Telling and Earthly Story

The People’s Climate March – organized to coincide with Earth Day in April – drew tens of thousands of environmental activists to cities across the nation. Their mission: call attention to the dangers of climate change. It’s not a stretch to say that golf course superintendents and club and course managers conduct their own march to show their support of environmental sustainability every day.

Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton, Fla., where more than a million honey bees are thriving in the club’s apiary, is just one example. From more than 1,000 pounds of honey the bees produce each year, club members receive jars of honey to enjoy and the spa features Broken Sound honey in its treatments.

Club manager John Crean and his team at Broken Sound are doing more than providing a sweet and distinctive member amenity. They’re part of a movement to bring awareness to the plight of declining adult honey bee populations.

The environmental program at Broken Sound started with small steps, including eliminating Styrofoam cups, reducing the use of plastic bottles and recycling cans, plastic and cardboard. Its initial success encouraged the club to be more ambitious. An industrial composter is now reducing the amount of waste the club adds to the local landfill, solar panels are heating swimming pools and a charging station is recharging members’ electric vehicles.

Christine Kane, the CEO at Audubon International in Troy, N.Y., recognizes the leadership of the club, which is a part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, an education and certification program that helps protect the environment while preserving the traditions of the game.

“Broken Sound is leading the way in recognizing that projects like this can be a great way to educate and involve your community in your environmental stewardship efforts, demonstrating that you are using your greenspace wisely and strengthening your ecological footprint,” she says.

Broken Sound may be an exemplary example of sustainability, but it’s also proof of how one club can make a difference.

Herb Pirk, the forward-thinking executive of the Oakdale Golf & Country Club in Oakdale, Ontario, and his superintendent, Michael Dermott, are advocates of teaming up with environmental experts. Their partnership with Global Organic Partners has reduced the application of chemicals and pesticides while improving course conditions.

“The changes (Global Organic Partners) recommended have reduced the environmental impact of pesticides and chemicals by almost 90 percent, and course conditions and member satisfaction have never been better,” Dermott says.

Ted Horton, an Audubon director and widely admired golf course superintendent for his stints at Winged Foot in New York and Pebble Beach in California, advises clubs to take a proactive approach. “Assume the mindset that we can be part of the solution, not part of the problem and make it happen,” he says.

Following are four ways clubs can be part of the solution to environmental challenges in their communities:

  • Decide to launch a program that’s right for your facility. Gather input from a cross section of members and the people who use your facility. And don’t overlook the young people, many of whom are especially attuned to sustainability issues.
  • Take advantage of available resources. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program can guide courses through projects in environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, chemical use, water conservation, and water quality management.
  • Start small and grow. One of the first steps is to engage your members and golfers in your efforts. Let them know what you’re doing and why. Then keep taking the next step toward a deeper commitment.
  • Tell your success stories to your members and customers and encourage them to be ambassadors for your program in the community.

Golf courses have been the focus of criticism from environmentalists over the years for their use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. The truth of the matter is that many clubs and facilities are doing commendable work to support the health and well-being of our planet. Their stories need to be told – and more clubs need to follow their lead.

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

GGA partners with Golf Management Australia

GGA has announced a partnership with Golf Management Australia (GMA) and its support for the 2017 GMA Conference.

“We are honoured to be partnering with GMA at their 2017 Conference in Adelaide and to demonstrate our support for the professional development of club leaders throughout the Asia-Pacific region,” said Paul Hinton, Director of the firm’s Asia-Pacific Office and a professional with more than 25 years of golf, private club and hotel and resort experience. Hinton has previously served on the GMA NSW Board for six years, including three as president.

GGA is a passionate supporter of club managers, reflected in the firm’s commitments to the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE), The National Club Association (NCA), Asian Club Managers Conference, CMAA China Chapter and The National Golf Course Owners Association of Canada (NGCOAC).

Henry DeLozier, GGA Partner and speaker at this year’s Conference said “We believe in club managers. The men and women who choose to be servant leaders in clubs select a great profession. Golf Management Australia is of tremendous service to club managers and we are proud to lend our support.”

