Board Self-Assessment

Following board room performance standards now in use at most corporations, enables private club boards to improve their performance and the job satisfaction from their board service.  One business-like staple from the big companies is a board self-assessment.

Usually a board self-assessment is divided into four segments: structure, information, dynamics and individual board member self-evaluation.  Following are some examples of such a board assessment tool, which quantifies the qualitative elements into five parts ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” (with disagree, neutral and agree in the mid-range).  Questions about the board structure include:


  1. The board members have the appropriate talent, experience, diversity, independence, character and judgment.
  2. Board meetings are well organized and planned to ensure an effective use of time.
  3. The annual board retreat is effective in focusing the board on key strategic issues.
  4. The board has the right number of committees, and
  5. Committee meetings are timely, when-needed and purposeful.


  1. The responsibilities and expectations of board members are clearly communicated and understood.
  2. The board receives adequate pre-reading materials – including budget, financial and committee reports – in advance of meetings.
  3. Board minutes are appropriate for the club, accurate, and timely available for member review.
  4. The board has adequate access to internal and external advisors, such as independent auditor and legal counsel, and
  5. Presentations by officers and staff at board meetings are accurate and unbiased.


  1. Board devotes sufficient time to understand and appropriately influence the club’s mission and strategic direction.
  2. Board clearly communicates goals, expectations, and concerns about tactical solutions the club’s strategic plan.
  3. Board maintains current, accurate and complete understanding of the club’s financial performance and capabilities.
  4. Board monitors legal and ethical compliance consistently, and
  5. Board balances the assignment of authority with accountability for results.

Board Member Self-Assessment (rate your own performance)

  1. Full understanding of the club’s strategic plan.
  2. Able to make critical and informed decisions in a constructive manner.
  3. Focus on key strategic, financial and governance matters.
  4. Actively engaged in the work of the board, and
  5. Advocates in support of the club.

The consolidated – not individual – results of the board self-assessment should be published for member review with an invitation for comment and feedback.  This step engages members and enables individual board members to separate random member comments from quantified data.  Members favor the notion that the board is holding itself accountable to the club’s members and openly sharing the results with fellow members.  Although your club may not be a Fortune 500 company, it can certainly adopt useful standards of board accountability.

GGA’s Henry DeLozier penned this article for BoardRoom Magazine’s BoardRoom Briefs.

Hard Times

In his award-winning description of the Dust Bowl years, author Timothy Egan tells the story of a land without adequate water for crops and the soul-suffocating consequences of extreme drought. “The Worst Hard Time” recreates the 10,000-foot high dust storms that whipped across a delicate dryland ecosystem, choking animals and people eking out an existence most of us cannot imagine.

It’s hard to read the author’s account of their epic struggle and not relate it to the importance of intentional water management programs for anyone in the golf business today. Water management is one of the great responsibilities for all who draw water from the land, and superintendents are rightfully praised for their careful and attentive water consumption practices. They are diligent and careful users of water – whether from the ground or recycled effluent. Yet, many fear we are not doing enough to safeguard the long-term health of our most valuable assets.

Fortunately, and in contrast to the Dust Bowl years, when charlatans and conmen preyed on fearful farmers, there are now a number of progressive superintendents developing and sharing solutions for the common good. We’ve highlighted a few of them here, some of which fall into the category of plain old common sense and others that are quite innovative.

Common-Sense Solutions

Rick Tegtmeier, the superintendent at Des Moines Golf and Country Club, which hosted the 2017 Solheim Cup, often employs the wisdom of experience.

“If there is a rainfall event in our immediate future, we turn off the well (that fills the irrigation lake) in anticipation of filling the lakes with runoff water,” he says. “That saves the club money by not pumping the water out of our deep well. All our lakes on property can be drained into one of the lakes that we draw out of. In the event of a water shortage or drought, we have 21 days of water on property to keep our greens and tees alive.”

Many superintendents monitor water consumption with technology systems that constantly monitor the efficient performance of irrigation systems. “If a head is not turning or a nozzle is clogged, I can assure you water is being wasted,” Tegtmeier says.

