance can mitigate some of the issues associated with emotional ownership. For guidance, we should heed the advice of esteemed management guru Peter Drucker, who identifies the essential functions of every board of directors or governors as 1) developing and sustaining sound and effective strategy, 2) creating trustworthy and open financial plans and 3) executing effective governance practices. For private club leaders, it is important to note that Drucker does not include management supervision, eldership by committees or personnel management. Most club leaders and managers fully understand the basics of effective club governance and are not surprised to learn from member focus groups that transparency, communications, strategic planning and financial focus lead their concerns. Yet, many private club boards struggle with each category. 16


How should private club leaders improve governance at their clubs? Three suggestions: 1. Establish qualitative measures that serve as criteria for board evaluation. Club members want accountability, openness, dependability and trustworthiness from their boards. Board members must establish performance criteria against which they will be evaluated. 2. Execute regular quantitative analysis of board effectiveness. Require the board to post a score for all to see. Members should self-evaluate after each board meeting against the governance criteria to which all members of the board have committed. In addition to self-evaluation, club boards should request and receive annual performance evaluations from fellow members. 3. Communicate regularly, openly and redundantly. The activities of the board should be communicated in multiple formats, including email, posted notices and hard-copy reports, to all club members. No member should be allowed the option of complaining that they were ill-informed. Laughlin believes that excellence in club governance is embodied in a board policies manual known as a BPM. “The essential principles of good governance are threefold: the roles of the primary players – board members, managers, and committees – are clearly and appropriately defined, the board speaks with one voice, not through its various factions, and the board commits to excellence in its dealings, communications and standards.” Laughlin calls the BPM the “storehouse” of these principles. How can a private club board change to the BPM structure? “Board members want to do a good job, but many need some coaching. They may have highly successful careers in the public or private sectors, but emotional ownership makes governing private clubs a unique endeavor,” Laughlin says, adding that coaching can improve two keys to better governance: 1. Desire – The board member truly must want to achieve excellence. That requires work, self-evaluation and a commitment to continuous improvement. 2. Education – Many governance and ethics experts can provide guidance. The key is to find those with an understanding of the challenges of private club leadership. Applying such simple tactics and the discipline that keeps them simple is the great challenge in an emotionally-charged setting. Board members must understand their strong emotional engagement with the club and work to minimize its negative impact and maximize the potential of inspired leadership. BR



Whitney Reid Pennell, president of RCS Hospitality Group, is a celebrated management consultant, educator, and speaker. RCS has been recognized eight times with a BoardRoom Excellence in Achievement Award, most recently in 2018 in the categories of staff training company, club service firm, and consulting company. For more information, phone (623) 322-0773 or visit the RCS website at

Spilling the Tea on Millenials Life changes at a rapid rate. The time is now for deep reflection and thought-provoking conversations around attracting new members and employees of the Millennial generation. How do we: • Attract, satisfy, retain, talk to Millenials? Hint: if the article headline puzzles you, you have some Millennial research to do. The most logical replacement of an aging membership, the Millennial generation, is snubbing private club membership for myriad well-documented reasons. According to Pew Research, Millenials bring more racial and ethnic diversity than generations past, citing 55 percent of Millenials aged 22 – 35 as non-Hispanic, white, compared to 84 percent of the Silent Generation at the same age. Life moments come later for Millenials: leaving home, getting married, having children. Their married household tends to be a 50/50 partnership - dual income with shared household and child responsibility. Clubs must embrace how this generation lives and works, not just build amenities in hopes of attracting them. What we know about Millenials as customers: • Millenials intensely value individuality. Look at companies serving the need for individual preferences as well as trending items such as convenience and customization like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Netflix, Amazon, Stitch Fix and so on. • The first generation to grow up with smartphones, Millenials expect real-time responses and constant access to information. Seventy-one percent report that the most important thing a business can do is value their time. Twenty-five percent expect a social media query response within 10 minutes; Thirty percent, if they send a text message. • Millenials expect high touch and low touch options, such as digital self-service. • Self-reliant and tech dependent, Millenials prefer to resolve issues themselves. If that fails, they expect to transition to chat, social media, mobile interaction or a phone call without restating the issue. • Millenials want authentic, meaningful and responsive interactions: in person, on the phone, and online (all modes of communication and social media) • Millenials live at a lightening pace, fueled by the speed of innovation. Top business applications noted as important by Millenials are: > Live Chat, Chatbots and Mobile Apps > Texting and Facebook Messenger > Video technology to talk virtually > Response from a live person is still important and not going away, but it can’t be the only way to communicate. 18


Attracting and retaining the most talented (Millennial) employees is something only the most successful clubs are able to accomplish. Becoming an employer of choice requires a careful plan with 100 percent commitment to implementation. Millenials are the largest demographic group in the workforce. Here are some interesting points when putting your human capital plan together. Millenials: 1. Want to be appreciated. 2. Seek a good working atmosphere even more than financial compensation. 3. Eighty-four percent care more about making a difference/ working for a purpose in the world than about professional recognition. 4. Use technology for more than fun. 5. Value one-on-one interaction and frequent feedback from their manager. 6. Tend to be more collaborative, inclusive and group-oriented. The following generation (Gen Z) is more entrepreneurial, less collaborative and highly individualistic. 7. Value career growth opportunities with 87 percent noting professional development a critical aspect of choosing jobs. Other intriguing items to watch either as a trend or emerging innovation that may impact clubs are: • A shrinking labor market, rising wages, and low unemployment rates are crippling club operations • The gig economy is now competition • Board room portal technology • Virtual training • Companies such as Uber Eats, Door Dash, Grub Hub, Air B&B • Mainstream social issues • The #MeToo and #InviteHer movement • Women’s influence in the family and workplace • California requires publicly traded companies in the state to have at least one female board member • Rising education costs competing with membership investment as children age • Senior care communities attracting club members • Robotic and drone technology • Self-driving cars • Self-service technology/vending options • Health, wellness, and food/beverage trends It’s easy to turn tactical, but be disciplined and tackle the tough issues strategically. Safeguard your club’s future by having a solid strategic plan in place, otherwise, the club will be in a constant state of responding to issues rather than proactively preparing for them. Short-term solutions usually end up with long-term damages. Get strategic, then work the plan. BR




Focusing on Incubating Ideas

A few years ago, while visiting one of the private clubs in Florida’s Boca Raton area, the general manager took me on a tour of his club. The GM was very proud of the brand-new locker room in which we were standing, as was the club’s president, who was also in the locker room. He immediately walked up to us and said, “I’d like to have a chat with you.” An avid reader of BoardRoom, he knew who I was. He asked the GM to wait in the clubhouse while we walked to the golf course. Going along the pathway to the first hole, he asked, “Do you know how much we’re paying our GM?” I said, “No I didn’t.” “Well, I want to share with you how much we value our GM. We pay him $500,000 per year,” the president offered. “The GM doesn’t have a university degree and he’s only 40 years old. What makes him special?” A very good question, I thought. Then he added, “I was the CEO of a major New York company that employed over 10,000 people worldwide. For 41 years, I looked after my company and 10,000 employees. PICTURED L-R: Matt Lambert, GM/COO, The Country Club at Mirasol; Craig Martin, GM/COO, St. Andrews Country Club; John Herring, GM, The Club at Admirals Cove; Brett Morris, GM/COO, Polo Club of Boca Raton; Michael McCarthy, CEO, Addison Reserve Country Club; Achal Goswami, GM, Frenchman’s Creek Beach and Country Club; Matthew Linderman, President/COO, Boca West Country Club 20


“For 43 years I’ve taken care of my wife and for many years helped take care of three children. In other words, my whole life I’ve been responsible and taken care of many people. “Now, I want someone to wake up in the morning thinking about me,” he injected, “Someone thinking about providing me the opportunity to experience new things and be happy. I don’t even play golf, but there are enough great things going on this club that I don’t have to be golfer. “So, we have 500 members and I think it’s worth $1,000 per person for someone to be in charge of providing us experiences for the last 20 to 30 years of our lives. That’s the $500,000 for our GM,” the president explained. Our BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs group realized at that time that we need to recognize clubs for what and how they deliver a great member experience – not just the facility or rewarding a club because the GM is popular. I’ve seen clubs that have been recognized among the top 250 private clubs in the country provide a mediocre member experience. And I‘ve visited others, not even recognized as one of the best clubs, provide a member experience that is unforgettable. No one in our industry can honestly tell you what the best clubs are. It comes down to the question, are your members receiving a great member experience?” John G. Fornaro publisher BoardRoom magazine CEO BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs

There are many great BoardRoom Distinguished Clubs and outstanding general managers throughout Florida who, quite often, as members of the CMAA’s Florida Chapter, Seminole Region, for example, meet for discussions, an exchange of ideas and similar challenges they all face. But here we’re featuring a smaller group of general managers – that ‘many times’ function as a group within a group, so to speak – that sets its own agenda, that congregates on a regular basis and that at times includes spouses and families in their activities. “These clubs, their general managers and staff in this part of Florida deliver an experience to their members that’s not (seen) in many clubs across the country,” Fornaro added. All BoardRoom Distinguished Clubs, they include Addison Reserve Country Club, Boca West Country Club, the Club at Admirals Cove, The Country Club at Mirasol, Frenchman’s Creek Beach and Country Club, Polo Club of Boca Raton, St. Andrews Country Club and Woodfield Country Club. So how did these become the best of the best? “Because these Distinguished Club managers have shown success with their delivery of member experience with renovation and capital improvement budgets, they’ve earned the trust of their members and boards to keep on allocating money for new ideas, additional renovations, capital improvements and hiring of the best of the best staff,” explained Keith Jarrett, president of BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs. “It’s one of the largest concentrations of residential country clubs in the world. So clubs in this area are not only selling membership, they are selling real estate that comes with the membership or vice versa. These managers are not only responsible for the member experience, they’re responsible for the real estate values of their member’s estates. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars per club. “Because these clubs have been run so well for so long, they’ve been able to lay a foundation that is solid and can be built upon. In other words, they are able to try new ideas, new innovations, new experiences that most clubs do not have the time or budgets to execute. They are the leaders in delivering member experience,” Jarrett emphasized. ➤

We have 500 members and I think it’s worth $1,000 per person for someone to be in charge of providing us experiences for the last 20 to 30 years of our lives. That’s the $500,000 for our GM,” the president explained.



these general managers in southern Florida. These folks, all well aware of “First of all, there a many exceptional the intricacies of the private club industry, have spent much time together during club functions, socially, on holidays and sometimes vacations. clubs all over the country that are But why the collaboration among competitors? steeped with tradition, have the finest “We’ve been able to do this by developing a collaborative environment facilities and are led by great leaders. The difference in Palm Beach County is that focuses on the relationships among all the general managers in the area. Although we’re all considered ‘clubs’, we don’t feel like we’re in dithe fact that there are so many within rect competition with each other per se,” expressed Brett Morris, general such a concentrated area,” explained manager and COO of the Polo Club of Boca Raton. Matt Lambert, general manager and “Each club community has a bit of a different feel and areas of member COO of The Country Club at Mirasol, interests and as such, we can share ideas with each other and not feel like Palm Beach Gardens, FL. we’re giving away information or creativity that would hurt the communi“I believe there are over 75 private clubs between Boca Raton and Jupiter, ties we work in. “I believe that my personality and style blends well with the ‘feel’ at Polo which is approximately 40 miles apart. among the members. Having grown up in New Jersey and worked in New With so many outstanding clubs in York for many years before coming to Florida, I am able to relate to our close proximity, there isn’t a day that members, most of whom are from the same areas up north. goes by that we don’t have one of our “Being able to identify with them and bringing an understanding of the members visit another great club and come back and share their experience. culture, which exists at Polo, helped me to establish immediate credibility as someone who can ‘talk the talk,’” added Morris. “This increases the expectations of For St. Andrews’ Craig Martin, similar governance models also spur on members and drives the leadership the relationships. team to continue to elevate the mem“Each club’s governing body made the decision to recruit and hire an ber experience – whether it’s from experienced GM/COO club leader from a similar level club and made the investing in our facilities, attracting and retaining the best staff, or offering decision to support that club leader in delivering and maintaining the Club the most creative or relevant program- Management Association of America’s club governance model. These clubs have committed to providing the necessary resources to aid the ming,” Lambert related. Yes, there’s a uniqueness about these management team in executing the strategic and day-to-day objectives resulting in exceeding member expectations. clubs, but just as importantly, they’re “The GMs in our area have all been highly engaged with one another and idea incubators … clubs that develop, support each other in meeting our personal and professional goals and deshare and collaborate with one another liverables,” Martin opined. about their members experience … “At St. Andrews one of our strategic objectives is to select top talent they are indeed, leaders of the pack! It all started back in the 1980s, when in every area of the club while creating an environment and culture that inspires and recognizes achievement. It’s important to us that every team Jay DiPietro, then general manager at member believes in the culture and mission of St. Andrews and that they Boca Lago Country Club, Boca Raton, embrace each day as an opportunity to exceed expectations. and a close friend, Bob Fordham, gen“Their commitment to our mission and basic standards makes it so much eral manager at Boca Pointe Country easier for top management to focus on creativity and innovation, resulting Club, started introducing themselves to in new services and programs that elevate our brand. Our member satother general managers in the area. “Our objective was to help each other isfaction and retention is only achieved by our most important asset: the ladies and gentlemen on our professional team,” Martin added. and share our thoughts,” DiPietro Matthew Linderman, President and COO of Boca West Country Club likrecalled recently. “We never saw ourens membership in the CMAA’s Seminole Region Chapter “very much like selves as competitors but people who being part of a family, especially the local group of managers. wanted and needed to help each other. “We are all there for each other, which is rare for the hospitality industry As other managers came into our area considering the many ways we’re all competitors looking for similar members. to work at different clubs, I made it my On any given day we can all pick up the phone and call someone to ask for business to invite them to meet other help – whether it’s one club working on a strategic plan or a master plan and general managers,“ he added. renovation or just on a search for a key manager and if they know of anyone It’s camaraderie fostered not only by the relationships between general man- that is looking or ready for that next step in their career,” Linderman, who after ➤ agers but also the wives and families of DiPietro’s retirement took over as Boca West’s President and COO, said. 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“Recently a manager invited about eight local GMs to gather for lunch to review drawings for a renovation, with the idea of getting input from the rest of the group on lessons learned. When was the last time that happened in the hotel industry? Or restaurant industry…where neighboring GMs would all get together and be open to criticism knowing that we are all just trying to help one another be successful? “As we all know, the club industry can be extremely challenging at times for different reasons – but knowing we all have each other’s back is a great feeling,” Linderman expressed. Linderman, who started at Boca West under DiPietro’s tutelage 14 years ago, related how a group of competing managers would meet regularly to “exchange stories and insight on how they could help each other. It was really remarkable to me.

“After 18 plus years in the very competitive, somewhat cutthroat industry of hotels and resorts, where we actually tried to steal each other’s ideas and/or steal each other’s key employees, this has been such a pleasant life lesson on how the ‘South Florida’ club managers not only work together in a very positive way, exchanging ‘best management practices’ but actually assist each other with developing the pipeline of future club management superstars,” Linderman added. He feels a measure of success comes from “knowing your audience and for whom you are performing. “You must listen to what everyone around you is saying… not only to you but just as importantly what they are saying to each other – where they dine, where they vacation, what their families are up to, what their clubs up north are doing, etc. It all helps to paint the picture of what the ‘playing field of expectations are,’” Linderman explained. “Once you know it, you deliver the results without the members asking for it – that’s the WOW FACTOR. This is why Boca West has such a great reputation in the industry globally. We know what the members are looking for and we deliver.” 24


It’s Michael McCarthy’s belief that “developers initially set the ground work (for success) by building very attractive communities. “It was after the turnover to members from the developers when the members realized that they wanted more out of their clubs. In most cases, volunteer leadership, i.e., boards, realized that these were large businesses that they were now in charge of overseeing. Many clubs went through significant growing pains until they understood that professional, experienced management was necessary,” said McCarthy, CEO of Addison Reserve Country Club. “Not only has it been management’s responsibility to protect and enhance billions of dollars of real estate investment, it’s also management’s responsibility to make sure that they were providing the best member experience and continuing to raise the bar, which led to increased member experience value.” For McCarthy, “continuity of key management staff members is critical. They understand the core values and the standards that allow a club to excel. They’re people who have worked for a club for many years, who embrace the club’s standards of excellence and they work hard at ensuring that there is continuousness of effort. “A club’s continued success depends on maintaining those standards of excellence brought about by a culture of continuity, longevity and low staff turnover. “Understanding that it has always been about our mission – Excellence is our Standard, our commitment to that mission has never wavered. Creating an environment for the members to want to continually participate in their club and socially interact with one another has been paramount to our success. When the members pay the level of dues that they pay, the services that we provide have no room for error,” McCarthy opined. “The member experience has grown beyond golf and formal dinners,” offered Eben Molloy, GM at Woodfield Country Club. “Today’s members are using the club differently than members of the past with many looking for more casual activities, relaxed dress codes and social experiences. The club has become their living room, dining room and backyard. “Social events have also evolved from dinner dances to events that are more casual with a less restrictive timeline. We’ve incorporated painting and wine events, scotch and cigar evenings and ➤

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even a wine festival into our social calendar,” Molloy added. “Today’s members are also more time-crunched. Many are still working and have young families making their time extremely limited. We offer on-site babysitting services for members looking to snag a minute to themselves, as well as delivery dining options. These are just a few of the ways we are shifting our member experience to appeal to this new type of members. “The key to our success is not forgetting about our youngest members and offering a lifestyle for the whole family. They want a welcoming place where they feel comfortable, safe and can spend time as a family unit,” Molloy commented. “I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of the opening team at Mirasol and work for a visionary developer Craig Perna, who truly understood what it took to create the finest country club communities,” intoned Mirasol’s Matt Lambert. Perna also developed the Polo Club of Boca Raton and Addison Reserve. “Our success continues to be built on our foundation of outstanding facilities and a high caliber professional staff. Our success wouldn’t have been possible without the outstanding board volunteers who have continued to reinvest in our facilities, and are primarily focused on transparent governance, setting policy and appropriate budgets while letting the professional team run the operation. “We’ve been successful because I am fortunate to have the best team – very loyal and dedicated to our mission. We have a great employee culture of taking PRIDE (Personal Responsibility in Delivering Excellence) and a plus one mentality where we never rest on our laurels and stay committed to constant improvement. Of course, none of our success would be possible without the trust and support from our membership,” Lambert added. So how has the synergy of the South Florida group helped McCarthy and his fellow club executives? “South Florida, being the country club capital of the world, is not always 26


the easiest thing. However, I would never want to be anywhere else in the world,” McCarthy expressed. “The finest clubs with the most amazing facilities are operated by the best managers and team members anywhere. This is what we get to benchmark every day. There is not a year that goes by that one of our peer group clubs is not in the process of another major renovation or expansion. We continually, as GMs, push each other to the highest level because at the end of the day, that’s what our members want and expect,” he added. “I think it goes back to the fact that because we don’t feel like we’re in direct competition with each other, we freely share ideas that have been successful (as well as warnings about those that weren’t so successful) and support each other along the way,” injected the Polo Club’s Brett Morris. “If you don’t feel threatened by the successes of other clubs and other managers, it creates a very positive and collegial working group of managers.” John Herring, general manager and COO of The Club at Admirals Cove, Jupiter, FL, says, “The fact that we all collaborate regularly, it challenges all of us to stay ahead of the curve and consistently introduce new ideas to improve services and the overall guest experience. “We share all aspects of our operations to include what works and what doesn’t. What makes it work is the fact that we communicate openly and honestly with one another to overcome obstacles that may get in our way. We collectively strive for total membership satisfaction. Because of this camaraderie, I believe we’ve been able to offer some of the best club member experiences in the industry. “I remember at the beginning of the 2008 financial crises we all got on a conference call and started discussing how to reduce costs in purchasing, labor, and operations – each of us sharing ideas to reduce costs while not harming the overall operations. This conversation proved to be extremely successful for all of us,” Herring explained. “When I first became a GM in 2005, you can only imagine how fortunate I was to have this peer support only a call away,” offered GM Lambert. “Any issue I was dealing with, I could count on the sound advice from the best in the business. “As a club, when first turned over from the developer and we were transitioning to member-owned, because of my relationships, I was able to provide my board members with any information they needed. “The confidence my board has because of the trusted insight from the other clubs, has helped us form a great foundation of governance. For example, at turnover, I asked Michael (McCarthy of Addison Reserve) to come up and speak to my members and board about the mistakes they made at Addison during the transition. I know Michael’s honesty helped pave a smoother path for us. “When we merged our club and the Home Owners Association, I had Achal (GM Achal Goswami of Frenchman’s Creek Beach and Country Club) and his team share their experience as an HOA. Without these relationships, I know neither I nor my club would have been as successful. And now, I have had the opportunity to ‘give back’ our knowledge and experience with merging to Michael and Craig. This is invaluable to be able to learn and share with the best,” Lambert added. “We share and exchange our best practices through effective and frequent dialogue without competing with each other. Our success has been as a result of collaboration and not competition. Through open and transparent commu- ➤

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nication, we have created a strong bond among us, which has enabled us to become more strategic, creative and innovative with our operations,” added Goswami “There are no secrets,” expressed Addison Reserve’s McCarthy. “We sincerely care about one another and really look after one another to make sure that we are all successful. Not many people in corporate America can say that their competitors are their best friends. I can honestly say most of my closest friends are in the club business and are my competitors.” And friends they are. “These general managers have become very close personal friends. Our wives have become friends as well and we frequently get together socially for dinner, holidays, and sometimes even vacations. The respect we have for each other strengthens our relationship and we support the sharing of information and best practices that helps us all,” expressed St. Andrews’ GM Martin. “What I love and cherish about this group, and the Florida Chapter as a whole, is how we always include our spouses and the families whenever it’s possible,” offered Boca West’s Linderman. “For example, the FLCMAA summer conferences are geared around education as well as family interaction and activities. My daughters have forged amazing relationships with the children of the FLCMAA… as they have grown up together for 10 years. We work long hours and are away from home a lot – so bonding with managers and their families allows for opportunity to share on common synergies,” he added. “This group of general managers are not only some of my most trusted peers and mentors, but also my friends,” related Lambert. We truly help, support and care for one another. The communication and respect amongst the group is one of the things that I cherish most in my career. “Every single one of these outstanding leaders is always willing to help you through whatever situation you are dealing with, or is available for a quick stress break, because we can laugh and joke about whatever we are dealing with,” Lambert added. 28


“We also have fun challenging each other to raise the standards of excellence by our innovative ideas – like an incubator of ideas that focuses on how we can do it better each day for our membership or staff. How we improve the club each day when we come to work is our highest priority and each of us in the group have that same attitude and relentless pursuit of exceeding expectations,” Martin injected. “I know from my top managers that this is also the case with their colleagues; they too, have become very close friends over the years and are socially active with their families. “Overall, it is at the core of why each of our clubs are considered the best of the best, we feed off of one another and are always encouraging one another to do more, do better and lead the industry with our best practices that we are all too happy to share,” Martin emphasized. “As I write this, I have just returned from an incredible lunch with the group over at the Polo Club, where once again, I ate more than a week’s worth of calories. I have the good fortune, along with many of my counterparts, to continue what Jay started,” opined McCarthy. “We’re in the member-pleasing business, and though we operate multi-million-dollar businesses, with billions in real estate investments, we shall never lose focus on the basics. “We work for the members and are here to serve them and satisfy them when they come to the club. There is no other business anywhere where people will pay ahead of time for services and amenities that they have not yet received. Continue to focus on increasing the member experience and it will always be easy to expand amenities, services and facilities. The members will always support those initiatives if you are delivering at a standard of excellence,” McCarthy explained. “We envision a bright future for this industry with a lot of growth potential. The future business model includes adding even more conveniences and amenities and making these clubs a ‘one-stop shop’ that encompasses the needs of a more diverse and evolved demographic,” added Goswami. “I have never worked in the club industry anywhere but Florida so these relationships and support are all that I know,” explained GM Lambert. “As a past president for the Florida Chapter, I can tell you that this is what FLCMAA is all about. The comradery, networking and sharing of knowledge and information is what makes us all better. It’s something that I truly cherish and I explain to young hospitality students all the time. The culture of the club management profession in Florida is special. There are so many opportunities here, and Florida is where you can work at the finest clubs and learn from some of the best leaders in the industry,” he opined. “Part of who I am today, is because of these amazing general managers, and the dedication they have with their members, the private club industry and helping others succeed,” exclaimed BoardRoom’s Fornaro. These GMs question themselves the moment they wake up. How can this be better, what would I like to change about the current situation, are among the many questions they ask themselves daily. They are confident with their ideas, research the information carefully and because of their due diligence are confident they can make their great ideas work. They are, in few words, intelligent risk takers. “Jay DiPietro, my mentor and friend, has been a big part of creating this think tank. Today, the next generation is carrying on from where Jay left off. “Remember, instead of focusing on your competition, focus on your members.” B R



