Executive Search: Managing Director for Woking Golf Club

Managing Director
Woking Golf Club

“A seminal heathland we really love.” – Golf World

“For anyone who really wants to be a golf architect, I heartily recommend Woking as one of the most rewarding courses in the world you can see” – Tom Doak

“The first hole is like a warm handshake from an old friend” – Tom Watson

The Club

Woking Golf Club was founded in 1893 and was the first of the Surrey courses to be cut out of the pines and heather by prolific golf course architect, Tom Dunn. It is a very much in the tradition of English golf clubs and still retains its old character and charm. The course has been lengthened in recent years and is now more than 6,500 yards from the back tees, however the real challenge of the course is the complexity of its undulating greens.

Primarily and proudly a club with a long-standing two-ball heritage, Woking members not only value the time it takes to play eighteen holes but relish the competitive and convivial culture that is the essence of the Club.

In recent years, a significant investment programme has been undertaken including a reservoir, fairway watering system and greens drainage programme. In addition, the club has undertaken an extensive woodland management programme to help the heather re-establish, which has resulted in many of the original stunning views across the course being reinstated. The golf course is ranked 18th in the list of the top 100 courses in England as set out in the 2023 Golf World rankings.

Woking currently has over 410 full members and welcomes around 10,000 guest and visiting golfers annually. The Club is good financial health and, having recently incorporated, the Board is currently developing its first 5-year strategic plan with the support of GGA Partners.

Position Summary

Reporting to the Board of Directors through the Chairman, the Managing Director (MD) of Woking Golf Club will be responsible for managing the overall performance of the Club, the implementation of the strategic plan and for the delivery of an exceptional member, guest, and visitor experience.

Following a recent change of governance structure, this is an excellent opportunity for a forward-thinking, dynamic MD to be accountable for the management of all aspects of the Club and to be empowered to pursue practices that contribute to fulfilling the Club’s vision and mission, as approved by the Board and the Membership.

The MD will generate and monitor budgets and financial statements, secure and protect the Club’s assets, including facilities and equipment, will monitor the quality of the Club’s operational performance and service standards, develop, and lead a cohesive professional service team, and will strive to consistently maintain a memorable and distinctive club experience for everyone who visits, every time they visit.

The Club prefers a highly visible and interactive MD, someone professional in personal style, demeanour, and presence, who fulfils the role of chief host and is comfortable interacting with Members.

A suitable MD will have a deep experience and understanding of the game of golf, its history and traditions, and a minimum of ten years of progressive management experience in a well-regarded private club or similar hospitality environment.

The position requires that the MD be business savvy without compromising on member priorities, and with a strong command of industry trends, benchmarks, and best practices. They will be proficient in change management with a demonstrable understanding of operational and management excellence and an ability to “professionalise” the Club across all functions.

Duties and Responsibilities 


  • Develop an effective working relationship with the Board of Directors and Committees.
  • Lead the management and implementation of the Club’s strategic, capital, and annual plans consistent with the Club’s Vision and Mission.
  • Lead, mentor and build a strong management team including effective performance management along with succession planning.
  • Follow industry trends, benchmarks and best practices and develop strategies that maintain Woking Golf Club’s market position and reputation.
  • Value the Club’s heritage, historic golf course and clubhouse.
  • Effectively manage change throughout the organisation to ensure the Club remains highly professional, desirable, respected, and relevant.
  • Be well-known and visible to the Membership.

Financial Management:

  • Generate operating and capital budgets that contain sufficient detail to enable accurate projection of revenues and expenses and that disclose underlying assumptions, for ultimate Board approval.
  • Generate and monitor monthly, annual, and other financial statements of the Club; take effective corrective action as required.
  • Analyse financial statements, monitor cash flow, provide timely, relevant, and accurate reporting (including key indicators, performance metrics and benchmarking) and maintain adequate internal controls.
  • Ensure that the financial integrity of the Club is always maintained and that it is operated in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
  • Be fiscally responsible while investing in the Club’s people and assets to ensure an exceptional Member experience.
  • Establish and monitor compliance with purchasing policies and procedures; and
  • Ensures that the Club’s assets are adequately insured against casualty and property losses, and liability losses to the Club and its Board members and staff.


