Well Worth Saving

By | January 26th, 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?”

That’s why I enjoy writing about the industry—and why I hope our article in this issue, on the growth in interest among many clubs in doing a better job of preserving their own stories through greater commitment to archive programs (“Living History”), will get more of you interested in finding, and telling, your clubs’ stories in the same way.

Because I must admit, 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 your stories have been relegated to piles on the floor or dusty boxes in the basement.

It often seems to come down to club managers knowing that they shouldn’t just throw away the historical photos, memorabilia and documents they’ve collected or had given to them—but also feeling that it’s not worth taking the time to properly organize and display it all. This usually seems to stem from some kind of “we’re not worthy” complex, because a club may not have a history of hosting major golf tournaments or ties to famous citizens or businesses.

But as someone whose career has revolved around knowing how to spot a story, I can tell you that’s misguided. I’ve always been able to easily find interesting and relevant connections at every property with important local history or lore or community contributions. And one of our expert sources for the article in this issue, Dr. Andrew Mutch, agrees. “There are many smaller, ‘more modest’ clubs that still have amazing histories that can be fully told in a ‘one-stop shopping’ fashion through their archives,” he says.

It was also an eye-opener, as I researched the article, to see just how easy it now is to regularly find good items for any club’s archives collection—and usually just for the asking. Merion Golf Club’s resident member archivist, John Capers, has it down to a science, constantly re-priming the pump through a variety of methods that range from getting eBay alerts each day to making sure he has a regular section in the club newsletter that provides regular updates (and thanks) for items he’s received.

As Capers says in the many presentations he’s made recently after clubs have contacted him to help get their archives programs off the floor and out of the box, “Member awareness creates gifts!” And, he could also add, it’s really a two-way street: Gifts of archives, when properly used, can also create awareness of the real value of a club membership—not only to those you already have, but also to those who could be interested in joining, if you’d just tell them a good story.

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