Phil Keren, the new Associate Editor at Club + Resort Business, became a journalist because he enjoys learning about new subjects and believes everyone has a unique story to share.
It’s time to turn over a new leaf. That thought was foremost in my mind when I accepted the position of Associate Editor with Club + Resort Business. After spending a quarter-century in traditional journalism, I am excited about this new opportunity at C+RB.
I became a journalist because I enjoy learning about new subjects and believe everyone has a unique story to share. I’ve tried to operate with that mindset on each story I’ve written and edited during the past two-and-a half decades. In my work with the Akron Beacon Journal and a group of weekly publications covering cities near Akron, Ohio, I’ve primarily covered the activities of local government, but have also written about elections, court cases, new businesses and sports.
I’ll bring a journalist’s perspective to this job, but I also have personal experiences that I can draw upon. Stepping into this role covering the private club and resort industry has prompted childhood memories of growing up as a member and summer employee at a modest country club. My family from about 1980 through the mid-1990s belonged to a no-frills place called Georgetown Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich. Situated in a neighborhood of Colonial, Ranch and Cape Cod houses on the south side of the city that is home to the University of Michigan, Georgetown CC offered a swimming pool, four tennis courts, an unassuming clubhouse and a well-maintained 9-hole, Par 28 golf course.
I have fond memories of learning to swim and play tennis, goofing around at the pool with my friends, and playing a lot of golf at Georgetown. It is where I developed a love and appreciation for the game of golf that I carry with me today. For two summers while I was home from college, I taught golf lessons to children and worked in the pro shop. The club was focused on providing a friendly, welcoming atmosphere to members and guests, as well as keeping our neighborhood connected throughout the spring and summer months. With its casual sensibilities, Georgetown felt less like a country club and more like a community center.
As I recall my overwhelmingly positive experience as a member and an employee of a non-traditional country club, I’m interested to see how country clubs and resorts are evolving, particularly since our world was turned upside down two years ago. As readers of this publication know, golf experienced a surge in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as an outdoor activity that could be enjoyed with social distancing and some other precautions. According to the National Golf Foundation, there were 3.2 million people who played their first ever round of golf in 2021; that figure is nearly 30% higher than the number of first-time golfers who hit the links in 2019.
I’m curious to learn what leaders of clubs and resorts are doing to attract golfing newbies to their facilities and how they will try to retain those customers over time. In addition, I’d like to know about other strategies being employed to grow membership. If you are an owner or a general manager of a club or resort, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] about the efforts and projects you’re undertaking. I look forward to hearing from you as I begin this new journey.