  • Is knowledgeable regarding best governance practices for private clubs.
  • Implements policies established by the Board of Directors.
  • Plans, develops, and approves specific operational policies, programs, procedures, and methods in concert with Board policies.
  • Issues notice of meetings, attends Board and Annual Meetings, serves as the Corporate Secretary appointed annually by the Board of Directors.
  • Consistently monitors the Club’s constitution, rules, and regulations for continued relevance to the Club’s operations, and
  • Reports in a timely fashion any actual or anticipated material non-compliance with a policy of the Board.

Human Resources:

  • Has authority over and accountability for all staff.
  • Hires, trains, motivates, evaluates, compensates, and terminates staff in a professional, non-discriminatory, and caring fashion.
  • Has the authority to appoint and remove any and all employees and agents of the Club and settle the terms of their employment and remuneration in accordance with policies established by the Board.
  • Establishes personnel policies in accordance with policies established by the Board; initiates and monitors policies relating to personnel actions and training and professional development programs.
  • Works with their direct reports to schedule, supervise and direct the work of all employees.
  • Ensures that a succession plan is in place for each direct report.
  • Conducts regular performance reviews with direct reports and ensures that each of them implements a protocol whereby all staff have job descriptions and participate in a review at least once a year; and
  • Reviews current staffing model to ensure all functions are being performed by appropriately trained personnel and that the Club is staffed to meet the needs of the members in a cost-effective fashion.

Capital Projects:

  • Be proactive in planning for capital projects that need to be considered for the benefit of the Club and prepare appropriate capital expenditure proposals for Board consideration.
  • Manage the capital funding requirements of the capital and strategic plans.
  • Provide oversight of and manage all capital projects and related expenditures to ensure that they are delivered to time, to cost and at the quality approved by the Board.


  • In support of the Course Manager, ensure the golf courses and practice facilities are to the highest standards of condition and playability.
  • In support of the Golf Professional, ensure that the teaching capabilities and quality of teaching experience are the highest possible standard. Also ensure that the Pro Shop provides goods and services that are commensurate with the highest standards and that prices are competitive.
  • In support of the Clubhouse Manager, ensure the delivery of a consistently exceptional Clubhouse experience by providing a high-calibre food and beverage offering, quality service and appropriate social environment.
  • In the context of a club with such a strong and important 2-ball heritage, establish and oversee golf reservations and account management system for member golf, competitions, matches, guests, visitors, and societies that is seamless for the members and visitors, effectively manages the Club’s yield per round, and generates accurate business intelligence for informed decision-making.
  • Nurture the spirit of the game and the traditions of the Club, fostering a convivial atmosphere through play, competition, events, and atmosphere.
  • Adopt and maintain an environmentally responsible protocol for all operations.


  • Consistently ensure the Club is operating in compliance with all applicable regulations.
  • Provide an annual report to the Board of Directors regarding such compliance.
  • Maintain relations with appropriate local and national governmental agencies.


  • Advise the Board and its advisory committees in relation to membership strategy and planning, and once set by the Board, oversee the application of membership policies.
  • Evaluate and manage the current membership application process to ensure continued strength of potential members.
  • Consistently communicate with the membership and enforce Club rules.
  • Coordinate the marketing and membership relations programs to promote the Club’s services and facilities to both present and potential members.
  • Be accessible and visible to members and responds to members’ concerns in a timely manner.

Key Attributes

  • An innovative thinker with business acumen and a passion for continuous improvement.
  • A self-starter who is results-orientated and resilient in the face of adversity.
  • A dynamic leader and motivator with the ability to build a cohesive, talented, and effective team, focussed on the delivery of a collective mission. A leader that inspires support for and belief in the Club’s vision.
  • A leader who is empathetic and understanding of stakeholder positions, who is diplomatic and tactful, yet astute when there is the need to be firm and decisive in dealing with member and staff constituents.
  • Proven to be an excellent manager of change, of people, of stakeholders and stakeholder expectations, of plans and projects, and of time – skilled in prioritising and adapting without losing sight of the ultimate objectives.
  • A track record of elevating the member experience on and off the golf course, including food and beverage, service standards and protocols, and communications.
  • Demonstrates exceptional verbal, written and interpersonal communications skills with strong personal deportment. Believes in being visible and accessible to members without compromising on management duties.
  • A highly professional individual who is always in command of their brief. Someone of the utmost integrity and with a commitment to excellence.
  • Able to display sound judgement and make complex decisions in support of the Club’s Vision and Mission.
  • The ability to build and manage strong and rewarding relationships.

