The Club That Plays Together…

By | June 22nd, 2018

The annual employee-member golf tournament at Lords Valley Country Club has helped to form closer relationships and understanding through spirited but friendly competition.

Member-member and member-guest tournaments are common occurrences at golf course properties. The staff at Lords Valley (Pa.) Country Club, however, has added a different spin to its tournament lineup. Since 2016, Lords Valley CC has held an employee- member tournament at the end of its season in October.  Assistant Superintendent Karl McHale first had the idea for the tournament, and he suggested it to General Manager Jennifer D. Mang, CCM, CCE, during lunch one day. Mang didn’t hesitate in running with it.

Staffers from all of the club’s operating departments have joined with about 50 members of Lords Valley CC each year for the nine-hole employee-member tournament that has been held since 2016 at the end of each season in October.

“We have a lot of good golfers on our staff, and I thought it would be a fun way to get our employees and members to interact,” she says. The four-person teams in the shotgun scramble format are composed of a mix of Lords Valley CC employees and members, with each team including at least one staff member.

“The teams are chosen randomly by our golf professionals, based on what we know about handicaps,” Mang says. She pitches in, if necessary, to ensure that the matchups are fun and fair. Because some of the staff personnel are such good  golfers, the members hope to get them on their teams, which boosts the employees’ self-esteem. 

INSTANT IDEA

The annual Employee Yearbook published by the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club (OKG&CC), Nichols Hills, Okla., showcases the club’s staff and includes a photo history of notable efforts and contributions made by the team throughout the year. First published three years ago, the books are handed out at the annual staff holiday party and have produced “fantastic” benefits, the club reports, in a variety of forms that include:

• increased employee morale;

• a greater sense of ownership of their work by each staff member;

Oklahoma City G&CC’s annual Employee Yearbook includes whimsical cover photos.

• a tangible asset to share with family, friends and co-workers, to highlight what they do in their jobs and what they’ve accomplished; and

• pride among the staff as a whole for the work they do and the club they’re a part of.

To prepare the yearbook, an OKG&CC staff member is dedicated throughout the year to take photos at all employee events and member functions (focusing on the staff members as they perform their duties). This designated staff “historian” keeps the photos organized by event name, date and time, and a book-publishing website, Blurb, is used to design and produce the final copy. Whimsical cover photos, such as employees “relaxing” in unusual spots on the property, add to the yearbook’s appeal and popularity.

As someone whose position puts him on the “front line” of interacting with the membership, Director of Golf Gene Yanovitch, who helps set up the teams and the handicaps, finds that the tournament enhances his duties. “I get to play with the members all the time, but I really enjoy the day of the tournament,” he says. The employee-member outing offers additional perks to other Lords Valley CC personnel, Yanovitch adds.

“They get the privilege of playing golf at the club and having a nice meal,” notes Yanovitch. “It’s nice for them to be recognized.” Staff members from all departments, including golf course maintenance, golf operations, food and beverage, and administration, participate in the event. About 50 members have played in the nine-hole tournament each year. 

“We have a lot of good golfers on our staff, and I thought it would be a fun way to get our employees and members to interact.”
— Jennifer Mang, CCM, CCE, General Manager

 

The first year Mang and Golf Course Superintendent Chris Passenti played together with two members. However, to encourage more people to get to know one another, employees were matched with different members last year. “Some of the members are interested in what we do for a living,” says Passenti. “When you’re in a golf cart with a member for nine holes, there is plenty of time for conversation.” 
 

THE GOAL: Encourage employees of Lords Valley CC to interact with members in a fun way and to get to know them on a more personal level, while also giving members a chance to show their appreciation to the staff.

Before teeing off in the club’s annual employee-member tournament, staff and members of Lords Valley CC get together for a continental breakfast. The participants all meet again after the nine-hole tournament for a barbecue lunch in the clubhouse, with members of the teams (which include both employees and members) sitting together. These parts of the event, along with the actual play, help to develop lasting bonds between staff and the membership. “Some of the members are interested in what we do for a living,” says Golf Course Superintendent Chris Passenti. “When you’re in a golf cart with a member for nine holes, there is plenty of time for conversation.”

