BoardRoom magazine November/December 2023

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C E L E B R A T I N G 27 Y E A R S O F E D U C A T I N G T H E P R I V A T E C L U B I N D U S T R Y ISSUE 310









Curiosity...It’s Been My Life! A 30-year Journey in the Private Club Industry

Executive Search and Consulting

Dan Denehy President

Patrick Finlen Exec. Vice President

Mark Sell Exec. Vice President

Barbara McAuliffe Senior Consultant

Robert James Vice President

Karen Alexander Senior Consultant

Carolyn Kepcher Senior Consultant

Courtney Corroon Research Consultant

Erin Redgate Marketing Assoc.

Pamela Roumas Admin. Assistant

Serving the private club and boutique resort industries.


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


Thirty Years of Curiosity We rarely write or speak of one of our own at Boardroom magazine...but this is the issue we do so...and it’s a celebration of 30 years in the private club industry for our CEO and publisher, John Fornaro...a guy with a curious, inventive and visionary mind. John’s of Italian immigrant stock. His parents, Ercole, who died recently at 92, and his wife, Maria, immigrated to Canada and Revelstoke, a small railway stop in the Canadian Rockies... John’s birthplace. The family later moved to Calgary, Alberta, where John began to make his mark, particularly as an entrepreneur...a factor recognized early when he was named one of Calgary’s top 40 under 40 some years ago. John’s always been curious, inventive and a visionary. Meeting his American-born wife, Denise, led John to California and his unique, self-styled introduction to the private club industry a little later. John sought a lifestyle and the private club industry offered that. For him, it became a matter of taking advantage of the many opportunities. That’s precisely what has happened during the past 30 years. And so, our cover story, as BoardRoom enters its 28th year of publication, is John’s story, how he became intrigued by the industry, how he planned his entry, and the many accomplishments he has achieved in the past 30 years. From that first issue of BoardRoom, John’s curious, inventive mind has never stopped. Today, he leads a blossoming group of companies that has brought much wealth (not money), inventiveness and growth to the industry. It’s been an interesting 30 years, many of which I’ve spent as one of John’s colleagues (I first met him many years ago when he had a Calgary business importing and selling California dream cars to Canadians. That was just one of his adventurous ventures). Even moreso, John’s interesting and fascinating career, wellfounded through his hard work, shows just what an individual can do when he puts his mind to it. Today, John also still love to play golf, especially with his son, Dante, who plays college golf. By the way, BoardRoom magazine is owned by John Fornaro, with me, as BoardRoom editor and our creative director, Heather Arias de Cordoba, holding minority interests. Here’s to 30 more, John! n n n

It’s also the time of year for another celebration...25 years of BoardRoom Awards. Again, another Fornaro brainchild, the Boardroom Awards, celebrate those who contribute so much to the private club industry. In this issue, we announce our 2023 BoardRoom Awards...the only award recognizing industry vendors. For some vendors, this will be a first-time award. For 4


others, it’s history repeated. We also congratulate the individual award winners, including: • Lifetime Achievement: Randy Addison • Gary Player Educator of the Year: Club Benchmark’s founder, Ray Cronin (a repeat recipient) • Dave White Editorial Award: Henry DeLozier • John Fornaro Industry Impact Award: Peter Jackman, Terminal City Club, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Matthew Allnatt, Jonathan Club in California • Jay Di Pietro Vendor Award: SYZYGY+AENCO n n n

What Makes a Great Private Club? That was our Publisher’s Perspective back in our July/August BoardRoom. As outlined by our industry experts who contributed to that Publisher’s Perspective, great private clubs are characterized by a combination of exceptional amenities, outstanding service, a strong sense of community, and a commitment to providing an unparalleled member experience. In an article under our Executive Committee (What Makes A Great Private Club) this issue, Larry Hirsh, who’s long been in the industry, offers some additional thoughts, has this to say: I think they missed some basic points that have been lost at many clubs in favor of the traditional “buzzwords” of “member experience”, “leadership”, “greatness”, “stewardship” and more, even though I agree wholeheartedly with those elements. As an avid golfer since childhood, I’ve been privileged to be a member at several private clubs and analyzed, appraised, consulted for and even sold many others. To me, the definition of a great club is really quite simple. It’s the club that has happy, satisfied members - period. Hirsh doesn’t necessarily disagree with our commentators. Rather, he amplifies that happy, satisfied members can make a great club and adds to that by suggesting his top five points of what makes happy, satisfied members. An interesting read, and as Larry says, “That’s my two cents, for what it’s worth.” n n n

And we say ‘farewell’ to Bill Boothe, a long-time colleague who’s been contributing to BoardRoom magazine for many years. Bill packing his consultant bags after 35 years of working with those in the private club industry and at least starting his retirement. For now, he’ll focus on his position as an adjunct professor in the Hospitality and Tourism School at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). Thanks for all your valuable contributions, Bill. It’s been a slice! B R



John G. Fornaro

John G. Fornaro



Dave White

Keith Jarrett

Chief Creative Officer

Chief Analyst

Heather Arias de Cordoba

People Focused, Quality Driven

Frank Gore

Copy Editor

Chief Information Officer

Chryssoula Filippakopoulos

Jeff Briggs

Innovative Ideas Editor

Executive Director

Heather Arias de Cordoba

Bill Thomas

APCD Executive Director

Executive Assistant/ Director of Support

Bill Thomas

Editorial & Marketing Director

Joshua Nuzzi

Dee Kaplan

Contact Information

Business Development Joshua Nuzzi

Operations Director/Subscriptions (949) 376-8889

Krystal Santoro

Contact Information (949) 376-8889

Featured Columnists Eric T. Brey Rick Coyne John G. Fornaro Ted Gillary

Michael Gregory Bonnie J. Knutson Nancy Levenburg Melissa Low

Gregg Patterson Whitney Reid Pennell Dave White

Todd Dufek John Embree Chryssoula Filippakopoulos Briana Gilmore Jonathan Goodman Steve Graves Brynn Grissom Larry Hirsh Julia Kelly Chris Kulinski Carson Letot Brian Meanley Peter Nanula

Tom Neill Phil Newman Robert D. Podley Daniel Pollack Ricky L. Potts Jr. Ed Several Toni Shibayama Sarah Small Brad D. Steele Michelle Tanzer Evan Van Eerd Gordon Welch

Contributing Writers Heather Arias de Cordoba Ron Banaszak Bruce Barilla Nancy Berkley Bill Boothe Victoria Burns Stephanie Castro Jarrett Chirico Ronald F. Cichy Frank Cordeiro Henry DeLozier Ryan Doerr Dave Doherty

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BoardRoom magazine is published by APCD Inc. 1100 S. Coast Hwy. #311 Laguna Beach, California 92691 The BoardRoom magazine (USPS 022516, ISSN 15537684) is a bi-monthly trade publication. Issue 310 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











In the world of private clubs, the turnover of non-profit boards poses a significant challenge. Board members, while successful and resourceful, often lack the understanding and expertise they require to make informed decisions that benefit club members.


Today, finding the right club leader is less about finding someone with experience and more about using data to match the right professional with a club’s unique demands. It was the opportunity of a lifetime when Oscar joined The Marshes Country Club as its new general manager/chief operating officer.

I recently spent a week in Oregon with my son. Yes, the one who’s the country club chef turned high-tech exec. Whereas he used to fill his days planning and executing menus for the most discriminating private club members and guests – and his tools of the trade were knives, whisks and tongs – he’s now wielding digital volt meters, oscilloscopes and laser technology to meet precision-driven high-tech customers’ needs.









It has been a busy year for issues impacting the club industry with developments in the definition of what bodies of water fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction and the new overtime regulations proposed by the Department of Labor.

Hobbies give us a mindset for making sense of the conundrums we face as club leaders. Mine are the lessons learned while riding motorcycles through mountains across North America. As diverse as that terrain is, simple truths guide motorcyclists to stay upright while riding the “twisties.” Vision and strategy are like that.








So, in the spirit of saying goodbye to 2023 and hello to 2024, here are the two major forces that will drive your club’s upcoming marketing strategy. The first is having an environmental, social and governance focus. Second, in 2030, a mere six years from your next year’s strategic plan, the US Census Bureau projects there will be almost as many older folks as younger ones.



In a world marked by economic fluctuations and uncertainty, private clubs must be adaptable and resilient to successfully navigate the challenges posed by inflation, rising interest rates and a dynamically changing workforce. To understand the gravity of today’s strategic planning, think about it like inspecting a classic three-legged stool.

Given that the demand for financial data and data-driven decision-making in clubs is at an all-time high, many face a dilemma in addressing the confluence of these forces. The solution may come from a source that the broader business community has long accepted – financial accounting outsourcing (FAO) and fractional controllership solutions (FCS).


There are interviews in your future. Filled with risk and uncertainty. Scary stuff. You’ll be confronted, questioned and critiqued. You’ll be interviewed to get the job, to get the promotion, to get the raise, to explain what you did, why you did it and what went right or wrong. You’ll need tactics, behaviors and the right expectations to make a good interview happen. Prepare.

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DEPARTMENTS CUL I NA RY & CA TE RI NG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46


The State of the Events Industry in Private Clubs

The Best Tech Advice I Can Offer By Bill Boothe

By Lynne LaFond DeLuca

COBALT SOFTWARE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60-61

TE CHNOL OG Y COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

LAW & LEGISLATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

By Briana Gilmore

Club Finance Executive Brings Decades of Experience to Lead HFTP

I Hate It When That Happens By Robyn Nordin Stowell

G RE E N COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

An Inside Look: GCSAA Foundation Powers Your Superintendent’s Environmental Stewardship, Innovation and Community Outreach

NANCY’S CORNER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82

By Ed Several

Views from Miles Tucker, the New Manager of Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club By Nancy Berkley

ME MB E RSHI P COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74

Untapped Potential: The Crucial Role of a Membership Director By Sarah Small

TE NNI S COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84


Last Call

Who Speaks for the Club? 3 Keys for Improving Your Board By Henry DeLozier

By John Embree G RE E N COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93


Creating a New Pathway for Careers in Golf Course Maintenance

The Santa Ana Country Club By Ron Banaszak

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

By Carson Letot

The Surging Growth of Golf Post-COVID Impact on Employment and PGA Initiatives


By Chris Kulinski

Desert Willow Golf Resort The Links at Terranea Waldorf Astoria Orlando By Ron Banaszak MEMBER EXPERIENCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100

Elevating Member Experiences in 2024: The Role of the Member Experience Director By Heather Arias de Cordoba TECHNOLOGY SURVEY . . . . . . . . . . . . .101

Share Your Opinions on Artificial Intelligence in the Club Industry INNOVATIVE IDEAS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106

Desert Mountain Club The Club at Admirals Cove THIS MUCH I KNOW FOR SURE . . . . . . 118

The Three Worst Career Tips I Have Ever Heard By Dick Kopplin

COVER STORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Curiosity...It’s Been My Life! By John G. Fornaro

E XE CUTI V E COMMI TTE E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108

The Cornerstone of Private Clubs: Understanding the Significance of Bylaws By Gordon Welch

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

FINANCE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

Leadership Attributes in 62 Stories Capital Improvement By Ronald F. Cichy By Evan Van Eerd EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

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

Selecting Directors By Frank Cordeiro

Club Holiday Party By Toni Shibayama

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

HR COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58

Embracing Artificial Intelligence By Ryan Doerr

Website for Staff Recruitment By Victoria Burns

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

HISTORICAL COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . 66

What Makes A Great Private Club? Unveil Your Legacy By Larry Hirsh By Tom Neill EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

GREEN COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

Collaborative Problem-Solving By Julia Kelly

Employee Shortages By Daniel Pollack

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

GREEN COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

A Tale of Two Clubs in Charlotte By Peter Nanula

Drains or Greens Mix? By Dave Doherty

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

MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . 72

Collaborating Across Departments Most Lottery Winners Go Broke By Robert D. Podley By Steve Graves EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . 75

Inner Peace and Self-Awareness By Ricky L. Potts Jr.

The Art of Rejecting a Candidate for Membership By Brad D. Steele

LEGAL COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76

Private Inurement By Michelle Tanzer & Brian Meanley HOUSE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80

Is Your Locker Room Manager an Asset or a Liability? By Bruce Barilla HOUSE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

Ways to ‘Wow’ in Your Locker Rooms - Part II By Todd Dufek RACQUET COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86

It’s About Education By Jarrett Chirico RACQUET COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

Embracing the Pickleball Craze By Brynn Grissom


RICK COYNE Rick Coyne is founder and president of Club Mark Advisors. He can be reached via email:


Enhancing Board Effectiveness: The Power of Early Education In the world of private clubs, the turnover of non-profit boards poses a significant challenge.

Board members, while successful and resourceful, often lack the understanding and expertise they require to make informed decisions that benefit club members. This is where early education for incoming three-year board members comes into play. By embracing educational programs, general managers can empower board members with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the complexities of club governance, ultimately leading to more effective decision-making and value creation for club members. Why education matters: The need for education in board governance cannot be overstated. Few incoming board members have exposure to club-specific strategies, member surveys or the development of a club’s mission, vision and core values. Understanding the diverse needs of member families and comprehending strategic plans becomes challenging without proper education. Furthermore, the separation of decisions within a club and the assignment of responsibilities often remains unclear. To address these gaps, educational programming such as that provided by BoardRoom Institute is critical. Overcoming challenges: While the benefits of board education are evident, private clubs have been slow to embrace it fully. The demands on club leaders’ time often prioritize immediate results over long-term strategic initiatives, like board education. However, it is essential to recognize that building a robust volunteer leadership program requires the same dedication as selecting and orienting key staff members. Education should be a vital pillar of a club’s success. Key areas of focus: Incoming board members need access to specific knowledge and competencies to serve their clubs and members effectively. Some essential areas include: 1. Educational programs: • Understanding the functioning of private clubs • Best practices in governance models • Roles and responsibilities with a responsibility matrix 10


• •

Code of conduct Committee development and process.

2. Specific club information: • Strategic and capital planning programs underway or planned • Key staff professional experience, accomplishments and industry engagements • Departmental trends over the past five years • Demographic profile of members • Access to recent demographically segregated surveys • Competitive analysis. The path forward: Though the club industry has made progress in embracing data-driven decision-making, board education remains an area that demands attention. Lack of time can no longer be an excuse for neglecting this crucial aspect of club management. Informed and consistent decision-making and strategy are foundational to a club’s success. By leveraging educational resources such as BoardRoom Institute and other private firms, general managers can facilitate a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Embrace the power of data: Data is an invaluable ally in making informed decisions and planning. Rather than fearing data as an acknowledgment of deficiencies, embrace it as a tool for discovering opportunities and enhancing shared knowledge within the club. By treating data as a means of improvement, clubs can unlock new possibilities and drive positive change. Private club general managers are pivotal in ensuring effective board governance. By recognizing the importance of early education for incoming board members, clubs can empower their leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions and shape the club’s future. Through a commitment to ongoing education and using valuable resources, clubs can cultivate a culture of excellence, fostering value creation for their members and sustained success for years. B R

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Research Says: The Importance of Matching Club Leader’s Skills to Club’s Needs Today, finding the right club leader is less about finding someone with experience and more about using data to match the right professional with a club’s unique demands. It was the opportunity of a lifetime when Oscar joined The Marshes Country Club as its new general manager/chief operating officer. Throughout his career, Oscar focused on building his skill sets by attending training and earning certifications. His work experience demonstrated consistent success and a promotion history from assistant spa manager to assistant general manager. Oscar built the type of resume that any club’s leadership would look at and see as an asset. He even worked with a trusted executive search firm to secure this position. But after 18 months, he was out of a job and looking for the next career opportunity. What went wrong? Was there something else that the club and Oscar could have done to help ensure he was the right leader for the club? Unfortunately, this is not a unique occurrence, nor are the questions about what went wrong when a candidate with the right experiences fails. Often, the critically important hiring process helps ensure the hiring of managers who will succeed, but it doesn’t always work. Even when clubs and managers talk about looking for the “right fit,” this right fit is too often built upon feeling or identifying the “right qualifications” and not driven by the insights that data can provide. It leads to positions that are not successfully filled or, worse, filled by candidates who fail. Challenges around finding the right leader are not unique to the club industry, and they can quickly become expensive. According to the Executive Search Information Exchange, 40 percent of executive searches fail. Of the candidates hired, 40-50 percent do not last more than 18 months. Conservative estimates put the cost of bad hires at 30 percent of their annual salary. When considering bottom-line hiring costs, compensation, disruption, severance, and missed opportunities, the total costs can quickly climb to $240,000. In the club industry, where employees are often a critical component of the member experience, the lasting negative consequences of a failed hire go beyond the financial numbers. Loyal employees can become disengaged, their pro12


ductivity drops, or they can leave. Performance can suffer, weakening the club’s brand as an employer of choice and leading to poor member service. Ultimately, employees are negatively impacted, and members quickly feel these impacts. Unlike other service environments where employee turnover is commonplace, employee longevity is crucial to the member experience, and hiring decisions can quickly impact the member experience. LEADERSHIP EXPECTATIONS Finding the next great leader is not about finding more options. It’s understanding the nuanced organizational needs to find the right person. Using research to understand the specifics of the club and how potential leaders’ skills compare to those needs is critical. To assess those needs, you must ask member and employee stakeholder groups what they believe is needed to succeed in that club’s distinctive environment. While there are innumerable tests, methodologies and information about hiring the right candidate, the club industry represents an environment with unique expectations. From our stakeholder research derived from placements we’ve made over the years, we know that personality is a unique and vital facet of what leaders need to succeed. We have also found that general managers/chief operating officers need skills in four areas: technical knowledge, management skills, professional attributes, and member engagement.




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.

Making Menu Memories “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

I recently spent a week in Oregon with my son. Yes, the one who’s the country club chef turned high-tech exec. Whereas he used to fill his days planning and executing menus for the most discriminating private club members and guests – and his tools of the trade were knives, whisks and tongs – he’s now wielding digital volt meters, oscilloscopes and laser technology to meet precision-driven hightech customers’ needs. He’s also busy, with hardly any time to cook, much less eat. So, one of my goals on this trip was to fill his freezer with family-favorite recipes packaged in ready-to-eat single-serving containers. So before I left Michigan, I asked him what he’d like me to cook up for his freezer. His first choice: Tex-Mex soup.

unique, it reminds him of home. (And me, too, I hope.) So, this got me thinking about the menu offerings in a private club’s dining room. Is there something – at least one item – on your menu that is uniquely your own? Something your members can’t get anywhere else? Your signature dish? That is, if you want the best whatever-it-is, it’s the raison d’être to dine at your club. For decades, at Frankfort Country Club (now Frankfort Commons) in Frankfort, IN, the best-ever go-to lunch menu item was the fried tenderloin sandwich – now dubbed the two-putt tenderloin. It was fabulous 40 years ago and still is today, as it’s the “#1 Most Liked” item on the menu. For over 50 years, the pimento cheese sandwiches at the Masters have drawn crowds at Augusta National. At Firestone Country Club in Akron, OH, it’s the crunchy cream pie, a custard pie topped with crushed peanuts and coconut flakes.

I recently spent a week in Oregon with my son. Yes, the one who’s the country club chef turned high-tech exec. He’s also busy, with hardly any time to cook, much less eat. So, one of my goals on this trip was to fill his freezer with family-favorite recipes packaged in ready-toeat single-serving containers. His first choice: Tex-Mex soup. The recipe was given to me by a born-and-raised Texan from Lufkin, a town of about 35,000 in the eastern part of the state. And in case you’re curious, the soup contains, among other things, ground beef, pinto beans, tomatoes and green chiles (of course!), and a liberal sprinkling of pepper. It’s a lot like chili. But what’s in the soup doesn’t matter as much as the memory it creates for my son. We all have family favorites. These recipes, tried-and-true favorites passed down from generation to generation, bring back the smells and tastes – and yes, the memories – of home. They’re those traditional dishes we grew up with and the stories and people behind them. They’re our signature dishes. So, about this Tex-Mex soup. The recipe was given to me by a born-and-raised Texan from Lufkin, a town of about 35,000 in the eastern part of the state. And in case you’re curious, the soup contains, among other things, ground beef, pinto beans, tomatoes and green chiles (of course!), and a liberal sprinkling of pepper. It’s a lot like chili. But what’s in the soup doesn’t matter as much as the memory it creates for my son. Because it’s distinctive and 14


And at Muirfield Village in Dublin, OH, the Buckeye milkshake has been a staple since 1976, reportedly made with Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, Jif peanut butter, Hershey’s chocolate syrup and a little bit of milk. Every bite of a two-putt tenderloin and every sip of a Buckeye milkshake (much as it pains me to write as a diehard MEEEECHIGAN fan) creates a memorable sight, smell and taste experience. And memories are what make menus memorable. Rod Stewart crooned, “Every picture tells a story.” Likewise, every item on your menu has the potential to create a memory. Just like Tex-Mex soup. So, what’s the signature dish at your private club/golf resort? B R

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Melissa Low, CAE, is the senior director of communications and advocacy for the Club Management Association of America. Information is current as of Sept. 12. For the latest information on these and other issues affecting the club industry, please visit CMAA’s Legislative Report blog at www.

Year-End Legislative and Regulatory Update It has been a busy year for issues impacting the club industry with developments in the definition of what bodies of water fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction and the new overtime regulations proposed by the Department of Labor. DOL proposes changes to overtime rule, threshold increases to more than $55,000 annually In August, the DOL issued a long-awaited proposed overtime rule to adjust the Fair Labor Standards Act provisions governing who is eligible for overtime. The rule was last updated in 2019. To qualify for exemption from overtime today, an employee must meet the salary basis test (paid a predetermined and fixed amount not subject to reduction or variation), the salary level test and the duties test. Salary threshold: The proposal increases the minimum salary required for an employee to qualify for exemption from the current level of $679 per week, the equivalent of $35,308 per year, to $1,059 per week, or $55,068 annually. However, the DOL also noted in a footnote that the projected threshold for 2024 could be $1,158 weekly or $60,209 annually (based on the calculation methodology noted in the section below marked Automatic increases). AUTOMATIC INCREASES • The proposed rule would automatically update the earning thresholds for exempt and highly compensated employees every three years using current wage data. • Specifically, the DOL proposes to update the salary level by adjusting it to remain at the 35th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time non-hourly workers in the lowest-wage region (currently the South). • For highly compensated employees, the total annual compensation would be indexed as the annualized weekly earnings of the 85th percentile of full-time nonhourly workers nationally. Highly compensated employees: The proposal sets the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees to $143,988 per year. Changes are not proposed to the duties test or the use of bonuses to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level. 16


The DOL will accept public comment on the proposed rule for 60 days. EPA’S WOTUS UPDATE RULE CONTINUES CONFUSION In May, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in the case of Sackett v. the Environmental Protection Agency. In this case, the Supreme Court was charged with weighing the scope of the Clean Water Act. The EPA had stopped the couple from building a home on their property near Priest Lake, ID, as it classified it as a wetland and threatened extensive fines for non-compliance. The Sacketts filed suit, arguing the EPA and Courts were applying a broad definition of the Waters of the US. In its decision, the Supreme Court embraces a narrow interpretation of WOTUS, ruling that only wetlands adjoined to larger bodies of water are regulated under the CWA. Further, it noted that the EPA’s “interpretation is inconsistent with the text and structure of the CWA.” The EPA’s interpretation relies on the “significant nexus” test that “the EPA has no statutory basis to impose.” The decision conflicted with elements of the 2023 WOTUS rule, forcing the EPA to formulate a response and amend its rule. In August, the EPA issued this amended final rule. While the rule makes significant changes, it does not address and define what it means for a water to be a “relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing body of water, or what it means for a wetland to have a continuous surface connection.” Given this omission, considerable ambiguity remains for property owners who seek to understand where the water on their property is federally regulated. Adding further complication is the existence of two different “relatively permanent standards” depending on which state you are in due to ongoing litigation and multiple preliminary injunctions in place. In states where the 2023 WOTUS Rule was preliminarily enjoined, the pre-2015 rule interpretation is in place, and in all other states, the 2023 Rule is in effect. B R



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J.G. Ted Gillary, CCM, CCE, ECM, CMAA Fellow is an executive coach, consultant and search executive with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, a private club industry executive search and consulting firm. You can reach Ted via email:

Club Leadership in a Nutshell

Operations and Governance and the Culture that Binds them Together Our hobbies often provide us with a mindset for making sense of the conundrums we face as club leaders. Mine are the lessons learned while riding motorcycles through mountains across North America. From the Rockies of the Lower 48 and Canada on to Alaska, across to Nova Scotia, from the East Coast to the West Coast and down to the hills of Texas and Alabama. As diverse as that vast terrain is, simple truths guide motorcyclists to stay upright while riding the “twisties.” The attraction of beautiful mountain roads is that the physics of the terrain threatens to ground the motorcyclist at every turn. It is counterintuitive to foil the impulse of nagging fear and look beyond the moment. We carve a mountain road successfully while enjoying the flow of focus, discipline and physical exertion. Where we choose to look and focus our attention is where we go. Looking to the far end of the curve ensures the rider makes the right moves in the moment as the road comes too fast and furious to process mentally. Gaze at an object and your tires will hit it. Look down a second too long at the road in front and you will meet it personally. Vision and strategy are like that. We lead best when we fix our gaze on the future to make the right moves in the present. General managers are hired to operate in the present and think in the future. The confusion comes when trying to figure out how to do that successfully when we, as leaders, are pulled in all kinds of directions. How we make sense of the road of leadership coming fast and furious depends on where we put our attention. Analogies eventually run out of road, so let’s set aside the idea of sitting atop a machine and transition to a general manager. That is, to make sense of the complexity of leadership to enable us to lead with confidence. The data set I reference comes from my work as an executive coach for managers and the results of KK&W culture surveys we administer before searches. Viewed together, a picture of what clubs require in leadership becomes clear. Regardless of the type of club a general manager leads, they have common concerns. The general manager must be an inspirational leader for operations and a strategic partner with the board.



Similarly, there is a commonality amongst club boards as they identify the attributes they value most in a general manager. It is satisfying to note that there is harmony between board expectations and the aspirations of the executive. While recently speaking to the Greater Michigan Chapter of CMAA, I proposed that general managers and their leadership teams adopt a mindset that embraces problems and challenges to create a culture of excellence. I have found that the nature of culture is misunderstood and thought to be just about feelings and atmosphere. Although there is truth in that line of thinking, the reality is that culture is knitted together and becomes resilient through systems and processes. Embracing problems and challenges as the gateway to new and better ways of operating requires leadership to make corrections systematically. This is where the value lies for general managers and their teams. In a nutshell, leadership is about operations and governance and the culture that binds the two together. We do our best as general managers when we focus on the future by nurturing and protecting the culture of our clubs in the present. Culture affects everything we and the board try to accomplish, so it is worth our while to give it our utmost attention. Culture comes before strategy. The truism is that a healthy club culture is necessary to enable the execution of brilliant strategies. The best academic minds writing about culture stress that as vast and as complex as an organization’s culture is, leadership can only engage the culture for its improvement through the curious inquiry about why a problem is present and persists. As the executive manager of the Detroit Athletic Club, I was committed to protecting and nurturing the club culture. I viewed it as my and my team’s most important job. Just as a club president sets the agenda for the board, a general manager sets the agenda for staff. It is where the flow of good leadership produces something new and better. As we carve a road through the “twisties” of club leadership, the general manager, the management team and the board must embrace problems and challenges. Embrace means to put your arms around something and give it your best. If we don’t, the future will come fast and furious, and we may unintentionally meet the hard, unforgiving reality of problems undetected. B R



Curiosity... It’s Been My Life! A 30-year Journey in the Private Club Industry

By John G. Fornaro

November, 30 years ago, I started my first job in the private club industry... 24 hours later, I was fired. It was not something anyone could expect the day they began a new job, but for me, it was reality. But it also marked the start of my journey in the private club industry and the many businesses and partnerships I’ve formed. It’s also an inspirational story for people who work in the industry and want to branch out and thrive. It’s about my curiosity. I’ve always been curious about everything in my life...curiosity makes me question everything. By being intensely curious, I don’t procrastinate. I’ve learned from everyone I’ve talked to in this industry. I talk to everyone, especially at networking events and my curiosity has allowed me to learn and be wiser. My curiosity is about something other than what I want. Still, as I’ve learned about the private club industry over the past 30 years, it has made me curious and given me a better understanding of what the club industry wants and needs and how I can meet those needs. It’s also my story about the many people I’ve met and who have influenced me in my quest to contribute to the private club industry. Before entering the club industry, at 25 years of age, my curiosity led to another adventure. As co-founder of Video Vending (Redbox today), we invented and manufactured the machines that made movies available to the public. I owned multiple video stores in various locations worldwide. We realized everyone wanted to watch mostly new releases, so we created the machines to stock only new movies. They were in convenient spots like grocery stores and hotels. My venture into video vending was written up in both Time magazine and Billboard and in Canada I was recognized as a successful entrepreneur and in Calgary, Alberta, one of the city’s top 40 under 40. I raised over $20 million and was finalizing my public offering in the late 1980s when, unfortunately, the stock market crashed. We were unable to take the company public. Following a couple of years off at the beginning of the 90s, I moved to California and began to research different opportunities. I was flipping through the yellow pages in the phone book and landed on country be specific, Newport Beach Country Club. At that time, I didn’t know that much about private clubs, but my curiosity was intense. I spent a couple of days in the Newport Beach County Club parking lot and surveyed some members who happened by.

