BoardRoom magazine May/June 2024

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Executive Search Club Management Financial Management Golf Operations Food and Beverage Consulting Governance Strategic Leadership Operational Reviews Performance Management Executive Search and Consulting Serving the private club and boutique resort industries. 1,500+ PROJECTS OVER 20 YEARS 500+ PRIVATE CLUBS INCLUDING MEMBER-OWNED, SINGLE-OWNER AND PRIVATE EQUITY
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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:

BoardRoom magazine’s Distinguished Clubs


for the Top of the Heap!

It’s a rigorous process, but it’s well worth the effort for many private clubs because BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs puts a club at the top of the heap!

Private clubs are successful because they make deliberate choices. Nothing is left to chance. Clubs nationwide are doing what they can to attract and retain members as the demand for outstanding services and amenities grows.

BoardRoom magazine’s Distinguished Clubs, in partnership with Forbes Travel Guide, stand as the seal of approval. It’s more than just an accolade; it validates a club’s unwavering commitment to service, facilities and amenities.

“Our mission is to verify a club’s member experience. Distinguished Clubs is the only merit-based evaluation process in the private club industry that signifies a club had earned this distinguished designation,” said John Fornaro, Distinguished Club’s CEO and publisher of BoardRoom magazine.

As outlined in our cover story by associate editor Heather Arias de Cordoba, BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs are recognized across three levels of excellence – Exceptional, Elite and Iconic. Each represents a distinct hallmark.

Exceptional: Four percent of the top clubs are in this category. Clubs that meet the distinguished criteria provide exceptional service, facilities, and amenities. They consistently maintain strong NPS (Net Promoter Score) and MEI (Member Experience Index) metrics, setting a high standard.

Elite: Three percent of top clubs are in the Elite category. Clubs that exceed distinguished criteria are considered among the most highly regarded private clubs worldwide. They offer top-tier service and amenities while consistently achieving outstanding NPS and MEI metrics.

Iconic: One percent of the top clubs are represented in the Iconic category. The most prestigious clubs, often over 75 years old, have hosted national or international championship events and are considered among the most distinguished private clubs globally. The by-invitation-only membership and legendary status consistently earn them extraordinary NPS and MEI scores.

Distinguished Clubs gain their designation through a comprehensive three-step journey: nomination and evaluation, which includes an on-site and in-person site visit, and finally, designation.

Through the endeavors of Ron Banaszak, executive vice president, international business development, Distin-

guished Clubs, a Standards Advisory Committee (SAC) has also been developed. This helps create a road map of success for clubs that operate at a distinguished level. The committee, assembled during the past six months, has also created 37 Distinguished Practices, which make up the criteria for Distinguished Clubs.

“It ensures the criteria is up to date with technology, best practices and current leadership practices,” Banaszak said.

Today, Distinguished Clubs is without question the ultimate destination for the private club experience, where member experience excellence is the standard, not just an aspiration!

n n

A new BoardRoom feature–Facts of Wine–debuts in this issue. “The BoardRoom’s mantra is ‘Facts over Emotions.’ This has forced me to re-evaluate what we can define as wine facts. Let’s take this journey together,” said contributor Wes Hagen in his initial column.

Wes begins his journey with some club wine facts, as he understands them after 30 years in the wine industry. Along with stating his wine facts, Hagen will answer questions BoardRoom’s readers raise.

Hagen, an international wind consultant, has been named one of the 100 most influential winemakers in the U.S. by Michael Cervin of the Wall Street Journal. He serves as a wine ambassador for Native9 Wine, a wine and spirits top 100 winery worldwide.

He begins this issue with a question from Art Barajas, the GM/COO of Glendora Country Club in Glendora, CA.

“How can we create a wine list that caters to a diverse membership with varying taste preferences while still ensuring staff can confidently recommend wines and navigate service effectively?”

It’s typical of the many questions Hagen receives from those involved in the private club industry, and they are all part and parcel of his ‘wine facts.’

If you have a wine question you’d like Hagen to answer, send him your query to: Cheers ‘til next time! BR



John G. Fornaro


Dave White

Chief Content Officer

Heather Arias de Cordoba

Copy Editor

Chryssoula Filippakopoulos

Innovative Ideas Editor

Chryssoula Filippakopoulos

APCD Executive Director

Bill Thomas

Editorial & Marketing Director

Dee Kaplan

Business Development

Joshua Nuzzi

Operations Director/Subscriptions

Krystal Santoro

Contact Information (949) 376-8889

Featured Columnists

Mary Dolan

John G. Fornaro

Philip J. Harvey Jr.

Bonnie J. Knutson

Contributing Writers

Michael Abramowitz

Heather Arias de Cordoba

Skip Avery

Ronald Banaszak

Bruce Barilla

Darin Bevard

Victoria Burns

Stephanie Castro

Jarrett Chirico

Ronald F. Cichy

Paul Dank

Ryan Doerr


John G. Fornaro


Keith Jarrett

Chief Analyst

Frank Gore

Chief Information Officer

Jeff Briggs

Executive Director

Bill Thomas

Executive Assistant/ Director of Support

Joshua Nuzzi

Contact Information (949) 376-8889

Nancy M. Levenburg

Gregg Patterson

Whitney Reid Pennell

Michael G. Smith

Dave Doherty

Elliott L. Dowling

Ed Doyle

Chryssoula Filippakopoulos

Brian Gietka

Wes Hagen

Andrew Hartsock

Julie Hawbaker

Jason Herring

Lee Hoke

Benjamin Houssa

Paul Jacobs

Strategic Partners and Allied Associations

Robert C. James

Lynne LaFond DeLuca

Steve Mona

Tom Neill

Zach Nicoludis

Pamela Radcliff

Duncan Reno

Corey Saban

Jon Sarosiek

Robyn Stowell

Gordon Welch

David Wilson

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Swisher Dave White The BoardRoom magazine (USPS 022516, ISSN 15537684) is a bi-monthly trade publication. Issue 313 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 accounting: editorial: or or visit the website at BoardRoom magazine is published by APCD Inc. 1100 S. Coast Hwy. #311 Laguna Beach, California 92691


It’s challenging to say how often staff members steal or commit fraud, deception, pilfer or purloin at private clubs, but suffice it to say, “It happens!” It can be challenging to quantify the frequency and manner of fraud or stealing because it’s often underreported. So, how prevalent is embezzlement at private clubs? What do we mean by embezzlement and what can clubs do to prevent it?



In 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued Accounting Standards,which implements a new credit impairment model for financial assets based on current expected credit loss (CECL) with an effective date for nonpublic entities for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2022. The new guidance no longer focuses on incurred losses but takes a more forward-looking approach. What is CECL?




Most clubs are awash in new members thanks to COVID-19. In a 2018 survey of about 4,400 private clubs in North America, GGA Partners learned that fewer than one in 10 clubs were full. In the wake of the recent pandemic, that has flipped to nearly nine of every 10 clubs are full and have growing waitlists. The question now is how to orient new club members effectively?



Country clubs are the perfect setting for special events, from weddings and corporate gatherings to fundraisers and milestone celebrations. Unfortunately, big events, especially those with alcohol, can come with big risks. Liability coverage is critical in protecting your club from such risks, particularly given the rise in property repairs and valuations today.


Whenever I begin an employee search, one of my first tasks is to delve into the club’s culture, discerning what best suits the club and the potential candidate for the role. This process entails administering surveys to search members, the board and the executive team. In my nearly three years of conducting these searches. Time and again, it circles back to how we care for our employees.





Even though I privately wondered if my golf game was in greater need of a 90,000-mile (i.e., major) maintenance overhaul than a simple oil change, I decided to sign up for a “Spring Golf Tune-Up” with Spring Lake Country Club’s newly promoted Director of Instruction, Ray Davis What does it take to be a great teacher?




Great service does not have to be costly. Five-star service, however, requires a total commitment starting in the boardroom. Five-star service necessitates total alignment of facilities, finances, organizational structure and operational planning. Five-star service feels like a warm embrace. It is personalized greetings, and service where every employee acts for the benefit of the members.

Some days my office, kitchen and door going into the garage look like a rainbow of sticky notes with reminders scribbled on them. Lists help me remember and prioritize. The list presents only the information. It is up to us to explore it for our use. So think about what behaviors club members would say make a just club. Where would your club rank on a list of America’s most just clubs list? TRIBAL



Every club is guided by philosophy—basic ideas, foundational beliefs, first principles underpinning the culture and directing decision-making. Clubs that do “success right” know their first principles and live their philosophy. In doing so, they attract and retain members, energize staff and prosper financially.

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 28 Labrador Retriever Mentors Three By Ronald F. Cichy EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 30 What’s on the Mind of Club Leaders? By Steve Mona EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ............ 32 Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions and Your Club By Lee Hoke EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 34 The Dream of Work-Life Balance By Pamela Radcliff FINANCE COMMITTEE.............. 36 Recapitalization Offers a Unique Solution for Clubs By Michael Abramowitz F&B COMMITTEE .................. 38 Is Your Kitchen a Business? Oui, Chef; Yes, Chef. Heard By Ed Doyle GREEN COMMITTEE ............... 44 Science Provides Options Instead of Rebuilding By Dave Doherty GREEN COMMITTEE 50 Autonomous Revolution Coming By Benjamin Houssa HISTORICAL COMMITTEE 70 The Art of History By Tom Neill HR COMMITTEE................... 74 Work-Life Balance Beyond By Robert C. James COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE..... 76 Work-Life Balance By Corey Saban HR COMMITTEE 77 More Than Just Onboarding By Ryan Doerr MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE 78 Technology and Personalization By Victoria Burns PLANNING COMMITTEE ............ 79 Selling Your Club’s Long-Range Plan By Duncan Reno HOUSE COMMITTEE ............... 84 The Rise of Outdoor Social Spaces By Skip Avery HOUSE COMMITTEE 85 Please Honor Requests By Your Locker Room Staff By Bruce Barilla RACQUET COMMITTEE 90 Change Your Future By Jarrett Chirico RACQUET COMMITTEE 91 Navigating Job Offers By Jon Sarosiek DEPARTMENTS COMMITTEES CULINARY & CATERING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Unveiling the Next Chapter in Event Trends Transforming Outdoor and Underused Spaces By Lynne LaFond DeLuca GREEN COMMITTEE 42 Fine Print - Part I By Andrew Hartsock GREEN COMMITTEE 46 What’s Cooking in the Turf Oven? By Darin Bevard, Elliott L. Dowling and Brian Gietka GREEN COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Aeration Advice By Zach Nicoludis and Paul Jacobs EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Top Private Club Presidents By
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Solve Your Facility Puzzle By David Wilson EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 The Crucial Role of Country Club Boards in Collaborative Decision-Making By
SECTIONS THE FACT OF WINE ................ 40 Transforming Wine Programs By
Country Club’s Software Search Success Clubessential CASE STUDY 54-55 Cybersecurity and Your Club Management System Cobalt Software CASE STUDY 56-57
Parking at Country Clubs for Enhanced Member Experience
Global DISTINGUISHED CLUBS ............. 80 Jupiter Island Club
CASE STUDY 81 Membership Applicant
of Care
EXCELLENCE IN CLUB GOVERNANCE...........87 Putting Strategy to Work
LAW & LEGISLATION 96 Prepare Now for Inevitable Discipline By
THIS MUCH I KNOW FOR SURE 110 Focus on the Fundamentals To Improve Your Food and Beverage Operations By
COVER STORY ............. 20 Elevating Excellence: The Standards Advisory Committee Enhances BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs
de Cordoba FEATURE ................. 64 Matthew Allnatt Receives John Fornaro Impact Award FEATURE ................. 66 Henry DeLozier Receives Dave White Editorial Award
Chryssoula Filippakopoulos
Gordon Welch
the Duty
By Henry DeLozier
Robyn Nordin Stowell
By Heather Arias


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:

Embezzlement: How Prevalent is it at Private Clubs?

What Can You Do to Prevent It?

It’s challenging to say how often staff members steal or commit fraud, deception, pilfer or purloin at private clubs, but suffice it to say, “It happens!”

Call it by whatever name you wish, but its effect is detrimental to a private club’s operation, its members and its staff.

It can be challenging to quantify the frequency and manner of fraud or stealing because it’s often underreported. There are usually varying levels of control, differences in a club’s culture, internal policies, and club sizes and various reasons why it happens.

So, how prevalent is embezzlement at private clubs? What do we mean by embezzlement and what can clubs do to prevent it?

A dictionary definition commonly defines embezzlement as financial crimes, which can include the theft or misappropriation of funds placed in one’s trust or belonging to one’s employer.

The broader definition breaks it down even more: theft, stealing, robbing, robbery, thieving, pilfering, pilferage, appropriation, abstraction, swindling, fraud, larceny, peculation, defalcation, purloining, white-collar crime and misuse of funds.

Kornfeind is one person in the private club industry who speaks with knowledge. While working on his monograph in 2008 for his MCM with the Club Management Association of America, Kornfeind spent a year researching this topic.

“However, like in any organization or community, incidents of fraud or stealing can occur in private clubs. Clubs typically have measures to prevent such occurrences, such as security protocols, financial oversight, and member accountability systems. Nevertheless, no system is entirely foolproof, and instances of fraud or stealing can still occur,” he added.

“Most private clubs will have some level of theft or shrinkage within their inventory (merchandise, food, liquor, beer, wine, tobacco). Cooks may make a sandwich for lunch without submitting a cost transfer, or the beverage manager may list an item on the waste log claiming breakage, but it may just end up in their liquor cabinet at home,” said Ryan Oldroyd, chief financial officer of the Arizona Country Club in Phoenix, AZ.

“Schemes or fraud happen at the staff level as well, maybe because of the pressures of front-line staff workers being paid a very low wage. So, it may be tempting at a private club where most people are of high net worth to abuse the system in finding easy ways to ‘fill their pockets’ in some form or fashion,” he commented.

Regardless of the specific method, embezzlement often involves exploiting trust and opportunity for personal gain at the expense of the club’s financial integrity. To prevent fraud or stealing in a private club, management can take several proactive steps...Regular audits and reviews of financial records and operational processes should be conducted, with the possibility of hiring external auditors for independent assessments. Whistleblower policies should be promoted to encourage the anonymous reporting of suspected fraud without fear of retaliation. Background checks should be performed on employees, especially those in positions of trust.

Detecting embezzlement is often difficult because there may be few warning signs. So, how prevalent is embezzlement at private clubs?

“It’s challenging to provide an exact prevalence rate of fraud or stealing at private clubs across the country because such incidents can vary greatly depending on various factors, such as the club’s size, management practices, members’ diligence, and the overall culture surrounding accountability and integrity within the club,” said Paul Kornfeind, clubhouse manager at The Austin Club in Austin, TX.

Kevin Reilly, partner, PB Mares of Fairfax, VA, says, “The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (AFCE), in its 2024 report to the nation on occupational fraud, stated that more than $3 billion was lost to fraud in 2023.

“Of this, 89 percent was from asset misappropriation schemes with a median loss of $120,000 and five percent was from financial statement fraud with a median loss of $766,000.


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Philip J. Harvey Jr. is EVP and COO of PREFERRED CLUB Insurance Program, a national leader in insurance and risk management for private and semi-private clubs. PREFERRED CLUB insures over 1,000 clubs across the U.S., offering unmatched coverage since 1993. Contact Phil at pharveyjr@, 1 (800) 523-2788 ext. 300, or visit

Mitigating Risk in Golf and Country Clubs

The Importance of Insurance Coverage

Country clubs are the perfect setting for special events, from weddings and corporate gatherings to fundraisers and milestone celebrations. These large-scale events can also be significant revenue generators for clubs, particularly those looking to attract new members and increase visibility.

Unfortunately, big events, especially those with alcohol, can come with big risks. Whether they involve property damage, an accident of some kind or a major logistical issue, accidents happen. Alcohol use increases that exposure. Liability coverage is critical in protecting your club from such risks, particularly given the rise in property repairs and valuations today.

As the stewards of golf and country clubs, general managers are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of members and guests. Despite meticulous planning and training, some incidents are unavoidable, and a solid, proactive risk management program is a must-have.

stability and reputation. Consider this: An overserved club member or guest is involved in an auto accident after leaving the premises. The injured parties may seek substantial compensation for personal injuries and damages from the club. Guests of member-sponsored events have filed successful claims against golf and country clubs. A formal contract and special event policy can go a long way to protect your club from incidents that are out of your control.

Incidents involving golf carts during a tournament or special event can also have the potential for costly legal disputes. The club could be exposed to risks related to a member or guest operating a golf cart while under the influence of alcohol. Comprehensive insurance coverage is essential to mitigate the financial risks associated with such accidents and ensure the club’s continued operations.

Despite the frequency of such claims, many still question the necessity of insurance coverage for member-sponsored events. The member might be responsible for organizing

Controlling costs and mitigating risks is critical to the success of your role as a general manager. By investing in the right coverage, clubs can substantially mitigate liabilities, safeguard their assets and uphold their commitment to providing safe and enjoyable experiences for members and guests.

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The sentiment rings especially true in insurance and risk management within our industry.

Above all, your insurance coverage must extend beyond organized events to encompass member-sponsored activities at the club. Despite the perception that member-sponsored events may be exempt from liability concerns, recent trends suggest otherwise. Anything can happen and often does, and a comprehensive insurance plan can protect you against the risks associated with everyday scenarios and special events. Property insurance will protect the physical assets of your club (the clubhouse and golf course, other facilities and amenities) from theft, vandalism, fire or natural disaster and help cover the cost of repairing property damage. General liability is critical to any coverage plan to protect against claims for bodily injury or property damage from a club activity or event. As one of the most prevalent risks in the industry, liquor liability claims can significantly damage a club’s financial

such a gathering, but when it comes to financial risk, the club remains liable for incidents on its property. By implementing robust insurance policies, clubs can effectively transfer the financial burden of potential claims and better protect their assets and reputation.

Controlling costs and mitigating risks is critical to the success of your role as a general manager. By investing in the right coverage, clubs can substantially mitigate liabilities, safeguard their assets and uphold their commitment to providing safe and enjoyable experiences for members and guests.

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The sentiment rings especially true in insurance and risk management within our industry. BR



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Nancy Levenburg, PhD, is professor emerita in Management from the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. She has published hundreds of 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 a member of Spring Lake Country Club in Spring Lake, MI. For more information, contact her at: or (616) 821-5678.

Tune-Up with a Great Teacher

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”

– Japanese proverb

Even though I privately wondered if my golf game was in greater need of a 90,000-mile (i.e., major) maintenance overhaul than a simple oil change, I decided to sign up for a “Spring Golf Tune-Up” with Spring Lake Country Club’s newly promoted Director of Instruction, Ray Davis. In addition to the opportunity to catch up after a long winter, the “tune-up” offered:

• Equipment Check (check set, grips, shafts, etc.)

• Golf Swing Assessment

• Video Swing Analysis

• Lesson Re-cap with Improvement Plan

• Introduction to Coach Now Teaching Software

So, I recently had my tune-up… out on the driving range, of course. And thanks to Ray, I learned that many of my golf swing woes can be remedied if I do a better job setting up, especially if I pay closer attention to alignment.

For the past 19 years, Ray has been a PGA assistant professional in the Golf Department at SLCC. Although he gave lessons as part of his responsibilities, the Director of Instruction position is brand new… just announced in January, 2024.


What impressed me most about the tune-up was that Ray seems to be such a natural – and excellent – fit with the position. Simply put, he’s a great teacher. As the club’s announcement stated, “Ray brings a wealth of expertise and passion for instruction and club fitting. Under his guidance, we are excited to introduce engaging clinics and individual/ group personalized lessons, while continuing to elevate the golf experience for our members.”

What does it take to be a great teacher? As a university professor for over 25 years, I know that teaching involves more than talking. According to Maria Orlando in a Faculty Focus article, “Great teaching seems to have less to do with our knowledge and skills than with our attitude toward our students, our subject, and our work.”

Not everybody who has talent will be a great teacher. First, being a great teacher means having respect for stu dents/learners. How did Ray demonstrate this? The very first thing he said to me on the driving range was, “What’s going on with your game? Talk to me.” His words “talk to me” conveyed: (a) he cared about me – and would listen intently to understand my golf woes; (b) he valued my thoughts; and (c) he sought to not only be a problem-solver but a collaborator. In other words, by being learner-cen tered from the get-go, he was able to zero in on whatever was problematic and design an appropriate instruction strategy for me.

Second, a great teacher is adaptable and flexible. Just as each student is unique with varying strengths and weak nesses, each golfer’s golf swing is unique. So, a swing thought that works for one golfer might not work for an other. A great teacher can “customize” instruction to suit each learner’s unique needs.

Third, a great teacher is a professional… s/he comes pre pared, and this demonstrates professionalism.


I don’t know by whom or how the decision was made to promote Ray from Assistant Pro to Director of Instruction, but I need to salute any and all individuals who were behind it. The ability to recognize talent is definitely a skill. According to Tory Burch, a successful American fashion designer and entrepreneur, it takes great talent to “recognize talent in others and give them the forum to shine.”

According to Ray, “I am extremely excited to now be able to concentrate on golf instruction. I have always been passionate about teaching golf to the club’s members but have never had the chance to completely immerse myself in teaching because of my other responsibilities.”

Ray’s now been given the forum to shine! And isn’t that what great leadership is all about? BR




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Current Expected Credit Loss for Private Clubs

In 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued Accounting Standards Updated 2016-13 which implements a new credit impairment model for financial assets based on current expected credit loss (CECL) with an effective date for nonpublic entities for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2022.

The new guidance no longer focuses on incurred losses but takes a more forward-looking approach.

Although financial institutions will feel the greatest impact of this new guidance, CECL applies to private clubs. In this article, we explore the specific effects of CECL on the private club industry, the benefits of proper CECL modeling and the potential next steps for private club management.


CECL measures the expected loss of credit arising from current economic conditions, reasonable forecasts and historical loss experience. It provides readers of the financial statements with an estimate of the net amount the club expects to collect on assets over the life of the asset.


Now that the focus has shifted from an incurred loss model to a more forward-looking approach, private clubs must reassess credit risk exposure. Every club, of course, is different and will be impacted by CECL differently. Two common financial assets to consider include: Initiation fee and trade receivables

Trade receivables typically include charges for membership dues, food and beverage purchases, merchandise sales, lesson fees, etc. These types of receivables are commonly due within 30 days, with interest and or penalties to membership status after 60-90 days.

Conversely, initiation fee receivables are often paid over several years, thus being a note or loan by the member. With such differences in terms, the risk characteristics can vary and as such, CECL requires losses on these two assets to be evaluated separately. When considering expected losses, clubs must consider how the economy could impact collectability. With such a short-life trade, receivables may be easier to assess as they are more predictable. Initiation fee dues over several years can be tricky to anticipate. Both assets must be evaluated at initial recognition, and the term of the receivable should also be considered.

Other considerations of risk include historical member experiences. Private clubs are always competing for leisure funds. Family commitments such as sports, camp and investments in vacation homes compete for this funding. Whenever economic conditions tighten, club membership is usually high on the list of items to be considered in the context of a family’s budget.

As we saw in 2008, when economic conditions tighten, disposable income dwindles for all but a small percentage of people, prompting families to reconsider joining or maintaining membership in a private club. Potential contraction in membership could then impact initiation fees, if financed, and dues revenue and introduce a new layer of complexity in estimating credit losses related to initiation fees and trade receivables.

Even for clubs with historically minimal write-offs, line items like initiation fee receivables and trade AR still give rise to the potential for loss and therefore risk to the sustained future operations of the club.


CECL presents an opportunity for clubs to reevaluate an allowance methodology that may have been developed many years ago. Now is the time to define the factors (past, present and future) to include in, and the procedures for, analyzing your current expected credit losses. This can help clubs make better-informed decisions for the future.

Proper CECL modeling can enable clubs to forecast results better and:

• Avoid operating deficits that erode member goodwill. Operating deficits can require a cash infusion that potentially involves increasing individual assessments. Such a situation can erode the goodwill of current members and turn away prospective members.

• Obtain funding for construction projects. Proper CECL modeling can help clubs explore expansion or other construction projects that involve securing loans. A proactive approach strengthens the club’s position when engaging with lenders and increases the likelihood of securing necessary funding for construction initiatives.

• Create opportunities that spur momentum for the club. The capital needs of any private club are constant. Ongoing replacements and improvements are always around the corner. Properly projected CECL enables a club to confidently make funding decisions that fuel the membership experience and grow the membership itself. This creates a cycle that enables the club to reinvest in itself every year.

Even clubs that have never historically had to write off large amounts of receivables should take steps to ensure CECL is properly modeled.


Club management’s next steps regarding CECL should include:

• Documenting and deploying procedures to periodically evaluate CECL with a forward-looking perspective

• Developing models to project credit losses over the life of their receivables

• Exploring other proactive measures that mitigate the impact of membership contraction or credit loss.

