Three kinds of people

Three kinds of people

There are three kinds of people who will lead their private clubs and daily-fee golf courses to new heights in 2015: planners, seekers and doers.

February 19, 2015

Henry DeLozier

There are three kinds of people who will lead their private clubs and daily-fee golf courses to new heights in 2015: planners, seekers and doers.


Whether you’re a club manager, golf professional, superintendent or owner, you need a plan to know where you’re going. Dwight Eisenhower, the U.S. Supreme Commander on D-Day, once said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Ike knew the power of ongoing consideration, study and preparation.

If you own or operate a golf course or country club, your plan should take into account key factors that have emerged in the new normal.

  • Prices for dues and fees in most golf-related clubs have corrected from 2007 highs. Market corrections for prices and access rights have increased demand at clubs that consider themselves financially secure.
  • Price corrections that lower access costs tend to accelerate demand.
  • Increased demand will create opportunities for real revenue growth for the clubs that monitor and manage utilization of tee and court times.
  • Corrected pricing for club memberships is causing positive net growth after several years of net decline in memberships at most clubs.

Whether a private club or a daily-fee course, strategic and tactical plans are essential to success. If you’re a manager, study your market for opportunity and demand. Market knowledge is competitive advantage.

If you’re a superintendent, get your course in the best shape possible. Market demand favors the best-conditioned course over the lowest-priced. Develop an agronomic plan that keeps you and your crew focused on priorities: smooth and consistent putting surfaces, firm playing surfaces, and environmental stewardship. But you can’t overlook the details because even amateur agronomists recognize a mud-hole, a dead tree and weeds.


Be a seeker of knowledge and current best-management practices. It’s the seekers who are a step faster and more agile in a highly competitive market. Jim James, the terrific club manager at Augusta National Golf Club, keeps his team on a constant quest for excellence. Jim describes his management approach saying, “We look at every single day as an opportunity to improve. When we find we are not the best, we are relentless and incredibly focused to make sure that we improve.” That gives seekers an advantage. The 2015 economy will reward those who are relentless and focused.

The collective knowledge in club management and golf operations is considerable. Tap into that knowledge resource.


There’s been plenty of talk in golf; the recovering market will reward those who take action. Taking initiative is a competitive advantage and dependable strategy for golf facilities because few clubs and courses do so.

Three steps to take:

  • Expand your market reach. Make sure those who use your facility know you, and make your business be “known.” Each market segment has media channels it prefers, from traditional to contemporary. Align your communications and messaging with the ways your members and prospects prefer to hear from you, which may mean customizing more than one approach.
  • Communicate…communicate…communicate. To stay top-of-mind with members and customers, communicate consistently. Talk with your members and customers. There’s no substitute for one-on-one access to the club manager, professional or course owner. Make yourself accessible to the people who are paying the bills – members and customers.
  • Be generous toward children and families. They are every club’s future. Encourage children to come to the club. Speak at career days. Invite Scouts to use your club when earning badges in environmental stewardship and community service. Win the children, and you’ll win their mothers. Win the mothers, and you’ll win the game.

Winston Churchill, the bulldog of a Prime Minister, exhorted his fellow Englishmen, saying, “If you’re going through hell…keep going.” Many golf-related businesses have soldiered through a tough economic cycle that shows favorable signs for 2015. Now is the time to find your own momentum by planning, seeking and doing.


Henry DeLozier is a principal in the Global Golf Advisors consultancy. DeLozier joined Global Golf Advisors in 2008 after nine years as the vice president of golf for Pulte Homes. He is a past president of the National Golf Course Owners Association’s board of directors and serves on the PGA of America’s Employers Advisory Council.