Like many clubs, Spring Brook CC started an initiative to provide needed resources to local front-line workers—and then took its effort nationwide through the ClubsHELP program, with more than 350 clubs joining in the first three weeks.
Successful club properties pride themselves on being able to marshal a cohesive management team that can meet the needs of their members, even in the face of the most daunting challenges. In the midst of responding to the demands posed by the coronavirus outbreak, the management of Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown, N.J., took that capability much further, by starting a local initiative that quickly helped to launch an industry-wide and nationwide effort to support the cause of treating COVID-19 patients.
That effort spawned a 501(c)7 foundation called ClubsHELP, through which properties “adopt” hospitals in their local communities to provide much-needed resources to the medical facilities, healthcare workers and first responders on the frontlines of the pandemic.
David Bachman, CCM, CCE, Spring Brook’s General Manager/COO, got the idea from a member and her daughters who wanted to help their local hospital, the Morristown Medical Center. Since late March, Spring Brook has supplied food, beverages, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to the center’s medical staff.
“The membership at Spring Brook is extremely involved in the community. They really want to give back,” Bachman says.
After Spring Brook’s efforts garnered national media attention, Rob Goulet, CEO of Entertainment Sports Partners, Inc., and manager to World Golf Hall of Famer Ernie Els, reached out to Bachman to suggest they turn Spring Brook’s grassroots effort into a national campaign by enlisting the aid of the golf community.
“You have amazing networks within your clubs, and you know the captains of industry. They’re all members of your clubs and play at your clubs,” Goulet notes of the resources and support that can be marshaled through the club industry. “A lot of the hospitals that are hit the hardest are the ones that aren’t well-staffed and well-equipped financially,” he adds.
Under the initiative, each property names a member or an employee to serve as its captain. The facility then adopts a local hospital, which appoints a captain of its own, and through person-to-person contact, the captains work together to identify the most pressing needs at the medical facility. Then property members, companies, and individual donors gather, collect, and deliver those resources to the hospital.
“We’ve provided a vehicle with Clubs-HELP to take [local efforts] to the next level,” says Bachman. “Right from the start we found that the relationship between the club and the hospital was key. We need everyone to use the relationships they have with their clubs and members to help at these hospitals as best we can.”
Els quickly jumped on board, volunteering to serve as captain at Old Palm Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., which joined forces with Jupiter (Fla.) Medical Center. In addition, Els and Jack Nicklaus made videos to challenge other captains of sports and industry to get involved.
Golf organizations such as the National Club Association and Golf Writers Association of America have also helped to jump-start the program, and the American Hospital Association and American College of Emergency Physicians have alerted their memberships about ClubsHELP. Corporate partners include Clif Bar, which has donated 6.6 million energy bars.
Donations can range from bottled water and hot meals to UV lights for sterilization and moisture-wicking T-shirts to wear under PPE. Volunteers also can pick up items from clubs’ kitchens or members’ restaurants, businesses, or homes and deliver them to the hospitals.
In its first three weeks, more than 350 club properties, which include about a half-million members, and 200-plus hospitals joined the ClubsHELP network.
Properties that are already connected to a hospital can become part of the network as well. “As we grow, there may be something that you need that is more than your membership wants to get involved with, so we can help,” Bachman says.
In addition, properties that don’t have local memberships can make monetary contributions, and those with foundations can use those funds to purchase supplies.
The ClubsHELP founders also hope to continue the network after the coronavirus crisis subsides, by using it for regional natural disasters, such as a hurricane on the Gulf Coast or a tornado in the Midwest.
“I envision this being here for a long time, but hopefully it won’t be needed a whole lot,” says Bachman. “We could even use it to get a new truck for a fire department, or a new EMS computer system.”
For more information, visit www.clubshelp.org.