After a couple of days, I put a report together, gave it to the general manager and disclosed what I found in the survey. I told them they should hire me. And guess what, they the membership director. The following day, I went to work. That lasted about five minutes before they fired me because I accused them of having too old members and the fact that women couldn’t play golf on weekends. This, I said, could be the reasons why they were not successful in selling memberships. On my way home, I picked up the Los Angeles Times. The cover of the the business section featured a picture of an attorney standing on a cracked cart path at Pacific Golf & Country Club in San Clemente, CA. He told the story that the club had suffered severe damage from the rain, which had caused the driving range and the three golf holes to be closed. The owner of Pacific Golf & Country Club was suing Gary Player, the course designer and certain banks for selling them the club that had sustained damage. The attorney had stated they could not sell memberships or have catering events. Ah, another opportunity! I drove to Pacific, did another survey and presented my findings to the general manager, Frank Adlesh. He said, “I’d like to hire you but don’t have a budget to pay you.” I said, ‘No problem, pay me 100 percent commission.’ In the previous year, Pacific had only sold five NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2023 | BOARDROOM


with Rick and Donna in the Professional Club Marketing Association (PCMA). I later sold PCMA to Rick and Donna in 2008. In 1995, we also started the first website business,; we sold it in 2001 and the owner then sold it to Net Caddy. In 1996, while still selling memberships at Pacific, I took over the catering department, branding and communications. At the time, Pacific had an advisory board and I also was in charge of advisory board member orientation. That’s when I realized there was no educational process, magazine or newsletter for board members. And as we discovered, many board members didn’t know their roles and responsibilities. So, here arose another opportunity! Immediately, Keith and I developed a magazine prototype called BoardRoom magazine. At an association meeting with industry leaders, I passed the prototype around but received little support. Actually, one of the industry leaders threw it in the garbage and said the board doesn’t need inKeith Jarrett and Gary Player standing next to John Fornaro Donna Coyne, John Fornaro and Rick Coyne formation or education about their positions. I disagreed and really didn’t care what he said. We published the first BoardRoom magazine in December 1997. I also brokered a deal with the club’s owner to not sue Gary Player; in return, Gary Player would spend three days at the club playing with members. I also asked Gary to be on the first cover of BoardRoom magazine and 27 years later, BoardRoom magazine is the number one Bill Thomas, Keith Jarrett, and John Fornaro John Fornaro, Jeff McFadden, and Rick and Laura Ladendorf publication in the private club industry. It’s the only publication focused on board issues featuring the top industry leaders and all the major associations. At first, many general managers were afraid to show their board members this magazine that touted education for board members. Gradually, after a few issues, GMs started photocopying articles to give to their board members, and about a year later, most GMs started to feel more comfortable providing each board member a copy of each BoardRoom issue. This John Fornaro at the Distinguished Clubs Summit has grown exponentially to the point where many clubs today give a copy to each board member and committee chairs and members. Keep in mind many board members have experience with charity or for-profit boards, but fewer than five percent understand 501(c)(7) equity clubs, the fiduciary responsibilities and their roles and responsibilities. memberships. Frank hired me in November of 1993 and in my first year, I sold over 180 memberships. In mid-1994, I met Keith Jarrett, a member at Pacific. We talked about doing something starting an association for membership directors. In 1994, only a few private clubs had membership directors. They were mostly membership secretaries, without the clout of a membership director. So, we saw another opportunity. In 1995, we started an association and planned our first conference for July 1996. In the period before the conference, I had traveled to different conferences and heard Rick Coyne (now of ClubMark) speak about membership sales. In February 1996, I met with Rick and Donna Coyne and asked them to speak at our July conference. Our first conference in Los Angeles had over 180 attendees, some from as far away as Japan. After the conference, Keith and I became partners

John Fornaro with his mother-in-law Anne, son Dante and wife Denise 22


John Fornaro, Dave White, Lisa Runyon, Heather Arias de Cordoba, and Gail White

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nance in private clubs. We have always supported the concept that the board focus on strategic objectives tomorrow while the club’s management focuses on the operation and implementation of the board’s objectives. We are 100 percent behind the GM/COO/CEOs running the club with very little interference from the board. Micromanagement is the scourge of the private club. Thus, it’s the GM’s job is to oversee the club’s daily operations and to execute the strategic plan. The private club business model has been a challenge. The members elect members to the board, and at the same time, they are also the customers. This can lead to conflicts of interest. Also, the fact is, in most cases, one-third of the board is replaced every year, and the entire board is replaced every three years. This has contributed to the challenge. Loss of institutional memory has caused clubs to repeat mistakes and not solve their challenges. BoardRoom magazine, while being planned, was thought of as a magazine that focuses on board issues, covers the entire club, has no agenda, and has relationships with all the industry associations, all of whom contribute articles. While other publications focus on their members’ duties, BoardRoom focuses on every aspect of the club. I envisioned a magazine where the top industry experts, best lawyers, accountants, tax consultants, architects and hundreds of other professionals would contribute articles. This has certainly happened and has helped make every BoardRoom magazine timely and relevant to the day’s issues. For board members, the departments delineated in BoardRoom are like the committee chairs’ elected positions. We define their role and topics related to their committees. It’s the job of continuing education. I believe the key to a successful club, a successful industry and a successful member experience is the people. It’s about people, not just about facilities. It’s people who solve club issues, make our industry successful and give members a great member experience. Our cover stories and pictures never feature a facility or clubhouse. They’re reserved for people that make a difference. Our articles are written by inventors, consultants, managers, board members, association leaders and a few who wake up every day solving club issues. In the last few years, many clubs have given each committee member digital copies of BoardRoom to prepare them for future positions as committee chairs and, eventually, board presidents. These clubs are looking at the committees as the farm teams, prepping their committee members for roles as potential board members. ANOTHER COMPANY In 1998, Keith and I also started another company: eclubbuy. A dot com company we developed as a buying group for private clubs. CMAA and other associations endorsed us; we raised over $10 million, went from seven employees to 100, and were funded by two venture capital companies. Bill Thomas was hired as a COO the last couple of months before it happened to me again...the 2000 stock market crash. We were unable to continue. We had successfully signed up over 500 clubs that could purchase over 10,000 products online. But it wasn’t to be. The venture capitalists began selling our assets. With the emotional support of Jim Singerling, CMAA’s CEO at the time, and all my staff, I bought back all my companies. BoardRoom magazine, PCMA and Keith became involved in philanthropic ventures and started the Amberwatch Foundation. Bill Thomas focused on his other business before return24


ing in 2002 as one of our partners. He is still currently with me. In 2008, another opportunity arose, and I became part owner of Pacific Golf Club. The club I first started working at years earlier. I quickly changed the name to Bella Collina Towne and Golf Club and was able to test new ideas on members and for the industry before selling my interest in the club in 2013. That same year, Keith Jarrett and I began another adventure... the founding of BoardRoom Distinguished Clubs.

John Fornaro, Dick Kopplin, Jay DiPietro, Michael McCarthy and Kurt Kuebler

The late Jay DiPietro was my inspiration for BoardRoom Distinguished Clubs, which has allowed us to showcase the best private clubs in the country. He said, “Recognizing staff and management for providing a great members experience was important and missing.” Jay, long-time general manager at Boca West Country Club, was my mentor. I met him 25 years ago at the CMAA leadership conference and our relationship and friendship was long-lasting. He showed me that a GM’s most important job is to provide club members with a great member experience and the importance of empathy, respect and recognition for staff and members. Jay also clarified what I believed. A great club starts with a competent board. A board that doesn’t micromanage but one that supports the GM/COO in managing the club’s daily operations. So, how could we recognize the performance of staff and management who provided a great member experience? Keith and I always believed there’s an opportunity for a credible company to recognize the top private clubs in the country. We considered rating a club’s member experience, not recognition based on the popularity





of a club or GM, to be the key factor. That’s been the impetus for Distinguished Clubs. Keith, Bill Thomas and I, along with Frank Gore and Jeff Briggs, our chief analyst and CIO, still own Distinguished Clubs today in partnership with Forbes Travel Guide, which endorses our Distinguished Club as the premier recognition for outstanding clubs in the private club industry. Distinguished Clubs have grown exponentially in the past couple of years. We now have 225 Distinguished Clubs and the list grows as our analysts continue to visit and complete audits on clubs nominated to be Distinguished Clubs. In June 2024, we will have a satellite office in France as the Distinguished Clubs expands its footprint into the European market. As well in 2019, we partnered with Paul Levy, past president of the PGA and Tom Fitzgerald, an executive with JetBlue Challenge, to expand our horizons again, starting Distinguished Golf Destinations, a company similar to Distinguished Club that now recognizes the top golf resorts in the world that deliver a great experience for golfers. We now have 70 DGD clubs. Gordon Welch and I also began a new partnership with BoardRoom Institute this year. This group includes Dick Kop-

Many people have been strong supporters of my work in the industry, including long-time associates: • Dick Kopplin, one of the first people I met and one of BoardRoom magazine’s first advertisers • Former CMAA CEO Jim Singerling • Rhett Evans, CEO of the GCSAA • Michael McCarthy, CEO of Addison Reserve Country Club • Matthew Linderman, CEO and president of Boca West Country Club • Rick Coyne • Donna Coyne • Keith Jarrett, with whom I became business partners • Bill Thomas • Gordon Welch, COO of APCD • Crystal Thomas, executive director, California Chapter of the CMAA, and • Jeff McFadden, the inspiring GM of The Union League of Philadelphia. And of course, there are our long-time BoardRoom staffers, including my partners Dave White, editor, and Heather Arias de Cordoba, creative director and associate editor. And our esteemed sales rep, Dee Kaplan, who has dedicated her time and efforts in the private club industry for so many years. They’ve inspired and been the driving force behind our success as the number one magazine for the industry as we now approach our 28th year of publication. Others include Paul Levy, former president of the PGA and Tom Fitzgerald of JetBlue Challenge, with whom we’ve partnered as we’ve developed BoardRoom Distinguished Golf Destinations. And, of course, my gratitude to my wife, Denise, my strongest supporter of our efforts over the years, and my son, Dante, now a college student who is making his mark with his college golf team.

plin, Kurt Kuebler and Tom Wallace, principals of Kopplin, Kuebler & Wallace; Ray Cronin, founder of Club Benchmarking and Frank Vain, president of the McMahon Group and CEO John Schultz, all of whom have joined us as partners in BoardRoom Institute, our online educational program for boards of directors. Gordon is our chief operating officer. These influential people and many others have helped focus my vision on the private club industry. My curiosity has and continues to make me question everything and by being intensely curious, I don’t procrastinate. But I’ve never been driven by money. I also have massive respect for the men and women who work in the private club industry. They often give up holidays, weekends and evenings to provide members with a great member experience. That, in essence, is the private club industry...servitude...people who serve private club members so they can have a great member experience and purpose. It’s always been my philosophy that problems can become opportunities when the right people come together. And there is little difference between obstacles and opportunities and being able to turn them into an advantage. I have sought to turn my problems and obstacles into opportunities and opportunities into possibilities. And, of course, we’ve had two other long-time outstanding programs – The selection and recognition of BoardRoom’s Private Club Board Presidents ( of the year), now in its 20th year and the BoardRoom Awards, going into its 25th year... the only awards in the private club industry that recognize private clubs’ business partners. I’ve seen increasing innovation, achievement, vision and dedication from BoardRoom Award recipients every year. Our private clubs benefit from their outstanding work and we’re always delighted to recognize their exceptional contributions to the industry. Along with this, we have, for many years, also recognized outstanding people in the industry with our Lifetime Achievement Awards, the John Fornaro Impact Award, the Gary Player Educator of the Year Award, the Jay DiPietro Vendor Award and the Dave White Editorial Award. There’s a nomination and selection process for our Top Presidents Program as we annually honor 20 board president finalists worldwide, along with one Distinguished Board President. These outstanding candidates play a huge role in their club’s operations, working diligently with their boards of directors and general managers toward collaborative governance. All my life, curiosity and opportunities have been my driving force. And it’s been no different with my successes in the private club industry. BoardRoom magazine, in January 2024, will be into its 28th year of publication as we continue in our quest to ‘raise a problem...and seek a solution.’ And who knows what opportunities that will bring! At least, that’s the way I see it. B R

➤ 26


John Fornaro, a luminary in private clubs, epitomizes dedication and entrepreneurship. With BoardRoom magazine, he pioneered industry transformation for three decades, advocating GM autonomy. As an influencer, he innovated, uniting passionate professionals. His magazine, a beacon of knowledge, reflects his unwavering commitment to excellence. John’s legacy is one of giving back and enduring passion. John is a friend to the private club industry. Ronald Banaszak, CCM, CCE EVP of International Business Development, Distinguished Clubs John has been a great mentor, friend, confidant, and inspiration for over 20 years of my professional career. Anytime I make a big decision or career move I always run it by John. I trust that he always looks at things from a different perspective and will find my blindspot on different issues. I will always treasure the many conversations and projects that John and I have worked on together. I always enjoy his enthusiasm. I have no idea how he keeps so many different projects going at once. A total inspiration! Beyond his profession, John has such a love and passion for his friends and family. I am fortunate to be considered a friend. He is loyal beyond measure and I know he is always there for me when I need it. This industry is better because if John and I am a better person today because of him. Rachel J. Carter Senior Membership Director, National Golf Course Owners Association I have known John for nearly 30 years and while there is much I can say, I will use this commentary to highlight a feature in John that I truly feel sets him apart from many in our industry. This attribute may be the single attribute that resonates John’s overall success. John is a professional of many words often, except at times of controversy or disputes. His ability to step back or step aside and have that poker player, methodical composure is an attribute that has taken John down his amazing path of success, in an industry that so many strive to reach success by being the one see or heard. May those of us who know him, learn from him. Donna Coyne Co-Founder/Managing Member, PCMA Since his entry to this industry, I have been blessed to share ideas with this incredibly visionary man. Learning private clubs from the ground up, he has always displayed an uncanny curiosity of what is and a vision of what could be. John Fornaro is one of a few men to earn his rightful place as a leader of this great industry. Rick Coyne President, ClubMark Advisors Every industry requires a “go to” publication with an industry leader, champion, and soothsayer in the publisher’s chair. John is that and more, having owned a club and worked with hundreds of others while always keeping his ear to the ground. John’s long track record of connecting, informing, praising and cajoling has kept our industry in shape. Thank you for your tremendous service, John! Ray Cronin Founder, Club Benchmarking Innovator…disruptor…enabler…John has been a masterful thought-leader for decades. John has consistently drawn forth the best from all with whom he interacts, and we have each grown from our work with John. He has introduced brave and new concepts from which many have grown. And, importantly, he has created opportunities for many. Henry DeLozier Principal/Partner, GGA Partners

John has been a trusted advisor, friend and inspiration to so many in the private golf club community. I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact he and his team have had on our industry. He has done a remarkable job imparting his knowledge and guiding others through the complexities of managing private clubs. His body of work is commendable. Congratulations John on 30 years of excellence. Rhett Evans CEO, GCSAA



McMahon Surveys now Include

Artificial Intelligence Analysis for Better Understanding Survey Results For the past 40 years, McMahon Group has been the champion of involving club members in the decision-making process at their clubs. We have been providing boards and managers with critical data from members so they can govern and manage better by listening to their members. And now we are including artificial intelligence analysis into our survey process in better understanding the thousands of personal comments and suggestions members make in our survey results.

The best way to provide the best club experience is listening to our members. AI is providing the tool to listen and understand so we can continue to improve our clubs and member satisfaction. OVER

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BoardRoom Membership Survey Firm-of-the-Year 12 Years in a Row!






E X C E L L E N C E™

RONALD F. CICHY Dr. Ronald F. Cichy, O.M. is professor emeritus, Michigan State University.


Leadership Attributes in 62 Stories Thousands of club volunteer and paid leaders have contributed to our research over the decades. Our research has identified leadership attributes. They are the qualities, traits, behaviors, and actions someone needs to be an effective leader. Leadership attributes are present in a variety of ways. As a way of thanking BoardRoom readers, we have sorted the leadership attributes into a presentation that follows the alphabet and categorizes leadership attributes based on an alphabetical arrangement of main words found in the titles and throughout each story. I’ve written 62 stories along with a dozen collaborating experts, including Matthew D. Anderson, Dr. JaeMin Cha, Dr. Jack D. Cichy, Ann Dore, John Flood, Jason Hilliard, Dr. MiRan Kim, Dr. SeungHyun “James” Kim, Dr. Praneet Randhawa, Jim Singerling, Dr. Julie Tkach, Phil Zeller, and Dr. Lu Zhang. The

stories were written for boards of directors and paid leaders of member-owned private clubs. Most were published in BoardRoom. Most of the stories are 700 words by design. Below are the titles of the stories, arranged alphabetically. Now, explore more deeply each story that you find of interest. Read. Assess and score the attribute and the role it plays (if any) in your personal and professional leadership: 5 = essential = 5 4 = important = 4 3 = neutral = 3 0 = not important = 0 0 = ignore = 0 Focus on the essential attributes. Put each one into action to make it a permanent part of your leadership. Choose another. Repeat. B R

A Leadership Attributes in 62 Stories Adjust and Adapt Becoming Adroit Appreciation > < Engagement

K&L&M KNOW More About the iGens and Curiosity Intelligence (CI) Managers Are Busy; Leaders Rest Understanding Millennials Leadership: Making Ends Meet What Members Want

B Fresh Insights Into Private Board and Committee Members Board Members: Do You Know What Is Expected From You From Your GM/COO? Bel1eve 1n! The Title of My BOOK – Part I and Part II C&D Volunteer Board and Committee Members Roles in Private Club Communication Productive Private Club Volunteer Leaders Work in Collaboration with GMs/COOs Communicate From the Front Challenges, Burning High-Priority Issues, Opportunities and Problems Curiosity Intelligence (CI) – Part I and Part II Health Wellness Board of Directors Involvement E&F&G Emotional Intelligence (EI) of Private Club Leaders Emotional Intelligence and Feelings About Volunteer Board EI Survey Says: Insights Into Private Clubs Leaders EI, Social Skills, Stress Management Empathy and Engagement Financial Performance Linked to Board Size and Involvement in Strategy Fiduciary Responsibility: Act Like the Owner GMs and COOs Evaluation of Green Practices in Their Private Clubs Going Green in Private Country Clubs H&I&J Health Wellness: Does It Mean Happiness? A Study of Private Clubs Innovation Who and What Is the iGEN? – Part I Who Is the iGEN? – Part II Take the Initiative Can We Teach Empathy to the iGENs? Just the Time To Be Ideally Effective 30


N&O&P Never Stop Coaching and Developing Talent – Part I and Part II What Does EI Have To Do with Organizational Leadership in a Club? Think Like the Owner Owner of My Club Respected Perspectives Lead to Collaboration Q&R&S Three Leading Questions – What Are Your Answers? Test Your EI: Are You a Chief Relationship Officer? What Does Real Leadership Mean to You? Accepting Responsibility Let It Go Safely Enhancing Leadership with SALT Directors Can Impact Social Experiences and Social Media Silence Solitude Seclusion Meditation Reflection – Part I and Part II T&U&V Talent and Burning Club Issues Empathy and Appreciation Lead to Trust Unceasing Unremitting Relentless Unending Practice Productive Private Club Volunteer Leaders Work in Collaboration with GMs/COOs – Part II and Part III Your Values and Beliefs W&X&Y&Z Health and Wellness Research in Private Clubs in 2020 Health Wellness Research in Private Clubs in 2020 Club Involvement Xenophilia Means Loving the Strangers We Serve Leadership: It Is All About You Making It Not About You A to Z Leadership: Zeal



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FRANK CORDEIRO Frank Cordeiro, CCM, is the chief operating officer of Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, TX. He can be reached via email:


Selecting Directors Much has been published on the topic of how to select directors. Integrity, character, temperament, technical skills, body of work, experience, judgment, and discernment are a few things to consider in this complex maze of attributes and characteristics we are asked to analyze when selecting a director for the board. But how useful is this complex matrix of attributes if the otherwise qualified director doesn’t agree with the organization’s governance model? How productive is an in-depth analysis of the attributes and characteristics when current and new leadership aren’t aligned? Is there an easier way to find the most effective director for your club? A better way? Yes. It’s no different than hiring employees. Don’t hire people who will do what you tell them to do. Hire people who want what you want. Applied to director selection, don’t select directors who agree with you but directors who govern as you govern. Start with alignment on how to govern, then move to qualifications. Said differently, and borrowing from a variation on an infamous political expression, “It’s the alignment stupid.” The alignment of the roles and responsibilities of the organization’s stakeholders is fundamental to a productive governance relationship between the CEO/COO and the board of directors. Who prepares the budget? Who approves the budget? What role, if any, does the board play in personnel matters? Who directs, hires, fires and evaluates employees and the senior management team? The answers to some of these questions should be self-evident, but in practice, the disconnect on these issues often leads to discontent, waste and other failures. Understanding and embracing who does what in your organization (i.e., roles and responsibilities) is among the most critical success factors for high-functioning directors and boards. Is your selection process designed to select directors who are aligned on who does what? Alignment on mission, vision and strategy is paramount. As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” If the CEO/COO is on one road and the board is on another, they will travel further apart with each passing day, month, year and, ultimately, land miles apart. The key to success in mission and vision is agreeing on the governance process. How does an organization determine its mission, vision and strategy? Does this year’s president decide? Does the board decide? Does the CEO/COO decide? The answer: “None of the above.” 32


Mission, vision and strategy must involve a comprehensive strategic planning process administered by a qualified thirdparty consulting or management firm. The process, at a minimum, must include an analysis of the market, the organization, financials, trend analysis, focus groups and membership surveys. It must be a data-driven process. The club’s leadership, including management and the board, leads and guides the process, but the membership informs the process. Ultimately, the mission, vision and strategy are dead on arrival if the membership doesn’t enthusiastically embrace it. Is your selection process designed to select directors who are aligned on how to set the vision, mission and strategy? The alignment on director and officer selection is likely the most controversial and divisive of governance topics. The “democratic” process, whereby the members of an organization select the leadership by majority vote, feels good and conveys a sense of equity. While it might feel good, practically, democracy is the least effective method. Important decisions, especially decisions involving the leadership that guide the strategy and future of an organization, should be meritorious and based on the unique needs of the organization. Most organizations elect directors and officers annually (the majority of clubs elect three directors annually for three-year terms). If leadership doesn’t agree on the selection process, the division will repeat annually, and vitriol, politics and dysfunction ensue. It’s impossible to achieve excellence and select the best leaders in an environment with such discontent. Is your selection process designed to select directors who are aligned on how directors and officers are selected? Ultimately, if the CEO/COO and the board are not aligned on how to govern, decisions that rely on governance will suffer. Before leaders can engage in a meaningful and substantive discussion on the issues, they must agree on the process. Absent this agreement, the leadership spends time arguing about the process and no time is left to advance the organization. If you don’t fundamentally agree on how and who makes the decisions, no amount of persuasion, data, logic or reasoning on the substantive issues can overcome the misalignment. Remember, just because director candidates have extensive corporate and non-profit governance experience doesn’t mean they govern how you govern. Again, don’t select directors who agree with you. Select directors who govern as you govern. B R




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Westchester Country Club, Rye, New York “To say we were pleased with C2 Limited Design Associates’ design, process, involvement, and “hand-holding” might be the understatement of the year. They were amazing every step of the way. Their ability to take limited direction, interpret and define “the feel” we were looking for, and articulate this vision in an incredible rendering, and then final result, made us know, as we had heard, they were the best.” Mark J. McCooey, Chairman, House Committee / Member of Travis Room Renovation Committee / Westchester Country Club

change • alter • modify • convert • metamorphose



Client Testimonial: Beach Point Club, mamaroneck, New York "In the world of private clubs, it seems that many designers default to dark, muted and wood tones that are emblematic of a traditional golf Club. Not C2 – they were able to hone in on the unique characteristics of our setting (in our case, ocean palettes, nautical elements, as well as the clean and modern design language that flows throughout our facility). Maintaining character in a private club is so important, as the character is what differentiates clubs one from the other and makes our members feel like they are home. We were also pleased to find C2 was very understanding and accommodating to our operational challenges. It’s one thing to make a space look and feel beautiful, it’s an entirely different matter to make the space functional for staff and equipment. C2 accomplished both flawlessly." Randy Ruder, CCM, CCE / General Manager

Boardroom Magazine Excellence in Achievement Award Winner 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

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RYAN DOERR Ryan Doerr is the president of Strategic Club Solutions. He can be reached at ryan@strategicclubsolutions or (262) 661-CLUB.