In conjunction with CECL, clubs can also solidify financial sustainability through flexible membership structures, targeted marketing efforts and enhanced member engagement initiatives. BR

Todd Swisher, CPA, CGMA is a partner with PBMares, LLC in Richmond, VA. He has more than 20 years of experience. Todd leads the PBMares Hospitality Team specializing in private clubs. He may be reached at (804) 977-5055 or by email at Mary Dolan, CPA, MSA is a senior manager with PBMares, LLC in Fairfax, VA. She has more than 15 years of experience providing assurance and consulting services to the firm’s hospitality clients. She may be reached at (703) 537-7607 or by email at



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Three Levels of Excellence

BoardRoom’s Distinguished Clubs are recognized across three levels of excellence—Exceptional, Elite, and Iconic—each representing a distinct Hallmark (8% of Top Private Clubs).

Exceptional is 4% of Top Private Club: Clubs that meet the DistinguishedClubs criteria provide exceptional service, facilities, and amenities. They consistently maintain strong NPS (Net Promoter Score) and MEI (Member Experience Index) metrics, setting a high standard.

Elite is 3% of Top Private Clubs: Clubs that exceed Distinguished Clubs criteria are considered among the most highly regarded private clubs worldwide. They offer top-tier service and amenities while consistently achieving outstanding NPS and MEI metrics.

Iconic: is 1% of Top Private Clubs: The most prestigious clubs, often over 75 years old, have hosted national or international championship events and are considered some of the most distinguished private clubs globally. The by-invitation-only membership and legendary status consistently earn them extraordinary NPS and MEI scores.


The Distinguished Clubs team believes that clubs committed to exceptional Member Experiences should earn acknowledgment through a global merit-based process. This proprietary formula provides a holistic assessment of a club’s service, quality and operations. The criteria developed by the Standards Advisory Committee is applicable to all countries and all types of clubs.

“Our vision is to elevate excellence and drive positive change across the private club industry,” Banaszak said. “We aim to recognize clubs and individuals who deliver outstanding service through innovation and unwavering commitment to quality. By the end of 2024, we will have discovered and evaluated the best clubs in 12 countries, and by the end of 2025 that number will grow to over 20, making Distinguished Clubs the only global expert on all types of private club.”


Keith Jarrett, president of Distinguished Clubs, believes the designation enhances a club’s reputation while offering apart powerful opportunity for leaders to build trust and showcase their abilities. “Being recognized provides an opportunity to create a winning culture within the organization,” he said. “As a leader, it’s challenging to achieve success without trust, and this recognition can be a powerful tool to enhance your reputation.”

Club teams feel a deep sense of pride in their work when their efforts are recognized. “We encour- ➤

Unique Process

DistinguishedClubs merit-based proprietary process verifies delivery of an excellent Member Experience.

In-person site visits allow our unbiased, experienced surveyors to deeply connect with the environment, people, and culture of the club, capturing crucial insights that go beyond a checklist. This surveyor experiential data is combined with a quantified measure of the club’s Member Experience captured by our proprietary ClubIQ® Member Experience Polling System™ AchievingDistinguishedClubstatusmeansyou’veearnedit.

Member Experience


age club management to put the awards at both the team and member entrances so everyone can see and own it,” explained Jarrett. “It showcases a great sense of pride. This shared feeling motivates teams to continuously strive for high standards, fostering a culture that attracts and retains top talent.”

“The Distinguished Club award is the highest recognition a club can earn. Therefore, working at an awarded Distinguished Club will most certainly enhance your personal resume.”
Dick Kopplin partner, Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace


Beyond the recognition, being part of this elite group connects clubs to other A-List establishments. “Being a Distinguished Club not only brings accolades but amplifies your standing through reputable third-party relationships,” noted Fornaro.

“Distinguished Clubs shines a public light on your club’s achievements. You become part of a worldwide group that has earned this prestigious designation.”


Members benefit from unparalleled experiences that go beyond amenities. When the provision of excellence is a standard, not just an aspiration, a heightened sense of pride permeates the team and members alike. For you. For your team and for your members. BR


• Over 22 speakers and panelists

• 100 ideas that will improve your Member Experience

Personal Branding

Making your club a luxury brand

Your club’s brand and its association with you

• Building strong cultures and passionate teams


• VIP Tours of four Arizona Distinguished Clubs

Distinguished Clubs: The Ultimate Designation For Club Excellence


Being recognized provides an opportunity to showcase your leadership abilities, inspire others, and create a winning culture within the organization. As a leader, it’s challenging to achieve success without trust, and a leadership designation can be a powerful tool to build that trust and enhance your reputation.


When employees have a deep sense of pride in their work and organization, they are more motivated, inspired, and driven to achieve great things. By creating a workplace culture that fosters pride, innovation, and collaboration you can attract and retain top talent. “We put our awards at both the team and member entrance so the team can see it and own it. It showcases a great sense of pride.”


Your club is the embodiment of luxury, offering unparalleled experiences that go beyond mere amenities. As you prioritize personalized attention to detail, you foster loyalty and enduring relationships among your members. When the provision of Member Experience excellence is not just an aspiration, but a standard, a heightened sense of pride and accomplishment are instilled in your team. This is important, as it serves to validate the team’s efforts and helps motivate them to continuously strive for high standards. BR

OCTOBER 8 & 9, 2024: The don’t miss this event of the year!

• Helping your managers and staff find their purpose

• Collaborative governance

Delivering proactive support and defining service

Recruiting, training and managing across generations

Maximizing member touch points

• Creating a top workplace


• Desert Highlands, Mirabel Golf Club, Desert Mountain Club and Troon Country Club

• Leading successfully

• Formulating your vision

Wow ideas for demanding members

Hear from the family that invented pickleball

• Servant leadership, and much more!

• An incredible evening with the Idea Summit Celebration

• Hosted by Ryan Cozzetto at Paradise Valley Country Club

Next-level communciation for members and staff


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Dr. Ronald F. Cichy, O.M. is professor emeritus, Michigan State University. He can be reached via email:

Labrador Retriever Mentors Three

Who is Mentor? Telemachus? Odysseus?

In “The Odyssey,” an ancient Greek epic poem, Mentor is a friend and advisor of Odysseus. Odysseus, a king of Ithaca and one of the Greek leaders in the Trojan War, is the hero of “The Odyssey.” When Odysseus left for the Trojan War, he placed Mentor in charge of Telemachus, his son. Mentor was responsible for looking after Telemachus. But who is a mentor?


We have experienced Labrador retrievers as mentors in many of our canine-human interactions. A mentor is an experienced and trusted guide. It is by no coincidence that Labrador retrievers often work as seeing-eye dogs. Mentors are faithful guides; they are confidants. The relationship between those who are mentors and those who are being mentored is based on faithfulness.

A mentor is a confidant who shares knowledge, skills and experiences. To be a mentor is to occupy a place of honor and respect. The relationship is treasured. People look up to mentors. They view them as role models; those we aspire to be more like. People love and honor their mentors. So, too, their Labrador retrievers, with whom they live each day.


A mentor leads the way. A mentor provides directional truth for those who are being mentored. A mentor believes in others who have come to learn and improve. A mentor takes those being mentored under their paw. A mentor observes others and points out what is true.


A mentor is faithful to others and never gives up on the possibilities discovered through relationships with others. In my life, I have had the privilege to raise three yellow Labrador retrievers. Aspen was the first. Aspen (1989 to 2000, 11 years on the planet) loved children and preferred them to adults.

Lily, a white-colored Labrador retriever, was short-lived (only six years, 2004 to 2009, died of leukemia) yet had an enormous impact on me and the family. SODA (2009 to 2021, 12 years) was the third Labrador, her coat more red than the other two. SODA was the most athletic of the three,

with a disc-catching and retrieving percentage approaching 100 percent. She loved her wading pool, and she particularly loved me.

All three Labrador retrievers were faithful companions. They served as mentors in various stages of my personal life and career. The first to greet me at the door each evening. All three never refusing our walks in sun or rain, light or dark, snow and freezing weather conditions. Rather, they enjoyed an outdoor adventure.

They genuinely liked being with me. They were kind and considerate. They never abandoned me or the family. They were warm and friendly. They were best friends and protective of the family. Three Labrador retrievers and 29 years of mentoring, loving, living to the max, and benefiting from their presence in our lives.

Aspen, Lily, SODA. They were all British Labs, in contrast to American Labs. That means wider bodies, fuller chests, thicker necks and shorter legs. Their body characteristics helped them shoulder the sometimes heavy burden of being my mentor. They were by my side. Aspen, Lily, and SODA led the way, showed the path and stuck with us through good times and not-so-good times.

They were the steady ones who boosted and supported the family for three decades. They were here to humor us, create smiles or plant kisses. They knew who they were and who we were. And they loved both.

Aspen, Lily and SODA were loyal and kind. They belonged to theirs and theirs belonged to them. They were in it for the long haul, never giving up. They protected and defended. And they did so until the end, the completion of the assignment. For them, or us. Or for both. Trusting relationships are the hallmark of Labrador retrievers.


It may seem odd to assign and identify mentor characteristics to Labrador retrievers. Anyone who has shared their space on Earth with a Labrador retriever knows what I am writing about here. Labrador retriever mentors are hard to find, difficult to part with and impossible to forget. BR


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Steve Mona is the director of governance and leadership for Club Benchmarking. He may be reached at

What’s on the Mind of Club Leadership?

I’ve spent most of the past seven months traversing the country, helping boards and general managers from clubs of all sizes develop and execute strategic plans.

Through dozens of interactions with the professional and volunteer leaders of those clubs, three common themes have emerged:

• Segmenting revenue to support operating, obligatory and aspirational needs

• Trends related to board of director terms

• Best practices related to contested versus uncontested elections.

Here are the questions we’re hearing with responses based on Club Benchmarking data and recognized best practices.

How do we properly understand and segment operating, obligatory and aspirational capital needs?

This question is often asked by clubs with operating dues insufficient to cover ongoing club operations and capital dues insufficient to cover replacement costs of existing physical assets (obligatory capital needs). Without proper segmentation, money that should be for aspirational capital needs (investment in new or substantially improved assets) is being used to cover obligatory requirements or, worse yet, operating expenses.

We advocate an approach that begins with determining the experience level the membership wants and expects. The operating budget is then built to support the desired member experience. With the club’s operating expenses properly funded through member dues, attention can be turned to the capital ledger.

Balancing that side of the equation begins with a thorough professional asset evaluation to document the club’s existing assets, including expected lifespan and projected replacement cost. The findings of the asset evaluation can then be used to forecast future capital needs and develop a forward-looking capital plan in which, ideally, obligatory needs are funded by capital dues.

The final step is to ensure that initiation fees are reserved solely for investment in new amenities (new pickleball courts, new outdoor dining area) or substantially upgrading current amenities (transforming a lap pool into a resort-style pool or a modest fitness area into a state-of-the-art fitness

center). Debt can also be used for aspirational projects, provided a realistic schedule to generate the necessary capital to retire the debt in good time is established and communicated when the debt is incurred.

What are the trends in board of director terms?

First, some context on why this question is asked: Many clubs are struggling with the rapid turnover of their boards. It’s not hard to see why. Clubs with a nine-person board where three people rotate off the board each year will experience 100 percent turnover of their board in three years.

In addition, each incoming president will have at most two years of board experience before assuming the critical leadership role. If the club has no succession plan, continuity becomes a perpetual challenge.

According to Club Benchmarking data, 23 percent of clubs allow board members only one term, 44 percent allow two terms, 9 percent allow three terms and 23 percent allow four or more terms on the board.

With 76 percent of clubs allowing two or more terms, board continuity shouldn’t be a significant issue for most clubs. However, what often undermines this structural ability to create continuity is a club culture that has the practical effect of limiting board service to one three-year term.

For context, imagine a publicly traded business that completely turns over its board every three years and replaces its chair every year. Would you invest in that company? The answer seems obvious, yet that is the governance model for many private clubs.

The solution is clear: In clubs that forbid board members from serving more than one term, consider removing that restriction and allowing board members to serve at least two consecutive terms. In clubs whose culture effectively prevents board members from serving more than one term, focus on changing that particular component of the culture.

Further, in clubs that prevent the president from serving more than one year in that position, consider adjusting to allow two consecutive one-year terms.

Clubs are complex businesses with significant employee bases and discerning members looking for memorable membership experiences. Simply put, clubs have too much at stake to allow their highest level of governance to be subject



Lee Hoke, PhD, is a full professor of economics, Sykes College of Business, University of Tampa, and three-time past president of Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club. He may be reached at Lhoke@UT.EDU or (813) 766-2860.

Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions and Your Club

Question One: What is Your Mission?

At the time of Peter Drucker’s death in 2005, Geoffrey Colvin, the editor at large of Fortune Magazine, described Drucker as “the greatest management thinker and writer of all time.”

Drucker left us his wisdom in his five most important questions. Board members and general managers of private clubs would do a great service to their members by reflecting on these questions and reaching a consensus on the answers as part of their strategy management process.

The first question: What is your mission?

A quick test of how well your board is doing on this question is to ask board members to take a clean sheet of paper and write down your club’s mission. Remarkably, in many cases, board members have to refer to notes to complete this task. If so, the evidence of a problem is obvious. Without consensus and agreement on the mission, board members will vote on issues based on their personal agendas or preferences of the group they are associated with at the club. This type of dysfunction is discussed and written about in every issue of BoardRoom and will continue to plague current and future boards without consensus on the mission.

The mission statement is the board’s North Star. It should guide every decision the board makes. Every motion and every vote should start with the question of how well it aligns

with the mission. The mission should drive every decision the general manager makes. It should guide department head objectives. General manager evaluations should be based on how well the general manager promotes the mission.

Employee performance ratings should be based on alignment with objectives, which are mission-consistent. The mission statement should be part of every new employee’s orientation, and each employee should be able to recite it.

The mission should be prominently displayed on the website and in the clubhouse so prospective and current members can see why they pay dues.

Drucker has provided a list of sub-questions the board can ask itself to determine whether the mission needs to be revisited. Is it short and sharply focused? Does it match our competencies? Is it clear? Does it inspire? Does it address our opportunities? If the answers to these questions are “no” or “maybe,” the mission should be revisited. “The Drucker Foundation Self-Assessment Tool” helps boards assess their mission.

Drucker is gone but the wisdom he left us is available to board members in his five most important questions. His second question will be addressed in a subsequent article. The question asks: Who is our customer? BR

to unrelenting turnover and the potential downside that accompanies constant churn.

What are best practices in contested versus uncontested board elections?

Clubs with contested elections that are questioning the practice have usually experienced less than optimal outcomes. The 2023 Club Benchmarking Governance Survey focused on the nomination process and succession planning. According to that research, 30 percent of clubs have experienced contested elections within the last one to two years, while 70 percent have not.

The nuance here is that 68 percent of clubs permit nominations by petition, which would create contested elections in cases where clubs have already nominated a sufficient number of candidates for open board positions. As a practical matter, however, even with this provision, the majority of these clubs conduct uncontested elections in most years.

Perhaps the biggest downside of contested elections is their tendency to discourage the best candidates from running for the board and encourage candidates inclined to run on a single issue, or who represent a certain constituency of members to whom they may feel beholden. None of these scenarios is ideal for developing a high-performing board, which 21st-century clubs demand and deserve. BR

Executive Committee |



Pamela Radcliff, SHRM-SCP, CAM is the director of human resources at Hideaway Beach Club, Marco Island, FL. She can be reached via email:

Chasing the Dream of Work-Life Balance

One thing is for balance is not “one thing.” It’s different for everyone...and it’s constantly changing. Each of us has to figure out the perfect mix for ourselves.

Plug “Work-Life Balance” into ChatGPT or your favorite AI du jour, and you’ll get a standard laundry list of to-dos. Things like:

1. Focus on priorities – set three tasks per day and set boundaries for non-work hours

2. Time management – block your time for specific tasks, set realistic deadlines, dedicate personal time

3. Learn to say no – set limits to avoid over-committing

4. Invest in self-care – sleep, exercise, eat right

5. Ask for flexibility at work – negotiate the time you need for physical and mental health

6. Adaptability and resilience – unexpected challenges will pop up that you’ll have to navigate

7. Communication – ensure that your colleagues, superiors and family understand your boundaries

8. Regular reflection – ask if your personal and professional priorities and goals align with your values

9. Guard your downtime – protect your core needs with boundaries.

No one would argue that these are valid tactics for self-management. To me, however, the true measure of work-life balance = happiness.

Seeking the happiness that a balanced work schedule, social or family activities and personal time can bring rather than perfection each day is key to our well-being.

Work-life balance is a journey, not a destination. After all, if we’re lucky enough to retire, then those intellectual stimulations from our daily work might no longer exist – and we’re out of balance in quite another way.

So ask yourself, “How happy am I in my …”

• work – is it rewarding enough for you?

• physical health?

• emotional and mental well-being?

• “love life or social connections?

If you are unhappy in these areas, what’s an acceptable happiness ratio? For example, it would be unusual for someone to fire at 100 percent on all cylinders all the time.

So if you’re 85 percent happy at work, is that enough?

If you’re 30 percent happy with your physical health, what do you change to improve?

Once you determine your ratios in the important areas of your life, it becomes an issue of time management.


Know your values

What is your True North?

A term popularized by Harvard Business School, “True North” helps you navigate life’s challenges authentically and purposefully. Finding your authentic self … your values, purpose and beliefs aligned with your actions … involves discovering your internal compass.

• Have you identified your core values lately?

• Have you aligned your actions with your values?

• What makes you feel alive? Plan activities that align with your priorities for personal fulfillment.

1. Your health must be a top priority

• Take time to rest and recharge. Are you getting enough sleep?

• Try to eat healthy food.

• Exercise is documented to help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

2. Schedule personal time

Just like any other important meeting, planning and scheduling personal time will enable you to have control of the “life balance.”

Plan time with your friends, family and loved ones. This ensures that you get quality time with them without the work conflict. Allocating time to your priorities will help provide harmony between the different aspects of your life.

3. Unplug, unplug, unplug reports that cutting ties with the outside world from time to time allows us to recover from weekly stress and gives us space for other thoughts and ideas to emerge.

• Unplug at bedtime

• Unplug during at least one meal per day

• Unplug on dates

• Unplug on your commute.

Find ways to unplug and escape the call of work to reduce the risk of burnout. Burnout is when you feel emotionally



Michael Abramowitz is vice president of public relations and communications for Concert Golf Partners. He can be reached via email at

Recapitalization Offers a Unique Solution for Clubs

Your members love their club and the traditions they have created. They are proud of its legacy and want to preserve the culture and identity that make their club unique so the membership can thrive.

However, every club contends with hurdles in the pursuit of sustained excellence. To further improve and enhance your club for your membership, you must take a closer look at the holistic country club and golf experience and strategically design a game plan to enrich the club and build a lasting legacy.


While every private club is unique, the equity club system brings common issues for boards and members that demand a personal touch.

For example, while it’s common to see private clubs regularly use member assessments for project funding, these extra member bills, when repeatedly applied to a club to pay down bank debt, can easily lead to dissatisfied members. Other clubs cannot finance new capital improvement projects because their debt limit burdens them.

How can a board protect its club and enrich its future while eliminating debt and avoiding member assessments?

The board later held focus groups and conducted member surveys to develop a strategic master plan.

Members voted overwhelmingly in favor of a $3 million “Vision 2025” package of course and facility improvements but rejected member assessments to pay for it.

The Vision 2025 plan included a major overhaul of the irrigation system, an upgraded aquatics center, a new kids club, a golf simulator and an outdoor dining courtyard. Members searched for a sustainable funding mechanism. Eventually, they voted 97 percent to partner with a club hospitality company to pay off the club’s debt, resolve its refundable membership deposits dilemma and fund the Vision 2025 projects.

Today, the Vision 2025 plan is no longer a vision but a reality.

When a club recapitalizes, its debts are instantly retired, so a club can begin to address key capital improvement projects and stay competitive in its local market.

Investing capital enhances amenities, service levels and overall member experience while building and maintaining a thriving club environment.

This kind of partnership offers a seamless transition, relieving owners and board members of the stress and financial burden of club debt. It’s an instant improvement to a club’s balance sheet, as with mortgage loans or lines of

Recapitalization enables a partnership with clubs, introducing a process of investing cash with no member assessments while preserving the identity and traditions of historic clubs. Recapitalization immediately eliminates the burden of debt and member assessments, offering a unique solution for a private club and its membership to thrive.

Recapitalizing your club with a well-funded operating partner can far more effectively fund operating costs and other major expenses without dipping into your members’ wallets.

Take the Country Club of Roswell as an example. The club is regarded as a family club with one of the best golf courses in North Atlanta.

For several years, successive boards at the Country Club of Roswell debated about the competitive local club market and how best to respond to the challenge of funding ongoing capital projects and declining initiation fees.

credit, clubs often pay $500,000 to $1 million annually in principal and interest. Best of all, there are no assessments for the membership to bear.

Recapitalization enables a partnership with clubs, introducing a process of investing cash with no member assessments while preserving the identity and traditions of historic clubs. Recapitalization immediately eliminates the burden of debt and member assessments, offering a unique solution for a private club and its membership to thrive. BR



Ed Doyle is president of RealFood, Hospitality, Strategy & Design, a Troon company. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Ed has worked in some of the finest kitchens and operations across the food service industry. In 2023, Ed was inducted into the Massachusetts Restaurant Association Hall of Fame for his track record of success in hospitality. In 2021, he was named Adviser of the Year by Golf Inc. magazine for his contributions to club and resort food and beverage. The founder of RealFood, Ed has been helping clients since 1996 to define, design and deliver unique and memorable hospitality experiences. He can be reached at, (617) 876-2100.

Is Your Kitchen a Business?

Oui, Chef; Yes,

Chef. Heard

Most leaders under-communicate their vision by a factor of 10.

That’s what Harvard Business School professor John Kotter found in his research. In a Harvard Business Review article, “How Great Leaders Communicate,” author Carmine Gallo cites Kotter’s work. He writes, “In the age of knowledge, ideas are the foundation of success in almost every field. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t persuade anyone else to follow your vision, your influence and impact will be greatly diminished.”

There’s one place that communication is key, crucial actually. And it’s behind the swinging doors, the portal to a different world—the fabled back of the house. This often windowless, bustling, fast-paced nucleus of your club has its own rules, culture and unspoken list of do’s and don’ts. “Don’t touch my towels; don’t take my spoons, FIFO.”

These rules are often misunderstood, misinterpreted or just plain intimidating, so many club leaders don’t take the time to learn them. Not knowing these rules makes the kitchen a scary place that might feel disorganized, daunting or even off-limits to anyone not wearing an apron. There’s a handbook for golf at your club, USGA rules of the game and golf professionals for interpretation, but there’s no official documentation for kitchen rules.

Until now.

The definition of a rule is “one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere.” So, after interviewing chefs from various locations, backgrounds and professional stature, I started to document some common rules of the kitchen sphere.

The interest and input from participating chefs have been insightful, intelligent and sometimes (as expected) even clever. Those submissions, including “When sweeping, remember the floor goes all the way to the wall” and “Never trust a chef with dirty shoes,” were logged in a blooper reel.

At an industry conference earlier this year, I shared the first seven rules compiled from the non-blooper submissions to introduce what I’m calling Kitchen Rules: Back of House Business Intelligence.

Here’s the first rule: Oui, Chef; Yes, Chef. Heard. Everyone’s witnessed, maybe even said, one of these phrases. But many don’t understand the power behind these expressions. There’s more to these simple words than the sentiment of “Yes, Master” or “Yah, yah, I got it.” This first kitchen rule is about ensuring a shared exchange, that I understand you and you understand me; it’s about calibration within a team. Sure, it’s a sign of respect in many ways, but it’s really about communicating to enlist reciprocal comprehension. Many chefs I interviewed said over-communication is key to success in the back of the house. They advocate, “It’s my job to make sure you got it.”

Effective communication is important in the back of the house and general business, including club business. Gallo writes, “Make mission your mantra to align teams.” He suggests being a “repeater in chief,” someone who constantly keeps the mission front and center (not tucked away in a drawer or computer file). A mantra, or mission, builds strength over time.

Your kitchen is a business, and your chef is a leader. Too many chefs fail to understand the business of delivering hospitality excellence or the mission of extraordinary club experiences. Too many cooks think being a chef is only about creativity and great food. It’s not. Too many club professionals think they understand the business behind the swinging doors. They don’t.

When everyone understands the rules, respects and applies the rules, no one is bumping into each other; we’re all working from the same baseline, and everyone will focus on the business of cooking up world-class experiences in the kitchen and every area of our clubs.