Qualifications and Skills

  • A post-secondary degree in business or a golf-related program.
  • A Certified Club Manager designation is preferred (CCM).
  • Experience reporting to a Board and an understanding of club governance.
  • A leadership track record.
  • Experience in a premier club environment.

Direct Reports

Manager of Golf Course Operations, Clubhouse Manager, Head Professional, Head Chef and Financial Administrator.


The successful applicant will receive an attractive compensation package commensurate with experience and qualifications along with a comprehensive health benefits plan and pension program.


IMPORTANT: Interested candidates should submit a resume along with a detailed cover letter which addresses the position qualifications and describes your alignment/experience with the prescribed position by December 30th at 5:00pm.

Documents are required to be submitted in Word or PDF format (save as “Last Name, First Name, Woking Golf Club MD Cover Letter” and “Last Name, First Name, Woking Golf Club MD Resume”) respectively to: execsearchemea@ggapartners.com

We thank all applicants for their interest but will only contact those selected for an interview.

Lead Search Consultants: 

Rob Hill
Managing Partner
GGA Partners™ EMEA


Kit Taylor
Managing Director, Hospitality, Leisure & Sport
Psd Group

For more information on Woking Golf Club, visit https://www.wokinggolfclub.co.uk/



Mid-Year Predictions for the Second Half of 2021

At the start of the new year and in the spirit of planning, the thought leaders at GGA Partners sat down to predict what we believed to be coming throughout the year and shared our 2021 Predictions on the Shape of the Next Normal. Now, halfway through 2021 with the spring season in the books and summer underway, we reconvened GGA leaders for a mid-year check-in on predictions for the latter half of the year.

1. Ensuring fair and equitable access to amenities remains top of mind, especially on the golf course

A trending topic throughout the industry is golf’s demand surge and how long it will sustain, much has been written on this point and those who are closely watching rounds played metrics anticipate a clearer reading by the end of the summer.

Stephen Johnston, GGA’s founding partner, expects that private clubs will see the surge continue to elevate rounds played by members which will likely increase issues relating to compaction of tee traffic and accessibility.  He predicts the benchmark regarding average number of rounds per member to be higher by approximately 10% following the pandemic and also increased golf course utilization by members’ spouses and family members.  Both factors will create a greater demand for tee times at private clubs.

Johnston believes some clubs may need to consider permitting round play by fivesomes instead of foursomes, potentially catalyzing logistical challenges such as a greater need for single-rider power carts in order to maintain speed of play at the same rate as foursomes with all players using power carts. For club managers and course operators, this entails an increased need for current and detailed evaluation of the benefits of membership and the relationship between playing privileges and the practical ability to book a tee time and get on-course.

2. Effective demand management is key and will shift from agile, flexible approaches to new operating standards as demand stabilizes

During the pandemic and throughout 2020, many golf, club, and leisure businesses recognized the increased need to more accurately and routinely measure the utilization of amenities, adapting operations management to react quickly to change.

Craig Johnston, head of GGA’s transaction advisory practice, anticipates an evolution in this one-day-at-a-time, agile monitoring approach into a new and more formalized standard of operating procedures.  “At the start of 2021, we said we would see clubs provide flexibility and experiment with various operational changes,” he explained.  “With the pandemic feeling like it’s steadily moving toward the rear-view mirror, members will be expecting clubs to begin instituting the ‘new normal’ operations and the data compiled by clubs in the first half of the year will be critical to deciding on the new normal.”