Embracing Artificial Intelligence

Seize the Opportunity or Risk Obsolescence “AI won’t replace humans, but humans with AI are going to replace humans without AI.” - Karim Lakhani, Harvard Business School When professor Karim Lakhani made this statement, it was more than a nod to the tectonic shifts in technology. It was a clarion call to professionals. The underlying message? Growth. In our age of rapid technological evolution, growth is rooted in being uncomfortable. As we sit on the brink of 2024, reflecting on our paths, our successes and the legacy we intend to leave, we ask this: Are you evolving? Are you leveraging the tools and technologies that not only offer you a strategic edge but can determine your relevance in an AI-integrated future?

with technology cannot be stressed enough. You owe it to yourself, your team and the legacy you plan to leave. The advantage? Partnering with firms like us doesn’t just provide an introduction to cutting-edge AI tools. It provides a guiding hand, a mentor on how to wield these tools effectively. It’s not just about having the weapon but mastering the art of using it. Consider the efficiencies AI brings. Predictive analysis, for instance, offers insights that can boost your club’s revenues or enhance the member experience. Or automation, which can free up your team to engage in more value-added tasks. The implications are transformative. Embrace the change because it’s not merely happening around you. It’s accelerating. Stay relevant. Lead a team in

ChatGPT, a pioneering artificial intelligence tool, was launched a year ago. Most of you should be familiar with it, or at least the idea of it. Yet, we find many leaders, often tenured, aren’t as tech-savvy as the demands of the era require. In nature, adaptation is key to survival. The dodo bird, once a thriving species, is now a symbol of extinction due to its inability to adapt. So, ask yourself, as a club professional, do you want to be the dodo of the club management world? ChatGPT, a pioneering artificial intelligence tool, was launched a year ago. Most of you should be familiar with it, or at least the idea of it. Yet, we find many leaders, often tenured, aren’t as tech-savvy as the demands of the era require. There’s a vivid intersection of differentiation here. Are you aligning yourself on the side of progressive evolution or risking obsolescence? In nature, adaptation is key to survival. The dodo bird, once a thriving species, is now a symbol of extinction due to its inability to adapt. So, ask yourself, as a club professional, do you want to be the dodo of the club management world? Even if the sunset of your career is on the horizon, the importance of being open-minded and being prepared to grow



an environment where AI is not a sci-fi fantasy but an integral part of everyday life. As we approach 2024, being strategic isn’t just about planning for the next fiscal year. It’s about envisioning the next decade, aligning with an AI-centric future and leveraging it to ensure not just survival, but thriving success. As custodians of legacy and leadership in the private club industry, let’s not just be spectators. Let’s be the torchbearers of this evolution. After all, growth comes when you are uncomfortable. Embrace it. B R

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Larry Hirsh, CRE, MAI, SGA, FRICS is the president of Golf Property Analysts (, a leading golf and club property consulting, appraisal and brokerage firm based in Philadelphia. He blogs on a variety of club and appraisal issues at He is the author of “The Culture of Golf - Isn’t It Just a Game?” available at:

What Makes A Great Private Club? Recently, in their July/August 2023 issue, BoardRoom magazine included a series of comments from esteemed club industry professionals on what makes a great private club. I think they missed some basic points that have been lost at many clubs in favor of the traditional “buzzwords” of “member experience”, “leadership”, “greatness”, “stewardship” and more, even though I agree wholeheartedly with those elements. As an avid golfer since childhood, I’ve been privileged to be a member at several private clubs and analyzed, appraised, consulted for and even sold many others. To me, the definition of a great club is really quite simple. It’s the club that has happy, satisfied members - period. Even clubs with ordinary golf courses, limited financial resources and mediocre food and clubhouses can be “great clubs.” As they say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and what may be great to one membership might not be attractive to another. There are investor-owned clubs where the members feel a sense of pride and “ownership” that can be absent at even some of the most prestigious member-owned clubs. According to a Golf Digest article from 2014, what makes a “Best Damn Club” starts with everything except the golf course. They define it as “places perhaps lesser known, but whose special atmosphere is tangible—almost hits you in the face the moment you drive in.” To some, a great club is about the status of belonging or having fine dining options. It could be about demonstrating one’s financial strength. To others it could be the history of the club or golf course, or maybe who designed it or whether it was a venue for major championships. Some clubs are inundated by onerous and outdated rules and/or customs that inhibit the members’ ability to enjoy the club’s recreational amenities they joined for in the first place. While many clubs measure their own “greatness” on criteria like these, it’s happy members that really make a club great and financially sustainable. After all, don’t we join clubs to have fun? Over my many years of membership in various clubs, the complaints from members often outweigh their compliments about the club. As my friend, Neil Hampton, general manager of Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Scotland said, “The difference between 36


golf in the US and in the UK is that in the US golf is a status symbol and in the UK it’s an ‘everyman’s’ game.” The quest for that status can result in a “stuffy” atmosphere where even members and their guests don’t always feel welcome or comfortable. I’ve often wondered if the operating model of those clubs that welcome us as visitors in the UK wouldn’t work well at some of our clubs in the US. With only one exception I can think of, my golfing travels in the UK have taken me to many well-known (and some lesser known) clubs where I’ve always been warmly welcomed and made to feel “at home.” All clubs - even the upscale ones - need to pay attention to economics. None are “bulletproof.” Regardless of the membership’s level of affluence, belonging is not cheap and if the members aren’t having fun, after awhile they’ll lose interest and leave. The COVID-era club boom has made many clubs flush with members, some of which may not be there a few years into the future as they possibly return to their pre-club activities. Club leadership, and through them, club staff and management play an outsized role in determining to great extent membership satisfaction. If they’re happy, not only will they stick around. but they’ll use the club. It’s not the guy who plays golf 100 times per year who makes the club successful. The majority of members – who might play 10 or 20 times per year- make the difference between economic success and failure and those folks need to be happy for the club to succeed. So, if happy, satisfied members make a great private club, what makes happy, satisfied members? Here’s my top five: • Access - It shouldn’t be difficult to get a tee time • Atmosphere - Comfortable, relaxed and unpretentious with rules only as needed • Welcoming - A membership and leadership that is inclusive and friendly • Facilities - Desirable and well-maintained • Management and Staff - Trained hospitality professionals who find ways and have the authority to say YES. That’s my two cents, for what it’s worth! B R

JULIA KELLY Julia Kelly is vice president of sales and marketing at Troon Privé. She can be reached via email:


Applying the Benefits of Collaborative Problem-Solving Problem-solving at the club level is a daily occurrence, with no shortage of challenges for the onsite team. While a “divide and conquer” approach has its place when solving things like HR issues, member complaints or a foul smell in the locker room, the more significant challenges – especially those related to revenue generation – are best solved with a collaborative approach that leverages the expertise of the operations, food and beverage, and sales and marketing teams. By combining inter-departmental superpowers, a private club has a much better chance of igniting a creative solution for issues such as how to increase member satisfaction, compel member food and beverage spend, drive engagement in programming, and enhance clubhouse use. As an additional benefit, a team-building component lets associates tap into their skills and expertise while leaning into their colleagues to learn and grow together for the greater good of the club. You can break down the process into a series of easy steps: Develop a strategy. Once you understand and define the challenge, establish measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. Questions to ask and answer include who the target audience is and the metrics that will define success. Metrics include budget, conversion rate, return on investment, survey results, and NPS scores. Incorporate experiential elements. Today’s consumers want something more. They’re no longer satisfied with just the transactional. Adding relevant experiences can significantly contribute to the overall success of the solution. An experience isn’t a service. It’s a touchpoint that becomes an interaction between the target member and the club. The service should be the stage, with goods as props. To further make the distinction, think about the ride-share driver who isn’t just getting someone from point A to point B. Rather, the drive is supplemented by phone chargers, bottled water, and breath mints, to name a few perks. Use storytelling and have a marketing plan. People love a good story. Emotive messaging that appeals to the target’s interests and aspirations will help compel the audience to take action. Buzz creates demand, and anticipation builds excitement. 38


But nothing will happen without a comprehensive rollout plan. Remember to consider all possible mediums, including but not limited to social media, the club’s app and website (both the public and member login sides), search engine marketing (SEM) and paid social advertising, digital display network, point of sale displays, cart signage, collateral, menus, and even scripted member interactions via servers, locker room attendants and the valet. Bring it all together. These additional tips should help polish the master plan: • Establish an overall timeline with plenty of room for co-creation, execution and follow-up. If the goal is to increase engagement in the annual Fourth of July festivities, there should be 360-plus days remaining to begin to plan for next year once the current year’s event is over. • Be sure to establish and gain agreement on accountability in roles and responsibilities. Stakeholder buy-in is essential for aligning the vision and laying a foundation for successful delivery. Food and beverage should apply creativity and originality, while sales and marketing breathlessly shares the messaging and operations commits to consistent and excellent delivery. Remember that selling an experience and its promise and failing to deliver on it is a greater fail than just doing the same old thing. • Include a compelling and trackable call to action in your marketing for your target audience to learn more, register, purchase, and/or otherwise connect. • Intentionally discuss the “what ifs.” Things happen, and sometimes even the best plan requires a pivot in mid-stream. Detail what you might need to adjust, track the appropriate metrics and know ahead of time what your adjustment will be. When faced with the challenge of developing a problem-solving solution, following these steps should help to ensure that the resulting action is a more long-term, strategic approach rather than merely a tactical workaround that fails to address the club’s goals and objectives. BR



Peter J. Nanula is chairman of Concert Golf Partners (, an owner, operator and all-cash buyer of private golf and country clubs. He can be reached at (415) 260-8806 or by email at

A Tale of Two Clubs in Charlotte “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” We all remember Charles Dickens’ famously contrasting themes that seem to characterize the state of the private club industry today. While the pandemic era of 2020-2022 boosted interest in golf and membership to levels not seen since Tiger Woods burst on the scene, our industry is now riding back down the demand roller coaster with its chronic governance and financial mismanagement challenges intact. Take two prominent clubs in Charlotte, NC. One opened in the late 1980s on the north side of Charlotte; the other emerged in the late 1990s on the south side of town. Both anchor prestigious gated residential communities with homes priced in the millions. Both boast championship golf courses that have hosted elite golf competitions. However, the club on the north side of Charlotte transitioned to member ownership and operation after the developer sold most of the lots, and the one on the south side became professionally owned and operated. The community lifestyles, club operations and real estate values diverged ever since. The member-owned club has drawn dozens of its most active members into leadership. It holds board elections every spring, and a dozen committees have volunteer members passionate about the club and its amenities, activities and organization. The positive aspect of this self-governing club community is the volunteer spirit. Members genuinely committed to a bright future for their club give their time and energy, work long hours, and raise money from their friends and neighbors for the greater good of the club. “It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Dickens would recognize how far some clubs stray from enlightened self-governance. “Somehow our member-owned club has deteriorated into being led by a secret society…The resultant secrecy and lack of full transparency leaves members in the dark about their club, leaves decisions made by a few, leaves little room for discussion or sharing of information with members…” Lawsuits have been filed over petty decisions made by the club about the common-owned property and who should be a member – or not. Club bylaws were re-written to enable a narrow group to nominate their own slate of successors each year, locking in a form of minority rule. Successive board leaders hired two different outside management companies to address chronic issues and deflect blame away from the governing board, but the issues remain. Deciding on improvements to the club and funding them can be most revealing. “Interesting that we’re over budget in 40


every phase of the project and will delay completion of promised improvements for another year or two. How do I get my money back?” Club leaders pushed a capital project plan for nearly a decade and saw it voted down by members on multiple occasions. After squeaking by with a 67 percent vote, they proceeded to a series of cost overruns and delays that led dozens of members to quit the club en masse. The professionally owned and operated club has known only two regimes – the developer and the private club hospitality firm, both in control of decision-making and funding. Surveys each year and focus groups gather member input on important matters, but ownership decides what is best for the larger club community and executes accordingly. The club launched and completed a recent multimillion-dollar renovation in under a year. The renovation involved a new pool, a new member lounge, a renovated pro shop, and more. “My dues are still the same, and we love that there are never any special assessments to pay for all these improvements.” Do some members of the professionally owned and operated club want to be involved in club decision-making? Yes, a few. Those members are involved in the member advisory board established by the ownership group. They meet monthly with the club’s general manager to talk about upcoming improvements and potential operating enhancements, like the hours of operation at the kids’ club and how to allocate prime tee times fairly among golfers. It provides the club with a feedback loop, connecting ownership with the most active members who have the time and the desire to give back to their club. Do members at the member-owned club wish their assessment bills would end and the planned improvements would get done right and on time? Yes, there is broad dissatisfaction with these continuing shortcomings of the self-governing model. However, some members continue to derive some satisfaction from “doing their civic duty” and contributing hands-on to the future of their shared community country club. They sign up for the next committee and vote for the next slate of board volunteers, hewing to the status quo year after year. It is a difficult choice for most of the 3,300 member-owned private clubs in the US. One size does not fit all in this case. The headwinds now beginning to face private clubs after nearly three of the best years of demand in the last century – thanks to COVID-19 – will cause many club leaders to consider which business model is best for the long-term future of their community and their club. BR

“Under the expert leadership of search executive, Len Simard, the Director of Racquets search process was executed with utmost professionalism and precision, leaving no room for doubt about KK&W’s dedication and commitment to finding the best fit for our organization. The search committee was particularly pleased with Len’s expertise and guidance in addressing compensation and bonus structuring, as well as fine-tuning the job description to align with our specific needs. This level of attention to detail ensured that we were able to attract top-tier candidates and, ultimately, secure the perfect individual to lead our racquets department.” Oliver Boudin, CEO Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club
















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Robert D. Podley, CCM, CAM is the general manager of the Colonial Country Club in Ft. Myers, FL. He can be reached at (239) 768-7200 or via email: |

Collaborating Across Departments and Teams Strategies for Xillennial Leaders Prepare yourselves for the epic rise of Xillennials in country club leadership. These magnificent beings, trapped between Generation X and Millennials, are storming the hallowed halls of country clubs with their unique skills and quirks. Born in the late ’70s and early ’80s, they’re like a mixtape of refined etiquette and questionable fashion choices. They’re too old to keep up with TikTok dances but young enough to appreciate the charm of an Atari game. When it comes to club leadership, the emergence of Xillennials is nothing short of a phenomenon. As they ascend to positions of power, they bring a magical blend of characteristics and experiences that can revolutionize how clubs are run and managed. In the fast-paced world of club management, collaboration is the key to success. As Xillennial leaders, we understand the challenges of working across departments and teams to achieve our goals. We know that effective collaboration requires more than teamwork. It requires innovative strategies that bridge generational gaps, leverage technology and foster a culture of communication. Fostering a culture of communication. Communication is the notorious ringmaster of collaboration chaos. As Xillennial leaders, we recognize communication’s significance in breaking down silos and building strong connections. By creating a culture of open and transparent communication, we can cultivate an environment where ideas flow freely, collaboration is seamless and everyone feels valued and heard. From organizing regular team meetings to using messaging apps and video conferencing tools, we can ensure that information is shared effectively across departments and teams. Let’s encourage active listening, empathy and respectful dialogue, allowing diverse perspectives to enrich our discussions and drive innovative solutions. By embracing a variety of communication channels and promoting a culture of open exchange, we can build strong bonds, foster collaboration and propel our club leadership. Goal setting. Traditional goal-setting methods may not always resonate with the Xillennial. That’s why we need to reimagine goal setting as an exciting and engaging process. 42


Let’s create opportunities for collaborative goal setting where teams from different departments come together to brainstorm and define shared objectives. We can use vision boards or digital platforms to capture and track our goals, making them tangible and inspiring. Additionally, we can introduce gamification elements, such as setting milestones and celebrating achievements with rewards or recognition. By involving everyone in the process and infusing it with creativity and enthusiasm, we can foster a sense of ownership, motivation and collaboration. Together, we’ll strive toward common goals, break down departmental barriers and achieve remarkable results for our clubs. Team building. Incorporating elements of friendly competition can energize team building. We can host inter-departmental challenges, like trivia or a scavenger hunt, that encourage teams to collaborate, communicate and showcase their knowledge and skills. By infusing team-building activities with excitement and a sense of shared purpose, we can create stronger bonds, foster camaraderie and enhance collaboration across departments. Moreover, let’s not limit team building to scheduled events. We can create an environment that encourages informal interactions and spontaneous connections. For example, dedicating space for a communal lounge or game area where employees can relax, engage in friendly competitions or chat over a game of foosball or ping pong. These casual interactions can lead to organic relationships and an atmosphere of collaboration that extends beyond organized activities. After all, team building is about creating memories and inside jokes that will keep us grinning through those marathon club meetings. Embracing technology. In addition to communication, technology can play a significant role in project management and task coordination. Project management software such as Asana or Trello allows teams to create, assign and track tasks, ensuring transparency and accountability across all projects. With a centralized platform, everyone can stay updated on progress, deadlines, and dependencies, eliminating confusion and facilitating collaboration. Moreover, embracing technology means exploring automation and digital solutions to streamline repetitive and SEE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE | 115


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Ricky L. Potts Jr., CCAM, CMP, is the executive director of marketing and communications at The Lakes Country Club. He can be reached at (760) 601-8107 or via email at

Cultivating Inner Peace and Self-Awareness Mindful “U” is committed to creating a network of mindful professionals exclusively for the hospitality and private club industry. After relocating to Northern California to serve as the membership director at The Fountaingrove Club, Sonoma County’s only member-owned private facility, I met Rick Ladendorf, founder and president of Prevo Health Solutions. The devastating Tubbs Fire impacted The Fountaingrove Club. Rick was on-site helping the club through challenging times. He taught me the ropes of being a successful membership director and preached mindfulness personally and professionally. He, also known as The Mastermind, mentioned his business partner, Craig Marshall, affectionately known as The Monk. Together, they developed Mindful “U,” a platform dedicated to creating a network of mindful professionals through education, application and ongoing support. After parting ways, Rick and I stayed in touch. He always encouraged me to join Mindful “U.” However, the timing never felt right. But in early 2022, the stars aligned, and the Golden State Chapter of CMAA announced 40 members

would get to attend Mindful “U” on a journey to becoming certified mindful professionals. I immediately contacted Rick to learn more, applied through the Golden State Chapter of CMAA and started the program a few weeks later. Mindful “U” consists of 26 precisely designed and meticulously organized teaching sessions on developing 21st-century leaders. Each week, we were given access to 44


online study materials through the Mindful “U” dashboard, including worksheets, whitepapers and short educational videos designed to provide a deeper understanding of the week’s subject material. After graduating from Mindful “U,” I was asked to join a leadership masterclass for aspiring general managers. This course was another 26 weeks of mindful content that mirrored what we learned in Mindful “U.” But this was a smaller group of certified mindful professionals hand-selected to participate in this class. I was encouraged to see members land their first GM job during the course. And I will never forget the relationships developed during those 26 weeks. IT’S NOT WHAT “U” THINK Mindful “U” teaches you about stress reduction, managing egos, giving and receiving feedback, managing transition and meditation. Craig starts every Mindful “U” lesson with a three-minute guided meditation. The benefits of this practice are remarkable. These meditations may only be three minutes long, but they give you a chance to reset, lower your heart rate and get in a different state of mind. Craig starts his public speaking engagements with a guided meditation. This practice is something I continue to do daily, and I have encouraged Rick and Craig to start a podcast filled with these. After I completed the masterclass, Rick and Craig mentioned the certified mindful leader designation. To become certified mindful leaders, students must attend 26 core-topics classes and submit a thesis. Of the dozens of topics I could write on, I chose the history and benefits of meditation. This practice has become a big part of my life, and I am eager to share my findings with you when it’s finished. Thank you to Crystal Thomas, CEO of Management Connection, and the Golden State Chapter of CMAA for allowing me to experience Mindful “U” and to complete the certified mindful professional designation. The education is robust, the support is boundless and the community of people that gathers weekly continues to grow. It makes us not only more mindful professionals but more mindful human beings. The work The Monk and The Mastermind are doing is changing lives, and I am honored to be a part of this program. B R

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Lynne LaFond DeLuca is the executive director of the Association of Club Catering & Event Professionals and a private club industry consultant. In 2016 and 2019, Boardroom magazine awarded her the Gary Player Educator of the Year Award. You can reach her at, or visit the website at www.TheACCP. com., on our LinkedIn Group and Instagram at

The State of the Events Industry in Private Clubs Adapting to a Changing Landscape

Private clubs have long been a cornerstone of social interaction, networking and upscale entertainment. With their elegant venues, exclusive (yet inclusive) memberships and personalized services, clubs have historically thrived in hosting a variety of events, from weddings and galas to business conferences and, of course, the most important, member gatherings. However, like many industries, the events sector within private clubs has undergone significant changes and adaptations, especially in light of the global events of the past few years. Exploring the current state of the events industry in private clubs and how we are navigating the evolving landscape will help us forge a phenomenal path moving forward in our industry and our individual clubs. 1. Impact of the global pandemic The events industry within private clubs faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns, restrictions on gatherings and health concerns led to widespread cancellations or rescheduling of events. Clubs had to quickly pivot to virtual events, using video conferencing tools for meetings, workshops and social gatherings. Many clubs also invested in outdoor spaces to host smaller, socially distanced events. It has helped to create opportunities that we never before could visualize in our industry, and many of the changes continue to be best practices moving forward. 2. Hybrid and virtual events The pandemic accelerated the adoption of virtual and hybrid events. Even as in-person gatherings returned, many clubs still offer virtual components to accommodate members who may still prefer remote participation. Hybrid events, which combine in-person and virtual elements, offer greater flexibility and broader reach. All in all, the pandemic pushed us to expand our offerings and update our technology. 3. Enhanced health and safety measures Health and safety considerations are now paramount in the events industry. Clubs have implemented rigorous cleaning protocols, upgraded ventilation systems and adopted touchless technologies to minimize physical contact. Event layouts, redesigned to facilitate social distancing and smaller events, continue to trend, as small, highly designed events are all the rage. 4. Evolving member preferences Private clubs are increasingly attuned to changing member preferences, as we should be. Younger generations seek more experiential and personalized events, prompting clubs to 46


diversify their offerings beyond traditional galas and formal dinners. Interactive workshops, wellness retreats and themed parties have become popular alternatives, with fun, wow factors and overall experience the name of the game. 5. Sustainability and eco-friendly events Environmental consciousness is a huge trend influencing event planning. Clubs are adopting sustainable practices such as locally sourced food and beverage, reduced single-use plastics and energy-efficient event spaces. Green initiatives align with global trends and appeal to environmentally conscious club members. 6. Technology integration Technology plays a crucial role in enhancing the event experience. High-speed Wi-Fi, advanced AV systems and apps that provide real-time updates are becoming standard amenities. Technology also enables better communication between event planners and members, ensuring seamless coordination. If your club lags in the technology department, now is the time to budget for updates. 7. Membership engagement and retention The focus on member engagement and retention through events is bigger than ever. With the understanding of how greatly the member event experience impacts retention, clubs are leveraging data analytics to understand member preferences and tailor event offerings accordingly. Events of all shapes and sizes that appeal to your club’s demographics will only enhance attendance and enjoyment and validate your members’ decision to join your club. 8. Flexibility in booking and cancellation The unpredictability of the current landscape has led clubs to adopt more flexible booking and cancellation policies. Members appreciate the understanding and accommodation, allowing them to plan events with confidence. The events industry within private clubs has experienced a transformative journey, adapting to challenges brought by the pandemic and embracing new trends. There have never been more exciting times, with change and over-the-top experiences being embraced and welcomed. As private clubs navigate the changing landscape, a blend of in-person, virtual and hybrid events, advanced technology and a keen understanding of member preferences will be the key to their ongoing success. With a focus on innovation, creativity, flexibility and safety, clubs are poised to continue providing exceptional event experiences for their discerning members. BR

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Bill Boothe is president and owner of The Boothe Group, LLC, an independent consulting firm that helps clubs understand computer technology, make good decisions and receive the highest value from their technology investment. During his more than 30 years in the club industry, Bill has helped more than 400 private clubs and communities plan, evaluate, select and implement computer technology in all facets of their operations. Bill can be reached at

The Best Tech Advice I Can Offer I was shooting the breeze recently with a few folks at a club industry gathering and was asked: “If you could recommend just one action to be taken by most clubs to strengthen their technology footprint, what would it be?” Interesting question. And one that I had a ready answer for: “Establish an effective Information Technology Committee.” Here’s what we observe at most clubs when it comes to IT: • No formal, documented IT plan or strategy. • Severe under-budgeting for future needs. • Generally reactive, rather than proactive on IT issues. • Poorly positioned to take advantage of new IT developments. Fortunately, there is an easy and inexpensive way to turn this situation around. Establish an effective IT Committee. This is a permanent committee that includes a representative from each club department, the club manager or assistant manager, and an outside vendor representative (most clubs outsource their network maintenance and support). Department representatives should be the “champions” with primary responsibility for core application software (accounting, POS, reservations, website, e-communications, etc.) within the various club departments. For some clubs, member participation may also be important. Participating members should be computer-literate, but not necessarily computer professionals. Individuals with good business savvy that understand the use of information technology in a business environment may be more suitable than highly technical individuals. The role of a technology committee: A technology committee assumes a number of responsibilities in an effort to assist club management with the ongoing task of anticipating technology changes and implementing new solutions. The basic responsibilities of the committee are to: 1. Evaluate software, equipment and vendor performance 2. Evaluate systems security 3. Evaluate user proficiency 4. Evaluate new technologies entering the club industry 5. Prioritize technology issues 6. Maintain five-year technology budget. 48


Meeting frequency and agenda: A new committee should meet once a month for the first three months and quarterly thereafter. The frequency of committee meetings may be affected by the technology challenges faced by the club. If core systems are being replaced, the committee may meet more often until the new systems are up and running. The meeting agenda can be very simple: 1. Strategic alignment – review all club activities/strategies that involve IT. Make sure IT has been considered as a part of each strategy. 2. Departmental issues – review any new/ongoing IT issues affecting each club department. 3. Special projects – assign members to carry out the annual evaluations and budgeting tasks and review progress on each. 4. New/advanced technologies – review any new technologies that are appearing in the club industry and discuss the merits of their use at your club. Bottom line: For decades, I’ve been writing about IT topics for the club industry, offering ideas and strategies for improvement. While I intended for those recommendations to be helpful, this one – the technology committee – is by far the most important that I can offer. If you establish the technology committee properly, it will have the most impact on your technology environment – now and in the future. On a personal note, this is my final editorial contribution to BoardRoom magazine. After more than 35 years of providing technology consulting services to this great industry, I’m ‘retiring’ to focus on my new endeavor as an adjunct professor in the Hospitality and Tourism School at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). While I’ll greatly miss the many good friends I’ve made in the club realm, this new adventure will keep me active and ‘on my toes.’ It’s an exciting opportunity to interact with students as they enter the hospitality industry and to help prepare them for a productive and rewarding career. Finally, many thanks to the folks at BoardRoom, who were so gracious in publishing my articles. The club industry is fortunate to have such an outstanding publication available to educate and inspire. Wishing BoardRoom team all the best, now and in the future! B R



Briana Gilmore is the communications manager with the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®). She can be reached via email: |

Club Finance Executive Brings Decades of Experience to Lead HFTP Stephanie Anderson, the chief financial officer at River Bend Golf and Country Club in Great Falls, VA, has added another chapter to her professional life story: president of the global board at Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals, an international, non-profit hospitality association. Following her induction at the HFTP 2023 annual convention in October, Anderson took the helm of the HFTP global board to lead a diverse group of hospitality executives from industry segments, including hotels, casinos, academia and consulting. The club industry is well-represented within the HFTP membership, and Anderson’s substantial experience in club finance brings a desirable and valuable perspective to the table. Anderson originally planned to pursue a career in the Air Force by participating in ROTC and studying civil engineering at the University of Texas in Austin. At the end of her sophomore year, she realized that while she loved numbers, engineering was not the right path and began to explore other courses at a community college. She began working for a CPA who introduced her to accounting, and she aced her first accounting class. Anderson worked in accounting during the day for Trammell Crow, a real estate development company, and at night, completed her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Concordia University Texas in Austin, where she graduated magna cum laude. She then went to work for Faske Lay to pursue her CPA. In 2000, she moved to Virginia and worked for a CPA firm, passed the CPA exam on the first try, and then went to work for PKF – her official introduction to the hospitality industry. “What I love most about working in hospitality is that it is about people’s 50


experiences,” Anderson says. “When you’re in hospitality, you are working with and for people who want to have a good time. Your goal is to make sure they have a memorable experience. What we do brings people joy and gives people something they look forward to.” During her time at PKF, Anderson worked with many clubs. In 2005, she decided to find more work-life balance by going to work for River Bend Golf and Country Club. This opportunity presented unique challenges – working to implement much-needed financial reporting controls and processes, building cash flow modeling for many strategic initiatives, new amenities and essential club renovations. She also fosters a strong understanding of operational tasks that drive results to improve budgeting and forecasting, which helps build a strong balance sheet. Her position as CFO has also shown her how to implement a board’s vision and shape decisions that serve the membership’s best interests. One goal of the HFTP global board is to support the next generation of club industry leaders, something Anderson understands deeply as she strives to support her children in their future endeavors. Her son recently graduated with his undergraduate degree in accounting and is studying for his master’s degree. As an accounting professional, Anderson’s advice to her son, all students and up-and-coming young professionals is: “Sometimes it takes time to find that thing you are good at and make it into a career. To become a person who is higher up in finance, hospitality, any industry: the amount of work is going to be more than you think. “Accounting, and especially hospitality, are very specialized careers; it’s going to take a great amount of dedication to your education, and you will always be learning. The biggest lesson is the higher you go, the less it becomes about numbers and what you know – it becomes about who you know, and the importance of building relationships. In hospitality especially, you have to like working with people, and that is not just sitting in your office working on the numbers.” It’s an even more significant undertaking for Anderson because of the current staffing challenges facing clubs and the hospitality industry. “There’s a mass shortage of people coming into hospitality accounting,” she explains. “While people say technology will help, technology can’t make human judgment calls that are necessary in accounting and hospitality. There is a definite need for more people in the industry and the profession.” B R

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Dynamic Planning for Continued Capital Improvement Given the current inflationary environment, interest rate uncertainty and members’ continued appetite for capital improvements, a club’s capital funding model has never been more important to ensure continued viability. There are many considerations in planning for capital improvements, including, but not limited to, current and prospective member interests and desires, current and projected use patterns, ongoing maintenance capital requirements, and the associated financial planning. A dynamic capital planning process that integrates these data points will provide more probability of success and sustainability. Club leaders have experienced a volatile three years, from a significant increase in member prospects to changing utilization patterns, supply and labor constraints, and more. Macroeconomic conditions throughout the country have put pressure on the operating budgets of clubs with staple items, such as food prices and labor, all having had a significant effect on the fixed and variable costs faced by all clubs around the country (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Despite this volatility, A Club Leader’s Perspective (2023) indicated that industry leaders have an optimistic (76 percent) outlook for the industry. These signs of optimism were clear when club leaders were asked about their club’s appe-



tite for capital investment over the next five years, with 80 percent of clubs indicating an appetite for capital investment over the status quo and over 50 percent indicating an aggressive appetite (8-10). With inflation impacting operating budgets (clubs were projecting an average six to nine percent increase to operating budgets depending on the department per the 2023 CLP), clubs responded with an average dues increase of just over eight percent. Over one-third of clubs surveyed indicated an increase in dues of 10 percent or higher, which can put pressure on members, reducing the ability to implement significant increases to capital fees or assessments and limiting the traditional capital levers for clubs. This, combined with higher (and potentially increasing) interest rates, raising the cost of third-party debt, could have a meaningful impact on capital funding plans at a time when the appetite for capital investment remains high. So that brings us to the key question: How can you best ensure your club makes the right choice on capital projects moving forward? The strategic approach discussed below will allow you to integrate the current conditioning of your SEE FINANCE COMMITTEE | 115




Adapt or Perish – Rethinking Your Accounting Function “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin Consider the following: • The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants “2019 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits” report notes that accounting enrollments were down in 2018 compared with 2016. Bachelor’s were down 4 percent, master’s 6 percent and PhD 23 percent. The number of new CPA exam candidates hit a 10-year low. • In a September 2019 article in The CPA Journal, Alex Gabbin stated: “Enrollment in James Madison University’s (JMU) School of Accounting over the past four years, for example, has dropped 34 percent in the intermediate accounting courses.” • Significant accounting enrollment declines exist at other private and public universities, with accounting majors at some private universities down between 35 and 50 percent since 2016. While these statistics are alarming for the United States economy at large, they are particularly challenging for the private club industry, which is facing a seismic problem in replacing experienced club financial executives who are leaving the industry for a variety of reasons, from retirement to simply not being willing to put up with increasingly poor behavior in club board and finance committee meetings. As recently as five years ago, most club searches for controllers or chief financial officers would have been handled internally. Today, our experience tells us that if a club isn’t using a specialized search firm, it can expect to wait much longer, often up to five months more, to fill that position. Given that the demand for financial data and data-driven decision-making in clubs is at an all-time high, boards and executives face a dilemma in addressing the confluence of these forces. The solution may come from a source that the broader business community has long accepted and which is beginning to gain traction with club executives and in club boardrooms – financial accounting outsourcing (FAO) and fractional controllership solutions (FCS). Both options can provide cost-effective ways for clubs to improve their finance and accounting functions. The key benefits include fractional use of finance and accounting professionals, enhanced processes and technologies, and stronger compliance measures. The remainder of this article will discuss the difference between these options. Fully implemented FAO typically means the club will not have accounting personnel on-site. Given the often-frequent need for someone at the club to be available to answer questions 54


from staff, vendors and members, it is easy to see how this allor-nothing approach may not be palatable to the industry yet. Some golf management companies, with varying degrees of success, have long maintained a scaled-back form of FAO where there was still an accounting point of contact at the club, usually an accounting clerk who handles routine inquiries like those mentioned earlier – so the concept is not foreign to the club world. FCS typically focuses on replacing or supplementing key strategic financial personnel. For example, many smaller clubs will have a controller or bookkeeper on staff who can handle routine financial transactions associated with payroll, accounts payable and dues billings. These roles, however, tend not to add horsepower to the club’s strategic thinking. FCS can often provide that additional support when needed. Generally, FCS provides the club with a true chief financial officer with extensive experience in the club or broader hospitality industry. The CFO can provide high-level operational and capital insights and management support to the GM/COO. Fractional CFOs typically enhance monthly financial packages and closing processes. They can supercharge the club’s decision-making approach with tools like Power BI to design real-time dashboarding and benchmarking for the management team. Often, they will also refine club budgeting and forecasting and manage treasury and cash management functions. While club staff focuses on the routine accounting process, the GM/COO and the board can reap the benefits of having higher-level financial talent focus on the strategic financial needs of the club when needed. Will all clubs move to FAO or FCS? No. However, even if a club chooses not to outsource, it is healthy to evaluate FAO and FCS strategies to determine if the club can benefit from what service providers offer. FAO and FCS do not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Leveraging technology and cloudbased applications allows clubs to be flexible, with some functions outsourced while others are maintained in-house. The data shared at the start of this article shows that the current finance function model in many clubs will have to evolve. Outsourcing could enable clubs to scale resources as needed with no obligation to pay salaries or benefit costs. Management and the board would be well served to be fully aware of the options available to them rather than waiting for their financial management function to grind to a halt. BR Philip G. Newman, CPA, CIA, CGFM is a partner with RSM US LLP. He can be reached via email: Jonathon Goodman, CHAE CPA is CFO of Lost Tree Club, North Palm Beach, FL


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Toni Shibayama is a broker/risk consultant for S&K Insurance in Southern California. She has more than 15 years experience in risk management, job safety, workers’ compensation, wellness and HR consulting. Toni is also the author of “The Private Club General Manager’s Big Game Playbook.”She can be reached at and by phone at (213)627-5204.

