Some of our younger members and customers recently provided us with some very interesting feedback about how golf and clubs need to change.
We asked because they are not participating in the game in the sufficient numbers to support all of the courses in the US. Social media, screen addiction, the cost to play, time restraints, confusing rules, difficulty, etc., are all precluding their participation in clubs and golf at the same level as their Baby Boomer parents.
Here are some of the interesting things they told us. We don't advocate all these changes at our clubs, but their insights are thought provoking:
Call it anything but a country club. It reminds them too much of their parents. A "club" is just fine.
Eliminate the guard gate and the membership committees. This smacks of elitism and exclusion. They are about inclusion.
Relax the dress code. Cargo shorts and blue jeans should be just fine at most clubs.
Break the rules. USGA rules are fine for competition, but hit it, find it, and hit it again any way you choose is more fun.
Change clubhouse décor. Albeit as nice as some are, they think traditional clubhouses are unimaginative and dated. Contemporary décor, modern architecture, We Work type spaces, technology, and rocking bars were mentioned.
Change club names to something more modern and relevant. They are not interested in another “National” or "The Golf Club at Spectacular Falls." They may be right on this one. Where in the development handbook does it say we have to combine the same nouns over and over until nausea sets in?
Wire-up the club. Load it with the technology that is so ubiquitous everywhere else. Why can’t we watch our friends play #16 on a TV in the clubhouse or from our iPad at home? Or remotely check-in from the parking lot?
Add new and novel amenities and activities: disc golf, fishing, dog parks, organic gardens, bike clubs, a wellness office, salon, yoga, etc. And whatever we offer, we have to appeal to mom, as she now decides whether a family joins a club and what they do there.
The club industry is slow to change. Slower than most industries. Apparently, It’s time to stop using the same playbook and let our kids help us rewrite it. Let them mentor us.
The principals of Bobby Jones Links own the company - we are not driven by investor expectations and pressures. Our balance sheet is strong.
As a result, we don’t leverage our operational leadership across too many clubs. And unlike many companies in our business, we don’t require long term management agreements with large breakup fees. If you like what we do, you’ll keep us. For more than two decades our clients have renewed our management services more than any other company.