Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 29 June 2017
Of course [the Board has] to monitor budgets and approve capital expenditures—but then they should get out of the way and enjoy the club. Given the economic demographics of clubs, there will be a disproportionate number of type-A personalities. Most people who belong to a club have had successful careers, are in the upper tier of income earners, and are very self-confident.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 30 May 2017
Unfortunately, in this case the barrage of brutal food criticisms was not just delivered to a club or resort manager, but to the million or so people who read The Washington Post each day. Imagine if you opened your e-mail in-box one day, or found a letter on your desk, and someone had written this to you about the food at your property:
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 25 April 2017
It is incumbent on boards and management to know what it costs to maintain members’ expectations of quality, and then to have the guts to have dues that are realistic to cover those costs. The headline above may sound like sacrilege—who doesn’t like the whole concept of Girl Scout cookies? You have delightful little girls, using the concept of network marketing, mostly to family members, selling something everyone likes (cookies) to help support a great organization. What I dislike is the execution, not the concept.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 29 March 2017
Many private clubs now tout how a driving goal behind a recent renovation was to create a more 'resort-like' feel; at the same time, traditional resorts are creating club components for those who want to access and use their facilities and amenities on a more frequent basis.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 28 March 2017
A common theme of dialogue with club executives and personnel throughout the recently completed golf “show season” (PGA Show, Golf Industry Show, and Club Managers Association of America World Conference) centered on the state of the game and the club industry (it’s good) and the ongoing, committed focus on sound management practices for both private and public clubs (the importance of exceptional management practices applies equally, regardless of whether you are serving dues-paying members or guests).
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 23 February 2017
As one GM who had done nothing but distinguish himself (and his club) in his career wrote in letting me know about his sudden resignation: “As you might surmise, this is a political reaction on my part having to do with my current President, who feels so strongly he can run the club that I intend to give him every opportunity to do so.” An open letter to any new club presidents who are thinking seriously about canning their club’s General Manager as one of their first “executive actions”
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 26 January 2017
I’ve often been shocked, when sitting in general managers’ offices or taking tours through clubhouses, to see how some of the best parts of clubs’ stories have been relegated to piles on the floor or dusty boxes in the basement. A writer’s greatest fear is going to a place, or sitting down with a source, and not being able to find “the story.” But as we now start another new year of publishing C&RB (and our 13th overall), I can honestly say that, even though the total number of different stories I’ve now had to find for our pages has climbed well into the hundreds, each time I’ve set out to prepare new content about the clubs, and people, in our industry, I’ve never even come close to having any feeling of dread and, “What am I going to write about that’s different here?”
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 25 January 2017
A gifted orator, but largely unknown nationally, Obama burst onto the political scene with a campaign theme of “Hope and Change,” eviscerating the near-term legacy of his predecessor in the process. The country embraced the message and voters elected him president not once, but twice.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 27 December 2016
In reviewing the agenda for the upcoming 9th Annual Chef to Chef Conference in Atlanta, March 5-7, 2017, I came across the “farm to fork” term from one of our presenters (Andrea Griffith, Executive Chef of Pursell Farms in Sylacauga, Ala.)—and as a non-journalist, I couldn’t pass up the use of that phrase. Chef Andrea grows almost everything she plates, and will tell our attendees how she does it at the Conference. We have all heard about “farm to table” as a booming trend in our market, but she takes it a step further. This is fascinating stuff.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 22 December 2016
From the early days of C&RB, we kept having encounters with Donald Trump that now, upon reflection, make it clear why no one should really be surprised he’s now going to be our next President. Looking back, I can now see there were many signs that should have tipped us off to what was coming. From the earliest days of C&RB, we kept having encounters with Donald Trump that, upon collective reflection, make it clear why no one should really be surprised he’s now going to be our next President. Over the past 11 years, the man kept giving us personal demonstrations of his unique approach to cultivating a captive audience and creating a world that the rest of us just live in.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 29 November 2016