How Not to Let the Club Holiday Party Become a HR Nightmare A quick check of the calendar and we can see it’s time to discuss the dreaded 2023 country club holiday party, an event that very often can make or break any employee and have HR directors pulling out their hair. Sure, we’ve all done something we wish we hadn’t at a holiday party, but thank heavens there were no phone cameras in 1985. Here are some things club members and employees should not discuss at a holiday party: “Did you watch the presidential debates?” Politics, like the news, can be divisive, and the holiday party is about togetherness. Avoid anything that could be incendiary in any way, shape or form. “I had some thoughts about our most important member.” Don’t take advantage of the party atmosphere to “nuzzle up” to a club general manager and talk shop. And likewise, bosses shouldn’t be checking in on their employees’ looming deadlines. “I want a raise.” Blindsiding your boss with salary demands in public, at a party, while woofing down fruitcake will only make you look like one. “I heard Jim has a thing for Pam.” Why is it that whenever someone has that third drink at a holiday party, they think they are back in junior high? Not the place. “So, do you celebrate Christmas?” Do not discuss religion. Unless you work for a church. Or you are a Jehovah’s Witness. “Oh man, this hernia is killing me.” It’s not necessary to go into detail about your medical history while navigating the buffet line. And trust me, nobody cares that your recent surgery is on YouTube. “What are you earning these days?” Steer clear of asking about your co-worker’s salary. Not only is it rude, but what if your co-worker makes more than you for doing less? “I can’t wait to duck out of here early.” Consider how rude these statements may come across to the people who spent time and effort organizing the party. For these reasons, most clubs ponder the risks of having a holiday celebration. And it’s also why a club needs



to take preventative measures while planning its holiday celebration. Know your team and the risk. Think about past behaviors and potential risks for your club. Sure, we need to create fun and memorable memories for our team members, but we also need to carefully navigate a minefield of risks to avoid a mishap that could haunt a club for years to come, such as: Harassment – What if an employee sexually assaults a coworker? Flirtatious behavior now impacts the working relationship. When a manager decides to tell another employee they have romantic feelings for them, a member crosses the line in good fun, and the employee feels uncomfortable with the prospect of seeing them later. Accidents – dancing and alcohol – What could go wrong? Could you have a slip, fall or laceration? Could someone intoxicated get behind the wheel? Theft – A wallet, iPhone or keys go missing. A party is the perfect opportunity to do the sleight of hand trick over the tables. Favoritism – Are the cool kids keeping to themselves, or are all team members friendly with others from different departments? Or could this further protect the golden child who gets away with murder in the workplace? Under the influence – While many will try to contain the festivities with drink tickets or keep the offerings to beer and wine, the danger of overindulging is present, and so is being under the influence of different substances. Club GMs, HR directors, members and employees need to remember these rules the next time they have a few too many and think the boss’ wife looks like a Kardashian or plant their butt on the copy machine. If that happens, the person may be thinking about what they did while standing in the unemployment line in 2024 or facing the prospect of being on the wrong end of a lawsuit. B R

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Victoria Burns, corporate marketing manager at MembersFirst, has 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:

Emerging Trend Leveraging Club Website for Staff Recruitment Private clubs are shifting recruitment strategies due to the industry’s staffing challenges. Club websites are emerging as dynamic tools to address these issues, marking a significant trend. For perceptive club management, strategically using the website for talent acquisition and workforce engagement is crucial. ELEVATING THE CAREERS PAGE A club’s website has evolved beyond basic information. Gone are the days when a dedicated page listing job openings and benefits sufficed. Today, club websites serve as dynamic stages where clubs unveil their work environment, culture and commitment to excellence. Prospective employees now seek immersive and authentic glimpses into what sets a club’s workplace apart. Key components contribute to crafting an engaging careers section: Guiding exploration: Prospective employees crave personalization and relevance. Private clubs are inviting candidates to explore specific interests through features like “Meet the Team,” “Employee Spotlights,” “Behind the Scenes,” and “Training & Development.” This immersive approach offers a comprehensive understanding of potential roles, nurturing a sense of belonging before an application is submitted. Insights into internship opportunities and growth pathways foster genuine connections with candidates eager to embark on a fulfilling journey within the club’s community. Showcasing values: The careers page can mirror the club’s culture and values. Incorporating employee testimonials, sharing stories of staff achievements and showcasing photos of the team enjoying collaborative work provide potential candidates with an authentic view of the club’s identity. It fosters a sense of connection with individuals who share the same vision. Humanizing the brand: A club’s identity goes beyond a list of job openings. It involves incorporating elements alongside genuine visuals to capture the authentic character of the club’s staff culture. This aspect is crucial in shaping how new staff members provide services at the elevated standards expected in the private club industry. Hearing firsthand experiences from current staff humanizes the brand, offering an authentic insight into the work environment. This transparency builds trust, encouraging potential candidates to envision themselves within the welcoming club community. As the private club industry embraces this transformative approach, websites have evolved into dynamic engagement 58


platforms. A holistic digital presence is central to cultivating a skilled and motivated workforce while strengthening the club’s identity. THE DANIEL ISLAND CLUB - A CASE IN POINT The Daniel Island Club is a great example of technology-forward employment strategies to reshape recruitment initiatives. Insights gathered from the club’s talent acquisition specialist, Stacy Kelly, highlight several noteworthy advancements: Enhancing the application experience: “We realize that looking for a job is a job! The careers page assists potential candidates in making the initial contact less intimidating than job boards. The visual display of what it is like to work here allows candidates to see how amazing the Daniel Island Club is.” Efficient communication: Streamlined communication through the website enables the club to address frequently asked questions and provide comprehensive information to potential candidates, enhancing the application process. “This dedicated space on our website allows potential candidates to get the answers they need in a timely manner. This leads us to interview and onboard staff more quickly.” Facilitating onboarding and demonstrating commitment: The club’s careers page streamlines the onboarding process. Many candidates explore this page to gain insights into the hiring process, discover the club’s benefits package and get a glimpse of the unique work experience that awaits. When potential candidates visit the careers page, it signifies a strong interest in joining the team. Those who submit responses on the career inquiries form have a higher response rate. New employee spotlight example: “Our new senior accountant used the page to gain insight into the Daniel Island Club, helping her excel in her interview. We believe the best candidates are those who show up to the interview prepared with a background knowledge of the club. Without the new careers page, potential candidates would be left guessing what it is like to work here.” NAVIGATING THE FUTURE IN RECRUITMENT This transformation from static informational websites to dynamic engagement hubs underscores a broader trend within the private club industry. The shift signifies a strategic move toward using technology to foster meaningful connections and experiences with members and employees. As private clubs continue to adapt and innovate, a cohesive online presence emerges as integral to their holistic success. BR



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

From Blueprint to Byte

Building the Technological Foundations of Newly Established Clubs In recent years, we have seen a significant number of new clubs established. There are luxurious and exclusive clubs with top-tier golf, such as Panther National or APOGEE, both in Florida. We’ve seen members-only restaurants such as Major Food Group’s Carbone Privato, dining, and cigar clubs such as Carbon Member’s Club in St. Louis, and even more creative social club concepts, such as Crest Surf Club, an indoor wave pool surfing club in New York. Launching a new club provides a unique opportunity to establish a tech infrastructure from scratch. The absence of legacy systems offers flexibility but also demands thoughtful decision-making in shaping the digital landscape. Opting for a comprehensive club management software (CCMS) solution is a pragmatic choice, consolidating essential functionalities like membership databases, event bookings, accounting, and point-of-sale systems, including payments. This integrated approach streamlines operations and provides a robust foundation. Along with a turnkey solution, the need for a high level of service, particularly in IT infrastructure and user training, is critical for new clubs. New clubs don’t have the benefit of long-established operational procedures, requiring their technology partner to be flexible and consultative. While large tech vendors with extensive client portfolios may seem like logical choices, the reality is that new clubs often require more personalized attention. A tech partner intimately familiar with the challenges of new club launches can offer tailored solutions and support. For example, new clubs may require their technology vendor to function like a technology consultant, providing insight on hardware and infrastructure. Additionally, the club management software vendor may be asked about other software that is not part of the CCMS, such as payroll, inventory purchasing, AP automation, membership card printing, check printing, and other peripheral functionality the CCMS interfaces with. The right CCMS vendor for new clubs is willing to spend the extra time to provide insight and recommendations into these ancillary components for comprehensive operational technology.



Addressing the financial aspect, traditional server hardware entails significant upfront costs. In contrast, a web-based solution with cloud hosting proves to be a cost-effective and accessible alternative, eliminating the need for substantial initial investments. Cobalt Software is emerging as the perfect technology partner for new clubs due to our nimble scale, ability to provide VIP service and offer a comprehensive turnkey solution that requires minimal integrations while offering the club management functionality new clubs require, from membership to mobile app, reservations and payments. “The selection of your technology partner is critical for any club, especially new clubs,” said Colin Burns, an experienced GM and COO at clubs such as Winged Foot Golf Club and current Director in GGA Partner’s executive search practice. “I advised the ownership and management team of APOGEE to select a tech partner dedicated to helping the club transition into operations. The team at Cobalt is attentive and consultative, and they are the newest technology available, making Cobalt the perfect option for any new club.” Adaptability is the key component in new club technology launches. Unforeseen issues involved in the construction process such as power outages and internet accessibility problems are commonplace and require patience and occasionally creative solutions. Dates and deadlines are paramount as members and financial stakeholders are counting on events and grand openings. Entire groups of staff need to be trained from scratch. New clubs need a partner who understands and is comfortable with the gray area but is also driven to meet deadlines. The transition from planning to operations for new clubs is both exciting and complex. Striking the right balance between technological opportunities and personalized service is paramount. Choosing a strategic tech partner sets the stage for a successful launch and a solid digital foundation for the club’s future. B R

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The BoardRoom magazine “Excellence in Achievement” Awards is the only private club industry award that recognizes the clubs’ business partners. BoardRoom magazine’s industry peers review and select these outstanding suppliers and consultants, which represent various aspects of course and club operations. Winners, each year, are selected for overall excellence in their respective fields, achievements, innovation, vision for future growth and continued impact on private club operations. “The BoardRoom Awards are the only awards in the private club industry that recognize private clubs’ business partners, and every year we see increasing innovation, achievement, a vision and dedication from BoardRoom Award recipients. And of course, private clubs are the beneficiary of outstanding work of the industry’s vendors,” said John Fornaro, publisher of the BoardRoom magazine. The BoardRoom magazine is the only publication of its kind that is designed to educate the board of directors, owners, general managers and department heads of private golf, city, yacht, tennis and country clubs about issues concerning all aspects of the club, golf course management and operations. LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT Randy Addison GARY PLAYER EDUCATOR Ray Cronin DAVE WHITE EDITORIAL AWARD Henry DeLozier JOHN FORNARO INDUSTRY IMPACT AWARD Peter Jackman, Terminal City Club Matthew Allnatt, The Jonathan Club



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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:

Are Tevye and Golde Right? “Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days … Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, swiftly fly the years.” You probably hear that song played at every wedding reception held in your club. The words Tevye and Golde lament in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” have become the anthem for parents celebrating their child’s wedding. I know it did for us. For anyone in the club business, those lyrics also echo how quickly every fiscal year passes. Before you know it, you are planning for the upcoming year. Or as Pete Seeger sings, “Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing.” So, in the spirit of saying goodbye to 2023 and hello to 2024, here are the two major forces that will drive your club’s upcoming marketing strategy. The first is having an environmental, social and governance focus. Sustainability and green initiatives now go far beyond clubs changing to LED light bulbs, switching to paper straws and incorporating grasses that use less water and pesticides. ESG is having clubs take a broader view in wholistic planning for (1) how their standards safeguard the whole environment; (2) how they manage relationships with staff, members, suppliers, and the community; and (3) leadership’s role in maintaining the success of the club. Perhaps, most of all, a club needs to highlight its commitment to ESG through its marketing channels. Historically, clubs have not been braggarts; they tend to shun publicity and advertising outside their membership. In this world of 24/7 social media and informational clutter, however, public relations can be an important friend of your club. Clubs need to rethink the role public relations can have on their brand image, membership growth and engagement, along with the resulting impact on revenues and fiscal stability. As my dad used to tell me, “If you do something nice for the customers, be sure to ‘tell’ them.” In other words, you have to control your club’s narrative. The other force is a combination of three transformative demographics. Foremost among them is that the US population is not replacing itself. The US fertility rate in 2023 is 1.79 births per woman or less than half the peak rate of 3.7 births per woman in the late 1950s. Said another way, in the not-too-distant future, there will be a significantly smaller pool of applicants for each club’s membership. It is the old supply and demand equation. 64


Second, while there may be more of us, we will be a much older and more diverse nation. In 2030, a mere six years from your next year’s strategic plan, the US Census Bureau projects there will be almost as many older folks as younger ones. Said another way, as the Baby Boomer cohort ages, this “new elderly” cluster will be about the same size as the younger cohort. As one demographer put it, “The numbers of young people will have grown just a little to 76.3 million, but the numbers of old people will have increased a lot – to 74.1 million. By 2030, there will most likely be over 130,000 centenarians in the US. That’s a lot of really old people.” The year 2030 will see another hallmark in the US population. For the first time, immigration numbers are expected to overtake the natural birth rate as the driving force of population growth. This leads to the third transformative demographic for your club: the changing racial makeup of the US population. The white share of the US population has been decreasing since 1950 and will continue to decrease. Projections for 2030 indicate that it will drop to about 55.8 percent of the US population, and Hispanics will grow to 21.1 percent. The Black and Asian populations will likewise show significant increases. The Census Bureau also expects that “whites will become a minority, dropping below 50 percent of the US population in around the year 2045. Hispanics and the other racial minorities will be the country’s main demographic engine of population change in future years; this is the most significant demographic change Americans will see.” Building a varied membership can lead to a broader range of perspectives and ideas, resulting in new club menu offerings, more creative activities and innovative events. In addition, members will expand their social and professional networks, leading to a more vibrant club experience. Plus, clubs that actively promote diversity and inclusivity are more likely to have a positive image in their communities. This can attract a wider and more diverse pool of potential members because people are increasingly attracted to organizations that demonstrate inclusivity. And because a diverse membership can make the club more appealing to a broader range of people, the club can realize greater financial stability. Your bottom line will thank you. B R




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

Unveil Your Legacy

The Remarkable Legacy History Wall that Transforms Clubs Step into your club’s past, present and future through the captivating legacy history wall. Whether your club boasts a decade of existence or proudly stands at the remarkable milestone of 125 years, embracing your history through an immersive display isn’t just about preserving the past. It’s about igniting an unparalleled sense of belonging and pride among your members. IGNITING MEMBER PRIDE AND COMMUNITY SPIRIT In the tapestry of community, the threads of member pride are woven intricately. The legacy history wall isn’t just a collection of artifacts. It’s a living narrative that reverberates with your club’s heartbeat. By tracing the origins, missions and pivotal moments of your club’s journey, this historical showcase fosters an unbreakable bond between your members and your club. As your members connect with the founding ideals and the architects behind your club’s establishment, a profound sense of unity flourishes, driving membership engagement, retention and recruitment. A GLIMPSE INTO A RICH HERITAGE Envision your club as a treasure chest brimming with stories waiting for you to tell them. The legacy history wall invites your members, guests and visitors to step into a time capsule that vividly narrates your club’s evolution. Even those unfamiliar with your club’s legacy will become immersed in its significance. The display isn’t confined by physical dimensions. It transcends space to encapsulate your club’s essence.

BREATHING LIFE INTO HISTORY The first brushstroke on this canvas of history involves devising a masterful plan. Gather and catalog historical artifacts that tell your club’s story. Start with your club’s inception and unravel the yarn of significant events that have paved the path to your club’s current identity. Spotlight individuals and moments that have left an indelible mark. Infuse celebrity presence and sports triumphs, if applicable, for an extra layer of allure. Intertwine the community’s narrative – the contributions and symbiotic relationship the community has shared with your club over decades.

YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW: A CONTINUUM OF LEGACY History isn’t a relic confined to the past. It’s a tapestry that continues to weave through time. The legacy history wall isn’t static. It’s a dynamic space that accommodates the unfolding chapters of your club’s story. As you design this space, consider its CRAFTING YOUR TIME CAPSULE adaptability to future events. It’s not about Creating your legacy history wall is an art that requires precision and vision. consuming more space. It’s about repurposing Every element, from meticulously framed artwork and captivating photothe existing art to house new milestones. As graphs to cherished trophies and compelling panels, contributes to the tapes- you delve into this process, expect surprises try of your club’s legacy. The integration of dimensional displays housing relics and revelations that illuminate facets of your from bygone eras adds a touch of enchantment. club’s history you never knew existed. But how do you embark on this journey? CLAIM YOUR SPACE IN HISTORY TODAY The journey of immortalizing your club’s legacy starts now. The legacy history wall beckons you to craft an experience that transcends the ordinary. It’s more than a display. It’s a testament to resilience, ambition, and the shared journey of those who have called your club home. Embrace the past, celebrate the present and pave the way for an inspiring future within the confines of this enchanting space. Let history begin anew today. B R





DANIEL POLLACK Daniel Pollack is golf course superintendent, Aliso Viejo Country Club, Aliso Viejo, CA. He can be each via email:


Employee Shortages It’s a Common Issue for Golf Courses Employee shortages, regardless of the industry or area of the country you may be in, is a common issue every business is facing. The post-COVID years have been filled with inflation, government assistance programs and overall workplace concerns, all pertaining to workers not filling many available positions. Inflation has forced companies to downsize and raise the cost of goods and services provided. The private club industry is no different than many other companies, all struggling with labor and maintaining expectations, all while the game of golf has seen a massive boom. Many courses throughout the country have been forced to maintain the same acreage of land with fewer employees and an increased number of rounds. With these issues, golf course superintendents have had to adjust their maintenance plans to accommodate these changes, all while keeping members happy. The main question is: How superintendents can fulfill member expectations with fewer resources? A possible solution to address the labor issue is to step out of your comfort zone. Other forums for job postings must be considered, such as websites not specifically targeting golf, posting job fliers at local businesses or community centers, or word of mouth throughout the community. A club still should do proper background check screening, but there is a great need to gather more applicants. Another possibility may be to adjust the crew’s schedules, if they are willing. If too many golfers play in a concentrated timeframe of the day, split crews may be a good option. If crews struggle to fill in the necessary gaps, afternoon or evening mowing may be a feasible option. Superintendents must also be willing to be flexible. Hiring more part-time staff to compensate for missing hours is a great way to complete the necessary work. Firefighters, police officers or veterans at the end of their regular career are typically willing to work for lower wages if golf privileges are provided on caddy or employee play days. Many courses use high school students for summer work to get through the golfing year’s pivotal point. Many industries, including golf, use visa workers for certain key months in the year and knowingly have a smaller crew during the remaining 68


months. Golf courses in Florida and Arizona bringing on visa workers for the winter months when golf rounds are higher or a ski resort filling the need during the winter months are examples. The need to be creative is at an all-time high point, and the ones not adapting will be the ones struggling the most. Communicating what expectations should be for the individual staffing issues courses are facing is another solution to the main issue. Because of the lack of labor, many courses lack the detailed work we all want performed. The most focus needs to go toward routine mowing, fertilizer and chemical applications and addressing safety issues. The fine details, unfortunately, fall toward the bottom of the list, which is why communication with memberships is crucial. Many golfers are reasonable. If issues are explained, many current complaints may be suppressed. The golf course industry’s future is moving toward robotic machinery and GPS systems to alleviate some of the labor and efficiency issues. Obviously, there will be a period of adaptation, which once again may affect daily member experience, but this is a way we can fix the issue. General management style can significantly affect crew morale and possibly hinder new, talented employees from coming on board. With younger generations in the workforce, there is an emphasis on protecting mental health within a crew to prevent alienation and mistreatment, which can cause an employee to leave the course. A superintendent must create a work environment where anyone coming through the door enjoys spending their time and creating a future. Needs for highlighting employee success is a crucial way to improve morale. If an ‘employee of the month’ is posted throughout the club and maintenance shop, it can make an employee feel better about their work and encourage other employees to work towards this achievement as well. Social media is a great tool for communicating messages and events throughout a club and it’s also a great forum to highlight employees and let the membership know about their all-stars. Disciplinary actions with younger generations can also pose an issue. Yelling and frequent write-ups do not seem to be the proper course of action, and more time spent talking and explaining situations seems to work better in my experience.

This past summer, when I was lacking general maintenance staff, I contacted the local high school golf coach and asked if he had any students looking for summer work in a field they may enjoy. I brought on one senior who had just graduated and four sophomores entering their junior year. Right away, the scheduling was a conflict for these students as my crew starts every day at 5 a.m. They asked if they could begin at 6 a.m. for their desired six hours. They also had certain days they could work. I developed a schedule for all of them for roughly 24-hour work weeks and began training with simple tasks like raking bunkers and weed whacking around trees and turf edges. The summer didn’t turn out to be very successful with these students, unfortunately. Frequent babysitting needed to take place, taking time away from other staff. The quality of work was getting better, but once they started to do well, their summer was over. Unfortunately, it also was a test trial for me and I don’t think I will try again next year. I learned a lot and explained to my management that it would’ve been more beneficial if I had one more full-time employee. I don’t regret any part of this trial; it was a learning experience and showed management and membership outside-the-box ideas.

