Business Intelligence Tops Agenda at ETP’s Conference

Club St Leon-Rot, Germany, venue of The 2015 Solheim Cup and a global leader in golf performance and junior participation, hosted the European Tour Properties Conference, April 4-6th.The annual event brings together representatives from the network of 23 world class golf venues for three days of professional business education, operational best practice and networking.

Host venue Golf Club St Leon-Rot impressed delegates with its junior performance programme and futuristic amenities, including the Allianz Golf Arena, a two-storey indoor short game centre of excellence.

Expert speakers at the event included Derek Johnston and Rob Hill from GGA who presented ‘Performance Intelligence and Financial Benchmarking’, as well as Anja Schneider from global software company SAP on ‘Intelligently Connecting People, Things and Business’.

David MacLaren, Head of European Tour Properties, said: “For many of the venues, the opportunity to learn from leaders in the golf business, as well as speakers bringing intelligence and expertise from outside of the industry, makes our annual conference an important reason for being part of this growing network.

“Golf Club St Leon-Rot was an inspirational host venue and delegates learned from its remarkable vision and strategy. The integration of world class performance amenities alongside a clear process and positive club culture that welcomes and develops players of all ages is highly impressive. This is a practical demonstration of the values The European Tour is committed to.”

More than 500 children from non-golfing families are part of Golf Club St Leon-Rot’s development programme. The youngest, age three to seven years, enjoy group activities at the venue’s bespoke playground and 5-hole Bambini Course, while training and team golf starts from age eight. The club also has its own Sports Management Agency that looks after home-grown professional talent, including siblings Moritz Lampert and Karolin Lampert.

Golf Club St Leon-Rot General Manager Eicko Schulz-Hanßen said: “Golf Club St Leon-Rot has enjoyed a long partnership with The European Tour, previously hosting the Deutsche Bank – SAP Open, won three times by Tiger Woods, so it was a pleasure to welcome our fellow European Tour Properties venues for the annual conference.

“While we have our own clearly defined vision and philosophy, and have invested significantly in the development of young people, the strategy of our proprietor Dietmar Hopp has been to work with the best in the business and that’s why The European Tour brand has been an integral element in the story and success of Golf Club St Leon-Rot.”

European Tour Properties continues to grow and in addition to 23 world-class venues, three projects under development are also part of the expanding portfolio: Rossington Hall in Yorkshire, Hulton Park in Bolton, and Les Landes in south west France.

Be a More Effective Manager

Raise your hand if you spend part of each day with your feet propped on your desk, wondering how you’re going to spend all that extra time you have on your hands and all that extra money in the budget? It’s doubtful that many hands went up. Most operations are understaffed, underfunded and overstressed. We hardly have time to sit down, much less put our feet up. But we better make time for one thing – the most important thing, which is managing.

Stressful times demand that busy managers set clear goals, develop effective and efficient methods for getting the work done and effectively communicate performance results up and down the management team. If you’re not doing those things already, you have a lot of company among your peers. But if you want to be a more effective manager and stand out from the crowd, there are things you can do to increase productivity and your value.

Setting Clear Goals

There’s a saying: If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there. Here’s the corollary: If your team doesn’t know where it’s going, they should blame you. Your team will perform at the top of its game when the players fully understand what they are there to accomplish. Being specific is essential to a manager’s effectiveness.

Many people follow the SMART methodology of goal-setting: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. Managers should think only about the steps that contribute to success and avoid getting bogged down in the details. Take the time to clearly define required actions to ensure they are the ones most needed to achieve the objective. Anticipate potential roadblocks and know what you’re going to do when they crop up.

Using Effective Methods

If you’re good at figuring out processes necessary to accomplish goals, and if you know how to organize people to tackle and accomplish the goals, you are distinctively skilled. Those managers comfortably assign responsibilities and deadlines. They monitor results and progress in a timely manner and design feedback opportunities into the project loop.

Here are several steps you can take to increase your effectiveness:

  • Organize the work needed into smaller, time-specific increments
  • Determine who will do the work and what resources are needed to complete the job successfully
  • Look for synergies – actions you can combine – to increase efficiency
  • Identify detailed checks and follow-up systems so nothing falls in the proverbial cracks

Communicating effectively, up and down the team

Effective project communication has three phases: a beginning, middle and end. In the beginning, clearly communicate intended outcomes. As management guru Stephen Covey taught in his “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” the place to begin effective communications is with a clear and concise description of expected outcomes and the steps needed to achieve the goal.

