Professional club management began when Robert H. Dedman Sr. created ClubCorp in the 1950’s. Dedman was famous for saying, “The club business is nobody's business because it's nobody's business.” In many ways, this rings just as true today as it did then.
Years ago, people associated many management companies with a slash and burn mentality, poor service, and less than elite properties. This has changed. Professional management companies now operate some of the most highly reputable and ranked properties in the U.S. and overseas.
For private clubs, hiring a management company seemed inconsistent with their image and often felt like an admission of failure on the Board’s part. This has also changed, as more elite properties now engage management specialists to help them improve their performance and member enjoyment.
A professional management company will bring substantial experience to the table. Their clients will include member-owned clubs, developers, hotels, private equity groups, and wealthy individuals, so they will bring exposure to every situation and type of club imaginable. This broad experience will bring new ideas, a fresh prospective, and plethora of best practices to the club.
The larger professional management companies receive the lowest pricing from industry vendors which will be much better than any property can do on their own. Whether it is equipment, merchandise, food and beverage, IT services, supplies, health or property insurance, etc., the savings a management company offers sometimes pays for the management fee.
The top management companies have principals and managers that are experts in every area of club and property management. This is the wealth of specialists - a whole team – that assists the owner, the General Manager, and the staff.
The best companies have developed proprietary management systems – a franchise, so to speak – that can be tailored to each specific property. These platforms include accounting, training, software platforms, human resources, sophisticated financial models and budgets, agronomic standards, IT, market analytics, inventory management, membership sales and retention, etc.
Many member- and developer-owned private clubs are notorious for overspending and operating inefficiently. What industry professionals have learned to do is to operate a club like a business and in most cases, profitably – without any diminution in the members’ or customers’ experience, service levels, or course conditions. This for-profit mentality is an attribute that can change the bottom line and financial health of a club substantially.
While the professional management group and the General Manager are operating the property according to the member’s wishes, the Board members will be able to focus on the important high level issues and long-term goals of the club. Ironically, it also frees them up to enjoy the club, which is why they joined in the first place.
Good companies are innovating, staying on top of recent trends, and offering creative solutions to their clients. This can be everything from progressive membership structures, to greatly expanded lifestyles and activities, to embracing new technologies, training and education, etc. Because most companies have experience on the for-profit side of the business too, they have learned to think like entrepreneurs and owners as well.
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.