There’s one common denominator regarding change. The need to communicate, whether it’s at a private country club or in a corporation or city-owned course, where superintendents need to write and talk to members more frequently about realistic expectations. The need for honesty is crucial because if this trust is broken, it can fracture a relationship between a golfer and their club. Inflation has caused many states and cities in some regions of the country to raise the minimum wage drastically within a few years’ period. Many seasoned employees’ wages are comparable to incoming staff, which can cause much tension. Caring for veteran employees is crucial to maintaining the status quo and progress toward the future. This has caused many payroll budgets to skyrocket and, mixed with the increased cost of fuel and products, have caused private clubs to raise dues and/or initiation fees, while public courses have needed to raise daily fees. The need to be flexible in your labor searching, as well as newer hirings, is on a pedestal to fill a crew. Stepping out of your comfort zone is almost a necessity for many. Adapting to the current work environment is also crucial to get the most out of your employees and keep morale high. Everyone will be in their peculiar situation, but there is always help if you seek it. Communication within a network of golf courses can aid all parties involved in solving these issues. Nobody really likes change, but we all know it must happen to accommodate needs. As a community of property managers, it’s in our best interest to help each other when a golden solution is found. Still, we all need to adapt to keep up with the industry and the golfers’ expectations. There are no perfect ways to address these issues; every property will face its challenges and find individual solutions. Many similarities may occur, but each property manager is forced to take a step back and address the problem for the immediate, as well as the future. If you feel you have found the golden solution, let others know so we can keep improving this great game of golf. BR



MIKE STRAUSS Ed Several is GCSAA’s chief marketing officer. To learn more about the GCSAA Foundation, visit


An Inside Look: GCSAA Foundation Powers Your Superintendent’s Environmental Stewardship, Innovation and Community Outreach Every day, your superintendent and your superintendent’s team go to work before sunrise to create the playing conditions for an enjoyable round of golf. But the superintendent is more than someone ensuring your members have a great course to play. Superintendents are essential to golf’s overall success. They are environmental stewards, agronomists, government advocates and more. Powering the success of superintendents is the GCSAA Foundation, established in 1955 as the philanthropic arm of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. The GCSAA Foundation funds the research, advocacy and best management practices to enable superintendents and their teams to create a platform to keep golf sustainable for future generations. Nearly 20,000 GCSAA members know that without a golf course, there is no game or business of golf. Through their essential role in golf’s success, GCSAA members continually implement the latest approaches to turf grass management while applying environmentally sound approaches to ensure your golf course is a good community neighbor. This work goes beyond the course. GCSAA members are good community neighbors with programs such as GCSAA’s First Green. First Green brings children from local schools to the golf course for hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education field trips. First Green field trips have taken place across the US, and GCSAA’s program has expanded to Canada, the UK and Australia. Through funding from the GCSAA Foundation and USGA, GCSAA recently completed the third phase of its Golf Course Environmental Profile, a groundbreaking project launched in 2006 to develop a comprehensive environmental profile of golf courses in the United States. The latest GCEP reports show that golf courses have been applying fewer inputs since the GCEP began in 2005. According to the studies, nitrogen use is down 41 percent, phosphorus use is down 59 percent and potassium use is down 54 percent since 2005. In addition, golf courses in the US saw a 29 percent reduction in water usage in 2021 compared to 2005. GCSAA’s advocacy efforts help give the golf industry a voice at all levels of government. From National Golf Day on Capitol Hill to statehouses and city council chambers across the country, the story of golf is being told. Currently, 510 GCSAA members have established one-on-one connections with mem70


bers of Congress through the GCSAA Grassroots Ambassadors program to discuss key issues like water, labor and inputs. Leading the charge for the GCSAA Foundation is Mischia Wright, director of development. For the last 23 years, Wright has been a major part of GCSAA’s efforts to secure funding for research, advocacy and education. These efforts help golf courses be environmental, recreational and economic assets in their communities. In fact, Wright doesn’t just work for GCSAA. She works for the entire golf course industry because without a golf course, there is no game or business of golf. “My goal is to secure funding that enables superintendents, equipment managers and their teams to deliver the best playing conditions possible while remaining environmentally friendly, sustainable and good community neighbors,” Wright said. Why is it important to donate to the GCSAA Foundation? Wright’s answer digs deeper into why the industry, golfers and others should support GCSAA’s causes. “What would you do if golf went away? How many organizations utilize golf courses to raise money for their causes? We need to continue to provide tools to our superintendents to support sustainability so that others can raise money for their causes,” she said, noting that more than $4 billion is raised annually for charitable causes through the game of golf. Funds secured by GCSAA focus on three key areas to keep the golf industry sustainable and viable. 1. Research. Research drives efforts for innovative products and practices and enhanced best management practices. 2. Education. Educational opportunities provide GCSAA members with the latest knowledge on how to deliver the best playing conditions possible while operating in an environmentally sustainable manner. 3. Advocacy. GCSAA advocates on behalf of the entire golf industry to ensure the sustainable nature of the business of golf. While Wright reaches out far and wide to secure funding, her passion for the golf course maintenance industry also resonates in her household. Her son, Austin, grew up learning about GCSAA and the profession from his mother’s work. Austin is now a 15-year GCSAA member and a certified turf equipment manager who has presented at the annual GCSAA Conference and Trade Show. He was recently named head equipment manager at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, MN. BR

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


When Re-grassing Which Is More Important – Drains or Greens Mix? While visiting one of the PGA Tour depth to the original 12-inch depth recommended by the USGA. And it’s an excelcourses recently, I was asked this ques- lent opportunity to reshape the greens. The first step in this re-grassing, from the greens mix aspect, is to identify the tion: In resurfacing greens, what is the physical properties in the remaining root zone after the removal of the top 4 inches. most important thing to consider? The physical analysis includes measuring the root zone for infiltration rates, water The question threw me for a moholding, air pores and compaction as well as the PSAs and organic levels from the ment because so many different facnew surface to the gravel layer, in one-inch increments. tors are involved. This information allows for decisions to be made about the remaining root zone The quality of irrigation water, for and what corrective measures may need to be taken, if any. instance, will tell us if the greens mix With no grass on the greens, it is the perfect time to see if the drainage system needs to be one that will accommohas been compromised both under and outside the greens’ cavity. With 20-year-old date frequent flushing. What level of greens, it is not uncommon to have had new irrigation installed and drainage tiles handicap golfer is your club trying severed in the process. to accommodate? This will dictate Use a camera snake to inspect the drain tiles both under and running away from greens speed and firmness. the green and perform any necessary repairs at that time. This is also an excellent What is our budget, and what are time to check the gravel layer for porousness. Irrigation water containing high soour resources? Will they be adequate dium and bicarbonates can cause gravel to solidify and prevent water from entering to accommodate the type of turf you the drain tiles. are contemplating using for resurIt is also the perfect time to install four-way gas intercept visual ports with slide/ facing? What is the one event that gate valves off the greens. By installing these four-way ports outside of the greens requires the greens to be in their best cavity in the drainage tiles outfall/drainage areas, you can maintain the legal status condition? This is also a major factor of being within USGA-recommended specifications. B R in turf type selection. After these questions have been addressed adequately and a decision made on turf type, you need to address the issue of the greens mix most desirable for the turf type selected. This particular tour course has had almost 4 inches of root zone mix added over the last number of years because of light frequent top dressing. About a quarter-inch of build-up per year is normal for the climate in which this course is located. This PGA course must be overseeded every year, resulting in an organic build-up from the dieback of overseeded plants. These are the two main reasons for this course considering a re-grassing and bringing the root zone down from the 16-inch NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2023 | BOARDROOM


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


Most Lottery Winners Go Broke According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 70 percent of lottery winners go bankrupt within a few years. Further studies have found that winning the lottery didn’t help financially distressed people escape their troubles. Instead, it only postponed the inevitable bankruptcy. Lottery winners typically had issues that needed attention just before they hit the lottery. Life was not perfect before their unexpected windfall of financial success. Lottery winners don’t achieve financial security. They achieve financial success. Lottery winners don’t tend to perform a self-analysis when they receive large sums of money. The opposite tends to occur. Any bad habits they had before their lottery win become magnified, and there is almost no need for self-evaluation or, God forbid, change. In the fall of 2019, less than 20 percent of private country clubs were full and had waiting lists. Private club leaders were wondering what they could do to infuse interest in consumers about considering private club life. Most private clubs were struggling to have applications exceed resignations, and the slow drip-drip-drip of resigna-

as time would allow. During the pandemic, everyone had nothing but time on their hands and a desire to do something while sequestered at home. Essentially, most private clubs that had a golf operation hit the “COVID lottery” on May 1, 2020. The world had stopped at the beginning of the pandemic and everyone was looking for an acceptable activity that involved social distancing. And they found it in golf. Over the past three years, the majority of private clubs have enjoyed at least one of the following “lottery payments” from the federal government: PPP loans, low-interest rate loans or ERTCs. These large lottery-winning style cash infusions were financial lifelines to many private clubs without full memberships and with cash flow problems due to stagnant membership growth. These lottery payments gave private clubs a false sense of success at the same time as new golf members came pouring in because clubs were a perfect “social distance safe space” for affluent individuals. At the beginning of 2020, golf was not in any form or fashion viewed as prepared to explode in importance or participation. Nor were private clubs on the verge of an influx

Initiation fees and dues are at historically high levels nationwide for almost every private club. Time constraints, people returning to their offices, higher interest rates, inflation and a fragile stock market factor into discretionary dollar expenditures of consumers who can afford to play golf and/or buy a private club membership. Certainly, private clubs will not go broke like so many lottery millionaires have. However, private club leaders must contemplate making fundamental changes to what many would argue was a weakening commodity in the fall of 2019, when less than 20 percent of private clubs were full. tions exceeding applications was quite prevalent. Many private club members were not as proud of the overall private club offering associated with their private club. As a result, membership referral, the most important and powerful marketing channel, was not implemented as powerfully as it should. The private club industry’s biggest competitor before the pandemic was time. Everyone was busy, and it was difficult for many private club members to justify their dues obligation to their club when they could not use the club as much 72


of new, excited and aspiring members joining their clubs. Neither of those two facts were present in the fall of 2019. It could be argued that golf and private clubs were subtly, but noticeably, trending negatively. Golf courses that had been using discounted tee times as their primary strategy to lure golfers to their property began to substantially increase their green fees. Their golf courses had not improved from before the pandemic. The only change that had occurred was a group of individuals

seeing golf courses as a place of refuge that seemed safe from COVID-19. Private clubs with reduced or zero initiation fees as their primary method of attempting to attract new members started raising their initiation fees to levels never seen before. Many private clubs used increases in their initiation fee pricing as a mechanism to slow down applications because their clubs were “too full.” (Go back and read that again.) Private clubs in sunbelt states went crazy with increases to their initiation fees. Clubs that had considered going away from their flawed business model of offering “refundable initiation fees” actually doubled down, kept their refundable concept and dramatically increased their prices. There is no debate that golf has regained its swagger and its popularity. Rounds of golf played continue to be at record levels. At the same time that golf has flourished so has the game of pickleball. Quite a one-two punch for the recreational element of private clubs. However, do not equate the current popularity of golf and pickleball with the future success of private country clubs. A private club was where members could play golf and pickleball could during the COVID-19 membership phenomenon. As stated earlier, initiation fees and dues are at historically high levels nationwide for almost every private club. While these increases are occurring outside influences are picking up steam every day.

Time constraints, people returning to their offices, higher interest rates, inflation and a fragile stock market factor into discretionary dollar expenditures of consumers who can afford to play golf and/or buy a private club membership. Certainly, private clubs will not go broke like so many lottery millionaires have. However, private club leaders must contemplate making fundamental changes to what many would argue was a weakening commodity in the fall of 2019, when less than 20 percent of private clubs were full. They must acknowledge that the COVID bounce was not a phenomenon that occurred because the private club industry was trending toward the aspirational times of yesteryear. It is time for private club leaders to continue to be proactive in their decision-making efforts and to understand that no one has to be a member of a private club. We must make people want to be private club members. If private club leaders continue to understand that they cannot rest on their “lottery winning laurels” and must continue to prove their worthiness to their current members and prospective members, then the COVID lottery may be the benefit that continues to bless rather than curse the golf and private club industries. B R

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SARAH SMALL Sarah Small is vice president of membership sales and marketing at GATE Hospitality Group, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. She can be reached via email:


Untapped Potential

The Crucial Role of a Membership Director In many boardrooms, the question often arises: “Why do we need a membership director now that the club is at full capacity?” In today’s private club industry, the role of a membership director is more critical than ever. Over the years, the role of a membership director in the dynamic landscape of private clubs has evolved significantly. The membership director’s responsibilities now extend beyond acquiring club memberships, collecting payments and managing waitlists. Today, the membership director’s role has transformed into a multifaceted position involving community engagement, retention, managing membership requests, building relationships, creating connections, crafting innovative member experiences, and spearheading overall club marketing efforts. Member expectations have soared to unprecedented levels. Private clubs often market themselves as providers of exclusive and personalized services to their members, raising the expectation of prompt attention and personalized care. Quick responses contribute to higher member satisfaction and loyalty, crucial for a club’s reputation and continued success. The membership director is the first point of contact for a member’s needs and questions. Why? Because a membership director serves as the member’s initial connection to the club and a lifelong contact for future endeavors. Membership directors play a pivotal role in upholding the club’s standard of excellence, setting the tone for member interactions and ensuring that prospective and current members feel welcomed and valued. They must devise strategies to enhance the membership experience and preserve the club’s historical reputation. Beyond membership management and sales, membership directors must actively engage with the community. They serve as the face of the club in the local community, fostering positive relationships and partnerships. By participating in dialogues with the local chamber, medical associations, non-profits, real estate brokers, and



homebuilder associations, membership directors can promote the benefits of private clubs and create new avenues for referrals. These valuable relationships allow them to stay informed about the local landscape and maintain a pulse on the region. A few good trends to keep an eye on: How many homes are being built? What new companies are hiring? How many of the new positions will need relocation? What is the median price point of new and resale homes? Does this match with the current initiation fee forecasted for your club’s strategic growth? This outreach not only upholds a positive club image but also ensures a steady stream of prospective members. Membership directors must continuously build a pipeline of potential members to ensure there are qualified prospective members even in times of economic stability to safeguard the club’s financial health. Membership directors should have a seat at boardroom meetings not as secretaries but as valuable contributors. In an ever-evolving private club industry, they can provide competitive insights through market research, industry publications and collaborations with nearby competitor clubs. Establishing channels for sharing information with competitors is challenging but essential for a club’s success. Competitors offer valuable insights into market trends and customer preferences, enabling a private club to understand the industry landscape. Collaboration on best practices, pitfalls and warning signs can help a private club navigate the industry more effectively. The role of a membership director has evolved into a crucial layer within the club’s management organization, ensuring the club’s enduring legacy and prosperity. The membership director is the guardian of the club’s reputation, the champion of member satisfaction and the architect of the club’s future success. B R

BRAD D. STEELE Brad D. Steele, JD, started Private Club Consultants to provide in-depth legal and operational answers for America’s top private clubs. For more information about PCC, email Brad at, call/text him at (703) 395-5463 or connect with him at


The Art of Rejecting a Candidate for Membership While most private club leaders do not often decline a candidate for membership, it will likely occur during a board member’s tenure. How a board handles rejection could be the difference between a topic on the board’s agenda that is completed quickly and forgotten or becomes a discrimination lawsuit. With luck, it is the former, but club leaders should not rely solely on luck. Most clubs reject a candidate for membership because the candidate is not the right fit. For example, the candidate was elected to the local city council and then recalled, or the candidate’s father stole many current members’ retirement funds. (Yes, these were actual cases.) If admitted, such candidates could cause members to avoid the club, costing the club revenue and damaging its collegiality. As such, board members would be justified in rejecting these individuals. However, if these candidates are African American, gay, Jewish or part of any other protected class, denying them membership could be seen as discriminatory. To combat this, club leaders must understand how to correctly reject a candidate. To begin, the club needs to make clear throughout the membership recruitment process that membership in any private, member-owned club is not guaranteed and that membership is only by invitation from the board. This should be on all documents given to a candidate, including any application, and the candidate’s sponsor should reiterate this as well. The more this is engrained in the candidate, the less likely the candidate is to complain if rejected. Secondly, the admissions process must comply with the club’s bylaws – including the club’s membership being allowed to weigh in, the membership committee providing its recommendation to accept or reject the candidate, and the board deciding to accept or reject the membership committee’s recommendation. By rigidly adhering to the process, the candidate cannot claim that the candidate was treated differently than others.

Remember, the board should have the final say on admissions matters, not the membership committee. Additionally, committee and board deliberations should be confidential, and votes should be by secret ballot. Finally, once the decision to reject a candidate is made, the candidate’s sponsor should be brought in to help communicate the decision. Indeed, once the membership committee recommends rejecting a candidate, the sponsor should be told that the candidate will likely fail at the board level and talk to the candidate about withdrawing the application to save all concerned embarrassment. This allows the candidate to save face, the sponsor to ease the blow and the club to be relieved from presenting bad news that could be misinterpreted as discriminatory. Even when a club’s board does this as tactfully as possible, some candidates may claim discrimination. As such, a club’s real protection from a rejected candidate is to ensure that its private status is intact. A truly private club likely has state and federal exemptions from a discrimination lawsuit. Without it, the club will likely have to prove that it rejected a candidate for reasons other than being part of a protected class. Proving that the rejection had nothing to do with the candidate’s protected class will cost the club time, money and reputational damage the club could avoid by invoking its exemption based on its private status. For many club leaders, saying “no” to a prospective candidate may seem unthinkable. Regrettably, there will be candidates who make it necessary. Handling that rejection carefully and appropriately can help ensure the club avoids a claim of discrimination. And, if that candidate still feels discriminated against, protecting your private status can offer a shield from the claim that ends the matter before significant damage can be done. B R






Private Inurement Avoiding the Pitfalls of Differing Payment Obligations

Section 501(c)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code exempts nonprofit social clubs organized for pleasure, recreation and other similar nonprofitable purposes from federal income taxation. The exemption is prohibited, however, where any part of the net earnings of the club “inure” to the benefit of any private member or shareholder. Many boards and managers are familiar with their club’s tax-exempt status under 501(c)(7) and may have heard of the general concept of “private inurement”, potentially jeopardizing their exempt status. However, most do not recognize how allowing some members to pay less than other members with the same exact privileges creates a private inurement problem. To simplify, one must first understand what inurement is and how a club’s governing documents and practices can create private inurement. The simplest example of private inurement is when there is a direct financial benefit such as actual payments or distributions of the club’s earnings to its members, shareholders, or board members. Fortunately, most boards and managers know that such activities are prohibited and avoid these practices. However, less obvious examples of inurement exist when a member is indirectly benefitted. The most common indirect benefit is when some members pay less for the same exact privileges. This type of indirect benefit can create the same risk of inurement as direct types of benefits. Many clubs have tiered membership categories requiring differing levels of payments for a variety of legitimate reasons that do not impact their tax-exempt status. For example, to appreciate longstanding, older members and to discourage them from resigning, many clubs reward these members through “senior membership” programs that offer reduced dues if they have attained a certain age and maintained active membership status for a certain length of time. Similarly, to attract new and younger members, in states where age discrimination is not prohibited, some clubs may offer “junior” programs geared toward a younger demographic who may not initially be able to afford the entire joining contribution or full dues. When differing levels of payment obligations are tied to tiered membership privileges, clubs creatively address the needs of a variety of demographics and help maintain a diverse membership body. The key element in these tiered programs is that dues are commensurate with the membership privileges granted. 76


In contrast, however, the risk of inurement arises when clubs allow reduced initiation payments or dues but continue to offer the same privileges and benefits to members who are paying reduced amounts. In other words, when some members are permitted to pay less than others but receive the same privileges and benefits, the IRS will likely view this as private inurement because a financial benefit is “inuring” to the members who pay the lower amounts. Avoiding private inurement requires a careful analysis of a club’s governing documents and practices to ensure that when some members are allowed to pay reduced dues, there is also a corresponding and objectively reasonable reduction in the level of services or privileges the members receive from the club. For example, “senior” members could have reduced dues but also have restricted voting rights and/or service on the board or committees. Younger members could have reduced joining contributions or dues but have restricted use of certain club facilities during certain hours. Many clubs with other tiered categories, such as “resident” versus “nonresident” or “full golf” versus “sport” categories, avoid private inurement risks by giving lower-tiered members less advantageous advance sign-up periods or requiring them to pay additional fees for use of the same facilities. These are just a few examples and there are many other creative methods to avoid unnecessarily creating the risk associated with private inurement. The first step is understanding that indirect benefits, such as variable dues structures without variation in membership privileges, could result in creating private inurement. As always, it is imperative that club boards and managers consult with knowledgeable legal, tax and accounting professionals during this process to avoid the risk of jeopardizing their club’s tax-exempt status due to private inurement issues. BR Michelle Tanzer, Esq. is chair of the Global Club and Branded Residences group at the law firm of Nelson Mullins, serves on the National Club Association board of directors, arbitrates club-related disputes for the American Arbitration Association’s (AAA) and authored “The Club Litigation Book: Keeping Clubs out of Court.” Ms. Tanzer can be reached at (561) 866-5700 or via email: Brian Meanley, Esq., is Of Counsel in the Global Club and Branded Residences group and can be reached at (561)343-6937 or via email:

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ROBYN STOWELL Robyn Nordin Stowell is a club law attorney in the law firm Spencer Fane LLP. Robyn may be reached at (602) 333-5467 or at


I Hate It When That Happens I have recently seen basic legal requirements overlooked by clubs and club-associations. Here are some basics you must manage or risk significant consequences. There is likely a statute on that. Most member-owned clubs are nonprofit corporations. Corporate laws (statutes) govern nonprofit corporations, and separate statutes govern for-profit corporations. Those statutes govern your club, whether you know about them or not. Club bylaws may include provisions that violate a statute. Examples include the number of members needed to call a special meeting or specifics about filling a vacancy on the board. Statutes always trump the bylaws. Erroneous documents may lead to liability. There is certainly a statute or case law on discipline. Every state has either a statute or court-decided law (case law), or both, that addresses suspending or expelling a member. If your bylaws are silent or have provisions contrary to law, huge potential liability could result from following the bylaws or doing what “seems right.” Today, managers and boards should be clear on discipline basics. Furthermore, be aware of legal requirements on late fees and interest charged to delinquent members. Background checks. Many factors influence a club’s decision to conduct background checks, such as how “private” the club is/wants to be. Rule of thumb: If you check, do it well, mind what information you store, and be aware of what information is discoverable. There is likely an annual filing required. Most states require corporations to file an annual report. It may only require updating the officers and directors list, or it may require more. Failure to file a required report can result in “administrative dissolution.” That means the corporation no longer exists. A group of individuals operating a business without the protection of a legal entity may be personally liable for its obligations. Let that sink in a minute. I have helped clubs and associations get “re-filed” – an unnecessary expense and a risky situation. When the state website shows multiple administrative dissolutions for a club in recent years, I wonder what other basics they are missing. 78


Minutes matter. Board minutes are written documentation that the board followed corporate formalities (one element that protects the board from complainants “piercing the corporate veil” and directly suing the individuals operating the business). It is important to note that “minutes” are not the same as the manager’s personal notebook, where she takes notes on everything. Minutes are a formal legal record of the board’s actions and decisions. Minutes are retained in corporate records and are available for members’ inspection. It is a crucial requirement for every club entity. Minutes can also demonstrate that the board exercised appropriate diligence and fulfilled its fiduciary duties. (This applies to industry associations as well.) Several clubs and associations told me recently that they have never kept minutes. The manager kept a notebook but not minutes. Managers maintain information in multiple forms, but the club must maintain a formal record of the board’s actions. Similarly, some boards act by director consent without a meeting. In most states, this is allowed by following specific requirements – most commonly, it must be unanimous. Rule of thumb: Majority rule may govern at a called meeting with a quorum, but unanimous written consent placed in the minute book is required for board action outside those meetings. Otherwise, the board’s action by majority written consent could be questioned. Board unanimity matters. In most states, a dissenting director can record their objection in the minutes. The board’s decision is the club’s single decision, and the board should speak publicly with one voice. An outvoted director who publicly criticizes board action potentially exposes the club and board to unnecessary legal risk. Importantly, it creates division in the club environment that may be annoying (think: if Mom says no, ask Dad, with each decision rehashed repeatedly) to the unlivable (think: political left and right, where everything is a battle). Consider addressing this expectation in the board’s code of conduct. My prior BoardRoom articles cover some of these topics in greater detail. Consider tackling one issue at a time and resolving any weaknesses this year. B R


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BRUCE BARILLA Bruce Barilla provides on-site locker room “tuneups” and can be reached at (304) 536-9029 or via email:


Is Your Locker Room Manager an Asset or a Liability? Private golf and country club locker rooms are known for the best service and amenities. However, this is not always the case. If most of the members are complaining about the state of the locker room, then it is already determined that your locker room manager is a liability. However, if you are unsure, consider the locker room manager’s attitude and first impression and the overall condition of the shoeshine room. Other factors are the number of street and golf shoes done daily and whether the locker room manager is visible on the floor. Another consideration is the type of services provided. There must be a variety of quality amenities, neatly presented and topped off. Lastly, what is the relationship between the locker room manager and the attendants? Attitude and first impression: All it takes is how locker room managers look at you. One can see it in their eyes if they are not happy at work, do not want to be bothered and prefer you not to be there. Job dissatisfaction and overwork can cause it, along with laziness. The opposite is the majority of locker room managers who use your name, always make you feel special and do all they can to make you glad you joined the club. Condition of the shoeshine room: If the shoeshine room is messy, unorganized and dirty, this can indicate the work ethic of the locker room manager. The room should be an impressive part of the locker room setup rather than an afterthought. A lack of concern for how it looks and functions is a bad start to the day’s activities of meeting, greeting and servicing. Shoes done daily: “Oh, about a dozen pairs.” The answer stunned me, making me wonder why so few. Offering shoeshine service to every person must be the norm. The locker room manager and staff must be proactive rather than reactive. They are to get the shoes or at least offer. If the member or guest prefers to drop them off and pick them up, that is OK. Doing the opposite would be poor service. Visible on the floor: During one visit, I walked throughout the entire locker room without seeing the locker room



manager. In fairness, part of the reason was the work area in the shoeshine room hid him from sight. A simple fix is an open greeting counter. However, one must be out on the floor whenever possible. Services provided: Shoe cleaning and polishing, dry cleaning and laundry, shoe repair and vehicle detailing are offered. Golf course food and drink deliveries, doing off-site errands and accommodating special requests are others. Guest locker name tags, welcome gifts and loaner golf shoes and shirts in new condition anticipate needs. Text messaging plus business cards makes it easier to communicate, as does voicemail. The business center room with internet, computer, printer and fax at Butler National (Illinois) shows the difference in the details. The Greenbrier (West Virginia) provides warm shoes on cold days by using a walk-in heated shoe closet. Bob O’Link (Illinois), Kenwood (Ohio) and Calusa Pines (Florida) have a Cres Cor Sport QuikDry countertop unit that exceeds expectations. Butler National also features a clothes steamer. Quality amenities stocked and arranged: Million-dollar locker rooms should not have dollar store amenities. Quality products make the locker fee worthwhile. Arrange the products neatly throughout the day. Stock and prepare for tomorrow the night before. Staff relationships: Fairness or lack of it will make or break locker room staff relationships. Everyone needs to do their fair share of work. When tipping is allowed, split it equitably. Honesty, respect, trust and teamwork make for a smooth operation. An asset or a liability? It also depends upon how much authority the locker room manager has to make decisions and changes. A small budget and inadequate staffing have a negative impact. Sadly, is “manager” just a nice-sounding title or a respected team member who attends department and board meetings? Before being quick to judge, another question to ask: “Are you an asset or a liability for the locker room manager?” B R

TODD DUFEK Todd Dufek is the locker room manager at The Country Club at DC Ranch in Scottsdale, AZ. He is the president of the Locker Room Managers Association with a website at For a free six-month trial membership and a free book on the secret to improving locker room services, contact Todd at Many thanks to Bruce Barilla for his assistance with this article.


Ways to ‘Wow’ Members and Guests in Your Locker Rooms - Part II In an article in the May/June issue of BoardRoom, I wrote about ways to “wow” your members and guests in your locker rooms. It included six ways of providing exceptional service and amenities in locker rooms at country clubs. In this article, I detail the two most important items on the list. Jackets Required Inc. ( Your members would be “wowed” by wearing an “official” club blazer with your club’s logo for the annual meeting. Or during evening dinners at your club’s annual member-guest golf event. Steve Salzman, GM and COO at The Club at Carlton Woods in Woodlands, TX, said about the blazers: “Thanks, Johnny. Great jackets, super quality. The logo looks fantastic, and everyone has found the inside name to be a treat.” The head professional at St. David’s Golf Club in Wayne, PA, said, “Johnny’s timely and thoughtful responses to our inquiries paired with his attention to detail made making the move to Jackets Required for our annual member-member prize an easy decision.” In addition, any club can start a tradition of wearing club blazers like the most prestigious clubs in the nation. As I asked in my first article, “How would your members react if your locker room manager and his staff wore a blazer and a tie with the club logo to welcome participants to the annual member-guest golf tournament?” Chances are you’d hear a lot of “wows.” QuikDry 4D4P from Cres Cor Sport ( The reason that I wanted to go into more detail about the warmer is primarily because, unlike the other products that “wow” members, there’s only one shoe warmer/dryer on the market. How does your locker room staff use this product to “wow” members and guests? Even in Arizona in the winter, we have frost delays and frigid mornings like those at clubs in the Midwest and the East. I “wow” our members by surprising them with warm golf shoes on a cold day. And do so on a rotating basis. A locker room manager at Calusa Pines Golf Club in Florida said, “Our locker room staff uses the Cres Cor Sport QuikDry shoe dryer daily. Whether it’s utilizing the fast drying of mesh type New Age golf shoes that are hard to

clean without getting damp, or deodorizing a sweaty old pair of leather saddle spiked golf shoes, it’s invaluable.” A locker room manager at Bob O’Link added, “It should be standard equipment like an electric buffer.” BR





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

Views from Miles Tucker, the New Manager of Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club Over 40 years ago, in 1980, my husband and I purchased a small vacation townhouse at the brand-new PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. We were still busy lawyers in New Jersey and New York City, and our short PGA National vacations with our children provided important family time. We were always thinking, however, that someday we would move to a larger home in Florida. One Sunday in 1988, we saw an advertisement for another new development, Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club, named after the beautiful creek that runs through the community and memorialized in “Frenchman’s Creek,” a novel by Daphne du Maurier. The advertisement caught our attention, and my husband and I visited the Frenchman’s Creek real estate office, operating out of a trailer. We were impressed, but it was not until my husband and I both retired, that in 2013, we bought our current home in Frenchman’s Creek. The former club manager, Ashal Goswami, set high standards and properties sold quickly.

A few years ago, Ashal announced he was ready for retirement after many years of service. After an extensive search, Miles Tucker was hired as general manager in April 2022. Miles came with excellent credentials from his experience at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles. It was a critical time for Frenchman’s Creek as members had voted to build a new clubhouse. What a project for a new club manager. I asked Miles some hard questions. It is a pleasure to share a few highlights from our conversation. I have retained my original Q&A interview format. Best of all, Miles ends on a positive note. Q: If you were asked to describe your management style, what would it be? A: I like to manage by outcomes. I am not a micromanager. I achieve this by investing in a robust goal process with my direct reports. I have 13 executives who report to me, and they are all experts in their respective fields. We agree on goals for them and their departments at the beginning of every year, and their bonuses are attached to the successful completion of those goals. We also follow this process with our committees, all of whom have goals for their year of service. During the course of the year, the teams provide regular updates on their goals at our executive team meetings. Q: What worries you the most about your role as a full-service club manager? What keeps you up at night? A: I am driven to not only achieve the level of excellence we delivered at Hillcrest in terms of facilities, products and services, but I want to surpass that at Frenchman’s. That is a lofty goal, but it is in keeping with what the members here expect, and why I was hired. During my first year, we had to overcome many challenges with our temporary facilities. The new clubhouse project was all-consuming, there was a need to evaluate and improve my team, and we started the process of developing a comprehensive strategic plan. These activities, combined with my need to get to know the members and to establish my management style, were all things that kept me focused.



