Thoughts for the New Year

By | January 25th, 2017

Trump’s promise to deliver regulatory relief should translate to a more favorable business climate—particularly for small businesses, like clubs.

Swinging Pendulum
“Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won.” —Barack Obama, January 23, 2009.

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.

Those leaning left rejoiced. Those leaning right despaired.

Eight years later, the pendulum swung as voters pivoted to Donald Trump, a reality TV star and business tycoon. Running on a campaign theme to “Make America Great Again,” Trump promised to eviscerate many of the programs and policies of Obama’s “Hope and Change.” The country embraced the message and voters elected him president.

Those leaning left despaired. Those leaning right rejoiced.

No one knows for certain if Trump will fare any better than Obama; however, as we begin the New Year, it’s a safe bet that this election will have consequences. More to the point, what might a Trump presidency mean for the club industry?

Trump’s promise to deliver regulatory relief, and less government across the board, should translate to a more favorable business climate—particularly for small businesses, like clubs. Even if the benefit is limited solely to savings from what you won’t have to spend, it is good news for our industry.

Finally, we know that like many presidents before him, Trump is an avid golfer. The fact that he also has first-hand experience owning and operating a portfolio of 18 golf and country clubs is an interesting corollary to the challenges you deal with day in and out; however, I can’t see much benefit to this other than keeping the game in the spotlight.

Industry Outlook
The golf and club market gets a thumbs up as we begin the new year. The consumer press reminds us regularly that golf course closures have outpaced openings for the past 10 years, but what they don’t normally share is the fact that some of this is natural selection and that daily-fee, low-price, and nine-hole courses account for most of the attrition in the market.

We are now left with a more robust, successful inventory of golf and country clubs that continue to invest in their present and future. While few new courses are scheduled to open in 2017, recent conversations with GMs from around the country confirm that renovation activity will sustain the feverish pace that has characterized the past few years. Membership ranks are stable at most clubs and more than a few are reporting the return of the wait list.

Well-managed clubs implementing a thoughtful strategic plan will enjoy another good year—as will the suppliers that serve the industry.

F&B Boost
If an army marches on its stomach, a club thrives on its food-and-beverage operations. Making your club a destination of choice for dining options not only delights current members, it is a clear selling point for attracting new ones.

Continuing education is a bedrock element of culinary excellence. Our Ninth Annual Chef to Chef Conference, scheduled for this coming March 5-7 in Atlanta, is a peer-to-peer information exchange that is 100% focused on club food-and-beverage operations—see pages 26-27 of this issue for the full agenda.

We expect up to 250 club chefs to join us in Atlanta, and about half will have attended one or more of the previous conferences. Your executive chef will appreciate the opportunity to attend and learn, and will come back to the club loaded with ideas and inspiration, along with a heightened commitment to foodservice excellence.

To register, go to

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