Joining forces with another club can boost membership and offer things their club can’t offer their members.
When the economy is struggling and members demand more for their money, what’s a club to do?
One strategy that’s gaining favor is to join forces with another property, so that two clubs can offer members what one can’t provide on its own. These can take the form of full financial mergers, such as with Mayfield Country Club and Sand Ridge Golf Club in the Cleveland area (C&RB, March 2009), or what has been proposed between the Detroit Athletic Club and Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (C&RB, November 2009, pg. 11).
In the Milwaukee area, the Wisconsin Club in downtown Milwaukee is pursuing a purchase, to be completed over a two-year period, of Brynwood Country Club in that city. And the Milwaukee Yacht Club (MYC) recently entered into an agreement with the University Club of Milwaukee that will allow members of both clubs to use each other’s facilities.
In the latter case, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, there is no merger of financial or operational obligations. Instead, the two clubs have a joint operating agreement focusing on member benefits.
“We’re trying to create more value,” explained Ed Purcell, Commodore of MYC. “Hopefully we will boost membership for both organizations.”
The two clubs are both located in downtown Milwaukee near Lake Michigan, but have different amenities. The Yacht Club, at McKinley Marina, has a restaurant, pool and meeting rooms. The University Club, on East Wells St., has dining and meeting facilities, hotel rooms, indoor parking and access to a fitness facility at University Towers.
According to the Sentinel, the Yacht Club currently has 388 members, down from 541 in 2001, while the University Club has 600, down from 750 two years ago. Only 11 people have memberships in both clubs.
“Clubs need to reinvent themselves,” said Fred Fletcher, General Manager at the University Club. “It’s a changing environment.”