SHARING IDEAS AND A WARM WELCOME Highlights of Jay DiPietro’s Club Career

What makes a private club exceptional? What does that mean for the club’s member experience? Is it the competition or collaboration? These are all good questions when considering the private clubs in the Palm Beach area of south Florida … some of the best of the best private clubs. There’s a uniqueness about these clubs, and they’re idea incubators … clubs that develop, share and collaborate with one another about their members experience … they are indeed, leaders of the pack! Much of the push to cooperate and make clubs better has come from the semi-retired Jay DiPietro, a charismatic dynamo of the private club industry. DiPietro for 32 years made his mark as the outstanding president and general manager of Boca West Country Club in Boca Raton, FL, with his ability to see the ‘big picture’ and an unquestionable ability to ‘get it done.’ Jay, an inspiring and magnetic personality, over the years refined many of a club’s best practices and guiding principles that enabled his club to give his members the ultimate member experience. At the same time, DiPietro has been a mentor to many fellow managers, a helping friend for those in need and a great booster and board member of the Club Management Association of American and the chairman of the Club Foundation for over 13 years. ➤ 30


It hasn’t always been this way. “I arrived at Boca West on November 1, 1985 … and I was the 18th general manager in 11 years and boy, were there challenges,” DiPietro recalled recently. DiPietro had spent seven years successfully managing the Bal Harbour Yacht & Beach Club (a southern Florida club since demolished), followed by four successful years at Boca Lago Country Club, also in Boca Raton. “Boca Lago, with two golf courses, 20 tennis courts and 1,200 members, had just moved from being developer-owned to a members’ club. It was in total disarray. Members weren’t happy, the club wasn’t being run well and they didn’t have the right tool to make things work properly. “The club just wasn’t doing well, and I felt I could make my reputation by being successful at Boca Lago. We turned it around in one year…we lowered members’ dues and made a lot of good things happen over the next three years.” And DiPietro was well compensated for this success at Boca Lago. “I started at $50,000 plus a perk package in 1982 and over the next three years this increased to over $100,000 plus.” His success, of course, led to job offers around the country. “I got a call from people at Boca West, and after interviewing with Avida upper staff and the members I took the job they offered. “I’d done some research on the club but didn’t realize how badly off Boca West really was. On my first day on the job, Chip Anderson, president of Avida for that region, took me to the club to meet the department heads and introduced me as the new president and general manager. “I said, ‘I’m really glad’… but glad is a far as I got before the chef spoke up. ‘I don’t care if you’re glad or happy…you won’t be here in three months.’ “I was stunned and 15 of 18 department heads walked out of that meeting. Three of them stayed with me and were very supportive. Eventually I fired all 15 of the others,” DiPietro recalled. “The other three stayed with me for 15 years.” The club, in the meantime, had been losing $2 to 3 million a year over the past four to five years, with gross revenues running about $7 million each year. “The members loved the community but hated the club, because nobody paid attention to them. The member experience was non-existent. I worked my butt off and made sure people had the tools they needed to make the club better.” A $2.5 million loss the previous year turned into $847,000 profit marked the start of an impressive climb over the next 30 years. At Bal Harbour Club, DiPietro had been turned down for membership in the local chapter of the Club Managers Association of America because “they didn’t want someone from the restaurant industry. “My president at Bal Harbour called up the president of the Indian Creek Country Club where the general manager was head of the local CMAA chapter and told him to invite me as a member. They were forced into it,” DiPietro added. While at Boca Lago, DiPietro met Bob Fordham, a top-notch manager at Boca Point. They eventually became close friends. 32


“We never saw ourselves as competitors, so while at Boca West, we started introducing ourselves to other general managers in the area.” At the same time, DiPietro was becoming more active as a strong CMAA member. “One day Bob and I invited a couple of general managers for lunch and with the objective of helping each other and sharing our thoughts.” That marked a sharing of ideas and information that continues to this day. “As other managers have come into town to work at different clubs, I’ve made it my business to welcome these new GMs … I didn’t want them to feel the way I did when I entered the industry.” This sharing and camaraderie that’s been happening for 32 years now, “is a heart-warming thing. “Getting together was the natural thing to do. We were all struggling.” DiPietro was elected to the CMAA’s Seminole Chapter board of directors, became president and along the way introduced many young people to the CMAA. “It never bothered me that we were competitors. We had nothing to lose by helping each other. Each of the clubs in the Boca Raton area have a different clientele and different needs,” he declared. The result has been exceptional growth and development of private clubs in Florida’s Palm Beach area, clubs that deliver an exceptional experience to their members seldom matched at other clubs across the country. These clubs, Addison Reserve Country Club, Boca West Country Club, the Club at Admirals Cove, The Country Club at Mirasol, Frenchman’s Creek Beach and Country Club, Polo Club of Boca Raton, St. Andrews Country Club and Woodfield Country Club, today are among the best of the best private clubs. They also are BoardRoom Distinguished Clubs, which recognizes clubs around the world for their exceptional members experience. For the general managers of these clubs, their relationships and sharing ideas with DiPietro are many and varied. “For me, this started over 25 years ago,” related John Herring, GM of the Club at Admirals Cove. “I received a call from Jay welcoming me to my position as director of club operations at the Boca Raton Hotel. Jay asked what he could do for me to make my job easier. “He then invited me to join him and several local club managers for a social gathering where ➤

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everyone was sharing ideas and experiences. This was just the beginning,” he added. “When I first joined the club industry as the director of F&B at the Polo Club in Boca, I never heard of Jay,” recalled Matt Lambert, GM at the Country Club at Mirasol. “Considering Boca West was only a few miles down the road, you can imagine how quickly that changed. Jay and I instantly hit it off. He eventually added me to the Seminole Regional Charity Golf Committee an I’ve been working on the committee ever since,” Lambert said. “As I transitioned from 20 years of luxury hotel/resort industry experience to the club world I sought out the top leaders in my area. Jay DiPietro was highly instrumental in my transition and became a mentor for me over the past 27 years,” explained Craig Martin, GM of St. Andrews Country Club. “Jay involved me in his group and insisted on challenging me and guided me in the right direction whenever possible. His recognition among the south Florida club members and boards have garnered him a respected reputation of legendary status. “Our relationship of association and mentorship by Jay has brought credibility to our answers when we needed outside counsel. As a result of my successes and enjoyment with my peers I have strongly encouraged each of my top managers to do the same with their club peers. “Most of my top managers have created their own club groups which meet regularly, and many have served in leadership roles of their respective associations. They too share with their counterparts and challenge one another to be the best of the best,” Martin maintained. “I was very fortunate to have been hired by Jay (at Boca West Country Club) and have the experience of working at his side for 12 years. The stars truly aligned for us when we met,” recalled Boca West president Matthew Linderman. “I was looking for a quality driven club to call ‘home’ where I did not have to move around the country or world anymore and Jay was looking for a creative individual to enhance the food and beverage operation at his club. Who would have thought besides me :) that I would grow into the President’s position as Jay retired?” he queried. “I had the great fortune of meeting JD back in the late ‘90s when I was a young 26-year-old manager in New Jersey,” offered Michael McCarthy, CEO of Addison Reserve Country Club. “I was probably too naive to even know at that age that I was dealing with a legend. When an opportunity arose for me to come to south Florida in 1998, Jay was the one that made the initial introduction for me. From that day forward, from my arrival to today, everyone knows what he has meant to me as a mentor, a father-figure, and most importantly a friend.” “These clubs and general managers have earned the trust of their members and the member experience thrives,” expressed John Fornaro, CEO of Boardroom’s Distinguished Clubs. “They are among the best run clubs in the country.” 34


This closely-knit group of general managers in south Florida, initially fostered by DiPietro, continues to meet monthly to exchange of ideas and collaborate. And these relationships, over the years have expanded to include other clubs, families and friends. “As I write this, I have just returned from an incredible lunch with the group over at the Polo Club, where once again, I ate more than a week’s worth of calories. I have the good fortune, along with many of my counterparts, to continue what Jay started,” McCarthy added. “We recently had a dinner with more than 17 GMs coming together within 24 hours, each bringing a bottle of wine to donate to an auction for a local children’s charity, Grandmas Place,” expressed St. Andrews’ GM Martin. “That is amazing given our busy schedules, but we all knew this opportunity would bring us together to share in great conversation, storytelling and comradery. That’s priceless,” he added. “I guess we’ll continue doing so for as long as we’re at our respective clubs, and then offer the same support and guidance as new managers come onto the scene,” offered the Polo Club’s Brett Morris. “With something like 145 club communities in Palm Beach County, there is no shortage of options for people looking to relocate or retire in south Florida. Our markets and membership demographics are evolving, and for us to optimize the attractiveness of our clubs and ensure the relevance and desirability of our clubs to future homebuyers, it is essential that we continue to collaborate and share best practices with each other.” So what started many years ago because a general manager was left on his own to bring a club, Boca West to respectability and success, has turned into collaboration and a highly valued mentorship. “There are some great people in our industry, hard-working people whom I’ve tried to help and grow in the business. I’m absolutely delighted with it,” DiPietro offered. “Being that Jay has been a mentor to so many of us, we cannot thank Jay enough for his leadership and for bringing us all together,” intoned Admirals Cove’s John Herring. And that’s been Jay’s objective all along. BR



FAMILIES FOSTER FRIENDSHIPS AND CAMARADERIE Private clubs in south Florida and their general managers deliver an experience to their members that’s the envy of many private clubs across the country. “Their members expect a great experience every day,” says John Fornaro, publisher of The BoardRoom and CEO of BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs. “All of these clubs have to replace 60 percent or more of their staff every year and they have less than a month to train their staffs to provide a great experience for some of the most demanding club members in the club industry.” These are demanding challenges. So, how do these clubs in the Boca Raton area of Florida do it? “They’re incubators of ideas and boast general managers who display great social and emotional intelligence, integrity, excellent communication skills, course, positive attitudes, the ability to delegate, a desire to learn and perhaps most importantly, empathy,” Fornaro added.


“As well, they’re willing to share their ideas and the bond that’s been created over the past 20 year is incredible.” That bond is vitally important and extends well beyond the general managers getting together to exchange ideas. It’s includes the bonds of friendship among the general managers, their wives and families and friends. 36


Jay DiPietro, the semi-retired general manager at Boca West Country Club, in Boca Raton, FL, initiated this support group among general managers back in the 1980s and the strength of the group has grown steadily over the years. “I knew Jay by reputation. Almost immediately upon my arrival at the Polo Club of Boca Raton, he contacted me and has been a tremendous source of support and help as I attempted to navigate the waters of a much different club environment than I had been used to at Fresh Meadow Country Club on Long Island. We’ve maintained that relationship even after Jay stepped down from his day-to-day involvement at Boca West,” declared Brett Morris, GM at The Polo Club of Boca Raton. In fact, the general managers at the Boca and area clubs have become close personal friends. “Our wives have become friends as well, and we frequently get together social for dinner, holidays and sometimes even vacations,” said Craig Martin, GM at St. Andrews Country Club. “The respect we have for each other strengthens our relationship and we support the sharing of information and best practices that help us all. I know from my top managers that this is also the case with their colleagues…they too, have become close friends and are socially active with their families.” The differentiator for these general managers is the supportiveness of the whole group – managers, wives and families. “Florida is unique,” emphasized Jack Sullivan, a former general manager, CMAA past president and now an industry consultant with the firm, Kopplin Kuebler and Wallace. “Two of our summer conferences really welcomed managers to not only bring their spouses, but also the whole family. Managers spend so much time at work that it’s great to have a family feeling good about what mom and dad are doing. “It’s the same thing in the Naples area where’s their a group of general managers’ spouses, who support their husbands as well as themselves. SEE COVER STORY | 97




Dr. Ronald F Cichy, O.M. is professor emeritus, The School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University

Dr JaeMin Cha is associate professor, The School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University

Health Wellness

Does It Mean Happiness? Health and wellness, it’s said, lead to happiness. Happiness of the whole known for health and wellness (e.g., Canyon person takes place when they move from human doing to human being. Ranch, Hyatt’s two {Exhale, Marival Resorts and Spas}, and others)? Doing is still required, however human being frees the person to A second question: How does perceived pressure become their B1G DREAM. B1G uses “1” intentionally because the from staff members – talent – board and commit“1” represents only that person. That person’s B1G DREAM is the tee members, and club member owners – relate to top and only consideration. private club leaders’ adoption and/or willingness to Being allows the calm and connected and restorative to rest the implement health and wellness practices? soul. Being is in the present, the now.Being mindful and aware. A third question is: What is the connection beHealth and wellness are a part of Being with purpose. Those who tween talent and members who are both passionengage their Being find themselves in a state of health and wellness. ate about health and wellness? What is the link to This leads to happiness. talent and health and wellness? Increasingly, members are showing a keen interest in health and That is, do these private clubs attract a certain wellness. While long the bastion of racquetball courts, golf, and type of talent who personally hold that health and massages, private clubs are racing to add pickleball courts, foot golf wellness are strong personal beliefs and values? and a complete approach to nutrition, activity, meditation, exercise, How do they collaborate to deliver positively health coaching, and other practices for the whole human Being. memorable health and wellness experiences? Increased resources have been devoted to club fitness facilities What characteristics uniquely identify a club with with greater emphasis on health and wellness. One way to look at talent passionate about health and wellness? it is that health and wellness complete a whole person approach to An additional curiosity is: What are essential transforming from a human doing to a human being. considerations contributing to the implementaOur latest research study, in collaboration with the Club Foundation of health and wellness practices in the private tion and The Club Management Association of America, is exploring club industry, as evaluated by GMs and COOs? a number of research questions. You may have already received our A related question is: What types of private survey. Kindly complete and return it. It takes less than 15 minutes. clubs are most likely to adopt and engage in Please help us identify questions, best practices, trends, issues, health and wellness practices? Are there differchallenges, SMARTER. goals, staff members – talent, and more to ences regarding priority issues relating to this promote health and wellness in your club. We only release results in topic by types of private clubs? the aggregate. No individuals or clubs are mentioned. Health and wellness lead to happiness. Our If you have not yet received the survey, be on the lookout. Your research answers a need to understand burning, participation as a private club leader helps us to continue to share high priority issues and opportunities relevant to our findings with private club GMs/COOs/volunteer (board of diprivate club health and wellness practices. BR rectors, committees) leaders in practioner publications (e.g., BoardRoom, Club Management). We also publish the results in academic refereed journals and need a large enough sample size to do so. As a Our latest research study, in collaboration leader, we ask for your kind assistance and participation. We deeply with the Club Foundation and The Club appreciate you for completing our survey. Management Association of America, is One question is: Are there specific practices that can be identified exploring a number of research questions. in terms of health and wellness in private clubs? Who are the leaders You may have already received our providing these for members? Who should we benchmark, including survey. Kindly complete and return. It other leading private clubs, as well as other hospitality organizations? takes less than 15 minutes. THANK YOU! In addition to clubs, what are best practices at spa organizations 38


TREVOR COUGHLAN Trevor Coughlan is director of marketing and product management at Jonas Club Software. He can be reached via email at


How Clubs Can Put the Intelligence Back in Business Intelligence

In a single minute in 2018, the Weather Channel received 18,055,555 forecast importance of developing the right toolset. “One requests, Amazon shipped 1,111 packages, and Venmo processed $68,493.00 of the biggest challenges clubs face in their quest for better strategy is the sourcing, analysis and in peer-to-peer transactions. visualization of important business intelligence. The amazing part in all of this? The next minute it all happened again, “The term ‘dashboard’ gets a lot of mileage these and again the minute after that, and again, and again, for the entire days and for good reason. With so much informayear of 2018. Along with these requests, shipments, and transactions, tion floating around and readily available, dashmountains of data are created – data which companies in today’s modboards have the ability to summarize information ern competitive landscape are using to improve their businesses in and focus club leaders on what matters most, ultiways that a few years ago seemed like wishful thinking. mately enabling better decisions,” he added. This is the world of big data/business intelligence, and businesses around Yet, even with the tools of the trade at our disthe world are reliant on the insights that can be taken from it. Companies posal, clubs can still face significant challenges like Starbucks mine transaction information to establish customer preferwhen beginning to mine information. ence profiles and in turn, serve targeted ads via their mobile app. “One of the biggest pitfalls we see often are dashAmerican Express analyzes data to predict which customers are likely to boards filled with data instead of insights – knowing close their accounts, and intervene before they do. Some companies mine that you had 350 full members at the end of last year data not knowing what they’ll find, and this was the case with Orbitz - the and you are projecting 365 at the end of this year popular online hotel booking website. It wasn’t until Orbitz tried to better are important ‘data points’, but these data points understand market segmentation that they stumbled across the fact that alone don’t tell the full picture,” Johnston said. Apple users searching for hotels were, on average, willing to spend 30 per“Building effective dashboards requires cent more than those searching on a PC. metrics to be carefully defined and tracked. It “I’ve worked with many companies who have taken deep dives into is important that your dashboards tell a story their own data resources to develop new insights,” remarked Joe Osand answer critical questions. For example, wald, COO of Jonas Club Software which has a long history of helping answering the following questions will start to companies mine data to make more informed business decisions. put the data points referenced above into per“Data can provide the answers to key questions if we know how to use it. spective: What type of growth rate does 350 Like the companies I’ve worked with, clubs run very sophisticated software to 365 full membership represent? What is the systems capable of generating invaluable information. Forward thinking projected growth rate of dues revenue per full clubs in our industry are using the BI tools we’ve developed to make inmembership? What percentage of capacity do formed decisions, enabling their visions and helping their clubs thrive.” these numbers represent? What is projected A familiar face to many in the club industry, Global Golf Advisors has to happen to full member equivalents? What made a name for themselves by utilizing existing data sources to help is projected to happen to utilization? How do clubs successfully navigate the waters of capital planning and strategic these stats compare to prior years or to clubs vision development. you compete with for members?” Derek Johnston, partner at Global Golf Advisors said, “A clear stratWhile it may be the hot phrase in modern egy is critical for clubs today. We witness time and again that informed business, keeping the intelligence in business and intelligent planning increases the likelihood of success and that intelligence isn’t always as clear cut as it sounds. effective strategy relies on business intelligence: data, research and Experienced guidance and the right tools can be analysis that supports decision making.” just as important as the desire to improve operOften though, when people think of business intelligence, the image ations. Without these assets in place, conquering that comes to mind is one of sophisticated charts, graphs and mountains your own big data mountain may seem like the of paperwork requiring laborious manual analysis, but Derek stresses the climb isn’t worth the view. B R 40


KEVIN LICHTEN Kevin Lichten is an architect with Lichten/Craig. He can be reached via email:


Are You Losing Members in Your Parking Lot? And We Don’t Mean to Hit and Run Drivers

As part of a recent master planning effort for a country club in the a place to hang out, run into friends and enjoy a northeast, we were stunned to hear that the pool cabana snack bar was sense of community. Likewise, a large parlor was turned into a casual out-grossing the main dining room in revenue. How many chicken nuggets dining space with a large eat-at bar. The old small do you have to sell to do that? bar became the last vestige of formal dining for After a little digging and site analysis, we discovered that many more traditional members. members, especially moms with little kids were arriving by car, first Secondly, we needed to knit the facilities for the thing in the morning, taking their kids straight to the pool and then, pool, golf and tennis back into close proximity and when it was time to leave, heading straight back to their cars. connection to the main clubhouse. Fortunately, Not only did this create safety problems of kids crossing driveways our master plan called for a new pool snack bar and running around parking lots, but it also meant that a significant and a new warming hut for paddle tennis. portion of the membership was not regularly taking part in the life of By locating the paddle courts and their warming the club that took place in the main clubhouse. hut near the pool we could actually make one new We almost had a parallel club that only experienced a small porbuilding that served both groups. And most imtion of the campus and the associated activities. portantly this new warming hut / pool snack bar We had two clubs. Was this part of the club culture? The golfers could be located right near one end of the clubdisplayed a similar pattern of behavior of going directly from their house. Pool and paddle court users were almost cars to the first tee box. At least they sometimes frequented the grill forced to go directly into the clubhouse. for a quick beer after a round. Almost three clubs! Third, we moved the practice green to the In order to get to the bottom of this divided culture, we asked the opposite end of the clubhouse, right next to the board to draft a mission statement which the board had not done in first tee, but significantly very close to the main years. It was clear from the final version that the club wanted one clubhouse entrance. A new pro shop adjacent to community, one family, one culture. Furthermore, they wanted all the first tee and practice green reinforced this members, young, old and middle, to enjoy their historic clubhouse. new proximity to the clubhouse for golfers. And We interpreted and confirmed with our committee that an ideal the space freed up by moving the pro shop could scenario that could bring the club back together as one, would be now easily provide expansion space for the cathe model of a family arriving at the club early on a weekend day, sual grille, further drawing families back into the having a morning activity, eating lunch on campus, having an afclubhouse. ternoon activity, showering, changing and then eating dinner in the By a few simple relocations of functions, clubhouse. This would be a cultural change. we could remake the divided culture of a club As architects, we interpreted our mandate to drive member trafback into a single community. Members now fic into the clubhouse. How could we make it virtually unavoidable circulate through the clubhouse, see friends by to spend time in the clubhouse? How could we make sure that no casual coincidence and spend the entire day at one visited the campus without traveling through this majestic, histheir club. B R toric building? First, we had to make the clubhouse a more attractive and casual place. Besides an overall upgrade to all spaces and finishes (they were badly worn and outdated,) we turned the large formal dining room back to its historical function as a living room. With soft seating groups and coffee and bar service the club for the first time had



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that that way. way. Of Of course, course, that that requires requires a different a different approach approach from from other other management management companies. companies. AsAs Troon’s Troon’s private private club club division, division, wewe don’t don’t own own or or lease lease clubs—we’re clubs—we’re a proven a proven third-party third-party professional professional services services organization organization that that provides provides best-inbest-inclass class systems, systems, processes processes and and resources resources to the to the member-owned, member-owned, self-managed self-managed private private clubs clubs wewe serve. serve. ToTo learn learn more more about about Troon Troon Privè, Privè, contact contact thethe team team at at 480.606.1000, 480.606.1000, or or visit visit Clockwise top:top: FireRock FireRock Country Country Club, Club, Fountain Fountain Hills, Hills, Arizona; TheThe Club Club at Cordillera, at Cordillera, Edwards, Colorado; Colorado; Clockwise fromfrom Seven Canyons, Sedona, Arizona; The Club atArizona; Cordillera, Edwards, Colorado; ElEdwards, Macero St. James St. James Plantation, Plantation, Southport, Southport, North North Carolina; Carolina; Cimarron Cimarron Hills Hills GolfGolf & Country & Country Club, Club, Georgetown, Georgetown, Texas. Texas. Country Club, El Macero, California; Cimarron Hills Golf & Country Club, Georgetown, Texas


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Diablo Country Club member, chair of the 2018 strategic planning committee. He is also president, Chevron North America Exploration and Production.

Diablo Country Club member, vice-chair, 2018 strategic planning committee and retired president, The Wine Group, Inc.

Frank Cordeiro, CCM is chief operating officer, Diablo Country Club and can be reached via email:

Corporate Hybrid Governance Model Reflects The Evolution of Governance In the January/February edition of Board Room Magazine, we introduced the Diablo Country Club member-approved Corporate Hybrid Governance Model, a more functionally sound governance model with underpinnings from corporate best practice and business literature from around the globe. The common governance model found in private clubs across the nation, can best be described as the Social Board Model. This model is often based on outdated bylaws, past practice and traditions, fails to recognize the increasing complexity and scope of the CEO/COO. It hasn’t kept pace with current corporate governance standards. Comparing the two models provides a platform for thoughtful dialogue and consideration. Is past practice best practice? Is there a better way to govern?

Why? This corporate hybrid governance model reflects the evolution of governance in and the modern role of the highest level senior manager in the organization (i.e. CEO/COO) and seeks to free the board of directors to spend more time on strategy, and the long-term best interest, success and sustainability of the club. A partnership between the board and management on policy, strategy and the future success of the club provides improved continuity and ensures that governance is focused on utilizing the talent of the board in the best and highest use of the board member’s time and service. MODES OF GOVERNANCE

Three common modes of governance are (1) fiduciary, (2) strategy and (3) generative. Fiduciary and strategic are well understood and longstanding modes whereas the generative mode is an emerging and worthwhile goal for boards. Fiduciary boards are oversight centric, strategic MANAGER OPERATES – A MISNOMER boards are forward focused with a long-term outThe most common tenure of a private club director is three years look, and generative boards are finding ways to and one third of the directors transition annually. The average tenADD VALUE by changing their organizations with ure of a corporate director is more than double the average tenure transformative, industry-leading thought. of a club director. The term of a club president is either one or two How does the corporate hybrid governance years in most clubs, again, much shorter than the average tenure for model facilitate the desire to have boards spend a corporate president/chairman. more time in the strategic and generative modes? Should the club’s policies (i.e. budgets, rules, mission, vision, and First, in the corporate hybrid governance values) come exclusively from a transient board with three or less years of tenure? Short-term tenure encourages short-term thinking model, directors do not chair committees. committees are chaired by members-at-large, which logically resulting in short-term outcomes. broadens meaningful membership participation Is continuity and sustainability a likely outcome in the absence of input and accountability from other sources? If the board is primar- and keeps directors out of the proverbial weeds. ily focused on policy, it robs the board of priceless time to be strate- At the annual board retreat, the board works with professional management to set goals for the gic. How much time remains for the board to be strategic? board, COO/CEO and committees. Who in the club organizational structure is most qualified and best These goals are published and shared with the positioned to contribute and partner with the board as a steward the membership. The written set of goals and objecclub’s long-term strategy and policies? Who can reduce the policy burden? Your own club industry professional manager. In the corpo- tives are provided to committee chairs each year rate hybrid governance model, the COO/CEO can be the vital resource and management reviews them with committees to the board and thus play an integral role in the development, imple- at the annual committee orientation. If a direcmentation and success of the club’s strategy and policies. SEE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE | 97 “The board conducts oversight, sets policy and management implements and operates.” A common refrain in governance parlance for years, is it still viable/relevant?