THE PLAN: Organize an employee-member golf tournament that is announced about six weeks in advance. The format is a nine-hole scramble shotgun, and for added fun and interest, the tournament has a “Superintendent’s Revenge” aspect, with staff setting up the course with challenging pin and tee placements. Before golf, the participants get together for a continental breakfast in the 19th hole dining area. Afterward, they meet at the clubhouse for a barbecue lunch and team members sit together.

THE PAYOFF: Employees and members develop stronger relationships, and winners earn bragging rights, of course, as well as prizes for the first-place team and those who hit their balls closest to the pin on some holes. The bonds formed between employees and members extend beyond the day of the event

The four-person teams in the shotgun scramble format for the Lords Valley CC employee-member tournament are composed of a mix of staff and members, and employees are matched with different members from year to year.

INSTANT IDEA

When a Fitness Supervisor at Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Md., was tasked with creating a 5K course on the property for a member running event that required a couple of test runs, some fellow employees were enlisted to help run and walk the layout. And in the process, an idea for a new employee incentive program was sparked: What about also using the course as a place where Congressional team members could meet regularly to experience and pursue their own fitness goals?

So was born Congressional’s Team Walk/Run Club, which now meets every Thursday at 6:30 a.m., year-round, on the club’s championship Blue Course, to traverse the 5K track that includes a 214-ft. change in total elevation, along with a steep, 1/10th mile uphill finish. The Walk/Run Club has inspired Congressional team members to lose weight, get active, set goals and build stronger relationships, with these aggregate results reported at the beginning of this year:

• Over 30 lbs. of weight loss

• Over 100 miles run on the course • Thirteen team members completing 5K runs

• Eleven team members completing 10K runs

• Six team members completing 10-mile runs

• Two team members completing half-marathons, and two completing full marathons.

The most valuable result of all, the club reports, has been “the countless memories and teambuilding value” created through the formation of the Walk/Run Club.

 

The fun begins even before the golfers hit the links, with everyone first meeting for a continental breakfast in the 19th hole dining area. For some added fun, the tournament has been given a “Superintendent’s Revenge” aspect, with challenging pin and tee placements. Passenti is careful not to get too carried away, however. “I don’t think I set it up so it’s that difficult,” he says. “You want to have fun and not be so challenging that you’re out there for six hours—no pins in bunkers or on sides of hills.”

After golf, everyone meets at the clubhouse for a barbecue lunch, and the teams that have been formed for the event sit together, to continue the mix of members and employees. “The employees and the members gain a better understanding of who each other are. They enjoy getting to know each other,” Yanovitch says. “It makes for a smoother operation when all is said and done.” A day full of fun and camaraderie— along with bragging rights for the winners, of course—is not the only award for the competitors.

The first-place team, along with the golfers who hit their balls closest to the pin on some holes, earn prizes. “It’s a great way to get out and have a good time at the end of the season,” says Passenti.

“It is not focused on seeing what the golf course maintenance staff does. It’s a way to say, ‘Thanks for a great season, see you next year.’” And the goodwill that is formed between the employees and the members extends well beyond the tournament, all who are involved report. “I’m proud of the event,” says Mang. “I’m glad the members take part in it, and that the staff enjoys it so much.”

INSTANT IDEA

After experiencing more difficulties than expected managing vendors and having them comply with club standards during its first hosting of the PGA Tour Champions Tournament, The Country Club of Virginia (CCV), Richmond, Va., developed a Vendor Guidelines document that is given to all vendors, suppliers and outside companies that perform work on CCV’s two properties. The document clearly and concisely outlines expectations for vendor performance with respect to working hours, ingress and egress routes, using the vendor storage compound and club facilities, location of underground utilities and overall safety practices. Specifics that can be customized for individual events or situations are also provided for dress codes (“Shirts must be worn at all times, and it is preferred that while on site, vendors wear uniform shirts that identify their companies”), supervisory oversight, deliveries, facility access, traffic, restrictions and hazards, work-interruption policies and procedures, noise suppression requirements and weather contingencies.

 

 

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