It was encouraging to see how the city officials behind the ambitious new municipal golf course properties in Laredo, Texas and Hobbs, N.M., have found a way to see a bigger picture. In our daily search for industry-related items to include in our daily e-newsletter and the news section of our monthly magazine, we inevitably come across reports of local-government meetings where city managers and administrators have been grilled about the performance (or lack thereof) of their town’s municipal golf courses. And when we post news items about these situations on our website, we inevitably get comments from someone who wants to know, after reading the item, why municipalities should be spending time, effort and taxpayer dollars on a recreational activity (golf) for which interest among the general public is waning.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 23 November 2016
Arnold Palmer single-handedly took golf out of country clubs and into the mainstream. Quite simply, he made golf cool. Football fans—Notre Dame and San Francisco 49ers fans in particular—remember Joe Montana as “Joe Cool.” Montana won a national title at Notre Dame and four Super Bowls with the 49ers, along with a number of league and Super Bowl MVP awards.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 26 October 2016
About a week before the sad day when Arnold Palmer and Jose Fernandez both died, I had come across another tribute for someone less well-known that also provided valuable reminders of things we shouldn’t take for granted and traits we should strive to develop and display.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 25 October 2016
In most cases, any reasonable dues increase is affordable by the members…but to the club itself, it is a huge liability if the dues increase doesn’t pass. Over time, it sets the stage for club failure. Just about now, most clubs will be voting on next year’s budget and the always-controversial question of a dues increase. In my travels across the club industry, I am always amazed at the resistance to any dues increase, big or small—this occurs at smaller clubs with relatively small initiation fees as well as large, iconic clubs with huge ones. Members will fight like the devil to avoid a $50-$100 per month dues increase, whether it is needed, justified, or not.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 28 September 2016
In August, Nike announced it would exit the golf equipment business and stop selling clubs and balls—and golf bags, for that matter. Inevitably, the news was followed by the latest round of consumer and business page features carrying on about how/why the game is broken. (I suppose they needed a break from reminding us about Clinton being an untrustworthy liar and Trump a dangerous narcissist.)
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 25 August 2016
I doubt golf should even be an Olympic sport, but if men’s field hockey can be (courtesy of Pakistan), then I guess golf should be, too. My eight-year-old grandson called to wish me a happy birthday and the first words out of his mouth were, “Papa, when I come up to Michigan, can we play golf?” No better testimony exists to the success of my club’s decision to create a par-3 executive course on one of its three nine-hole courses. As I’ve said before (“Scorecard on the Best Idea in Golf,” C&RB, October 2015), if we are serious about attracting young golfers, Birchwood Farms Golf & Country Club in Harbor Springs, Mich., has found an answer.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 27 July 2016
Happily, the majority of clubs have righted their ship by committing to Board governance focused on strategy and an empowered, skilled management team. I joined my first club in 1982. An enduring memory from the application process was the (unannounced) in-home visit and interview by a representative from the club’s membership committee. The meeting was relatively brief and the guy must have loved “energetic” kids, so we got in. Not sure how extensively this somewhat awkward tradition carries on—most clubs today are not looking for reasons to turn away prospective members.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 26 July 2016
In one 30-minute national nightly newscast, viewers were exposed to three reports that touched on noteworthy shifts in how prominent club and resort properties are now owned, operated, marketed and perceived. In the course of one 30-minute national nightly newscast recently, viewers were exposed to three reports that touched on noteworthy shifts we’ve seen in how prominent club and resort properties are now owned, operated, marketed and perceived in the post-recession environment.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 30 June 2016
A golf club across the street from the San Bernardino shootings became an emergency-response site. We all hope that’s as close as any industry property gets to an active-shooter situation. But we can’t stop at hope. Like many of us, Vince Tracy remembers going under desks and out in the hallway to assume the “take shelter” position while in elementary school, as standard preparation for the threats that hung over our heads as children growing up during the Cold War. Tracy brought up his memory of that as we discussed the bold step he’s taken at Town & Country Club to educate and train his staff about active-shooter situations and other forms of workplace violence (see “Reality Check”).