Johnston believes that membership demand will continue to be strong through the second half of the year and that it is likely utilization will reduce marginally as members begin travelling again for work and social obligations.  Even with a marginal reduction in utilization, demand for private club services will remain strong and will continue to put pressure on capacity and access in most clubs.

Senior Partner Henry DeLozier encourages club and facility operators to embrace short-term continuations of high demand while keeping an eye on the future and the non-zero probability of a demand shift in the coming years.  “Clubs must create pathways to sustain demand while navigating utilization volume.  It is unwise to place hard or irreversible limitations on capacity while clubs are at historic maximums for demand and usage,” cautioned DeLozier. “Clubs will do well to establish a clear understanding of demand and utilization to enable innovative programs which serve to fill periods of low demand in the future.”

3. Ongoing uncertainty about the pandemic’s long-term impact on club finances will increase the review and reevaluation of club financial projections to ensure sustained budget flexibility

While data regarding utilization, participation, and engagement throughout the summer months continues to be captured and consolidated, business leaders should not delay their financial planning and instead get to work on reevaluating finances and updating their future forecasts.

“Now is the time to review, evaluate, and reset club debt levels,” emphasized Henry DeLozier. “Clubs need to recast financial projections based upon elevated joining/initiation fees arising from high demand.”

In support of alacrity in financial planning, DeLozier notes that labor shortages spurred by the pandemic will increase payroll-related costs at a material level. He also predicts that comprehensive risk review is needed at most clubs to evaluate possible impacts arising from cyber-crime and/or declining club revenues during 2022.

Beyond internal shake-ups in utilization or operations, club leaders should be anticipating external impacts that could impact their financial plans.  A hypothetical example raised by DeLozier is if the U.S. economy were to become more inflationary.  In such a circumstance he believes clubs would see an increase in the costs of labor and supplies which would necessitate increases in member dues and fees, a deceleration of new-member enrollments as consumer confidence dips, and a slight slow-down in housing demand.

Right now, uncertainty remains with respect to the virus as well as the resulting economic impact from the pandemic. From a financial standpoint, clubs will do well to advance their forward planning while retaining budget elasticity.  “It will be imperative for clubs and boards to build flexibility into their budgets and agility into their operations,” added Craig Johnston.

4. Existing governance practices, policies, and procedures will be revisited, refurbished, and reinvigorated

A litany of new ways of operating and governing the club arose as a result of the pandemic, some of which suggest an efficacy that can be sustained in a post-pandemic environment.  Essential to assimilating these adaptions into new standards of procedure is a review of existing governance practices and the documentation which supports them.

“At a time when boards can measure the full range of financial performance metrics, updating club governing documents is a primary board responsibility,” noted Henry DeLozier.  “Board room succession planning must be formalized to prepare clubs for the inevitable downturn from record high utilization.”

In considering the nearly overnight adoption of technology tools to enable remote meetings and board-level deliberations, partner Michael Gregory noted a substantial increase in the use of technology tools that go beyond virtual Zoom meetings.  “The pandemic has allowed clubs to test online voting,” he explained.  “For many clubs, once things return to normal, their bylaws won’t allow for the continued execution of online voting unless they make changes.”

“We have seen the adoption and implementation of online voting to be a huge success for the clubs who have tried it for the first time,” said Gregory. “Members love it, it’s easy, it’s convenient, it leads to higher participation from the membership, and many clubs are in the process of changing their governing documents to allow for online voting as a result.”  The challenges and opportunities of employing online voting are detailed in our piece on taking club elections digital, which features a downloadable resource that can be shared among club boards.

5. In human resources, expect to see deeper reevaluations of compensation structures and employee value propositions

Weighing in from across the pond, Rob Hill, partner and managing director of GGA’s EMEA office in Dublin, predicts that club leaders will face bigger challenges in human resources throughout the remainder of 2021.

The first of three particular items he called out is a reevaluation of compensation.  “Making decisions about employee pay is among the biggest challenges facing club leaders in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown,” stated Hill. “As they begin compensation planning for the rest of the year and into 2022, these leaders not only have to consider pay levels, but also the suitability of their mission and operating model to thrive in a post-pandemic world.”