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

Private Clubs

Impact on Value of Membership Refunds quire understanding. Several concepts have been explored (but not yet thoroughly tested) which can eliminate this liability, including bankruptcy, a buydown of the liability to a present value, and the potential for an insurance product. However, these are new ideas for what has become a signifiI wondered how this might impact value. cant marketability hurdle for many clubs. After some thought, I concluded that this is an issue that reaches The most famous action regarding resigned far and wide and can impact the value of clubs with refundable members was a suit filed by members of the membership deposits, bonds and equity memberships. In recent Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, who years the various forms of entrance fees for club membership have, claimed that the club wrongfully eliminated their in many cases, taken a big hit with many falling from pre-recession rights to a refund by terminating the refund rights levels with limited recovery and often changes in the form of memof members who are on the list to exit the club. berships offered. The members prevailed and the club was required Given that often refunds are made only when the same class of to pay out nearly $6 million in refunds. membership is replacing the resigned member, the resigned member Disputes like this one would appear to be comcould be in for a long wait for their refund. mon in the future, as many clubs seek to alter In most cases, refunds, bond redemptions and other payouts to their membership structures and refund proresigned members represent a liability on the club’s balance sheet. grams in the face of falling fees and the converHow they impact value depends largely on the terms of the payout sion to nonrefundable fees. This is an evolving and the rate of turnover in membership at the club. area of the marketplace that should be carefully In any event, if there is a liability, the new owner in a sale needs to observed. How this element is treated in the valbe prepared to assume that liability, whenever it may occur. Certainly, uation process depends on a number of factors, there is a present value analysis to be done depending on attrition, including the amount of the potential liability, turnover, the terms of refunds and logical investment criteria. the timing of the potential liability (payouts), One element unique to transactions involving private clubs is the desirability of the club and external market membership refund liability. Some clubs were established with a factors. membership structure that involved a refundable deposit for the Refund liability has the potential to significantly right to join the club. impact a club’s market value, but one question In many cases, this arrangement carried a provision whereby the is whether that impact is on the going concern member was refunded their deposit after 30 years. This was done or the real estate. If it were to impact the real to avoid taxation on membership entry fees, which instead of being property value, owners might use it to reduce considered income were booked as a liability (payable). As the clubs their real estate tax assessments. However, it’s have aged, the buyers of these clubs anticipate the payment of the my opinion that membership refunds impact the refunds coming due and often negotiate a lower sale price as a regoing concern and not the real property. What sult, if they consider the club for purchase at all. case law ends up saying will likely be varied and Some buyers are accepting of the obligation, and some simply use specific to each situation. B R bankruptcy to eliminate the liability. The membership refund liability is often used as a negotiating tool by buyers, especially when the face value of the potential liability is a significant amount. Many sales of clubs have stalled or not occurred due to this liability, which can have many variables that reA few years ago, I was involved as an expert witness in a case where my client, an investor-owned private club was sued by a member for the refund of his membership deposit. Most recently, I read an article about a club in Massachusetts that was sued by five members claiming the private club is improperly withholding their membership bonds.



ROBERT SERECI Robert A Sereci, CCM is GM/COO of Medinah Country Club, located in Medinah, Illinois. He can be reached at (630) 438-6825, or via email:


The Fallacy in Using Sports Analogies Following my presentation, “Stop Coaching and Start Mentoring” at this year’s Club Management Association of America conference, several peers approached me after the seminar saying how much they enjoyed it, but… Yes, there’s always a but. They didn’t necessarily agree with my professional sports analogies referencing teams and coaches. For those of you unable to attend the session, my premise was to introduce club mangers to mentoring as a leadership style, rather than the traditional coaching style. Here is why I believe coaching a professional sports team is very different from leading a management team in a private club, and as a result, why coaching principles don’t really apply to us. OUR SEASON IS MUCH LONGER The National Basketball Association season consists of 82 games and the National Football League has only 16 games. Our season consists of anywhere from 250-350 games depending on the club and its location. While a football or basketball game might last a few hours, our game lasts for well over eight hours or longer. If our clubs were open for only 82 days or just 16 days, believe me, we would have the focus and intensity of a professional sports team. Do you think the Bulls would play with the same focus and intensity if they had to play five games a week, for 10 months with games that lasted eight hours? Probably not. OUR SCOREBOARD CHANGES FREQUENTLY Our “scoreboard,” for those of us that have one, can be a little confusing. We don’t always know how to keep score, mostly because we don’t know what constitutes a point or how much each point is worth, and every club has their own method of keeping score. And, as a matter of fact, sometimes the club with the most points loses. Confused? My point exactly. What if the three-point line was moved up and down every few games of the season, or maybe the height of the basket was changed every quarter? What if the yardage on a football field was increased or decreased at random? (I know, chaos, right?) In professional sports, the scoreboard is always on and the score is tracked in real time, but, in clubs, the scoreboard tends to go on and off randomly, and occasionally it might even disappear for a period of time, depending on the whims of the new board, president or general manager. And because the club scorecard can change long after “the game” has ended, celebrating victories can be a little tricky and somewhat risky. OUR FANS ARE ALSO OUR OWNERS Imagine a football team with the coaching structure similar to a private club. The coach would have to meet regularly with the coaching committees who are mostly comprised of fans who have a financial stake in the team. 48


In this scenario, the club coach coaches the team, but the club fans and owners also have authority, and will weigh in on who is on the team, who plays, and for how long. Just when you are finally able to determine a consensus for what all of your owners want, you get word that there is a new group of owners and a whole new team on the coaching committee, to direct you and they may not know anything about the game. FOCUS ON TEAMWORK AND NOT COMPETITION At Medinah Country Club, my team is not looking to win games or championships. In clubs, we focus on success and not competition. Staff members are there to provide a service to the membership and managers are there to develop and lead their teams. Sports teams are there to win games, and they don’t need to worry about the support staff or the behind-the-scenes activities. They are there to train, play and win in relatively short and controlled bursts of team play against another team. Furthermore, because clubs focus on long term relationships, many of our member and employee tenure is significantly longer than those of an NFL player, whose average tenure in the league is just 2.66 years. Many of us have employees and staff that have been at our clubs for 20, 30, or 40 plus years. Please, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy sports as much as anyone. But attempting to apply the coaching principles of professional sport teams to club management is at best ineffective, and at worst irresponsible. I know it’s tempting to compare club management to sports heroes and victorious athletes. There is something ego-boosting about it. Understandably, to some, mentoring might not sound as awe-inspiring as winning a race, or as exciting as reaching the Superbowl, but, unlike a Superbowl ring, the deep personal satisfaction of mentoring an individual and improving their life cannot be traded, bought, or sold. That’s a personal goal worth achieving. BR

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Cooks are from Mars, Servers are from Venus - Part II If cooks are from Mars and servers are from Venus, is there ever a time when the planets can be aligned? How can we focus more on our similarities and shared goals rather than our different backgrounds and work environments? We shared the results from our FOH/BOH survey in our last article (BoardRoom March/April 2019). Now we focus on communication outside of day-to-day operations. The most important concept, defining your food and beverage department culture with core values, mission and vision statements, produces collaboration, shared goals and service excellence. Get the team together – both FOH and BOH – and whiteboard/flipchart/mind map a list of core values – principles that are important to both sides of the house. They may include words like excellence, integrity, passion, family etc. As the facilitator of this process, keep asking for potential core value words until the team has run out of ideas. Next ask for a vote to figure out which core values mean the most to the majority of your team members. Cross out the words that get fewer votes and hopefully you will come up with four to six words that really resonate with the majority of your F&B staff. Fewer words mean that they are easier to remember and emulate. If you can build an acronym, even better yet! The Atlanta Athletic Club’s team core values are Respect, Integrity, Sincerity and Enthusiasm or RISE. Even I remember those core values and I don’t even work there! Once the core values are identified build a mission and vision for the team with their assistance. Again, keep it short so it is easy to remember and incorporate the core values. Make the core values and mission come alive by posting banners in the employee breakroom, kitchen and service areas. Print cards or armbands with the core values/mission for the staff to carry or wear. Discuss these values daily in q-time/line-ups and department meetings and celebrate employees who demonstrate these core values. Atlanta Athletic Club has the RISE awards in which the employee can be nominated by members and fellow staff for embodying the core values. Reward employees that live the core values and mission and be sure to embody them yourself. Another communication and service tool to improve collaboration between the FOH and BOH is the service guarantee. I wrote an article (BoardRoom, May/June 2014) that touched on service guarantees and it is such an important concept that it bears repeating. Service guarantees are clearly definable and measurable actions that hold each department accountable to each other and to the members. Service guarantees improve efficiencies, build trust, and improve communication and collaboration. They must be measurable, trainable, clearly definable by pass/fail or yes/no, and documented, communicated and then acted upon when they are not met. 54


For example, set a service guarantee that promises a turnaround time for an executive chef to respond to a banquet menu request by a certain number of days. Or set a service guarantee for promised ticket times for lunch. Use daily reports to document that the guarantees were met or not and use a corrective action plan to correct the actions. Another process to improve collaboration between the FOH and BOH is the member experience map (in the sales world it is referred to as the customer journey map) – a tool that tracks a member’s various points of engagement throughout a club experience (BoardRoom November/December 2014). For example, the team can map the experience of a member having dinner at the club. A representative from each department that the member encounters during that experience should collaborate to create the map – from the moment the member enters the gates and valets their car to the time they depart the gates. Through this communication and mapping process, team members across different service lines provide feedback and collaborate to improve the processes and forge stronger relationships. Building a culture through F&B core values and a shared mission and vision, as well as establishing service guarantees and mapping the member experience, will help keep all eyes on the goals of FOH and BOH collaboration and result in improved member and employee engagement and satisfaction. In subsequent issues we will dive deeper into the concepts of service guarantees and member experience maps as well as share additional tools to keep your employees engaged individually and collaborating with the team. Stay tuned! BR Lisa Carroll, SHRM-SCP, is a search executive and consultant with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, LLC. She specializes in executive chef and GM searches. Lisa can be contacted at (561) 596-1123 and at Sam Lindsley is a search executive and consultant with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, LLC. He specializes in AGM, clubhouse manager, GM and F&B director searches. Sam can be contacted at (216) 509-2250 and at

COREY SABAN Corey Saban is the founder of, voted the Membership Engagement tool of the Year by The Boardroom Magazine. A former Emmy nominated and Associated Press winning journalist Saban and his team help clubs tell their story through affordable short form videos, which are highly produced in just 48 hours.


Adapt or Perish

How to Engage and Attract Members How are you adapting to the needs of today’s clientele? Are you attracting new members? Most clubs have the same challenges: Competition, usage, retention and loyalty. It makes sense. People have more choice than ever, “Why go to the club for dinner when there are dozens of amazing restaurants nearby?” The days of just having a great golf course or fitness center don’t cut it. People want a lifestyle. They want an experience. Experiences keep us coming back for more. Experiences lead to conversations with our friends. But how are you “selling” that experience? Are you maximizing it before and after? This is where communication comes in. Most clubs have not adapted to the communication trends. They are pushing old style newsletters and flyers to an audience that is mobile. We are never more than five feet from our phones. We touch our phones 80 times a day and spend an average of about 27 hours a month on them. Text does not move us. After all, have you tried reading a newsletter on an iPhone? We are visual learners. Our brains process visuals 60 thousand times faster than they do text. Videos create a feeling. If you have an event at the club, preview it to members with a video, to create excitement. Then recap it with a, “Here’s what you missed video” showing the amazing time that people had. Two things will happen, those who were will feel good and share it, the people that missed it, will certainly come to the next one. Communication and leadership go hand in hand. Almost every great leader was and is a storyteller. Stories move us, inspire us and more likely to remembered than just a plan written paragraph. Every newsroom I’ve every worked in proclaimed the same mantra, “Facts tell. Stories sell.” Your stories are amazing member events, videos capture them and people prefer them. Just look at the statistics. Six of 10 senior executives prefer to watch rather than read. A Facebook post with video gets 135 percent more reach than a photo and video newsletters get a 200 percent higher open rate than text. Content is king. It’s just that the style and delivery methods have changed. Our President talks with us via Twitter. Fortune 500 companies have YouTube channels and 62 percent of people get their news from Facebook. I highly recommend both Facebook and YouTube for clubs. They’re the second and third most visited websites.

So now you want to create video content, what do you do? First, put down the phone. Quality matters. A video on a shaky phone will only dilute your message and leave a bad impression. If you have the budget, hire a professional on staff, but for many clubs this can be too expensive. As it is, most communications professionals at the clubs are bogged down with other tasks, which is where outsourcing comes into play. Clubs can send flyers to a vendor and turn those into videos that highlight construction, social, dining, the benefits of membership or anything else. This of course, saves time and money. If going for this option, look for a company with a strong reputation, a fast turnaround time and one that delivers quality with professional spokespeople that won’t “um and ah” your message. Professional spokespeople add a layer of credibility to the message and allow you to be versatile with your messages. Many of the clubs in south Florida do a fantastic job of this. They have their long form ‘about us’ video but engage members regularly with short form news updates. Many outsource their videos but some also have a person on staff to create constant video content. Then they share their messages in emails, social media and by text. Remember you’re not going to please everyone but in the words of former Yankee manager Casey Stengel, “The key to being a great leader is keeping the people that hate you, away from the ones that still undecided.” B R



BoardRoom magazine Recognizes the Private Club Presidents of the Year By Meghan Thibault BoardRoom magazine annually recognizes the world’s top private club presidents, captains and chairs as Private Club Presidents of the Year, for their outstanding work, their understanding of the industry, and role and responsibilities of the club’s board of directors. In this continuing series, BoardRoom introduces five of the top 25 presidents for 2018. The Distinguished Club President was featured in the January/February issue. Private club board presidents play a huge role in professional operations of their clubs as a volunteer working diligently with their board of directors and general managers, striving for well informed, but not emotional decisions. This recognition by BoardRoom magazine has attracted board president nominations from clubs and other nominators around the world. These outstanding presidents exemplify the focus on the leadership responsibilities, the accountability and the management of the board providing a healthy respect for the club’s macro management. They are cognizant of the importance of working, effectively and efficiently, with their volunteer boards and the dedication required from everyone with whom they work. Key elements of a “good” board include commitment, competence, diversity, collective decision making, openness, transparency, effective communication with the management and the membership, fiscal responsibility, development and establishment of the clubs’ mission, vision and policy direction, especially through establishment of a strategic plan. A successful board president draws upon the expertise of other board members, the club’s institutional memory and stewardship of the club’s resources. As well the board president provides new board members and future board presidents with information they need to perform effectively as board members. Congratulations to these outstanding private club board presidents.




BUCK CLAUSSEN, PRESIDENT | MYERS PARK COUNTRY CLUB | CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA establishing measurable goals and objectives aligned with the club’s goals and mission and engaging outside professionals to complete strategic planning and benchmarking for club operations. As the board’s leader, Claussen has improved financial performance without increasing long term-debt, through close oversight of the club’s broker relationships and the development of key performance indicators, dashboards, a capital reserve study, a five, 10 and 20-year capital plan, and a five-year cash flow projection – all new means of measurement and reporting for Myers Park Country Club. He also established new transparency and streamlined the club’s governance by putting best practices and election reform in place. These reforms reduced the number of required candidates for each open position to just one. Under Claussen’s leadership, the club’s food and beverage outlets have seen BUCK CLAUSSEN, PRESIDENT MARK BADO, GM increased usage and there has been measurable improvements in member satisfaction through a new member evaluation system introduced under his “A club is only as good as its leader and under the leadtenure. ership, guidance and vision of Buck Claussen, Myers Park Claussen integrated the golf and green committees, developed an all-camCountry Club has become the club of choice in Greater Charpus landscape and tree management plan, in addition to expanding the club’s lotte,” expressed Mark Bado, the club’s general manager. golf instructional program. He introduced new pool and youth programming, That, in a nutshell, explains why Buck Classen is one of which has doubled member usage and driven new membership interest. BoardRoom top private club presidents for 2018. A new focus and additional budget allocated to professional development Buck Claussen joined Myers Park Country Club in 2002 has led to improved employee retention and training. Claussen led the charge to following many years of committed membership and establish a grievance committee to protect employees and championed a newly support. Joining the club’s board of directors in 2015, he enhanced internship program. chaired several committees before serving as vice president A native of Augusta, Georgia and a Clemson University graduate, Claussen in 2017 and president in 2018. retired from Wells Fargo after 28 years. Claussen lives in Charlotte with his wife Claussen has focused on improving every aspect of the Tammy. Their grown daughter Ashley lives in nearby Raleigh. BR club’s operations; setting committee and board guidelines,

Clubs of Distinction



N PALM BEACH 561.626.9704


NAPLES 239.631.2332






As president of Midland Country Club (MCC), Mike Curry is credited with developing a crucial long-range plan while also lending his invaluable professional expertise to the club to secure a long-term revenue stream for MCC. Professionally, Curry has been engaged in the private practice of oil and gas law for 25 years. For the last several years and spanning his time as president, Curry helped to negotiate with Texas oil and gas companies that have an interest in developing oil and gas assets underlying Midland Country Club. Negotiations involved complicated issues of land access, drilling and production, the limits and restrictions on the use of MCC’s property, easements, and most importantly, the compensation that will be paid to MCC.

MCC has received $2 million in revenue to date and the deal should ensure average annual revenues of $1 million or more for the next several years. Curry lent his expertise, all while ensuring members’ uninterrupted use of club facilities and protecting the future development potential of the club. All of the oil and gas revenues and related surface use fees enable MCC to undertake significant capital projects without having tap into existing membership revenues or seek additional member contributions. With these considerable revenues streaming in, the club needed to prioritize current and future spending. With that in mind, Curry spearheaded the formation of a new long-range planning committee that collaborates with the club’s finance committee, board leadership and external consultants. Setting the committee in place with an appropriate agenda and then keeping the plan organized and moving forward was a challenge, but Curry led the charge, developing and a list of priorities along the way. A significant kitchen renovation launched during Curry’s tenure and was paid for primarily out of the oil and gas revenue, and other planned capital projects include a new entrance to the club from the street, expanded parking facilities and eventually, a new sports facility. “Mike was very instrumental in the development of the long-range plan. Most of the work was accomplished during his tenure and with his oversight. Like Eisenhower, he got things done quietly and efficiently without anyone realizing that he was exercising his authority,” said fellow board member Rick Strange. During his tenure, Curry also spearheaded an executive search to recruit a new general manager for the club, applying the efforts of a very detailed and organized search committee to the task, which resulted in the hiring of David Gardner for this key role. Curry makes his home in Midland, Texas with his wife, Audrey. Together, they have two adult children and four grandchildren. He is vice president of land and senior counsel for Henry Resources LLC, where he supervises all oil and gas legal work and land functions for the company. B R




Birnam Wood Golf Club experienced a transformative experience beginning in December 2017 that brought the already friendly community closer together in ways the club and its members never anticipated. A month after Larry Guy took the helm as president, the Thomas Fire ravaged the hills above Santa Barbara. Destruction forced an area evacuation, including the residents of the club’s 145 homes, over which Guy presided as president of both the club and the homeowner’s association. Through Christmas and early January 2018, residents and club members were forced from their homes, threatened by the massive wildfires that burned through the surrounding mountains. Following the fires, the area endured what was deemed a “200-year storm” that inundated the region with record rainfall. 58


Mudslides and debris destroyed homes, took out bridges, and much of the club’s golf course while making roads impassable. First responders wanted to use the clubhouse as ground zero for rescue and evacuation efforts. To make the club accessible, Guy worked tirelessly to coordinate efforts and helicopters soon began landing on the 18th hole fairway of the Robert Trent Jones designed course, adjacent to the clubhouse. More than 250 firefighters, police, FEMA personnel, and rescuers staged their rescue efforts from Birnam Wood, even in the absence of power, water, gas or potable water. Two weeks of evacuations ensued, during which time Guy assisted those club residents whose homes had been inundated with mud and debris, while also assisting with efforts to clear roads, drains, and grounds repair. When the evacuation order lifted, Guy made sure the club was the place where members could find refuge from the recent devastation. “Larry Guy was a successful president because he was able to energize his club by being in the trenches with management and providing the confidence and passion necessary to overcome insurmountable events,” said the club’s general manager Ari Kreisler. Within a month, the clubhouse and all but the devastated ninth hole were deemed safe to reopen. Over the next six months, Guy led a subcommittee of the greens committee and through careful planning, reopened the ninth hole with a grand celebration the day before the member/guest tournament. During his presidency, Guy also initiated a new vision for the future of Birnam Wood, and one he describes as “probably the biggest changes in Birnam’s 50-year history.” Guy’s plan, which is currently being presented to the membership for review, includes the addition of new facilities, including bocce courts, a pool, fitness center and a membership director. Guy is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and received an MBA from the University of Santa Clara. He worked in marketing, advertising, and product development before launching his contracting and construction business that he operated for 25 years. Guy and Peggy, his wife of 47 years, are now retired and have three children and six grandchildren. They’ve just finished rebuilding their home following the devastating fires and mudslides that impacted their club and community. B R




After contributing to the club as a member, a committee chair, the women’s captain, and a board member for four years, Valerie Fitzpatrick became the first female president to serve at Victoria Golf Club (VGC) in the establishment’s 125-year history – an accomplishment in and of itself. Fitzpatrick is skilled at leading VGC’s diverse and passionate board of directors thoughtfully and strategically. She implemented a revised board orientation process soon after taking her position, which has resulted in a more integrated and cohesive team. She prioritizes member communication and inclusion, as well as transparency in board deliberations.

President Fitzpatrick’s ability to influence positive change in the club is rooted in her experience, serving on every single board and committee over her 12 years of membership. She has been a driving force in the club’s most recent successes. Several recent awards bestowed upon the club’s senior management team reflect Fitzpatrick’s support of their ongoing career development. In 2017, the Canadian Society of Club Managers (CSCM) awarded VGC with Club of the Year. Fitzpatrick was instrumental in achieving this honor. Developing and executing a strategic plan in collaboration with Global Golf Advisors in 2018 stands as one of her key achievements as president. Skilled at guiding the club through important transitions, Fitzpatrick has spearheaded the introduction of the Carver model at the club, successfully implementing this new model of governance over the past six years, while also overseeing transitions in key departmental staff, including the current head golf professional, executive chef, events manager and director of sales and marketing. Fitzpatrick keeps the board focused on policy and guidelines while working seamlessly with the club’s management team in charge of implementing new policy changes. Under her leadership, the board has developed clear and realistic goals for the GM, and Fitzpatrick follows up, conducting monthly reviews to ensure progress and personal growth. “Apart from her ability to effectively complete presidential tasks and lead the board, Valerie has a clear passion and pride for Victoria Golf Club. Her style of presidency aligns with the club’s core values of respect, innovation, pride, passion, leadership and excellence. Valerie demonstrates every one of these qualities, which is why she is such an effective president. VGC is very fortunate to have her,” said the club’s general manager Scott Kolb. Fitzpatrick brings her professional experience in healthcare, agriculture and real estate, along with a diverse perspective, to her position as president at the VGC. BR

TERRY HILL, PRESIDENT | COUNTRY CLUB OF SPARTANBURG | SPARTANBURG, SC policy making and operations management. He remains in constant communication with the COO in a feedback loop, and practices what he preaches – President Hill carefully avoids micromanaging the club’s daily operations. As a result, board meetings now focus on mostly high-level issues, strategic thinking and planning. Through transparency and timely communication, Hill has instilled a higher level of confidence in the club’s membership and he urges excellence and supports all ideas and activities in that direction. “As a leader, Terry Hill listens, understands, supports and participates with the full recognition that his responsibility is to hire and retain the right people and let them do what they do and know best,” said Haissam Baityeh, the club’s COO. “First-class personality and ‘Top of the Class’ leadership!”. “I am very fortunate to work with him”. Tackling capital projects requires steady leadership in a private club environment, esTERRY HILL , PRESIDENT HAISSAM BAITYEH, GM/COO pecially where funds are not readily available, and the opinions vary widely. Hill applied wisdom and finesse to create a direction, which will soon improve services to members Terry Hill’s leadership at the Country Club of Sparand the club’s sustainability for many years ahead. tanburg resulted in a number of key accomplishments. With a view to improving the club’s membership count, marketability and brand, Hill In his first year as president, Hill initiated an executive led the club’s diverse board through a strategic planning endeavor, which produced a search to replace the club’s golf professional and the plan that the board, staff and club membership have adhered to in its first few months. club’s grounds and greens superintendent after 40 and He also introduced a board policy manual and this governance document is introduced 30 years of service, respectively. to every committee during orientation. In the midst of these already significant changes Leading by example, Hill starts and adjourns board meetings on time. He and his wife, affecting the club’s culture, the club’s general manager Sherry, regularly dine at the club, participate in club activities and show pride in the club, was diagnosed with an illness and sadly passed away sporting the club’s logo to help promote it, all while urging others to follow suit. His posjust a few weeks later. Hill did a phenomenal job guid- itivity helps to promote the club both internally and externally. He has a great talent of ing the club through this difficult time, all while manapplying his wealth of IQ and EQ in a perfect combination for productive leadership. aging the processes, personalities and internal politics. Hill started out with the local Board of Public Works and spent most of his profesHill reached out to Patricia Calder, CCM, CCE of the sional career in project management and has worked with a variety of large businesses. Carolinas Chapter of CMAA for guidance and recruited His most recent project is for the development and construction of a 50,000-seat staan interim general manager who eventually became dium in Cameroon, Africa, working with other international professionals. the club’s chief executive officer. Terry gained a wonderful education in human relations from his father. He is also a Hill advocated for an effective COO position for beloved husband, a wonderful father to two grown daughters, and an adored grandfathe first time at the Club to draw clear lines between ther of five grandchildren. B R MAY/JUNE 2019 | BOARDROOM


MACDONALD NIVEN MacDonald Niven, MA, MCM, CCE is with Niven Research and CEO of Lakewood Country Club, Rockville, MD and can be reached at (510)-439-8522 or via email:


When Support Leaves the Manager Chris was in the first few months at a new club and noticed that the fitness center was a bit different. Jim was a club member, had been on the board for several years, and was the fitness center chair. Jim, a former Marine, would visit the center daily and review his thoughts with the Center’s manager, Pete. Pete was a young gentleman who responded quickly and accurately to Jim. The center featured two pools, racquetball, tennis, plenty of treadmills, bikes, free weights and a kitchen. The kitchen was operated by the fitness staff with Jim making the menu selections, the frozen burrito heated in the microwave was the best seller. The club had an award-winning chef and did a thriving business at its yacht club overlooking the lake. The chef had never set foot in the fitness kitchen, did no ordering or menu consultation. It was all Jim. Unfortunately, it was hard for Chris to know how well or poorly the kitchen contributed because no inventory counts were taken, and the freezer was stuffed with burritos. Seeing this as odd and with budgeting under way, Chris wanted to get all the food under the award-winning chef’s area. Knowing this would be a sticking point for Jim, Chris spoke with President Neal.

