31 Years | 31 Lessons – Lesson 1


Managing a private club is  not an easy task. It requires knowledge, stamina, fortitude, patience and a sense of humor. With each new year comes new challenges, opportunities and lessons to learn.

When GGA Director Colin Burns, CCM, joined the firm, he shared the lessons he learned over a lifetime in the hospitality industry, as an advocate for club management and his three decades as the general manager of Winged Foot Golf Club with our team. In hearing those lessons, we were reminded how success comes from doing the right thing every day.

We asked Colin to record his common sense and professional advise for us to share with you. Today we present the first of Colin’s 31 Years | 31 Lessons videos. We will be releasing all 31 on our LinkedIn page over the next several months in the hope you find these lessons helpful as you navigate your own path to success as a leader in our industry.

Watch Lesson 1


GGA Partners Expands Executive Search and Strategy Consulting Team, Appoints Dee Anna Clarke, Director

Dee Anna Clarke brings fast-growing firm over 20 years’ experience in financial management, strategy and organizational leadership across club and financial service industries.

December 15, 2022 – GGA Partners, an international consulting firm working with some of world’s leading golf courses, private clubs, resorts and residential communities, announced today the appointment of Dee Anna Clarke as Director.

“We are pleased to welcome Dee Anna Clarke to GGA Partners’,” says Partner, Patrick DeLozier. “In addition to her deep knowledge of the private club industry, she brings extensive experience in accounting, forecasting, risk management, human resources, and financial planning. With Clarke’s unique expertise, our Executive Search practice will benefit tremendously.”

Previously, Clarke spent three years as the Chief Business Officer and Vice President of Strategic Projects of SCMG, a leading provider of aquatic related services in the southeast United States. In this role, she provided strategic direction and leadership for the corporate team and enhanced the client service experience. Clarke also held the position of Chief Financial Officer for over six years with Charlotte Country Club, where she found her passion in hospitality. During this time, she also served on the board of the Carolinas Club Foundation, supporting the Carolinas Chapter of Club Management Association of America.

“I am looking forward to supporting the continued growth of GGA Partners. The firm is full of creative and talented individuals that are always looking for new ways to grow, innovate and develop. There is an incredible opportunity to deepen our client relationships through a powerful combination of our unique talent strategies as well as our unparalleled experience and expertise working with private club leaders,” noted Clarke.

“Dee Anna’s financial acumen, private club experience, and problem-solving skills will also deepen the strategy and operations consulting team at GGA.  Her ability to align club vision and strategy with human resource requirements will be of great value to GGA clients” says Partner, Michael Gregory.

About GGA Partners (www.ggapartners.com)
GGA Partners™ is an international consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful golf courses, private clubs, resorts and residential communities. We are dedicated to helping owners, asset managers, club and community leaders, investors and real estate developers tackle challenges, achieve objectives and maximize asset performance.

Established in 1992 as the KPMG Golf Industry Practice, our global team of experienced professionals leverage in-depth business intelligence and proprietary global data to deliver impactful strategic solutions and lasting success.

GGA Partners has offices in Toronto, Canada; Phoenix, Bluffton/Hilton Head, USA, and Dublin, Ireland.

For further information, contact:
Samar Abdourahman
GGA Partners
t: 416-333-5008
e: samar.abdourahman@ggapartners.com


3 Reminders for Every Leader

Now, More Than Ever

Three reminders for every leader, every day – from a coaching perspective

Over the past 18 months after speaking with managers and their teams, I have found myself frequently saying “Now More Than Ever”. I rarely leave a coaching session or conversation without being reminded that there are some principles of leadership that can’t been forgotten or taken for granted, especially now.

Sometimes managers think they are displaying these “leadership musts” more than they really are. The truth is that managers are tired, their teams feel exhausted and overworked, and the challenges keep arriving.

In the midst of fighting the fires of urgencies like the labor shortage and the pandemic’s next crisis, it is so important to remember to lead. That’s the secret – to remember that along with managing the business, they have the opportunity to make a huge impact on their most valuable resource, their people.  The challenge is on to find good people to fill the available positions. Even more important is creating the culture to retain them.   Here are three simple, yet powerful reminders for everyday leadership.


When it comes to your people, everything matters. Managers often underestimate the importance of their presence. As they tackle the big picture issues, it is easy to leave it up to supervisors to keep teams engaged and deliver the best member experience possible. While managers surely have a lot on their plates right now, it is crucial and critical to stay connected with every employee at every level.  Model what you want to see. Your visibility is surely important to your members. It’s even more important to your staff members. As the late motivational speaker Zig Ziglar often said:

“People don’t care how much you know,
until they know how much you care – about them.”

Years ago a Sous Chef proudly showed me a thank you note he received from his GM. It was a simple hand written note on a white piece of paper.  He carried it with him every day in his wallet for over 10 years and I bet he still has it.

Connect with as many staff and managers as possible every day. Call them. Text them. Stop for a few minutes and talk with them. Ask them how they are doing, how their family is doing, what they need to do their job more effectively, and thank them genuinely for specific contributions they are making. Giving bonuses, gift cards and extras can be meaningful. However, nothing replaces a sincere thank you on a regular basis. Nothing. Keep connecting. Keep acknowledging.  Keep encouraging.


Are you an Employer of Choice? The labor shortage has brought a new set of challenges – finding qualified people.  The selection process is important, yet even more critical is retention. Here are some insights about how you can keep these new valuable recruits as well as your current invaluable team members:

  • Revisit your onboarding process to determine if it is working. Does each new team member get what they need. Do they feel welcome and part of a team, or do they just receive the basics and head out onto the floor? Get as many team members involved as possible during this most important phase.
  • Make sure the General Manager is part of the orientation process. As the GM, be sure to welcome every single new hire, get to know them, and then challenge them to add value that will make your club better. If you give employees something to live up to, they can make a difference.
  • Every manager and supervisor should keep asking – Does everyone have the tools they need to do their job? Do they have the daily information and updates they need? Are they trained properly? Do they know how to answer the latest pandemic questions and club policies? When staff aren’t equipped for success, they will surely get frustrated and leave. They may say they are leaving because of the money. They aren’t.


Most managers are in their role because of their technical competence and proficient operational skills. The tendency when engaging with staff is to give all of the answers. There is certainly a time and place for telling people what to do, however, leading others and engaging your team is the perfect opportunity not to give all of the answers. Every manager I have spoken with during the pandemic has said that one of the big lessons they have learned is that we don’t always have all of the answers. Exactly. So let’s apply that to our teams.

Dr. Peter Hawkins, author and Professor of Leadership at the Henley Business School, states that “The 21st century leader realizes that they can’t solve problems on their own, and they need the skills to orchestrate the team to come up with the best answers.”  Most team members are engaged in the culture when they can contribute, learn, and grow. They want to give their ideas and be a part of the solution.

Before you give the answers, think about what powerful questions you can ask to engage your team, then watch what happens.

Now more than ever is the time to lead.

Shelley MacDougall is a Director, Leadership Development at GGA Partners specializing in leadership coaching and training. She is passionate about developing leaders who want to make meaningful change where it counts: within themselves, with their teams, and in their organizations. To view Shelley’s profile, click here.