A Club Leader’s Perspective [2022]

A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges 

Latest research produced in collaboration with the Club Management Association of America examines the perspectives of private clubs and what trends are motivating their decisions.

In brief:

  • Industry survey of over 200 club leaders across North America highlights the perspective of club leaders on the current challenges facing the industry.
  • A Club Leader’s Perspective explores the state of the industry from the perspective of those in club leadership roles, and what influences their decisions.
  • Club leaders weighed-in on emerging trends and challenges across five primary areas:
    • Industry outlook within the post-Covid-19 ecosystem
    • Human resources and workforce demands
    • Membership experience and programming
    • Capital planning and long-range improvement strategies, and budgeting and forecasting
    • Inflationary impacts on service

We’ve taken the pulse of club leaders regularly since the start of the pandemic, including in-depth looks at challenges and sentiments in 2021. Over the past two years, many clubs were forced to adapt to evolving public health regulations, supply chain shortages, labor challenges and sky-rocketing membership levels. Despite these challenges, club leaders are largely positive about 2022. 

Access the full report for further insights.

Read now

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. GGA Partners has offices in Toronto, Ontario; Phoenix, Arizona; Bluffton, South Carolina; and Dublin, Ireland. For more information, please visit ggapartners.com.

GGA Partners is proud to be a long-standing CMAA Business Partner.

About CMAA

Founded in 1927, the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) is the largest professional association for managers of membership clubs with 6,800 members throughout the US and internationally. Our members contribute to the success of more than 2,500 country, golf, athletic, city, faculty, military, town, and yacht clubs. The objectives of the Association are to promote relationships between club management professionals and other similar professions; to encourage the education and advancement of members; and to provide the resources needed for efficient and successful club operations. Under the covenants of professionalism, education, leadership, and community, CMAA continues to extend its reach as the leader in the club management practice. CMAA is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, with 42 professional chapters and more than 40 student chapters and colonies. Learn more at cmaa.org.

For further information, contact:

Samar Abdourahman
Manager, Marketing and Communications
GGA Partners
t: 416-333-5008
e: samar.abdourahman@ggapartners.com

Beyond Millennials: New Generations and the Influence of Family

Findings from 6th Annual Research Study on Generational Golfers

Generation X, Millennials and Gen Z, with their own attitudes, behaviors and perspectives, have redefined the future of golf.

In brief:

  • New research into family habits of U.S. golfers has uncovered data in how three generations view family dynamics, play, skills and learning, expenditures and their general satisfaction with the sport.
  • Industry survey of over 1,500 golfers whose average age was 30 years old highlights how the presence of children and partners, and generational membership, directly impact the expectations, behaviors and priorities of golfers.
  • The report explores the overarching similarities and differences between Generation X, Y (millennials) and Z, and their family structures, and what this data means for the future of golf.

GGA Partners, The National Collegiate Club Golf Association (NCCGA), and The City Tour have released a study entitled, “Beyond Millennials: New Generations and the Influence of Family.”

It is no secret that golf’s popularity has exploded as a result of COVID-19. In 2020 and 2021, golf was one of the activities least likely to contribute to the spread of COVID-19 as it is played outside where one can keep their distance from others. In our 2021 Industry Survey, 60% of respondents indicated that golf has become more important in their life because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, that number decreased slightly to 53%, but it is clear that the elevated interest in golf has somewhat sustained, even as the threat and related restrictions have diminished. While the pandemic has increased interest in the sport, new challenges are placing additional pressures and impacts on golfers.

With this in mind, here are three key insights from this year’s research:

Millennials play significantly less golf than Gen X and Gen Z. Interestingly, singles played slightly more golf than partnered respondents, and players who were widowed, separated or divorced are playing the most golf within the group.

Gen Z are more likely to play with family than Gen X, while Millennials showcase a tendency to play more with friends than the other two cohorts. Generation X played with fellow members at a much higher rate, while Generation Z showed lower than expected interest in playing with members.  

Gen Z golfers spend the least on both greens’ fees and extra spending at the course, while Millennials show the most interest in spending the most on greens fees. Gen X will spend the most while at the course.

