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Advice and Resources for Private Club Management and Board Members

Suggested New Year’s Resolutions for Club Boards Everywhere

 Clubhouse at Bellshill golf course

Our eight New Year's resolutions for club boards seeking a growing satisfied membership.

It’s that time of year again.  Most clubs have recently conducted Annual Meetings and held elections.  That means new members on the Board and new “administrations”.  On behalf of General Managers everywhere, please resist immediate, near-term changes for the sake of change.  Think about the strategic plan, think about where the club wants and needs to be in 3-5 years to attract the next generation of members, think about how to fund capital replacements, improvements, and expansions, and think about the business model.  Is it all sustainable?  That’s the role of the Board.  Think about the end game, not change for the sake of change.

Golfing member profiles continue to change from golf-centric members to family-centric golfers.  That means much broader sets of amenities and more family and children-oriented programming are required. In the age of mass customization, there must be something for everyone.  If your transition is not underway, you are falling behind.  Your membership is changing in ways that will affect your business model.  Do you understand the dynamics at work and are you planning business model changes accordingly?

Financial sustainability requires high membership satisfaction and an appropriately broad and well-maintained capital base.  These are the key factors in attracting new members that are the lifeblood of the club’s future and capital resources.  Dissatisfied members will not introduce potential candidates for admission.  A deteriorating capital base signals the beginning of demise.  It’s no secret the next crop of members is looking for resort quality amenities and the capital base needs to be constantly improved. 

Every club board should focus on developing a self-perpetuating, highly-satisfied membership and a broad set of well-maintained amenities.

It’s also the time of year to think about resolutions.  Here are our recommended New Year’s resolutions for Club Boards everywhere:

  1. Pledge to think more about strategy and less about tactics. Is your strategic plan current?
  2. Board members generally do not understand the nuances of running club operations.  GM’s are professionals.  Pledge to let them do the jobs they are hired to do with clear instructions, little interference, and constructive oversight.  Resist non-essential, mid-course adjustments
  3. Pledge to spend much more time on long-term membership satisfaction, retention and attraction issues and less time on current events.
  4. Pledge to spend much more time on long-term capital planning than current year operations.  Every decision about surplus funds and capital and initiation fees should be made in the context of a multi-year capital plan.
  5. When it comes to operating results, look back but don’t stare.  A monthly updated full-year financial projection and analysis from the Controller, GM and Treasurer is much more useful information than understanding last month’s results of operations.  Pledge to focus more on full year updated projections and less on YTD results.  The updated projection puts it all in an appropriate context.
  6. Pledge to learn from peers.  Borrow good ideas and implement best practices.
  7. If you find your club with declining membership and/or deferred capital investment, pledge to get professional help.  Your problems are not unique and time is not your friend.  Experience and expertise come from pattern recognition.
  8. Finally, pledge to eat less, exercise more, use sunscreen, get your personal finances in order, and spend more time with family and friends!

If your club needs the guidance of an expert team, contact us for an initial complimentary assessment. 

Best wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!


Club Board Professionals is a strategic financial consulting and training firm.  The Principals, Dave Duval and Joe Abely, assist clubs achieve excellence in three areas: governance, financial sustainability and membership satisfaction.. Contact us for a complimentary initial assessment of your club.

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