Innovative Solutions

Tegtmeier is also known for his innovative approach to water management.

“Over the four months of summer, we utilize wetting agents on greens, approaches, tees and fairways. These surfactants make the water wetter and help to evenly distribute moisture throughout the soil profile.”

There are many types of surfactants available to turf professionals. “Using the right ones to either retain water in the profile or penetrate the soil is key,” Tegtmeier adds.

Bill Cygan, superintendent at Silver Spring Country Club in Ridgefield, Conn., considers water management a “blend of art and science.” Using moisture meters, Cygan and his team seek optimum moisture content for their course to produce firmer and healthier playing surfaces. “Many factors, including season, weather, soil types, microclimates and membership expectations, must be considered,” he notes.

Both Tegtmeier and Cygan also carefully monitor evapotranspiration (ET) levels on their courses. Cygan uses deficit irrigation for replacing only the least amount of water lost through ET that is needed to keep the plant healthy.

Tegtmeier says tracking ET helps determine how much to water back that evening. “We also have six TDR meters we utilize throughout the day to see if the soil needs water. Thirty years ago, we used a soil probe or a cup cutter to determine if water was needed. Now, TDR measurements are an essential part of what we do every day.”

Wetting agents are also an important part of the superintendent’s arsenal. “Wetting agents aren’t a replacement for good drainage or an irrigation system,” Cygan says. “But they will aid either process, depending on which product is chosen.”

We’ve come a long way from the Dust Bowl years, when wet sheets were hung in windows and doors were taped and stuffed cracks with rags to ward off the elements. But despite their good intentions, homespun remedies didn’t work. Poor soil management practices and the lack of water were to blame. The toll was paid by the people who lived to tell the tale.

Fortunately, progressive superintendents have developed common-sense practices and innovative solutions to help ensure that the worst hard time is not repeated on our golf courses.

GGA’s Henry DeLozier penned this article for Golf Course Industry Magazine.

Strategic Intelligence Overview: Part 1 of 3

As the world becomes more data centric, the club industry is beginning to discover the power of utilizing data, research and analysis to operate more intelligently and strategically. According to Derek Johnston of Global Golf Advisors, informed intelligence planning increases the likelihood of current and future success.

The biggest challenges clubs face in their quest for better strategy is how to source and analyze the data and then apply that intelligence to determine future action. Comprehensive business intelligence is extremely important for clubs, especially those where boards are comprised of volunteer members with varying backgrounds and professional experience. “Everyone must be working from the same set of facts when discussing and ultimately setting strategy,” Johnston said.

Business intelligence is often new to clubs and tends to be misunderstood. “Simply put, you want to use information to help determine what has happened and why,” he explained. Using data to derive insight that helps with decision making is most impactful when 1) internal and external data from multiple sources is synthesized, 2) combined with experience and key business assumptions and 3) enabled by technology in order to identify unique insight.

“This means that relying on financial information or data from your club’s information system is not enough. It will not provide the specifics needed to develop the most successful strategy for your club,” Johnston warned.

Global Golf Advisors believes business intelligence requires a 360-degree view of all the factors impacting a club’s success from competitive market forces to member perceptions to operational and financial performance evaluations. It should also be defined based on who will be using it and the reason for which they will be using the information. Global Golf Advisors warns that anecdotal information in a board room is distracting and disastrous.

“Develop a strategy that supports both operational and strategic decision making that goes beyond typical financial data and key performance indicators. The top performing clubs around the world are consistently tracking, analyzing and reporting data to leverage intelligence and create competitive advantages,” Johnston concluded.

Stay tuned for Strategic Intelligence Part Two in our next issue which will address how to implement key practices to establish a strategic intelligence process at your club.

This article was authored by GGA Partner Derek Johnston for the Private Club Advisor.

Common Change Challenges

“As you ask about common change challenges that most clubs are facing, it is that they are ill-prepared for change in the first place … they are not prepared to process change in a sequential manner.”

In this interview, GGA Partner Henry DeLozier shares his view on how club leaders can create and prepare for change – referencing the need for a clear-cut set of intentions that describe the club’s plan for change and how the club’s leaders will go about implementing it.