Citing his recent experiences in the European market, Hill shared that club leaders are challenged with finding new ways to operate smarter and more efficiently, while also looking for innovative ways to implement sturdy, low-cost solutions that their employees will love.  Which leads to his second point, that there will be a renewed emphasis on what employees love and how clubs, as employers, can provide an enhanced value proposition for their employees.

“As employees get back to work onsite, employers are finding that what their people value from the employment relationship has changed,” Hill explained.  “Where pay has been viewed as largely transactional in the past, clubs may need to provide new types of benefits, especially programs that provide more flexibility, financial security, and empowerment to retain and motivate their people.”

Lastly, there is likely to be considerable movement of talent over the coming year brought on by employees’ new work-life ambitions and financial imperatives, said Hill, “As demand for their skills and experience grows, the very best talent will seek out employers that demonstrate they view employees not as costs but as assets and reflect this in their approach to compensation.”

Recalling our start-of-year prediction that the movement of people and relocation of companies will reshape markets, partner Craig Johnston added, “The relocation of people continues to be a prominent trend and one that is likely to continue in the second half of the year.”  For club employers, it’s not just the changing physical locations which impact the cost and supply of labor, but also the expectations of employees as they seek out competitive new roles and work experiences.

6. The repurposing and reimagining of club facilities, amenities, and member-use areas will continue

The pandemic pushed to the fore the need for clubs to adapt their facilities to match changes in the ways members use and enjoy their clubs.  A combination of practical evolutions for health and safety and circumstantial evolutions drawn from widespread ability for members to work remotely created increased desire for clubs to offer more casual outdoor dining options and spaces to enable members to conduct work while at the club.

Partner Stephen Johnston believes these sentiments will continue to near-term facility improvements at clubs.  “With more flexibility in the workplace and members working from home periodically, there will be a need at the club for members to do work or take calls before their tee time or their lunch date,” he said.  “It has been evident for some time that members generally prefer to enjoy outdoor dining and since, throughout the pandemic, it has become apparent that guests draw greater comfort in outdoor experiences, I see a greater demand for outside patio and food and beverage service.”

As society begins to reopen and communities begin to stabilize, time can only tell precisely how clubs will continue to evolve their operations, whether that be scaling back pandemic-relevant operations or doubling-down on new services and efficiencies.  Evident in our work with clients are significant efforts to reorganize club leaders, reevaluate operations, and retool plans for a successful future in the new normal.  Here are a few highlights of efforts clubs are making for the next normal:


  • Reinvigoration of governance processes and engagement of leaders to ensure alignment between boards and club strategic plans.
  • Renewed surveying of members to keep a pulse on how sentiments have changed from pre-pandemic, during pandemic, and currently as communities stabilize.
  • Enhanced adoption and application of electronic voting as clubs reevaluate membership structures, governing documents, and operating policies amidst “displaced” members.
  • Reconfiguring of budgets, capital plans, and long-range financial models.
  • Refinement and advancement of membership marketing strategies, tactics, and materials.
  • Tightening relationships between facility planning, capital improvements, and member communications campaigns.

New Partnership Promises to Deliver Vibrant Future for England Club Managers

CMAE England Engages GGA Partners to Develop Strategic Plan

WARWICKSHIRE, England (October 27, 2020) – CMAE England has announced the engagement of GGA Partners™, the international consulting firm working with many of the world’s most successful private clubs, resorts, golf courses and residential communities, to facilitate the development of a five-year strategic plan for the association.

Established in 1992 as North America’s KPMG Golf Industry Practice, the independent firm has provided industry-leading advisory services to more than 3,000 clients worldwide. GGA has been recognised as “Strategic Planning Firm of the Year” by Boardroom Magazine and brings an unmatched financial, marketing, and operational focus to each of its strategic assignments. This extensive expertise was critical for CMAE England in their choice of strategic planning partner.

“CMAE England is founded on a dedication to club management excellence, education, knowledge-sharing, supporting career progression and on our powerful network of club professionals,” explained Chairman of CMAE England, Tristan Hall. “The board believes it is time to reaffirm these values, and the strategy employed, to deliver a vibrant and sustainable future for the Association.”