Q: Do you have a management philosophy? Do you like teams? A: When I am asked about my strengths as a leader, I often say that building, motivating and retaining high-performing teams is one of my biggest strengths. I believe strongly that we are only as good as the teams we surround ourselves with, and I have enjoyed great support at Frenchman’s building a world-class executive team. I spend most of my time working with the executive team, and we meet every month to review our goals. We also meet with the management team on a weekly basis to discuss operations, and every department is required to have regular team meetings as well. We also conduct an annual executive retreat so that in addition to our personal, departmental and committee goals, we can work on a shared goal together. Club management is all about teamwork. It truly is a team effort, involving members, committees, the board, staff and management. I do not micromanage. Q: What trends have you observed in club management over the years? A: We have subsequently faced unprecedented inflationary pressure, which has led to significant dues increases across the country. Then there is the changing face of the employment market and wage pressure. All of this has led to increased costs for members – both to join and stay at clubs. However, we continue to enjoy strong demand for

membership, which is highlighted by the fact that I don’t believe there are any golf memberships currently available in all of Palm Beach County, which is staggering when you think about it. Q: And your final message to readers? A: I think the industry deserves a lot of credit for pivoting during COVID, and that we are well-placed to weather any downturn in the broader economy moving forward.

I like to manage by outcomes. I am not a micromanager. I achieve this by investing in a robust goal process with my direct reports. I have 13 executives who report to me, and they are all experts in their respective fields. We agree on goals for them and their departments at the beginning of every year, and their bonuses are attached to the successful completion of those goals. We also follow this process with our committees, all of whom have goals for their year of service. During the course of the year, the teams provide regular updates on their goals at our executive team meetings.



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

Last Call An open letter to CMAA members, board leaders and those who are committed to working in the club/hospitality business Over the last many years (not sure exactly when I started doing this), I have submitted articles three to four times per year to BoardRoom magazine that shared my perspective on the state of the racquet sports industry and, in particular, how tennis teaching professionals are a vital cog in the success of the private club industry. In April, I announced my retirement as CEO of the USPTA at the end of December, having spent 50 years in this rewarding sport. How blessed I have been to make a career in a sport I have played since I was 6 years old. Few can make that claim. By the time this issue of BoardRoom magazine is in circulation, my remaining tasks and days at the USPTA will be numbered. Thus, I want to use this space to deliver one last message to you. I appreciate the countless hours of dedicated service USPTA members provide private clubs to grow the game and inspire their clientele to be tennis players for life. It is a special calling and a labor of love our professionals exhibit to ensure the success of the overall operation where they work. Extra gratitude goes to the USPTA presidents that I have been fortunate to work with and learn from, who provided the association and me what we needed at the time of their terms of service: Tom Daglis, Tom McGraw, Chuck Gill, Gary Trost, Feisal Hassan, and finally, Rich Slivocka. These leaders have worked in the private club industry at one point or another in their careers and know how important private country clubs are in the tennis ecosystem. I know they and our current leadership will ably counsel my successor if asked as my successor settles into my role. I also want to thank John Fornaro, BoardRoom’s publisher, and David White, the magazine’s editor, for asking me to provide my perspective in this forum. I appreciate their passion for helping private clubs and their boards navigate the complexity of club management and the chal-



lenges clubs face. Since COVID-19, clubs have had to do things differently. If there is one message I could share with everyone in the club industry, it would be to encourage your tennis staff to be certified with the USPTA. If they are not current members in good standing, ask them to ensure they comply with the requirements to maintain their professional standards. Your team members should keep up with their continuing education so they can deliver up-to-date programming concepts and instructional techniques that will ensure club members have a positive experience on the court. After all, you want customers to keep coming back. Having everyone Safe Play compliant and background checked is the right thing to do to provide a safe environment at your facility. Also, if you are venturing into the alternative racquet sports arena, be it pickleball, platform tennis, padel or POP tennis, ensure your professionals are certified in these disciplines. Consumers are looking to add these activities to their enjoyment. USPTA professionals are obligated to enthusiastically deliver these wonderfully exciting sports to your menu of recreational options. Despite challenges on the horizon, the USPTA’s future is bright. Over the past 11 years, we made good decisions and accomplished a great deal. But there is so much more to do, and I am confident you will do it. Our new leader will need your assistance. Finally, I ask that you aspire to bring new talent into our association. As so many of us will age out in the coming years, we need a pipeline of young and engaging talent to fill in behind us. We have built a wonderful community, but it must grow to achieve the aspirations established. It has been a wonderful ride for me and my family. I have been honored to represent the USPTA at industry functions. Thank you for the opportunity to serve this wonderful sport. B R

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


It’s About Education, Not Certification In any industry, any profession, at any point in life, competition fuels growth. It forces you to be better, to see things differently, try things another way, and continually improve. As you improve, the world around you improves, starting with others. A leader unknowingly improves the lives of others. That was the case with the United States Professional Tennis Association and the Professional Tennis Registry during the racquets boom of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. They pushed each other and offered different approaches and competing pathways to becoming a great coach; however, they shared a common vision: to help members become the best version of themselves on and off the court. They created a community of leaders who, in return, created a bigger community of leaders. It was the golden age of tennis because the sole focus was on taking care of their people who took care of their people. Tennis in the United States exploded. It has been almost 100 years since the USPTA was born. The founding principles were simple: help coaches be the absolute best they could be. They grew by bringing together people who share a vision and purpose. The focus was always on quality and consistency. The tennis industry grew and so did the professionals that laid the foundation that met the growing demand and popularity of the sport. Almost 50 years later, the PTR was born out of the USTPA when the most popular tennis educator at the time, Dennis Van der Meer, broke away to create his own pathway to coaching success. The result was international acclaim fueled by his accolades as a coach and his ability to attract people to listen and learn. He was charismatic, smart and had a vision coaches could relate to and, more importantly, was someone others wanted to follow. As the racquets industry continues to grow (and since the birth of “racquets”), the race for relevance (and control) has never been more present. Both the USPTA and the PTR existed because the United States Tennis Association focused on its own growth and decided to partner instead of control. In other words, it was never worth the USTA’s time. That all changed in 2017 when the USTA announced accreditation to the USPTA and not the PTR. It was an initial move to control from behind the curtain and one the USPTA was on board with. The PTR bled members, and with the USPTA moving its headquarters to the USTA National Campus, it looked like the PTR was in its final days. In 2018, with its back against the wall, the PTR put its faith in pickleball and the Professional Pickleball Registry was born. The result was hundreds of 86


members that turned into thousands overnight. These new paying members gave the PTR the lifeline it needed, and bundling the different racquet sports certifications/memberships together allowed them to grow and succeed together. A few years later, accreditation was offered to the PTR as the racquets industry was born. In any industry and any business, extreme growth leads to a deeper fight for relevance. When people are lost, more often than not, the uneducated and the unknowing lead the way. This is always the result of people being scared and looking for anyone to follow. That continues to be the case with pickleball and to a larger extent with racquets. The USTA has doubled down, moving into the certification world. This will ultimately allow the USTA to absorb, control or put under the USPTA and the PTR. Pickleball is the lifeline that keeps the USPTA and the PTR alive. Instead of focusing on their members, education and their founding principles, these organizations focus on the number of memberships and the revenue they bring in. Poor leadership, lack of vision and disappointing decisions have thrown quality out the door and left thousands of professionals scrambling for direction. As racquets continues to grow and the race for relevance (and control) becomes more present, we have to open our eyes to what is right in front of us. The idea of doing things bigger, quicker and less expensive has ruined the certification industry. The fighting between certification bodies instead of the comradery that once fueled them is killing them. The USTA simply waits and can take over at any point and will within the next two years. As in any time of extreme growth, the future is unclear. The future is about leadership and mentorship. It is about education and making communities smaller by helping networks to grow bigger. The future is not trusting acronyms after your name but investing in yourself so you have the knowledge to invest in others. The future of racquets is a runaway train, speeding toward the unknown at unprecedented speeds. It is up to you to gain control and up to us to steer it home together. It was once about the letters after your name (I know, I have enough of them), but it is now about the names you can call for help. The future is in your network and now is the time to grow it. Invest in people, invest your time in learning and apply yourself to lead. The future is not about following and not about certifications. It is about education and leadership. Always look to the future with open eyes and an open heart. The future is yours. Shape it. Let the journey continue. BR

BRYNN GRISSOM Brynn Grissom is a PR associate at Selkirk Sport, the market leader in pickleball paddle innovation and technology. Like Selkirk, Brynn is passionate about growing the sport of pickleball and making it accessible to all. Brynn can be reached at


Embracing the Pickleball Craze A Winning Investment for Private Clubs Far from a fad, pickleball has firmly established itself as a mainstream recreational activity that offers myriad benefits to players of all ages. As the popularity of pickleball surges — with more than 36.5 million people in the US picking up a paddle within the last year — city parks and recreation departments and homeowners associations are grappling with how best to keep up with the surge in interest. Pickleball’s rapid growth is a testament to its staying power as a recreational activity loved by millions. Private clubs investing in pickleball courts and the overall pickleball experience are not just riding a trend but making a strategic move to ensure they stay relevant and attractive to their members. By offering high-quality, permanent courts, diverse lessons and memorable experiences, clubs can reap the full potential of the dynamic sport while providing members with exciting and engaging recreation options. As the pickleball movement gathers momentum, forward-thinking clubs can seize the opportunity to create a winning investment that promises long-lasting returns.

INVESTING IN PERMANENT COURTS REQUIRES A LONG-TERM STRATEGY One way private clubs can tap into the pickleball craze is by offering top-notch, permanent courts. Although temporary courts function in a transitional period, pickleball enthusiasts demand more than painted lines and portable nets on a tennis court. To attract and retain the pickleball community, clubs must curate well-thought-out pickleball courts that address the needs of pickleballers. Although this might require an upfront investment, pickleball courts require significantly less real estate and maintenance than other recreational activities. A prime example of an organization that has successfully harnessed pickleball’s power is Invited, the country’s largest private golf and country club operator. Invited invested heavily in pickleball across its 200 properties, and this year joined forces with USA Pickleball and the Professional Pickleball Association to host several professional tours at Invited clubs, including the 2023 USA Pickleball National Championship in November. SEE RACQUET COMMITTEE GRISSOM | 114





Excellence in Club Governance Excellence in governance is key to success for private clubs. BoardRoom magazine is featuring a series of articles written by Henry DeLozier, a partner with GGA Partners, an international consulting firm and trusted advisor to private clubs, golf clubs and residential communities around the world. This issue features Who Speaks for the Club? In February 2015, Harrison Ford, the man who brought such daredevils as Han Solo and Indiana Jones to the screen, experienced engine failure shortly after takeoff from Santa Monica Municipal Airport near Los Angeles. Ford landed the single-engine aircraft on the Penmar Golf Course, next to the airport. The actor received superficial injuries. Others were not injured. The key component of this bit of old news for club boards and board members is to be prepared for unexpected events and circumstances by knowing the answer to a simple question: Who speaks for the club? Read more on page 90. Three Keys for Improving Your Board. Most private club boards benefit from the dedicated and seemingly tireless efforts of directors chosen by the club’s members. Some clubs have the advantage of a culture of excellent governance, while other clubs seem to have lost their way during the COVID19 pandemic. Three consistent traits, among the many characteristics of topperforming boards, seem to distinguish the best-governed clubs. Read more on page 91. 88


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Who Speaks for the Club? In February 2015, Harrison Ford, the man who brought such daredevils as Han Solo and Indiana Jones to the screen, experienced engine failure shortly after takeoff from Santa Monica Municipal Airport near Los Angeles. Ford landed the single-engine aircraft on the Penmar Golf Course, next to the airport. The actor received superficial injuries. Others were not injured. The key component of this bit of old news for club boards and board members is to be prepared for unexpected events and circumstances by knowing the answer to a simple question: Who speaks for the club? Private clubs function in a not-so-private society where the news cycle seems relentless, and someone with a camera and recording device always seems to be nearby. So, when matters of public interest occur at your club, who speaks for the club? Most private clubs do not have a pre-planned protocol for news-of-the-day circumstances, like fires, floods or vehicular accidents. Linda Dillenbeck, a director at GGA Partners who heads brand management and communications, says, “It’s not a matter of if. It is simply a matter of when.” Dillenbeck identifies four factors that improve your club’s chances of successfully navigating the unexpected: 1. Identify the person who is the sole spokesperson for the club. In most clubs, the designated spokesperson for the club is its board chair/president. Thus, whether one is a board member, the club manager, a golf professional or other management titles, the proper response to any media-driven inquiry is: “Thank you for your interest. I am not authorized to speak on behalf of the club. You need to speak with Mr. or Ms. (name here). I believe that they can be helpful to you.” One of the greatest challenges for private clubs is to stay out of the news rather than in it. Centering questions on one spokesperson trained and prepared for this duty should be the best practice standard. The next challenge is to have the message discipline to channel communications responsibly and professionally.



2. Prepare the crisis communications file. Your file should be full of key elements that will be needed on a fate-filled day. Develop a pre-planned discipline for club communications. Those who will tell of the news your club is experiencing will need images of the club readily available in reproducible formats, whether still photographs or video content. Provide specific and accurate descriptions of your club. For example, how long it has existed, where it is and some basic facts, such as number of members, what facilities and activities are available to members, and the business status of the club – non-profit or member-owned. 3. Execute the crisis communications plan with no adlibs from well-intentioned board members. If you are authorized to speak for the club, be impeccable with your word when responding to media inquiries. Misstatements and self-centered references will never go away. Be honest, and do not speak if you do not know. Three keys for those responding to inquiries are: • Be accurate. • Less is more. • Do not speculate. Anyone enquiring will ask what you think of the situation. 4. Remember your members. It is only natural that the club’s members will want more information than they see on television. Recognize their interest and determine what can and cannot be shared. This is the time when your board and its members will stand tall or not. Although the chances of Indiana Jones crash-landing a small plane at your club are immeasurably low, your club will likely be in or near the news. Be prepared to know who speaks for the club and how the person should best represent your club and its members. B R

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

Three Keys for Improving Your Board Most private club boards benefit from the dedicated and seemingly tireless efforts of directors chosen by the club’s members. Some clubs have the advantage of a culture of excellent governance, while other clubs seem to have lost their way during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three consistent traits, among the many characteristics of top-performing boards, seem to distinguish the best-governed clubs. 1. Board self-evaluation – Top-performing boards and board members are willing to self-evaluate. Each board must determine its cadence for the self-evaluations, whether after each meeting, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. Three questions that should be a part of each self-evaluation should be: a. Did the board constructively address all agenda topics promptly to identify the next action that is required? b. Were all board members able to communicate their viewpoints in a state of mutual respect and understanding? c. Did the board determine its next actions, and which board member will communicate the board’s intentions to fellow members? The board evaluation should be completed immediately and within 12 hours of the adjournment of the subject meeting. Then what is to happen? The board chair or president is obliged to share the self-evaluation results and all comments with all board members. Should there be matters of conflict within the evaluations, the board chair is obligated to address such conflicts with the board members. There should be no ignoring board-member comments and criticism. For annual board self-evaluations, the board should provide the results to all club members to enable members to understand the board’s commitment to governing openly and accountably. 2. Boardroom confidentiality – Most private club boardrooms leak like a sieve even though most board members are fully aware of their duty to maintain the confidentiality of the boardroom. Three of the most common justifications for breaches of boardroom confidentiality are: a. “It’s just a private club; it’s no big deal.” Most private clubs are multimillion-dollar businesses with clearly stated requirements for directors. A private club requires the same standards of boardroom conduct as

a major corporation. A board member’s failure to respect confidentiality should be addressed immediately and emphatically. b. “Members want greater transparency from the board.” In private club member surveys, members consistently express the expectation that their board will inform the membership of primary issues at the club. Boards are progressively and proactively developing intentional and pre-planned board communications plans. This step ensures that members can be informed. The communications plan must also identify topics on which the board will not be transparent. Such issues include executive compensation, disciplinary matters and potential investment options for the club. Transparency builds trust, and being upfront about the topics that are to be confidential sustains trust. c. “It’s a free country, and I can tell anyone I wish.” Board members share specific and intentional duties, including loyalty to the organization. Most private club boards have established clear-cut guidelines regarding confidentiality and how the board – as an entity – communicates outside of the boardroom. In most corporations, board members who cannot or will not respect the confidentiality of the boardroom should be called upon to resign. Likewise, identifying the chair or president as the only board member who speaks for the board is mission-critical. 3. Effective board communication – Members are eager to know what the board considers worthy of action and what actions the board will take. The baseline of effective communication is to understand that the board speaks with one voice and in writing. Boards that use a reliable and consistent communication plan are among the most trusted. Each club board should establish a regular reporting method – format, media (use more than one) and topicality – to enable members to understand the board’s priorities, accomplishments and missed targets. Boards that communicate consistently and with informative and insightful content are most trusted. Many factors contribute to the effectiveness of a private club board and none more so than using a board self-evaluation, respecting the confidentiality of the boardroom and communicating the board’s work in a timely and genuine manner. 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

Observe, Adapt, Plan, Thrive A Recipe for Club Resilience in an Evolving World In a world marked by economic fluctuations and uncertainty, private clubs must be adaptable and resilient to successfully navigate the challenges posed by inflation, rising interest rates and a dynamically changing workforce. To understand the gravity of today’s strategic planning, think about it like inspecting a classic three-legged stool. Each leg symbolizes a critical aspect – the internal operations grappling with escalating costs for goods and services, the well-being and satisfaction of members, and the strength of the workforce. Just as a stool stands steady only when all three legs are balanced, a club’s strategy must harmonize these factors. Overlooking any of them can result in instability, ultimately risking the collapse of the entire “stool.” Therefore, it’s paramount to evaluate the economic impact on internal operations and recognize the far-reaching repercussions on members and the workforce. NAVIGATING MEMBER FINANCIAL CHALLENGES 1. Rising living costs may reduce members’ discretionary income, influencing their spending and usage habits, including club-related activities such as dining and events. 2. Fluctuating interest rates can impact members who rely on interest-sensitive earnings or disrupt their financial well-being if mortgage payments change, which naturally can affect club participation. 3. Economic uncertainty may lead to changing member expectations, emphasizing the need for clubs to provide increased value and cater to evolving dynamics. It may require adjustment to budget assumptions for operations and dues and fees for the future. 4. Clubs should be prepared to address member concerns related to economic shifts and highlight long-term membership benefits. ADAPTING TO THE EVOLVING WORKFORCE As we’ve observed since the pandemic, workforce dynamics continue to evolve, with trends like the “well workplace” expected to endure. Prioritizing employee health is crucial in a competitive labor market. Offering flexible work arrangements and expanding scheduling options improves engagement and retention. Empowering staff through skill-building programs, life-enrichment activities and career advancement opportunities, including virtual training, is paramount. Housing affordability, particularly in high-cost areas where many clubs are, significantly impacts recruitment and retention, making housing incentives essential, especially for seasonal hires. 92


THE QUEST FOR RESILIENCE – EMBRACING INNOVATION Over the years, private clubs have honed several lasting strategies that we must keep center stage during uncertain times: prioritizing members with adaptable offerings, practicing sound financial management, nurturing employee well-being, fostering community partnerships, and relying on data for informed decisions. These tried-and-true approaches form a sturdy foundation for navigating economic shifts and evolving workforces. However, clubs must embrace innovation to thrive in the current dynamic landscape. Technology integration is pivotal to enhancing member experiences, streamlining operations and gathering valuable data insights. Using digital platforms for easy access by members to club services, reservations and event information is a minimum expectation. Digital marketing strategies are also essential for reaching a broader audience and attracting new members with engaging social media campaigns, targeted email marketing and online awareness strategies, ensuring clubs stay relevant in the digital age. And we’ve only dipped a toe into the ocean of artificial intelligence possibilities. As we continue into this uncharted territory, who knows where this journey may lead us next as we leverage AI to elevate the club experience for members and gain efficiencies for employees. Sustainability initiatives are gaining prominence, especially among younger generations. These initiatives align with modern values and serve as a powerful testament to a commitment to a better future, attracting members and employees who share these values. While the pandemic spurred a surge in club membership, we can’t take our eyes off the cyclical nature of trends. Clubs must remain prepared and alert to emerging patterns. Clubs have already taken steps in this direction by offering flexible memberships, multi-generational packages and trials to attract a diverse membership base. It’s essential to continue these efforts. Younger generations may need help recognizing the value of private clubs amidst competition from hobby clubs, hospitality subscriptions and “edutainment,” like Topgolf. Finally, making data-driven decisions ensures clubs remain responsive and member-centric in a rapidly evolving landscape. By combining these established and innovative strategies, clubs can secure their resilience and adaptability for the future. While time-tested strategies provide a solid foundation for club resilience, embracing change and innovation is equally vital. The path to resilience involves a delicate balance of preserving tradition and welcoming modernity. With a proactive and adaptive mindset, private clubs can thrive in the face of economic shifts and evolving workforce dynamics, ensuring a prosperous and enduring future. B R

CARSON LETOT Carson Letot, Ph.D., is a faculty member at Sandhills Community College and program coordinator for the USGA’s Greenkeeper Apprenticeship Program


Creating a New Pathway for Careers in Golf Course Maintenance

Golf course superintendents struggle to re- course maintenance. Participants also receive membership and continuing education from the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association and a predecruit and retain workers. termined pay raise from their employer. From leadership positions to entry-level How to apply: For more information about GAP and to apply for the next class, staff, holes exist in the maintenance teams please contact the program coordinator, Carson Letot at BR taking care of our courses, and superintendents see staff time to accomplish an endless list of tasks dwindling. In response, the USGA has been working with industry and academic partners to develop a new pathway to help recruit and retain the next generation of greenkeepers. The Greenkeeper Apprenticeship Program trains students on the latest in golf course maintenance technology and best management practices, provides THE 20 STUDENTS IN THE FIRST COHORT OF THE USGA GREENKEEPER APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM mentorship for career success, and creVISITED THE NEWLY BUILT PINEHURST NUMBER 10 TO LEARN ABOUT THE GROW-IN PROCESS AND ates opportunities to earn valuable creRECEIVE HANDS-ON TRAINING IN PUTTING GREEN FERTILIZATION. dentials and increased wages. How the program works: GAP removes traditional barriers to professional development – cost and time. The program doesn’t cost participants anything, and the classroom-based education through Sandhills Community College in Southern Pines, NC, is designed around students’ full-time work schedules on a local golf course. Students engage in a curriculum that includes in-depth instruction in turfgrass science, water management, soil science, turfgrass fertility, pest management and environmental stewardship. Additionally, superintendents, industry partners and leading scientists appear in the classroom to provide invaluable insight. Students receive their hourly wage while in class. Participants also get on-the-job training from world-class leaders in golf course maintenance. What students earn from the program: Through ApprenticeshipNC, the North Carolina Community College System and the Department of Labor, GAP graduates earn two college credentials and a journey worker card to exhibit proficiency in golf NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2023 | BOARDROOM




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

The Santa Ana Country Club

A New Culture of Private Clubs in Costa Rica Distinguished Clubs has 10 international clubs, and this recent international members. He takes care of 250 kids, clinics for site visit took the author to the Santa Ana Country Club in San Jose, Costa Rica. adults, and special tennis and social events each month. It opened in late 2019 and received the highest member service scores of all The club has nine clay tennis courts (covered Troon Prive private clubs. with open sides). There is an academy and “Santa Ana Country Club is the first city club in 40 years to be built in Costa Rica,” Esteban Oreamuno Beeche, the club’s general manager, says about a new league team for squash and swimming, too. The semi-Olympic-sized pool has eight lanes, open era of private clubs in Costa Rica. spaces and beautiful views. The club also offers “Thanks to the vision and wisdom of the founders/developers, they created a 10,000-square-foot state-of-the-art fitness and a gem in the city. Designed to cater to young and active families looking for a wellness facility, recreational pools, basketball, modern place to practice sports and meet other families.” It is also the only private club to include sustainability criteria in its construction soccer, volleyball, two high-definition golf simulators, a physiotherapy center, a business and received the Ecological Blue Flag Program (PBAE). This innovative, noncenter, and more. golf, private country club (athletic club) provides its members with great With eight food and beverage outlets, Santa Ana entertainment and a family-based lifestyle. By catering to a variety of preferences, Country Club also offers exceptional dining and a it creates a diverse and dynamic athletic, social and dining experience. variety of events. Staff members received training Facial recognition software allows members to enter the club. Beyond in exceptional service, and many have honed their the front gates, members find a massive and beautiful open wall building skills abroad, bringing a unique international flair with multiple spaces to enjoy food, drinks, friends, family, sports, or just the to the table. Chef Nicolas Di Paolo has worked in beautiful hillside view. Barcelona with the famous Spanish chef El Buli. The clubhouse has an amazing architecture, with a wave-style roof and Working with only fresh and sustainable local many openings to the gardens in perfect symbiotic balance with nature. The products, he knows how to transform dinner into construction involved one of the eight hectares of land. The remaining seven a gastronomic experience. In Restaurante Materia, hectares are part of a reforestation program, gardens and trails. the decoration is modern and elegant, and the Santa Ana Country Club is a family-oriented community that offers incredible experiences for parents and children. With top-notch child care and a clubhouse food servers know how to make you feel special. On becoming the first Distinguished Club for teenagers, parents can rest assured their children are in good hands. in Costa Rica, Oreamuno Beeche says, “With For those interested in sports, this club offers superb amenities, professional coaches and great programs, especially in tennis. Daniel Lopez, tennis director, the challenges the pandemic presented, being awarded by BoardRoom magazine to be part of the teaches the Tennis 101 program as a free introduction to tennis for new Distinguished Club group gives us immense pride and satisfaction. “To see SACC next to such historic and emblematic clubs, it gives the whole team a sense of gratitude but mostly a boost of energy and confidence to continue the right path we´ve been trecking the last four years.” Oreamuno Beeche has this advice for other GMs: “My advice to other club GMs is to empower their whole staff, let them make decisions. Sometimes they will err in the process, but the important lesson is the accountability sense this brings to each individual.” B R Santa Ana Country Club Staff 94


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


Desert Willow Golf Resort

Coachella Valley’s Best of the Best Desert Willow Golf Resort, a Distinguished Golf Destination in Palm Desert, CA, offers two of the Coachella Valley’s best plays.

Test your skills against the natural hazards and myriad water features of the Firecliff Course, or play a smoother, more relaxing round on the magnificent Mountain View Course. The City of Palm Desert, which owns Desert Willow, chose Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry to design the two golf courses. When the courses opened, they graced, for the first time, the cover of Smithsonian Magazine for their environmental stewardship. Desert Willow began with a plan that embraced the desert landscape and respected the fragility of natural resources necessary to maintain the course. When the City of Palm Desert hired the design team, it solidified that Desert Willow would be special. With Eric Johnson, a local landscape architect, they thoughtfully developed a plant palette that would make Desert Willow environmentally sensitive, unique and picturesque while integrating this with an exceptional golf course design. Golf Digest named the Firecliff, which opened in 1997, one of the “Places To Play.” This tournamenttested layout is one of only three courses in California and one of the best 50 in the United States to receive this distinction in terms of conditioning. Firecliff, measuring 7,056 yards, is a true test of skill where golfers must negotiate their way around extensive natural areas, over 100 bunkers and numerous water features. Firecliff is scheduled for a green renovation in the summer of 2024. Firecliff was ranked No. 129 by Golfweek Magazine in its “2021 Best Resort Course – Top 200.” The magazine ranked Firecliff No. 20 in its “2021 Best Courses You Can Play in California.” Mountain View opened in 1998 and is a resorttype Southern California golf course with wider fairways and limited desert waste areas. But don’t be deceived. Mountain View, measuring 6,913

yards, is rated just slightly less difficult than Firecliff. With more forgiving fairways, 98 well-placed bunkers, sloping greens and seven water features, Mountain View still requires the best from golfers of all levels. Although Desert Willow is a municipal facility, guests receive an experience that rivals the top country clubs in the area. Golfers enter the facility on the breathtaking one-mile-long Desert Willow Drive and make their way to the majestic 30,000-square-foot clubhouse. A big reason for Desert Willow’s success is the longevity of the management team. Continuity matters. Derek White has held his first GM position for almost 10 years. He was promoted from other roles at Desert Willow and has been with the facility since 2005. White is a certified public accountant (from a past career) and a PGA golf professional. He is a member of the Club Management Association of America and is working on his certified club manager certification. Francois Gaertner, the executive chef, has thrived at Desert Willow for more than 15 years; Ryan Szydlowski, the director of golf, has been a consistent leader for over 13 years; and Roberta Olden, the human resources director, has been with Dessert Willows since opening day. This continuity has led to high ranks on the golf course, but customer feedback is the truest form of recognition. This Distinguished Golf Destination has consistently ranked in the top 10 percent of national golf courses in net promoter scores, which measure customer loyalty, satisfaction and enthusiasm. Desert Willow is also proud to have earned national Facility of the Year in 2008 and 2018 for KemperSports, a privately held sports, entertainment, and hospitality company that manages Desert Willow on behalf of the City of Palm Desert. KemperSports delivers operational excellence in property and experience management. As for Desert Willow’s Distinguished Golf Destination designation, White says, “This distinction puts us alongside other great courses around the world.” BR

Desert Willow Golf Club Staff NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2023 | BOARDROOM



The Links at Terranea

A Seaside Golfer’s Paradise The Links at Terranea is a Distinguished Golf Destination with a dramatic ninehole, par-3 course. This luxury resort, set on 102 oceanfront acres along the Palos Verdes Peninsula, has a 270-degree panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.