“Neal, it will be beneficial from both a quality standpoint and an efficiency standpoint to have all food under the direct guidance of our chef.” Neal, a former CFO for a Fortune 500 Company, attorney and CPA, was direct and to the point, “Chris, this operation is your responsibility. You have a budget to create, it’s yours, as well as the consequences. You make the decisions.” Chris went about the business of coordinating the fitness kitchen into the food operation. And, to no one’s surprise, the discussion with Jim was met with significant pushback. The board meeting was going well, as usual, and Chris was walking the directors through the budget when the fitness center came up. Jim immediately stepped in, “I think that we should have the kitchen operate independently, as it has for years.” Chris was prepared for the rebuttal, when Neal spoke up, “Yes, Jim, we are looking into that.” What? Wait a minute, did that just happen? Taken aback, Chris’ mind was reeling. After a few seconds Chris asked for a short recess and if Neal could step outside for a moment. “Yeah, Chris, I know what you’re gonna say. Jim’s a friend and this is the way it is.”

An important issue is that often-times we don’t understand the underlying reason behind someone’s decision making. As one counselor put it, “The table stakes are too low.” This issue was sent to 137 managers from across the country for their consideration and we received many responses, which tended towards three approaches: stand and fight; don’t push the battle and take the long-approach – let it go. With the possibility that the lack of support would continue, several managers suggested that they would seek other employment, but...not so easy after just three-months. Mark Weiner, Search America, partner, suggests that past tenure makes a difference. “It will depend upon the 60


tenure of the GM. If the person has long tenure at previous clubs, it’s possible to move. The “hick up” can be explained as a mistake. But, the chances of moving up are limited and a lateral or even lesser club is more likely. If the person has less experience or has less tenure at each previous club, then perhaps a restaurant is in their future. It is more difficult to explain away a pattern of behavior.” Since leaving the club for an equal or better opportunity is unlikely, Chris should consider one of the other three approaches.

Several managers suggested success by standing their ground, as one responded, “This is worth a fight. Your strength as a GM to affect change is best in your first few years. After the honeymoon period, however long that lasts, your voice is diminished and challenged.” Another respondent was more to the point, “You can stand up at the board meeting and say Mr. President – I am sorry you feel that operations are in better care of your friend and fellow member Jim and what appears to be no additional support from the balance of the board, at this present time, for me to manage the entire club operation which I was hired to do so, I thank you all for this opportunity and wish you the best of luck - Looks like Jim’s got this and walk out.” This manager also followed with, “…you will be either out of a job or on your way in providing the necessary leadership this club obviously has not had for a long time – it’s a BIG BULL move!” Indeed, and as the saying goes, bulls get slaughtered! Taking directors head-on is tricky business and with a short-term win, there may be consequences down the road. But, if this is successful, the manager may be in for a long and successful career at a club where the person is held in high esteem as the professional expert. At the other end of the spectrum is the let-it-go approach. One long tenured and well-respected manager responded that the fight is not worth the risk. “The answer is simple, this is not a battle of right or wrong, if they want frozen burritos let it go, it is their club, why get caught up in it. They obviously sell just fine, and you don’t have to worry about it. Jim and Neal will all move on in the coming years and things will change for the better. No need to lose any sleep over it now, just keep doing the amazing job with your chef at the yacht club.” The challenge with this approach is that it might not be in keeping with the club’s mission. In this case, it was not. Frozen burritos are an inferior product as compared with the level of all other club amenities. Allowing disparate committee chairs to direct tends to be a problem and leadership gets lost; the result being a club lost to its mission. Chris’ solution was the mid-approach. Chris understood the power of peer pressure and the group dynamic and as such accepted Neal’s mid-stream change of course. Chris allowed the heightened emotional level to cool and was able to work through the meeting without causing personal harm. Over the course of the next several months Chris spent personal one-on-one time with Jim to better

understand Jim’s perspective. Jim, a controlling individual with a great deal of pride, had been thrust into the chairmanship by Chris’ predecessor’s lack of interest. Jim “took it over” and made what he considered necessary changes. Chris worked closely with Jim and gradually made the necessary changes. An important issue is that often-times we don’t understand the underlying reason behind someone’s decision making. As one counselor put it, “The table stakes are too low.” A mistake of this magnitude means very little as compared to Neal and Jim’s friendship. Neal’s thought was, “Who cares if we serve frozen burritos, it’s the Fitness Center!” Their friendship outweighed the logic of this decision. Chris was not going to be able to properly influence Jim until the underlying motive was discovered and that took time, patience and good listening skills. Yes, alcohol was involved from time-to-time, not for Chris, but they did meet at the bar…once or twice. To review all of the manager responses please go to and within the Group Discussions tab you will find this and many other topics. If you have a different solution to this issue, please let me know. This issue is very common and, several of us believe, the leading cause of manager turn-over. A great solution will be very helpful. B R MAY/JUNE 2019 | BOARDROOM




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

Goldilocks Minutes

What’s Enough Information? If my next career is author of dramatic literature, I’ll have plenty of material from my years working with private clubs, particularly the amazing things I’ve read in board minutes! And that’s not a good thing. Board minutes should include enough information but not too much information. Goldilocks Minutes. The following information should be included in your board minutes. Minutes should first state when and where the meeting was held (time, date and location), and who was in attendance (directors present, on phone and absent, and any staff present). Attendance should reflect invited guests, such as the club’s auditors, attorneys, etc. If you use a consent agenda that should be the first item of business (see my BoardRoom article January 2016). The consent agenda covers items that do not require discussion, such as approving prior board meetings minutes, accepting committee reports, approving informational decisions (upcoming year’s board meeting schedule or the season’s golf tournament schedule). The consent agenda resolutions are included in the board packet.

There is no need to record the specific member vote on each resolution unless a board member votes against a resolution or abstains from a resolution and asks that it be noted in the minutes. The decision of the majority is the act of the board. Here are some things that should not be included in your minutes. The chatter – There is no reason to record what each individual member said. Once the board has made a decision, it is the action of the board, and the individual statements of different directors are no longer relevant and should not be recorded. Personal information – You should not name individual members on any item that is personal in nature. For example, you can name the foursome that won a golf tournament but you should not name the individual member who is financially delinquent. Employee information – Employee information should never be included in the board minutes. If the board takes an employment action, the minutes can refer to “an employee” but should not name the individual or sufficient details that disclose confidential information.

The board’s two most important responsibilities are financial oversight and legal oversight. Every board meeting should include a discussion of the financial information, and the minutes should reflect that the treasurer (GM, controller) reviewed the club’s financial statements and answered the directors’ questions. The board’s two most important responsibilities are financial oversight and legal oversight. Every board meeting should include a discussion of the financial information, and the minutes should reflect that the treasurer (GM, controller) reviewed the club’s financial statements and answered the directors’ questions. Items discussed without action can be reflected as discussion points. The minutes might state that the board received reports (list the individuals or committees). If the board takes action, the minutes should reflect what action was taken. 62


Discipline information – The minutes should reflect that the board addressed a disciplinary issue but not name the individual member. Among other reasons, the minutes of member-owned clubs are open to review by the members. This information could become widely known and, if any of the stated details are incorrect, could create liability. Completed minutes should be signed by the secretary and submitted in the board packet for the following month’s meeting. The minutes are then corrected, ratified and approved by the board and placed in the minute book. BR


Golfer Dies After Falling from Back of Cart We’ve all seen golfers standing on the back of a golf cart, being shuttled from Point A to Point B. This familiar scenario proved tragic when Derrick Berhow fell from the back of a card last August during a company outing held at Iowa’s Mason City Country Club, leaving a wife and child.

ligence of Mr. Berhow in riding on the back of the cart, perhaps after enjoying the alcoholic beverages served at the event. A 2020 trial date has been set, but the case likely will settle in advance of that. B R

Suit has now been brought by Mr. Berhow’s estate, asserting claims against the driver of the cart, the country club, and the company that sponsored the outing. No surprise, alcohol was served at the outing, and beyond the obvious allegation about the impropriety of permitting a golfer to ride on the back of a cart–alcohol is the common culprit referenced in the complaint. The cart driver is alleged to have been intoxicated, and the country club and company sponsor are alleged to have been negligent in permitting participants to become intoxicated. What the complaint does not discuss, but what the defendants undoubtedly will raise, is the contributory neg-





Gordon Welch is the president of the Association of Private Club Directors (APCD), the only association representing the club’s board. He can be reached at or by calling (949) 376-8889.

BoardRoom Institute

A Pathway to Collaborative Governance A few weeks ago, I had a phone call from a general manager asking about the Association of Private Club Directors and the professional development we offer for board and committee members through the BoardRoom Institute. The general manager commented that her club had allocated over $22,000 a year for staff association membership and professional development. This general manager wasn’t enthused about spending any money on her board’s development and understanding of their roles and responsibilities. I had only one question: “Does your board have oversight of you and your contract?” “Of course, they do.” My point was simple, but not appreciated.

including publisher John Fornaro, knew this was the missing link to a having professionally-run club. A club’s senior staff have professional associations that provide education and certification. Meanwhile, board members have been “hidden” in the boardroom without proper knowledge, tools and resources to collaborate with staff to operate at their clubs at the highest standard, enabling them to create an excellent member experience! Board members, who are shareholders (owners) of the club, are also the customers. Often board members run successful businesses or have retired as successful business owners. But let me caution you, there is no other business like a private club. The governance of the club remains, and should be, the key link to its success.

BoardRoom Institute is a great addition to your board orientation. It’s truly a board development tool to help effectively inform and educate your board and committees. There is also a list of board room responsibilities and terminology to bring new board members up to speed. Club governance is most important to the club’s vision and standards of excellence. It is the foundation of trust for the club and the basis of trust between your paid leadership and volunteer leadership...Collaborative governance is the pathway to clarity and a new standard of excellence. As important as professional development is to the senior staff at your club, board development should be equally important! In the private club industry, collaborative governance is the pathway to clarity and a new standard of excellence. Many years ago, the idea came about to create a platform to help educate boards better understand their roles and responsibilities. At that time, I was serving on the Club Management Association of America and board and general managers were not interested in the idea. Although they knew it was important, no one wanted to “go around the general manager.” It was clear, even in the 1990s that this kind of development was needed. Principals with BoardRoom magazine, 64


The BoardRoom Institute (BRI), as the educational arm of the Association of Private Club Directors, has produced an array of current and relevant videos that will inform you and your board of directors about “the basics” of the private club industry, all while providing relevant education in specific areas. We have selected the “best of the best” to provide the professional development clubs, general managers and boards are seeking. In these videos, Michael Scimo, president of Medinah Country Club of Medinah, Ill, and BoardRoom magazine’s “Distinguished Club President of the Year for 2018” discusses the role and importance of club having a strong President.

Robert Sereci, CCM, general manager and COO of Medinah offers his thoughts on the role of the general manager and the collaborative relationship with his club’s board of director. BoardRoom Institute’s cadre of presenters include: Randy Addison of Addison Law, Jerry McCoy of ClubWise, Tarun Kapoor of Kapoor & Kapoor, Kevin Reilly of PBMares, Gregg Patterson, retired GM of the Beach Club and president of Tribal Magic, Pete Bevacqua, president of NBC Sports Group and former CEO of PGA of America, Rhett Evans, CEO of GCSAA, John Embree, CEO of USPTA, Rick Coyne, president of ClubMark, Jim Fedigan of Jonas Software, Phil Harvey of Venture Insurance Program, Dr. Jim Butler, Club Benchmarking , John Fornaro, publisher of BoardRoom magazine and CEO of APCD and me, Gordon Welch as president of APCD. BoardRoom Institute covers seven main topics: Introduction to Private Clubs: An in-depth introduction to the private club industry. Types of clubs and ownership is discussed, and the basic structure and governance of the private club gives a good base of information. Private Club Governance: In this section, we include modules on bylaws and the relationship between governance and membership; the role of the board and what makes a good board member; the role of the president and executive committee is reviewed, as well as the collaborative governance model and ethics. Committee Roles and Responsibilities: Governing protocols gives guidance to club comities as well as roles and responsibilities for each of your committees. Private Club Finance: Topics in this section include sound fiscal management for board and committee members, as well as liability issues – fiduciary responsibilities and required duties. Many clubs are 501(c)(7) not-forprofit organizations. We discuss the reality of what the 501(c)(7) means to your organization. Finally, if your club is lucky enough to have a portfolio, we give guidance on how to manage that portfolio and who should be responsible for the management and governing protocol for such a committee. Management: Content in this section includes roles and responsibilities for all department heads including the GM, assistant gm or clubhouse manager, controller, director of golf/golf professional, golf course superintendent, tennis professional, membership director and technology director. These roles and responsibilities are backed-up with job descriptions and white papers in our vault system. Ingredients of Successful Boards: One of our larger chapters, this area includes strategic finance in a data-driven club, club capital reserve studies, engaging past presidents, managing the renegade director, risk management for clubs, effective oversight by volunteer leadership

versus micromanagement, managing the agenda – good habits of effective boards, sexual harassment/member misconduct, the PGA:who we are and what is the GCSAA. Strategic Planning / Long Range Planning: This chapter includes the club business plan model, understanding your constituency, instituting a plan management system and how to communicate that system. The video concludes with budgeting and prioritizing capital expenditures. There are almost 50 videos in all, with each video running between three to five minutes. Exceptions include videos on sexual harassment, strategic planning and capital reserve segments, which are longer in length. Depending upon what your role is at the club, will determine which videos you will be required to review. Committee members will not need to go through areas that don’t affect them. However, there are specific videos we suggest everyone watch, such as the video on sexual harassment. BoardRoom Institute is a great addition to your board orientation. It’s truly a board development tool to help effectively inform and educate your board and committees. As I mentioned earlier, APCD and BoardRoom Institute has a vault system that each club can access. We have placed job descriptions, White Papers and helpful articles within the vault. There is also a list of board room responsibilities and terminology to bring new board members up to speed. We have also included an annual self-review for board members to score themselves and the board as a whole. In addition, each club can use our vault system as a board portal, and you can store your club’s documents within your vault system. It’s secure and no one outside your board can enter or view your club’s personal documents. Compare the annual subscription of APCD to other associations and we are very affordable. The annual rate is $1,495 with a one-time set-up fee of $500. This fee includes ALL your board and committee members. Whether you have nine individuals or 59, the same fee covers everyone. Club governance is most important to the club’s vision and standards of excellence. It is the foundation of trust for the club and the basis of trust between your paid leadership and volunteer leadership. To reiterate, collaborative governance is the pathway to clarity and a new standard of excellence. Please call (918) 895-APCD (2723) for a personal tour or go to for more information. In the next issue of BoardRoom magazine, please look for “BoardRoom Perspectives” where we will be discussing the truth behind the 50(c)(7)! B R



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 e-mail:

Does Your Club Have a Gum Ball Machine? It seems that everyone has a favorite story from their childhood. A story where they knew what was coming in the narrative before the page was turned. Yet still they begged their parents to read it over and over again. For some it might have been one of the classics like Cinderella, Snow White or Jack and the Beanstalk. Others might have gravitated towards more adventuresome tales such as Huckleberry Finn or The Jungle Book. And some may have begged to hear a lesser known story like Grimm’s The Valiant Tailor or Hans Christian Anderson’s The Tinderbox. For me, it was none of these. In fact, I didn’t really have a favorite story. But I sure did have a couple of un-favorite stories – ones that were literally stories-non-grata when I was little. In fact, to this day I won’t read them, listen to them being read, or watch any movie adaptions. One is Hansel and Gretel. I just can’t fathom abandonment. But my least favorite will always be Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (shortened over time to Alice in Wonderland). It was written in 1855 by an English author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, under the more famously recognized pseudonym of Lewis Carroll, and tells the tale of a young girl, Alice, who falls through a rabbit hole into an unreal world filled with weird anthropomorphic creatures. I don’t like falling; I don’t like holes in the ground; I don’t like weird anthropomorphic creatures. I was thinking about my crazy aversion the other day when I was online searching for something. Suddenly it hit me. I do fall into holes every day, but they are not physical holes. They are internet holes. You see, there are three big ones out there that literally suck you in and sometimes take you into weird anthropomorphic places where you never thought you would go. The first is Pinterest. Try getting of there without at least a dozen clicks. The second, of course, is Amazon, especially Amazon Prime. Once in there, you end up on more pages than you ever expected you would and probably buy more things and spend more money than you ever intended. But the biggest hole of all is YouTube. Enough said! YouTube is simply the brand name of a website on which users can post, view, or share videos. And that goes from watching cute little eaglets slowly hatch out of their eggs to learning how to change the battery in a car to watching Tim Conway’s infamous dentist skit with Harvey Korman. 66


For me, however, it is commercials and old movie clips. And, of course, it is Ted Talks. You see, I’m always looking for video clips to use in my seminars, workshops, and especially in my classes to help me drive home a point or concept. Today’s audiences – both executives and especially students – literally live by the old mantra that one picture is worth a thousand words. Especially a moving picture. Don’t ask me how I ever got there, but the other day when I was on one of my video clip quests, I ran across a little two-minute video clip from Global Gumball about its Wizard Spiral Gumball Machine line. In it, a company spokesman demonstrates a line of three gumball machines. Similarly, to the story of the three bears, the “papa” or biggest machine is 5 foot 6 inches tall and holds 5,600 gumballs; the “mama, or medium size is a little shorter and holds 3,000 gumballs. Then there is the “baby” size, aptly named the Wizard Kid, that only holds 1,500 of those little balls of colored sugar-coated chewing gum. Having read this far, no doubt you are probably wondering what fairy tales, video clips and a gum ball machine have to do with your club. It’s simple; they lead to the inescapable fact that B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore hit the nail on the head in their definitive book The Experience Economy. This 1999 classic showed us that just having a good products and good services would not be enough to have economic value. Rather, business is entering “a new economic era in which all businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers [members].” Somewhere along the way, we came to believe that all it takes to generate member value, member loyalty and great ambassadors for our club are outstanding facilities, programs, and services. While that may have been true back in the 20th Century, it’s no longer enough in 2019; these qualities are just expected in a club. To provide the kind of experiences that will drive member value and club revenues, it takes more than top facilities and good service. It takes what Ken Blanchard, author of the One Minute Manager and Raving Fans calls, “Deliver +1”, what the Cajun culture calls Lagniappe, what I call E3 – Exceed, Excel, Expectations, and what Joseph Pine and James Gilmore call the Experience Economy. In fact, they say that the curtain has already risen on this new economic era in which businesses – including clubs

– cannot just provide products and services to members. Instead, they must orchestrate memorable experiences for members to increase the value score. They visualize a future where every club uses its facilities as props, its services as a stage and its employees as actors intentionally creating lasting, memorable experiences for its members. Until recently, experiences have gone largely unrecognized as a distinct economic offering. They have always been around but, for too long, have been lumped into the services sector, along with phone service, auto repair, accounting, and dry cleaning. But experiences are a distinct economic offering, as different from services as services are from products. When members buy a club experience, they pay to spend time enjoying a sequence of memorable events that their club “stages” to engage them in a personal way. An additional reason for the growth of this experience economy is people will pay more for a differentiated memorable experience. If this weren’t true, why can the local trendy café charge $7.00 for a cup of coffee, while the neighborhood diner only charges a dollar and you can virtually get it for free at home? Why else would a family of four pay upwards of $200 to eat a mediocre meal at Medieval Times? Why would any parent take a child to an American Girl (AG) store where they pay top dollar to have the doll’s hair styled at a beauty shop, have her treated at the dolly’s hospital, or enjoy

a doll’s birthday party. As the AG website touted, Fun Today, Memories Forever. It’s the value that the entire experience holds to the individual that determines what it is worth and what they will pay. And the more unique the experience, the more individualized, the more memorable, the more differentiated, the more the club can charge for the experience. Make no mistake about it, your club’s products, services, and programs are no longer enough to survive and thrive. They can too easily be copied and become commoditized. The club’s future is in using these products, services and programs to create memorable experiences for its members. If I may paraphrase an old adage, it is no longer the economy; it is the experience economy. Now back to the Wizard Spiral Gumball Machine. To understand how this simple product has been transformed into the experience economy, the professor in me is giving you an assignment. I want you to fall down the internet hole and get sucked into spending about 25 minutes watching two video clips. First, Global Gumball’s promotional piece on their trio of gumball machines. (https:// and second, Joseph Pine’s “welcome” to the experience economy ( I guarantee they will get your experience juices flowing for your club. Your bottom line will thank you! B R


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Brian Watkins is the manager, certification and education, for the Club Management Association of America. His primary focus is to manage the Certified Club Manager (CCM), Honor Society, and Certification Maintenance Requirement (CMR) Programs. He works closely with all members pursuing the CCM.