“In securing the services of GGA Partners, we have retained the very best strategic advisory team in the industry to guide and inform this critical process,” said Hall.

Distinguished in its ability to build enduring value, GGA’s work will continue beyond the development of the strategic plan to ensure its strategy drives significant improvement. As a result, CMAE is pleased to announce that GGA Partners™ has made a multi-year commitment to support the association as a Corporate Partner.

Rob Hill, Managing Partner of GGA’s EMEA Office, said, “GGA and CMAE are passionate about the value of informed decision-making and strategic planning. We appreciate the privilege of being asked to serve CMAE England in shaping its future and to demonstrate our support for the professional development of club leaders throughout England”.

GGA Partners™ has offices in Toronto, Canada; Phoenix, USA, and Dublin, Ireland. For further information about GGA Partners™ visit: ggapartners.com.


About CMAE England Region

The Club Management Association of Europe (CMAE) England Region is a non-profit making professional association with members involved in the management of sports clubs (golf, tennis, sailing, rowing, rugby, football, cricket), health & fitness clubs, leisure, city and dining clubs located throughout England. The CMAE provides a forum for the encouragement, development and recognition of education and professionalism in Club Management. For more information, please visit cmae-england.uk.

About GGA Partners™

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. For more information, please visit ggapartners.com.


Media Contacts:

Bennett DeLozier
GGA Partners
+353 44 33 603

Debbie Goddard
CMAE England Region
+44 (0)24 7669 2359

Winter is Coming…

Amidst the euphoria of clubs reopening, EMEA Partner Rob Hill encourages club leaders to look beyond 2020 and plan now to do all they can to maintain those gains, because starting this winter, 2021 is going to bring a whole new challenge.

Numerous UK golfing bodies, clubs and media are understandably enjoying the moment – citing a considerable spike in membership interest and lauding the industry’s resurrection as reason for celebration.

Amidst the euphoria, club leaders would do well to look beyond 2020 and plan now to do all they can to maintain those gains, because starting this winter, 2021 is going to bring a whole new challenge.

The Bank of England has warned that the UK faces its deepest recession since 1709 and the OECD forecasts that the UK will suffer the worst recession in the developed world.

Thus far, the true state of the UK labour market has been disguised by wage subsidies covering 9.1m jobs – a scheme coming to an end in October this year.

GGA Partners Research (A Member’s Perspective, 2020) signals that 43% of private club members expect their disposable income will decline over the next 12 months, while 58% believe their overall consumer spending will also decline.

This new economic environment will first focus its wrath on the 8% of clubs in the UK and Ireland that classify their current cash position as ‘Critical’. It will swiftly sweep through the further 29% that classify theirs as ‘Concerning’.

As far as the COVID effect on member attitudes to returning to use their club, 11% of members signal that they are hesitant, would not return until the Club had been operational ‘without issues’ for a trial period, until rigorous virus testing capabilities or even a vaccine is available. This is particularly applicable to the 70’s+ age group (A Member’s Perspective, 2020), leading to a likely detrimental impact on this demographic’s perceived value for money and relevance.

A study carried out by the English Golf Union as it then was in 2008, identified in the first year of that recession, almost 1/2 of all clubs experienced a decline in membership numbers with “the most significant decrease in the 22-44 age group” – a reflection of the age group that gets hit hardest in an employment downtown. It’s reasonable to assume this trend will be repeated.

By all means enjoy re-opening, celebrate the new demand and interest in the game and membership, and the first profitable quarter for f&b departments in recent memory! But remember what you’re experiencing now isn’t the new normal. That’s coming this winter and it is the responsibility of club leaders to prepare their organisations for the next cycle NOW.

This means addressing any governance weaknesses that may hinder nimble and difficult decision-making. Following proven guiding principles to protect the club’s overall financial health. Protecting the condition of club assets and exploring opportunities for investing in enhancements which will broaden relevance and appeal. Investing in people and their education to deliver efficient and outstanding member and visitor experiences. Investing in a membership retention plan with an emphasis on value, NPS, socialisation, and safety, and investing in an appropriate brand management strategy so that values are communicated effectively to both internal and external audiences.