Two thirds of survey respondents indicated they would be willing to spend more – with 50% of respondents indicating a range of up to $5,000 – to join a private club. Gen X was willing to spend more ($6,758 USD) as compared to both Gen Z and Millennials, who indicated they were willing to spend slightly less ($6,100 USD). Widowed/divorce respondents are willing to spend the most ($6,818 USD) with singles willing to spend the least ($6,022 USD).

Access the full report now for further detailed insights.

Download report

For further information, contact:

Samar Abdourahman
Manager, Marketing and Communications
GGA Partners
t: 416-333-5008
e: samar.abdourahman@ggapartners.com

A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges

GGA Partners Releases A Club Leader’s Perspective on Emerging Trends & Challenges Research Report

More than 500 club leaders weigh-in on trends, challenges, and pressing needs in club management emerging in the wake of the global health crisis. Now available for download.

TORONTO, Ontario (June 15, 2021) – GGA Partners, an international consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful golf courses, private clubs, resorts, and residential communities, has released the results of an industry-wide research survey of more than 500 club leaders.  

The 2021 A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges report is a collaboration between GGA Partners and the Club Management Association of America. Researchers and analysts from both firms partnered in the development and analysis of the findings.

The research, which serves as a contemporary update on pressing needs in club management, takes a look at emerging trends and challenges from the perspective of those in club leadership roles, capturing insight from 515 club leaders, the majority of whom serve as general managers, COOs, and CEOs of private clubs in North America.

A Club Leader's Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges

Club leaders weighed-in on emerging trends and challenges across five primary areas: 1) industry outlooks and the ripple effects of COVID-19, 2) human resources and workforce demands, 3) the membership experience, value proposition, and programming, 4) capital planning and long-range improvement strategies, and 5) financial position, budgeting, and forecasting.

“Even before the pandemic, significant change was underway across the private club landscape,” explained Derek Johnston, a partner in the firm. “The crisis has not only accelerated these nascent changes but also introduced new obstacles and challenges for clubs to overcome. The findings of this report will be a useful reference tool for club leaders as they navigate an uncharted path forward and reset for growth beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”

This latest report is a continuation of the GGA Partners Perspective research initiative, a series of surveys the firm deployed in the spring of 2020 which dive into the attitudes, preferences, and industry outlooks of distinct club industry cohorts. The prior installment, A Member’s Perspective: The Shifting Private Club Landscape, featured findings from a global survey of more than 6,300 private club members on their attitudes toward the club industry during the pandemic and how they expect clubs to respond.

To view the research results and key insights found in A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges, click on the link below.

Download the report here

 

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. GGA Partners has offices in Toronto, Ontario; Phoenix, Arizona; Bluffton, South Carolina; and Dublin, Ireland. For more information, please visit ggapartners.com.

About CMAA

Founded in 1927, the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) is the largest professional association for managers of membership clubs with 6,800 members throughout the US and internationally. Our members contribute to the success of more than 2,500 country, golf, athletic, city, faculty, military, town, and yacht clubs. The objectives of the Association are to promote relationships between club management professionals and other similar professions; to encourage the education and advancement of members; and to provide the resources needed for efficient and successful club operations. Under the covenants of professionalism, education, leadership, and community, CMAA continues to extend its reach as the leader in the club management practice. CMAA is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, with 42 professional chapters and more than 40 student chapters and colonies. Learn more at cmaa.org.

GGA Partners is proud to be a long-standing CMAA Business Partner.

 

Media Contact

Bennett DeLozier
Manager, GGA Partners
602-614-2100
bennett.delozier@ggapartners.com

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.

Staffing For Success: Part 3

Game Plan – Henry DeLozier‘s monthly column in Golf Course Industry Magazine – continues its series on staffing for success with the third of three installments. After looking at how the pandemic has afforded club and course managers the opportunity to reevaluate their teams (Staffing for Success: Part 1) and strategies for finding and hiring the right team members (Staffing for Success: Part 2), we turn to creating a culture that inspires and retains top performers.

Culture: The Secret Sauce of Success

A Supreme Court justice once defined obscenity by not defining it. “I know it when I see it,” Justice Potter Stewart famously said in 1964. It seems that an organization’s culture might fit into the same category: difficult to define, but obvious once illuminated.