What Is the CCM? Holding a professional certification is like opening a window to a world of opportuni- demonstrated a level of competence that can affect the perception among ties for the profession of club manager offers. the club membership. Other benefits to It can open doors you didn’t even know existed, as the three letters that follow hiring a CCM are: your name make one powerful statement about the expertise you bring to the • It validates the competency of table. Professional certifications assure that the person holding the designation is the club manager. Having a CCM on competent and professional. staff may ensure that your employee A thorough certification program plays a part in helping individuals, organizapossesses current, relevant skills that tions and the industry meet their financial, employment and regulatory goals. afford them deeper insight into the Professional certifications are one of the best and most effective mechanisms industry, and a higher level of overall to assess the knowledge, skills and experience needed to perform a specific role. competence. With knowledge of recent Having a certification can have a direct effect on hiring decisions, customer satistrends, the latest regulations and new faction, sales opportunities, salaries and regulation of ethical practices. and developing options, your Certified The Club Management Association of America (CMAA) promotes industry Club Manager will become the “go to” excellence and continuous professional development for club management properson in directing the club. fessionals through its certification program. The Certified Club Manager (CCM) • It can promote staff retention. By program recognizes skills and special knowledge in areas such as club goverproviding employees with opportunities nance, leadership, and financial management in clubs. to grow their talents and master new It’s the standard for measuring club managers. Since the program’s launch in skills through the CCM program, you 1965, it has opened countless doors for managers in the club industry. Developed are demonstrating a commitment to by educators and professionals in the club industry, the CCM is acknowledged intheir professional development that can dustry-wide as the symbol of excellence in club management. translate into greater company loyalty. The CCM is awarded only to those club managers who complete a combination of • It can assist with managing risk. industry-specific education and pass a rigorous examination. Once the designation The Certified Club Manager exam tests is earned, the CCM must maintain their level of knowledge with ongoing education. applicable laws and regulations related There are many reasons to become a Certified Club Manager. And the CCM to the industry. Employees with knowldesignation will add benefit to your professional career as a club manager in a edge of these laws and regulations can variety of ways: assist with steering your club through • It helps to maintain your competitive edge in the club industry. The CCM propotential problems, make recommenvides evidence that you have attained the skills and possess the knowledge to stay dations that may prevent complicacurrent in your field. tions and provide the club governance • It opens more opportunities for advancement. The CCM allows individuals to with advice. differentiate themselves from others. It helps to identify club managers with the The CCM is a globally-recognized latest skills, knowledge and drive to move into leadership positions. designation and the standard by which • It shows your commitment to the club industry. The CCM demonstrates your individuals demonstrate their profescommitment to your profession. Taking the time necessary to study, prepare, and sionalism in club management. Earnmaintain your certification will set you apart from others in your field. ing the designation is more evidence • It increases your confidence and respect within the club industry. Through earnof what you know and what you’ve ing the CCM, you will receive recognition from your peers and others in the industry. achieved. It’s the best way for club managers to communicate to the inAnother benefactor is the club as an employer, who may prefer to hire a certidustry that they are prepared to meet fied candidate over one who is not certified. Employees who have earned the desthe many obstacles and challenges ignation through industry specific training, work experience and assessment have they are confronted with. BR 68





Are Boards Burdening Private Clubs with Too Much Debt? We refer to this exercise as “funding We have written that debt is unforgiving and therefore must be used judiciously in a private club setting. However, it can be used prudently when part of a funded long- a plan, not just a project.” The result might be that major term financial plan. projects might be implemented over We see an increasing number of clubs incur substantial amounts of debt to time, but this could mitigate the need fund transformative capital projects. Many of these loans have 10-year terms to borrow substantial amounts and with payments based on amortization schedules of up to 25 years. reducing the amounts that members Why should boards be concerned? Here are some explanations and some are assessed. While everyone doesn’t suggested actions. get what they want right away, it is a How much is too much debt? One way or another it is the members who fund visual that can be clearly communithe repayment of debt. If members show reluctance to personally pay the per cated to members and, by matching member share of debt either upfront or if the loan is called or when the balloon capital inflows and outflows, help incomes due, it is likely too much. sure the financial sustainability of the In fulfilling their fiduciary duties, board members should evaluate, that in club. We found this to be successful the event a loan is called or a balloon payment comes due, what the tolerance at our own clubs. for a per member assessment is without triggering a mass exodus – $10,000? Boards should be cognizant that the $20,000? $30,000? economy may decline or fall into reIf the tolerance is $10,000, for example, and the club has 400 members the cession. As in 2008, initiation/capital theoretical debt limit is $4,000,000. If the debt is $10 million with the same 400 fees and membership dues, important members, or $25,000 per member, then the club likely has too much debt. engines for a club’s financial sustainDebt should be amortized over a period not to exceed 10 years. Clubs underability, could be negatively impacted. take major projects every seven to 10 years, so a lingering debt balance could For clubs that borrow substantial constrain a club’s ability to do a major project. For clubs obtaining debt due amounts to fund significant projects in 10-years with payments based on a 25-year amortization schedule, there is and/or clubs that amortize their debt the advantage of up to a 50 percent lower monthly payment (and hence asking of periods greater than 10-years, the members for a lower assessment to service the debt). result could be cataclysmic. However, the risks are substantial. First, 70 percent of the principal is still be For clubs that have prepared a outstanding when the debt comes due, severely constraining the future ability funded long-term financial plan, capiof a club’s ability to invest in capital. Secondly, interest rates could be signifital outflows can be deferred to match cantly higher. Third (and most important) the economy could be such that diminished capital inflows, greatly enbanks would not refinance the debt putting a club’s financial sustainability at hancing a club’s ability to be financially significant risk. sustainable. B R Clubs are often hesitant to assess members for the full cost of the significant capital expenditures. However, longer amortization periods become a problem Joe Abely and Dave Duval are co-founders for future boards and members. We remind boards that “debt is a tranquilizer, and principals of Club Board Professionals not a cure.” It must be used in moderation to avoid addiction issues. LLC. Joe can be reached at (781) 953-9333 or What should a board do? We advocate the development of a 10-year funded via email at Dave at (617) 519-6281 or long-term financial plan, reflecting all of the club’s anticipated capital expenditures and debt service costs. The resulting cash outflows should then be matched with anticipated cash inflows, including initiation fees, on-going and periodic capital assessments, debt service fees, operating surpluses and debt proceeds. MAY/JUNE 2019 | BOARDROOM


Whitney Reid Pennell

RECOGNIZED AS BOARDROOM’S EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR FOR 2018 By Kevin Fry When Whitney Pennell stands in front of a group of private club employees to present one of her popular, award-winning training sessions, she sees sitting in front of her the past, the present and the future. She sees the past because she recognizes herself in the group. She was once an employee in the hospitality industry herself. Beginning as a server, Whitney put herself through college working at various jobs in hotels and restaurants. As fate would have it, while working as a catering manager for a hotel company, a friend’s father invited her to the country club, where he was a member, for a round of golf. Coincidentally, she met the club manager that day, and six months later he recruited her to join the staff. Then, 10 years later, after a successful management career in hotels, clubs and with Troon Golf, she took the plunge into the unknown and formed Reid Consulting Services, now known as RCS Hospitality Group. She sees the present because she knows that the women and men in the room are the keystone not only to their clubs, but to the industry as a whole. Whitney’s strong belief is that the long and storied tradition of private club service is as relevant today as it was in earlier eras. A clear message she always conveys to employees and management alike is that methods may change, but values are eternal.

The future And she sees the future because preparing the world of private clubs for the dramatic changes that are on the horizon is her most urgent and important task. Whitney helps her clients understand that two things are undergoing significant transformations simultaneously: the nature and needs of new generations of club members and the nature and needs of new generations of employees. Managers who have worked with her have learned that in order to understand what is happening inside the gates of the club, you first have to understand what’s happening outside them. 70


Whitney is pioneering the use of full-motion, interactive virtual training to help managers train faster, more frequently and provide a consistent training message. At the same time, RCS has brought training manuals into the 21st century, using more blended learning techniques, an approach, which is crucial for reaching young employees. The flip side to getting new generations of employees ready to provide superior service is getting the club ready or a new generation of members. That’s been Whitney’s focus for many years.

Whitney believes that employee training is the key to unlocking that future. Whitney, and the trainers on her team, reinforce the value of every person, letting them know they are not alone, that they can do anything they put their mind to, that they are capable and appreciated. Whitney has said, “I try to be mindful of the people in the room – that they have struggles, dreams, questions, limitations, hope, and aspirations of their own and if I can show them empathy, care, compassion and help them stretch their skills or mindset however slightly, it may motivate them to be the best version of themselves.” RCS emphasizes that training is not something you did, but something you do. The learning process is most effective with the communication of clear messages, presented consistently and repeatedly. In the past, training was delivered either in person, on the job, or via a VHS tape or DVD, sometimes with a moderator. But that old approach no longer applies. Whitney is pioneering the use of full-motion, interactive virtual training to help managers train faster, more frequently and provide a consistent training message. At the same time, RCS has brought training manuals into the 21st century, using more blended learning techniques, an approach, which is crucial for reaching young employees. The flip side to getting new generations of employees ready to provide superior service is getting the club ready for a new generation of members. That’s been Whitney’s focus for many years. RCS was founded with the purpose of responding to clubs needs in service; developing in people the understanding of club culture, service, best practices, and club traditions. Whitney recognizes the importance of human connections and nothing highlights that value more than how she has touched her RCS team. RCS Chef Mary Howley describes Whitney as having a work ethic that doesn’t quit and describes her as a true subject matter expert. “When I first met Whitney several years ago, I was a chef in a club she was helping. A member of her team told me, ‘understand that Whitney is kind and thoughtful and truly cares about this business and the people in it. She is an expert.’ An expert? Quite a declaration, I thought. It did not take me years to realize how true a statement this is,” Chef Mary related. Chef Mary joined the RCS team a few years later and described how Whitney has developed the team of caring, engaged experts that she has. Whitney asks each of us of each situation: • What am I communicating? • Is the content of what I am communicating accurate, relatable, and engaging? • How can I better meet the needs of those we are training/coaching/mentoring? • What are the best tools to achieve our goals and what options are available? • Have I considered my own abilities, experience, and perspectives as a professional and my comfort level acting on that experience? • What conscious choices can I make (outward attitude, body language, active listening) to make a difference to those we are training/mentoring/coaching?

is respected by so many. Whitney has transformed RCS into one of the industry’s leaders by applying those values to the wide range of services offered. But perhaps Whitney’s own words are the best way to explain why she’s being honored here: “We strive to become a partner with our customers using the hospitality principles we teach: empathy, compassion, understanding, helpfulness, and building trust. “When I talk with the team at RCS, I tell them that we build trust by being honest. We won’t steer the club wrong just to make a buck. If we can’t help, we won’t do the job. If we can’t be effective, we won’t take the job. If the club has unrealistic expectations, we tell them. We have been called the ‘consulting company that cares’ by our customers and trainees, and for that, I am very proud.” So many outstanding reasons why Whitney Reid Pennell is BoardRoom’s Educator of the Year for 2018. B R

That kind of impact has long been the hallmark of RCS, which is anchored in core values of honesty, transparency and open communication. It’s why Whitney’s work

Kevin Fry, a family friend, (with contributions from the RCS team) is the author of this story about Whitney Reid Pennell. MAY/JUNE 2019 | BOARDROOM




Tim Marks, PGA is a director of the PGA Career Services Department and can be reached at (800) 314-2713 or

Success in Hiring Happens with Hard Work And a Good Team! Harbor Shores Golf Club sits on the banks of Lake Michigan and since 2010 has hosted the most major championships of any course in the country. The club recently completed a search for a general manager/COO and utilized the advanced (executive) search services of the PGA of America’s Career Services Department. Jeff Noel, Whirlpool executive and search committee chair, stated, “ The golf club at Harbor Shores, which hosts the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship every other year, had an opening for a new general manager. The criteria for the role was very demanding for this championship public golf course, located along the shores of Lake Michigan, and we turned to the PGA Career Services team to help us find the right candidate. “We had a search committee of seasoned CEOs and business owners, and from our prospective, the PGA Career Service shot a double eagle. The PGA team was great at listening, and even better, at smartly asking the right questions,” Noel said. “Every step along the way, follow up and follow through was perfect and more than timely. Thank you for helping us find the right person at the right time and at a record pace! “ As a team, PGA Career Services and the Harbor Shores search committee worked together through a “process” that culminated with a hire that fit the needs of the facility, the community, the championship golf course and the staff. It is important that this process not be taken lightly by either party or the outcome could end up being short-lived or counter-productive. Josh Doxtator, a PGA member, was hired and fit perfectly the “very demanding” criteria. “The PGA of America Career Services team offered a hiring process that was seamless; there was an emphasis on constant communication and assistance was offered throughout. I would recommend their services for any owner/operator as their goal is to provide the absolute best fit for the professional and the facility. Well done PGA of America and kudos to the entire PGA Career Services team,’ Doxtator added. The “right fit” and “the right experience” go hand-in-hand in defining the outcome of the hire and the benefit that is produced for the hiring facility. Doxtator has a definite outcome in mind for the future while moving into this new position – an outcome that will produce success for the facility and also the community. GM Doxtator’s vision is this: “The opportunity to be included in the overall vision of Harbor Shores reignited a passion based on execution of the experience, building a brand and ultimately, being a positive reinforcement within the community. Our focus moving forward is to create positive, memorable experiences for every guest while using the resources around us to employ, train and coach local talent, preparing them for the future. 72


“Harbor Shores is a unique place. Not many can boast a major championship venue every other year and a determined commitment to the community in which it sits. The facility expands over 500 acres and navigates its way through a property sitting on the beaches of Southwest Lake Michigan,” he added. “Growing the game is vitally important to Harbor Shores as The First Tee has permanent residence onsite and caters to over 1,000 youth in the Benton Harbor and Berrien County area. As a PGA Professional, I couldn’t be more excited at the opportunity to work with visionaries who are committed to their community and passionate about golf, utilizing both to have significant impact. “ The winner of the Senior PGA Championship proves that the player was prepared, motivated and had a team that stands behind him every step of the way. Harbor Shores has a great team in place to position the club for the future and had a “partner-centric” team with PGA Career Services. PGA Career Services also has a great team in place to make sure your next managerial hire is the best for your facility, its members or customers. BR

SUSAN GREENE Susan Greene is 32-year veteran in the private club business. A master certified membership professional, she is a former national president of PCMA (Professional Club Marketing Association), vice president of membership and general manager. She is often called upon as an industry speaker and serves as the director of membership and marketing for The Oaks Club, Osprey, FL.


Can We Talk?

Taking Social Networking Back to Where It Started We’ve all heard that long gone are the days of good conversation. Social Networking certainly has its place these days. However, I sure you’ll agree it can be overwhelming at times. Did you know that the average professional receives 115 emails and web interactions in day? Globally a staggering 269 billion emails are sent each day and there are currently just over 3.7 billion email users worldwide. Could this be why your members don’t seem to read all those club emails or respond to the How Can We Improve surveys. We seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another although your club manager would likely say that there is no shortage for him hearing from your members. Genuine listening has become a rare gift – the gift of time. It helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. At work, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time. At home, it helps in developing resourceful, self-reliant kids who can solve their own problems. Listening builds friendships and careers. It saves money and marriages. To break through all the digital noise and really get to the heart of your members, I challenge you to consider taking an ‘old school’ approach to social networking…have a conversation. A regular cadence of opportunities for your members to connect and share directly with the board members will not only open a world of ideation on both sides but also strengthens the member’s loyalty to and engagement in your club. Listening to your members makes them feel you are truly interested in what they have to say and what ideas they want to share.

A former president of The Oaks Club, in Osprey, FL began a series of “Let’s Talk.” Held twice a month, no more than 20 participants gather to offer directly, to the club’s president, their opinion on pre-determined topics such as: Completing a SWOT analysis for the club; future capital projects, and club finances to name a few. Comments are recorded and made available to the membership, but the biggest benefit is sharing the comments with the remaining board members. In addition, a series of board-hosted Learn More sessions are held once a month with a greater audience exploring the culinary side of the operation, complete with a kitchen tour; golf course maintenance with a tour of the maintenance facilities; a discussion on the club’s governing documents including by-laws and rules and regulations; a real estate panel and home improvement show, and marketing and membership idea forums. As board members, do you have a conversation with new members when they join? Do you have quarterly calls with presidents of your clubs-withinthe-club? Do you create connect and share opportunities to include member to department head? The best ideas start as conversations. Makes cents to me. B R





Lynne LaFond DeLuca is executive director of the ACCP and an industry consultant. In 2014, Lynne was named “One of the Most Influential Women in the Private Club Industry” by BoardRoom magazine and in 2016 she was awarded the Gary Player Educator of the Year Award from BoardRoom magazine., or visit

Employee Education ROI Education Dollar$ Make $ense I think most people can agree that the people in our clubs ARE the club… the members and employees create the life and the personality that the club takes on. We know that we must invest in this most important asset, but are we? How do we go about doing so? We make lots of investments in our clubs – capital projects including renovations, expansions, upgraded technology and new equipment. All of these items are important in keeping our clubs up-to-date, exciting, fun, efficient, and a place our members want to be and call home. Let’s put the same importance on “people.” EFFECTIVE EMPLOYEE EDUCATION

Happy, well-educated employees create amazing experiences and moments for our members. It is also one of the most noted reasons in retaining good employees. It’s high on the “importance list” of what employees consider when choosing an employer. If education and training are not in your budget, it’s about time that it is, and you might want to budget by department in order to take care of all aspects of the club. I’ve seen first-hand what an impact this can have. Professional, well-trained and happy employees usually stay at the club, providing a sense of family and great experiences for the members. Searching for a replacement is costly and disruptive to the membership. Recently I had with a club manager who attended our last ACCP National Conference and brought along her events and catering team. The club manager called me after the conference to say ‘thanks’ for the incredible experience and for re-invigorating her team. She said they were definitely “in a rut” before the conference and went home “on fire”, full of great ideas, and the best part… excited about their jobs again. It was music to my ears. Another club owner couldn’t decide if he should send everyone on his team, or to make it an incentive if they achieved a specific goal. Through our conversation, he answered all his own questions. He thought using it as an incentive would be a great motivator, but then decided that the ones who were not achieving the numbers probably 74


needed the education even more. He was right on both counts and sent everyone. WHAT MAKES AN EDUCATIONAL CONFERENCE SO IMPACTFUL?

When looking for an appropriate educational conference for your team members, look for great education, speakers, innovation and experiences. The inspirational and emotional aspect must be present for the experience and education to “stick” and be memorable. Unlike many conferences, the ACCP conference planning itself is actually part of the education because of who the audience is. When you’re planning an event/conference for people who plan events for a living, we have to go really over-the-top. I want every aspect of this conference to inspire innovation and new ideas and want the attendees to go back to their clubs excited and filled with new education, energy and enthusiasm for their jobs and the experience that they are creating for their members. Every detail is considered and thoughtful. I also love that the attendees get to see what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a great event. This shows them what their members want and need to experience every time they walk into the club. The education is the most important aspect to me and at this conference it takes on many shapes – from the speakers to the décor to the best practice sharing to the actual food and beverage offerings to our famous swag bags… everything matters. BACK TO THE ROI…

I’m a firm believer in ‘what you focus on you will achieve.’ I’ve seen clubs change literally overnight when event and catering professionals participate in this education, attend the national conference and start using not only the association, but each other, as resources. Literally, revenues increase by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dollars you spend for employee education should pay for itself – remember that after the initial investment, you will get all that money back, plus a whole lot more! BR

STEVE GRAVES Steve Graves is president of Creative Golf Marketing. The company specializes in membership development strategies to enhance membership growth, membership retention, and financial success for its private club clients. Contact CGM via email at or 800-526-8794.


Focus on the Trees, Not the Forest To Maximize Membership Retention “I can’t see the forest for the trees.” We’re all aware of that phrase. Membership retention is critical to the long-term success of any private club. For a long time, membership retention has been a ‘macro discussion’ (the forest) rather than a ‘micro effort’ (the trees). As clubs across the country try to simply keep pace with annual member attrition, studying data and focusing on keeping members happy and engaged is becoming a critical part of a club’s on-going strategic plan. But where do you start? In Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life, rule number four is to “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.” In our industry, we would say to ‘Compare each member to their yesterday, not to another member.” Each member has a certain level of activity at a club. When you only compare members against each other, you’re missing a very important data point – their own baseline. This is exactly how club leadership and membership professionals should look at membership retention and acknowledging attrition rates. Think of yourself and your weight. Your weight has nothing to do with the weight of others. You must consistently pay attention to your “weight trend” and not justify how much you gain because everyone else is losing weight, maintaining their current weight or, unfortunately, have become overweight. Only looking at a macro level of your membership’s activity levels, club usage, spending, number of guests, overall engagement and even reasons of resignation is misguided. When you are able to look at all of these variables as a whole, it is easier to find out what makes each member happy, engaged and what really matters to them and improve upon that consistently, day in and day out. Every club has access to an overabundance of information on their members. That is great news. A club has the ability to run these reports each month and can if they desire analyze and monitor each member to their own criteria and not of those of the rest of the membership. Key to reducing attrition is using that information to obtain a better perspective of each member and identify those indicators that illustrate negative trending activity levels. To do this you should look for members who are not using the club as often, such as spending, rounds of golf, number of guests, wine purchases, visits to the club, etc.

One thing to remember is that spending reports are not equal to trending reports. Spending reports simplify the facts to ‘who is spending and who is not.’ The problem with that is it does not give you the ability to see subtle, yet important, changes in member trending activity levels and indicators that can quickly become material. Do your spending reports realize that Mr. Jones has gone from golfing four rounds a week to two? No. Are spending reports able to then detect these subtle, yet material, trends for hundreds of members in each classification? No. We all know that small things can make a big difference, such as saving money, eating healthy or exercising. Saving a little here or there can add up quickly. On the contrary, spending a little here or there can add up quickly. When you analyze monthly snapshots and focus on the activity levels and engagement trends of each of your members individually, you can quickly identify those members who are less engaged, ‘at risk’ and closer to resignation. This is when a club needs to find creative ways to influence and increase their respective activity levels and engagement within the club. An action plan should be designed to implement these strategies to re-engage and increase these activity level indicators specific to each member. These action plans will work when they are more precisely implemented rather than more broadly implemented. If you can connect with each of these members through meaningful engagement and ensure the services, amenities and enjoyment are greater than the time and money spent at your club, you’ll be on your way to a higher retention rate. Higher retention equates to a stronger and more prolific dues line for the club. Well worth the effort. Don’t look at the members of your club as a whole, look at each member individually, you will be amazed at what you see. With membership retention, this is exactly what you should be doing. Stare at each tree not the forest. BR At Creative Golf Marketing, our goal has always been to provide the guidance and solutions to reinvigorate, promote and market the private club industry across the United States and Canada. We recently have developed a revolutionary, pro-active membership retention tool designed to assist in identifying critical engagement and activity trends through predictive analysis and a proprietary ALI (Activity Level Indicator) algorithm. If you would like additional information regarding membership retention or how to identify your own ‘at risk’ members, please call (800) 526-8794 or contact us by email at MAY/JUNE 2019 | BOARDROOM




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 Strategic Planning and Capital Funding Company of the year. Jerry received the Lifetime Achievement Award from BoardRoom Magazine in 2018. He can be reached at or

Effective Strategic Planning The Importance of Core Values

Too often strategic planning in clubs starts as an agenda driven process. Usually these agendas surround capital investment issues. Therefore, the participants want to get to these issues first and many times gloss over the early steps including identifying the core values of the organization. Roy Disney had it right when he made this famous quote, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” From a blog post called ‘Achieve It’ they noted the following: “Clear and agreed-upon values can keep an organization and its people on track. Values provide guidelines for the process of strategic planning, decision-making and behavior, and answer questions like, ‘What do I want to live my life by and how?’ But the values need to be clearly described and consistently acted upon to be beneficial. They also must resonate with the personal values of those working in the organization, and they must support the organization’s purpose in order to be relevant. To become cemented in the organization’s culture, everyone must be held accountable for living up to and demonstrating the [company’s] values in their day-to-day actions.”



Recently I had a client who wanted to take a deep dive into the core values of the club. They determined that the process of discovering and determining what the membership believes are the core values and therefore the core purpose of their club. It is widely understood that, in order for any organization, team or club to achieve sustained excellence, it is imperative that the group understand its purpose and the accompanying standards and behavior that support that purpose. The club held focus groups and discussions for the purpose of discovering, identifying and documenting the core purpose and core values of the club as dictated by the membership. The values identified were: 1. Members, club leaders and staff treat each other with dignity and respect. 2. The club promotes and maintains a family environment supported by policies and programs. 3. The club maintains standards of excellence and honors our legacy and tradition. 4. The club cultivates a spirit of community within the club and seeks to foster good will within the surrounding community.

5. Our club seeks to be aware of, and in tune with, cultural and evolutionary changes within the game of golf, country club industry and the environment. 6. We act with and maintain a high level of fiduciary responsibility in managing the club resources. The next step was to then validate these core values using a membership survey process dealing only with those values. The survey was sorted by several demographic groups. Each one of the six core values provided six to eight descriptive phrases about that value. Members were asked to check all that apply to their opinion of that value. There was also a comment box available for written comment on each value. Members were asked to identify the importance of each core value and then rank them 1 – 6. These questions were followed by eight to 10 facility and service questions to expose weakness if any. For example, on the subject of fiduciary responsibility members could choose from the following: • Maintain competitive dues levels • Do not over extend the club with debt obligations • Provide a high-quality club experience • Have competitive product and merchandise price points • Continually make the necessary changes to maintain the quality of the club

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• Be financially competitive in order to recruit and hire the best staff. Here are the results for one of the questions sorted by age. Note the green boxes of the highest ratings for each age demographic. The younger groups were more supportive of changes than the older ones. Older groups were more debt aversive. However, ‘Providing a high-quality club experience’ was the second highest rated comment. This is just one of the areas that will help the club make critical capital investment decisions moving forward. The conclusion from the exercise identified eight key statements. One of those statements addresses comparing the ratings regarding family orientation, keeping up with changes within the industry and capital investment. It reads as follows: On quality and value: Provide a high-quality country club experience including golf course, dining, clubhouse, tennis, pool and fitness at a fair value. The full exercise identifies major statements on respect, quality & value, tradition, family inclusivity, integrity, responsibility, graciousness and being good stewards. It is gratifying to see a club dig so deep for the right answers at the right time. Kudos to the leadership! Remember what Steven Covey said: Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. B R

5/14/2019 2:19:56 PM MAY/JUNE 2019 | BOARDROOM




Addison Craig, a Millennial, is the owner of ADDGOLF LLC, a golf instruction business. Addison works as a PGA Professional at La Gorce Country Club at Miami Beach, FL and at The Bridge Golf Club at Bridgehampton, NY.