The first rule of communication is just the beginning, but it’s a great place to start. Without rules, it’s just chaos. Without communication, it’s just a bunch of people in aprons running around a windowless room with pots and pans. BR



Wes Hagen is a 30 year veteran in California Wine, designated one of the ‘100 Most Influential Winemakers in the US’ by Michael Cervin (WallStreetJournal, et al). Wes has hosted wine training and events at clubs from Phoenix, Maryland to San Diego, CA. He currently serves as Brand Ambassador for Native9 Wine (, a Wine and Spirits Top 100 Winery in the World. Chat with Wes about your wine program: (805) 450-2324

Transforming Wine Programs

Here’s the challenge: Making wine factual and finding metrics on which we can measure (an emotional) member response to our wine programs.

BoardRoom’s mantra is ‘Facts over Emotions’, which has forced me to re-evaluate what we can define as wine facts. Let’s take this journey together.

Here are some ‘club’ wine facts as I understand them after 30 years in the wine business:

• 90 percent of club wine lists should be tailored to your members’ preferences

• 10 percent of club wine lists should rotate to show exciting regions, lesser-known varietals and regions in an attempt to broaden membership’s wine horizons

• Buy wines for the members, not for what you want/ wish the members to drink

• Members appreciate tastings, locker sales, seminars and wine dinners and will support them if they are exciting, well-curated and fairly priced

• Vendors and distributors will always be willing to make deals, offer training, and set up events at clubs, but these often will be sales/brand-focused and may fail to train staff or educate members and guests on the broad topics of wine and wine service

• Data is king. If Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon represent 75 percent of your wine sales, there should be at least three offerings of different styles of these wines: Using Chardonnay as an example, offer a crisp Chablis-style Chardonnay, a balanced wine with a touch of richness and oak and a butter-bomb for those who prefer this style

• Always have a ‘Captain’s’ or ‘Reserve List’ for special occasions with wines priced at $100-plus. These wines, on a page easily seen in the wine list, will ‘anchor’ the prices of your less expensive options and also show your dedication to offering upscale, fine and rare wine.

How emotion may negatively impact club wine programs:

• Relying on just one or a few distributors/vendors you’ve become friendly with will limit both offerings and a balanced wine list for your members

• Having a member-based wine-tasting committee to guide wine purchases at the club can negatively and

positively affect the bottom line of food and beverage. If the wine committee makes decisions and purchases that continue to improve selections (that sell!), it’s good to allow membership to guide the offerings. Often, though, I see wine committee members only consider their own palate preference or show preference to brands they are invested in or have friends that are. I suggest a balance of member guidance and independent selection. Tread carefully

• The squeaky wheel: It’s been said that 10 percent of our customers give us 90 percent of our criticism and feedback. While we know that challenging members, spouses, vendors and employees often fill more time than we wish, we need to be cautious in our managerial decisions when it comes to wine. Finding ways to placate the ‘complainers’ while finding data and real-time solutions to make the ‘silent majority’ pleased with our wine programs requires a great deal of member interaction, staff sharing these honest chats and resisting the desire to quiet the difficult members at the cost of a substandard wine program.

There’s a lot to unpack here, both for me and F&B. I’ll expand on these points as we continue to focus on wine program facts. I’ll also offer a Q&A option at the end of each article, which will guide our next article.

If you’d like a wine question answered in BoardRoom, please contact me at:

Q&A: Art Barajas, CCM, CCE, COO/GM of Glendora Country Club, CA asks:

“How can we create a wine list that caters to a diverse membership with varying taste preferences while still ensuring staff can confidently recommend wines and navigate service effectively?”

Wes answers: That’s a great question to guide our conversation in the next article. My first recommendation is that staff wine training include a ‘table reading’ of every wine on your list to make sure the staff selling the wine can pronounce each wine correctly. I’m always surprised how often staff cannot pronounce the wines they sell. BR

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Fine Print - Part I


Andrew Hartsock ( is editor-in-chief of GolfCourseManagement magazine and director of publications for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

As 3D printers become more affordable and the technology more approachable, golf course maintenance workers find more and more applications for them.

When he was assistant superintendent at Coyote Creek Golf & RV Resort in Sundre, AB, Canada, Marcus Blech noticed a trend, primarily with the course’s seasonal staff, that was as frequent as it was annoying.

Time and again when crew members were sent out with the course’s hover mowers, the workers would return with the machines inoperable and the mowing undone.

“I think they thought they could break it and get out of doing the work,” says Blech, a three-year GCSAA member.

There had to be a better way, Blech reasoned.

A tech-savvy tinkerer at heart, Blech reached for his calipers and got to work. Rather than buy the offending part, he was determined to construct it instead, and with a little trial and error, he eventually settled on 3D printing as the solution.

“I could print the item for 10, 15 cents’ material, plus the time it took to print,” says Blech, who since has moved on from Coyote Creek and is now tending to municipal sports fields.

“Before, you’d have to order the part, and with COVID and everything, that would delay it a week or longer, and the flymo would be out of service the whole time. Now, if it broke, for cents — literally cents — and maybe half an hour on my printer, I could print out a few ahead of time. If it broke, I could have it up and back in service in 10 minutes.”

Blech, who says he bought his first 3D printer around 2019, is one of a quickly growing group of folks who are learning that 3D printing can be a unique solution to ever-increasing problems in the golf maintenance industry.

“More and more people are starting to use 3D printers in the industry,” Blech says. “And as more and more people start to use them, those files become more readily available.”

Which means, of course, more and more people can start dipping their toes in the 3D printing pool, which means more applications, which means more users, which … well, you get the idea.

“Like everything, the technology is growing so fast,” says JR Wilson, CTEM, equipment manager at Noyac Golf Club in Sag Harbor, N.Y., and a nine-year association member. “One

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

Science Provides Options Instead of Rebuilding

It is not unusual for the physical properties of mature greens that are 10 to 20 years old to be the same at the 4 inches to 12 inches depth as they were the day they were constructed.

I’ve heard over the years that greens get old and must be rebuilt every seven to 10 years. “That’s hogwash.”

I shudder to think of the money we as an industry have wasted by rebuilding greens without knowing their physical properties and what was stressing our turf.

It is easy to say, “Well they are over 10 years old, what more can we expect from them.” Let me give you something to think about based on analyzing thousands of greens from thatch to gravel over the last 17 years. Sand particles in golf greens do not normally change with age. The 4-inch to gravel or drain depth properties are, in most cases, the same as when the greens were originally built.

The number one cause of green failure is organic material deposited by the root system. This material is Mother Nature’s gift to us and when managed properly can be one of our greatest assets in maintaining a healthy turf system. When this gift is not properly managed, we have problems within our turf system and our turf quality (putting surface) starts to decline.

We need organic material in our greens mix to provide (1) food for our microbes, (2) nutrient holding and (3) moisture retention. It is important to understand that when organic material absorbs water it swells, and when it swells, it decreases our air pores where our roots and microbes live, thus reducing the amount of oxygen our roots and microbes need.

As our greens age, compaction begins and the loss of air pores continues. The process of our root system producing organic matter continues to take place. In most cases, once our air pores decrease to around 15 percent and our organic matter increases to more than 2.5 percent, we start to have stressed turf problems. Simply put, we do not have enough air pores to accommodate our roots or the oxygen needs of our microbes.

The following picture is of a six-month-old green. The visible dark layer is organic matter produced and deposited by the root system. This organic material contributes to the

establishment of the turf system by holding nutrients and water for the turf as needed.

This next picture is of a four-year-old green with one of the new bent grasses that were aerified with needle tines and one-quarter-inch hollow tines only over four years. The displacement of organic material over four years by aerifying was insufficient to keep up with the production of organic material produced by the turf’s root system in the top 2 ¼ inches.

The organic matter shut down the respiratory system of the greens mix. The infiltration rate of this and its sister greens was zero. The organic matter was of such a high concentration in the top 2.5 inches that when it absorbed moisture and swelled it filled the air pores and sealed off the greens. Below the 2.5-inch depth, the root zones were in excellent condition.

The root system of turf plays a role similar to that of the respiratory system of humans. The roots take in oxygen and release CO2. With the turf system sealed off and unable to exchange gasses, the turf asphyxiates itself over time.

To live in a sealed-off environment the roots will become shallow, as the only oxygen available to them is at the surface. Brown or tan roots indicate that our turf does not have enough oxygen. Turf roots will be white when the plant is healthy.

After having a complete physical analysis performed on the above-featured green, including having the materials (sand & organic) evaluated in 1-inch increments, an aerification/displacement plan was implemented that was acceptable to all parties involved, and the golf facility was recently voted one of the top golf facilities in North America.

Science provided options to the club instead of just rebuilding.

Let’s stop talking about the number of aerifications and talk about displacement based on science. BR

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What’s Cooking in the Turf Oven?

A temperature-controlled space and grow lights can warm up turf plugs and show whether winter injury has struck at your facility.

Although I have yet to see widespread winter injury in my travels, isolated pockets occur nearly every year, and it is a common concern on golf courses throughout the Northeast. Turfgrasses in northern areas are susceptible to four abiotic types of winter injury: crown hydration, direct low-temperature injury, ice encasement and desiccation. The type of injury observed will vary depending on location and winter weather conditions.

If the golf course is perfectly healthy when it goes dormant and key areas never wake up, it can be frustrating. Traffic often needs to be restricted on injured areas, and the course may even need to close completely during recovery efforts. Although waiting for warmer temperatures to stimulate growth is necessary for recovery, assessing winter injury can be expedited.

Golfers and golf course maintenance staff want to know how the turf will come out of winter dormancy. Bringing a selection of turf plugs into warmer temperatures will stimulate growth and induce spring greenup or confirm the worst –that winterkill has occurred.

One way to assess the viability of plugs is to create a climate-controlled space with grow lights. I have seen simple setups consisting of plastic tubs with heat lamps to more sophisticated multilevel growth tents with thermostat-controlled temperatures. Even placing plugs on a sunny windowsill can work and help give you peace of mind, or alert you to a potential problem. When taking plugs from the golf course inside to the growth chamber, keep the plugs moist by watering

frequently. Knowing if there’s damage is what’s important. That information will assist in planning and communicating to golfers what to expect during recovery.

Warm-season grasses generally require continuous nighttime air temperatures of at least 60 degrees F to induce any signs of spring greenup, with growth resuming when soil temperatures reach about 65 F. Cool-season grasses can start to green up at much lower soil temperatures, as low as 50 F.

If the plugs from areas of concern break dormancy, the waiting game becomes more palatable. If the plugs do not break dormancy, planning for recovery can begin. Making sure putting green covers are on hand to stimulate growth and having seed and/or sod ready to go should take precedence.

In addition, communicating what spring playing conditions will be like to golfers is highly recommended. Knowing ahead of time that there are some weak or thin areas and that a plan is in place to fix them can help ease concerns. If you have experienced winter injury, a regional USGA agronomist can assist with managing expectations at your course and developing a recovery plan.

Northeast Region Agronomists: Darin Bevard, Senior Director, Championship Agronomy,

Elliott L. Dowling, Regional Director, East Region,

Brian Gietka, Agronomist,

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff. Published with permission of the USGA.



Aeration Advice

Aeration is hands-down the most controversial and disruptive maintenance practice performed on the golf course.

As spring approaches, many superintendents prepare to aerate their putting greens. Spring is an ideal time for aeration on cool-season putting greens because the turf is at its healthiest and can recover quickly. Undoubtedly, aeration is necessary in most cases, but understanding how much or little aeration is needed can help guide these controversial and impactful decisions.

To determine how much aeration is necessary it’s important to recognize the primary reason for doing it: to manage surface organic matter content. With that in mind, it would be nice to know how much OM you have and an appropriate target range for OM. Aerating without this information doesn’t mean you’re doomed and destined for failure. Having OM data can help guide decisions and provide golfers and stakeholders with information to justify the aeration program.

Over the last four years, a committee of university researchers and USGA Green Section staff worked to develop a standardized method for OM sampling and testing. With standardized sampling and testing methods, lab results are more meaningful and can be compared to a larger dataset

from other courses to determine what an ideal range might be. Throughout the research process, USGA agronomists sampled putting greens from several hundred courses. As part of that process, we have identified ranges that seem to provide the best balance of turf health and playability for different grass types.

Typically, an aeration program is developed to reduce OM but remember that if OM content is too low, greens can lose resiliency to traffic and mechanical stress. To provide greens with good firmness, turf density and a robust root system, managing OM within an ideal range is of the utmost importance. Aeration is a key component of doing so, and before you commit to a particular program, consider contacting your regional USGA agronomist to take samples for OM testing and help develop a comprehensive plan based on those results.

Central Region Agronomists: Zach Nicoludis, Regional Director,

Paul Jacobs, Agronomist,

For Information on the USGA’s course consulting service, contact the Green Section staff. Published with permission of the USGA.



Every private club has its own unique identity and we want to help your club maintain yours. Of course, that requires a different approach than the status quo of self-management, which is why Troon Privé® continues to grow. As Troon’s dedicated private club division, we are a proven professional services organization that provides best-in-class systems, processes and resources to the private clubs we serve. Visit to learn more about who we are and why our clients partner with us.

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Benjamin Houssa is vice president robotics ECHO Inc. He can be reached via email:

Autonomous Revolution Coming to a Club Near You

Editor’s note: Several states and municipalities in the United States have implemented or are considering regulations to reduce or eliminate the use of gas-powered lawn equipment such as mowers and grassblowers. California, for example, has been at the forefront of environmental regulations, including restrictions on gas-powered lawn equipment.

New York City and several other municipalities in that state have implemented restrictions on gas-powered leaf blowers because of concerns about noise pollution and air quality. Additionally, broader restrictions on gas-powered lawn equipment have been discussed.

Some towns in Massachusetts and Illinois also have enacted bans or restrictions on gas-powered lawn equipment.

Also, electric mowers, including robotic equipment, are gradually replacing gas engine-powered mowers at golf courses, driven by a combination of environmental concerns, technological advancements, and cost-effectiveness.

Maintaining a golf course demands meticulous attention to detail, a significant time investment, and skilled labor. Now, with technological advancements, the golf course industry is witnessing a transformation that is making maintenance more efficient and cost-effective.

Autonomous golf mowers and range pickers are revolutionizing how golf courses are managed.


Random pattern mowing robots were introduced in 2010 and a slow shift towards automation is taking place.

It started with random mowing robots that managed a given number of acres, utilizing a buried wire and electromagnetic pulses for navigation. While that automated the process, it was not all that well received. Once the industry was finally

able to deploy GPS solutions that operated more like what people are used to seeing, we started to turn a corner.


Maintaining a golf course’s lush green expanses involves frequent mowing to ensure a pristine playing surface. However, manual mowing is labor-intensive and time-consuming. Autonomous mowers offer a solution that combines precision with efficiency.

Autonomous mowers utilize state-of-the-art technology, including GPS navigation and advanced sensors, to navigate the terrain and mow with unparalleled accuracy. One such technology is Wireless Satellite Exact Navigation (WISENAV). These machines are programmed to operate within predefined boundaries to stay on course while avoiding obstacles like bunkers, water hazards, and trees.

One key advantage of autonomous mowers is their ability to work tirelessly without human intervention. They can operate during off-peak hours, thus minimizing disruptions to golfers and staff.

Moreover, these machines are electrically powered, so emissions are reduced compared to gas-powered equipment, and noise pollution is also curtailed. Their sustainable operation supports clubs in meeting local requirements, such as the California Green Lawncare law.

The real magic of autonomous mowers is their ability to operate relentlessly and daily mow areas that would not otherwise be mowed. This process enhances turf quality.

Daily mowing minimizes stress on the grass plant, which in turn makes the plant more resilient to stressful periods and bolsters its defense against weed intrusion. Since clippings are small and recycled, there is less need for heavy fertilizer, chemicals, and regimens.


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Hillendale Country Club’s Software Search Success

Hillendale Country Club’s challenge was all too familiar in the private club industry: the club was growing, but their software was not.

The club’s tired software, which President Gabrielle Hart described as being of “the Dark Ages” was not only failing to support Hillendale’s growth, it was also actively hindering it.

When their dining facilities underwent a full renovation, Hart knew it was time to seek out a technology upgrade. She entrusted the software search to board members Tag Wagner and Brad Pollard, whose respective experiences in technology and cybersecurity made them excellent candidates to lead the quest. They began the search with an outline of necessary components for prospective providers: any software that could meet every one of these stringent requirements would be offered up to Hillendale’s board and stakeholders for consideration.

With the search ignited for a solution that would meet Hillendale’s every need, Wagner and Pollard laid out their criteria. Their ideal provider would be based in the cloud and come equipped with excellent security protocols to ensure confidence in their club management processes as well as the handling of all the club’s data.

Beyond the desire for uncompromising confidence in security credentials, Hillendale was also looking for multiple pieces to solve their personal puzzle–a one-stop-shop suite with several solutions that would work seamlessly together and enable robust reporting throughout the club. Cooperative, integrated technology with a members-first approach would be necessary for their future success, meaning there would be no more settling for subpar when it came to their software systems.

A need which was by no means unique to Hillendale but remained personal to their desire for accelerated member

experiences was for improved reservation systems – they were tired of the email-and-answer method that so often left members unsure if they’d successfully reserved club amenities or missed requests entirely.

Beneath all these vital checkboxes ran the relentless undercurrent of what the club was looking for most in a future provider: a true partner in their success who had a deeply held, forward-looking approach to investing in and enhancing the private club industry.

When Hillendale came across Clubessential, the pieces fell into place: with the search committee’s requirements met, the decision to make the software switch was finally set in stone. The board and staff alike knew Clubessential would see and meet their needs as a club, especially as Hillendale grew into new offerings and services.

During the 2023 Digital Summit, the industry-leading virtual event for private club professionals, Wagner spoke about the results of the switch in a Clubessential customer panel: “The staff has been excited to be able to dive into what, you know, they’ve described as endless amounts of data that can drive the club operations.”

Wagner discussed the impact of this technology migration in the panel, saying that their previous inability to track investments has now finally been rectified. After launching a two-bay golf simulator, “it was guesswork in terms of what the return on that investment was,” said Wagner. Now, post-deployment, Hillendale has much greater visibility into “the actual impact of an investment.”

Alongside these palpable benefits were other quantifiable results such as increased revenue from event reservations, mobile ordering, and more. More capable reporting has led the club to staff more efficiently and pre-determine labor needs according to actual club data, making excellent member experiences more constant and stabler than ever.

From the search for a provider to the process of implementation and beyond, Hillendale’s story highlights an opportunity for any private club to experience how important it is to partner with a technology provider that actively looks to the future.

Access the full case study and hear from industry peers about the highs and lows of switching to a new club management software! BR




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“We were limited in using technology and needed a partner that would hold our hand through the entire process. Clubessential helped us plug in all our needs with solutions.”

Stephanie Castro is chief operating officer at Cobalt Software, the first club management software provider to offer artificial intelligence solutions for the private club industry. Stephanie can be reached at

Protect Your Castle! Cybersecurity and Your Club Management System

Cybersecurity is a hot topic in the club industry, and for good reason. Your members are affluent individuals whose personal data could be quite valuable in the hands of criminals.

If your club is a castle, then member data is the royal treasure that must be protected at all costs. For all the talk about cybersecurity, there is surprisingly little discussion about the software provider’s role in keeping your club member’s data safe.

Oftentimes, security is presented as the responsibility of the club, the IT department or outsourced IT company, or the hosting provider, if the solution is delivered via the internet.

But your club software, which houses your member’s data in its database, is the heart of the operation, and the last line of defense against bad actors. If the software itself is not secure, it’s a soft target dependent on network security to keep it safe, particularly if the software is hosted in on-site servers at your club. While many software providers use best practices for cybersecurity, don’t automatically assume that yours does. It is always better to ask. After all, as a club leader, you’re the king or queen of your castle.


What most people think of as cybersecurity is simply network security. Network security is like the moat around the castle. It’s the outermost level to keep intruders out. To protect the network, the best defenses are educating your staff about how to prevent phishing and malware attacks, and measures such as firewalls.

But just keeping intruders off the property is not sufficient. You can’t just build a moat and leave the rest of the castle without strong gates, locks, and other protections. Club software is the same. Network security is great, but the inner workings of the software must also be secure.

While network-level security is the responsibility of the club, there are 3 more important levels of security that software providers should leverage to secure their applications.


• Prompting users to change passwords frequently (i.e. every 90 days).

• Timing out at an appropriate interval when a user is away from a terminal to prevent unauthorized access.

• Having MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) to verify new devices.

• In-depth audit tracking and usage reporting.


• Database encryption. This makes it so the data cannot be easily read by anyone gaining access. Special ‘keys’ are required to decrypt and make sense of the data.

• High security field-level encryption (DOB, SSN). In addition to encrypting access to the entire database, certain sensitive fields are further encrypted, and access is restricted by user roles and privileges.


• All sites should be using security certificates and authentication (SSL or TSL).

• Passing all data through a secure channel.

• Encrypting passwords before transporting them.


Many clubs still use local servers for their software, providing operational continuity in case of internet outages. However, with today’s more reliable internet, many are shifting to cloud-based systems. This makes things easier for clubs who may not have inhouse IT resources to manage network security and reduces the risk of ransomware or phishing attacks on member data since the software and databases aren’t on-premises. It’s like keeping your gold in a vault offsite, rather than inside the castle walls.

However, components that are accessible via the internet may require additional protocols such as transfer-level security, encrypting passwords during transport, complex password requirements and multi-factor authentication.

Database structure, namely keeping the back-office database in a separate server from the web server, can also provide another layer of protection. This is like having 2 moats: one outside the castle and another between the castle walls and the inner chambers.


The following questions can help you evaluate the strength of your system’s security.

• What year was your software built? (Though this is not always the case, newer software is more likely to use modern cybersecurity tools.)

• Have you or a client ever had a hack, ransomware attack or data breach? If so, how did you support the club? What measures were implemented to reduce future risk?

• Is data encrypted both at rest and in transit?

• (If Cloud-Hosted) Can you provide a sample penetration testing report?

• Do you use a separate web server and back-office server, or are they on the same server? (Multiple servers are more secure). BR


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Redefining Parking at Country Clubs for Enhanced Member Experience

As country clubs regain their allure, a challenge arises: parking. With an influx of members drawn to leisure and community engagement, existing parking facilities reveal their limitations.

The need for inventive parking solutions becomes apparent to accommodate the growing membership and their vehicles. Country clubs thrive as social and recreational hubs. However, their traditional emphasis on aesthetics over practical parking solutions proves inadequate as member attendance increases. This congestion compromises convenience and the overall experience, urging immediate attention and creative solutions.

In response, country clubs are exploring innovative approaches to address the parking dilemma. Vertical parking systems, valet services, and smart parking technology emerge, aiming to maximize efficiency while maintaining environmental and aesthetic harmony. These solutions not only expand parking capacity but also demonstrate a broader commitment to enhancing member satisfaction through thoughtful planning.


The integration of technology into country club amenities heralds a new era of parking solutions. SYZYGY Global’s parking lift systems epitomize this evolution, seamlessly blending functionality with design. SYZYGY has risen to this challenge by designing car lift systems that are modular, adaptable, and capable of incorporating the latest vehicle technology, all while maintaining the club’s visual harmony. This thoughtful integration of cutting-edge technology and design has resolved the historical discord among committees, providing a unified solution that upholds the club’s elegance.

Admirals Cove Country Club serves as a prime example of this innovation, where SYZYGY’s technology redefines parking luxury, setting new standards for efficiency and design. Implementing these parking lift solutions addresses a critical challenge: aligning the objectives of parking, aesthetics, and

technology committees. SYZYGY’s solution bridges historical divides among committees, providing a unified approach that preserves the club’s elegance.

Given the challenge of adding 73 new parking spaces within a limited available area, SYZYGY utilized 2-Stack and 3-Stack parking lift systems to construct an intelligent vertical parking solution. This space-saving, innovative design concept has provided Admiral’s Cove with the necessary space while minimizing the overall footprint. Additionally, this approach has proven to be economically advantageous, offering nearly 50% cost savings compared to traditional parking garages with the same capacity.

These innovative parking lifts meet the practical demands of parking while seamlessly integrating into the club’s luxurious ambiance, ensuring an unmatched member experience. SYZYGY has ensured its parking lift systems represent a pivotal advancement in country club amenities.

The revolution in parking lift solutions signifies a step towards a future where luxury and innovation harmonize, enhancing the

functionality and elegance of country club spaces. Led by cofounders Jason Herring and Julie Hawbaker, SYZYGY’s visionary leadership and dedication to crafting exceptional experiences are reshaping the luxury landscape of country clubs. As memberships grow, their commitment ensures clubs are wellprepared to welcome the influx with grace and ample parking.

