From Private Club Leader to Private Club Advisor

Connecting my technical background to leadership development

Growing as a professional has meant different things to me at various times in my career. After business school, my focus for growth centered around academic achievement and professional accreditation – becoming certified as a CPA, CA, and then a CCM. As my career developed, I have transitioned to focusing on the development of my team even more than myself. My focus has shifted from technical expertise to leadership, which is a change that I quite enjoy and am proud of. Prior to joining GGA Partners in 2022, my career had two distinct chapters – first, my professional practice as a public accountant and then my work running a premier private golf and country club. My career path accurately represents who I am, a self-proclaimed adrenaline enthusiast with a strong penchant for accounting!

Navigating through a pandemic

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, to say the least, but it has not been without it’s benefits. In the first year of the pandemic, I was operating a golf and country club. I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to members and staff to deliver an exceptional experience in a safe way, even more so because it was our last year of operations following the sale of the club’s land and buildings. The highlight for me that year came from watching my team rise to the many challenges. I am tremendously proud of what we accomplished under truly extraordinary circumstances. As hard as it has been, I am optimistic that some of the changes forced upon us due to COVID-19 may be for the better – whether that’s the flexibility that comes from a hybrid work environment, the rapid acceptance of various new technologies, or the understanding that it’s better to stay home when you are feeling sick. With a young family at home, I am grateful to have had more time to spend together, even under very unusual circumstances.

Using my financial expertise to drive growth for private clubs

“My role as a Director at GGA Partners bring me immense joy, one of my core values. The opportunity to apply almost 20 years of professional accreditation and leadership experience in an industry that focuses on one of my own core values is a huge benefit, and I am thrilled to be able to share it with clients.”

GGA is the perfect fit for my skills and interests, and I get immense satisfaction out of advising private clubs, drawing on my background as a private club manager and from my technical expertise.

I am able to learn something new from each engagement, whether from the client, our team, or both, which keeps the work exciting and fresh. I can participate in a wide variety of engagements, from governance and strategic planning to operations and financial management, so there is never a dull moment.

Currently, I am conducting financial modelling for a prominent private golf club, a valuation exercise for a well-known golfing brand, and providing professional training through the Club Management Association of Canada.

More about me

I am a mom to three young, busy kids who keep me on my toes. Our family values time together through shared experiences, usually self-propelled and outside, like cycling, skiing, golf, team sports and hiking.

Liz McDowell is a Director at GGA Partners. You can reach her at

Developing industry-changing data analytics solutions

With a deep passion for sports, Elliott Leifer joined GGA Partners in 2021 as a Senior Associate on the Data Analytics team.

Golf has always been an integral part of my life. I grew up playing as many sports as I could, including golf, baseball, hockey and skiing. My family spent summers vacationing in Muskoka; a beautiful place that holds a special place in my heart. I enjoy spending time outdoors reading on the dock, discovering serene lakes on ATV’s, and skiing and barefooting on the water.

Building my data background

I studied software engineering at Western University where I fell in love with coding as it allowed me to combine my passions for math and problem solving. I later completed a Master’s in Business Analytics at Ivey Business School, where I learned how to translate real-world business data into actionable insights using statistical and technological methods. When I had an opportunity to join a small analytics team for the Toronto Maple Leafs and combine my interests in data analytics and sports, I knew it was an industry I was destined to end up in.

After completing an internship between semesters at Deloitte, I joined the firm full-time upon graduating. Working on Deloitte’s artificial intelligence team, Omnia, I was exposed to big data and unique problems in a variety of industries. In early 2021, I was sent a LinkedIn post about GGA’s work and realized this was the perfect opportunity to finally combine my passion for data analytics and sports.

My role in the firm

GGA’s data analytics team is building the future at GGA by organizing and collecting data as part of our analytics pipeline, allowing for robust analysis of clubs and leisure businesses around the world.

GGA’s data initiative focuses on providing efficient and tailored analysis to clients on levels previously unattainable or overly time-consuming. I am thrilled to be a part of this data transformation and am thoroughly enjoying helping our clients uncover unique and impactful insights through the application of our new data capabilities.

Our team is encouraged to challenge the status quo and suggest more efficient ways to approach problems. This openness and appreciation for continuous learning not only drives innovation at the firm but also has supported my research on how to best implement our data pipeline in the cloud, a skill I have been working to master for quite some time.

Outside of work, I find balance in the simple pleasures of life; making great pour-over coffee in the morning, practicing putting and chipping in my living room, and of course, playing with the family pup whenever I get the chance. While cooking dinner, I unwind by listening to music and recently put together a Yellowstone themed playlist on Spotify called “Montana Plains” – check it out!

Elliott Leifer is a Senior Associate at GGA Partners. You can reach him at

Leveraging Differences in the Boardroom

GGA Partners Releases New Whitepaper on Private Club Governance as Part of Thought Leadership Series

‘Leveraging Differences in the Boardroom’ Now Available for Download

TORONTO, Ontario – International consulting firm GGA Partners has released Leveraging Differences in the Boardroom, the third in its new series of thought leadership whitepapers. This authoritative guide explores the benefits of clubs with diverse boards and suggests several steps to take when recruiting with diversity in mind.

Leveraging Differences in the Boardroom evaluates the consequences of unintentionally insular board composition and challenges the idea of “sameness” in the boardroom, which limits the ability of a board to effectively perform its duties and threatens a club’s health and longevity. The paper illustrates how multiple perspectives contribute to greater success in governance and argues for adjusting the profile of a club’s leadership to better serve members and prospects.

“We often see board members with similar professional, cultural, and ideological backgrounds and perspectives,” explained GGA Partner Henry DeLozier, one of several authors of the piece. “Boards that are neither representative of the membership nor reflective of their surrounding community risk losing the opportunity both to serve their current members and to attract new members.”

In addition, the whitepaper encourages that clubs intent on increasing diversity among their board take a holistic, multi-dimensional approach to its creation. “Forward-thinking boards understand that it is the breadth of perspective, not the mere inclusion of various diverse traits, that benefits the organization,” said DeLozier. “In addition to social diversity, professional and experiential diversity are also important in increasing the range of perspectives represented on the board.”

Board diversification is likely to be met with resistance from the status quo, which the paper aims to help club leaders overcome by providing tactics for building a diverse board, developing new board member criteria, and making a commitment to diversity.

In addition to governance, GGA Partners recently published new whitepapers on strategic planning and branding. The firm has announced that another in the series focused on innovation will be published through the third quarter of 2020.

Click here to download the whitepaper


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

Media Contact:

Bennett DeLozier
GGA Partners