If we want new members, more play, and a better club atmosphere, then we have to match our codes against the preferences of the 21st century.
The best, most important editorial for the club industry in years wasn’t written by me.
On page 128 of the June issue of Golf Digest, Bob Carney has written a relevant, timely editorial that should be read by every club management team member in the country. The best part is that it is written for a key part of our membership, the golfer.
In his article, “The New Code,” Mr. Carney lays out the realities that we must face if we are to be viable in membership marketing. More importantly, he offers intelligent examples of how clubs can accommodate the new members we all want without alienating our existing members.
Here are some highlights…
“… the latest memo from Troon Golf, operator of The Phoenician in Scottsdale and some of the posher resorts and courses in the country: Socially accepted golf shirts are appreciated, but your comfort is most important. The nicer you look, the better you play, so goes the rumor. Shorts can be just about any style, but please do try to present the shorts at a length that everyone wants to look at. Gym shorts are for the gym, but if that makes you comfortable to play golf, we welcome you.”
Now, doesn’t that make sense? Who could be mad at such a well-chosen guideline for players? Carney points out that 99% of the golfers will dress appropriately, and they can deal with the people in tank tops with their hats on backwards on a one-off basis. The key point is there are no dress Nazis trying to enforce unenforceable codes that discourage golfers from showing up or joining.
And Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Ala., goes one better: “Jeans are allowed in all dining areas of the club at all times, provided the jeans aren’t bib-style, tattered, excessively baggy, or stained.”
The best one is from a course owner in Massachusetts: “We have a dress code…you have to be dressed.”
Here’s the lesson: If we want new members, more play, and a better club atmosphere, then we have to match our codes against the preferences of the 21st century. Like it or not, this is the way it is, and what we all want are new, active, and positive members.