The transformation of country club parking through innovative solutions like SYZYGY’s parking lifts demonstrates a commitment to enhancing member experiences and adapting to the evolving needs of the modern club. With a blend of technology, design, and strategic planning, these solutions not only alleviate parking challenges but also contribute to the overall ambiance and functionality of the club space. As country clubs continue to evolve, the integration of cuttingedge parking solutions ensures they remain at the forefront of luxury and convenience for their members. BR


BoardRoom magazine Recognizes the Private Club Presidents of the Year

Now in its 16th year, 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 six of its top 20 presidents for 2023. The Distinguished Club President was featured in the January/February 2024 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.

Private Club Presidents of the Year Major Sponsors

Michael W. Carr, president of Detroit Golf Club, has a passion for excellence and an unfettered commitment, said Donald Byerly III, the club’s general manager and chief operating officer.

“His enthusiasm and passion for DGC is reflected in his leadership style, which is a collaborative effort with his fellow board members,” Byerly added. “Michael has the knack for letting the operational professionals do their work, which is critical. He knows when to be hands-on and when to be hands-off.”


In 2023, the board turned its focus to strategy, and Detroit Golf Club transitioned from a micromanagement approach to a strategic governance model.

“We made a conscious decision to shift our involvement away from the minutiae of day-to-day operations and redirect our energy towards governance and strategic oversight,” Carr said.

“This decision was not taken lightly. It involved comprehensive discussions, thorough planning and a unified commitment to enhance our club’s governance model. Our executive committee was instrumental in this process, providing the necessary support and framework to implement this significant change.”

The club is on a journey toward excellence.

“It’s crucial to avoid reverting to old habits to become a beacon of excellence for the future, ensuring our COO has the latitude he needs to have members enjoy unparalleled experiences,” Carr explained.

At Detroit Golf Club, the member experience is a constant work in progress.

“The board’s shift to strategy and governance enables our COO to lead programming, staffing and culture, enhancing member engagement and experience,” Carr said.

“Let’s trust our skilled professionals to deliver the exceptional experiences our members seek. We are confidently advancing in this direction.”

Carr is the co-founder and CEO of Archer Corporate Services. Under Carr’s leadership, the company has become a top provider in the fulfillment industry, serving major firms like P&G and General Motors. ACS, recognized for excellence and diversity, is a testament to Carr’s strategic leadership in growing a minority-owned business. BR


“The club and membership interests come first, the board of directors and staff interests come second and my interests come last.”

These words describe the philosophy by which Ed Kelly lives, the same philosophy he has instilled in the board members and staff at TPC Treviso Bay Golf Club in Naples, FL.

Kelly, the club’s first and only president until his “retirement” in the spring of 2023, has been involved with TPC Treviso Bay Golf Club since day one.

The list of his achievements is long.

Kelly guided the inaugural board through the club’s transition in 2017 from a developer-owned to a member-owned corporation.


He led the club in establishing operating, financial, staff and volunteer policies and helped develop and implement the club’s mission, vision and strategic plan.

He steered the club during the COVID-19 pandemic and through a multimillion-dollar golf course renovation.

Under Kelly’s leadership, the club has grown from a small membership and more outside play than member play to over 800 members and 99 percent of rounds in season played by members and their guests.

His greatest accomplishment is building the board of directors and senior leadership teams. Under his leadership, there has been little board or employee turnover. Kelly approaches his role with transparency. He ensures the board sets policy and strategy while management implements board decisions and has control over day-to-day operations.

He works with the general manager each year to develop goals and plans for achieving those goals and supports continuing education for all employees.

“To define Mr. Kelly as a leader brings nothing but a smile to my face. He is approachable and without a doubt one of the most charismatic, communicative, honest, transparent, kind, courteous, fair but tough leaders,” said Scott Bertrand, the club’s general manager.

“He is a great listener and is sure to get the opinions of others before making his own decision. His decisions are based on facts and data and not emotion. His leadership skills extend to his ability to empower his board and our staff to do their jobs and do it to the best of our ability.”

Kelly hails from Columbus, OH. He received a Bachelor of Science in business from Ohio State University and studied at the Kelley School of Business (executive development program) at Indiana University. He spent 38 years with Ashland Inc., a Fortune 500 company, serving in various roles, including director, general manager, and regional director positions. Kelly has been married to his wife, Debbie for 44 years. BR


President Tom Kruger has been pivotal in Grand Harbor Golf and Beach Club becoming a premier club. He played a key role in revitalizing the club’s two golf courses, the Pete Dye-designed Harbor Course and the Joe Lee-designed River Course, and he also played a key role in the $6 million beach club renovation.

“These much-needed improvements to our amenities not only reinforced our reputation but also drove membership growth,” Kruger said about milestones that resulted from a close collaboration between committees, board members and the general manager, Michael Gibson, emphasizing the importance of every individual’s contribution.

“We’ve also had the highest number of golf rounds in decades. It’s a testament to our commitment to elevating our club experience.”

Gibson said that Kruger’s leadership extends across every facet of the club.

“The collaboration between governance and management has led to impressive enhancements to the overall member experience within a very short period of time. Tom’s open communication and passionate leadership style are commendable. He also understands that it’s the people who make Grand Harbor exceptional. Everything he does is for them.”

When the membership assumed control of the club three years ago, establishing trust became a primary focus for the board and management. With an emphasis on transparency, the club hosts weekly webinars, maintains clear and consistent communication channels and upholds an open-door policy. Food and beverage offerings have been enhanced, focusing on personalized, high-quality service and delectable cuisine.

The division of duties between the board and general manager is clear, fostering efficient operations and decision-making. Micromanagement is avoided, enabling the board to focus on setting overarching policies and goals. Each committee chair spearheads these policies. Kruger played a crucial role in the strategic plan, ensuring alignment with the club’s aim to be a premier club with top-tier amenities.

Kruger holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a major in marketing and a software engineering certification. His 21-year career on Wall Street concluded at Lehman Brothers, where he was managing director and global head of equity technology (chief information officer), overseeing a team of 350 and a $100 million budget. He boasts 19 years of private club involvement and has served over 10 years on various committees. BR


“Steve is a visionary and a collaborative team leader who puts the club’s mission and core values first.”

That’s how Jade Kiosse, general manager at Tualatin Country Club, described his president, Steve Kunkle.

“One of our biggest priorities over the last several years was to put a strategic plan in place that looked toward the future while maintaining our current traditions and core values,” Kunkle said. “Building our leadership development committee and hiring key


Daniel P. Magee, chairperson of the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor from 2018-23 and commodore in 2016, has enhanced the club’s membership experience by fostering a welcoming environment, organizing diverse events, soliciting member feedback and inspiring staff to provide personalized service.

He prioritized communication and addressed concerns promptly. His efforts strengthened the sense of community and value for club members.

“Dan has inspired, guided and influenced others toward common goals,” said Dwight R. Jenson, the

positions, with heavy input from our membership committees, has set us up for future success.”

An important step for Kunkle in developing the long-term strategic plan was to gather members’ input. He wanted to know their vision for Tualatin Country Club for the next five to 10 years.

Using the extensive member survey results, Kunkle formulated a template for the board with the next steps. He worked with five standing committees and the general manager to identify key projects, objectives and priorities, showing transparency throughout the process. Kunkle is creating the strategic plan with Kiosse and the leadership development committee.

Transparency has been the key between the board, general manager and membership at Tualatin Country Club.

In 2022, under Kunkle’s leadership, Tualatin Country Club was selected as the Oregon Golf Association Facility of the Year and recognized as a Top Workplace.

“These awards focused not only on the success of the membership activities but also on the success of the team, which has been an important focus of Steve’s,” Kiosse says.

Kunkle, a graduate of Oregon State University, has deep roots in the Pacific Northwest. He and his wife, Kristin, are enjoying their 27th year as Tualatin Country Club members. Kunkle’s corporate background at Edward Jones has guided him to make a difference in his community. He has spent 30 years with the Tualatin Rotary Club, serving as president for several years. Kunkle and his wife have two daughters and welcomed their first grandchild, Alder, last year. BR

general manager of the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor. “Dan exhibited integrity, empathy, and strategic vision, fostering collaboration and bringing out the best in trustees to achieve collective success. He has provided me with a pathway to success.”

Under Magee’s leadership, the club completed a $4.5 million renovation on budget and on time. The transformational renovation added a second-floor dining room with dramatic, sweeping views of the back bay and the most beautiful sunset views on the seven-mile island.

With this renovation, the club accommodated members’ changing tastes and desires. As a result, membership has expanded. Board members have successfully blended new members with the club’s traditions.

“We are extremely proud of nurturing a culture of membership involvement in all club activities and that we have had a member waiting list since 2016,” Magee added.

At the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor, the board sets policy, approves operational and capital budgets and builds upon the strategic plan. The general manager oversees day-to-day operations, staffing and strategic plan implementation.

Magee played a pivotal role in supporting the development of a comprehensive strategic plan that included a 10-year capital plan. He collaborated with trustees and key stakeholders to facilitate a forward-looking vision for the club.

Under Magee’s guidance, the club’s achievement of strategic plan milestones fostered a sense of purpose and direction among members.

Magee is senior vice president and wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. BR



Joe V. McCart’s leadership emphasizes member satisfaction and community engagement and showcases his commitment to merging golf passion with technological advancement.

In 2023, McCart, president of The Club at Admirals Cove, spearheaded the establishment of the golf performance center, a 4,800-square-foot facility with state-of-the-art technology, such as Trackman monitors and Swing Catalyst.

McCart, who encourages collaboration and open communication between the board and management, worked closely on the golf performance

center with Brett Morris, the club’s general manager and chief operating officer and with golf professionals. His vision was key in creating an attractive, efficient space for members and staff. This strategic move, overseen by Morris, elevated the club’s stature and value.

According to Morris, McCart’s leadership exemplifies the club’s mission as a premier waterfront country club community.

“His strategy balances forward-thinking with member respect, making tough choices while valuing feedback,” Morris says. “McCart’s transparent, principled approach, focusing on long-term club welfare, fosters trust and aligns with the club’s goals of exceptional service and a unique community atmosphere. His strategic vision and genuine commitment shape a distinguished Admirals Cove experience.”

At Admirals Cove, the board sets policies and strategic direction and oversees finances. The general manager oversees daily operations. This separation prevents micromanagement, granting the manager autonomy to fulfill the club’s vision.

McCart’s transparent and inclusive leadership has significantly boosted member satisfaction.

His focus on industry trends and professional development enhances service quality and member experience and sets new standards in club management.

His support for continuous learning for the management team fosters trust and a sense of community among management team members.

McCart’s 40-year leadership career spans real estate to aviation. Beyond professional success, McCart is committed to family and philanthropy. Among the causes he supports are Angel Flight and Wounded Warriors. McCart and his wife have been married for 42 years. He is an avid golfer and pilot. BR


Allison Mitchell has been involved in club leadership for over a decade.

William Zambrotto, the general manager at Huntington Country Club, describes his president as a collaborative leader who works closely with her fellow board members and management team to find solutions and ways to enhance the club experience for members.

“She is a tireless and devoted leader whose agenda is always in the club’s best interest,” Zambrotto said. “Allison is incredibly intelligent and educated, going above and beyond to research, study

and learn all aspects of club operations fully, which prepares her to be a thoughtful yet decisive leader. She is fair but firm and always in control.”

Mitchell played a key role in developing and executing the club’s membership master plan. The challenge was to retain longtime Huntington Country Club members while attracting new young families.

She focused on country club trends and demographics and led the changes and investments necessary to meet today’s demands. As a result, Huntington Country Club ended up with a record number of members in all categories, an extensive waitlist for golf members, record food and beverage revenues, and extremely high member satisfaction.

Mitchell is now leading the development of a facility master plan to further the club’s long-term sustainability.

“As stewards, it’s our responsibility to honor the past while planning for the future,” she says.

Mitchell played a pivotal role in helping to create and hire for the general manager position in 2020. Before then, committee chairs and department heads led the club. The board and the general manager set policies and procedures regarding membership. The general manager works with the management team to set policies regarding staff and operations.

Mitchell is the founding president of Pink Aid Long Island, a now-national nonprofit providing financial assistance to people battling breast cancer. Before joining the nonprofit world, Mitchell worked in marketing for WPP agencies. She focused on strategic planning and new product development. Mitchell is a graduate of Dartmouth, where she met her husband, Chris. They have two children, Haley and Conor. BR



Solve Your Facility Puzzle

David Wilson is a PGA Career Services consultant serving the Connecticut and New England PGA of America sections. He can be reached at (469) 486-1089 or

Everyone’s Puzzle Is Constructed Differently. How Will You Solve Your Puzzle?

Clubs have teams behind the scenes that deliver the best possible experience to members and guests every minute of each day.

Teams are made of unique individuals completing interdependent tasks to work toward accomplishing a common mission or specific objective.

The rate of change within the club industry over the last 10, even five years, has been a lot to wrap around and that change will only increase as time progresses. Teams are constructed like puzzles. Trying to use a puzzle piece that works at the club across town may not work for you, and that piece that once fit at your facility may not fit as it once did.

As a career consultant with the PGA of America, I work closely with PGA of America members and facilities, trying to understand everyone’s needs and goals. Everyone we work with has a unique story and has experienced the last five years differently. The individuals and facilities who have continued to excel and achieve lean into this idea of change and welcome the excitement while focusing on the people who have made it possible.

As Rory Sutherland of the advertising and marketing firm Ogilvy once said, “All too often what matters to people is not whether an idea is true or effective, but whether it fits with the preconceptions of a dominant convention or incumbent. New things put ego, status, jobs and identities at stake.”

The way Sutherland talks about innovation and how people process change is summed up by a phrase we have all heard before, that is not how we do things here. Innovation disrupts because it is different; by definition, it should look weird, feel unconventional, be misunderstood and sound wrong.

Let’s highlight a few staffing innovations that challenge how individuals view the club world and look at best practices and data points that can help you fight off cognitive dissonance and embrace the next wave of change as you work to solve your puzzle.

Dollars per round:

• Quantifying the level of service at a facility can be subjective. This becomes even more challenging when looking at one facility compared to another without truly knowing the activity level or resources within the golf program. We like to use a metric called dollars per round. We advise fa-

cilities to evaluate their dollars per round by evaluating how that number has changed from 2018 to today. With the increased usage at clubs, it is important to ensure those levels are appropriate at your facility before comparing them to others.

• (Total golf staff payroll – Golf department lead)/ Rounds of golf

• The golf department lead, typically the director of golf or head professional, is removed from the equation due to various compensation structures and the fact that this person should be in a supervisory position.

• Data from Club Benchmarking shows that this number has increased across the board with the median increasing by 13 percent while the top 25th percentile has increased dollars per round by 21 percent. Reports from the National Golf Foundation show that rounds of golf increased by 22 percent over this same period.


• The PGA of America has a team of recruitment specialists who create awareness and share career opportunities within the golf industry. They can have conversations with individuals looking to make golf their career. Common themes they hear in the conversations are flexible work weeks, weekends off and flex pay for shifts that are harder to fill. To that end, we have heard of facilities adopting this and changing the “traditional” schedule to accommodate more flexibility and time away from the facility with four full-day shifts or one weekend off per month.


• From AI to Range Picker robots, technology is only increasing to change how we experience the club. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in sports and entertainment are expected to far outpace the average in every other industry through 2032. Making tee times may get easier and picking the range may look different but working with a PGA of America professional on your game will remain an important piece of the experience at your facility. Embrace technology in a way to enhance an experience, not replace it. BR


Jonathan Club’s Matthew Allnatt Receives John Fornaro Impact Award

Special to BoardRoom

The mission itself is simple: “Enrich the lives of its members.”

Matthew Allnatt has been with Jonathan Club for 15 years. In that time, the club has evolved with a revitalized mission, purpose and governance.

However, a closer observation indicates that it touches upon a broader overall drive. To Matthew, Jonathan Club represents a bigger picture and purpose for its members, employees and surrounding communities.

Matthew Allnatt is being recognized as the 2023 co-recipient of the John Fornaro Impact Award for his outstanding work at Los Angeles’ Jonathan Club.

He’s a co-recipient of the award along with Peter Jackman, general manager of The Terminal Club in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The award is given annually to people recognized as leaders in the club industry.

“I’m proud of this award and all the amazing people who earned it. It recognizes visionaries, leaders and trailblazers whose work has improved our club industry.

“They demonstrate strong business skills and creative approaches, a willingness to take risks, engage others, and enthusiastically face ambiguity. Congratulations!” said John Fornaro, BoardRoom ’s CEO and publisher.

Enriching Jonathans’–the members–lives means providing a space where they can develop lifelong friendships, engage in ways that nurture their social lives, minds, bodies and overall wellness, and collaborate to support the Jonathan Club family and communities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

In essence, enriching the lives of its members boils down to providing every avenue and opportunity the club can for its members to be part of a community and socially interconnected and engaged members.

This mission extends to the Jonathan employee family, such as the Jonathan Club Scholarship Fund, formed during Matthew’s tenure. Since 2015, 55 scholarships of up to $60,000 for each recipient have been awarded to students to help with tuition, books and post-high school education, including trade schools, community colleges and universities.

This program is available to all Jonathan Club employees, their spouses, children and grandchildren and is funded entirely by the members. Jonathans’ generous contributions have


reached close to $5 million to date. The impact it is making on the awardees is priceless.

The club’s official publication, Jonathan , features articles providing members updates on the scholars...often in their own words. There is a heartwarming common thread of big smiles and gratitude in helping achieve a dream.

Matthew has often talked about community involvement as an integral fabric of Jonathan Club. Before Blue Zones became popular, Matthew brought up the idea and book to the club’s management team. As is widely known today, two of its pillars are having a purpose and a social network.

Matthew often talked about how private clubs could adopt this concept to provide an avenue for both, if not more. The more Jonathan Club and its members engaged in community programs, the more a social community blossomed internally and externally.

The more Jonathan Club and Jonathans gave back, the stronger a purpose was cultivated for the club and its members’ enrichment. Today, Jonathan Club has a rich roster of community programs, from tuition reimbursement for employees to JC Service Days with LA Works and many other organizations to collaborating with West Coast Care and the military, specifically the Medal of Honor Foundation.

Most recently, the club held four symposiums to address homelessness in Los Angeles, from which a white paper was produced to share with members, civic leaders and the community.

Jonathan Club has a membership of 4,000 primary members (10,000 total, including spouses, significant others and children) and $85 million in capital between both its facilities in the last 13 years.

Matthew has often stated that managing such a large-scale club requires the agility to pivot and adapt, aspirational leadership that leads with respect, passion and intention, and steady governance with a strategic plan.

When Matthew took on the general manager/chief operating officer’s role, he steered Jonathan Club toward that vision. The club’s election process, board terms and nominating process changed to align with the consistency, allowing the club to prosper not only immediately but also in the future. That change led to clearer board and management roles and responsibilities.

“The one thing all great clubs have in common is consistent leadership, which then promotes vision, culture and a consistent strategic plan,” said Matthew. With all the pieces in unison, the impact is visible with two vital indicators: member engagement and club expenses.

Matthew added, “While engagement is paramount to a club’s success, the expenses reveal the depth and scope of member engagement. “

Matthew began his career nearly 40 years ago when he graduated from London University with a degree in hospitality management. From there on, he traveled the world working in hotels, resorts and restaurants.

In 1989, Matthew was exposed to his first private club, The Coral Beach and Tennis Club in Bermuda. This began a long, prosperous passion for the private club world. Now, Matthew runs one of the largest clubs in the world, with two facilities and over 700 employees.

His love of the hospitality business continues today with his philosophy of providing an extraordinary experience and vision to be the very best for his members and his team of equally passionate employees. As Matthew sees it, the future of private clubs and Jonathan Club hinges on the enrichment of its members and employees.

One of his favorite books, The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly, says it all: “A club can only become the best version of itself to the extent that its employees are becoming better versions of themselves.”

A life lesson for Matthew is that attitude is crucial. He often quotes one of his great inspirations, Winston Churchill, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Matthew often talks about the club’s employees as family. Having just returned from a national conference, Matthew reminds people how lucky he is to be part of this family, and the so many friends that inspire him every day and help push this wonderful business to better and greater heights.

Matthew cannot imagine being anywhere else in his career right now and could not be more proud of Jonathan Club, its members, employees, and its evolution.

Add to that the fact he’s proud to announce that he is now a newly minted grandfather to baby Penelope!. BR


Henry ReceivesDeLozier Dave White Editorial Award

Henry DeLozier is the 2023 Recipient of the Dave White Editorial Award for his many contributions to The BoardRoom magazine, especially his Excellence in Governance series, which focuses on private club governance issues.

Henry DeLozier believes in club managers…just as fervently as he believes in himself. And that is no surprise to those who know this industrious soul. The catch is that management was not Henry’s original ambition.


Henry was 12 years old when he announced to his parents that he would become an All-American golfer at Oklahoma State University. He did, and along the way, Henry won the Oklahoma Amateur championship and numerous other golf tournaments.

And he’s the first to discount his golfing accomplishments, “I am no Rickie Fowler or Viktor Hovland and I am proud to let my golf history speak for itself. I could play a little bit.”

He knew his capabilities and was planning a career on the PGA Tour until he made one of his first and biggest business decisions, “I was a good enough player to know that I wasn’t good enough.”

Oklahoma State’s legendary golf coach, Labron Harris Sr., famously said of Henry, “This guy has more guts than an Army mule.” So, he wasn’t afraid of the big time. “I believed that I had more to offer than my golf skills,” Henry summarized as he enumerated his agile mind, alertness for details, and tireless work ethic.


His first job working in a private club was at Stillwater Country Club during his university years. “I was a janitor who worked from 3 am until my classes convened at 7 am. It was an excellent chance to earn extra money without undermining my ambitions with competitive golf and my academic responsibilities.”


While waiting to begin law school, he started as a golf professional. He quickly advanced to director of golf, general manager, resort manager, and then to guiding a portfolio of 30-some private clubs for Del Webb Corp/Pulte Homes. Henry summarized his career growth: “I had an intuitive understanding of the business and, apparently, a knack for strategy and finance that lifted me up the organizational chart.”

He spent nine years working for America’s largest homebuilding company and its most prolific developer of new golf courses and clubs. He was responsible for investing more than $500 million in the development of golf assets and building 27 new golf courses within 10 states.

As a result, Henry was responsible for the financial performance of the portfolio of club assets, the replacement value of which exceeded $300 million and annual revenues greater than $90 million.

“I learned every day at Del Webb / Pulte Homes. It was a time of enormous growth for me. At the same time, I watched experts acquire vast parcels of land, develop brilliant age-targeted communities, and enrich the lives of thousands of people.” During his years in the housing sector, Del Webb and Pulte Homes built 42,000 to 47,000 homes annually, and one key factor was the lifestyle proposition enacted within the captive clubs within those communities.


Excluding chef, Henry will tell you about hands-on learning in every job to which he was exposed.

“I always wanted to learn the jobs well enough that I could teach others to do them successfully.”

However, it was from others that he learned most.

“A dishwasher—let’s call him Kenny—with whom I worked taught me a great lesson in teamwork. You know, we competitive golfers are self-contained, so teamwork was a skill I needed to develop.

“One evening, our club was serving a 700-person wedding, and I was concerned that this particular dishwasher, who came to us from a special program for young people with learning limitations. To help with the dishes, I brought in an extra person –Scott –who passed out from the heat and volume of dishes just as the entrees were going out.

“To remove the fainted substitute from the kitchen floor, I gathered him like a baby and carried him out the kitchen door. Once out of the kitchen, we iced down the blacked-out worker and had 911 on the way.

“Thinking that I should check on Kenny and encourage him to take a break before desserts went out, I suggested that he watch over Scott while the first responders were en route.

“Kenny didn’t even slow down the dishwashing machine as he shouted over his shoulder, ‘I will work until I drop because you will take care of me when I do.’

“In that humbling moment, I learned from a man who one might think had limited learning skills the value and empowerment through teamwork. I remember Kenny often,” Henry recalled from the experience.


In his experience collaborating with servant leaders in private clubs, Henry has observed that reliable strategy and governance are the foundation stones. Thus, he has sought to learn how to do the most good for the men and women who are so dedicated to leading their clubs well. DeLozier feels club leaders must use leadership methods that are highly accountable to those being served–members and staff at private clubs. In too many clubs, boards and individual board members assume a parental attitude, suggesting that members do not know enough to govern themselves well.

“My aim is to see that everyone–and especially servant leaders–recognizes the importance of accountability,” he expressed.

Thinking strategically–Henry’s deep interest in and knowledge of military history, in particular, helped develop his sense for strategy.

“Remember, golf is a particularly strategic game,” he observes. “I seem to have gravitated to strategic thinking in every job and life activity.”