The difficulty in defining organizational culture is because it is so many things at once. An amalgamation of personality, values, reputation, purpose, style and traditions framed by a set of written and unwritten rules developed over time and considered inviolable. Put them all in a pot, let them simmer for a while — a few years or maybe a few decades — and what’s left is culture!

Culture then is nothing less than an organization’s heart and soul, and its importance rivals any other asset or advantage. It is the glue that holds the organization together. It inspires loyalty in employees and motivates them to act consistently and pridefully. It influences them to perform at a high level because they feel a responsibility to uphold their end of the cultural bargain.

Culture is also an important factor in retaining top performers. Randstad, the international employment and recruitment firm, lists toxic cultures with poor pay, limited career opportunities, lack of challenging work, lack of recognition and work-life imbalance as the leading reasons people leave their jobs. There is an urgent need to pay attention to the culture growing around your club or course or risk losing top talent.

If this amorphous entity known as culture is so critical, what steps can you take, what keywords can you prioritize for search engines and what KPIs do you elevate to bake it into your organization? If only creating or transforming culture were so easy. Every winning culture is part of a unique set of attributes and characteristics that cannot be invented or imposed. It must be discovered from within.

But that doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for culture to reveal itself — or for it to form in ways that could be detrimental to your future success. The road to a sustainable and winning culture ensures that employees:

 

  • Understand the club’s/course’s vision and how they contribute to it. When everyone knows where their leaders are steering the ship, it’s much easier to get people onboard and for employees to feel good about rowing.
  • Know how their performance is measured and what their personal success looks like. What results are expected? Are there both quantifiable and qualitative measures?
  • Are consistently recognized for contributions that meet and exceed goals. Nothing is more motivating than recognition in front of colleagues.
  • Recognize a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Employees of color and minorities want to see evidence that their opinions and work is valued and that they’re on a level playing field.
  • Feel that their managers are taking steps to safeguard their health and well-being. In a post-pandemic world, employees want to feel confident that their job is not putting them and their families in danger.
  • Are rewarded through a set of personal, flexible, creative benefits. Baby boomers, millennials and Gen Xers think about benefits and perks differently. To make them meaningful, managers must understand what each employee values most.

In addition to helping retain top performers, an engaging and embracing culture also has competitive advantages, particularly when it comes to sustaining high performance. Bain & Company research found that nearly 70 percent of business leaders agree that culture provides the greatest source of competitive advantage. In fact, more than 80 percent believe an organization that lacks a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity.

Culture may not be the easiest thing to define, but you can take steps that encourage a culture in which your organization thrives. You can’t rush culture, but you’ll know it when you see it.

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

Taking Club Elections Digital

The pandemic has accelerated the need to move the ballot box for club elections from paper to the computer and this trend will continue in the coming years. GGA Partners online voting specialists Michael Gregory and Martin Tzankov explain the challenges and opportunities to consider when moving your elections to an electronic voting platform.

Private golf, business, and leisure clubs spend a great deal of time and money planning, executing and delivering the results of club elections, often with discouraging voter turnout.

Over the past two years, GGA Partners, in partnership with secure platform provider Simply Voting, has worked with many clients to move the ballot box for club elections from paper to the computer. As this trend grows in the coming years, our team of skilled specialists shares the challenges and opportunities available as your club considers moving to an online voting platform.

Simply Voting logo
A web-based online voting system that will help you manage your club’s elections easily and securely.

The Challenges

According to GGA manager Martin Tzankov, the biggest challenge is trying to retrofit new technology and process to existing bylaws. “Most bylaws were written before the introduction of online voting,” commented Tzankov. “Outdated bylaws cause complexities in the process, particularly regarding proxies. It is important to understand what you can and cannot do to ensure the election conforms to your club’s rules.”

Another challenge is the organization of member data including current contact information and eligibility.

“The ability for clubs to segment member data is complex and critical,” stated Michael Gregory, a partner at GGA. “Whether it is a current member whose dues are in arrears, or a new member who became eligible while the vote is taking place, clubs must ensure that only eligible votes are tallied in the final results.”

It’s a simple fact that humans make errors and there are times members who were against an issue will question the integrity of any vote. Online voting eliminates that challenge by providing the ability to audit the process from start to finish.