This scenic environment provides a backdrop for a stellar round of golf and a place to witness the majestic migration of humpback whales along the Southern California coastline. Masterfully routed with its natural surroundings, this collection of championshipcaliber holes offers a unique environment for group and individual play. Artful bunkering, unobstructed sightlines and a wide range of classic strategic elements combine to deliver an unparalleled golf experience on the Los Angeles coast. Keeping Palos Verdes Peninsula’s diverse ecology and oceanfront natural landscape in mind, course architect Todd Eckenrode and Origins Golf Design integrated a true-to-place vision when creating The Links. Lowe Enterprises and JC Resorts own Terranea Resort, which opened in 2009. They actively lend support. The resort’s meticulous attention to detail and bespoke service elevate every interaction at the property. From personalized lessons in the golf studio and simulator to making golf enjoyable and accessible for all levels of play, The Links ensures every player’s experience is customized. Terranea has a unique combination of a beautiful, coastal setting with exemplary offerings that provide a luxury overnight stay and an immersive experience, including a resort pool with cabanas, kids pool/kids center, fitness and wellness center, gym, and day spa. It features a variety of accommodations, from guestrooms and suites to residential-style bungalows, casitas, and villas. Fresh air and culinary delights go hand in hand with dining options that provide a refined and enjoyable experience, especially the alfresco options. Terranea’s culinary team celebrates the resort’s natural surroundings by using locally sourced products from the ocean, resort gardens and the surrounding peninsula.



Terranea believes strongly in hospitality and the pursuit of excellence. With every guest interaction, there is time for reflection afterward – what went well and how staff could have improved the experience. This process is instilled in employees so they align with the same purpose. A talented and dedicated team provides an exceptional level of service. The property works diligently to source the best talent. To attract and retain quality talent, associates work as a team to create a spectacular work environment that encourages, motivates, empowers, and rewards. Led by a passion for hospitality, associates have room to grow in their careers. In addition to competitive rates of pay, benefits, and delicious daily meals from the culinary team, associates can also take part in a variety of initiatives, such as a women’s forum, educational lunch and learns, family carnivals, awards galas and monthly prize drawings. Under the leadership of Ralph Grippo, president of Terranea Resort, associates are motivated to collaborate and work together as a team. Grippo, who has 15 years of experience in golf sales, operations and instruction, began his career in golf from the ground up, picking up golf balls on the driving range. He has a strong sense of belonging as a Distinguished Golf Destination. “It’s wonderful to be recognized alongside some of the premier resorts and clubs in the country,” Grippo says. “We believe the golf experience at The Links is truly memorable and allows you to also enjoy the luxury accommodations, dining and offerings of Terranea.” About his operational leadership philosophy, Grippo says: “It’s all about the guest experience. Our team of associates believes in the fundamental principles of treating everyone with respect and making everyone feel at home. We strive to create meaningful connections, display genuine interest and make every experience feel both personal and meaningful.” B R

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

Waldorf Astoria Orlando Is a Golfer’s Paradise Waldorf Astoria Orlando opened in 2009. It is not only a Distinguished Golf Destination but also a Forbes Four-Star resort, which means Waldorf Astoria Orlando is committed to offering the highest standards in hospitality on and off the golf course.

True Waldorf Service offers a welcoming, genuine, personal service that sets Waldorf Astoria Orlando apart from the competition. Guests can choose from an abundance of worldclass amenities, such as the Rees Jones-designed golf course, a luxurious spa, a fitness center, 12 restaurants and two outstanding pools. The Walt Disney World Resort surrounds the property, giving guests proximity and easy access to Orlando’s world-famous theme parks. Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s expanded relationship with Disney affords guests benefits like daily 30-minute early theme park entry and complimentary transportation to all four Disney theme parks and Disney Springs. The golf course is, of course, the focal point for many resort guests. Rees Jones created a stunning and immensely playable 18-hole championship golf course. Designed within the Bonnet Creek Nature Preserve, the golf course is without residential or hotel housing lining its fairways. Reese Patterson, the golf course superintendent, and his team always ensure the golf course is one of the best-conditioned courses in central Florida. The 500-room hotel has spacious accommodations, with deluxe guest rooms and six types of suites. The suites have walkout balconies. Guests can expect personalized service from staff. Guests tell management that employees build meaningful connections and demonstrate genuine concern and interest in making them feel comfortable and at ease. It is the primary reason guests return time and time again. Of all the great things to experience at Waldorf Astoria Orlando, you would not want to miss dining at Bull & Bear, named one of the Top 100 Restaurants in the United States by OpenTable. Bull & Bear’s menu features steakhouse classics and trend-setting fare, including fried chicken,

pasta explosion and chateaubriand for two. The restaurant is renowned for tableside preparation and the highest levels of personalized service. The dining room and lounge exude the warmth of a private club, with exquisite pool and golf course views. As with all well-operated Distinguished Golf Destinations, Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s management team, led by Ryan Fitzgerald, the general manager, has a great relationship with the owners. The management team is owner-centric and operates the property like it owns it. Understanding owner needs and perspectives is instrumental to developing strategic goals. Since 2020, every part of the resort has been undergoing improvements. It is a huge investment by the ownership and one that the property leaders know comes with an incredible responsibility to return the investment. “We are proud to be associated with the publication, Forbes Travel Guide and all the properties recognized,” Fitzgerald says about Waldorf Astoria Orlando being a Distinguished Golf Destination. “For us, it affirms all the hard work the staff puts into their responsibilities. Brandon Dixon, head golf professional for Waldorf Astoria Orlando, and the entire golf team set out every day to create memories for our guests.” At the heart of this property’s success is the dedicated team that lives exceptional service every day. There has never been a more challenging time to acquire talent than now. The best source for new team members is current team members. So, creating an environment where team members are valued, respected, appreciated, recognized, and awarded is necessary for success. Waldorf Astoria Orlando strives to be a great employer by focusing every day on the team member’s experience. In the annual Global Team Member Survey conducted at every Hilton property, one of the questions/statements is: “I would recommend Hilton/my hotel/property as a place to work.” Across all Hiltons, the average score was 90; the score for Waldorf Astoria Orlando was 91. By attracting and retaining great talent, this Distinguished Golf Destination is on the right track to produce decades of beautiful memories for its guests. B R





Chris Kulinski, PGA is a PGA career and recruitment consultant serving the western, central, and northeast New York sections. He can be reached at (561) 366-2791 or

The Surging Growth of Golf Post-COVID Impact on Employment and PGA Initiatives The year was 2015, and the PGA knew that within the next 10 years, a large number of PGA professionals may retire. Enrollment in PGM universities was decreasing, PGA associate applications were lower than in years past, and the PGA needed a plan to replenish the cupboards. This article explores the growth in golf since COVID-19, its impact on employment at golf courses, and how the PGA has harnessed resources to attract individuals to the golf industry. The resurgence of golf: The COVID-19 pandemic drastically altered how we live, work and play. As indoor activities became less appealing due to health concerns and social distancing requirements, people sought refuge in outdoor pursuits. Golf took center stage. It emerged as an ideal recreational activity for physical distancing, providing a safe and enjoyable escape. The PGA’s role in industry growth: In 2018, the PGA hired me as a career consultant and recruitment specialist. My task was to develop an awareness and recruitment plan. As a former assistant professional, director of instruction and head golf professional at a high-end private facility, I had an extensive background in green grass operations. The goal was to create awareness about the over 2 million jobs in golf and discuss the now $104 billion golf industry. (In 2018, it was $84 billion.) The first year was spent developing a plan to attract talent into the industry. A team of 25 career consultants focused on creating awareness versus active recruitment. The team started by attending college golf tournaments, career fairs and high school golf tournaments. We developed marketing materials and QR codes to communicate with individuals who wanted to work in the golf industry. It was a lot of “boots on the ground” work. In 2019, our team talked to over (impressions) 10,000 people, and over 200 people (leads) wanted more information about working in golf. We hit the pause button in 2020 due to COVID-19, but in 2021, the need for employees within the golf industry was dire. The team was tasked with creating more awareness and leads because PGA professionals and facilities needed workers. The goal in 2023 is to talk to over 100,000 people and have 10,000 leads.



Recognizing the opportunity presented by the resurgence of golf, the PGA focused its resources and launched digital initiatives designed to cultivate talent and promote careers in golf. Along with our “boots on the ground” efforts, one of the PGA’s most noteworthy initiatives is the Workingolf campaign. This campaign aims to educate individuals about the value of becoming a PGA member and highlight the career opportunities available. The Workingolf platform provides detailed insights into various career paths within the industry, including golf instruction, course management and event planning. It also offers resources for those interested in pursuing golf-related careers and allows individuals to connect directly with a recruitment specialist. Individuals can set up a video call and receive answers to their questions about working in the golf industry. Make golf your career: The PGA’s involvement with the Make Golf Your Career initiative is another monumental effort to attract talent to the golf industry. This program seeks to connect diverse individuals interested in golf careers with PGA professionals and potential employers. By fostering a supportive and inclusive community, the PGA is simplifying the path for individuals to turn their passion for golf into rewarding careers. The growth of golf since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been remarkable. Golf courses, clubs and related businesses have thrived in the face of adversity, leading to a surge in employment opportunities within the industry. The PGA’s unwavering commitment to creating awareness and promoting careers in golf through initiatives like Workingolf and Make Golf Your Career has been instrumental in attracting new talent and invigorating the golfing landscape. The future of the golf industry appears bright, and we must continue to embrace and support the opportunities it offers to individuals seeking fulfilling careers within the sport. BR

UNLEASH EMPLOYEE POTENTIAL TAKE YOUR STAFF EXPERIENCE TO THE NEXT LEVEL Are you ready to take the leap into the future of employee excellence? At Club Core, we're not just reimagining the workplace; we're rewriting the rules. Club Core is a centralized hub to keep your staff engaged, consistent and efficient. ATTRACT top talent by meeting the needs of the modern employee with flexible, personalized learning available anytime, anywhere

ONBOARD staff seamlessly, with consistent training materials and interactive communication tools for a confident and successful day 1

TRAIN employees with a platform that delivers diverse training content, progress tracking and tailored learning experiences to individual needs

EVALUATE with standardized assessment criteria, real-time feedback, and data-driven performance metrics, while creating mentorship opportunities

RETAIN talent by fostering loyalty and engagement through effective communication, and on-going skill development opportunities, making employees feel valued and informed Club Core is the future for onboarding, documentation, training, and communication. This complete system has quickly become one of the core ingredients required for our business. - Jeremy Logel, Executive Professional, Elmira Golf Club

For more information contact:

HEATHER ARIAS DE CORDOBA Heather is co-publisher and chief creative officer with BoardRoom magazine, and member experience director at Aliso Viejo Country Club in California.


Elevating Member Experiences in 2024 The Role of the Member Experience Director As 2024 approaches, like many, I stand at the forefront of a dynamic private club industry, navigating emerging challenges and the ever-increasing expectations of our members. In this dynamic environment, my role as a member experience director takes on increased significance. We are more than just facilitators of service; we are architects of the member experience, crafting moments that resonate and foster a deep sense of belonging. This upcoming year is ripe with unique opportunities for those in this position to showcase their expertise, leveraging innovative strategies and technologies to enhance the overall club experience. For me this year, my primary goal is crystal clear: To ensure that every member feels valued, understood and thoroughly engaged in our club community.

PERSONALIZATION AT ITS BEST As 2024 unfolds, I envision a scenario where personalized experiences transition from being a mere preference to becoming a fundamental expectation among our club members. They want a sense of individual recognition and desire experiences tailored to their unique tastes and interests. So, my role as a member experience director takes on an even more crucial role. 100


Harnessing the power of data analytics and the insights from member feedback, I’m positioned to design highly personalized engagement strategies. This process involves more than just understanding member preferences. It’s about exploring deep into their behavioral and spending patterns, their past interactions with our club, and their expressed and unexpressed wishes. By analyzing this data, I can anticipate their needs and preferences – something we call anticipatory marketing. As member experience directors, the customization we bring to the table ranges from crafting unique event communications that resonate with each member’s interests to orchestrating dining experiences that reflect their culinary preferences. Imagine a member who enjoys fine wines receiving an invitation to an exclusive pop-up wine tasting event curated based on their past selections, or a family that loves outdoor activities getting a personalized invite to a new outdoor fitness adventure at the club. Such bespoke engagement extends beyond golf, events and dining. It encompasses every touchpoint of the club experience, including personalized fitness plans in our health centers, tailored relaxation packages in our spas, customized club fitting days, and even tailored learning and development programs in our various clubs and activities. This acute level of personalization elevates the member experience from ordinary to extraordinary... significantly boosting member satisfaction. It’s not just about meeting their expectations; it’s about exceeding them in ways they hadn’t imagined. This approach fosters a profound sense of loyalty, as members feel deeply valued and understood. It creates an aura of exclusivity - not just in the sense of luxury but in the personal attention and care that each member receives. TECHNOLOGY AS AN ENABLER At Aliso Viejo Country Club, we’re committed to leveraging advanced technology to elevate the member experience. Our user-friendly mobile app simplifies the process for members,

allowing them to effortlessly reserve facilities, tee times, and events, adding a layer of convenience to their interactions with the club. Additionally, by incorporating AI, we provide personalized messaging, dining and activity recommendations, each tailored to the unique preferences of individual members. This strategy guarantees that each interaction is not just smooth but also highly personalized, enhancing the overall experience at the club. These technological advancements are more than just tools. They also represent a commitment to sophistication and a modern approach to club management. By introducing these innovative solutions, we’re not only meeting the current digital trends but also setting new standards in private club operations. For our club in 2024, technology is an important factor in creating a more connected, personalized and refined experience for every member. FOSTERING COMMUNITY AND CONNECTIVITY WITH EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE In today’s rapidly evolving world, private clubs are crucial as sanctuaries for connection, relaxation, and community engagement. Our commitment to fostering these vital bonds is reflected in our focus on community-building events and initiatives, such as themed social gatherings, interactive workshops, and collaborative charity events. These carefully curated activities are designed to unite our members, nurturing a supportive and vibrant club atmosphere. However, the current economic climate, marked by inflation and changes in the cost of living, has prompted us to reevaluate all that we offer. For some, disposable income is not as abundant as it once was because many of our members have had to tighten their belts in terms of spending. So, we’ve adapted our offerings to ensure that the club remains a valuable and accessible part of our members’ lives, even as they navigate these financial challenges. Central to enhancing the member experience at our club is our commitment to exceptional service. This means not only understanding but also effectively and empathetically responding to our members’ needs. We strive to cultivate a culture of service excellence that permeates every interaction and touchpoint within the club, ensuring that each member’s experience is memorable and enriching. Although there’s a sense of optimism for the year 2024, like many, we are mindful of the economic uncertainties that lie ahead. In my position, balancing budget constraints with the desire to offer high-quality experiences is a key responsibility. This requires innovative thinking and strategic planning, ensuring that our members receive exceptional value without compromising the club’s financial health. Our aim is to deliver experiences that resonate with our members’ current economic realities while maintaining the club’s standards of excellence and sustainability. Our goal is to create a harmonious balance where community, connectivity, and exceptional service combine, providing a haven where members can enjoy the richness of club life, even in times of economic change. We’re dedicated to adapting and innovating to meet these challenges head-on, ensuring that our club thrives as a pillar of community and excellence. BR

Share Your Opinions on Artificial Intelligence in the Club Industry. Artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to create a lasting impact on society. Some industry leaders have begun to consider how this important technology may impact the business of private clubs. Cobalt Software, the thought leader on artificial intelligence as pertains to the private club industry, is sponsoring a survey to gather club leaders’ opinions about how you think AI may impact our industry. This is your chance to share your perspectives on the AI technology currently in use at your club, share your ideas around the value this technology may bring, and other aspects concerning AI in clubs. The survey will remain open through the end of 2023, and the results of the survey will be made available to the industry towards the beginning of 2024. To participate in this anonymous survey, scan the QR Code below.





Desert Mountain Club Members Build Community While Traveling Together Members of Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, AZ, are traveling together and expanding their adventures through the club’s travel program. In June, for example, 12 club members walked the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. Sharon Slattery was one of the 12. “To sum this trip up – I was grateful,” Slattery said. “Grateful for the opportunity, grateful for the friendships that were made, grateful for such a good group. Grateful for the unbelievable vistas that we encountered each day. Grateful for the good wine and food. Grateful for my physical health, which enabled me to complete the trip without any issues.” Desert Mountain Club’s travel program started in the spring of 2022 with two trips to the Grand Canyon and private behind-the-scenes tours of the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. The 45 members who attended the trips enjoyed them so much that the club added international destinations in 2023 and 2024.



“The goal is to offer exciting and unique travel adventures that members can take with other members and develop a sense of community,” explained Kim Atkinson, director of marketing and communications. “Catering to different interests is key to providing unique experiences for our members. Since Desert Mountain Club has more than 5,000 members (which includes spouses, significant others and children), we are always looking for new ways to make a large club feel neighborly and smaller.” Planning begins about 12-18 months before a trip. “Our priority is to offer an exceptional member experience,” Atkinson said. “We source luxury travel vendors that specialize in unique and concierge-level service to unique destinations. Plus, the personal service and touch we offer on these trips helps us get to know our members’ wants and needs better, which they appreciate.” In 2024, members will get another chance to walk the Camino de Santiago. Other travel adventures include a golf and photo safari in South Africa and golf and sightseeing in New Zealand. “Providing these one-of-a-kind experiences for our members has been very rewarding for both our teammates and our members,” added Theresa Beall, director of outdoor adventures, who traveled with Desert Mountain Club members to Spain. “Sharing the sights and sounds of these spectacular locations and the opportunity to get to know our members better helps create an even greater member experience. Plus, our members love these trips and can’t wait to do more.” B R

CHRYSSOULA FILIPPAKOPOULOS Chryssoula Filippakopoulos is the copy editor and Innovative Ideas editor with BoardRoom magazine. She was a newspaper reporter for more than eight years and worked as a marketing and communications specialist for 16 years. She is a graduate of the School of Journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) in Toronto, ON. If you have an Innovative Idea you’d like to submit, please send them to

Giving Back Leads To Lasting Friendships

And Meaningful Connections For Admirals Cove Employees Employees at The Club at Admirals Cove in Jupiter, FL, are giving back to the greater Palm Beach County community by volunteering together through the club’s outreach program. In making a difference in the lives of those in need, they are also building stronger relationships with one another. Admirals Cove created Champions for Change in 2022. “The initiative was established to go beyond the day-to-day work and infuse a sense of worth, belonging and community engagement among employees,” said Katie Bodchon, director of marketing and communications. “Champions for Change seeks to provide employees with experiences that are both fulfilling and impactful. We want employees to experience connection and value by contributing positively to both the community and their personal and professional development.” Admirals Cove employees began contributing to the community in the summer of 2022 when they volunteered with Friends of Jupiter Beach. Together, they cleared over 40 pounds of trash and debris from Jupiter Dog Beach. Participants found the experience rewarding, and they enjoyed spending time together. More volunteer experiences followed. Employees supported the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, filling backpacks with essential school supplies for students. They collected donations and sorted diapers for Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies. They packed meals at the Palm Beach County Food Bank.

Bodchon said the club is committed to selecting a diverse array of volunteer activities that not only resonate with employees but also encourage widespread participation from various departments. “The goal is for each initiative to address vital community needs while resonating deeply with our team members.” Already, more than 75 employees have embraced volunteering, each experiencing transformative moments that elevate their contribution beyond simple acts of service. Simona Vasu, director of hotel operations, was deeply moved by the opportunity to have a positive influence on the futures of children. She described the experience as “uplifting.” Nate Fanberg, communications manager, was heartened by the genuine enjoyment employees found in their community engagements. The experiences revitalized their spirits and deepened their sense of purpose. For Kathy Kelley, director of administration, volunteering was personal. She had received similar assistance in the past. Employees plan to continue giving back. “Champions for Change has sparked a significant transformation within the club’s atmosphere,” remarked Brett Morris, general manager and chief operating officer of Admirals Cove. “The initiative has cultivated lasting friendships and meaningful connections that extend beyond our employees to the community at large. “Moreover, staff participation in volunteer activities has not only reinforced our identity as a community-centric club but also highlighted our role as a collaborative and engaged neighbor.” BR



GORDON WELCH Gordon Welch, CCM, CHE is chief operating officer of APCD / BoardRoom Institute. He can be reached at (918) 914-9050 or via email:


The Cornerstone of Private Clubs Understanding the Significance of Bylaws Country clubs stand as bastions of exclusivity, elegance, and community for their members.

These prestigious institutions offer a retreat from the demands of everyday life, providing a haven for relaxation, socialization, and recreation. Yet, beneath the surface of luxurious amenities and picturesque landscapes lies the heartbeat of every country club – the bylaws. Often overshadowed by more tangible features, bylaws serve as the backbone of the entire club. Let’s take a dive into the reasons why bylaws are the most important document at any country club. Bylaws are a set of rules and regulations that govern the internal operations, management, and behavior of a country club. They act as a constitution, outlining the club’s fundamental principles, organizational structure, decision-making processes, and member rights and responsibilities. Bylaws provide clarity and consistency, ensuring that the club functions smoothly and that all members are treated fairly. 1. Preservation of club values and identity: Bylaws are the embodiment of a country club’s core values and identity. They establish the foundation upon which the club was created, reflecting its mission, vision, and overall purpose. By outlining the club’s objectives, membership criteria, and acceptable behaviors, bylaws maintain the distinctive culture that draws members to the club. This preservation of values ensures that the club’s legacy remains intact for generations to come. 2. Structured governance: Effective governance is pivotal to the success of any organization, and private clubs are no exception. Bylaws provide a structured framework for decision-making, defining the roles and responsibilities of the board of directors, club officers, and various committees. This structured approach fosters accountability, transparency, and efficient management. Clubs thrive when they are run by a cohesive and knowledgeable leadership that adheres to the guidelines set forth in the bylaws. 3. Membership consistency and fairness: Country clubs are founded on the principle of exclusivity, and bylaws play a crucial role in ensuring that membership remains consistent and fair. By specifying membership categories, eligibility standards, and admission processes, bylaws maintain the 108


club’s integrity and prevent arbitrary decisions. This transparency in membership procedures fosters a sense of trust among members and minimizes potential conflicts. 4. Conflict resolution: Disputes can arise in any community, and clubs are no exception. Bylaws provide a mechanism for conflict resolution, offering a structured approach to address grievances and disagreements. Whether it’s a dispute over membership privileges, club policies, or other matters, bylaws should provide a roadmap for resolving conflicts in a respectful and orderly manner. 5. Adaptability to changing times: While tradition is a hallmark of private clubs, they must also adapt to changing times to remain relevant. Bylaws can be amended to accommodate evolving member demographics, social norms, and technological advancements. This flexibility ensures that the club can continue to meet the desires and expectations of its members while staying true to its core values. 6. Financial stewardship: Financial stability is essential for the sustained success of a country club. Bylaws establish guidelines for fiscal responsibility, budgeting, and financial reporting. They safeguard the club’s financial resources and prevent mismanagement, ensuring that the club can invest in its facilities, services, and member experiences. 7. Member rights and protections: Bylaws articulate club members’ rights, privileges, and protections. They create a sense of security for members, as they know their interests are safeguarded by a set of established rules. From membership termination procedures to voting rights, bylaws will ensure that members are treated equitably and have recourse in case of disputes. Bylaws are the unsung heroes, quietly shaping the character and functionality of these exclusive enclaves. They serve as a testament to the club’s values, guide its leadership, protect its members, and allow it to adapt to changing times. While golf courses, swimming pools, racquet facilities and elegant dining facilities might take center stage, the bylaws truly define the club’s essence. For club boards, recognizing the significance of these foundational documents is not just essential—it is the key to sustaining the club’s legacy, fostering a vibrant community, and ensuring a bright future and experience for all its members. B R



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.

Scan here to view or submit a placement.

Movers & Shakers is sponsored by

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


Primed for the Interview The interview adventure There are interviews in your future. Filled with risk and uncertainty. Scary stuff. You’ll be confronted, questioned and critiqued by steelyeyed interviewers in person and face-to-face and a decision about you will be made. You’ll be interviewed to get the job, to get the promotion, to get the raise, to explain what you did, why you did it and what went right or wrong. You’ll experience solo interviews, just you and the interviewer, and you’ll experience group interviews, just you and multiple interviewers. You’ll be watched, listened to and evaluated. You’ll be asked questions and put on the hot seat. Every twitch, mumble and verbal stumble will be scrutinized and evaluated for their inner meaning. You’ll need tactics, behaviors and the right expectations to make a good interview happen. Prepare. THE INTERVIEW JOURNEY Every job interview is a five-step journey. Ponder these. Step 1: Get the interview Before you interview, you need to get the interview. Before you pursue the interview, determine why you’re interviewing, why you’re qualified and why this target interview with these characters is the right interview at the right time for you, the goods you’ve got and your expectations. To sell yourself to the target interviewer, create your “sales documents.” Craft a professionally edited resume appropriate to the interview you’re pursuing. Adjust the document to align with the place. Have a business card printed that distinctively says you. Once you know the why, the what, the who and the how and have your sales documents in order, target the interview, pursue the interview and secure the interview. Step 2: Prepare to interview Interviews require preparation. Be clear about what you want, why you want it and how this position/job/promotion will help you achieve your wants. Keep that “strategic direction” front and center. Research the company. Talk to others who’ve interviewed with the company, worked for the company or considered working for the company. Investigate the culture, its values and behaviors. Figure out how they align or don’t align with your values. 110


Visualize the culture, the setting, the participants and the “feel” of the place and the people. Create a mental picture of where the interview will happen. Ponder the place and meditate. Determine the dress, grooming and physical “tune” appropriate to the culture and the interviewers. Boost your “interesting quotient.” Get curious. Be ready to ask questions. Read widely, talk to interesting people and visit interesting places. Be fluent in current events within the biz and in the “outside world.” Know something about the people who’ll be interviewing you. Google them, check them out on LinkedIn, profile their personalities. Create a list of questions they might ask and questions that you might ask them. Find the “usual and customary” interview questions online. Ponder question possibilities with your friends. Figure out which questions they might ask you, or you might ask them, to help determine if this is a “me job” and a “me place” that aligns with your values, wants, needs and expectations. Prepare to give stories that will support your resume. Highlight the lessons you’ve learned during your “experiential journey.” Identify your failures and missteps and prepare to explain why you flopped, what you learned from those bloopers and how you hope to avoid similar failures in the future. Once you’ve done the prep work, conduct a mock interview. Select clever people who are experienced in and know something about interviewing. Try to find a space and an ambiance that reflects the interview location. Give them your questions. Have them evaluate your facial expressions, posture and hand movements. Consider yourself primed for the interview. Step 3: Do the interview The day and the moment have arrived. Warm up before the interview. Talk to someone. Exercise. Boost your confidence by reviewing the experiences you’ve had and the lessons you’ve learned. Arrive dressed, groomed and physically tuned for the culture and the interviewers. When you arrive, greet everyone you meet graciously. Be attentive to others, alert and upbeat. Never be condescending to or dismissive of the staff. If possible, wander the club and get a feel for the place and the people. Ponder your first impressions. When you enter the interview space, read the interviewer’s mood and prepare your “delivery” based on the signals you receive.