Start Breaking Par Now! You may be the golfer who plays once a month and tries to break 100. You may be the weekend warrior whose life goal is to break 80. Perhaps you’re on the tour striving to break par every single time. Regardless of your skill level, the good news is that improving your golf game can correlate with improving your work life. To begin, don’t bet on luck to improve your golf game or work life. Start by setting realistic goals and prepare to face change. Have a game plan and stick with it. Work to break your own par. Remember that with hard work and great influencers, you can achieve greatness. As my mentor, Jim McLean, always says, “Every day Is Opening Day!” And as my role model John Wooden has said: “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Whether on the course or in your office, one thing’s for sure: Every day is different. The road to improving your game is to enjoy the positives while being able to welcome constructive criticism. THE GAME

Several years ago, I put together a basic system that has helped me improve my ability to become better at both golfing and working. It’s all about being organized, learning as much as I can and always striving to be the best I can be. It’s about being honest and realistic with yourself. Nobody is perfect. You can always get better! There are two ways for you to try to break par each and every day on and off the golf course. The first way is by playing that round based on how many hours in a day you’re up. For example, if I’m awake an average of 18 hours, I think of every one of those hours as a chance to make a birdie. The second way is playing a round in your head at work. Say you have a ninehour shift and start playing a hole every 30 minutes. Strive to make as many birdies as possible and break your par every day. As in real life, there are no gimmes. THE SCORING

The best way to get start your day with a birdie on your scorecard is to begin the night before. Set yourself up for success. Preparation is key. Have a vision in place before starting each day to give yourself the best chance of breaking par. If you plan and execute correctly with every hole you’ll have an opportunity for at least a birdie.



When you’re halfway through the day or shift, take a moment to see where you stand. If you hit it OB on the fourth hole and messed up a project at work that resulted in a double bogey, you need to fire off some birdies on the back nine. The second half of that project is as important as the first half! Regardless of your score, once your day is over, reflect on your round and find what you did great and what you could have done better. Once you recognize the areas that need improvement, then start writing up your game plan for the next day. THE GOAL

A great way to keep track of your performance is to carry around a notecard or planner to record how you played each day. At the end of the week, recap how you did by asking yourself some questions: Did you perform to the best of your ability, perhaps even win the golf tournament? Did you have a solid Top five finish? Did you arrive to work early each morning? Did you have Top 20 finish? Did you stand out on a project for your boss? Did you make the cut? What did you do to become more successful? Could you have done something more efficiently? How can you be better next week? Every day is an opportunity to grow and improve. Keep setting goals and moving forward – in your golf game and your career. Keep Breaking Par! BR

ANGELA HARTMANN Angela Hartmann is GCSAA Associate Director, Communications. She can be reached via email at


Exploring Creative Solutions For Golf Course Labor Shortages

For John Thompson, superintendent at With U.S. unemployment rates at their lowest point in a decade, and continued job Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind., growth, the U.S. labor shortage is reaching a critical point. finding a pipeline of younger workers began Golf courses aren’t immune to this issue. Many superintendents in particular by contacting those in the “work-based have difficulty filling open positions on the golf course maintenance staff with learning” program at his children’s high qualified talent. school. He retains them by working around By the numbers their school schedules and appealing to what If your club has had difficulty filling positions, you aren’t alone. Some key the younger generation values. labor statistics in the golf course management industry: “They come in at 7 a.m. and they go back • 59 percent of superintendents say it is more difficult to retain employees at school at 10,” Thompson said. “We sign a than it was just two years ago contract with them and their school adviser. • 74 percent find it more difficult to retain hourly crew members than before You have to give them a task. They want to • In 2012, 19 percent of superintendents said labor availability was “bad’ or feel important. We keep it fun. It’s been a “very bad.” In 2018, that number reached 63 percent great program for us.” • The average number of days it takes to fill a maintenance position is 70. GCSAA is also working on the national The issue isn’t relegated to one region or one field. level to help introduce Millennials and Gen“It’s a global issue,” said Rhett Evans, GCSAA’s chief executive officer. “When eration Z to golf courses as a career path. you, as a course operator, are trying to get qualified labor, this is what you are GCSAA’s First Green brings school children going up against.” to golf courses an innovative environmental Some additional challenges are unique to the golf course management indusand STEM (Science, Technology, Engineertry. The average tenure of a superintendent is now 17 years, which has steadily ing and Math) education outreach program. risen since 2003, when the average was 12 years. As the current generation In addition, GCSAA is working closely with of superintendents age, they aren’t being replaced with equal numbers behind the Future Farmers of America to introduce them. In a survey conducted by GCSAA, educators in collegiate turf programs turfgrass science to the agriculture curricuwere asked how their enrollment numbers have changed in the last five years. lum for high school students. The responses showed that 54 percent of turf programs have seen lower enrollLabor is also a key issue of GCSAA’s advoment in the last five years, while an additional 23 percent had stayed the same. Factors cacy efforts on Capitol Hill, with the associacontributing to the lower enrollment include a decrease in turfgrass faculty, increased tion continuing to support expansion of the tuition and lower entry-level salaries. Even those positions in the industry that don’t reH-2B visa program, which brings temporary quire a college degree are adding to the labor woes, as 74 percent of superintendents foreign workers to areas unable to fill posireport that it is more difficult to retain hourly crew members than ever before. tions with domestic labor. B R “As a supervisor, you now have to work as hard on labor as you do on agronomy and managing your budget. It’s hard,” said GCSAA member Matt Shaffer, RESOURCES retired director of golf course operations at Merion Golf Club in Boalsburg, Pa. “You have to be fluid and change with the times.” Some key resources for labor solutions include: While the industry is facing labor shortages, labor costs continue to rise, with a five percent rise in labor expenditures at golf courses from 2016-2018. Simply throwing money at the problem won’t solve it, and as many as 69 percent of golf courses aren’t able to increase their budgets for hourly employees. CREATIVE SOLUTIONS However, GCSAA and its members are finding new ways to stay competitive in the labor market and appeal to the next generation of golf course workers. Some of the non-traditional labor pools superintendents are tapping into include seasonal foreign workers, students from career technical schools and older workers that are looking for a second career in their retirement.

To watch the entire “Help Wanted” session from the 2019 Golf Industry Show and for more information and resources to deal with labor shortages, visit career/career-tips/secure/staffing-solutions. MAY/JUNE 2019 | BOARDROOM




Dave Doherty is president/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:

Aerification and Science Aerification without science is a high-risk exercise, which is not tolerable in today’s world of high maintenance and high-performance greens. Aerification into greens, tees or fairways, without knowing what you are aerifying into, is a gamble that is no longer acceptable. Proper aerification based on science can and normally does result in a decrease of monies spent on chemicals and allows for better use of water. Without knowing what you are aerifying into, you cannot answer any of the following questions and will in most cases waste valuable resources. Balancing physical properties through aerification: 1. How often should I aerify? 2. How deep should I go? 3. What size tine should I use? 4. What size spacing between tines? 5. Should I use hoollows or solids? 6. Should I fill the holes or should I leave them open? 7. If I fill the holes, what should I fill them with? Once you know the physical properties that you are considering aerifying, these questions answer themselves. Here at ISTRC we’ve worked with over 2,000 different golf courses over many years and have analyzed the physical properties of over 15,000 greens, including organic matter and particle size analysis in one-inch increments of each green analyzed. I know of no greens that have regressed over that period when the agronomic program was based on science and not guesstamating.

The first question that needs to be asked is: Why we are thinking of aerifying, what are we trying to accomplish? Without a starting point or benchmark of the physical properties of what we are considering aerifying into we are operating in a world of ignorance. Once we know what we have for physical properties based on science, we can determine if we need to aerify, and the amount of material that we need to displace over the next 12 months with our hollow core aerifying. It’s important to understand the aging of a green from the day we seed, sod or sprig. Grass plants/turf breathe oxygen in through their root system and deposit CO2. We must have enough air pores (the larger spaces between solids) in our root zone to have an adequate supply of oxygen for our turf to breathe properly. SEE GREEN COMMITTEE | 100










William Nauroth, GCSAA & CGIA is co-owner/president of Golf Maintenance Solutions a leading golf course maintenance and consulting company. Bill can be reached at 1-602363-3242 or via email:

Breathe Some Life Back into Your Older Irrigation System As board members, you understand all the competing demands and costs associated with maintaining your club. Everywhere you turn there is another item that needs to be put onto the capital budget list or is turning into DEFCON 4. The irrigation system remains one of those items that becomes easier to put off or kick down the road as the cost to replace can scare even an immortal man to death. Most irrigation system irrigate anywhere from 60 acres to over 200 acres of turf and need constant attention to function as it was designed. So, golf courses that depend on overhead irrigation for turf coverage usually are a good indication of how much attention the system will receive. These courses normally have a person on the staff (irrigation tech) just to handle repairs and maintenance along with the superintendent and assistant. Courses that use the system more as a supplement to get through the drier periods of the season still need to be able to keep the irrigation system performing as designed. Too often I see courses start to let their system slide in hopes saving labor money (not having a qualified irrigation technician) or in hopes of getting a chance at a newer system. So, you find yourself at the door step of another summer fast approaching and the long-range forecast is for the heat to start early and stay longer with below average rain fall. You are praying with the other members the irrigation system that has been showing its age lately can get the course through another year without any major repairs. Your superintendent has been pushing for a new system, but in today’s world this can be anywhere from $1 million to over $2 million dollars. Have faith, there are things you can do that will help give you and your superintendent a fighting chance. By performing preventative maintenance and identifying specific replacement items, an aging irrigation system can still function at its design efficiency. Here are some quick tips to keep your system functioning at a high level. Performing a quick audit is the best way to see what areas of the system are in need of repair (sprinklers, nozzles, leveling heads, piping, pumps, control, etc.). 1) Gathering information from the field. a) This entails taking two or four field controls on the course. Start turning on each station to see if the sprinkler head or heads are the right ones on the map, that they come on, they turn properly, any noticeable leaks, any pressure problems and that the heads are set level and flush to the ground. It is important to capture this information on a form that can be used later for developing a comprehensive list of repairs and labor. b) You also want to write down the type of head, check the nozzle type and note the age of the head. c) By doing this you can take a snap shot of what the rest of the system is likely to experience in the future and at the same time generate 82


a good list of items that will need to be done to bring the design efficiency of the irrigation system back. 2) The next check is the pump station or the pressurized source of water. a) If you have a pump station you want to make sure the pump house or area it sits in is clean, secured, organized and the pump station itself looks clean and skid not rusting. b) Pump stations should be serviced a minimum of once a year and you shouldn’t see big leaks or hear weird noises coming from the pumps when operating. It’s the heart of the irrigation system and you need to make sure it’s operating as close to 100 percent as possible. c) Notice how frequently the pumps cycle on and off when no water is flowing as that tells you how tight the system is and can indicate you have leaks. If it’s over 45 minutes to one hour is good. Remember – an irrigation system is a controlled leak! d) Put your hand on the motor or close to the pump. Is there excessive wobbling or shaking? If so this is an indicator that a bearing may be starting to fail. e) If you receive water that is pressurized then you want to check the pressure reducing value (PRV) to make sure its operating correctly along with the flow meter to insure you are not getting charged the wrong amount. 3) Lastly the control system of the irrigation system. Some have a computerized control or central control and some operate from field controls (satellites). a) Field controllers you will want to make sure the cabinets are clean of insects and any other creatures that can hurt the electronic components. DependSEE NAUROTH - GREEN COMMITTEE | 100

BRUCE R. WILLIAMS Bruce R. Williams, CGCS is international marketing manager for Grigg Bros./Brandt and a past president of GCSAA. He can be reached at:


Ways of the Future Where are clubs going to find employees for the many positions on the increased beyond just the premier golf courses and they are now sought after by thousands of courses golf course? each year. Simply putting an ad out for interns is no At the recent Golf Industry Show, in San Diego, this ongoing conlonger a sure thing to attract people to your facility. cern for clubs stood out as one of the hottest topics. While there is no single solution for the challenges that face golf courses, there Several things that will attract interns include: are several different options to look at in the years ahead. • Housing Many states have raised the minimum wage requiring double • Fair hourly wage digit increases in entry level wages. While this may help attract • Formal training programs entry level labor it also creates major problems for courses trying • Track record of placing interns after employment to increase budgets by something close to the Consumer Price Index of approximately three percent. The State of California If you don’t have housing, then be creative. requires that minimum wage and living wage move up to $15 per Often one can find nearby university housing hour by 2020. With some courses paying just $12 an hour that available when school is out and interns are means a 25 percent increase. needed…a perfect fit. Several courses I work Superintendents normally have approximately 60 percent of with offer apartments nearby and they can be their budget in labor. So, it makes sense if you can control your used for not only golf course staff but clubhouse labor you can control your budget. With hefty hourly pay inemployees as well. creases it will mean developing new strategies to keep budgets in Also remember that if you have a true intern check. Several of the ideas that were discussed are worth considprogram it goes beyond just showing up for a job ering in the years ahead. each day. There should be formal training involved and some time for the employees to learn PART-TIME EMPLOYEES new skills and discuss the science of turfgrass When it comes to accomplishing tasks on the golf course, it’s all management and how it fits into practical applicaabout man-hours and productivity. Most operations look at full tions on the golf course. time positions to meet their needs. Yes, we surely need full time Golf courses that have developed meaningful staff but there are other options. programs have prospered even with turf school Consider having a core of full-time employees that come in enrollment declines. Remember that your interns at 6 a.m. Add a large group of part-time employees that can be are great candidates for second and first assistant highly productive before play starts, during the 6 to 10 a.m. period. After 10, productivity is significantly lessened and a reduc- positions down the road at your facility. tion in staffing makes sense. After 3 p.m., there are few golfers at many facilities, so this is a good time to increase staffing with part-time people. Tasks such as mowing fairways and rough can be accomplished with minimal player interference, hence higher productivity.


A few years ago, we saw the launch of some robotic mowers for golf greens. Some mowers are now in their second generation and field studies have shown a reasonable return on investment for the units to pay for themselves. As labor costs go INTERNS There has been a trend for golf courses to advertise for intern po- up, I’d anticipate that more facilities will not only buy these machines but we may just see some fairsitions for the summer months. Summer is usually high season for most parts of the U.S. It’s the busiest time of the year and we need way units in the not too distant future. Spray rigs get more sophisticated each year. all hands-on deck for not just mowing and course setup, but more Newer units have the ability to only turn on nozzles technical work such as spraying and pest management. within a designated GPS field to avoid overspray. However, the supply of available interns has lessened as turf schools, since 2009, have lower enrollments. Demand for interns has SEE WILLIAMS - GREEN COMMITTEE | 100 MAY/JUNE 2019 | BOARDROOM


NANCY BERKLEY Nancy Berkley is an expert on women’s golf and junior girls golf. Nancy shares news and her opinions about women’s golf on the, and on her own websites: and You can also follow Nancy on Facebook at and on Twitter @NancyBerkley.


Women Welcome Here Don’t Miss This Market

Women increasingly influence purchase decisions and that includes the decision to join a golf club. The good news is that women and girls continue to show an interest in playing golf. The combination of increased purchasing power by women coupled with an interest in golf presents a real opportunity for golf clubs. Don’t miss this market. Here are a few tips that will impress prospective women members and send the message “Women Welcome Here.” The combination of increased purchasing power by women coupled with an increased interest in golf presents a real opportunity for golf clubs. Don’t miss this market. Here are a few tips that will impress prospective women members and send the message “Women Welcome Here.”

1. Offer a personal tour of the course. When a prospective women member visits your club – with or without a spouse – think beyond the dining room! If she plays golf or is interested in learning, ask your head golf professional or senior golf professional to provide a tour of the course or courses. The tour should include an explanation of the unique features of the course, the sets of tees for different playing abilities and introduce the pro shop and teaching staff. Put out the welcome mat! A really great welcome would be to provide a “member-buddy” for her first months of membership. 2. Show off your women’s locker room, bulletin boards and provide a women’s golf newsletter. Although more and more golf clubs send newsletters via email, printed newsletters – even if just printouts of email newsletters – serve an important purpose. Remember: Prospective members do not receive the club’s golf emails! In addition to the standard list of previous women’s tournaments and winners, newsletters for prospective members could include: Meet our new member(s), golf tips from the pro, message from our women’s golf president, club tournament results, Upcoming LPGA Tour tournaments with local TV times, and what’s new in the pro shop. The women’s newsletter should shout: “Women Welcome Here.” 3. Offer short and fun golf programs for women golfers: Here are two I recommend: • Schedule short group lessons at the putting green, short game practice area or the range. Always begin with introductions – especially introducing a new member to the group. Some clubs may even want to extend the invite to guests of members after breakfast or before lunch. But, keep it simple! TopGolf found that women’s participation in their lesson programs increased significantly when they were organized as group lessons rather than individual lessons. • Offer a three-hole scramble – golf with a pro. A good group lesson (especially for new golfers or those without a handicap) is a three-hole scramble supervised by one of your golf professionals. The scramble allows everyone to have a tee shot and a variety of other shots. And the instructor has a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate a teaching skill and style. After a new member experiences these group lessons, she will be ready for organized play and probably more lessons. What’s most important is that she will feel welcome!



4. #InviteHER to a Watch Party. The LPGA established a #inviteHER campaign in 2019. It’s perfect for new members or prospective members. The campaign reminds women to spread the word that golf is fun and social by inviting friends to play golf. But instead of playing golf, the format is to watch golf on TV. Here’s how to organize it: Pick an important LPGA or USGA women’s event that is televised and make arrangements to have the tournament recorded and played on a television in a larger room (with some snacks, of course). Then #inviteHER – old members, new members, guests, prospective members – to watch the tournament with a golf professional on hand! The key is that the professional can stop the TV and talk about a shot just played or one about to be played. (And even scroll through the ads!) Members can ask lots of questions in this fun, friendly “Women Welcome Here” event. 5. Develop and offer golf programs for children and teens. Nothing beats golf with your family! Teaching golf to children is a special skill. Make sure you assign a seasoned instructor who knows how to safely teach children. Safety is key!! The newest line of golf carts includes seat belts. But seat belts can always be installed by a local golf cart dealer. Check with your local PGA or LPGA professionals in the area who work with the LPGA Girls Golf, First Tee or PGA Junior League programs for advice. For very young children, look at The Little Golf Train™ program developed by my golf colleague, Dr. Patricia R. Donnelly. If you have a motivated golf course superintendent who likes children, consider the new STEM program designed to teach science on the golf course (see –managed by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America). But… the most important advice: Nothing reveals more about how women-friendly a golf club is than whether or not women are represented on the governing board and on the major golf


committees – not just the women’s golf committee. If your club is tradition-bound and men dominate the decision making, your club has a special challenge in establishing a “Women Welcome Here” environment. It’s time for a change. Why not lead it? You don’t want to miss this market opportunity. B R



JOHN R. EMBREE John Embree is CEO at the United States Professional Tennis Association and can be reached via email:

The Four Ps Augment Your Tennis Program These are challenging times for private clubs, particularly country clubs. It is no secret that golf is waning, Baby Boomers are aging out and Millennials would rather try different activities than make the huge financial commitment to join a club. Making tennis an anchor for your club is sensible on so many levels. Tennis industry leaders have worked hard to make the game more appealing to all ages: smaller courts with modified equipment for young kids, shorter scoring formats for adults, gender-neutral play occasions, team competitions, just to name a few. It is worth mentioning that cardio tennis (incorporating fitness workouts on the tennis courts with music) is one of the fastest growing fitness activities in America! If your tennis facility is not embracing some or all of these activities, then you are clearly missing out. In addition, there are several other new sports that are getting a strong foothold in the market that are off-shoots of tennis. Maybe you have heard of the Four Ps – pickleball, platform tennis, padel and POP tennis, or maybe only one of them? Each of these activities can augment your tennis program and keep members coming back to your facility. Pickleball is a tsunami that’s captivating to not only senior players but folks of all ages. If your senior members have not inquired about implementing pickleball at your club, get ready. Pickleball has over three million players in America and is growing by leaps and bounds each year. One of the selling points of pickleball is that it is highly social by nature. Participants, mostly seniors, flock to the courts and don’t mind sitting for a round of play until it is their turn to step on the court. Players rotate on and off the court during a two to three-hour period. If they are not playing, there is plenty of time to engage with others. Pickleball is now seen as complementary to tennis as tennis court time can be filled when it 86


is typically not in high demand. Golfers who desire another outlet at their club see pickleball as a viable option and seniors who have either stopped playing tennis because of injury or fitness can satisfy their craving for a more active pursuit by joining a pickleball program. If you are considering pickleball as an option at your club or facility, you ought to be aware of possible drawbacks. The plastic whiffle ball used in pickleball is tremendously loud when hit with a pickleball paddle. If a pickleball court is anywhere near a tennis court and both sports are being played at the same time, the noise from the pickleball court can be a big distraction for the tennis players. Be prepared for tennis player backlash. Secondly, injuries are inherent in the game. Players who are not physically fit, have trouble with balance, or who struggle with simple athletic movements are more likely to have a multitude of leg injuries, such as torn leg muscles, ankle injuries and wrist or arm injuries as players break their falls when stumbling. Senior players are prone to these injuries so if you intend to create a pickleball program, be prepared. Whereas pickleball has just come on the scene in the last 10-15 years, platform tennis has been around for decades. Originally started in the northeast by tennis players before indoor tennis was an option, they sought to play a game outdoors in the winter that incorporated aspects of tennis and squash. Thus, platform tennis was born. While the northeast and mid-west are the hotspots, the sport is seeing growth in the south, Denver and northern California. The season typically runs from October through March and provides surprising cardio benefits, even when played in the dead of winter. Why is it called platform tennis? Because the court is constructed on a platform above ground level so that propane heaters can be installed below the court surface in order to melt the snow and ice. As crazy as it sounds, Chicago now boasts the largest single league of men and women playing with over 5,000 players. Hard core players think platform tennis is the best game on the planet. It is incredibly social (because of the proximity of all the players on a small court that is enclosed by a taught chicken wire fence), physically demanding at the higher levels and incredibly strategic. Platform tennis courts are expensive ($100,000- $120,000 per court) but that pales when you consider that the best facilities in the country have a paddle “hut” that serves as a warming escape. Truth be told, these buildings are no longer bare cabins with heaters as they were 20-25 year ago. Rather, they are large clubhouses boasting kitchens and full-service bars, adorned with televisions and fireplaces, locker rooms and showers plus expansive viewing of the courts. It has amazed me to see one club try and outdo their competition down the street with the most lavish and beautiful building but that is what the

consumer demands. If done correctly, the club will be able to create an entire new membership activity that is self-sustaining and extremely active. Padel is not yet a big sport in the USA but it is coming. I was shocked to learn that there are almost twice as many padel players in Spain as there are tennis players. In addition, padel courts out number tennis courts by almost two to one. Stand-alone padel clubs are thriving and most tennis clubs have more padel courts than tennis courts. Born out of South America (Argentina), Spain is now the padel capital of the world. The game is seeing massive growth in Europe and it won’t be long before padel gets a foothold in the USA. There are only 20 courts in America right now but new padel centric facilities are on the drawing boards in various locations. Many clubs are evaluating the feasibility of building padel courts to augment tennis. Like platform tennis, the padel court is smaller in size, aluminum in structure but enclosed by glass walls. A new U.S. court manufacturer is coming on-line and beginning production of padel courts and the price tag is not as steep as a platform court. Unlike platform tennis which is almost exclusive to winter play, padel can be played year-round, whether it be outdoors or indoors. Like pickleball and platform tennis, there is a strong social component to the game which contributes to its success.