For 25 years, GGA has effectively shared its best practices, industry-specific statistical data and creative thinking with its extensive and diverse client base. The firm’s long history of service, combined with its global reach, allows GGA to advise clients in all areas of operations based on precise, empirical data and considerable industry experience.

Transform your Club Data to Insights for Success

As a club leader, you already possess a resource which can transform the performance of your business and contribute mightily to its long-term success. It’s your collection of operational and financial data. Let’s put this in context.

Intel tells us that up to 2003, our world had generated some five exabytes of information. Today, this much data is collected every two days. However, we have been much better at collecting and storing data in ever more efficient and cost-effective ways than we have been at analysing it.

That’s finally changing now, as tools capable of discovering the underlying patterns and meaning which are lingering in the data migrate from the research lab to the workplace. The potential benefits from these applications are extraordinary. Members may say one thing but put their money down on another. Algorithms can tease out these sorts of truths from data designed to measure something else.

The majority of clubs already have most of the raw data they need to undertake such a beneficial analysis of performance. The key is to be found not in sourcing the data – readily accessible from widely-used club management systems – but in its analysis and application. Transforming the data to insights. Transforming knowledge to wisdom.

Successful club managers know the right questions to ask of their data to determine if they need different or more information to really impact the performance of their club. Knowing the questions to ask is the sure path to finding the answers you need.

A dependable data management plan yields five demonstrable benefits;

  1. Faster and better informed leadership decision-making;
  2. Improve operating performance;
  3. Efficient, cohesive and effective planning;
  4. Deep understanding of your existing membership and/or customers; and
  5. Competitive advantage for your club.

So what do you need to consider?

  • Don’t mistake the reports from your management system for insights. These systems can record and store a vast pool of information, but the crucial management challenge is filtering for data that really matters. Club leaders need to ask themselves if the data they are capturing and reporting yields genuine insights for the club’s leadership team—or if it simply adds to the workload with undigested information.
  • Most clubs operate multiple systems. In 2016, a GGA survey of European Club Leaders revealed that clubs typically operate with at least three separate software solutions. Even if interfaces are functional, your goal must be to extract and collate only the valuable data from each system to develop a 360-degree view of business performance and potential.
  • Focus future IT investment in acquiring the capability to analyse your existing data, rather than in purchasing new solutions which often offer more than is really needed.
  • Identify the questions you must answer to drive your business forward. Clarifying the appropriate questions requires creativity, a deep understanding of the available data and a thorough knowledge of the business. Leaders need to place a premium on recognising opportunities in their data. What might be possible if there were no constraints to getting key questions answered?
  • Metrics designed to show how well clubs are using their data to meet club goals are an increasingly vital management tool.

GGA’s Approach to Mining Insights from Information

Since our foundation 1992, GGA has compiled and analysed a treasure house of information about the club industry’s complex and shifting operating environment. As we set about developing analytic tools to make sense of this information, the golf and club industry was undergoing major changes. Fewer people were playing golf, but more courses were being built, posing a host of unexpected challenges for private and commercial club managers.

Enhanced competition, both from private clubs and daily-fee courses, would test the skills of even the most gifted and dedicated club managers. Few clubs were immune to the new market threats.

In response to this new competitive reality, GGA designed a set of analytical tools designed to help management teams and boards of private clubs respond to golf’s transformed market.

Our comprehensive approach, utilising our proprietary analytic tools, enabled GGA to provide effective long-term strategic guidance to individual clubs. But we wanted to do more to help our clients–not simply to light the path ahead, but provide a sort of virtual GPS system to guide them through any obstacles they might encounter.

Just as the healthcare industry uses computing power working on vast databases to identify the treatment protocols producing the best outcomes, GGA has examined the deeper financial truths embedded in the experience of thousands of clubs. We have focused on identifying and measuring the vital signs crucial to the financial health of private clubs.

Through gathering and analysing data, creating benchmarks, and observing and recording the best practices of well-managed clubs, GGA has sought to understand and document what works for the most successful clubs.

