Some from outside the club industry might not understand the urgency that was felt to expend so much energy on getting a golf course playable or a clubhouse functional after such catastrophic events. But to those closer to the business, the efforts spoke to why clubs are vital pieces of social fabric.
Flip through a book that any club has commissioned for an anniversary milestone (50-year, 75-year, 100-year, etc.) and it’s not too hard to find a mention of a clubhouse (or two or three) burning to the ground in the club’s earliest days. Often there are reports of the club’s golf course and property being swamped by a flood, too. All of this is testament to how wooden structures, the lack of fire-suppression equipment and regulations, the prevalence of smoking and ignorance (or exploitation) of land in flood plains combined to create a lot of adventure and challenge for club operators and managers a generation or two back.
Stories of such catastrophes aren’t as common these days (although the latest spate of weather-related extremes may signal a comeback). But in our December 2018 issue we do present the stories of two clubs that had to deal with major and sudden trauma last year that threatened their very existence.
Bogey Hills CC in St. Charles, Mo., saw its clubhouse consumed by flames last February (ironically, that club’s 50-year history book, published in 2012, does not include any mention of a previous fire, and then only a few copies of that book survived last year’s blaze). And Lakeside CC in Houston saw its golf course covered in up to 15 feet of water, and its clubhouse take in four feet, after Hurricane Harvey stalled over the Texas city and dumped 50 inches of rain on it in less than a week’s time last August.
You can read the stories (Bogey Hills CC and Lakeside CC) of how the membership and staff of these clubs quickly came together with remarkable resilience and determination to get their operations functional again. Some from outside the industry might not understand or appreciate the urgency that was felt to expend so much energy and capital (human and financial) on getting a golf course playable or a clubhouse functional again after such catastrophic events. But to those of us who are closer to the business, these efforts spoke to why clubs are vital pieces of social fabric and should never be viewed as frivolous luxuries.
“Social fabric” has been defined as “how well community members interact among themselves,” and as “the glue that holds society together.” This was clearly a concept that the management teams of Bogey Hills and Lakeside understood as they swung into action to replace what had been lost or displaced at their properties. As Lakeside’s General Manager, Craig Schaner, CCM, said, “The whole experience was devastating, but at the end of the day it made us stronger. Having to go through this revealed the character of our staff and our members, beyond what we even knew existed. It pulled us closer together than we already were.”
And while our stories focus on what was done on property, behind the scenes there were also many examples of how the safety and well-being of club employees, and concern for their own personal losses, were addressed and made a priority through relief funds and other efforts. In all cases, the overriding theme was to do whatever was needed for everyone to be able to move forward again towards a return to normalcy. And golfing, or having a place to meet friends, are certainly as good a way to do that as any.
Joe Barks, Editor