Finally, POP tennis is getting traction. Originating from the beaches of southern California, the game began as paddle tennis. However, because of branding confusion with platform tennis (called paddle by its enthusiasts and not to be confused with padel), the leadership of POP thought it would be best to rebrand the game. Besides, the sound that the low compression ball makes when hitting a POP tennis paddle is a popping sound-very distinctive! A more dramatic and strategic change took place several years ago when the leadership took a bold step to alter the size of its court to match those of a 60-foot blended line tennis court. In doing so, POP can now be played on over 30,000 blended-lined courts across the country. What an ingenious way to tap into an incredible infrastructure of ready-made courts! Tennis in today’s world remains a viable family activity that is uniquely positioned to be the cornerstone of a club’s activities for decades to come. Tasked with hiring a competent tennis professional staff that has an acumen for creative programming and is hell bent on providing incredible customer service, tennis can thrive. And now, with the addition of the Four Ps that can enhance a club’s menu of offerings that will keep members coming back to the club on a more frequent basis, the club is destined for success. B R





The letters after our author’s name Michael Crandal, CNG stand for: Certified Nice Guy. Self-certified, by the way. An excerpt from The ABC’s of Plutonium Private Club Leadership ― a 410-page hardbound book co-authored by Michael Crandal, CNG and Gabriel Aluisy. Instantly see several sample chapters at Michael can be reached at (760) 464-6103

What Do You Do with Poor Performers? Poor performers are never unwittingly “rewarded” by plutonium club leaders

Weak leadership avoids confrontation and effectively dealing with poor performers. They are very bad at it. Plutonium private club leaders seek daily opportunities to consistently appreciate and reward great performers. And, they are very good at it! Ripple effects of poor performance can become toxic to the performance of an entire club leadership team, including volunteer and paid! Who would think the poor performers would be unwittingly “rewarded?” Regardless, they oftentimes can be. Here are some examples. • Weak leadership placates them to avoid conflict. Some are happy about that. • Weak leadership tries to play amateur psychologist. They enjoy the attention. • Weak leadership quietly corrects their errors. So, what’s your point? • They are sent away for special training programs. Great! An extra paid vacation! • They are routinely given easier tasks to handle. Gee. That was easy! • Less is expected of them. As long as “satisfactory” is checked, the annual review form is good. Right? No. It’s meaningless. • They get promoted. So, they can become someone else’s problem? • They are given nothing to complain about. The good old “squeaky wheel” tactic. • They continue to have a seat at the table. Perhaps wearing an empty suit? • Top performers are asked to help them complete their work. (Super. Let ‘em.) • They are seldom asked to go the extra mile. (Great! They covet the low mileage.) • They get an annual across-the-board annual salary increase. (Poor performance has not been formally documented. So, they are entitled to at least that annual cost of living increase. Right?) Of course, if the poorest performers are being unwittingly rewarded, the highest performers are simultaneously being unintentionally punished. How could that be? • Leadership spends little time with them. Because they perform with little or no direct supervision.) • They are expected to work harder and faster. Because they always meet expectations — don’t they? • They may feel taken for granted. Because they never complain that they need anything. • They may get fewer opportunities for ongoing professional training. They’re just too productive to be sent away! Hey – they are carrying the team) • Additional or unfinished work from others lands on their desk. They can handle it. • They are subject to higher expectations than poor performers. Both lists could go on and on, and if they do … Q: What might rewarded poor performers think about the top performers? A: Most will think they are fools. Behind the scenes there will be collective smirks. Q: What might punished top performers think about themselves? A: A few may ultimately also begin to think of themselves as fools. There will be fewer smiles. 88


If not dealt with, two scenarios have the chance to play out: 1. The weakest performers will plan on being «rewarded» with a job where they can hang around for years, just as long as that “satisfactory” box is checked annually. (Hmmm, perhaps breeding ground for “sacred cows?” 2. The strongest performers will ultimately take their talent and career elsewhere. They will go where great leadership appreciates and rewards great performance. (BTW, appreciation should happen every day — not just annually!) If weak performers are somehow allowed to hang around while strong performers move on, what does that leave weak leadership with? This is contrary to the focused mindset of Plutonium Private Club Leaders! In fact, think about it. This is where fertile ground sets the stage for sacred cows that can find comfortable pastures to graze for years! Yes, in an era of “political correctness”, human resources coaching and counseling and proper documentation, there still exists the responsibility of Plutonium Leaders to make the decisions necessary for the team to succeed! To win the Super Bowl! To win the Word Series! They deal with it. They don’t reward poor performers with grazing pasture on their watch. They make the decisions necessary for the team to win. Your highest and greatest responsibility to the team is to decide who is on that team. Plutonium Club Leaders go through whatever process they must, but know what to do with ultimately poor performers. And they appreciate and reward top performers every day. BR

BILL BOOTHE 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 28 years in the club industry Bill has assisted more than 400 private clubs. Bill can be reached at


How Effective Is Your Club’s Technology Support? Determining the true effectiveness of your club’s technology support can be a challenge.

TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT ASSESSMENT – USER EXPERIENCE SURVEY Department/User: ________________________________

Whether you employ one or more technology professionals (about 10 percent of clubs do this) or outsource this service (the other 90 percent), most clubs have very little information on the quality or timeliness of their technology support. By technology support, we mean the following: 1. Managing and providing technical support for the computer network, telephone system, security cameras, gate entry system, Wifi, email and any other technologies employed by the club. 2. Providing desktop support to end users throughout the club, and 3. Anticipating new technologies and planning for the future. Very few clubs perform an annual evaluation of their technology support. Instead, they depend upon complaints from individual users to gauge the effectiveness of that service. However, depending upon employee complaints is not enough. Often employees are reluctant to report support issues for these reasons: • Employees may feel intimidated by technology professionals, who sometimes blame “user error” when there are other causes of systems problems • Employees may believe that if they complain about technology support, they will be “punished” by the technology professional and receive a lower level of support as a result • Employees may believe that their experience is isolated to them, not knowing that the problems they are having are occurring throughout the club. Here’s the good news: There’s an easy way to evaluate your club’s technology support. Simply distribute a brief and confidential survey to your employees. We have used an employee survey for many club clients over the years and it has worked quite well. Survey questions are at the top.

(Rating Scale: 1 = strongly agree; 2 = moderately agree; 3 = moderately disagree; 4 = strongly disagree; 5 = no opinion)

1. The technology operating environment for my department is stable (no crashes, processing slowdowns, system failures). ____ (1-5) Comments or explanation ___________ 2. I rarely have issues with technology support. ____ (1-5) Comments or explanation ___________ 3. There are no challenges/issues with technology support that need to be resolved. ____ (1-5) Comments or explanation ___________ 4. When I need technology support, my requests are responded to in a timely manner. ____ (1-5) Comments or explanation ___________ 5. When technology issues arise, there is effective communication regarding the status of the service requests I have made. ____ (1-5) Comments or explanation ___________ 6. There is generally a positive response when I communicate my future technology needs. ____ (1-5) Comments or explanation ___________ 7. I feel encouraged to suggest new technologies that may benefit our club. ____ (1-5) Comments or explanation ___________

So why guess about the effectiveness of your club’s technology support. Find out by issuing the survey and compiling the results! B R



RUSSELL MILLER Russell Miller General Manager Dana Point Yacht Club. He can be reached via email:


Drive to Membership Cap Marks The Revival of Dana Point Yacht Club In 2014 Dana Point Yacht Club faced a litany of issues after years of mismanagement, including a low membership count, decreasing revenues, unhappy staff and dissatisfied, aggravated members. In addition, all the typical tools for recruitment, retention and revenue generation were at best, antiquated and at worst, non-existent. The club survived the difficult years through the efforts of a core group of members, passionate and dedicated enough to convince others to join through sheer force of will. Our successful turn-around came from creating a supportive work environment for our staff, updating every facet of the club, developing a value system to guide our decision-making process, and, most importantly, establishing a home away from home or “third place” for our members. In order to transform DPYC into a third place for members, we first had to build and foster our relationship with the staff. You can buy a person’s labor with a paycheck, but their passion and loyalty are volunteer only, much like our membership. To accomplish this, we operate on the principle that shared IQ is our greatest strength. Dana Point Yacht Club is a boundaryless organization where good ideas come from anywhere, from the employee break room to the board room. You can pay your employees for their hands and get their minds for free



if you create an environment where ideas are championed, and they feel ownership. This open and supportive system encourages our employees to be the best and most interesting versions of themselves. In return, our members welcome them as part of the Dana Point Yacht Club family. Equally as necessary as developing a strong rapport with our staff was upgrading the club itself. Not only did we refurbish many areas of the clubhouse including restoring our floors, installing a new bar in our dining room and replacing outdated furniture, we also modernized our club logo, redesigned our website, launched a mobile app and simplified our mission statement. We took advantage of industry tools such as Club Benchmarking to help us track and develop key performance indicators, which gave us the confidence to make very difficult decisions with clarity. Furthermore, we’ve added more progressive events to our club calendar including babysitting nights for our younger families, craft beer and liquor tastings, and Tech Tuesdays, to educate members about our digital platforms. Today we want to change before we have to. Every day we challenge ourselves to be the business that would steal our entire membership, if only it existed. Beyond that, at Dana Point Yacht Club, we embrace and thrive on the philosophy that our business will live or die by the member reactions that we create. We have also learned that we get a considerable return on tomorrow dollars if we are willing to give up some today dollars. This fits perfectly with our business model where people are looking for value in return for dues. We recently added a program to our lineup that we call “Building Value through Positive Reactions”, designed to let our membership know how much we appreciate them while having a little fun in the process. Recently on the Friday before Easter, we had a pop-up, adult Easter egg hunt, where we gave

away a ticket to Easter Brunch, bottles of wine, free entrées, etc. We also put out a Facebook post in the morning that says, “Thanks for being a member, today your first happy hour drink is on us!” and the list goes on. These seemingly small acts of appreciation cultivate an engaged membership eager for the next event. And some of the ideas come from floor staff. Aside from these new, fun experiences to involve our membership, we strive to treat every person that comes through our front door like a local celebrity. We try to live by Mary Kay’s famous phrase, “Treat everyone like they have a sign around their neck that reads ‘make me feel important.’” Ask questions, learn their story, and always, call them by their name. Our members can go anywhere else if they want to be treated like a faceless wallet, but they come to our club because we treat them like they deserve to be treated, special. Our current Commodore, Phil Herzfeld, tells a story to new members that he and his wife used to come to the club, have dinner, and be out the door in an hour. After being members for 12 years, that routine takes well over two hours because of all the people they must stop and say ‘hi’ to both while they dine, as well as on their way out. Fostering this piazza effect makes our members feel important and welcomed and encourages them to come back day after day … and they do. It is a powerful thing to deliver an excellent experience through the eyes of the member. In fact, it’s the main reason we’re here, right? Five years ago, Dana Point Yacht Club’s future didn’t look that bright. However, through implementing all these actions,

which stemmed from our belief of creating positive reactions amongst our members each and every time they chose to come to DPYC, we are now just shy of our 500-member cap. Our club’s gross revenues have tripled, and our initiation fee has increased 600 percent. We had 11 employees when this journey began and are fortunate enough today to have over 50. Most importantly however, we went from being a place where, to quote one member, “You could fire a cannon off and not hit a single person”, to a club overflowing with smiling faces. We have created an environment that is conducive to the lives of our members and something that they can feel special being a part of. After all, “private clubs afford members more than just a lifestyle, they provide a sense of identity and purpose allowing them to belong to something bigger than themselves.” BR

rill G e h T e k i L hef Does Your C ing? s U y l t n e r r They Are Cu

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Club Strives for Sustainability with the Hefty® EnergyBag® Program Champions Run in Omaha, Nebraska has become the first club na- course restrooms and at the tennis courts. The effort was rolled out on the club’s news channel, which is run tionwide to participate in the Hefty® EnergyBag® Program. by the club’s junior members. The club partnered with their local sanitation company to help Members and employees separate and dispose of convert otherwise unusable plastics and waste into valuable waste accordingly, placing plastic straws, cups and candy products and energy sources. The program is part of the club’s wrappers – items that can’t be recycled – into the oroverall move toward sustainable practices, which also include ange bins. “As the first club in the country to participate, composting and waste reduction. Fittingly, they rolled out the we take pride in the steps we’ve taken to go green,” said initiative on Earth Day. Lorenzen about their efforts to achieve a greener waste Recycling plants only accept certain types of plastics for remanagement program. cycling and the remainder often ends up in a landfill. Burning Members were thrilled to learn that their club was waste in an incinerator can create usable energy from waste that making strides to go green, using an innovative and suswould otherwise end up in a landfill. Some things can live a new tainable way to capture the value of plastic waste that life as a component of concrete in roadworks, for example. would otherwise end up in a landfill. In addition to recyTo launch the program, Champions Run purchased 55-gallon cling paper, glass and cardboard, the Hefty Energy Bag bins and introduced them throughout the club. Unique to this Program offers the club’s members an opportunity to program were orange containers, which were lined with orange recycle almost 100 percent of the products they use. The Hefty brand bags and placed throughout the club, along with biggest change, around the pool, happened when junior their blue and black counterparts. The bins cost about $100 members took to the program enthusiastically. each, and they were fitted with custom-made lids. Orange bin contents are sent to Kansas City, Missouri “We had custom covers made for them that indicated what and converted into either usable products or energy. types of items should be thrown into each,” said Ben Lorenzen, a Waste-to-energy conversion programs use incineration self-described chief memory officer (CMO) who runs the club’s to create energy that can be used for other purposes. For robust youth programming. The detailed list of possibilities that more information, and to implements the Hefty Energy Bag can go into each bin type helps members understand and get on Program at your club, please visit BR board with the program. Accessible in both public areas and back of the house locations, the containers are placed in the pool area, near the golf



MEGHAN THIBAULT Meghan Thibault, Innovative Ideas editor, is a professional writer and communicator with a passion for storytelling. A writer at heart, Thibault has been involved in the hospitality and club industry in Canada, the Caribbean and Hawaii. She is currently a member and on the membership committee, at Mid-Pacific Country Club in Kailua, HI. To submit an idea or story for this section, please email

Mass Notification Apps

Tools to Keep Your Members Safe & Informed With the Atlantic hurricane season just around the corner – beginning on June 1st and running through November 30th each year – many clubs now have risk management and updated hurricane action plans on their agenda. Houston Racquet Club knows a thing or two about disaster preparedness. Located just 60 miles from Galveston and the Gulf of Mexico, and even closer to inland waterways fed by the Gulf, the club has experienced a few hurricanes in its 54-year history. In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey dealt the city of Houston a serious blow, making landfall nearby as a Category 4 storm. Always seeking new ways to improve communications with both employees and members, the club introduced a mass notification system to get timely messages to its staff and membership from any internet-connected device. When disaster strikes, the Houston Racquet Club is prepared! The club implemented a new alerting system and mobile app available to all employees and members, so they can be made aware of any imminent emergency situations, severe weather or disasters. With safety and well-being in mind, the club launched the new value-added service to provide accurate information to all its constituent groups. The club’s new emergency notification system delivers fast, timely

and efficient communication and can send alerts of any potential safety threat to Houston Racquet Club employees and members in just two clicks. The club can now transmit important, and possibly life-saving information in a matter of seconds. A visit to Apple’s App Store or a Google search yields multiple options for clubs looking for the right app to fit your needs. Hint: We googled “apps that send emergency alerts via text to large groups” and came up with plenty of options. B R





MEGHAN THIBAULT Meghan Thibault, Innovative Ideas editor, is a professional writer and communicator with a passion for storytelling. A writer at heart, Thibault has been involved in the hospitality and club industry in Canada, the Caribbean and Hawaii. She is currently a member and on the membership committee, at Mid-Pacific Country Club in Kailua, HI.

Pampering Programs for Pint-Sized Members Attracting young families is one means of keeping a healthy pipeline of new and future members. While many clubs create youth programming focused on sports, some clubs are looking to entertain kids using outof-the-box thinking. Art classes, kids’ news programs and now spa programming incorporate appealing options for the club’s youngest members. St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida is finding new ways to keep young members occupied and happy, using part of the facility that’s not typically considered a kids’ space – the spa. A new pampering package for parents (or grandparents) looking to spend some quality and fun time with little ones is delighting their youngest club members. The club’s Pamper Me and My Mini Me salon experience includes a manicure and mini pedicure, as well as a headband and cookie decorating session in the club’s spa. Kids get to bejewel their headbands with flowers and gems and



their cookies with icing and candies. After their spa treatments with their parent or guardian, junior members leave with a complimentary goodie bag. The club’s program has taken off through word-ofmouth and social media buzz, as parents and grandparents alike have posted adorable pics of their “Mini Me” getting their nails or toes painted, or having fun using their decorating artistry. The program, which has also been promoted through the club’s newsletter, is spawning future spa-goers and pampered, happy members. BR

from Cover Story | 36

Such has been the case for Darcy Mellen-Sullivan, Jack’s wife, who passed away a year ago following a long battle with breast cancer. “When Darcy had her first bout of cancer and had finished her last of her chemotherapy, I needed to be at a reception. But 30 of Darcy’s club management friends were there to greet her when the chemo session was over,” Sullivan related. Darcy’s breast cancer had recurred after seven years of remission. “At her Celebration of Life in April 2018, 300 club management friends from all over the state were there,” related Sullivan. Teri Seabrook, a former club manager herself and wife of Michael Seabrook, now general manager at Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville, TN, was one of those close friends. “I first met Darcy in 2005 in Naples at a club managers’ Christmas dinner,” Teri related recently. The friendship blossomed. “We had just moved to Naples and always had a close group of club manager friends. This was our first opportunity to meet any of them and we really hit it off. “Our house was a gathering place for the holidays and generally we’d have 35-40 people…managers and families. It was a great way for all of the spouses to get together while others were working. Often they would join us after work and Jack and Darcy were always the kind of matriarch from Executive Committee | 44

tor is in committee meetings once a month to discuss the dress codes, pace of play and the price of a hot dog at the snack bar, little time or energy remains for transformational, generative thinking. Secondly, the board meets six or less times annually, reflecting corporate best practice. Less but more productive and substantive meetings attract a broader base of volunteers to board service, resulting in the opportunity for service from more highly qualified members, instead of relying primarily on those members who’s first qualification is available time. Lastly, in the corporate hybrid governance model, all managers in the club report directly to the COO/CEO. Legally, this reporting structure protects directors, members and the club. It also mitigates the inherent conflict of interest all too common in clubs where employee grievances are addressed at the bar, on the tennis court or on the golf course. Professionals and directors who have spent any time in the private club industry can likely recount incidents they would rather forget, and in many instances, the legal ramifications of those incidents. Members often forget the responsibility to provide a workplace free of harassment and hostility and how the membership and governance in clubs

and patriarch…they were a smidge older and Jack was always the one to carve the turkey…a very ceremonial kind of thing,” Seabrook added. “We had a great 60th birthday party for Darcy. Everyone rallied together just after her cancer treatments…the birthday was icing on the cake,” Seabrook added. “Darcy was a special part of my life for 47 years,” Sullivan intoned. “She had her own very successful career, but she would always modify her career for me…and that’s more than a spouse can ask for. She would do whatever it took to support me in my position, and she worked so hard with other spouses. “She was inspirational, spurring whatever action was necessary to support the general managers’ spouses but she also cared about their well being… their nurturing.” The camaraderie is, as St. Andrews’ GM Martin says: “What Jay DiPietro and many others, who have stepped into leadership roles for the Florida chapter of the CMAA, have created is envied around the country. “We hear it from our friends who have left the area to pursue other club positions around the country. They often share the story that the comradery in our south Florida section and our chapter especially, is highly unique and distinctly what they miss the most from their tenure in the south Florida area.” B R

can lead to organizational, membership and individual liability, sometimes outside of the club’s D & O insurance. Again, we want to unburden the board with these issues and thus free up time on the board agenda for focusing on how to contribute in meaningful ways to the organization they love. As the liaison to the board and the leader of the management team, the responsibility and accountability for many of the strategic and policy issues naturally falls to the COO/ CEO. This doesn’t absolve the board of their fiduciary duty, it merely permits the appropriate contribution from the professionals. This partnership approach, more closely aligns with current corporate governance best practices and provides a platform whereby both the COO/CEO and the board are well positioned to contribute at a higher level on behalf of the family of employees and the membership. This higher-level outcome is not lost on the membership, becomes contagious and attracts even more qualified members to serve in the future. Quality governance, like fine art, fine wine and fine food, once you adopt the better things in life, you don’t want to go backwards. Keep in mind, no thoughtful member would even consider implementing the typical club governance model in their own business. For good reason! B R MAY/JUNE 2019 | BOARDROOM


from Green - Doherty | 80

The roots of our turf deposit organic matter and that organic matter is deposited in our air or larger pores, thus reducing the amount of space available for oxygen. The majority of organic matter is deposited in the top two inches of our root zone. Organic matter deposited by the roots is a good thing. This organic matter is a gift to us from Mother Nature and it does three main positive things: 1. Holds moisture so the plant can cool itself 2. Contains CEC which holds nutrients so the plant can feed itself and 3. Provides food for our soils microbes. Mother Nature is pretty smart. However, after a certain period of time, if we do not control the organic matter build up in our root zone it will reach a level that fills all of our air pores and our plants/turf will stress and die from self-asphyxiation. Excessive organic matter is also very susceptible to compaction, which reduces the ability of our root system to breath and does not allow for effective use of chemicals or water. It’s a waste of our resources. The most effective manner of controlling excessive organic matter and reducing compaction is by aerifying. Both hollow and solid tine applications are effective in keeping a balance of air and water holding pores. Ideally, we want to have a ratio of one to one of air pores to water pores. from Green - Nauroth | 82

ing on the type of field controllers you can check that the displays are visible as well as all the other functions of the face plates. I always want the field controller locked and not left open. b) Central computers should be in a clean, secure, heated/cooled area with limited dust normally in the maintenance facility and with only trained individuals working with it. c) A quick audit of the data in the software (head type, nozzle type, gpm, etc.) against the information we gathered will tell us how much work is needed. Rememfrom Green - Williams | 83

Some superintendents have seen a 20 percent reduction in the materials they spray by using such a system. Again, a short payback on the initial investment for the equipment. Software for the golf maintenance operation improves each year. The ability to schedule and track labor is no longer a hand-written process but can be done via computer and shared with staff daily on a planning board. Equipment preventive maintenance can now be monitored by the number of hours each machine is used, and this can be done by scanning each piece of equipment as it 100


To have healthy turf we must have balanced physical properties based on science. We have many tools available to us to achieve this balance and the first step in achieving this balance is to have a complete physical property analysis performed and let that analysis based on science answer the seven questions we’ve mentioned. Recently some academics have claimed that we no longer need to hollow tine. Based on studying over 15,000 green samples, I strongly disagree. By using smaller hollow tines on closer spacing such as one-quarter inch on 1.5 X 1.5 inch spacing we can eliminate the disruption of play and begin a program of non-disruptive aerification. This chart shows the displacement amounts. In most cases the older turf plant varieties require a yearly displacement of 15 percent to maintain present physical properties of air and water ratios. The newer varieties of grasses require a displacement of around 20 percent displacement a year to maintain present physical properties of air to water ratios. If the physical properties are not presently in balance, the displacement amounts may be more or less than the 15 percent and 20 percent quoted. Based on science, aerification was needed in 99.9 percent of the cases that ISTRC has studied over the years, to maintain a proper ratio of air to water pores. B R

ber over a long period of time nozzles and heads get changed out and impact the operational efficiency and spacing of the original intent of the design. The information you obtain from an irrigation audit will help you understand what the real issues are with your irrigation system and what you have to do to extend the life or if it is time to consider replacement. These are troubleshooting techniques I normally conduct during a full irrigation audit that assists the superintendent towards improving their system and bringing back antiquated and inefficient system back to life. B R

enters and leave the turf care center. Preventive maintenance means longer life for equipment and lower costs for repairs. The future is bright for technology. Labor costs will need to be managed. But by using proper strategies, a facility can transform its operations into Golf Course Management 2020. After all, if you are doing business the same way you were doing business in 2000 you may soon be out of business! B R

GREGG PATTERSON Gregg Patterson is president of Tribal Magic and can be reached via email:


Trust Us Imagine this. The board is proposing a dues increase. They’re saying, “Trust us because we’re doing the right thing.” You’re a 30-year member and are asking yourself (and your drinking buddies) why should we trust THIS board to make the right decision for this club this time??? Imagine this. The general manager is firing the chef. She’s saying, “Trust me because this is the right thing to do.” You’re a 30-year member and are asking yourself (and your drinking buddies) why should we trust THIS manager to make the right decision for this club this time? This “why trust” question is a biggie in clubdom because trust is the “must have” foundation of good governance. Trusting the board and manager to “do the right thing” is critical in cementing the bond between the governors and the governed. Knowing how to get the trust, to strengthen the trust and to keep the trust are fundamental “must knows” for boards and managers. Here’s how………… TRUST TRUISMS – THE STAGES OF TRUST

There are two stages of trust. New boards and new managers are given stage one “tentative” trust – “We don’t have much to go by so we’ll assume you’ll do the right thing for this club because we assume you’ll act in a way consistent with your track record prior to becoming the manager or board member.” Seasoned managers and seasoned boards who’ve been doing manager and board for a while are given stage two “track record” trust – “We know how you’ve acted in the past and we trust that you’ll act that way in the future.” Knowing the stages of trust and knowing the “trust score” for each of these stages are “must knows” for managers and boards. Improving the trust score is critical. Here’s how…………………. TRUST TRUISMS – THE BIG THREE

Trust is built on three simple principles. • Tell lots of people what you’re going to do, why you’re doing it, how you’re going to do it and when you’re going to do it. Give them the plan. Communicate the what, why, why not and when via the scribble (white papers, newsletters, letters from the board) and the yap (walk and talk, committee meetings, forums, one-on-ones, annual meetings). And don’t leave out the scary downside of the decision you’re communicating. 102


• Do what you said you’d do. Carry through with what you said you’d do, and while you’re doing whatever-it-is, keep communicating the what, why, why not and when of what’s happening. If you say you’ll do surveys and hold forums before deciding what to do, do it! If you say that you’ll renovate only ONE room, do it! If you say you’ll lose none of the staff during the renovation, do it! If you run into regulatory hassles with the city, tell ‘em. Do, show and tell! • After you do what you said you’d do, tell LOTS of people that you did what you told ‘em you’d do…then repeat the messaging LOTS. People want to know that you did what you said, that you admitted mistakes, that good things are happening and that you’re moving into the future, stronger and wiser. Want the boot? Ignore THE BIG THREE. TRUST TRUISMS – THE TRUST MINDSET

When it comes to trust, boards and managers need to understand the trust mindset of the membership and staff. Members are smart. Avoid “this-is-way-too-complex-forthem-to-understand” thinking, because members are smart and trust boards and managers who treat them that way. Members care about “what’s happening.” Regardless of their usage patterns, regardless of their age, regardless of the things they enjoy when visiting, all the members care about everything that’s going on at their club because it’s their club! They won’t trust you if you assume otherwise. Members want it simple. Boards and managers need to explain the complex – simply. If they can’t, members won’t trust the decisions being made. Members want to know “what’s happening” before it happens, while it’s happening and after “what’s happening” happens. Everyone wants to be “in the loop” and fully informed from start to finish. Members want to know the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’ of what’s happening. Stakeholders want to know WHY the decision will make the club better, WHY the decision is consistent with the strategic plan and WHY the strategic plan is consistent with the values of the club. Members want PROOF. Trust is tentative until they see that “what-you-said-you-would-do” was done. Do it, show it, tell it. Members want the facts. When facts are denied or withheld, questions arise. More is better.

