The Role of Committees in a Private Club
Private Club Committees Support Club Operations, Work with Staff and Make Recommendations to the Board and Management
Committees are commonplace in Private Club settings and, when structured properly, are important resources for both the Club’s Board and Management. They serve to support specific areas of the Club’s operations and, in addition to Executive, Finance and Nominating, may include House/F&B; Golf Course/Greens; Golf Operations; Pool/Tennis/Other sports amenities; Social; and Human Resources. These Committees work with staff and make recommendations to the Board and Management concerning operating and staffing matters as well as capital expenditures. Committees generally do not have policy making authority.
To be effective (unless otherwise provided for under a Club’s by-laws) Committees should be formed at the Board level. The Board and/or Club President should also appoint Committee chairs and approve all committee members. Ideally, Committee chairs are already members of the Board. At the very least, a Board member should serve on each committee and facilitate communications with the Board. Board members should also have one or more committee assignments.
In our experience, we’ve noted that Committees require a lot of the General Manager’s time as well as involvement of other members of the management team. Therefore it is important that the purpose of each committee is clear. The development of charters for each committee would be helpful. Additionally, the annual agenda for each committee should both be driven by the Board and its President and be consistent with the Board’s annual agenda.
Committees typically report their activities at each Board meeting. For expediency it is recommended that Committee chairs prepare a brief written report for inclusion in the Board package and that oral reports be limited to items of significance. This will help the Board to focus meetings on strategic and other matters of importance.
Committee chairs should have recent experience as members of the respective committee. Committee members should be selected based upon their (or their children’s) active involvement in the area. Committees consisting of a mix of members and spouses of varying ages insure all the Club’s constituencies are represented. Additionally, the Board should provide for a regular rotation of Committee chairs and members. Committee members are an important source for identifying and recruiting future Club Leaders
In connection with setting the annual agenda for Committees, the Board President and General Manager should consider holding a meeting with all Committee members to discuss the Board’s annual agenda as well as updates of financial performance, strategic and facilities plans and other items of significance. Committee members understanding all aspects of the Club is a plus.
While many are standing Committees; Clubs often form ad hoc committees to address specific needs such as Strategic/Facilities Planning, implementation of a major project or to provide input on some other aspect of Club life. In those cases the Board should undertake a periodic assessment of continuing need.