Archive for October, 2009

In the last few posting we have been discussing the world of municipal golf, and what is the clear emerging trend toward privatization of municipal golf courses. In my next few postings I am going to shift over to a discussion about private golf facilities and how these golf courses are reacting to the tough economic environment of 2008-09 and what they could be doing to improve their standing and position in the coming years. I note that this is a timely discussion in that the NGF has studied the subject very closely with the 2008 publication “The Future of Private Golf Clubs in America,” that noted a significant contraction is expected in the private club market in the next few years, either through transformation into public golf courses or outright closure of facilities. I also hosted a roundtable / seminar at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens on September 9, 2009 “Helping Local Private Golf Facilities Thrive in Difficult Times.”

As I travel the country consulting with golf facilities of all types, I find the private clubs tend to be the most concerned about their future and also the most confused about what to do to improve their performance. The idea of reaching out to non-members to make use (for a fee) the club’s facilities is appealing, but what are the legal / tax ramifications? If they want to become more active in the outing / tournament business, what is the impact going to be on existing members and is the additional revenue really worth it? If fees are lowered to attract new members, how will the existing member base react?

These are among the most common questions posed by my private club clients, and often are the most difficult to answer without appropriate analysis and due diligence. In the coming postings this Fall, I will be drawing on the expertise of several leading private golf club consultants to discuss the state of the private golf club business and to facilitate a discussion about ways to enhance membership and/or revenues for this upcoming season.

Postings in the coming weeks will include a discussion of:

  • Is my membership plan relevant in 2009-2010?
  • Can we golf memberships sell in this economy?
  • What are other clubs doing to survive?
  • Can a club advertise for new members?
  • Is going taxable a viable option for your 501(c)(7)?
  • Can a club advertise for non-members to use club amenities?
  • Should clubs be pursuing non-members to use the club?
  • Should clubs re-think its stated purpose and its best customer?
  • What benefits do reciprocal arrangements provide to clubs?
  • What is the importance of golf to a club?

Thanks for your attention. I sincerely hope the information is useful. In the next postings we will start to discuss issues related to operation of private country clubs and how these facilities can be more economically self-sufficient, especially in these challenging times of 2009.

See you down the road.

Richard Singer

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