This quest in turn prompted the creation of an entirely new approach to business insights and club governance. GGA has distilled its overall findings into a club leadership tool we call Strategic Intelligence (SI).

SI collects your club’s existing data in relation to operations, finances, and membership. It then layers in a deeper market analysis of both a club’s internal and external environment. The results, delivered through a secure online portal, are detailed, accurate and actionable insights about your club’s overall performance.

SI identifies a club’s strengths and opportunities, providing a clear picture of the challenges to be addressed. It also provides the club’s leadership with a concise, reliable scorecard of its position and progress.

SI delivers its guidance in easily understood graphs and charts on a customized online portal, providing the information, analysis and guidance club leaders need to support planning, guide decision-making and measure success.

This tool was designed to support GGA’s clients in getting the most from the data they have, and report it in a way that transforms it into real, actionable business intelligence. There is extraordinary value in what you already have, it is simply a matter of knowing what questions to ask, and how to interpret the answers when they come.

Summary on how to get better insights from your data.

  1. Audit your current management systems.Are you capturing and storing the types of information that will help you gain the insights you need?
  2. Identify and prioritize the opportunities for improving data utilisation.How well do you use your data? Do you see opportunities for developing better analytics or asking better questions? Will you need more or different data?
  3. Benchmark insights and analysis.How do your insights compare with those of competitors and the practices of the top performers?
  4. Identify the resources necessary to realise those opportunities.What new tools, people, systems and service providers will you need to address the opportunities?

The club industry faces stern challenges, but it is better equipped to tackle them that at any time in recent history. The tools are there for you to use.

This article was authored by GGA Partner Rob Hill for Clubhouse Europe Magazine.

Henry DeLozier Elected Chairman of Audubon International Board

Troy, NY, June 10, 2017 – Henry Delozier was elected as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Audubon International at the organization’s 2017 annual meeting.

Mr. Delozier is a Partner in GGA Partners, the international specialist providing consulting services to the investment banking, real estate development and golf asset ownership and operations business segments. Delozier is known across the globe for his thought leadership in golf-related businesses. He is called one of the “Most Influential People in Golf” since 1999 by the Crittenden publications, and serves as an expert source for Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bloomberg News, Business Week, CNBC-Squawk Box, the Financial Times of London, GOLF magazine, Golf Digest, Golf Business, the New York Times, PGA Tour Network, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Delozier is a Past President of the Board of Directors for the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) in America and has served for many years on the Employers Advisory Council for the Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA). He was also honored by Board Room magazine with its 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Audubon International fulfills a global mission of environmental care and commitment,” says Delozier. “Good stewardship is good citizenship.” And he adds, “Being a big believer in the mission of Audubon International, I am proud to pitch in. I believe that everyone should find a way to support environmentalism.”

Christine Kane, Executive Director of Audubon International, looks forward to Delozier’s leadership role at the organization. “We’re fortunate to have Henry’s vision and leadership on our Board of Directors. He has a deep understanding of our organization and I look forward to working with him as we move into a new stage of growth for Audubon International.”

Other officers elected are Vice Chairman Marvin Moriarty (retired Director of the US Fish & Wildlife Service), Treasurer Matt Ceplo, CGCS (Golf Course Superintendent at Rockland Country Club), and Secretary Ted Horton, CGCS (Senior Consultant at BrightView Golf Maintenance).

Audubon International (AI) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) environmental organization that delivers high-quality environmental education around the world to facilitate the sustainable management of land, water, wildlife, and other natural resources in all the places people live, work, and play. To meet this mission, the organization provides training, services, and a set of award-winning environmental education and certification programs for individuals, organizations, properties, new developments, and entire communities. In addition to golf courses, which constitute the largest membership base of Audubon International, the organization works with cemeteries, hotels and resorts, residential communities, educational institutions and industrial facilities.

For more information, visit Audubon International’s website at or contact Christine Kane, Executive Director at at (518) 767-9051 ext. 114.