Listen with focus. Be in the now. Lean forward, make eye contact, nod and look attentive. Have a notebook handy to jot down pertinent comments. Show interest and energy without looking desperate or acting puppy-doggish. Be omni-conscious of your body language to ensure you’re signaling “I’m here and engaged.” And while attending to your body language, be attentive to the interviewer’s body language. Know what each of you is saying without having to say it. Be prepared for a battery of questions. Answer the questions clearly and honestly with examples from your experiential journey. Don’t sound as if you’ve memorized the questions and answers. Be authentic. Be conscious of the length of your answers. Make them long enough to answer the questions but short enough to prevent boredom or impatience. If the interviewer interrupts you, it signals that you’ve been going on too long or wandering. Use stories from your personal experience to back up your answers. If you say, “I worked during college,” be prepared to say where you worked, what you did and what you learned. If you don’t know about or haven’t done something, be honest and admit it. Emphasize how you’ll master the something they’re talking about. While answering, read the interviewer’s signals and body language. Use them to guide how you answer. When you get to ask follow-up questions, show curiosity and ask relevant questions about the club culture and the job. Don’t look at your list of pre-planned questions and don’t ask “fuzzy” questions. Be focused and direct. Listen artfully to the interviewer’s answers, expand on what the interviewer said and follow up with even more focused questions. At the end of the interview, if you genuinely have questions, ask them. Don’t manufacture questions because you think you should ask questions. If it all went well, “shut up, get up and get out” before you embarrass yourself with a trite question or observation. And when you exit, make eye contact, smile, shake hands and leave with a goodbye comment. Last impressions matter. Step 4: Debrief the interview Reflect on the interview straight away. Take a walk, unwind and ponder the experience, notepad in hand. Did you look right, talk right, prepare right? What questions did the interviewer ask and what answers did you give? What went well and what could have gone better? Once you’ve gathered your thoughts, talk to your mentors, friends and loved ones about the interview. Ponder their insights. And write it all down. Step 5: Follow up Once back at the desk, thank the interviewer pronto. Make sure the email you send says you, from the font, the format, the wording and the photo at the bottom of the email. Then handwrite a note and send it to the interviewer, thanking them for the opportunity. Then cross your fingers and hope that good things happen. Prime yourself There are interviews in your future. You’ll learn how to interview by doing interviews. Some will go well and some will go poorly. Each will be a learning experience. And the more you do, the better you’ll get. Delivering a good interview is an art form honed through preparation, practice and reflection. Start interviewing. Master the experience. And enjoy the journey. B R NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 20232 | BOARDROOM


All great clubs have one thing in common: They get their Governance right!

BoardRoom Institute is the only user-friendly, online learning center designed specifically for private club’s board and committee members that sets out to create better clubs through collaborative governance and one-on–one training by industry experts. BoardRoom Institute means well-informed board members who are better equipped to make meaningful decisions, develop strategies with less micromanagement. • • • • •

Clarifying roles & responsibilities Setting process & best practices Understanding the club business model Shared playbook between the board and the GM/COO And more.

BoardRoom Institute is your solution: • Customizable to your club • Non-technical uses friendly • Accountability: verification users have seen the course • 24/7 access • Over 60 interactive courses and training.

$1495/year $500 one-time set-up fee

Contact Gordon Welch, CCM, CHE 918.914.9050




1.1 1.2 1.3


2.1 Bylaws - The Relationship Between Governance & Members 2.2 Role of the Board - What Makes Good Board Members 2.3 Role of the President and Executive Committee 2.4 Role of the GM/COO 2.5 The Collaborative Governance Model 2.6 Ethics 2.7 Protecting Your Clubs Private Status 2.8 Protecting Your Clubs Tax Exempt Status 2.9 Setting Goals and Objectives 2.10 Norms and Standards 2.11 Board Orientations

Randy Addison ° Kurt Kuebler ‡ Michael Scimo ‡‡ Robert Sereci, CCM †† Tarun Kapoor °° Brad Steele ± Brad Steele ± Brad Steele ± John Schultz † John Schultz † John Schultz †


3.1 Committee Governing Protocols 3.2 Bylaws and Governance 3.3 Nominating Committee / Tactics and Strategies 3.4 Role of the Secretary 3.5 Role of the Treasurer / Finance Committee 3.6 Role of the House Committee 3.7 Role of the House Committee - Engineering / Maintenance 3.8 Role of the Golf Committee 3.9 Role of the Greens and Grounds Committee 3.10 Role of the Membership Committee 3.11 Role of the Tennis Committee 3.12 Board Orientation 3.13 Leadership Development Committee 3.14 Role of the Search Committee 3.15 Transition Committee

Tom Wallace ‡ Randy Addison ° Frank Vain •• Tarun Kapoor °° Kevin Reilly ˆ Gregg Patterson ˜ Gordon Welch * Peter Bevacqua ʼʼ Rhett Evans Δ Rick Coyne ѫ John Embree ∞ Kurt Kuebler ‡ Tom Wallace ‡ Dick Kopplin ‡ Tom Wallace ‡


4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4

Sound Fiscal Management Liability issues - Fiduciary Responsibilities 501(c)7 Clubs Managing the Club Portfolio

Philip Newman ∅ Randy Addison ° Kevin Reilly ˆ Kevin Reilly ˆ


5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7

Role of the GM / COO Role of the Controller Role of the Director of Golf / Golf Professional Role of the Golf Course Superintendent Role of the Tennis Professional Role of the Club Manager / Assistant General Manager Role of the Membership Director

Robert Sereci, CCM †† Kevin Reilly ˆ Peter Bevacqua ʼʼ Rhett Evans Δ John Embree ∞ Gregg Patterson ˜ Rick Coyne ѫ

Introduction to the Private Club Industry Types of Clubs and Ownership Basic Structure and Governance of a Private Club

Gordon Welch * John G. Fornaro ** John Schultz †

INGREDIENTS OF SUCCESSFUL CLUB BOARDS 6.1 Strategic Finance in a Data Driven Club 6.2 Capital KPIs 6.3 Club Capital Reserve Studies 6.4 Engaging Past Presidents 6.5 Managing the Renegade Director 6.6 Risk Management for Private Clubs 6.7 Effective Oversight by Volunteer Leadership VS Micromanagement 6.8 Managing the Agenda - Good Habits of Effective Boards 6.9 What is GCSAA? 6.10 PGA, Who We Are 6.11 Sexual Harassment / Member Misconduct 6.12 Security at Your Club 6.13 15 Best Practices 6.14 Uncontested Elections 6.15 Board Portals 6.16 Crisis Management 6.17 Legal and Liability Issues for Private Clubs 6.18 Member Discipline 6.19 Corporate Governance and Best Practices 6.20 Employee Fraud and Theft 6.21 Changes To Membership Documents

Jim Butler □ Jim Butler □ Jim Butler □ Gordon Welch * Bill McMahon •• Phil Harvey � Gregg Patterson ˜ Kurt Kuebler ‡ Rhett Evans Δ Peter Bevacqua ʼʼ Gordon Welch * Kevin Peters ‡ Tom Wallace ‡ Tom Wallace ‡ John Schultz † Corey Saban † Robin Stowell ◊ Robin Stowell ◊ Robin Stowell ◊ Robin Stowell ◊ Robin Stowell ◊


7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7

The Club Business Plan Model Understanding Your Constituency Instituting a Plan Management System / Member Communications Budgeting and Prioritizing Cap X Strategic Planning for Your Club Private Club Business Plan Comprehensive Capital Planning

Kurt Kuebler ‡ Jerry McCoy � Frank Vain •• Ray Cronin □ Bill McMahon •• Ray Cronin □ Ray Cronin □



HOAs and the Interaction with Club Boards

Terra Waldron ▷


9.1 9.2 9.3

Assumptions and Unsaids Intangeble Secrets of Success The Man in the Middle

Craig Marshall ◀ Craig Marshall ◀ Craig Marshall ◀

*APCD & BoardRoom Institute **BoardRoom magazine & Distinguished Clubs †Club Leadership Alliance °Addison Law ‡Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace ‡‡Board Member ††Colleton River Club °°Kapoor & Kapoor ±Private Club Consultants ••McMahon Group ˆPBMares ˜Tribal Magic ʼʼPGA of America ΔGCSAA ∞USPTA ѫPCMA �Jonas Club Software □Club Benchmarking �Venture Programs ◊ Spencer Fane � Strategic Planning ▷ Desert Mountain Master Homeowners Association ◀ Mindful 'U'

“Outstanding private clubs all share one essential trait: exceptional governance. BoardRoom Institute’s video training is an invaluable resource for staff, committees, and board members, offering best practices in governance. This wealth of information is crucial for any club looking to elevate its operations to the next level.” Peter Jackman GM & CEO, Terminal City Club Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

from Global Perspectives | 12

These add to our understanding of skills that the industry has identified as important, such as the Club Management Association of America competencies. Technical knowledge is driven by the specific skills needed to effectively lead an organization, while management skills are those abilities that speak to leading a professional team. The interpersonal expectations of how leaders conduct themselves were then identified as professional attributes. Member management was identified as a critical skill set that went beyond governance into understanding and effectively engaging with members. SKILL IMPORTANCE Similar to how all skills aren’t the same, neither is how key stakeholder groups see their importance. Even with most areas carrying a similar level of importance, there are seven areas where managers and members differ significantly. Members identify relevant department head understanding, food and beverage experience, and financial acumen as significantly more important. Senior leadership teams identify club experience, managing a member board, innovation, and related governance experience as significantly more important. These differences demonstrate that while both stakeholder groups see many similarities, differences do exist, and potential leaders will need to be able to handle each group’s differing expectations. Of the skills needed to be successful, much like an individual’s personality traits, a balance and interaction between technical, management, professional, and member engagement skills is required. While a balance between these is preferred over a singular emphasis, the interaction and how a leader’s from Tennis Committee Grissom | 87

The Pickleball National Championship was expected to draw more than 4,000 players and 25,000 spectators to Invited Brookhaven’s Country Club (in Farmers Branch, a suburb of Dallas, TX), bringing an unrivaled return on investment to the club and its community. Invited had planned to leave 28 high-quality pickleball courts for its members after the event. DIVERSIFYING LESSONS AND EQUIPMENT OPTIONS Although pickleball’s popularity is surging, it is not enough to build courts and hope people use them. To capitalize on their investment, private clubs must ensure they are selling community. Whether through open play, beginner lessons or organized play by skill level, clubs need to curate programs that offer a chance for pickleball-passionate people to connect. Investing in small group lessons and targeted sessions for all ages and skill levels can help new players learn the ropes while enabling experienced players to enhance their skills. Additionally, providing high-quality equipment rentals on-site is essential to ensure players have access to the best tools 114


skills complement each other are even more critical. Take, for instance, leadership – considered the most important skill for both employee and member stakeholders. When considering the need to demonstrate leadership effectiveness, there is a direct relationship to other skills. Leadership starts with traditional core traits: being accountable, showing creativity in decision-making, being self-aware, and demonstrating an ability to solve problems. But leadership is so much more than that, as it is directly related to and impacts other skills. For instance, our research has shown that leadership is connected to being personable, having knowledge of amenities, being able to communicate, being team-oriented, and keeping members engaged, among many other skills that leaders need to possess. OSCAR’S JOURNEY Club leaders change and grow as they learn; Oscar is no different. Instead of emphasizing the fundamental knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for leading a club, he found an opportunity to grow his capabilities aligned with his personality and skill strengths. Instead of relying on a predetermined set of skills to lead in any environment, Oscar works with an executive search firm that uses data to match organizations with the right candidates. Oscar is taking what he learned at The Marshes Country Club to maximize his potential and find the right situation to continue his professional growth and help a club reach its full potential. B R Eric T. Brey, PhD, is a director at GGA Partners and leads research initiatives at the firm. He can be reached at eric.brey@ggapartners. com. For more information on GGA executive search services, contact Michael Gregory (managing director and partner) at michael.gregory@

for the game. This approach not only makes the sport more accessible but also adds value to the overall pickleball experience for club members. CREATING MEMORABLE EXPERIENCES IS A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS Pickleball’s allure isn’t just about the game itself — it’s also about the experience. To add an extra layer of excitement, clubs should bring in professional pickleball players and PPR-certified coaches to offer workshops, demonstrations and friendly matches. This boosts the club’s prestige, and members can interact with experts in the field. Clubs can also introduce unique experiences, such as CityPickle’s innovative cabana parties. At Wollman Rink in New York City’s Central Park, CityPickle offers pickleballers the chance to rent a private court and adjoining cabana with food and beverages. Rental slots for one of the six cabanas are hard to come by, and the success of CityPickle’s cabana parties demonstrates the allure of exclusive, private party experiences. Members enjoy a lively event while the club generates revenue, creating a win-win situation. BR

from Finance Committee | 52

from Executive Committee Podley | 42

assets, members’ desires and usage with a long-term plan for your club’s overall campus and financial capabilities. 1. Enhanced member feedback – Simply asking “What capital projects do you most desire?” is no longer enough. Probing into the use of current/proposed assets, sensitivity to pricing or capital funding increases and proposing choices between different projects will allow for deeper insights from your membership. These attitudinal questions will show the membership’s priorities and provide integral information to future financial planning and feasibility studies. 2. Utilization study – How do your members use your club? What does a typical visit look like? Where are the efficiencies? What are the pain points? These are critical questions, and a utilization study will help to unlock the answers. Once you have the answers, you can start to analyze how a potential project could affect your club’s current utilization and operating model. Further, the answers will provide integral data to your financial planning. 3. Capital reserve study – Private clubs are generally capital-intensive. Understanding and planning for the continued maintenance of your club’s current assets is critical to long-term sustainability, whether or not you are considering a capital improvement project. A capital reserve study is a comprehensive analysis of your club’s assets and their lifecycle. It provides you with an estimate of future capital expenditure required to maintain your club’s assets. 4. Master planning – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” A quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin that rings true when evaluating capital additions to your club’s campus. A master plan provides your club with a roadmap, allowing future capital planning to fit within an overall vision for your campus. Master planning complemented by an upto-date reserve study will help support an efficient use of your members’ capital. 5. Dynamic financial planning – Now, more than ever, it is important to leverage all the tools necessary for your club to monitor and project how operational adjustments, your capital funding plan and macroeconomic conditions could affect long-term sustainability. A dynamic financial planning tool can allow leadership to hypothesize and react to key changes and how they may affect your club’s financial stability. With current uncertainty around inflation and interest rates, a dynamic financial model will allow your club to prepare a comprehensive and sensitized funding plan for each capital project. Continued and strategic capital investment will continue to be a main differentiator within the club industry. Clubs require comprehensive and dynamic planning to continually invest sustainably to meet members’ appetite for capital investment. A strategic and dynamic approach to capital investment will help set your club up for short- and long-term success. BR

time-consuming tasks. From automated email responses to workflow automation tools, we can free up valuable time and energy, enabling team members to focus on high-value activities that require critical thinking and creativity. Let’s not forget the power of data and analytics in driving informed decision-making and collaboration. By leveraging data visualization tools and analytics platforms, we can gain insights into performance metrics, member behavior and market trends. These insights can guide our collaborative efforts, allowing us to make data-driven decisions that lead to innovation and success. So, my fellow Xillennial leaders, let’s dismantle those communication barriers, infuse our goal setting with a splash of excitement, embrace perspectives like a mixtape of diverse beats, plan team-building escapades that rival theme parks and leverage technology to supercharge our collaboration. Together, we’ll create a club management experience as delightful as stumbling upon free Wi-Fi on a deserted island. Here’s to Xillennial collaboration, where tradition dances with innovation and laughter becomes the secret ingredient to our success. Cheers. B R

Thinking of replacing your club Thinking of replacing club management software?your Think again! management software? Think again! If your club accounting and POS software is 7, 10 or even 15 years old, you may be thinking of making a change. So were many of our club clients, who hired us to help them make that decision. Surprise! After a thorough needs assessment, 7 of 10 clubs decided to retain and improve their existing software. Money saved. Business interruption avoided. To learn more, contact us. 400+ CLUB CLIENTS - 30 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE.

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from Cover Story | 28

There are very few in the private club industry that have not been, directly or indirectly, positively influenced by John Fornaro. We have all benefited by John’s entrepreneurial spirit and visionary efforts. John is consistent in his passion for being a change agent in an industry that is reluctant to change. Much of what defines the private club industry today can be attributed to John and his influence and significant accomplishments. I have personally and professionally benefited from John’s efforts, and I am forever grateful for his contributions to the private club industry that are too many to count. Steve Graves President, Creative Golf Marketing For over 28 years I have observed the positive influence that John Fornaro has had in the private club industry. The focus of his work, including BoardRoom magazine, the Distinguished Clubs program and the BoardRoom Institute have all contributed to better managed and better governed private clubs. John is one of the most recognized proponents of “best practices” for the club industry. I respect and admire him for all that he has done for the betterment of private clubs. His influence and leadership is very evident in our private club business” Dick Kopplin Managing Partner, Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace John Fornaro has always been a trendsetter in everything he does. His passion for the club industry is unsurpassed by almost anyone that I know in my over 40 years in this business. One of John’s strongest traits is that he is a great connector of people and encourages them to crossover from association to association, to different market sectors with the ultimate connector being his ability to show individuals how they can benefit each other for the good of their business, their club, or themselves. Paul K. Levy, PGA, 40th President PGA of America Search & Consulting Executive, Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace I had the great fortune of meeting John Fornaro nearly 25 years ago when he first started BoardRoom Magazine. I will never forget the initial issues where I realized that we now had an industry publication that was going to make a difference in the BoardRoom. Through the years his commitment to educating boards has not only shaped the clubs that I operated, but also resonated throughout our industry. While John began as an outsider, he has risen to become an esteemed industry expert, widely admired and respected. I will forever be grateful for the contributions that he has made to our industry and I will always treasure our friendship. Michael McCarthy CEO, Addison Reserve Country Club John Fornaro’s three-decade journey in the private club industry is nothing short of remarkable. His unwavering dedication, innovative leadership, and commitment to excellence have left an indelible mark. John’s role as an influencer extends beyond his impressive achievements, inspiring countless individuals to elevate the standards of this exclusive domain. Brett Morris General Manager/COO, The Club at Admirals Cove I first met John over 30 years ago at 8:00 in the morning during the CMAA World Conference in Hawaii. He spoke of his vision for a BoardRoom magazine and was primed to deliver The Message with energy and enthusiasm. What a vision, what a personality, what a publisher, what a guy! He had the BUZZ then and he has the BUZZ now. Go John!!! Gregg Patterson President, Tribal Magic

John is a true leader in the club industry. Innovative, accessible, and open to new ideas, John is the consummate professional. He is forward thinking and keen at making connections. His passion for the club industry is self-evident and makes the industry better as a whole. Tim Schantz President / Chief Executive Officer, Troon



I am honored to be asked to share some thoughts on the enormous impact that John Fornaro has had on the private club industry. John’s focus has always been on the proper administration and management of the business of clubs. John’s laser focus on enlightening club volunteer directors and committees on proper oversight of the club operations is second to none. John was always passionate in his belief that the financial success of private clubs and their ability to provide jobs within the local community and support small business’ is reliant upon the tiers of management all staying in their lane. The club operation in all communities is usually the most sustainable small business in that community. John used his significant influence as a club owner, an industry media publisher and an advocate for professional club managers to make the club industry more successful.


AGRONOMY CONSULTING Combining passion for great golf course conditions with a robust understanding of dynamic circumstances . . .

He has definitely fulfilled the adage “Leave the woodpile higher then you found it.” I know that John’s contributions will impact the business of club management and the level of satisfaction of club members and their families for decades. His unqualified support of professional club managers, club directors and owners is second to none. I am so pleased to have been able to collaborate with John during my 25 years as CEO of CMAA. John was personally involved in improving the lives of all club industry professionals.

Proactive & Effective Balance Operations, Master Planning & Problem-Solving Budget, & Expectations Architect Selection


Jim Singerling CEO, CMAA (Retired)

Businesspeople are either doers or talkers. We were discussing the cover of the Club Gourmet publication, an earlier publication also founded by John. John wanted a celebrity chef. Emeril Lagasse was suggested. John immediately called the Food Network. They sent him to Emeril’s show producer, who sent him to Emeril’s agent, who gave him Emeril’s cell. Emeril committed to interview and cover. Less than 30 minutes expired. John’s a doer. Bill Thomas Partner and Executive Director, Distinguished Clubs

John is an amazing entrepreneurial man, taking on projects that others say wouldn’t work and he makes them a huge success. John is an incredible unconditional friend and a man who continues to give at so many levels to make this a better industry and a better world. Crystal Thomas, MCM, CHE, CAE Managing Officer, Golden State Chapter Office

ARMEN SUNY Search & Consulting Executive 303-570-2741 | NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2023 | BOARDROOM




Richard (Dick) M. Kopplin, CMAA Fellow, is a partner with Kopplin, Kuebler and Wallace, a private club industry executive search and consulting firm. You can reach Dick via email:

The Three Worst Career Tips I Have Ever Heard The first bad piece of advice I heard was: “Find a job you are passionate about, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” What a crock that is. And yet, how often do we hear it from misguided charlatans who have more experience hawking their latest “self-help book” than actually working in any profession? Please, be passionate about your family, your friends, your health, your home, your hobbies, your vacations, and your faith, but keep your job in perspective. Yes, there are days when we all love what we do, but let’s be realistic and understand that some days are not great. At times, we become frustrated, irritated, upset, and ready to “walk away,” which is normal. I have enjoyed many days of managing private clubs and often celebrated with my employees, and at times my members, when all was going well. But there were also downtimes. Having to terminate a popular employee and not being able to share the reason with the membership comes to mind. As does wrangling with that unreasonable board member who had a personal agenda. And I can’t forget the times when some members would never be happy no matter how we attempted to solve their imaginary problems. Working in the private club executive search business the second half of my career has also been rewarding most of the time. I like helping great candidates succeed with their careers and club search committees find the best executive talent for their clubs. However, there can often be the search committee “outlier” who never believes any of the candidates possess the talent necessary for their “unique club,” so why don’t we just start the process all over? Oy vey! Those are the times when I thought about going back into club management. Well, maybe for a moment or two. The second worst piece of advice is one that I ignored late in my career, and as a result, I learned a painful lesson. It suggests that when you ponder new career opportunities, always take the job that offers the most money. While I was working happily in a great job, with an outstanding management team, at a world-class facility, an executive recruiter approached me with a “once-in-a-lifetime offer.” I was reluctant to look at the opportunity, but the financial and benefits package was significantly more than my current position provided. Even though there were flashing caution signs about the culture of this new company, the dollar signs dancing in my eyes were too strong to ignore. What a mistake. 118


It didn’t take more than a few weeks to realize the magnitude of my misjudgment. There was a total misalignment of my values and what my boss believed. My management philosophy has always been member-centric, and I firmly believe that high member satisfaction will translate into a healthy financial result for the club. That concept was foreign to my new employer, who focused on driving bottom-line profits with little or no regard for member experiences. Thankfully, I exited on terms acceptable to both of us. After that debacle, I clearly understood that no amount of money can compensate for a miserable work environment, and I didn’t make that mistake again. The third piece of bad advice I hear too often is: “Once you find balance in your work and personal life you will be happy.” Forget it. There will never be balance in private club careers. I always tell general managers that instead of looking for balance they need to create “harmony” with their career and personal life. Some workdays may stretch beyond what you anticipated, and others might allow some unexpected time away from the club. The key is to ensure that you and your family understand the nature of the business, what it requires and when your family members can expect you to give them the quality time they deserve. If you have alignment with the expectations of your employer and with your family and friends, you can withstand the demands of your work life and truly enjoy your time away from the club. Harmony is the goal. Don’t get me wrong. I have built great friendships with teammates and members over the years, and many have become lifelong friends. I was fortunate to experience many projects and turnarounds that I was excited about, and there isn’t a club where I worked that I don’t hold dear. These fond memories have become part of the fabric of my life. The private club world can provide you with an outstanding career if you remember to focus on your priorities. You should reserve your passion for family, friends and what is truly important in your life. Don’t ever seek a new opportunity because of the flashing dollar signs, and always strive to bring some harmony into your work and personal life. This much I know for sure. B R

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BOARDROOM MAGAZINE ADVERTISING INDEX Addison Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Ambassador . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 AM Design Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 BoardRoom Institute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112-113 BoardRoom Movers & Shakers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 BoardRoom Subscriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Boothe Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Bozeman Club & Corporate Interiors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Castor Design Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 C2 Limited Design Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 Clubessential . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 ClubDesign Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Clubsystems Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Club Core . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Club Leadership Alliance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Cobalt Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60-61 Cole Haan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 WebTec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Denehy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Distinguished Clubs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102-105 Distinguished Golf Destinations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Ethos Club & Leisure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Eustis Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Forbes Travel Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 GCSAA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Gecko Hospitality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 GSI Executive Search . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 High End Uniforms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 HINT | Harris Interiors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Jackets Required . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 JGA JBD Design & Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Jonas Club Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Kennis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5, 41 & 117 Kuo Diedrich Chi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Larson Nichols . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 MAI | Marsh & Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 McMahon Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 MembersFirst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 MTL International . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Northstar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Paisano . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Peacock + Lewis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 PGA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 PHX Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 RCS Hospitality Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Rogers McCagg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 RSM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Salsbury . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Strategic Club Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Survey & Ballot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 SYZYGY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Troon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 WebTec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 XHIBTZ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85

BOARDROOM MAGAZINE COUNTRY CLUB INDEX Stephanie Anderson is the CFO, River Bend Golf and Country Club, Great Falls, VA Ralph Grippo, president of Terranea Resort, The Links at Terranea, Distinguished Heather Arias de Cordoba, member experience director, Aliso Viejo Country Club, Golf Destination, Palos Verdes Peninsula. CA Aliso Viejo, CA

Kathy Kelley, director of administration, The Club at Admirals Cove, Jupiter, FL

Kim Atkinson, director of marketing and communications, Desert Mountain Club, Dr. Bonnie Knutson, the Country Club of Lansing and the Michigan Athletic Club Scottsdale, AZ Nancy Levenburg, member, Spring Lake Country Club, Spring Lake, MI Theresa Beall, director of outdoor adventures, Desert Mountain Club, Daniel Lopez, tennis director, Santa Ana Country Club, Distinguished Club, San Scottsdale, AZ Jose, Costa Rica

Esteban Oreamuno Beeche, GM, Santa Ana Country Club, Distinguished Club, San David Mackesey, past president (2013-2015), Diablo Country Club, Diablo, CA Jose, Costa Rica Brett Morris, GM/COO, The Club at Admirals Cove, Jupiter, FL Katie Bodchon, director of marketing and communications, The Club at Admirals Roberta Olden, the human resources director, Desert Willow Golf Resort, DistinCove, Jupiter, FL guished Golf Destination, Palm Desert, CA Nancy Berkley is on the green and marketing committees at Frenchman’s Creek Robert D. Podley, CCM, CAM, GM, Colonial Country Club, Ft. Myers, FL Beach & Country Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Jarrett Chirico, USPTA, PTR, PPTA, PPR, PPTR is director of racquets at Royal Oaks Daniel Pollack, golf course superintendent, Aliso Viejo Country Club, Aliso Viejo, CA Country Club, Dallas, TX. Ricky L. Potts Jr., CCAM, CMP, executive director of marketing and communicaFrank Cordeiro, CCM, COO, Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, TX. tions, The Lakes Country Club, Palm Desert, CA Nicolas Di Paolo, chef, Santa Ana Country Club, Distinguished Club, San Jose, Pamela Radcliff, SHRM-SCP, CAM, director of human resources, Hideaway Beach Costa Rica Club, Marco Island, FL Todd Dufek, locker room manager, The Country Club at DC Ranch, Scottsdale, AZ Ryan Szydlowski, the director of golf, Desert Willow Golf Resort, a Distinguished Nate Fanberg, communications manager, The Club at Admirals Cove, Jupiter, FL Golf Destination, Palm Desert, CA Ryan Fitzgerald, GM, Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Distinguished Golf Destination, Sharon Slattery, member, Desert Mountain Club, Scottsdale, AZ Orlando, FL Simona Vasu, director of hotel operations, The Club at Admirals Cove, Jupiter, FL Francois Gaertner, executive chef, Desert Willow Golf Resort, Distinguished Golf Derek White, GM, Desert Willow Golf Resort, Distinguished Golf Destination, Destination, Palm Desert, CA Palm Desert, CA 122


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