Now, he is considered a leading strategic thinker in the private club space, having executed several hundred strategic plans in private clubs. In fact, Henry teaches the strategic management section of CMAA’s BMI III curriculum. BR




Whitney Reid Pennell, president of RCS Hospitality Group, is a celebrated thought leader, management consultant, educator, and public speaker. RCS specializes in strategic planning, operations consulting, food and beverage management, executive recruitment, and training programs. RCS has been recognized 13 times with BoardRoom Excellence in Achievement Awards, including staff training six times. RCS continues to offer innovative solutions through, an online virtual training portal for employees, managers, boards and committees. For more information, phone (623) 322-0773 or visit the RCS website at

The Art of Delivering 5-Star Service

Elevating Member Experiences

Great service does not have to be costly. Great service is friendly, attentive and timely. When we experience great service, we feel satisfied and content.

Five-star service, however, requires a total commitment starting in the boardroom. Five-star service necessitates total alignment of facilities, finances, organizational structure and operational planning. Investment in these areas simultaneously should be intertwined throughout the club’s strategic plan to ensure every touchpoint of the member’s experience contributes significantly to the club’s reputation, referrals and keeping the dues line strong.

Five-star service feels like a warm embrace – a consistent and familiar feeling of home. It is personalized greetings, with attentive, friendly and timely service – and service where every employee is knowledgeable about the entire club, not just their department, and acts for the benefit of the members.

These employees are empathetic, compassionate and helpful, striving to find ways to create magical, subtle and distinct moments that leave a lasting imprint on members’ hearts. They understand that their ultimate job title is “memory maker,” not golf pro, food server, bartender or fitness attendant.


The key to delivering five-star service is to weave it into the fabric of a strategic plan. These threads should include key member touchpoints that take service from “great” to “Wow!”

These moments inevitably lead club leaders to consider the organizational structure of the club, hours of operation, service standards, compensation packages, recruiting strategies, onboarding consistency, management engagement, learning opportunities and continuous training.

In today’s competitive labor market and because labor cost is often one of the top expenses in a club, investment in human capital will be the key to future success, followed closely by technology investments.


It is true that you only get one chance to make a first impression. In the private club industry, this is imperative. Finding and hiring the right people for your team can be time-consuming. Your recruiting strategy should reflect the club’s culture every step of the way. A recruiting landing page with images of your team, a compelling club story and

testimonial videos of happy employees are key components to helping talented people envision themselves at the club as part of your team.


A flourishing club culture serves as the foundation for exceptional service. Engaged leaders at every level keep turnover low and employees engaged and happy.

Strategic planning embraces the critical role of leadership in cultivating a culture of excellence that permeates the club. Engaged and visionary leaders set the tone; they lead by example and inspire staff to embrace club values and service standards.

In a culture of excellence environment, staff members are encouraged to be proactive, innovative and solution-oriented. Staff are empowered to deliver personalized service and anticipate members’ needs, thereby making members feel seen and valued. The culture of excellence goes beyond transactions; it transforms member interactions into memorable and cherished experiences.


Happy employees create a positive work environment that is palpable to the membership. A club’s strategic plan should include investment in continuous training and development to ensure all team members are tapping into their intrinsic motivation, thereby fueling personal and professional growth. By recognizing and addressing individual aspirations, clubs can nurture and grow a workforce committed to exceeding member expectations.

Intrinsic motivation emerges from a sense of purpose and satisfaction derived from the work itself, and when harnessed, it can become a powerful driving force. Clubs that foster an environment where employees feel valued, respected and inspired will give their best. When staff members are intrinsically motivated, they take ownership of their roles and proactively seek a way to elevate their performance.


The journey toward excellence is an ongoing process, but with strategic planning as the guiding force, private clubs can intentionally craft experiences that create unforgettable memories and foster lasting relationships. BR

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Tom Neill is president of Private Club Historical ( His company creates strategic historical plans, discovers club history, designs historical exhibits, displays, books and historical videos. He may be reached at (949) 497-6543 or via email:

The Art of History Enhancing Private Club Membership Through Historical Displays

In the world of private clubs, where tradition reigns, the historical narrative of a club plays a pivotal role in preserving its legacy and enhancing its allure as a dynamic tool for member recruitment and engagement.

History, when displayed with intention and care, transcends the confines of textbooks and archives to become a living, breathing essence of a club’s identity, and it stresses the importance of history on display.

We’ve witnessed firsthand how history can tell the story of where the club has come from and stories of the values, achievements and milestones that have shaped its journey.

For membership directors, historical displays are a powerful tool in illustrating the club’s uniqueness and commitment to honoring its heritage. They create an immersive experience that can captivate the imagination of potential members, inviting them to become part of a storied legacy.

Recruitment through reverence: Historical displays can significantly enhance a club’s member recruitment efforts, especially when leveraged by membership directors. By showcasing the club’s rich history, they highlight the prestige and exclusivity of membership.

Prospective members do not just join a club. They align themselves with a legacy of excellence, tradition and community curated over generations. This emotional connection fostered through visual and narrative power can significantly influence the decision to join.

Current members.The unintended recruiters: The role of current members in the recruitment process cannot be understated. As stewards of the club’s legacy, their pride in its history often transforms them into passionate advocates. Historical displays are a soulful focal point for members to share stories and achievements with their guests and friends, effectively turning them into recruiters.

This organic form of member-driven recruitment is invaluable, as it stems from genuine enthusiasm and personal endorsement. As Larry Marx, former general manager at Diablo Country Club, stated, “After displaying our history, I now have 500 proud membership directors who are also members.”

Showcasing tradition to enhance the membership experience: Historical displays also play a crucial role in enriching the membership experience. They serve as a constant reminder of the club’s traditions and achievements, fostering a sense of belonging and pride among members.

The ability to share this history with guests enhances the social experience, offering a unique conversation starter that bridges past and present. Furthermore, these displays can be educational, offering insights into the club’s contributions to the community and its role in historical events.

Implementation strategies for historical displays: To maximize the impact of historical displays, we encourage clubs to consider the following strategies:

• Curate with care: Displays should be thoughtfully curated to tell a compelling story that resonates with prospective and current members. Highlighting key moments, influential figures and landmark achievements can create a narrative that appeals to a wide audience.

• Leverage technology: Incorporating interactive elements, such as digital archives or augmented reality, can bring history to life in engaging ways. This not only enhances the display but also appeals to a tech-savvy demographic.

• Provide regular updates: Keeping the displays updated with new achievements and milestones ensures that the club’s history remains dynamic and relevant. It also encourages members to regularly engage with the display, fostering ongoing interest and pride.

• Organize events and tours: Events or tours centered around the club’s history can showcase the displays. This allows for deeper engagement and storytelling, making the history more accessible and engaging.

Historical displays in private clubs are more than decorations. They are a testament to a club’s legacy, a tool for engagement and recruitment, and a source of pride for its members.

By effectively using these displays, membership directors can enhance the appeal of their clubs and foster a deeper connection between members and club history. This way, history becomes a record of the past and a living, vibrant part of the present and future. BR

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

Onboarding New Club Members

Most clubs are awash in new members thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Who would have imagined that a global health crisis could be so generous to private clubs? But it was. Most clubs are full and have supporting waitlists.

In a 2018 survey of about 4,400 private clubs in North America, GGA Partners learned that fewer than one in 10 clubs were can almost name them. In the wake of the recent pandemic, that proportionality has flipped to the point that nearly nine of every 10 clubs are full and have growing waitlists.

The question now is how to orient new club members effectively. In answering that question, one must differentiate orientation from onboarding. And one must remember that everyone seeks to belong.


The responsibility for educating and informing new members fell historically to those members who had sponsored the new members. However, work-related and social

changes brought new members to clubs so rapidly that many newcomers lacked a sponsor or had a shaky acquaintance with their sponsor. This circumstance has many clubs playing catch-up.

Five important checkpoints for orienting new members involve explaining to them:

1. Where to find answers. If not from a sponsoring member, most new members look to management or servant leaders designated by the board of directors. In some clubs, the membership committee fills this function as part of the candidate review and evaluation process. In other clubs, sponsors are assigned—like a big brother/ big sister arrangement—to coach new members on dress code, behavioral practices, making reservations and other matters.

In clubs with poor new member orientation, newcomers are left to shift for themselves.

Clubs that welcome new members successfully are proactive in new member orientation. They use written and video presentations to guide new members to blend quickly into the greater membership. The most effective orientation method is a person-to-person conversation of examples and new members’ questions well-answered.

Remember that newcomers want to feel truly welcome and a part of the club.

2. Traditions and history. Many new members joined clubs near their home during the pandemic. Some were unacquainted with the club other than that it has members who were friends or business associates.

Being a member of a fine club is not a transactional relationship. It is an emotional relationship borne of effective branding, well-told stories and genuine compatibility. The primary goal is to show the new member how to develop or obtain a sense of belonging.

Joining a private club is usually an aspirational achievement for new members. Being a part of an admired group of people matters to many. During the pandemic, new members often joined the club nearby with little knowledge of the club’s history or traditions. Three keys for orienting new members are:

• Make it personal. Designate those who will serve as guides for specific couples and individuals. Selecting these guides can be a matter of shared background


• Make it fun. People join clubs to have and be friends. They want to have fun, so help them get acquainted and understand how to get involved in club events, groups and activities.

• Foster the sense of belonging. Help new members understand “how things work.” How to make reservations for sports activities and meals. Tell them to whom they should direct their questions. No one wants to bounce from person to person searching for answers.

3. Culture. Your club shows its culture in its behavioral traditions. How do members interact? How do the oldest members honor the club’s dress code, the rules of conduct and the treatment of staff?

Members show their club’s culture in their conduct and appearance. Thus, club leaders are wise to focus on what club members do more than on what they say they do. That suggests that club leaders must set an example to be admired and emulated.

Justice Potter Steward once wrote of pornography, “I don’t know what it is, but I know it when I see it.” The same can be said of a club’s culture.

4. Access rules. For new club members who, hopefully, want to make a good impression on others and to “fit in,” rules for making reservations in crowded clubs can be bewildering. To whom do you speak? How do you register for certain access privileges? What limitations may exist for access, especially for new members?

The most effective methods of explaining and learning access rules are video descriptions from the board and management or a written summary of “how to” guidance for new members. There is no substitute for an existing member who serves as a guide for new members.

5. Inclusiveness and exclusiveness. One sometimes assumes that one can participate in anything based on membership category. However, this is often a flawed assumption where many clubs have certain sets and subsets of member activities and groupings into which a new member is unwelcome … at least at first. To foster a sense of belonging, it is important to explain to new members how they can—and cannot—become a part of certain groups or activities.

The sense of being a member is most meaningful when new members are made to feel included. BR

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Robert C. James, CCM, CCE, CHE, is vice president of DENEHY Club Thinking Partners. He can be reached via mail:

Work-Life Balance and Beyond Management Holds the Key

Recent studies show that a key driver in work-life balance is how employees view their jobs.

Burnout and mental and physical fatigue are more manageable for employees with good holistic health. They are happier in their jobs, perform better, stay longer and report a better work-life balance.

MetLife’s 21st (2023) Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study reveals “care” is a key driver of life and job satisfaction and not prioritizing it is causing major issues in the workplace. Feeling “cared for” at work is a key driver of employee holistic health and happiness, strongly connected to employee productivity and job loyalty.

Yet the study found nearly half of today’s employees (42 percent) do not feel cared for by their employers. The study also reveals that when employees do not feel cared for at work, their well-being, happiness and overall satisfaction take a hit. They are over two-thirds less likely to be holistically healthy and happy than employees who do feel cared for. These employees are also 65 percent less likely to feel a sense of belonging at work and 72 percent less likely to feel valued by their employer (two top drivers of good mental health and high employee engagement).

These concepts are interesting to hospitality leadership since at its core hospitality is how we make members, guests, consumers and employees feel. While the sophisticated, humanistic leader understands these concepts, we wonder how many boards understand that responsibility.

Caring for is more than caring about, but it does not necessarily mean that the club must embark on a full array of employee “engagement” programs and strategies that only the larger organizations can afford.

Much of the caring for is about how management and club leadership treat employees, the culture of the work environment and the focus on the emotional needs of employees. Attending to these environmental factors can overcome other mental health symptoms, such as burnout and quiet quitting, and lead to high productivity, improved morale and happiness on the job.

Recent articles by McKinsey & Company (“Some Employees Are Destroying Value. Others Are Building It. Do You Know the Difference?) and the McKinsey Health Institute (“Reframing Employee Health: Moving Beyond Burnout to

Holistic Health”) about their research explain that employees who are highly engaged with their work are likely to report good holistic health. What is particularly important to the club industry, where employees are often under stress and suffer from burnout and fatigue, is that highly engaged employees with good holistic health can better manage the symptoms of burnout, stress, and mental and physical fatigue because they tend to be resilient. You could have a good work-life balance if you are highly engaged in your work and holistically healthy even in highly demanding and stressful work that may require long hours.

Is the reference to Herzberg’s seminal hierarchy of needs correct? I did a Google search and found this: 1. Herzberg’s theory of motivation and 2. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Work-life balance is a personal perspective, but it is important to note that the basic “Survival Needs,” as in Herzberg’s seminal Hierarchy of Needs, which may now be interpreted to include living wage, health benefits and good working conditions, must be met first before an employee can raise to higher levels and achieve work-life balance or holistic health. We will not discuss these basic needs in this article, but clubs can and must meet these needs. We may be unable to change the nature of our employees’ work; we should be able to change our employees’ perspective by addressing their primary and higher-order needs, both the things that “enable” a good working experience and the “demands “that detract from it.

The MHI study defined five categories of demands as “workplace factors that require sustained cognitive, physical and/or emotional effort. Demands can be thought of as challenges in the workplace,” particularly as they pertain to burnout and retention, listed below from the most significant to least significant:

• Toxic workplace behavior

• Bullying

• Demeaning comments by colleagues

• Being excluded or left out

• Role (job) ambiguity

• Job insecurity

• Not having performance reviews and active feedback

• Being passed on raises or promotions

• Ignored or avoided by management


• Work pressures

• Other: workload, work hours, there are more.

Conversely “enablers are team, job and individual-level drivers that help to offset challenges, allowing employees to move forward and experience positive growth and development.” The following are the most significant to the individual:

• Self-efficacy: Employees’ belief in their capacity to act in the ways necessary to reach specific goals

• Adaptability: Willingness and capability to change and adjust to new conditions

• Belonging: Also noted along with valued at work in the MetLife report

• Meaningful work

• Psychological security: Being valued at work, confidence in their performance and job security.

Which, if any, of these enablers and demands are not significantly within the control of management or come with a high price tag?

Caring for your employees is not a big financial ask, yet the benefits can be significant to your club and employees. It can be insurmountable if leaders are not centered, reflective and living in truth from the onset.

Clubs will succeed with a strong employee base founded on competitive pay, benefits and good working conditions. These are where the costs are centered. It costs little or nothing more to create a positive work environment that builds employee holistic health that fulfills and creates outstanding employees. The best leaders are not only technicians but also motivators with the sensitivities of an industrial psychologist, a complex and compelling set of talents.

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Corey Saban of CS Media Works is a communications strategist helping club leaders with public speaking and storytelling skills, crisis management and culture initiatives.

Work-Life Balance


Crucial to our Well-Being

“Great, what pizza topping are they getting us today?”

That’s the response the disgruntled employee will mumble when management tries to enhance morale and show appreciation. Yes, a pizza party or ice cream social is nice, but your team wants more, something less transactional.

When I travel to clubs to train on crisis management, I always point out that the real crisis is their employees. In this day and age, staff will jump from one job to another for an extra dollar an hour, so I stress the importance of work-life balance and creating a culture of excellence.

Work-life balance is more than a trendy buzzword. It’s a crucial aspect of overall well-being. No longer are we speaking about anxiety, depression and mental health challenges in hushed tones. These are serious problems. Addressing these challenges head-on improves job satisfaction, dedication and overall happiness. Yes, you have a season, and membership has needs, but the last thing you want is employee burnout.

Always think about the team by considering your employees’ feelings and emotions or what many couples describe as their love languages (based on the book “The Five Love Languages”), which include acts of service, words of affirmation, touch (fist bump), gifts and quality time (one-on-one lunch, coffee, etc.).

Many general managers tackle this issue by encouraging open communication, recognizing achievements and fostering a meaningful camaraderie. At Newport Beach Country Club, my friend Robin Shelton, the general manager, has a state-of-the-art employee break room.

He brings in different speakers to teach his team members new skills to help them develop professionally and personally. He empowers them at employee retreats and solidifies relationships, inviting departments in the kitchen to cook a meal together. Naturally, that builds friendships, teamwork and empathy for the kitchen staff while breaking the monotony. Behind the scenes, quotes on the walls highlight themes of the team’s purpose and mission.

“As leaders, we have to create cultures where employees want to work and that support balance,” Shelton says. “If you make what is important to employees important to you, they will make what is important to you important to them.

“Prioritize their needs and get them involved in making their schedule so they can spend time with their spouse

and child or see their favorite sports team. It’s amazing how much more valued that employee will feel.”

That approach is similar to Russell Sylte’s at The Santaluz Club. He, too, is dedicated to helping his employees become their best selves. He actively coaches them on their goals and objectives, holding them accountable in a caring manner to encourage growth. From an employee point of view, knowing that management is genuinely interested in your success is everything.

In South Florida, Brett Morris, the general manager and chief operating officer of The Club at Admirals Cove, and Bill Langley, the general manager and chief operating officer at Quail Ridge Country Club, are two of the numerous leaders in the area who go above and beyond for their teams.

Langley, knowing that the likelihood of addiction is much higher in the hospitality industry, recently brought in trained experts to educate his team members about the dangers of substance abuse so they can look out for one another and recognize the warning signs.

“Our team isn’t just a workforce. They’re our family,” Langley says. “It’s a privilege to nurture them, make them valued and help them grow. I firmly believe a positive work culture isn’t just a perk. It’s the cornerstone of success.”

Langley and Morris have culture initiatives where employees work together outside the gates of the community doing nonprofit work. This gives employees a more profound sense of purpose. Research has shown that volunteering can boost self-esteem, reduce stress and increase happiness and fulfillment. When you support and facilitate volunteer opportunities, employees are more likely to feel proud of their employer and emotionally connected to their workplace. This approach also helps attract and retain talent.

The leaders I mentioned stress continued education, they survey employees to assess satisfaction, and they genuinely care. They have adapted to workforce needs and established clear expectations while encouraging teammates to prioritize self-care and respect boundaries.

I admire their ability to understand the importance of the delicate integration of personal well-being, professional fulfillment and meaningful connections. It all comes down to this: “Treat your employees like they make a difference and they will.” BR


More Than Just Onboarding Shaping a Culture of Continuous Growth

The traditional approach to employee onboarding and training—often limited to the first week of employment—falls short in fostering a culture of continuous learning and engagement.

As leaders in our industry, redefining the employee experience is imperative, turning it into a journey extending far beyond the initial orientation period. We are in the people business, and investing in our people and team members to recognize and elevate the employee and member experience is critical.

Continuous training and engagement aren’t just buzzwords but strategic imperatives that drive employee success. In an era where the half-life of skills is rapidly shrinking, the ability to learn and adapt has become critical. However, the journey toward creating an always-learning culture and a culture of excellence is multifaceted, requiring commitment from every club level.

The first year of employment is critical in shaping an employee’s perception and engagement with the club. A comprehen-

sive 365-day onboarding and training framework coupled with a strategic employee experience program for new and existing employees ensures that employees are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge and are deeply engaged with the club’s values, mission and strategic goals.

This approach includes regular check-ins, on-the-job coaching, fine-tuning key skills, employee journey mapping, daily reinforcement and personalized development plans.

The journey doesn’t end after the first year for new and existing employees. Ongoing training and employee experience plans keep your team motivated and aligned with members’ evolving needs.

Employees receive opportunities for upskilling, cross-functional training, leadership development programs, employee recognition, and continuous improvement and learning milestones.

MAY / JUNE 2024 | BOARDROOM 77 HR COMMITTEE RYAN DOERR Ryan Doerr is a principal with Strategic Club Solutions. He can be
reached via
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Victoria Burns, corporate marketing manager at MembersFirst, worked with four private clubs before her eight-year tenure. She recently led a successful new member onboarding program benefiting clubs nationwide. Connect on LinkedIn:

Bridging Technology and Personalization

Differentiating your club services increasingly relies on understanding and catering to each member’s preferences.

Central to addressing this challenge is the strategic leverage of technology to craft personalized member experiences and enhance operational efficiency, a shift from simply listing amenities to creating dynamic, personal journeys similar to having a digital assistant.

This evolution prompts reflection:

1. How well are we centering our operations and decisions around member preferences?

2. Have we equipped our team with the technology to excel in delivering personalized communications?

After reflecting on your foundational approach, let’s look deeper into how your digital tools, specifically your website and mobile app, are pivotal in this personalized journey.


The quest to elevate member experiences underscores the importance of synergy between your club’s website and mobile app. The website is the digital nucleus, organizing and streamlining access to the club’s offerings. The mobile app extends this functionality, placing the club’s resources at members’ fingertips. Along with enhancing user experience, centralizing digital engagement through a robust content management system (CMS) within the website’s software suite is critical to this synergy.

A standout feature that epitomizes personalization within this integrated ecosystem is the “My Reservations” functionality. By offering members a unified view of their scheduled activities, this feature fosters a tailored and engaging interaction with the club, instrumental in creating a seamless and intuitive member experience. It highlights the club’s commitment to placing members at the heart of its digital strategy. It also showcases the CMS’s role in streamlining content creation and dissemination across the website and app, ensuring consistency and minimizing errors.

Reflecting on your digital tools:

1. Does our app offer a personalized, member-centric experience?

2. How effectively does our app integrate with our website to streamline content management and enhance member interaction?

Building on the solid foundation of your technological ecosystem, the next critical step involves empowering your staff to use these tools to their fullest potential.


A well-integrated technological ecosystem that empowers your team with a comprehensive CMS becomes instrumental in delivering personalized communications. The CMS’s flexibility and efficiency are critical, enabling staff to manage content dynamically and effectively engage members with personalized messages.

Consider the success at Harbour Ridge Yacht & Country Club, where the Flex app significantly improved member engagement.

“Feedback from members has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly regarding the easy-to-use navigation,” says Kallie Langberg, the club’s communications and marketing director. “The updated look and feel of the Flex app have been a resounding success.”

Langberg’s appreciation for the autonomy to manage app content efficiently, facilitated by the CMS, highlights how instant updates ensure the app remains relevant and engaging for members, exemplifying the tangible benefits of empowering staff with adaptable technology.

Reflective questions for empowering your team:

• Does our technology give our team the autonomy and flexibility to tailor communications and swiftly update content?

• Do our digital tools facilitate creating engaging, member-specific content?

As we look toward the future, the intersection of technology and personalization will continue to define the standard for club excellence. Now is the time to assess, adapt and act to ensure your club meets and exceeds member expectations. Reflecting on these critical questions signals your club’s commitment to excellence, readying you for a future where personalized member experiences and streamlined operations set you apart. By embracing these changes, your club can foster an environment where members feel valued and connected, and your team is empowered to perform at its best, ultimately redefining what it means to be part of your club community. BR


Duncan Reno CCM, CCE is the general manager/chief operating officer at Del Rio Country Club. He can be reached at (209) 341-2401 or via email:

Selling Your Club’s Long-Range Plan Vision

Understanding the importance of communicating properly with your members about long-range projects is essential in getting buy-in from the membership.

What is a good way to gain and maintain credibility when reinvesting members’ money into the club? The examples below may help you communicate effectively with your members and successfully manage your club’s net worth.


Develop a theme that spans the next 10 years and has a set of vision statements. It defines the overall objective of the club and how all future projects must align with the vision stated. Constantly communicate and put in front of members throughout the year.

For example, the long-range planning committee has adopted “Club Name 2030…Destination (Club Name!”) theme/ vision. We strive for relevance and a sustainable, vibrant, active club. We do this when we understand and value the following:

• Forward-thinking clubs must reinvent themselves to fit members’ needs.

• The energy in clubs is vastly different—much more upbeat. This is not our grandfather’s private club any longer.

• Members are looking for activities that fit their time-constrained social lifestyle.

• Decisions are based on ROI and ROE—”return on experience.”

• A chance to reinvent ourselves and provide our members with what they seek: an unparalleled experience

• Investing dollars and resources into enhancing the club experience creates a vibrant and energetic atmosphere where members want to spend their time and invite their friends to join them.


fresh indoor and outdoor dining options allow members to enjoy a new grill room, bar and terrace while taking in the views. Inviting you to relax.

MAY / JUNE 2024 | BOARDROOM 79 :
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Jupiter Island Club

Ronald Banaszak, CCM, CCE, BoardRoom Distinguished Club Executive Vice President of International Business Development. Ron may be contacted at (415) 420-5183 or

A Tapestry of Tradition, Elegance and Employee Devotion

Nestled along the pristine shores of Jupiter Island in Florida, the Jupiter Island Club, a Distinguished Club with Elite designation status, is not just a private haven but a living legacy woven by the hands of its founders, Joseph and Permelia Reed.