Mobile smartphone screen depicting digital survey with quote "The biggest opportunity for clubs that choose online voting is increased member participation in the process" - Martin Tzankov, GGA Manager

The Opportunities

“The biggest opportunity for clubs that choose online voting is increased member participation in the process,” said Tzankov. “Members use technology every day so casting their vote on their computer or mobile device, which often takes less than 5 minutes, is simple and easy. And while there will be some members who prefer paper, in our experience, the majority of members prefer the online option.”

Along with increasing the experience, participation, and satisfaction of members, online voting is a powerful tool to segment the results by age, membership category and other data sets. Data segmentation allows your club to identify and track trends across a wide spectrum of subjects, providing valuable insight for future planning.

The capability to deliver a consistent schedule of communications is another opportunity provided through the online voting platform. Rather than incur the expenses of printing and mailing information, your team can prepare and schedule a series of email communications to inform and remind electors of the voting period and then deliver the results in a timely fashion.

“Environmental sustainability is increasing as a factor to choose one club versus another,” added Gregory. “Clubs who implement online voting have the opportunity to send a clear message that they are taking steps to minimize their impact on the planet.”

Eliminate The Risk

Warren Buffet has been quoted as saying, “Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.” There is great truth in that statement.

To understand the risks and rewards of online voting, we encourage you to have a conversation with specialists Michael Gregory or Martin Tzankov to gain the knowledge you need to ensure successful elections at your club.

Michael Gregory
Partner, GGA Partners
michael.gregory@ggapartners.com
416-524-0083

Martin Tzankov
Senior Manager, GGA Partners
martin.tzankov@ggapartners.com
905-475-4012

Download the info sheet

Life in Flux: The Evolving Priorities of Millennial Golfers

GGA Partners logo

Nextgengolf logo

PGA of America logo

GGA Partners & Nextgengolf Release Findings from 5th Annual Research Study on Millennial Golf Community

2021 study reveals the habits, attitudes and preferences of over 1,600 millennial golfers.

TORONTO, Ontario (March 17, 2021) – Global consulting firm GGA Partners and Nextgengolf, a subsidiary of the PGA of America, have released the fifth annual Millennial Golf Industry study entitled “Life in Flux: The Evolving Priorities of Millennial Golfers.”

The 2021 Millennial Golf Industry Survey was conducted from November 2020-January 2021 and garnered responses from over 1,600 golfers whose average age was just over 29 years old.

Cover page of the 2021 millennial research report. Title reads "Life in Flux: The Evolving Priorities of Millennial Golfers". Subheader: "Over 1,600 millennial golfers share their habits, attitudes, and preferences about golf. New 2021 findings reveal what's changing and what isn't." Title and subheader overlay image of golf couple taking selfie near flagpin on green with sunset in the background.

Key highlights of the 2021 millennial golfer study include:

Average annual rounds played reached a new peak: 33.9 rounds, a 9% increase year-over-year and average handicap reached a record low, decreasing 5% to 8.8.

Average spend per golf round has increased 28% over the past five years, climbing to $47 from $34 in 2017 at an average rate of $3.25 more per round each year.

For a generation characterized as digital natives, it may come as a surprise that a substantial portion of millennials purchase golf equipment and apparel in-person, roughly two-thirds at a sporting goods store and almost half at a course pro shop.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, golf has become more important to millennial golfers according to 60% of the sample. More than four in five (84%) say they are able to work from home; and over half (51%) say this added flexibility allows them to play more golf.

Sixty-percent (60%) of participating millennials prefer golf venues that actively exhibit social and environmental values. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say these behaviors would influence their likelihood of purchase, and approximately three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed would be willing to pay more, if excellent social and environmental practices increased the costs of golf venues.

Millennials are attracted to private clubs that offer non-golf amenities and social components. Interest is highest in amenities offering two key attributes: 1) non-traditional golf play like nighttime golf use and simulators; and 2) a multi-use club experience with casual dining, socialization and fitness.

“Not every millennial is the same, but it’s often communicated that way,” commented Matt Weinberger, Nextgengolf director of operations, PGA of America. “In our continuous work with the millennial audience and now Generation Z, we see tremendous opportunity for PGA Professionals and golf facilities to deliver value to young people while operating their businesses. The key is understanding how golf businesses mesh with millennial lifestyles.”

