It is becoming more obvious that the successful club of the future will be a community gathering place that might also happen to have a great golf course.
It is late August as I pen this month’s column and the lazy, hazy days of summer are just about over. Fall brings what is arguably the best time of year for golf and other outdoor activities, so all of us will make the transition from one busy season to the next.
Lots of airplane time provided an opportunity to scribble a few notes about the industry. Rather than focus on any one item, I thought I would share them all:
• Bandon Dunes is simply the best. I can get to Ireland or Scotland faster and more comfortably from my home in Cleveland, yet I made my fifth trip to Bandon earlier this month. Fabulous golf (As It Was Meant To Be) and the vistas, accommodations, cocktails, steaks, cigars, and premier service throughout the resort keep Bandon Dunes on the bucket list for golfers of all ages and abilities. If ever there was a build-it-and-they-will-come place, this is it.
I always considered Bandon the ultimate “guys golf trip” destination and it still is; however, we saw more couples playing the courses than I can remember from years past. I hear Bandon is becoming a “girls golf trip” destination to some degree, as well—good for the game.
• It is becoming more obvious that the successful club of the future will be a community gathering place that might also happen to have a great golf course. Member affiliation driven by non-traditional social activities (think lectures on topics of interest), outstanding and diverse dining options, and family engagement creates a compelling story for attracting members. The sooner your club gets there, the better.
Having said that, there will always be a place for outstanding golf clubs. They serve a very well-defined, unique purpose and play an important role in the club world.
• The conversation among members at any club inevitably gets around to “the club should be doing this or that.” A club without a current membership survey is playing with fire—whether you consider yourself successful or not. And a membership survey conducted by experienced professionals is a must for any club working without a strategic plan that members can easily articulate. I don’t know how you can pass a needed assessment without this member feedback.
• In this era of “transparency,” town hall meetings make so much sense. But a poorly organized town hall will do more harm than good, so plan wisely. Separate from keeping members well-informed, these meetings build the community feeling that is so important to the club’s success.
• Registration for the 10th annual Chef to Chef Conference, scheduled for March 4-6, 2018 in Seattle, is now open. You can check out the planned agenda at www.CheftoChefConference.com, and the full speaker lineup will follow in the next month or so. Customer testimonials are the most powerful endorsement you can get, and 100% of the attendees surveyed at this year’s event in Atlanta said they would recommend the Conference to one of their peers. Sending your chef not only guarantees he or she will come back to the club loaded with newfound enthusiasm and ideas, they will also appreciate the commitment you are making to enhancing the food-and-beverage experience at your club.
And a couple of non-club industry thoughts:
• The healthcare debate is a roadblock to any other legislative agenda. No one in their right mind would argue that Americans should not have access to first-rate, affordable healthcare. So, the debate is really about the money—who is going to pay for it? If Congress can address this issue equitably, everyone wins. Sadly, it doesn’t appear they can get there any time soon.
• This will surely date me, but I can’t stop listening to The Beatles Channel on Sirius XM.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“I don’t always hit a sand wedge 170 yards, but when I do, it’s from a greenside bunker.”
—The Most Interesting Man In The World