In 1932, enamored by the island’s allure, the Reeds decided to make it their winter home. Their vision laid the foundation for what has become an exceptional private club and community.

Acquiring the Hobe Sound Company and shaping the island into a sophisticated retreat, the Reeds inadvertently crafted an escape unlike any other. A 1961 description by a local Circuit Court judge paints a vivid picture: “unique, unusual, extraordinary, and rare.” This haven, cut from a singular mold, thrives on genteel living, friendship and compatibility—a testament to the town’s desire for seclusion, solitude and tranquility.

Spread across 130 acres, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, the club exudes understated elegance. With only 425 members, its intentional exclusivity ensures a sense of seclusion and tranquility. The club’s assets stand out, including five restaurants, golf, tennis, croquet, beach and pool facilities, fitness and spa amenities, a dock and accommodations. This combination results in the country’s secondhighest gross asset value per full member equivalent.

Under the stewardship of general manager Michael Feil, the club upholds its commitment to maintain its facilities and services at the pinnacle of excellence. The focus remains on preserving the genteel and sophisticated culture, ensuring that each member experiences the epitome of luxury.

In recent years, GM Feil has spearheaded the development of an employeecentric culture. Acknowledging that employee satisfaction directly influences member experiences, the club sees over 75 percent of seasonal staff returning annually. This loyalty speaks volumes about the club’s dedication to its employees and their role in creating memorable experiences.

Adding to the rich tapestry of club lore is the intriguing tale of “The Legend of the Black Sweater.” Founded by Permelia Reed, this myth reflects the club’s commitment to propriety. When faced with a member or guest

crossing the etiquette line, Mrs. Reed would send a black sweater as a subtle signal that the individual was deemed unfit for club membership. A relic from the 1930s and 40s, this legend underscores the club’s emphasis on maintaining standards and decorum.

Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2023, the club has become a cherished family tradition. The club’s expansive campus offers myriad attractions. From the Tangerine Theatre, built in 1934 and hosting movies, plays and keynote speakers, to the main club with its Inn, Riverview and Banyan Terrace Restaurants, and The Office Square housing the club library, flower shop, protocol business center, medical center, dry cleaners, the club’s offerings are diverse and luxurious. The beach club area, golf house, cottages, tennis shop, golf course, croquet court, tennis courts, beauty salon, barber shop, dock, and Chef’s Cupboard and wine shop complete the ensemble.

Like any institution, the club faced challenges, particularly in labor and capital. Acknowledging the importance of attracting and retaining top-tier employees, the club increased compensation levels, ensuring competitiveness in the job market.

To sustain this commitment, a 32 percent increase in dues was implemented. The club has invested over $75 million in capital investments over the past decade and is planning an additional $100 million in improvements over the next 10 years. Creative cash sourcing alternatives, including changes to membership size and joining fee modifications, have been explored to support these initiatives.

General manager Feil prioritizes acting as a steward of the club’s culture. Balancing tradition with contemporary trends, he ensures the club remains true to its roots while evolving to meet the needs of its discerning members. Under his leadership, the club has successfully navigated challenges, showcasing resilience, innovation and an unwavering commitment to excellence.

The Jupiter Island Club is not just a private club; it’s a living testament to a bygone era’s elegance, seamlessly intertwined with the modern demands of luxury living. With its timeless traditions, dedication to employee satisfaction and a vision for the future, the club continues to capture the hearts of its members. It stands as a beacon of exclusivity on Jupiter Island. BR


Membership Applicant Vetting and the Duty of Care

One thing that is certain about club membership is the belief that the club is a safe place, and that the members are honest people with


There is a strong expectation that the other members are part of the club for the experience and the comradery. Regrettably, sometimes new members prove to be a bad fit who actually diminish the club experience and even alienate and repel their fellow members. Sadly, others join a club intentionally seeking access to existing members, often with the hope of reaping some financial gain. In worse circumstances, a new member reveals their true identity and becomes a real problem or even a threat to their fellow members, or the staff and endanger the club’s reputation. What

makes matter worse yet is that these people often have predictive information of this type of behavior in their background that would have changed the club’s decision to admit them if it were known, but no one was looking.

With the advancements in information technology, the world has never had more information about people and their actions available to be used for fact checking and to find important character-based information that the applicant didn’t disclose. Kennis is in the business of finding this information, which, importantly, is simply available and waiting to be found, not stored in some secret private locations.

The only barrier to having access to real, meaningful background data about your applicants is that collecting this information requires both specialized skills and tools. This means that a club is unlikely to be successful in finding this type of information by having an employee search for it and it is also well outside the capability of nearly all employee screening firms. The great news is that a firm like Kennis specializes in providing this exact type of information for private clubs. BR

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Paul Dank is board certified expert at investigations and background checks as well as a Certified Fraud Examiner. He serves as the President of Kennis.


French Lick Resort

Where Golf, History, and Hospitality Converge

French Lick Resort, a Distinguished Golf Destination with Exceptional designation status, stands as a pinnacle of excellence. It seamlessly blends the rich history of its two historic hotels with the unparalleled quality of its championship golf courses.

Nestled amidst Indiana’s picturesque landscapes, the resort offers a haven for golf enthusiasts and history buffs alike, drawing visitors from far and wide to experience its unique charm and hospitality.

At the heart of French Lick Resort’s allure are its two championship golf courses, the Pete Dye Course and the Donald Ross Course. They have consistently ranked as Indiana’s top two courses for an impressive 14-year period.

Designed by legendary architects Pete Dye and Donald Ross, respectively, these courses represent the epitome of golfing excellence. They combine strategic design with breathtaking vistas to create an unforgettable golfing experience.

The Pete Dye Course, crafted by Hall of Fame architect Pete Dye, stands as a testament to his innovative design philosophy and creative vision. With its undulating terrain and challenging layout, the course offers a thrilling test of skill for golfers of all levels. Its accolades, including being named “America’s Best New Public Course” by Golf Digest, speak volumes about its quality and reputation within the golfing community.

Complementing the Dye Course is the historic Donald Ross Course, which underwent a meticulous restoration to reclaim its original glory. Steeped in history and tradition, the Ross Course provides a classic parkland experience, with rolling fairways and meticulously manicured greens that pay homage to the golden age of golf course architecture. Its storied past, including hosting the 1924 PGA Championship, adds to the allure of this timeless gem.

Beyond the fairways, French Lick Resort is home to two historic hotels, each offering its own unique blend of luxury and hospitality. The French Lick Springs Hotel, dating back to 1845, has been meticulously restored to its former glory, with elegant decor and modern amenities that cater to the needs of today’s discerning travelers.

Similarly, the West Baden Springs Hotel, dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, boasts a breathtaking atrium that spans 200 feet, offering guests a truly

unforgettable experience. Its unwavering dedication to exceptional service and hospitality is central to the resort’s success. From the moment guests arrive, they are greeted with warmth and professionalism by the resort’s attentive staff, who go above and beyond to ensure a memorable stay. Whether arranging tee times on the golf courses or organizing special events, the staff at French Lick Resort prides itself on exceeding expectations and creating lasting memories for guests.

French Lick Resort’s management team is committed to attracting and retaining the highestquality talent. Led by Chuck Franz, the resort’s CEO, the team prioritizes the well-being and professional development of its staff, offering competitive benefits and opportunities for advancement.

Through a culture of empowerment and collaboration, they foster a sense of ownership and pride among employees, ensuring that every member of the team is fully invested in the resort’s success. The philosophy of how the golf resort is operated is one that we can all learn from.

“We’re a family-run organization that asks our management team to run your operation as if it was your own and spend money as if it was your own.”

CEO Franz sums up his thoughts on their new designation by saying, “Being a Distinguished Golf Destination tells us we are doing a lot of ‘right things’ not only to attract guests but also to retain them. It means that we have stood the test of time and that our history and legacy mean something to those looking for a place to relax and experience two elite courses.”

French Lick Resort stands as a beacon of excellence, where golf, history and hospitality converge to create an unparalleled guest experience. With its championship golf courses, historic hotels and dedicated staff, the resort continues to set the standard for luxury and sophistication in the hospitality industry, attracting visitors worldwide to experience the magic of French Lick. BR


Ronald Banaszak, CCM, CCE, BoardRoom Distinguished Club Executive Vice President of International Business Development. Ron may be contacted at (415) 420-5183 or

Silverado Resort

A Gem of Relaxation and Excellence in Napa Valley

Nestled in the picturesque heart of Napa Valley wine country lies Silverado Resort, a Distinguished Golf Destination with Exceptional designation status

This property is a haven of tranquility and excellence that beckons golf enthusiasts and aficionados of leisurely luxury alike. Silverado boasts a rich history as a PGA TOUR property since the 1960s and embodies refined hospitality amidst breathtaking natural beauty.

The allure of Silverado begins with its two championship golf courses, each offering a distinct blend of challenge and charm to suit every golfer’s skill level. The North Course, steeped in PGA Tour legacy, has seen legendary champions grace its fairways. The South Course offers an equally captivating golfing experience. Paired with the region’s renowned wines, a round of golf at Silverado becomes a truly unforgettable experience, engaging both the senses and the spirit.

For those seeking moments of relaxation and culinary delight, The Mansion Bar and Terrace beckons with its sweeping vistas of the verdant golf course, including the iconic 18th hole. Here, guests indulge in monthly wine dinners, where the chef’s culinary masterpieces harmonize with locally sourced vintages, creating an exquisite symphony of flavors. Each Friday, the Mansion Terrace hosts music, including that of local musicians, in an unbeatable atmosphere. A stroll through the new chef’s garden further enhances the experience, offering a glimpse into the farm-to-table ethos that defines Silverado’s gastronomic offerings.

In addition to a fabulous culinary studio, Silverado Resort has 350 rooms ranging from guest rooms to three-bedroom suites spread out across the 350-acre property. The resort offers an array of amenities, including pools, tennis, pickleball, bocce and a full-service luxurious spa, in an environment of a warm smile and personalized experience.

Yet, beyond its scenic landscapes, epicurean delights and pampered amenities, Silverado embodies a sense of community and philanthropy that resonates deeply with its guests and members. Through initiatives like the Women’s Golf Association’s junior golf fund, Silverado invests in the future of the sport by nurturing young talent and providing access to opportunities that transcend the fairways.

Moreover, the resort’s commitment to charitable endeavors, exemplified by partnerships with local organizations like OLE Health, underscores its dedication to giving back to the community that nurtures it.

Outside the resort’s bounds, Napa Valley beckons with myriad attractions, from art galleries to tasting rooms, promising endless exploration and discovery. Within walking distance, the Jessel Gallery

showcases the talents of local artists. At the same time, nearby tasting rooms offer a journey through the region’s rich tapestry of wines, each sip a testament to the land’s bountiful harvests.

Amidst this idyllic backdrop, Silverado’s commitment to excellence extends to its management philosophy, which fosters a culture of growth and empowerment among its team members. Recognizing the challenges of staffing in a competitive market, the leadership team employs innovative strategies to attract and retain top talent, from referral incentives to opportunities for career advancement within the esteemed KSL Resorts and Troon portfolios.

The management team works with a membership advisory board, a collaborative group. They work with the membership to ensure their long-term planning is aligned and communicated. There is also an ownership group, with which management works on the deployment of capital and strategic planning for the future.

A shared vision of excellence and collaboration guides Silverado’s

leadership team. Regular communication and a commitment to nurturing talent ensure that every guest experience exceeds expectations, leaving an indelible imprint of warmth and hospitality.

For Silverado, being recognized as a Distinguished Golf Destination is a badge of honor and a testament to its unwavering dedication to delivering exceptional service and unforgettable experiences. As guests return year after year, drawn by the allure of its verdant fairways and warm hospitality, Silverado remains a beacon of relaxation and excellence in the heart of Napa Valley.

The words of Director of Club Operations Cody Sherrill, Silverado’s esteemed leader, resonate. “I love spending time with our team in their space. This allows me to learn from them – what is working and what isn’t. It allows me to show respect to them for the work they do.”

This ethos of respect, collaboration and continuous growth defines Silverado’s legacy as a true gem amidst Napa Valley’s vineyards. BR


Lawrence J. “Skip” Avery CCM, CCE, CMAA Fellow is the director of club development at Stone Group Architects. He can be reached at (608) 335-0342 or via email:

Igniting Engagement The Rise of Outdoor Social Spaces in Private Clubs

The hospitality industry has always been known for its innovation and ability to adapt to customers’ changing preferences.

Since COVID-19, private clubs have embraced their outdoor spaces more than ever, creating social hubs that offer a wide range of activities, such as dining experiences, outdoor bars, fire pits and games, like bocce. In doing so, these clubs provide more than amenities. They are creating immersive experiences that enhance the value of memberships.

Let’s explore how private clubs can use outdoor spaces to cater to different activities and club sizes while being mindful of budgets.

Integrating dining with nature: The alfresco dining experience is being transformed as nature serves as the backdrop, enhancing the sensory experience of club members.

Here are ideas for customizing outdoor spaces for clubs of different sizes.


Modular outdoor dining: Clubs with more intimate spaces or limited budgets can opt for modular furniture that they can quickly rearrange for different events or dining configurations.

Garden-to-table: A small herb or vegetable garden adjacent to dining areas infuses freshness into the cuisine and adds an educational element for members and their families.

Special occasions with portable bars and gas grills.


Expansive dining terraces: With more space, clubs can establish expansive terraces that cater to larger groups without sacrificing the intimate dining experience. These terraces can overlook sprawling landscapes or competitive bocce matches.

Roving outdoor stations: These mobile dining experiences encourage members to explore the club grounds, from sushi bars to barbecue pits.

Fostering connections with fire pits and bars: Fire pits and bars have become social catalysts in outdoor spaces. Here’s how they are enhancing the club experience:

• Fire pit lounges: Clubs of all sizes are designing fire pit lounges as natural gathering points for members to unwind and socialize. Even a single, well-crafted fire pit with comfortable seating can become the club’s heart in the evenings.

• Outdoor bars: Outdoor bars create a casual yet lively setting that encourages camaraderie. Strategic placement near high-traffic areas, like bocce courts, ensures members have convenient access to refreshments while engaging in activities.

• Complementing with activities: Incorporating activities such as bocce, croquet or outdoor chess adds an interactive dimension to outdoor spaces. Here are some ideas:

• Activity zoning: Designate specific zones for activities close to social areas, like the fire pit or bar, to create an organic flow of entertainment and leisure. Smaller clubs can offer portable kits for activities such as lawn games to ensure flexibility in space usage.

• Themed spaces: Establish themed outdoor areas, such as a sports garden or family fun zone, to tailor the environment to specific interests and events. You can organize, for example, drive-in movies on the driving range, dive-ins at the pool or family night campouts.

• Integrated audiovisual systems: All clubs should invest in outdoor AV systems supporting event hosting, movie nights or ambient music to complement the setting. Depending on the size of the club and budget, you can find ways to enhance your technology.

Private clubs are now required to create versatile outdoor spaces that can transform from peaceful daytime dining areas to vibrant social hubs in the evening. By incorporating engaging activities into these spaces, clubs can enhance their appeal and offer their members enriching experiences. By investing in sophisticated outdoor kitchens or creating a cozy atmosphere around a fire pit, clubs can cater to preferences while accounting for their financial resources. As members seek new connections and immersive experiences, these open-air amenities are no longer mere trends. They have become the new standard for club hospitality.

Picture a gorgeous evening where you hear laughter from a lively bocce tournament and glasses clinking at the bar, smell freshly grilled cuisine that fills the air and listen to soft music playing in the background. This is not a fleeting trend but the new standard that members expect in their modern private club experience—a harmonious blend of relaxation and indulgence. BR


Bruce Barilla provides onsite locker room “tune-ups” and can be reached at (304) 536-9029 or via email:

Please Honor Requests By Your Locker Room Staff

Many excellent locker room employees want and try to make the locker room the best it can be. However, they are unable because they lack the needed amenities and “tools” to do the job.

Sadly and unfortunately, those with approval authority sometimes ignore, avoid or dismiss staff requests. The result is a locker room less than it could be, with increased staff frustration, a decrease in morale and the potential for employee turnover.


It is important to honor requests by your locker room staff whenever possible. Be concerned about their feelings and put yourself in their place. When not done, the high-standards employees find it extremely disappointing and discouraging as they know things should be better for members and guests. The locker room is also a reflection of them. While I agree that some improvements take time and longterm budgeting, many requests are simple and easy fixes that do not require a large cash outlay. I consider them an investment in a better overall locker room experience rather than just a bottom-line expense.

Additionally, please work with the staff when doing a major renovation project. Staff can help design an efficient floor plan layout, recommend lockers that are roomy and functional, choose the location of the shoeshine room and know where to install extra shelves to display bathroom and shower amenities.

Respectfully, if the architect and interior designer have never worked as locker room attendants, the club is at a disadvantage and not getting its money’s worth. It is wise to consider doing many of the changes in-house. For instance, the bathrooms in the deluxe rooms at The Greenbrier, done professionally in-house, are the nicest I have ever seen. A team effort makes more sense.


It is wrong when the club’s website claims that the club has the finest amenities and the best service when in reality it does not even though it sounds good, has a competitive advertising advantage and helps attract new members. Do you have doubts?


What is considered one of the best locker rooms anywhere still lacks an open service counter as part of the shoeshine room rather than an obstructive wall. It also lacks heated towels by the showers and a large glass door refrigerator for chilled bath towels by the steam, sauna and whirlpool.

A golf club hosting pro tour events needs a U-shaped amenity shelf around the sides and back of each individually partitioned grooming sink because the items on the counter get wet.

The shoeshine attendant at a city club needs and wants a QuikDry4P shoe drying cabinet to prepare street shoes before polishing and to present warm shoes on cold days. An opening between two locker coves at a golf resort would provide better visibility, service and security.

Allowing locker room “managers” to order and arrange supplies without oversight makes them feel more like managers. Concern was expressed before ordering that the sample new wood locker held less than the old metal ones being replaced. Afterward, the members complained.

Featuring heated robes in the women’s locker room provides a feminine touch. Relocating the shoe shine room to a centrally located area and adding a barbershop in its place is doable at a club in the Midwest, as is adding a massage room at a club out east.

Heated robes should also be a Forbes Five-Star spa locker room requirement along with heated bath towels, chilled bath towels, scented damp chilled and scented damp warm face towels, hot lather machines, freshly squeezed juice, fresh cut fruit and homemade pastries each in separate containers plus wrapped chocolates. These upgrades would have improved the Forbes Five-Star spa, where I was a locker room attendant.

If I may politely and sincerely make one request, it is this: “Please honor requests by your locker room staff.” BR




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

There Is Something About a List

Some days my office, kitchen and door going into the garage look like a rainbow of sticky notes with reminders scribbled on them.

Lists help me remember and prioritize what I must do and by when. Plus, I get a sense of accomplishment when I cross something off a list.

I like to read lists too. The top 10 this or the top 10 that. There is even a Book of Lists

In the business world, I always like reading JUST Capital’s annual rankings of America’s most just companies. For eight years, JUST Capital has published rankings for the “100 companies (that show) a holistic, stakeholder-driven approach to their business resulting in stronger value creation...recognizing the link among all stakeholders– workers, customers (members in club-lingo), communities, shareholders (i.e. again, members in club-lingo), and the environment.”

Interestingly, no company we consider to be in the hospitality world made the list. The closest brand was The Walt Disney Co., listed at No. 67 in the 2024 rankings. And it was even categorized as a media company.

While I love lists, the academic researcher in me always wants to look at how the list was generated. Here is where JUST Capital shines because of its sound methodology. It first conducts focus groups and surveys of the American consumer to discover what behaviors people believe make a company just.

Not surprisingly, according to the American public, workers are the top priority for just companies. People strongly believe employees should earn fair and living wages, work in a safe and inclusive environment and have access to good benefits, work-life balance and career development.

The top issue is whether the company pays workers fair and living wages. It has remained a hot topic since JUST Capital began compiling this list. The hospitality industry has a reputation, deserved or not, for low pay. As the pandemic devastated the entire hospitality sector, many club employees joined the ranks of the so-called Great Resignation.

They became part of the 47 million who left their jobs in 2021, sometimes called the Year of the Quit. More than three out of every five cite that they are not paid a fair wage, lack opportunities for advancement and feel disrespected and unappreciated. Some surveys showed this is particularly prevalent for frontline workers, who want higher quality jobs, particularly in regions with limited employment opportunities.

The issue here becomes what constitutes a fair or living wage. As I write this article, Google shows nearly more than

three million definitions of fair wage and five million of a living wage. So what is fair at your club? Common sense dictates that salaries are, in part, dictated by demand and part by location.

There are other headwinds besides wages that impact the worker pool too. Led by the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter hashtags, the limelight has shown more brightly on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the employment picture. Add to this the declining US birth rate over the past two decades along with the restrictions on H-2B and J1 Visas and there are simply fewer applicants from which to fill the ranks of club employees.

These feed into perhaps the most significant headwind of all: the major cultural shift in the balance of power. This “power to the people” is seen across the economic landscape. Led by younger workers, the union movement is having a resurgence.

In 2023, we saw the impact on the automobile, entertainment, hotel and restaurant industries. After what employees see as years of insufficient wages, long hours, difficult working conditions and few, if any, benefits, workers are adopting the mantra of anchorman Howard Beale in the 1976 movie “Network,” when he famously yells, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

This utterance is said to crystallize the anger and powerlessness felt by people who think they have no recourse, options or plans.

Rounding out worker issues are employees’ increasing priorities: protecting their safety, job security, benefits, work-life balance, cultivating a diverse and inclusive work environment, as well as investments in employee training programs.

It is important to remember that JUST Capital does not evaluate the findings. Instead, it channels Sergeant Joe Friday, a legendary fictional detective played by Jack Webb in the 1950s television show “Dragnet.” When Friday wanted to get to the heart of the matter, he would say, ”Just the facts, ma’am.”

The list presents only the information. It is up to us to explore it for our use. While this list may not specifically investigate the club industry, its findings certainly apply. So think about what behaviors club members would say make a just club. Where would your club rank on a list of America’s most just clubs?

Your bottom line will thank you. BR



Henry DeLozier is a partner at GGA Partners. He can be reached via at

Putting Strategy to Work

Many club leaders who are experienced in corporate governance recognize that strategy and strategic planning occupy one of the four corners of the duties of a nonprofit board. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many private clubs have undertaken strategic planning to institute or update their strategic plans.

Just as using a process-driven approach to planning is advisable, pre-planning and implementing a step-by-step method for putting the strategic plan to work ensures the best results.

Five steps are effective when putting your strategic plan to work at your club:

1. Inform the club’s members. Club members want to know the club’s intentions for purpose and strategic goals. Many members say, “We need to determine what we want to be.” The fact is that the strategic plan clearly states the club’s purpose and primary goals and objectives. The key is to see that as many members as possible know of and understand the club’s priorities. Informing and engaging club members is a three-step process:

• First, establish a regular schedule for strategic updates. The cadence and content should follow the strategic plan. A primary strategic aim in all clubs is relevance. Maintaining the club’s relevance relies on timely information exchange. Cadence varies from club to club and the best guidance is that monthly is too frequent and annually is too infrequent. Begin with quarterly strategic updates conducted by the board or the board’s strategic planning committee.

Content must address the club’s strategic goals by providing:

• A review of the strategic goals and objectives

• A current evaluation of the club’s progress toward the successful accomplishment of the goals and objectives

• A summary report of results being measured by the SPC

• A then-current forward-looking view of what members should expect to result from each of the initiatives.

• Second, report measurable strategic results being monitored by the board. Remember that SMART goals are measurable by numerical quantity or dates, so rely upon those metrics first.

• Third, maintaining an ongoing roster of frequently asked questions to which members and staff can refer when more information may be needed. Establish a reliable cadence for updating – and correcting, if necessary – these answers.

2. Inform the club’s management team and staff. As is recommended above for members, sustain an employee information protocol that recognizes the importance of the staff and helps them to be current and well-informed in strategic matters of the club.

3. Establish and curate a continuously current repository of strategic materials. The club’s website is an ideal location for strategic documents. Think of this repository as the club’s strategic library from which members may borrow information. This is borrowing, because strategic information is proprietary for the club and should not be passed around the neighborhood or across town to other–perhaps competing–clubs.

4. Schedule consistent strategic reviews and updates (when necessary). No strategic plan is perfect nor is it timeless. Circumstances and resources change. Market conditions shift. Putting strategy to work effectively requires that the board and its SPC monitor the plan to ensure it is kept relevant to existing conditions at the club.

There is a complicated balance between responding to strategically impactful matters without changing strategy with each shift in the wind, per se.