“What this research shows is a tremendous opportunity for golf facilities and private clubs,” commented GGA Partners’ Michael Gregory, a partner of the firm. “To succeed in attracting the next generation of members, golf facilities must build their reputations around diversity, inclusiveness, and environmental stewardship, providing an amenity and activity profile designed to create experiences which enrich the emotional connection and sense of belonging that elevates the value proposition most appealing to young golfers.”

Historically focused on golfers in the millennial generation (those born between 1981-1996, roughly ages 25-40 in 2021), the study has now begun to span two generations. Nearly one third of the sample audience now technically belongs to Generation Z (those born after 1997, roughly ages 9-24 in 2021), an emergent golfer cohort which the study will continue to evaluate in the future.

Through this study, GGA Partners and Nextgengolf have identified the evolutions happening among the golfers of the future to assist golf facility operators in finding ways to adapt and develop their offerings to meet the needs of the next wave of members and customers.

The 2021 Millennial Research Study is available to all golf facility operators. Download the report by clicking on the link below.

Download the report here

 

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.

About Nextgengolf

Nextgengolf, a subsidiary of the PGA of America, has the mission to provide golfing opportunities for golfers of all ages and make the game of golf more relevant for high school students, college students, and adults. Through the NHSGA, NCCGA and City Tour products, Nextgengolf caters to golfers over 15 years old by proactively keeping golfers engaged through events and bringing new players into the game. For more information, visit nextgengolf.org.

About the PGA of America

The PGA of America is one of the world’s largest sports organizations, composed of nearly 28,000 PGA Professionals who daily work to grow interest and inclusion in the game of golf. For more information about the PGA of America, visit PGA.com and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 

Media Contacts

Bennett DeLozier
Manager, GGA Partners
602-614-2100
bennett.delozier@ggapartners.com

Michael Abramowitz
PGA of America
561-624-8458
mabramowitz@pgahq.com

Staffing For Success: Part 2

Game Plan – Henry DeLozier‘s monthly column in Golf Course Industry Magazine – continues its series on staffing for success with the second of three installments. After looking at how the pandemic has afforded club and course managers the opportunity to reevaluate their teams and redefine job descriptions in Staffing for Success: Part 1, we turn to finding and hiring the right team members.

As businesses reshape themselves into leaner and more efficient operations, top performers are the best value their money can buy.

A great many Americans are currently unemployed and looking for a job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.7 percent of the labor force — more than 10 million people — is out of work. Finding top performers for rising needs in club management roles should be easy work, right? If only it were a simple matter of statistics.

As management professionals in any business know, the magic is finding the right person for the right job. With the war for talent continuing to escalate, we turn to three experts to help us identify the best practices for optimum staffing in these turbulent times.

Jim Collins: Get the right people on the bus

Step one, as management thinker Jim Collins advises in his bestseller “Good to Great,” is to start by “getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats” before heading down the proverbial highway. In other words, focus on “who” before determining “what.”

Those who build great organizations make sure they have a busload of people who can adapt and perform brilliantly no matter what comes next. Selecting the right people is a matter of clearly deciding what types of people — attitudes, talents, backgrounds, skillsets — are needed to enable your team to accomplish great things.

Jeff Bezos: Ask these three questions

The Amazon founder uses a straightforward three-question guide for hiring key employees. Bezos’ three questions offer direct application to the management of golf and private clubs and are particularly useful during unpredictable circumstances.

1. Will you admire this person?

“If you think about the people you’ve admired in your life, they are probably people you’ve been able to learn or take an example from,” Bezos says. This discipline requires that management first knows who he or she is and has a clear-eyed understanding of the strengths and benefits that are needed for any position. Hiring managers do well to ask themselves:

  • What traits and attributes inspire me to be my best?
  • What do we need?
  • To what do we aspire?

2. Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they are entering?

Will the candidate increase the efficiency within the organization? Is he or she able to see around the corner and anticipate needs? Are they willing to challenge established norms and traditions? (Should course setup be executed in the afternoon instead of first thing each day? Can mechanical work be executed after hours by veterans who need extra work?)