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 29 June 2016
Political pressure will be on how workers get raises, not improvement in job performance. None of this will be good for our business or for the public weal. I grew up in Evanston, Ill., and my first job in sixth grade was washing glasses at a restaurant on Green Bay Road called Andy’s Hamburgers, which was owned by the father of one of my best friends. This was before McDonald’s, and our menu was strictly hamburgers, French fries, applesauce (made on-site), and fountain drinks. It was only open for dinner, and there were lines out the door in the summer and winter—it was a great place. The minimum wage at the time was $1.25 per hour, but since I was vastly underage, I was paid $1.00 per hour. I loved the job and worked there for five years until the owner sold the restaurant.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 25 May 2016
An integral component of excellence in club management is embracing the concept of wanting everyone who works for you to maximize their potential—even if it may get fully realized somewhere else. This is the first time in the history of our co-sponsorship with the McMahon Group of the Excellence in Club Management (ECM) Awards that our profile of the “Rising Star” (in this case, Shawn Wilkes, featured in the May 2016 issue) includes coverage of the fact that our winner has already “risen” beyond the position for which he or she earned the recognition.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 27 April 2016
Addressing healthy eating and special dietary needs and requests should be viewed as a culinary opportunity, not a nuisance. In the old days, my desktop was something you could put your feet up on, and also pound on for emphasis if necessary. And it would be stacked with newspapers and magazines I’d want to read to keep up on news and trends. That’s still the case (because there’s still no substitute for the printed words and photos you can hold in your hands, of course)—but I’ve also given a nod to the digital world to expand my desktop so it now also includes stacks of “articles” I’ve come across while browsing online or scanning news briefings. If you’ll indulge me during a little spring-cleaning of that part of my desktop, here are some things I recently added to my electronic desktop stack, because they relate to topics we’ve all become very interested in through our focus on the club business:
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 26 April 2016
Unless you have a plan that is followed up with a budget, you don’t have a plan—you have a prayer, and it is one that is rarely answered. As many clubs look forward to opening their doors to members in a few weeks, consider these departmental notes as we approach the new season: • Membership Marketing: This is probably the biggest issue facing the club market today, and while it has eased somewhat since 2008, it is still an issue, and for most of us, the challenge can be boiled down to one word: families. Today’s families have too many alternatives and less and less free time, so your club has to be welcoming to families, including children. This issue should be addressed at all levels of club activities, including tennis, swimming, and especially golf. I have written about what Birchwood Farms Golf & Country Club in Harbor Springs, Mich., is doing to encourage children to play golf (“A Brilliant Solution,” C&RB, August 2015) and while it is the best, there are other routes to take, and they should be implemented.
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 29 March 2016
Pretty much any lure that’s thrown into the pond to first attract the interest of existing and potential members, and then securely hooks them, usually brings in something worthwhile. At last month’s Club Managers Association of America conference in San Diego, I was part of a panel devoted to the topic of affinity groups—the “clubs within the club” that are organized, formally or informally, to bring together those who share common interests or hobbies. Topics, subjects or activities around which affinity groups are formed can run the gamut from the very physical (martial arts, mountaineering, etc.) to the very cerebral (lecture series, astronomy and the like).
Club & Resort Business - Industry Commentary - 24 March 2016
Golf is a game for life, and men and women with a penchant for athletics and competition will be drawn back to the game sooner or later if they learned it early on. It’s March, and like the swallows to Capistrano, golfers are headed back to your club or course. Some have already showed up, and many more will follow. Despite the optimism that comes with the start of a new season, the prevailing story line in the mainstream media holds that golf is mired in a perpetual state of decline. But our experience reporting on the industry suggests otherwise.