While the project is underway, provide regular updates that let the team members know the status of the project and that their efforts are appreciated. Remind them of the benefits that will come when the project is completed successfully. Managers also must communicate up the organization to supervisors, owners and boards, providing regular and credible updates as mileposts are passed.

In the third stage, after the project is complete, communications to your management and board should report on budget variances and any early signs that the intended benefits are being achieved. Throughout the three phases, keep communication simple, honest and straight-forward. Do not equivocate. If there is a setback, say so. Own the outcomes, good and bad.

Getting Things Done

Strategy and planning are critical, but a plan is merely words on paper until it is executed. Can you marshal the resources needed to accomplish goals? Are you effective at orchestrating multiple and sometimes interdependent activities simultaneously and congruently? Are you proficient at absorbing information, accepting and meshing good ideas, adjusting plans and staying on task, even as other priorities compete for your attention?

If you have all those skills, you’re already a great manager. And if you need to shore up a few areas in your skill set, consider the suggestions discussed above.

This article was authored by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier for Golf Course Industry.

Keys to Uncontested Elections

As the election season heats up, it’s easy for people involved in club leadership to draw parallels—for better and worse—which begs many at clubs to ask, “Should we use a contested or uncontested method for electing board members?”

Choosing an Election Process

If given complete authority to design a process for electing the board members at your club, would you choose an uncontested election where the number of candidates equals the number of slots to be filled, or a contested election where the number of candidates exceeds the available slots?

The clear preference of the “experts” is the uncontested election. At many clubs, it’s tough enough to find good candidates without having to convince them to stand for a contested election.

Apart from the experts’ fondness for uncontested elections, the majority of club bylaws still prescribe contested elections. Why? Fundamentally, it’s the American way. It’s democratic. And, in some jurisdictions, it is statutory to a certain extent. Club members feel that closed elections take power from the people and place it in the hands of the board or a Nominating Committee, neither of which can be completely trusted.

Ah, trust. There’s the rub. Members may concede that uncontested elections are better at attracting quality candidates, but they worry that uncontested elections place too much authority in the hands of a few, where politics is valued over substance.

The challenge is not how to argue the superiority of uncontested elections, but rather convincing members that the process is objective and fair—and that candidates are selected on the merits of the job. Meeting this challenge means gaining the members’ trust.

Selection on Merits

An uncontested election is only successful when the members perceive the nominating process as objective and independent. Members must trust that the candidates are selected on merits, rather than popularity or seniority. But what are “the merits,” or what criteria should be used to select board candidates?

There are two key elements to selecting on merits: an independent, objective Nominating Committee and a clearly articulated board profile.

The Nominating Committee

The members’ trust in the nominating process depends on how they perceive the independence and objectivity of those doing the selecting, namely the Nominating Committee. Nominating Committee members may be appointed by the current president, the immediate past president, or the board.

Board Profile

Having the right people on the Nominating Committee is a key ingredient to selecting quality candidates. But having a quality committee is helpful only when the members know the basis for selecting quality candidates. Accordingly, the Nominating Committee needs to know the criteria for selection. Although the club’s bylaws may mention a criterion or two, rarely will the bylaws contain more than the basic requirements. It is up to the board to determine the criteria for selection. Using a board profile is the best approach.

A board profile is a document that describes the board from both an individual and a group point of view. The profile typically comprises three sections:

  • Criteria required by every board candidate
  • Traits that are desirable for the board to reflect multiple perspectives
  • Individual experience and competencies that can help the board to address club business

The board profile should identify members of known integrity who have demonstrated capability of working as a team member—especially candidates with a history of committee service to the club.

Building Trust
Even if you follow the guidance above, there is no guarantee that your members will support an uncontested election—but your chances will markedly improve. An uncontested election
will help identify quality candidates willing to serve on the board, in a less politically charged election process, and a more professional and effective board.

This article was authored by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier and Director Fred Laughlin for the National Club Association.