3. Along what dimension might the person be a superstar?

Listen to candidates’ answers. Push for details. Ask follow-up questions to understand how your candidate thinks and imagines your operation. One is more likely to be a superstar when he or she is encouraged to make others better.

Regina Hartley: Hire the scrapper

Throughout her 25-year UPS career — working in talent acquisition, succession planning, learning and development, employee relations, and communications — Hartley has seen how people with passion and purpose will astound you when given the opportunity. That’s why she says, “Hire the scrapper.” She defines scrappers as people who have had to fight against the odds to get ahead. They differ from those she calls the “silver spoons” — people who have had clear advantages in their lives and from birth seem destined for success.

Before tossing the résumé of someone who has obviously scrapped his or her way to the experience and skills that qualify them for a job in your organization, at least give them an interview, Hartley says: “A résumé tells a story. A patchwork quilt of odd jobs and experiences may signal a lack of focus and unpredictability. Or it may indicate a committed struggle against obstacles.”

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

Read Staffing for Success: Part 3

Staffing For Success: Part 1

This month, Game Plan – Henry DeLozier‘s monthly column in Golf Course Industry Magazine – kicks off a three-part series on staffing for success. First in the series is a look at how the pandemic has changed staffing needs and why superintendents and managers should consider reorganizing their teams and redefining job descriptions. Parts two and three will look at finding, hiring and retaining the right team members and creating the culture that inspires and motivates top performers.

“Never let a good crisis go to waste” is a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill in the days following World War II. Scholars question whether Churchill ever spoke those exact words, but as we make tentative steps to emerge from a pandemic-induced crisis of our own time, the lesson it implies — finding opportunity amidst great difficulty and challenge — rings as timely and as relevant as it would have in Churchill’s day.

In the still-churning wake of the global health pandemic of 2020, maybe the first place we should look for opportunity is with our own staffs. As COVID-19 raced through communities across America, thousands of golf clubs and facilities found themselves on either side of a dilemma. For those places where golf was booming, stretching tee sheets, golf car fleets and maintenance staffs to their limits and beyond, the question was whether to staff up to handle the surge or stay with current staff levels, figuring the wave would eventually crest and return to some semblance of normal. For places the boom never reached, the questions were: How long can we manage to keep our current team intact before payroll takes too much of a bite from dwindling revenues? And among those eventually let go, who will we bring back and who no longer has a place on our team?

By now, many of those calculations and decisions have been made and the ramifications felt. But the lessons they taught should not only endure, but also inform future staffing plans. In the heat of crisis, owners and managers learned who on their teams could take on more responsibility, who had leadership potential and who had reached their ceiling. They learned where they needed additional resources and where resources might be redeployed for better coverage and results. Now it’s time to put those lessons to work with redesigned organization charts and job descriptions.

One thing is for sure: a dynamic job market has changed even more in the last 12 months with continued disruption on the horizon. “The fallout will fundamentally change recruiting and hiring practices long after the pandemic has passed,” recruiting strategist Jack Whatley recently told Forbes.com.

Another certainty is that the war for talent will continue to escalate. Top performers will be in even greater demand because as businesses reshape themselves into leaner, more efficient operations, those top performers are the best value money can buy.

“Twenty years ago, all interns had mechanical skills and no computer knowledge. Now it is just the opposite. They all know how to operate computers, but they can’t change a spark plug,” says Rick Tegtmeier, the long-tenured and highly respected golf course superintendent at Des Moines Golf & Country Club. “It sure doesn’t hurt someone to work at a lesser-budget golf course operation and learn more of the skills that help you become a more rounded superintendent.”

There will never be a better time to take all the names off your org chart and rethink the needs of the club and course, the time and talent required of each of those needs, and the right names to place in those roles. As you go through that exercise, be aware that the pandemic and its economic reverberations have also changed employees’ perspectives.

Workers have had a lot of time recently to reevaluate their careers and question their next moves. Am I in the right job in the right industry? Where could I find more happiness and greater security for me and my family? Is this a stable environment and can I count on a stable paycheck? Where will I be exposed if (or when) another crisis emerges?

“Safety and job stability are at the top of mind for the job seeker now — and that changes what they want in a job,” Whatley says. “Businesses will have to become employee-centric as well as customer-centric.”

Hopefully, you and your facility have weathered this crisis without too much damage. Now’s the time to take advantage of an opportunity it has afforded.