As the keeper of the strategic plan, the SPC should report regularly to the board concerning the plan’s usefulness and datedness. If updates are required, the SPC should act.

5. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Members in most clubs demand transparency as a part of the club’s manner of doing business whether operationally or governance-related. The components of transparency include timeliness, accuracy and relevance.

• Timeliness requires that the board and management provide members with updated strategic thinking for the club and how such emerging conditions or events may impact the club. It is important to identify facts and to declare speculation for what it is.

• Accuracy requires that the board obtain the essential facts of each matter via its committee structure and with references to the subject-matter experts when needed. Many clubs – and club members –struggle to differentiate between facts, information and misinformation. In creating and sustaining a “transparent” relationship with members, the club and its board must discern relevance based on the


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Change Your Belief System, Change Your Future

In any industry, at any time, all the time, people are looking at those around them and asking themselves, “Why?” Why didn’t I get this? Why is someone else getting that? Or any and every other version of “why not me.”

The racquets industry is no exception. In fact, nothing could be truer than where we are today. As racquets continues to explode nationally, there are greater responsibilities and demands on our leaders. A mentor of mine once said, “Accomplishing the impossible only means the boss adds it to your regular duties.” He was spot on.

Racquets leaders continue to accomplish the impossible every day. They have gone from experts in one sport to experts in multiple sports. In many ways, the workload has doubled if not tripled and is in every way a part of their daily responsibilities.

It is important to remember that everyone is in the same situation. It is how that situation is viewed that differs. On average, directors went from running one racquet sport to leading between two and three racquet sports.

Directors’ responsibilities are similar, the expectations are equal, and yet the levels of success range as far and wide as the eye can see.

The best in racquets understand one simple truth: “More responsibility means more opportunity.” More importantly, they allow disruptions to deepen their concentration of their end goal … to achieve success. Leaders understand that nobody succeeds accidentally. If you can change your belief system, you can undoubtedly change your future.

Let’s consider compensation for a second. Compensation structure is among the many complaints across the board in the racquets industry.

The question is if a director has added responsibilities that generate greater revenue why is that revenue not shared or higher salaries being seen?

This is a logical question that one could argue can be asked in any industry … should more responsibility not demand a higher payout? I see this time and time again, and it is the wrong outlook. This is not a question that should be asked and, more importantly, a demand that should ever be expected.

It is a fact that added responsibilities should rarely equal a higher payout, however, added responsibilities should always equal more opportunities. What one does with those opportunities ultimately creates a higher payout.

Education is at the forefront of the hospitality industry and at the heart of racquets. By continually learning we are not only investing in ourselves but taking a bigger investment in the future of others.

We are also increasing the reach of our network/community which ultimately is our one-size-fits-all key to opportunity. In your community, even more opportunities wait for those who can often recognize what is right in front of them. If education teaches us anything, it is that success does not come easy and rarely without sacrifice.

As leaders, if we can focus on what is right in front of us, we can focus on what is ahead of us. On the flip side, if we spend all our time taking inventory of what we lost (time), we will always miss what we do have.

Our future is not predicated on what we lost but on what we have left. What we have left is enough to build something greater than what we currently have. Many lessons and experiences come through the sacrifices we make. You are stronger, wiser and, most importantly, proved that you can overcome everything thrown your way.

Success comes from watching others and pushing forward, so keep moving, keep producing and keep striving for more because work ceases to be work when you love it. We were made to be productive and resourceful, and there is always something to do with the expertise of our experiences.

Let these experiences and opportunities continue to shape you into the leader you need to be and focus on the lessons and behaviors of the leaders you want to be, and in the end, you will not be surprised when you have it all.

Let the journey continue. BR

JARRETT CHIRICO Jarrett Chirico, USPTA, PTR, PPTA, PPR, PPTR is director of racquets at Royal Oaks Country Club, Dallas, TX.

Jon Sarosiek, certified by the PTR, PPR and PPTR, is one of the first 200 professionals certified in three racquet sports. Sarosiek is also certified as an Elite Professional by the USPTA and works as a search executive and consultant within the racquet sports and fitness/wellness industry with Len Simard, who is the lead search executive and consultant for the racquet sports and fitness/wellness division of KK&W. Additionally, Sarosiek serves as the head racquet sports professional at Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, VA.

Betting on Yourself Navigating Job Offers in the Racquet Sports Industry

Embarking on a new career opportunity in the racquet sports industry is not just a job change. It’s a strategic bet on yourself.

The initial spark of interest in a job posting or a recruitment call evolves into a deeper exploration of the role, club culture and compensation, intensifying the allure of the position.

However, the true litmus test arises when the job offer is extended. This pivotal moment is where some successful candidates may falter. Here are key considerations to keep in mind during this critical juncture:

1. Comprehensive review:

• Engage with a trusted colleague in the industry and, if necessary, seek legal advice to conduct a thorough review of the offer

• Scrutinize salary, commissions, bonuses, start date, benefits, fringe benefits (e.g., clothing, meals, education), professional dues allowance, working schedule and separation terms.

A comprehensive review is akin to crafting a mosaic, where each piece represents a different aspect of the job offer. It’s not just about the financial figures. It’s about understanding the entire canvas and ensuring every detail aligns with your professional aspirations.

2. Strategic negotiation:

• After a comprehensive review, pinpoint one to two “reasonable” aspects crucial to you for negotiation.

• Strategic negotiation involves a delicate dance, where the start date, salary, commission percentage and other considerations become focal points.

• Approach negotiations with respect and recognize that the hiring manager may not agree to all your requests. Consider whether you are comfortable with the current offer if negotiations don’t proceed as planned. Strategic negotiation is an art that goes beyond monetary gains. It’s about shaping the offer to reflect your priorities and values. It’s a dialogue that establishes mutual understanding and sets the stage for a positive and collaborative working relationship.

3. Striking the right balance:

• Rather than fixating on over-negotiation, strive for a fair offer that mirrors your true worth

• Evaluate the cultural alignment, working environment and growth opportunities before making decisions.

Striking the right balance is akin to finding harmony in a complex orchestration. It’s about recognizing that the offer encompasses more than financial compensation. It’s about work-life balance, cultural fit and the potential for professional growth. Ensuring this balance guarantees a holistic match between your aspirations and the opportunities presented.

4. Performance speaks louder:

• Once the offer is accepted, transition focus to performance

• Demonstrate dedication, hard work and a positive impact to showcase your irreplaceable value

• Your actions become a continuous affirmation of your bet on yourself.

Your workplace becomes the canvas where you paint the picture of your true worth. By consistently delivering exceptional performance, you validate your initial bet on yourself and position yourself for future opportunities and advancements.

In the grand scheme of career decisions, betting on yourself isn’t solely about negotiating a favorable offer. It’s about securing a position where you can flourish and your skills are acknowledged and valued. Rather than becoming entangled in the complexities of over-negotiation, prioritize fairness and cultural resonance and, above all, let your performance be the resounding affirmation of your worth.

By following these strategic steps, you secure a position that aligns with your goals and set the stage to exceed expectations. It’s not just about betting on the job. It’s about betting on your ability to make a significant impact and, ultimately, betting on your success in the dynamic world of racquet sports. BR


Robyn Nordin Stowell is a partner in the law firm of Spencer Fane LLP in Phoenix, AZ.

Robyn may be reached at (602) 333-5467 or This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.

Prepare Now for Inevitable Discipline

“Nothing is certain except death and taxes”

When you encounter member discipline situations and need more clarification on your obligations and options, please only proceed after you have contacted your attorney. I cannot stress enough how many times clubs call me midway through the process to ask if I can fix what they’ve done.

If you look at your bylaws and rules provisions regarding member discipline and they are not crystal clear to you, please immediately contact your attorney and update your documents.

It is highly likely that if your documents are not crystal clear to you (the general manager who has special training and the board member who has a legal responsibility to understand and enforce the club’s documents), they are unclear to your members. Arguably, your members are not “on notice” from a due process standpoint if your documents are unclear.

If you are not entirely clear on the statutory requirements for member discipline in your state, immediately look those up, print them out and put them in the general manager’s copy of the bylaws. The statutes apply, whether or not they are consistent with your bylaws, whether or not you are aware of them and whether or not they reflect how you have always done things.

If there is a difference between your bylaws and the statutes, you need to follow the higher requirement. In other words, if one provides five days’ notice and the other provides 10 days’ notice, you need to give 10 days’ notice. If you do not know where to find the applicable statutes, contact your attorney.

A few states do not have a statute for member discipline. Furthermore, clubs that are not nonprofit corporations will not have an applicable statute to follow. Those clubs need to understand the legal parameters for their discipline options. As a general rule, in those situations, a different statute (such as a civil procedure rule) or an existing case law (prior court decisions) will guide you.

Some states have requirements about where your discipline process is documented or when and how it must be published

to the members. Be sure you understand and comply with those requirements, if you are in one of those states.

Please do not allow your board to engage in email and text discussions about a membership discipline situation. If the member disputes the discipline and engages counsel, one of their initial steps might be to demand the retention of all written documents, including emails and texts. If the dispute goes further, they will certainly ask to see all those documents. Therefore, board discussions about member discipline should be in a board meeting or on a call.

Written communication should include legal counsel and not simply be between groups of board members. Board members should not “vent” to each other in emails, particularly regarding member discipline. I have experienced firsthand with club clients the trauma of having board members and senior managers turn over their cell phones and laptops for forensic review, and it is intrusive.

Let’s try to avoid that by resisting the urge to text and email one another. If your document retention policy does not address member discipline, contact your legal counsel to update those policies, to address this risk.

Resist the urge to go easy on your friends. Repeatedly I see boards impose less discipline on a board member’s friend than they would a member they did not like particularly well.

If a member who has not been a good or contributing member has done something that requires discipline but golfs with half the board, the relationship with board members should not color the board’s decision.

I can usually tell in the first few minutes of the client reciting the facts to me how light or heavy the board will go. I would suggest that board decisions regarding discipline are often examples of the board not fulfilling its fiduciary duty.

Finally, discuss confidentiality with your board. Confidentiality is part of the board’s fiduciary duty and applies throughout the board’s term, but applies in spades to member discipline. BR


drained and overwhelmed, lack interest or dread going to work and find it hard to complete simple daily tasks. You may get burned out if you only focus on work for a long time and do not devote enough time to your health, family and friends.

Think that you CAN’T unplug? Some of us are truly addicted to our phones, so set up a plan so you CAN unplug. Let people know when you’re unplugging and have a backup person take the call.

from Green Committee | GCSAA | 42

of the things we talk about it is, if you want to be a technician now, you almost have to think about 3D printing.”


Technically, nearly all printing is three-dimensional. Take a standard computer printout: The printer lays an almost immeasurably small layer of ink atop the page. The added ink, albeit miniscule, onto the page gives it depth — the third dimension — though the effect is markedly two-dimensional.

Now, imagine the printer could print the same shape — say, the letter W — on the exact location, over and over, and that the printhead could increase its distance from the page with each printing, over and over again. With enough printings, the W would “rise” from the page, a 3D wonder one could hold.

Ink, of course, isn’t the best medium, and it probably wouldn’t make the most durable flymo throttle lever. Industrial printers can “print” in several media. Some of the most exotic applications include concrete (at least one startup is 3D printing turnkey homes), cell-derived meat (yum!) and metal.

But plastics is where it’s at for the home—or golf course— hobbyist.

“When I started off, it was just a curiosity,” says Cory Phillips, EM at Atlanta Country Club and nine-year GCSAA member. “I know (2022 Edwin Budding Award winner) Trent Manning was doing some CNC router work, for bag tags and signs for courses, so I started looking into it, and that led me down the rabbit hole looking into 3D printing.”

4. Take your PTO

Some employees feel guilty or hesitant to take PTO due to a perceived work culture or personal beliefs about their productivity. Trust me, your employer would rather you take your PTO than have you burned out and ineffective.

PTO is crucial for recharging ourselves and leads to a better perspective on work-life balance, increased happiness and overall well-being. BR

While computer numerical control routing is subtractive, removing material from, say, a wood or metal block to form a new shape, 3D printing is an additive process.

“When I first started looking at it,” Phillips says, “I thought it would just be astronomically priced to get into. But it’s not. It’s a very cheap hobby to get into. There’s lots of free software, lots of free designs. And plastic is really cheap. You can make mistakes and fail and play with software and design and get it right without it costing much.”

3D printing has followed a familiar technological arc. The first printers were slow, clunky and pricey. Now, a solid, entry-level printer can be delivered next day to your door for less than $200, and a 1,000-foot reel of polylactide (PLA) filament, the most widely used plastic material in 3D printing, goes for under 20 bucks.

“It’s so inexpensive,” says Wilson, who first dabbled in 3D printing as a project with his school-aged son before realizing the countless golf-maintenance applications around the shop. “You can get a starter setup with materials and a couple of rolls of material for under $400. Once you start fooling around with it, you can upgrade your printer, too. It’s almost like a hot rod or a car. You can buy the base model, then add things to make it better.

“But you can do a lot with just the base model.”

So, what of the future? That’s the focus of Part II, to be published in the next issue of BoardRoom magazine. It’s like printing money, says Hector Velazquez, the YouTube sensation and creator of Hector’s Shop, and a convert of 3D printing! BR

from Executive Committee | 34


Maintaining the driving range is another essential aspect of golf course management. Collecting golf balls manually is laborious and time-intensive. ECHO’s autonomous range pickers address this challenge and are designed to streamline the ball collection process. Several different styles of golf ball management can be deployed. Currently, the simple ramp system is the most widely used. Several ball management systems are emerging to help automate the ball-handling process.


As technology continues to evolve, autonomous equipment’s capabilities are expected to expand further. Enhanced sensors, artificial intelligence algorithms, and remote monitoring sys-

tems will make these machines even more efficient and versatile Getting started with the correct mindset is the most important thing golf club operations can do to prepare for what’s coming. Can these robotics pick and mow everything? No. However, understanding the capabilities of where and how to deploy these technologies is paramount to your club’s future growth. Just like a new employee, autonomous equipment use starts slow but will do amazing things as it matures and becomes an indispensable senior contributor.

There’s no question the integration of autonomous robotic equipment represents a visible shift in golf course maintenance. By leveraging advanced technology, these machines offer increased quality, efficiency and sustainability. As golf courses embrace automation, they are poised to achieve higher levels of operational excellence and service to members while preserving the natural beauty of their surroundings. BR

Recognizing and rewarding improvement and learning milestones are crucial to this ongoing journey. Redefining the employee experience through continuous training and engagement is not a one-time effort but a strategic commitment to the growth and development of every individual within the organization. By fostering a culture of excellence, supporting innovation and creativity, and providing a structured yet flexible framework for development, we can ensure the long-term success of our teams and, by extension, our clubs. This comprehensive approach to employee experience challenges traditional norms and sets a new standard for club excellence. It’s time for leaders to embrace this paradigm shift, recognizing that the path to sustainable growth and success lies in our most valuable

from Planning Committee | 79


Elements that enhance the club and the member experience. The wish list of enhancements every board possesses. For example:

• Men’s lounge bar

• New snack shack (create an area for food service on the course)

• Banquet patio by the oak tree (add casual seating with fire pits in the oak tree area).

Select the elements you want to address this fiscal year

Communicate each element’s comprehensive plan that illustrates the steps taken before the project was approved. Keep the membership informed before and after each step. For example:

1. Define why it enhances the quality of a club name membership

2. Determine the design and layout

asset: our people. At Strategic Club Solutions, we specialize in finding opportunities that elevate the employee and member experience and drive your club toward excellence. Our comprehensive approach extends beyond the conventional, crafting a nurturing environment. With years of experience and a proven process, we’re poised to take the weight off your shoulders, ensuring a seamless integration of continuous training and engagement into your club’s culture.

With our team of professionals, you’ll have access to the expertise, tools and support necessary to foster a culture of excellence, innovation and continuous growth. Because when it comes to redefining the employee experience and achieving sustainable success, you don’t have to do it alone. We’ll ensure that your most valuable asset—your people—are equipped, engaged and inspired to excel. BR

3. Estimate total cost of element

4. Present concept drawings

5. Define clearly and with enthusiasm the benefits of each element

6. Define the timing of construction

7. Develop and determine the funding plan for the project

8. Communicate to the members the board decision.


Give yourself a buffer on the timeline and a contingency in the budget, but you must manage these two areas closely. Communicate throughout the project your progress with the timeline and budget. Finishing a project on time and on budget increases your credibility and your buy-in on the next project.


Communicate in detail the process the board went through to effectively make an informed decision for or against the project before beginning or shutting down any project. BR from HR Committee | 77

from Green Committee | 50

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Many esteemed clubs, such as The Club at Pasadera, choose to partner with Concert Golf Partners as the best approach to preserve and improve their clubs

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First Principles

Needing philosophy.

Gregg Patterson is founder and president of Tribal Magic. He can be reached via email:

Every club is guided by philosophy—basic ideas, foundational beliefs, first principles underpinning the culture and directing decision-making.

Clubs that do “success right” know their first principles and live their philosophy. In doing so, they attract and retain members, energize staff and prosper financially.

A set of core values, first principles, a guiding philosophy guide successful clubs whether the clubs are yacht clubs, golf clubs, country clubs, city clubs or beach clubs.

These success principles, these macro “must do’s” are broken down into three categories: values, people and things.


Value No. 1: A marketing mentality

Great clubs understand the marketing imperative: “Find out what they want, then give it to them.” Surveys, town hall meetings, committee discussions, hallway conversations, letters to the president provide a deeper understanding of wants.

Value No. 2: Enthusiasm for a clearly defined mission statement

The mission statement is the core philosophy of the club, the guiding light for the board and manager. The best mission statements are short, pithy, focused, easy to remember, a “sexy saving” that tells the membership, the staff and the world, “This is us and this is what we spend the big bucks doing.”

A concise mission statement tells people what to expect, clarifies the brand, guides the board when making strategic decisions and is the road map the GM uses when making tactical decisions consistent with the club’s vision.

Value No. 3: Exclusivity and privacy

Great clubs nurture their exclusivity, privacy and sense of community. No club is all things to all people. Knowing who’s right for the culture and its values—and who isn’t—is critical for long-term “community coherence.”

Value No. 4: Equity thinking among members and staff

People treat things differently when they own something. Members and staff with “equity thinking” have an emotional connection to and care for their club. It distinguishes them from “renters,” “day users” and “fly-by-nighters.”

Value No. 5: Club service

Club service does ground zero right—the “stuff” is deliv-

ered effectively and efficiently—but adds club by delivering the stuff with personality, with a relationship and with comments and insights that enlarge and enrich the “delivery experience.”


People No. 1: Club sense among members and staff

Club sense is all about right behavior in a particular club. Successful clubs have staff and members who understand right behavior at the club, behave accordingly and appreciate that club sense binds them together into a coherent community of members and staff.

People No. 2: Fun

People join clubs to escape from the madness of modernity. They want to be entertained, they want to smile, they want to feel joy and laughter.

The best clubs have a sense of humor evident in the hallways and the locker rooms, in the casual discourse between members, management and employees.

People No. 3: Continuity

Longtime, big-time successful clubs have low turnover regarding membership, management and staff. Continuity is prized.

People No. 4: Big like

In successful clubs, there’s a genuine “big like” all around—members like staff, staff like members, both like the manager and the manager likes everyone, including the board and committees.

People No. 5: Good governance

Successful clubs govern “right.” The board makes policy but accepts mentoring by the manager, committees give advice to the board and get mentored by the manager, and the manager administers board policies and accepts mentoring from the board.

People No. 6: Accountability

Members and staff of successful clubs are well aware of who’s accountable for policy and administrative decisions.

People No. 7: Access to those who are accountable

Decision makers are known, available, easy to locate and are inviting and approachable once found.

People No. 8: Responsiveness from those who are accountable

When someone raises policy or administrative issues, those who are accountable act, address the issues quickly,


correct the problems once identified and explain their actions or inaction in detail.

People No. 9: Bonding opportunities

People who have unique group experiences, who share special moments, feel bonded as a community in a special way. Successful clubs generate lots of collective moments— at the macro level for the entire membership and at the micro level for niche markets within the community.


Thing No. 1: Goods, services, facilities appropriate to the wants, needs and expectations of the membership

Successful clubs know what their members want and focus on, invest in and provide the goods, services and facilities appropriate to those wants.

Thing No. 2: Quality equal to and beyond member expectations

Quality is a moving target, and a given club’s “standard of excellence” is related to the expectations of the membership. These expectations are driven by education, affluence, travel and the benchmarks being used by the general membership.

Great clubs know the level of quality expected by their members and are committed to delivering that quality and more.

Thing No. 3: Quality that is delivered consistently Successful clubs deliver the quality expected consistently over time.

Thing No. 4: Value for the quality received

Value is paying the right price for the quality received.

Value isn’t about cheap. Value is about delivering an experience that’s greater than the price being paid. Successful clubs price the right quality right.

Thing No. 5: Attention to the details

Details matter because people draw big conclusions from the details they see and experience. People see philosophy in the details, and the best clubs pay attention to the details.

Thing No. 6: Aesthetic alignment

Successful clubs make sure that the aesthetics of the club—the look, the feel, the sound, the smell—are appropriate to the “wants” of the membership and are consistently applied to ensure that “decorative coherence” is achieved.

Thing No. 7:

Brand recognition

A brand is a symbol of the culture, something that tells a story and says, “This is us.” Successful clubs have symbols that dramatize their story, and they use these symbols in marketing, during visits and to provoke conversation.

Thing No. 8: Community spaces and places

Successful clubs are designed with lots of “places and spaces” that provide opportunities for members to see each other, be together and acknowledge, if only at the subconscious level, that they’re all part of this special community called club: the lobby, the bar, the grill, the living room, the pro shop.

Thing No. 9: Money

Lastly, the finance committee would say firstly that the club needs to deliver the big three—values, people and stuff—cost-effectively with the least expenditure of time, money and resources.

Successful clubs cover current expenses with dues and fund depreciation, and they have an “aspirational capital fund” for future “wants” and “improvements.”

Start philosophizing

Talk philosophy. Identify and discuss your club’s first principles.

Conduct a first principles audit. Identify what’s getting done or needs doing.

Determine best practices for translating those first principles into reality. And while you’re pondering and doing, enjoy the journey. BR

strategic plan, which serves as the club’s North Star for transparency. Club communications should align with the club’s purpose and values.

• Transparency requires a clear understanding of what members want and need to know. Transparency also requires mutual understanding among members that personnel, compensation and disciplinary matters – whether member or staff – are off-limits and unavailable for broad distribution.

The simplest description of transparency is that it answers the basic questions of what, when, where, who and why.

Three important steps in putting strategy to work are:

1. 1. Make strategy an important part of every board meeting, requiring an update on strategic initiatives

2. 2. Create and publish quarterly (at least) “scorecards” in which the board reports its progress with strategic goals and initiatives to members

3. 3. Publish an annual strategic update in which the board identifies its strategic performance.

4. Boards that effectively put strategy to work are reliable, inclusive and self-accountable. BR

from Excellence in Governance | 87


Fostering Harmony

Gordon Welch, president of the Association of Private Club Directors, has over 20 years’ experience in private clubs and 12 years of experience as an association executive and registered lobbyist. For more information or to discuss your orientation you, can reach him at or (918) 914-9050

The Crucial Role of Country Club Boards in Collaborative Decision-Making

Country clubs are not just venues for leisure and recreation. They are intricate communities where members and staff create shared experiences.

However, the dynamics within country clubs can become strained when there is disharmony between the board, staff and membership. In this article, we explore how country club boards can work collaboratively to alleviate stress and foster a sense of unity among staff and members.

Open communication: One of the cornerstones of harmonious relationships within country clubs is open communication. Country club boards should establish transparent lines of communication with staff and members. They can use regular meetings, newsletters and digital platforms to share information about decisions, upcoming events and the club’s vision. When everyone is informed and feels heard, a sense of unity begins to flourish.

Inclusive decision-making: Board decisions often significantly impact staff and members. To create harmony, consider all stakeholders in the decision-making process. By including diverse perspectives, decisions become more well-rounded and reflective of the community’s needs and aspirations.

Collaborative goal setting: Setting clear and achievable goals is vital for any organization, including country clubs. The board should work collaboratively with the GM/COO, senior staff and members to establish realistic objectives that align with the club’s mission. When everyone is invested in the goals, a shared sense of purpose can alleviate stress and promote a positive atmosphere.

Professional development and training: Country club staff play a crucial role in delivering exceptional service to members. To create a harmonious working environment, boards should prioritize professional development and training opportunities for staff. It enhances the skills of the workforce and demonstrates the board’s commitment to supporting staff growth and success.

Recognition and appreciation: Acknowledging the hard work and dedication of staff and members is key to build-

ing a positive club culture. Country club boards should regularly express gratitude and recognize achievements. This can be done through an employee of the month program, member appreciation events, or by acknowledging milestones in newsletters. Feeling valued fosters a sense of belonging and unity within the club.