If you have an interest in reading insights from my colleagues and research from our extraordinary team at GGA Partners, I encourage you to go to ggapartners.com/insights where you can also sign up to receive releases of interest.

The Change Study: Implementing Change (UK/IE Report)

The second of three survey reports in the GGA Partners change research initiative, these survey findings focus on “Implementing Change” at clubs throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. To discuss these findings and learn more about the research initiative, contact Rob Hill Partner, EMEA. 

The Management of Change in Golf and Private Clubs

As the global economy hurtles forward in complex and surprising ways, private clubs must adapt to survive. The wider world of golf is also facing dilemmas, as its market shrinks. But while innovation and disruption are the key elements driving broad economic change, private clubs cling to tradition and honour-established customs.

What is the best approach to reconciling these divergent tendencies? How can clubs preserve their identities while adapting to a changing world? How can club leaders drive the change that is needed for their clubs to thrive in the future? Where do private clubs fit within golf’s shifting cultural and financial environment?

Managers and members who are planning and navigating a path forward for their clubs need reliable data to make informed decisions. And while GGA Partners has provided reliable and actionable insights to clubs since its founding, we believe that club leaders need more than data. They need an ally to illuminate the issues. They covet a reliable voice to provide unbiased guidance based on evidence rather than anecdote.

The Change Study

That is why GGA initiated this research project to help us all understand the landscape for change in the golf, private club and leisure industries. We want to quantify the extent and character of the appetite for change and determine how barriers to change impede implementation. We want to identify any common characteristics present in effective change management, along with ascertaining the best methods for cementing innovations and measuring change over time.

The aim of this research is to provide club and business leaders with the insights and tools they need to successfully navigate the changes which we believe all clubs and organizations are sure to face in the months and years ahead.

Key Insights from the Implementing Change Study

A summary of the key findings in this second report, of three, include:

Landscape for Implementing Change

  • Club Members are shown to exhibit the lowest tolerance of change amongst stakeholders with 84% of respondents believing members show moderate, little, or NO tolerance for change.
  • Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, 74% of clubs were in the midst of implementing new processes, products, services and/or policies requiring organisation-wide change.
  • The majority of clubs are currently implementing changes to their governance model or practices (62%), in capital planning capabilities (52%) and in technological enhancements (51%).
  • According to almost three-in-four (71%) club leaders, the management of change is Very or Extremely Influential on its overall success.

Characteristics of clubs that successfully manage the implementation of change

  • 84% of respondents agree that leaders should rely on evidence / intelligence to inform planning for change projects.
  • 83% of respondents agree that a club’s / organisation’s leadership must demonstrate true ownership and commitment to making change happen.
  • 78% of respondents agree that stakeholders must be kept informed throughout implementation on progress and impact.
  • 78% of respondents agree leaders should clearly communicate change-related projects and their intended outcomes with all appropriate stakeholders before implementation commences.
  • The Manager is the principal influence on effective change management. The most influential communication channels flow from the Board to the Manager, and on down the chain of command from Manager to Staff.

Measuring the Impact of Change

  • Fewer than half of club leaders (44%) ‘usually’ or ‘always’ use metrics to measure the impact of change.
  • For club leaders who are inclined to consistently apply metrics in measuring the impact of their change initiatives, there is a strong reliance on membership response (75%) and on the improvements to performance (71%) that result.

Coping with the COVID-19 Crisis

  • Overall, club leaders represent themselves to be reasonably satisfied with their organisation’s response to the COVID-19 Health Crisis (average rating 7.7 out of 10). 40% rate themselves as ‘highly satisfied’ (9-10).
  • The majority of club leaders (65%) have found member communication the most challenging aspect of leadership through the crisis.
  • By May 1st 2020, 91% of clubs throughout the UK and Ireland have applied to use the temporary wage subsidy schemes delivered by the respective governments, allowing them to put staff on furlough with the government covering between 70 and 80 percent of regular pay.
  • 8% of clubs classify their current cash position as Critical. A further 29% classify theirs as Concerning.

Subscribe to access the full Implementing Change report.