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

Read Staffing for Success: Part 2

2021 Predictions on the Shape of the Next Normal

When we were introduced to COVID-19 in March 2020, no one had any indication that ten months later the number of cases and its toll on society would continue to rise. The introduction of a vaccine is promising, but the road ahead remains filled with uncertainty as to when the next normal will arrive – and what shape that normal will adopt.

Since its inception, GGA Partners has traveled the globe working with private clubs, golf courses, investors, real estate developers, resorts, municipalities, and financial institutions. This has provided unique insight into the state of golf, private club, and leisure businesses from many different perspectives.

We have observed that even before the coronavirus pandemic, significant change was underway across the private club landscape. As we prepare for the “new normal” the thought leaders at GGA sat down to predict what they believe is coming in 2021 and beyond.

1. COVID-19 accelerates change already afoot in governance

According to Senior Partner Henry DeLozier, the change brought on by the pandemic is going to necessitate even more rapid change in governance, which GGA has seen clubs struggle with this past year.

“In corporate America, the concept of stakeholder capitalism was at the forefront in 2020 and that has transcended to the private club space,” commented DeLozier. “We’re hearing members across the private club spectrum questioning why they do not have a larger voice in their club and how board selections, as well as decisions, are being made.”

Private clubs that do not have current and effective governance will suffer from decreased member satisfaction and a constant churn of its membership base.

2. The capability to communicate effectively and efficiently will be key

Linda Dillenbeck, GGA’s director for the firm’s communications practice, stated that there continues to be a need to assist clubs in their efforts to communicate effectively and efficiently.

“It is basic human nature that people do not like change,” said Dillenbeck. “To minimize the disruption of pending changes, it is incumbent upon the management team and board of directors to clearly communicate the what, how, and why of their decisions then allow members to voice their opinions. This provides the level of two-way communication members are demanding.”

In addition to communications about club finances and capital improvements, clubs need to improve the use of the data they have collected to provide tailored communications to members. For example, notices about evolving restrictions on golf events should only be sent to those who play and those about activities for families with children don’t need to be sent to empty nesters.

Beyond member communications, clubs that will be successful in 2021 will be those which can retool and refine their external communications to ensure the message of what truly makes the club unique is presented clearly.

3. Greater work flexibility will impact club utilization in new and challenging ways

Report after report has trumpeted the tremendous increase in rounds played during the pandemic. According to GGA Director John Strawn, that is in large part due to work-from-home adaptations which are providing greater flexibility in how and when employees complete their daily tasks.

“People have more control over their work lives,” said Strawn. “Golf experienced fewer restrictions during the pandemic and that has brought out many new and fringe players leading to full tee sheets at both private and public golf courses.”

Full tee sheets are causing negative feedback from those who play more frequently as there is a belief that those not paying full dues are taking coveted tee times. To solve the problem, Strawn predicts clubs will need to revisit their strategies and ultimately their business models more frequently to ensure they are meeting this new and different demand effectively. Flexibility will be critical until the long-term impact on golf demand is better understood.

While clubs continue struggling to ensure fair and equitable access to the tee or courts while accommodating increased demand, Senior Associate Andrew Milne added that clubs should expect that best practice solutions may shift regarding reservations and tee sheet management to include lottery systems and Chelsea systems to ensure dissatisfaction among members is minimized. Understanding that new reservation management approaches may change the value proposition for members, a clear plan and message acknowledging this, and for measuring and adapting the approach as the future becomes clearer, will be important.

4. Clubs must better understand what women want from their club

According to the National Golf Foundation, while only one in five golfers are women, females represent a disproportionately higher percentage of beginners (31%).

Women ease into the game for a variety of reasons; to spend time with their family, to compete, to be outdoors, and to enjoy the support, community, and socialization. As these women age and consider joining a club, they will choose the clubs that shape programs, staff, activities, and offerings to blend the female competitive group with the group that is more interested in the social community.

“We’ve known for some time just how important the role of women and the family dynamic is regarding the decision on whether to join a private club,” commented GGA Director Murray Blair. “For clubs to succeed in 2021 and beyond, they will need to understand how women are impacting the decision-making process and implement the necessary adjustments to make them feel welcome, whether they play golf or not.”