Financial transparency: Financial matters can be a significant source of tension within country clubs. To create harmony, boards should prioritize financial transparency. Members should have access to clear financial statements and understand the rationale behind fee structures and budgetary decisions. Open discussions about the club’s financial health can build trust and mitigate conflicts.

Conflict resolution mechanisms: Despite best efforts, conflicts may still arise. Country club boards should proactively establish fair and effective conflict resolution policies. This could involve the creation of a dedicated mediator to address disputes. A well-defined process for conflict resolution can prevent issues from escalating and contribute to a more harmonious club environment.

Regular member feedback: Members are at the heart of any country club, and their satisfaction is paramount. Boards should actively seek and value member feedback through surveys, suggestion boxes or town hall meetings. Understanding member preferences and concerns allows the board to make informed decisions that resonate with the membership, creating a positive cycle of engagement and satisfaction.

Harmony within country clubs is a delicate balance that requires intentional efforts from the board, staff and membership. By prioritizing open communication, inclusive decision-making, collaborative goal setting, professional development, recognition, financial transparency, conflict resolution and member feedback, country club boards can pave the way for thriving and harmonious communities. When everyone feels heard, valued and involved, the country club becomes more than just a place for recreation. It becomes a home for shared experiences and lasting connections. BR




BOARDROOM magazine is promoting advancement in the club industry via its Movers and Shakers section on the website.

This section pays tribute to new placements and advancement for club executives and staff.

In addition to announcements on social media and on the website, these posts are shared through bi-weekly and monthly emails.


to view or submit a placement.

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How Has Embezzlement Impacted Private Clubs?

There are many warning signs of embezzlement...acts triggered by external factors in a person’s life, including gambling problems, drug issues, personal debt, changes in habits, feelings of entitlement and a club’s lack of internal controls.

So, what are examples of embezzlement?

“General managers are a great source of examples of theft,” said Club Tax Book author Mitchell Stump.

“Most, if not all, theft examples are dealt with internally and are not reported to the authorities. Some interesting examples include:

• Chefs and superintendents receiving kickback checks from vendors

Chefs and superintendents running a side business using club supplies

• Management personnel adding a fake vendor or employees to their departments, whereby the payments are stolen from the club.

• Accounting thefts can occur during capital projects, as there are often new vendors and larger influxes of money brought into the club.

Wine boxes at the bottom of the stack have been found to be empty because of theft, and Food items mysteriously leave out of the back door of the kitchen.”

“The accounts payable and expense reimbursement functions are probably the two most common areas where fraud happens. Creating fake vendors, creating fake expense reimbursements can happen easily if nobody else is watching what’s going in and out,” explained Ryan Oldroyd, CFO of the Arizona Country Clubs.

“Loose procurement policies allow department managers to have full authority over who they want to do business with, so it may be hard for the person who signs the check to know if it’s a vendor the organization does business with. Is the vendor a close family member or a buddy they golf with on the weekend and who slips the department manager a ‘kickback’ on the side as a thanks?

“Even though a ‘kickback’ may not financially harm the club, that vendor may be charging too much or not doing a great job, so the department manager never goes out to bid or does any simple price checks with other vendors; thus, the partnership is not in the best interest of the enterprise,” he added.

“Embezzlement in private clubs often takes various forms, including fictitious expenses where employees or members fabricate invoices for reimbursement. Another common type is the misuse of club funds, where individuals with access divert money for personal expenses,” said Paul Kornfeind, Clubhouse Manager at the Austin Club in Austin, TX.

“Inventory theft is prevalent in clubs selling goods, where items are stolen for personal use or sale. Membership fee fraud also occurs

when employees manipulate records to embezzle funds. Vendor fraud involves collusion to inflate prices or create kickbacks.

“Lastly, payroll fraud includes inflating salaries or creating fictitious employees to divert funds. These practices undermine the club’s financial integrity and require robust prevention measures,” he added.

“The most common types of dishonesty are theft (inventory shrinkage) and employees doing ‘favors’ for members in exchange for cash tips or holiday gifts/cards/cash,” explained Ron Banaszak.

“I’ve seen employees do trade-outs with members, such as giving free personal training sessions or golf lessons in exchange for free meals from a member’s restaurant.”

The opportunity to embezzle often opens the door for nefarious acts, including a “Controller who embezzled funds over a three-year period by writing extra checks to self and paying personal credit card expenses from club assets,” said Kevin Reilly.

“Once caught, he left the job and started over in another location, and then left the country when discovered the second time.

“Another example was a country club manager who pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $500,000. A gambling problem created financial pressure. The opportunity existed through control of the kitchen, dining, lounge, meeting rooms and golf course.

“There were 255 false expense reimbursements, 168 fictitious invoicing through four schemes, including,

• Fictitious expenses

• Checks created for a person not affiliated

• Fraudulent invoices, and

• Checks for actual vendors he forged and deposited,” Reilly added.

Additional Reilly examples include:

The golf club manager who stole $250,000 over five years. He created a shell company and billed for false services. The former controller of an exclusive country club stole $1 million over a four-year period with an unauthorized wire transfer to accounts in the controller’s name. The controller had a criminal past and was on 10 years’ probation.

• Long-time employees stole $50,000 in furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) from a locked storage room. The room was a poorly organized catch-all adjacent to a service elevator. A trusted controller embezzled $150,000. The controller was a long-time employee who rarely took time off. The controller was responsible for issuing checks and reconciling the bank account. Any cash was treated and recorded in income as receivable. It wasn’t discovered until the controller left the club. BR


“Almost half of all reported cases involved corruption. While clubs may have limited exposure compared to other businesses, they are not immune to the loss,” he added.

“Occupational fraud has four common elements. 1) it’s clandestine, 2) it violates the perpetrator’s fiduciary duties to the employer, 3) it’s committed for the financial benefit of the perpetrator, and it costs the employer assets, revenue or reserves.

“Clubs are less likely to have it because of lack of cash. However, they are susceptible because small accounting staffs mean that there is frequently no separation of duties,” Reilly said.

“Theft at clubs comes in myriad forms, but if we are looking just at staff members, where do we see this?” asked Jonathon Goodman, president of Elevate–CFO & Technology for Clubs. Elevate, a member of the international nonprofit association Hospitality Financial Technology Professionals has a roster of chief financial officers with over 60 years of combined expertise in helping organizations.

“In my years, I’ve seen two major areas that are easy targets for staff: the food and beverage area and inventory items in the golf shop or fitness areas. While the food and beverage area tends to be less in terms of dollars, it is probably the biggest area of misappropriation.

“Most clubs serve meals to their employees in some form. In addition, there are increasingly more Grab’N’Go areas in the club and around the premises.

“Many times, employees will leave with additional meals to take home, which increases the costs of meals the club supplies. With the member Grab, we noted one time that the golf course maintenance personnel was taking water, Gatorade and snacks from the on-course locations. We only discovered this when a member noted that there were no drinks at the comfort stations on the course,” he added.

“With inventory in many locations, the staff will tell the golf shop staff or staff at any other location, for that matter, that I got approval for this; please charge it to uniforms. The single biggest area of concern at most clubs is that staff take merchandise and when the inventory is performed, it is most often incorrectly noted that a staff member did not ring in the sale to a member.

“While this is noted to be a control issue, many controls are sacrificed in the name of proper service to the members. These are two areas of the utmost concern to me,” Goodman said.

Phil Harvey, a Venture Programs principal, noted, “In over 35 years, I revisited numerous events that were toxic enough for insurance claims to be filed.

“The most common is in the food and beverage area, wherein an employee or, in some cases, a large number of employees are involved in the theft of inventories,



“He knows the club business. He knows what people like us have gone through, particularly in recent years. Our work together was flexible and we had the opportunity to go off in different directions, which was really helpful.”

Chris Girardi, GM/COO Wayzata Country Club

Ted Gillary, CCM, CCE, ECM, CMAA Fellow Consultant & Search Executive 313-220-6140 |

Effective club leadership in today’s complex operating environment requires a mindset of growth...


“Over the past year, our partnership with Chris has been a tremendous resource for our team. He has provided our leaders continuous mentorship and ensured implementation of a holistic leadership training and development program. These best practices have truly enhanced our club’s mission, employee culture, and member experience.”

Mike Mainhart, PGA, GM Laredo Country Club

Chris DeChillo Hospitality Trainer & Leadership Coach 720-258-5937 | MAY / JUNE 2024 | BOARDROOM 105 ➤ from Publisher’s Perspective | 10

either for their own needs or, in some cases, prolonged resale of goods. This normally is discovered in several months.

“Food and beverage is quite common since more grievous issues involve cash and paybacks between internal accounting and suppliers. This is usually more difficult to recognize since the fox is in the henhouse and is usually in the same position as confirming inventories on hand,” he added.

“In other instances, internal theft occurs in various departments, such as the pro shop – however, these days, very little cash exchanges hands. Probably the most serious claims today involve cyber issues affecting wire transfers and their transfer to disguised, non-recognized accounts.

“Each year, we experience numerous air fraud events that can have quite sizable consequences. Many clubs pay financial transactions by wire and it is imperative to carry substantial limits to protect against these AI-derived methods of deceit and deception! Fortunately, most clubs have public auditors who recognize ambiguous transactions,” Harvey explained.

Ron Banaszak, a former club general manager and now executive vice president of International Business Development, Distinguished Clubs, says, “Since clubs are very relationship-oriented, and many employees have worked for their club for many, many years, and the fact that clubs are inherently poor at having from Publisher’s Perspective | 105

written systems and having the systems followed religiously (with accountability), fraud is rather prevalent in clubs.

“I am not saying this is large in dollar amounts, but the frequency can be high in a club without quality written systems and procedures.”

Mitchell Stump, principal with the Club Tax Network and author of the Club Tax Book , has provided the Club Whistleblower Hotline since 2012. Hotline comments, not all of which refer to fraud, support some of Stump’s comments.

“Since its inception, not one financial embezzlement has been reported. The only property thefts reported have been towels from the locker room and alcohol from the bar. Employee time theft has also occurred, but at what large organization has this not happened?” Stump queried.

“On this anonymous reporting hotline, the primary issues have been sexual harassment and discrimination concerns.

“Surprisingly, the majority of the reports have dealt with supervisors improperly acting out of what appears to be their frustration with the language barrier caused by Spanish versus English-speaking employees. I’d suggest that employee discrimination and harassment over language differences represent over half of the employee concerns. Fraud is not being reported,” Stump added.

So, what causes embezzlement to happen at a private club?

“The clearest way to express it is through the fraud triangle,” said PB Mares’ Reilly.

“Three elements need to come together: 1) Some type of perceived non-shareable financial problem/pressure, 2) some perceived opportunity, and 3) some way to rationalize the fraud as not being inconsistent with one’s value.

That’s a viewpoint shared by Banaszak.

“Fraud/embezzlement occurs when the following three situations are present:

• Pressure: Motivation or incentive to commit fraud (gambling debts, high health care expenses, or lifestyle exceeding income)

• Rationalization: Justification of dishonest actions (the club owes me), and

• Opportunity: The knowledge and ability to carry out fraud (access to usernames/passwords, journal entries, or keys)

“It’s the general manager’s responsibility to create and maintain systems (checks and balances) to ensure that employees can’t commit fraud and to break down the possibility of all three fraud characteristics,” stressed Banaszak.

“Embezzlement can occur because of various factors, often stemming from opportunities, rationalization and pressures,” said Kornfeind. “Here are some common causes.

• Employees or members with access to club finances, such as managers or accountants, may be tempted if proper oversight is lacking.

• Weak internal controls and oversight mechanisms provide opportunities for manipulation of financial records without detection.

• Financial pressures, including personal debts or gambling problems, can also drive individuals to embezzle funds.

• A culture of entitlement within the club may justify embezzlement as a means to supplement income or lifestyle.

• Moreover, individuals with low ethical standards may rationalize their actions, aided by weak internal controls and a lack of ethical leadership.

“These factors collectively increase clubs’ vulnerability to embezzlement if proper safeguards, such as segregation of duties and regular audits, are not in place. Addressing these root causes requires implementing robust internal


controls, fostering a culture of transparency and accountability, providing ethical leadership, and conducting regular audits and financial reviews.

“By addressing these factors, clubs can reduce the risk of embezzlement and safeguard their financial integrity,” emphasized Kornfeind.

“I think embezzlement happens because the club has hired the wrong person to entrust its assets. Improper due diligence or not paying a competitive wage for the position will attract a lesser candidate,” asserted CFO Oldroyd.

“Private clubs are notorious for not having enough checks and balances, improper workflows and approval levels and non-existent segregation of duties. The list goes on and on.

“First, most private clubs don’t have enough financial resources to hire two or three admin-level employees or staff accountants, so the top person has access to everything and controls everything.

“The top-level finance person has too much control over bank accounts and company credit card platforms, as well as too much control over the accounting software system. Public companies are required to show evidence of such control levels, and even though a private club may have an annual audit, the auditors may recommend that better controls be put in place as a best practice,” he added.

“But most clubs turn the other way and aren’t willing to invest the time, resources, systems and training to do so. A certain culture is created in the admin/accounting office, which can become too loose and too lazy.

“No department manager wants to deal with the strict, unfriendly controller who requires certain steps to be followed or certain backup documents to be submitted. So, the controller will give in to be ‘more friendly’ with the staff. In some cases, even the GM/COO will encourage the controller to ‘loosen up.’

“A strong director of finance, chief financial officer-controller will create a culture of holding each other accountable and put certain controls and policies in place to achieve a de-

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sired culture within the finance and accounting operation,” Oldroyd stated.

So, what are the warning signs something is amiss? There are many in the minds of our contributors.

• Employees, including managers, are resistant to more and tighter controls and the implementation of new systems.

• Suspicious financial entries on the balance sheet. Financial statement entries without adequate explanations and/or background information to justify the entry.

• Vendors overcharging the company for goods and services and a club employee receiving payments to approve the higher-than-market prices the club is paying in exchange for ‘kickbacks.’

– Ron Banaszak

Red Flags

• Employee lifestyle changes

• Employee debt/credit problems

• Behavior changes? Substance abuse? Gambling?

• High employee turnover

• Refusal to take vacation or sick leave- unwilling to share duties – Kevin Reilly

Again, suppose the highest finance person has or wants control of every single account and is very protective of sharing information. In that case, bank account details, general ledger details, etc., are warning signs.

Has there ever been an independent full-scope audit performed? How about inventory spot checks? Who checks to see if the liquor cabinets are always locked? Who has the key or access code? Your club controller or top-level finance person must have the ‘trust, but verify’ approach to all aspects of the business.

– Ryan Oldroyd

Recognizing warning signs of fraud or embezzlement in a private club is crucial for early detection and prevention. Common indicators include discrepancies in financial records, such as unexplained discrepancies between reported income and actual funds or irregularities in expense reports and invoices.

Sudden changes in an employee’s lifestyle, such as unexplained wealth or extravagant spending, may raise suspicion. Additionally, employees exhibiting unusual behavior, such as defensiveness or reluctance to provide information, could be red flags.

Increased complaints from members about billing errors or unauthorized charges may indicate potentially fraudulent activity. Lastly, a lack of transparency or resistance to implementing internal controls or audits could suggest an attempt to conceal fraudulent behavior.

Being vigilant and addressing these warning signs promptly can help mitigate the risk of fraud and safeguard the club’s financial integrity.

– Paul Kornfeind

“Unless the amount is significant, it may go unnoticed,” commented Stump.

“As one CPA stated, ‘If the theft occurs one year, it may need to be repeated annually, as it is now in the budget.”

So, what specific steps can management take to prevent the problem in the first place?

“The only item in the fraud triangle that management has control over is not providing the opportunity. Rationalization and perceived financial pressure are out of the club’s control,” said PB Mares’ Reilly.

“Establish a robust system of internal control. However, there are limits. No matter how strong the system, there is always human error. A good system does not allow management override. It should also require more than one person to be involved in the fraud. Require collusion. Finally, the system must be updated to reflect changes in operations or circumstances.

Key internal control concepts:

• Prevent before you detect

• Review organizational structure

• Divide the duties

• Fix responsibility and lines of authority

• Limit the accessibility of assets

• Surprise your employees!

• Use cost-benefit analysis

• Communicate the control ethos, and

• Adopt written policies to clarify procedures

• Review the management letter from the audit and address any weaknesses identified.

• Don’t overlook the obvious.

“Regardless of the specific method, embezzlement often involves exploiting trust and opportunity for personal gain at the expense of the club’s financial integrity,” explained Kornfeind.

“To prevent fraud or stealing in a private club, management can take several proactive steps. They should establish strong internal controls, such as segregation of duties and regular audits, to ensure accountability and oversight of financial processes.

He added, “Clear codes of conduct and ethical guidelines should be developed and communicated to promote honesty and transparency among employees and members.

“Ongoing training and education programs should be provided to raise awareness of fraud prevention and detection methods. Regular audits and reviews of financial records and operational processes should be conducted,

from Publisher’s Perspective | 105 108 BOARDROOM | MAY / JUNE 2024

with the possibility of hiring external auditors for independent assessments.

“Security measures, including physical and cybersecurity measures, should be implemented to safeguard sensitive information and assets,” he stressed.

“Whistleblower policies should be promoted to encourage the anonymous reporting of suspected fraud without fear of retaliation. Background checks should be performed on employees, especially those in positions of trust. Management should monitor financial transactions closely and enforce consequences for policy violations.

“Leading by example with ethical leadership and integrity sets a positive tone for the organization. These measures collectively help reduce the risk of fraud or stealing, protecting the club’s financial integrity and reputation,” Kornfeind added.

In Oldroyd’s opinion, prevention starts “by hiring the right person at the tip and performing proper due diligence...both at the GM/COO level and top-level finance person. Leaders should be steadfast in creating a culture of honesty, doing the right thing, and following policies and procedures.

“I really believe we all need someone else to hold us accountable. That’s a simple question a GM/COO can ask each department manager…who holds you accountable for your work? Ask for examples. The highest-level finance person absolutely needs someone to hold them accountable. The GM/COO should have access and fill this role somewhat,” Oldroyd added.

“Even if a club treasurer has a very strong background, they should ask relevant and pertinent questions during the financial and internal controls review. Even though this may seem intrusive and beyond the scope of the treasurer’s role, it helps create accountability for the highest-level finance person.

“All clubs should have an annual audit by an independent CPA firm. Lastly, don’t skimp on the proper staffing levels and resources in the accounting/finance function. Often, the finance person is also tagged as a human resources generalist or information technology and audio-visual expert. If stretched too thin, somewhere it will break,” he cautioned.

And when it comes to purchasing, “Bid out pricing on items once or twice a year to multiple vendors,” stated Banaszak.

“This is where quality purchasing software comes into play, allowing a club to get competitive bids in a time-efficient manner. Have a different person take food, beverage and merchandise inventory without notice. This is to verify the inventory levels,” he added.

“Understanding how the budget for each department is created and then monitoring the under and over items is extremely helpful,” commented Stump.

“The treasurer could do or observe the bank reconciliations occasionally, unscheduled, and the treasurer could

personally hand out checks or pay stubs to employees occasionally.”


As our contributors have suggested, embezzlement happens for many reasons. However, for private clubs, the answer lies in recognizing warning signs and taking action.

That means being vigilant and proactive to prevent problems from arising in the first place. And we leave the final comment to Kevin Reilly with these tips:

Get the audit committee involved.

1. Evaluate management’s assessment of the significance and likelihood of your company’s fraud risks — especially the pressure to meet budget.

2. Evaluate the internal control best practices management has implemented to address each fraud risk.

3. Ensure your company periodically uses a research-based tool to measure the effectiveness of the CEO’s efforts to create the right ‘tone at the top’ to promote ethical behavior and deter wrongdoing.

4. Tell management you have zero tolerance for any ‘cooking the books,” and continuously evaluate management’s integrity. Even small untruths are telling.

At least, that’s the way I see it. BR

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Focus on the Fundamentals To Improve Your Food and Beverage Operations

It is the most common complaint I hear working with private club board members. “We need to improve the food and beverage service at our club.”

Notice I did not say the “profitability,” although that benefit is sometimes inherent in well-managed club dining facilities.

How can you improve the food and beverage operations at your club? The answer is easier than you might think and begins with the fundamentals.

A few years ago, a national survey of restaurant patrons revealed the three primary reasons customers returned regularly to their favorite restaurant. The results will probably surprise you, but if you consider your dining out experiences, I think your habits will corroborate the data.

Private clubs can certainly find good applications from the survey results. These three fundamental findings should be the basis for every good private club’s food and beverage operations.

A warm greeting. The number one reason people cited for returning to a particular restaurant was a warm greeting upon arrival. This greeting is not the standard “canned approach” from a well-intentioned but robotic host or hostess but a sincere and warm greeting, usually by a senior manager or owner of the establishment.

Additionally, the greeter usually knows the party’s name and will be perspicacious enough to recognize if the regular patron has guests accompanying them. Can we replicate this in the private club business? Absolutely. In spades.

Since most clubs request reservations, the greeter and seater should know not only the members’ names but also if they have guests. What an opportunity to make an impression upon the member with a very warm and engaging greeting which includes the use of the members name; and if done in front of guests …. wow!

A fond farewell. The second reason people gave for supporting their favorite restaurant was knowing that their business was appreciated. This is accomplished while the

patron is leaving the restaurant and the greeter, manager or owner thanks the customer for visiting the restaurant and expresses the desire to see them again.

This is not the usual “goodbye now” that most of us experience (if we are lucky and catch the hostess on a good day) in the chain restaurants as we fumble for a toothpick and mint. The best restaurateurs take a few minutes while their patrons are leaving to ensure that their experience was enjoyable and sincerely extend the invitation to visit again when their special table will be awaiting them.

Clean restrooms and good food. There was a tie for third in the survey. Customers were adamant about dining in “clean facilities,” and their primary way of evaluating the “housekeeping” in a restaurant is usually a result of a visit to the restroom.

My rule of thumb when frequenting fast-food restaurants during my travels is to walk into the men’s room before I order food. I know that the same person who cleans the restrooms also cleans the kitchen and, more importantly, the “cleanliness philosophy” of the manager who oversees that restaurant is evident in the restroom.

Good food tied for third with clean restrooms. Surprised? Not me. I like good food, and I tend to go to restaurants where I know the quality will be consistent. But I will avoid the establishments whose rankings in our local paper don’t earn an “A” ranking from the city health department.

In the private club environment, consistency and quality will provide a strong magnet to attract members to your club. If you combine consistently good food with the top three fundamentals of a warm welcome, a fond farewell and clean facilities, you can’t help but increase the use of your club dining rooms. This much I know for sure. BR

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Matt Allnatt, GM/COO, Jonathan Club, Los Angeles, CA

Scott Bertrand, GM, TPC Treviso Bay Golf Club, Naples, FL

Donald Byerly III, GM, Detroit Golf Club, Detroit, MI

Michael W. Carr, president, Detroit Golf Club, Detroit, MI

Jarrett Chirico, USPTA, PTR, PPTA, PPR, PPTR is director of racquets, Royal Oaks Country Club, Dallas, TX

Michael Feil, CCM, CCE, GM, Jupiter Island Club, Jupiter Island, FL

Michael Gibson, GM, Grand Harbor Golf and Beach Club, Vero Beach, FL

Dwight Jenson, GM, Yacht Club of Stone Harbor, Stone Harbor, NJ

Dr. Bonnie Knutson, the Country Club of Lansing and the Michigan Athletic Club

Ed Kelly, president, TPC Treviso Bay Golf Club, Naples, FL

Jade Kiosse, GM, Tualatin Country Club, Tualatin, OR

Paul Kornfeind, clubhouse manager, The Austin Club, Austin Texas

Steve Kunkle, president, Tualatin Country Club, Tualatin, OR

Tom Kruger, president, Grand Harbor Golf and Beach Club, Vero Beach, FL

Nancy Levenburg, member, Spring Lake Country Club, Spring Lake, MI

Ryan Oldroyd, chief financial officer, Arizona Country Club, Phoenix, AZ

Daniel P. Magee, Chair, Yacht Club of Stone Harbor, Stone Harbor, NJ

Joe V. McCart, president, The Club at Admirals Cove, Jupiter, FL

Allison Mitchell, president, Huntington Country Club, Huntington, NY

Robert D. Podley, CCM, CAM, GM, Colonial Country Club, Fort Myers, FL.

Pamela Radcliff, SHRM-SCP, CAM, director of human resources, Hideaway Beach Club, Marco Island, FL

Matthew Rankin, president, Greensboro Country Club, Greensboro, NC

Duncan Reno CCM, CCE, general manager/chief operating office, Del Rio Country Club, Modesto, CA

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