Members trust those who listen and respond. People trust those who’ll look-them-in-the-eye, listen attentively and respond without flinching. Members trust people they like. Optics matter. People trust likeable types – deservedly or not. Members wants LOTS of examples of trustworthy. Trust needs to be reaffirmed experientially and often, or it evaporates. Lots of decisions and lots of examples are required to grow the trust factor. Members will fill in the holes. If they’re not told the what, the why and the when, members will make up their own whats, whys and when, and won’t trust the delayed whats, whys and whens when eventually given by the board and the manager. Members will trust the board and the manager if the alpha dogs and the queen bees trust the board and the manager. There are “influencers” out there in the membership. If the “influencers” trust you – the big money member or the club champion – they’ll convince others to trust you as well. Members will trust the board and the manager if the staff favorites trust the board and the manager. Staff are the independent “verifiers” of the board and the manager. Members will trust the board if their staff favorites – the pro, the head bartender, the oldest-waitress-onplanet-earth – trust the board and the manager. Members assume you’ll do in the future what you did in the past. Trusted then, trusted now. And trust violations will be remembered for a VERY long time.

Members draw BIG CONCLUSIONS from small decisions. People are inductive thinkers. They’ll take a small decision and draw a BIG conclusion from it. “He said he’d arrive at 10:00 and he didn’t. Can’t trust a character who’s late for an appointment.” Members want transparency. Secrets diminish trust. Tell lots of people lots. Hide nothing and let people know nothing’s been hidden. Members trust board members and managers who hang around with trustworthy people. Members will judge a manager’s or a board member’s trustworthiness by the trustworthiness of the friends and associates they keep. Members remember contradictions. Messaging consistency cultivates trust. Telling one group one thing and another group another diminishes trust. Members need continuous messaging. The what, the why, the how and the when are trusted when repeated endlessly. Trust is built with these Trust Truisms. Want the boot? Ignore the Trust Mindset. START BUILDING

Trust is fragile. When the truisms are ignored, motives will be questioned, suspicions will arise, roadblocks will appear, plans will be canceled, relationships will die, clubs will perish and jobs will be lost. So…know how a trust culture is created. Understand how a trust culture can be lost. Act right. Consistently. Become trustworthy. And enjoy the journey… B R


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from Publisher’s Perspectives | 10

“Safety is a concern to everyone these days given the reality of mass shootings virtually daily and commonplace. WE, as stewards to our clubs, and with care to protect our members must look into integrating security measures and systems that are drilled often for handling any crisis. “We want members to feel SAFE at their club and know we are adhering to strict enforcement of their well-being,” Martin added. Frank Gore, chief analyst with BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs enumerates several reasons why private clubs will be more relevant in the future, and safety again is first and foremost. “A private club is a safe place for members and their family. In this day and age security is becoming a more and more significant factor in the lives of the American consumer,” Gore expressed. But there are other needs that must be met.

lives of their members. They provide what their members want even before they ask. In this ever-increasing world of impersonalization a private club is just the opposite,” Gore explained. In Rob DeMore’s opinion, the “basic need to belong” has never changed, “and they’re (member-owned clubs) typically are bold enough to use their resources to sustain their own unique culture. “Member-owned clubs just want to make their members happy, no matter what the cost – as long as it doesn’t cost too much. They may live in a constant state of balancing between glutton and glamour but, in the end, the objective to make people happy is ever-guiding,” added DeMore, president of Troon Prive´, the professional club management company. “Member-owned clubs also recognize the role of their facility within their community. Nearly every member-owned club willingly and constantly offers up their venue and cash to support countless local charities, schools, scholar-

It’s suggested that by the time an average person turns 65, they’ll have only two good friends nearby. In Europe, that’s quite different, because the average European has 16 good friends who live nearby. Why? Because Europeans tend not to leave their family or friends. They continue to live in their villages, or close to those areas where they were born and raised. Not so in America. European cities have always had gathering places where people can meet and hang out with all manner of friends...In Greece they call it Agora (the marketplace), in Italy it’s the Piazza and for many other cities, it’s simply the town square. This is something we in America simply don’t have. “The amount of time the American consumer spends online, on their phone and behind a desk or computer is overwhelming, so the need to be with people, especially people of like minds is an ever-increasing need.” In Gore’s opinion, “A private club is the perfect place to have human contact.” And of course, there’s the member experience. “The American consumer is surprised when they get the level of service they expect at a restaurant, hotel, resort, retail outlet etc. A fine private club delivers personalized service that far exceeds anything they experience in the public sector,” Gore added. “Private clubs know all their members, the staff calls them by name, even all family members. They know what their members’ favorite drinks, foods and events are and enjoy. They know their wine drinkers, their cigar smokers, they know their significant anniversary dates of their marriages, their birthdays and their children. “They plan and provide events that are relative to the 104


ship funds, and more. And all stakeholders are treated like one big family, so member-owned clubs look, act, and feel like a family – warts and all,” added DeMore. As we gather and study more the science of aging some topics on longevity are becoming more evident, and will likely have an effect on the private club industry. Matthew Allnatt, general manager of the Los Angeles’ Jonathan Club says, “Studies show that some of the key components to maintaining a healthy brain and life style are: Social interaction; purpose – hobby/interest; diet; friends and reading.” To emphasize his point, Allnatt refers to the studies of Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and author of “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School” — a provocative book about the way our schools and work environments are designed. “Dr. John Medina noted that our bodies can sur➤ vive to 122 years, however our brains are at their

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peak at 22 years of age. Alzheimer’s is one of the fastest growing diseases in the U.S. and these five points above help keep your brain active. “Where do you go for early cross-generational relationships, events, stimulation,” Allnatt queried. “It is our clubs.” “People/members also are looking for frictionless environments … places where things are relevant and convenient. One of the greatest things we can give our members is time back,” added Allnatt. “A round of golf, medical checkups, a car wash, pay your bill with your phone, make a dinner reservation on your phone – Make their lives easy. “Members are becoming more informed and open to change. Enjoy the challenge this offers our clubs – menu, service, brand values and community outreach. Our clubs do not have to be hidden behind the walls of ‘exclusivity.’ So, embrace the community, changing cultures, menu items, new recreational activities,” Allnatt stressed. Still clubs – boards and management – are going to need to be more creative to retain members in our ever-changing society and competitive marketplaces where country clubs continue to struggle with declining golf participation. “Clubs that are successful have become more about lifestyle and are not scared to redirect the way they do business, to retain and attract the next generation of member,” expressed Brett Morris, general manager of the Polo Club of Boca Raton, FL. And clubs must be nimble. “We are constantly going to trade shows to spot new trends and give our members the new and most up-to-date concepts. We take pride in being nimble and avoid paralysis through analysis. Not every decision needs to be slowed down by a committee. If you see something and you think it’s a great value add, then add it. “You are the leader and were hired to be more than just a simple ‘yes man.’ To stay relevant in today’s marketplace takes something that most organizations fear,



and that is change. But you must trust your experience and take chances if you want to stay competitive and ahead of the curve,” Morris stressed. And often that means the member experience must be adapted… for example, dining options. “As clubs adapt and change direction the important factors to future members are offering innovative dining options that compete with outside restaurants. I want my membership to choose the club first over other dining venues outside the gates of our community,” said Morris. “Updated facilities are extremely important as well. To compete with other clubs, you must invest in your organization and create a new welcoming feel to keep your organization fresh. Fitness, health and wellness options should be on the top of the list as added amenities in today’s day and age.” Morris also feels that providing amenities not only for adults, but for children as well is vitally important “because they are your future customers. “Offering business solutions as well creates another avenue for your members to utilize the club. Country Clubs need to be more than just a place to come and play golf. You need to focus on not what worked 20 years ago but focus on what is fresh and current. This also includes relaxed attire for your restaurants. Lastly, is to ensure your members feel that they are getting value at the club for dues paid,” Morris opined. Matthew Linderman, CEO of Boca West Country Club in Boca Raton, FL, feels that for clubs to remain relevant they will need to think outside the ‘club box.’ “What that means is that clubs should not just look to what other hospitality industries like hotels and restaurants are doing or what the latest “top golf trend or concept” is, but what are universities doing? “For example, brain health and brain stimulation are very important to not only current members, but to Baby Boomers, Gen X and even Millennials. What are luxury community developers creating or even municipalities doing with public spaces? What are sports clubs doing with their membership audiences…afternoon Yoga capped off with happy hour,” added Linderman in answering his own question. “You never know where the next exciting wave of ideas is going to come from, but one thing is for certain…the events and experiences that you create at the club will need to be steady and constant. The creation of a ‘series’ of education classes being brought onto ‘campus’ will be very well received. “Being entertained is everything - always has been, but these days Pop up events that are not over the top like galas are more important,” added Linderman.

“Yes, don’t forget to have those mixed into your yearly calendars but you will find that the more that you create with small ‘get togethers’, you will get a bigger bang for your buck that won’t cost a lot. You will need to host many of them with the goal of maintaining demand, sense of community and ‘relationships.’ Members want to know that each week there is something going on. Even with these activities, surveys today also are showing what’s important to private club members today? “Surveys have shown that members value the staff over the amenities by a wide margin. Much of the joy derived from a private club experience is delivered by the club’s staff and leadership,” explained Troon’s DeMore. “Clubhouses are being reimagined to mirror the evolution seen in American livings rooms today – removing walls to expand spaces, featuring bars, and creating singular spaces that encourage both individual and shared usage. The core of country club athletic facilities such as golf, racquet sports, and fitness has modernized at an unprecedented rate this decade so that people can choose whether they want to connect or get away. Modern-day clubs can thrive in today’s society as long as they are willing to provide a setting that encourages connection and values individuality,” DeMore added. “In the last 30 years, we’ve become more technologically connected than any other point in history. But within that same timeframe we’ve become twice as lonely while working twice as hard. Today’s private clubs must simultaneously serve as a sanctuary for family and work, so that people can more efficiently spend each precious moment of time.” So, are there specific aspects about today’s society that are beneficial to a private club’s member experience? Absolutely, and main component is technology with all its benefits and sometimes drawbacks. “Technology has played an integral part in the growth of the hospitality industry and clubs now have so many more platforms to engage and communicate to their members,” explained St. Andrews’ Craig Martin. “Technology will be a key factor in the future success of the club industry. Clubs must constantly be changing and adapting to their members’ needs. If they are not listening and reinventing themselves then their members will seek other clubs who are focused on value return and safety for their time away from home.” For example, technology is having a strong and helpful impact on the Polo Club of Boca Raton. “Society is ever changing and so is the way we communicate,” expressed the Polo Club’s Brett Morris. “We use technology as much as possible to connect with our members. We use a great deal of video on social media as it tells a more compelling story and gets better results for us than text. ➤ MAY/JUNE 2019 | BOARDROOM


from Publisher’s Perspectives | 107

“We have member Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, plus we push messages and emails out so that members are constantly in the know. Video content has become more and more crucial to our marketing success as it allows our members to get a feeling for an event as opposed to a simple blurb with a date and time,” he added. “Additionally, the videos are easy for our members to view on their smartphones. We outsource some of the video production and shoot others in house, but we take marketing very seriously because we know how competitive the marketplace is. “We maintain consistency with our hash tag…we put it on every piece that goes out. The hash tag increases viewership, builds social followers and creates new customers,” Morris added. “If you do not constantly change the way your club operates in this day and age you will be on a fast track to failure. Those clubs that are constantly innovative and are always soliciting feedback and listening to their membership will thrive. “We love data,” Morris confided. “We survey members and are always asking for feedback. We then analyze the information they shared and our department heads meet to discuss the most effective ways to adapt. The most successful leaders in any industry are always looking at the way they run their organizations and making changes to connect with their customers and the club business is no different. “Our members are our greatest commodities. We are the only business in the world where people pay money in advance to do business with us and all we have to do is take care of them…” Boca West’s CEO Linderman also feels clubs must give back to society today. “Philanthropic involvement and activities are driving decisions on where future members want to join! They want to know that their cub is doing the right thing whereas years ago this wasn’t as important. Many successful clubs are starting foundations and this is not a short-term trend,” said Linderman. “What will be important for future members? Something for everyone. The family unit will be close and clubs will need to provide the ‘experience’ for all members of the family,” commented APCD’s Welch. “I think we will see men’s and ladies’ tee times go away and I believe within time, the only division in a club will be the locker rooms/restrooms. Specialty areas, whether a wine room, or a lounge in the gym area will be important so people can be with those they share interests with. 108


“Prevention of security breaches, technology-free zones as well as technology-specific zones within the club also will be important. Clubs need to continuously update and upgrade. Our attention cycle is shorter and shorter. People need to have new activity mixed with some nostalgia to be relevant to everyone,” expressed Welch. And then there’s club governance and in Brett Morris’ opinion, a most important topic. “The last and most important topic to keep your club relevant is effective governance. The relationship between the general manager and the board is key to determine the future of any successful club,” exclaimed Morris. “The board should have a collaborative partnership with its general manager to achieve the highest results. Successful high performing boards have oversight and set policy and hold management accountable for the overall operation, but don’t micromanage the operation. Whether large or small, clubs should be run like a business and decisions that are made should be practical and not emotional.” So, while private clubs today may not need to totally re-invent themselves every day, they do need to be continually aware of what appeals to today’s members. In Shannon Herschbach’s opinion, “it boils down to two simple questions that we’ve asked members of all types of clubs across the country. “Why did you join and why do you stay? Members may join for different reasons (amenities, friends, real estate, etc.), but there is one common denominator as to why they stay…the culture (people). “The large bars, resort-style pools and outdoor dining areas are desirable, but what is truly important is how these and other amenities affect the culture of a club. Ultimately, culture is shaped by the programs, classes, events, experiences and services. These are also the drivers of value. “I envision the most relevant and innovative clubs developing a dedicated Chief Experience Officer (CXO) type of role to focus their efforts more heartily towards providing the next level of private club programs and experiences,” Herschbach explained. “Clubs need to be more and more relevant to the lives of the affluent American consumer. What are the products and services they can offer that simplify the lives of their members? What can the club do to save them time and add convenience to their life?” queried Frank Gore. “The more the club knows about what their members like, enjoy and spend their time doing, the better job the club can do to meet their needs and provide greater value. The future of private clubs is bright because the needs that private clubs can provide their members cannot be matched by public-type venues.” Ah yes, an unmatched member experience!


The future of private clubs is in the hands of today’s general managers and board members. If clubs start today to enhance their member experiences, they will have a product the next generation will want. This also entices current members to maintain their memberships longer …they’ll be at the club because they want to be with their friends and for the member experience. However, there are some challenges that make our social connectivity difficult and which, unless there’s change, will continue to affect all generations in the future. • It is difficult and will be continue to be more difficult to meet people. Our technology today doesn’t encourage face-to-face interaction, but rather a detached technical connection. This affects every generation. • Kids, grandkids and their parents and grandparents often no longer live in the same area, but even many hours of travel away. It makes daily contact next to impossible. • Friends have moved or passed away and we find few others to replace these relationships. • Many younger club members today work out of their homes, creating an environment of isolation. Yes, they may speak with people through technology, but there’s little face-toface interaction. It’s suggested that by the time an average person turns 65, they’ll have only two good friends nearby. In Europe, that’s quite different, because the average European has 16 good friends who live nearby. Why? Because Europeans tend not to leave their family or friends. They continue to live in their villages, or close to those areas where they were born and raised. Not so in America. European cities have always had gathering places where people can meet and hang out with all manner of

friends. The genius of European cities is that they’ve been made more livable. In Greece they call it Agora (the marketplace), in Italy it’s the Piazza and for many other cities, it’s simply the town square. This is something we in America simply don’t have. However, we have our country clubs, the yacht clubs or city clubs … today that’s the town square in America. We have to sell our clubs as a gathering place to meet people, socialize and develop friendships. However, just saying it isn’t enough. Your private club must have a usage and retention plan that will ensure new members use the club and meet people. The best clubs know this. They focus on 18 or 24-month plans to help their new members connect with others, to provide them with club functions, events and clubs-within-aclub. These plans are absolutely vital. Bringing new members into the club and then having them fend for them-

selves remain a flawed approach even though it’s still the practice at many private clubs. It’s also a quick way to lose new members your club has worked so hard to gain and retain. The challenge now, even more so in the future, is meeting people. This is precisely why many people join clubs today and clubs that plan for the future can help make this happen. So, the question is this: Why are some clubs not dealing with these challenges with the same energy and resources that they’ll spend on the golf course, the clubhouse and so on, especially when it all revolves attracting and retaining club members. If your club doesn’t focus on connecting people, providing them with purpose and a safe home-awayfrom-home environment, then it’s time to change, because you really don’t want to be something other than a private club. At least, that’s the way I see it. BR John G. Fornaro, publisher



CHRIS BOETTCHER Christopher Boettcher, CCM, CCE is general manager/COO of The Beach Club of Santa Monica, California. Chris can be reached via email:


CMAA’s Conference

Fascination - Education and Opportunity The Club Management Association of America (CMAA’s) worldwide conference is a mind-blowing - brain swelling - heart wrenching extravaganza of networking and education, with fun thrown in on the side. Held in The Music Center, Nashville, Tennessee recently, in the downtown often referred to as Nash-Vegas – called that for all its bright lights and entertainment up and down a four-block strip of Broadway Ave. Always highly anticipated throughout the ranks of CMAA members, conference is our annual chance for managers to connect from all over the world, and the word “conference” says if all. It’s definitely a huge injection of energy into our hospitality-focused careers. Board members at every club across the country, and around the world, needs to know it’s fascination, higher education and great opportunity for your managers to soak up. Let’s start with the fascination: The idea fair alone is such a cool opportunity, literally the best place to steal ideas. It’s usually about 5,000 square feet of banquet space taken up by a dozen double-sided rows of posters hailing the most innovative ideas from clubs around the globe, including, for example, categories for human resources, kids’ parties, wine dinners, sports programming and golf course maintenance. You name it, there’s a category for it. My favorite was a kids’ “mudder style” obstacle course party. Other favorites included a “Claw, Char and Crush” party based on lobster, steak and wine and an employee library idea. In addition to the idea fair, there’s all sorts of assistance provided at the CMAA help desk from career counseling to job postings to career fairs for interns (a great place to find talent), to book/information centers for club reference. Really a very deep and valuable resource. For education, the over 70 programs offered by CMAA makes it easy to choose issues that are relevant to our particular needs. For example, when studying issues around fitness, there were three separate fitness and wellness-oriented education sessions I was able to go to, as well as others based on leadership, conversation-building discussions, food and beverage trends and many more. 110


My favorite, and the one in which I usually participate, is the bicycle “Chautauqua”, a three-day focus group that’s usually set up as daily bike rides around the fringes of the conference city. There’s a book assignment where group conversation topics are centered around readings during lengthy briefs each morning, during the bike rides and lunches, and deeply focused debrief discussions each evening. It’s a great opportunity to connect with a wide variety and diverse group of managers, this year with representation from Scotland, Ireland, England, Spain, Australia and certainly many club managers from around the U.S. The greatest opportunities, though, are the world-renowned speakers each year, and the incredible exchange and networking with thousands of fellow club managers. The networking opportunities are created by coffee sessions each day, and an annual gathering of managers for a social - this year a country music concert and dinner. My favorite of all time was the speaker this year, Nicole Malachowski, who had a long career in the armed services and the first female Thunderbird pilot in the air force. She had incredible stories and real-life applicable theories that were thrilling and filled with heartfelt moments of truth. My favorite quote she spoke around was “No one wants to lead a scripted life” based on the exciting and harrowing twists and turns in one’s life that really makes it all so special. The Club Management Association of America provides is an invaluable resource and tool kit for your club management team. Any board or committee member who ever have the chance to attend conference or any CMAA sponsored education, should take the chance to see for themselves the wonderful learning and interconnections available. I usually write a report for my board of directors and supervisor staff each year when I return from conference just because I’m so eager to share my learnings. If anyone wants a copy, please ping me and I’ll be happy to share it. Until then, please keep on learning - it never ends - and LEAD ON! B R

The First and the Only Association specifically for the education and advancement of Club Catering and Event Professionals in the Private Club Industry to elevate the Member Experience

Benefits Education for Maximizing both Member Event Experience and Private Event Revenues and Experience • Webinars • Coaching and Resources Monthly Educational Newsletters • Networking Events Club Catering Professional Certification Program

Save the Date! ACCP 2019 National Conference August 25-27, 2019 The Broadmoor Resort, Colorado “I came back completely renewed and motivated! I can’t wait to implement all of the ideas” -Tricia Cummings, Blue Hill Country Club “This conference was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had! I cannot wait until next year!! -Olivia Pollock, Great Oaks Country Club “This conference really gave me a fire in my belly to come back to my club and do more...I want to share that inspiration with my team and hope that we can take our club to the next level!” -Amanda McCleery, Ballantyne Country Club Educating the Club Industry. . . One Catering Director at a Time

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Technology Planning for Private Clubs

Technology Master Planning • Club Technology Report Cards • Cost Reduction / Audits • Hosted IT Solutions • Surveillance Cameras • Cyber Security Analysis • |

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(954) 614-1505 | XHIBTZ1@XHIBTZ.COM | WWW.XHIBTZ.COM BOARDROOM MAGAZINE ADVERTISING INDEX ACCP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Addison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Ambassador Uniform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Amish Gazebos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 APCD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92-93 Big John Grills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 BoardRoom Distinguished Clubs . . . . . 98-99, 101 Broadway Nights Cabaret . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Denehy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 C2 Limited Design Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Casa de Campo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Castor Design Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 CC Tech Partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Chambers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 ClubDesign Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 ClubTec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 Creative Golf Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52-53

Distinguished Club Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 DWA Uniforms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-3 Eustis Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 FOOD-TRAK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Gasser Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 GCSAA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Golf Business Network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Golf Maintenance Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Golf Property Analysts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 High-End Uniforms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 HINT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Jonas Club Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Lichten Architects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 MAI Architects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 McMahon Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 MemberText . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

NanaWall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Newstation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Northstar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 Peacock + Lewis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 PGA Career . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 PHX Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Racquet Paddle Sports Show . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 RCS Hospitality Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 Rogers McCagg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 RSMUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 TechnoGym . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Troon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 USPTA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 USTA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 WebTec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

BOARDROOM MAGAZINE COUNTRY CLUB INDEX Mark Bado, GMr, Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte, NC Haissam Baityeh, COO, Country Club of Spartanburg, Spartanburg, SC Chris Boettcher, CCM, CCE, GM/COO, The Beach Club of Santa Monica, CA Buck Claussen, president, Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte, NC Frank Cordeiro, CCM is COO, Diablo Country Club , CA Mike Curry, President, Midland Country Club, Midland, TX Aaron R. Dawson, GM, Miramont Country Club, Bryan, TX David Gardner, GM, Midland Country Club, Midland, TX Steve Green, Diablo Country Club member, chair 2018 strategic planning committee Susan Greene, director of membership and marketing, The Oaks Club, Osprey, FL Larry Guy, president, Birnam Wood Golf Club, Montecito, CA Terry Hill, president, Country Club of Spartanburg, Spartanburg, SC Houston Racquet Club, Houston, TX

Dr. Bonnie Knutson, the Country Club of Lansing and the Michigan Athletic Club Scott Kolb, GM, Victoria Golf Club, Victoria, BC, Canada Ari Kreisler, general manager, Birnam Wood Golf Club, Montecito, CA Joseph Langford, general manager, Country Club of Columbus, Columbus, GA David Mackesey, Diablo CC member, vice-chair, 2018 strategic planning committee. Nancy Levenburg, member, Spring Lake Country Club, Spring Lake, M Ben Lorenzen, self-described chief memory officer (CMO), Champions Run, Omaha, NE MacDonald Niven, MA, MCM, CCE, CEO, Lakewood Country Club, Rockville, MD Marian McGill, CCM, assistant GM, Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club. Russell Miller, general manager, Dana Point Yacht Club, Dana Point, CA. Robert A Sereci, CCM, GM/COO, Medinah Country Club, Medinah, IL Rick Strange, board member, Midland Country Club, Midland, TX John Thompson, GCSAA superintendent, Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, IN





T he Bo ardRo o m m ag az ine

C E L E B R A T I N G 23 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 ISSUE 282



Vo l um e X X III, May/ Jun e l 2 0 1 9









PICTURED L-R: Matt Lambert, GM/COO, The Country Club at Mirasol; Craig Martin, GM/COO, St. Andrews Country Club; John Herring, GM, The Club at Admirals Cove; Brett Morris, GM/COO, Polo Club of Boca Raton; Michael McCarthy, CEO, Addison Reserve Country Club; Achal Goswami, GM, Frenchman’s Creek Beach and Country Club; Matthew Linderman, President/COO, Boca West Country Club

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