5. Operational efficiencies gained during the pandemic will carry forward in 2021, and their challenges will too

Among the most remarkable takeaways from 2020 was the ability for clubs to adapt their operations and service offerings swiftly and effectively in the face of facility closures, variable human resource availability, and rapidly changing restrictions for public health and safety.

Contactless payments, varying tee time intervals, and pace dispersion tactics are pandemic-inspired efficiencies which GGA Associate Andrew Johnson predicts will continue.

Adding to the list, GGA Director Ben Hopkinson expects clubs will become more efficient at managing grab-and-go meals, take-out dining, and mobile ordering, following the best practices of companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash.

New ways of operating have also brought about new challenges, some of which will persist into 2021 and require even more new solutions to be generated at clubs and courses.

GGA Senior Associate Andrew Johnson expects that the increased costs associated with COVID-19 mandated protocols such as labor for sanitation and cleaning, as well as elevated maintenance expenses due to increased rounds, will remain through 2021.

Clubs that effectively determine what increased interest and golf participation means for facility accessibility, program creation, membership categories and associated privileges will find increased membership satisfaction and interest from new prospects.

6. The pandemic’s impact on club finances will remain uncertain, expect to see more measurement, flexibility, and experimentation

Despite successful adaptations in club operations and economic relief opportunities afforded by governments and municipalities, the full extent of the pandemic’s economic impact will remain varied across club types depending on business structures and market areas.

GGA Senior Manager Martin Tzankov, remains concerned about the financial position of many clubs and believes the brunt of the economic impact has yet to be seen.

“The reliance of clubs on dues increases and capital assessments has been particularly apparent this year and may have stretched the value proposition too far for some,” stated Tzankov.  “2021 will show the clubs where a clear and present value proposition is being presented to members, who in turn, will continue to pay the cost of belonging.”

GGA Partner Derek Johnston believes there are clubs that will be able to increase pricing and sustain the increases in the long-term and there are clubs that will overshoot the mark. Johnston expressed concern that some clubs may move joining fees too high, too fast; golf businesses may move their green fees too high, too fast; and some may move away from tee sheet management practices too quickly.

“Nobody knows what’s coming.  If clubs have experienced less attrition than in the past, it may be due to members being unwilling to give up their safe sanctuary, but when things begin to stabilize post-vaccine that may not persist,” he explained.  “I believe that a portion of the historical attrition hasn’t been abated, just held back.  There will be increased attrition over the next 12-24 months and there may not be the same demand there to replace those who leave, especially as other social and lifestyle pursuits become more widely available again.”

2021 will be a time for clubs to experiment.  A measured, flexible approach to joining fees and dues will be a prudent approach this year.

7. A club’s success will in part be driven by its sum of parts in 2021

Craig Johnston, a partner and head of GGA’s transaction advisory practice, emphasized that the success of clubs during and following the pandemic will in part be driven by its sum of parts. Johnston explained “A private club may include a fitness center, retail store, several restaurants, a golf course, and a marina. The pandemic has impacted the utilization and thus success of all those ‘parts’ differently, and therefore the overall success of the club will largely be dependent on the club’s product or shall we say parts mix.”

“Every club is going to be different depending on its type of business and the operations which comprise it, the extent and variability of pandemic-related changes means that comparatives are going to need to be refined,” continued Johnston.  “Clubs that understand and appreciate the challenges and successes of the various parts of their business will be in a better position to realign and optimize heading into the ‘new normal’.”

8. The movement of people and relocation of companies will reshape markets

Our news feeds have been full of stories about high-profile people and companies moving out of California into Texas, as well as the movement of bankers to Florida from New York. If looking at this as a trend, you might imagine seeing increased need and greater attrition among clubs in the California and New York markets and, conversely, excess demand for clubs in markets like Texas and Florida.

According to GGA Manager Alison Corner, it will be important for clubs to understand the movement of people – not just the movement away from major urban centers and into the suburbs, but also the movement of companies and the actual physical locations of corporations – because they may have drastic impacts to how certain club and leisure businesses perform over the next 5 – 10 years.

Clubs that are mindful of these relocation trends will help themselves to recognize and either seize new opportunities, or mitigate future risks.

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