Willing to Help

By | September 23rd, 2015

I commended “Hi there” for a) recognizing that her club needs help and b) wanting to be part of the solution. While I often hear club managers complain about meddlesome members, I wonder how many do all they can to find, and encourage, the “Hi theres” within their ranks.

The subject line read “Hi there,” which makes me still wonder why I even dared to open it. And these first lines should have also prompted me to hit “delete” before wading deeper into territory I was really going to regret: “Hi, Joe. This is probably going to be an unusual e-mail for you, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’m a 53-year-old woman…”

But it turns out “Hi there” wasn’t looking to offer me a good time, or ask me to send a deposit to a Nigerian bank. She was looking to find ways to help a club she had just joined.

“My husband and I have lived in the same area for nearly 25 years, and recently moved into our fifth house, located on an older golf course,” she wrote. “We recently joined the country club [in her new community] just to help it along, because it has struggled for years.

“I’m a very nostalgic person and can ‘feel’ the ‘60s when I walk through the neighborhood or on the golf course, which is why I love it here so much,” she continued. “The golf course does fairly well—it’s beautiful. The club has really suffered—[it’s] now semi-private and in need of a lot of improvements.

“I’m guessing the base membership has an average age in the 70s—but that could be very much wrong,” “Hi there” wrote. “We only have dinner every two weeks and we are by far the youngest folks there, and there are usually only about 30 people who come.

“My concern, of course, is when these older folks start dying or become homebound, the club will die as well. I’m sure they can’t afford to employ a marketing company and I’m just trying to figure out a way to somehow help get new members.

“My son and I were discussing this yesterday because it’s such a beautiful place and could be such a wonderful venue, and he said it needs a campaign with details, so people will know what they are investing in and what it will be like in 10 years. He’s right, but I don’t know how we get there.”

“Hi there” then explained that she was writing me after reading some articles on C&RB’s website about other clubs that had turned things around. She hoped I could help her “gather more info so that maybe I can go to the Trustees, Board, etc., and present some ideas to try to help our club.”

“Hi there”had actually given me the name of her club (and her own name), so I checked out its website. It presented itself well enough online and did indeed have a nice-looking golf course and property. It also had some photos of kids, so I’m pretty sure (and hope) her guess on average member age is off-target.

Another thing I noticed when checking out the club online was that no General Manager was shown in the staff listing—just a Clubhouse and Events Manager, in addition to a Superintendent and Pro Shop/Tournament Director. If this was indeed the case, I told “Hi there”that she should push her club’s ownership to get a true GM in place (and I gave her some search-firm contacts to help make that happen).

I also gave her contact information for consulting firms that offer low-cost opportunities for “first impression” assessments of club properties, and encouraged her to get the club’s owners to avail themselves of that kind of service, too.

But more than anything else, I commended “Hi there” for a) recognizing that her club needs help and b) wanting to be part of the solution.

And while I often hear club managers complain about meddlesome members, I wonder how many do all they can to find, and encourage, the “Hi theres” within their ranks.

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