GGA Partners Expands Research & Survey Capabilities with the Addition of Experienced Hospitality Research Professor

Dr. Eric Brey, PhD, joins GGA Partners as a Director to bolster consumer research capabilities

TORONTO, Ontario – GGA Partners has expanded its portfolio of services for private clubs, public golf courses, residential communities, resorts, municipalities and hospitality clients with the addition of an experienced research mind and acting hospitality educator.

Dr. Eric Brey, PhD, a researcher and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, School of Hospitality Leadership, has joined GGA Partners as its newest director to expand the firm’s research efforts.

Dr. Brey’s research expertise will strengthen GGA’s capabilities in customer feedback and market research, both of which are core services for GGA. One of the many expanded offerings the addition of Dr. Brey supports is 3-Factor Theory Analysis designed to provide a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the touchpoints that have the greatest potential to impact customer and member satisfaction.

professional headshot of Dr. Eric Brey, PhD
Dr. Eric Brey, PhD

Recently, Medinah Country Club engaged Dr. Brey to conduct 3-Factor Theory Analysis using the raw survey data collected by GGA. “Identifying the touchpoints important to our members provided tremendous insight across our entire operation” stated Medinah Country Club General Manager Robert Sereci. “Clubs will benefit greatly by using this methodology to pinpoint opportunities on which to focus enhancement efforts to achieve the highest level of enjoyment for their members.”

In addition to enhanced customer satisfaction analysis, Dr. Brey’s vast experience in consumer research will provide expanded opportunities for survey interpretation, managed customer feedback, third party performance monitoring and analysis of existing client data to support GGA’s strategic planning and business intelligence services.

“The synergies created by combining GGA’s expertise in research and strategic planning with the knowledge and experience I bring to consumer research are exponential,” commented Dr. Brey. “Together we will be able to assist golf, club, resort and municipal operators with more detailed and comprehensive data analysis that will enhance their ability to make strategic decisions and improve their operational efficiency and customer experience.”

“Research is a cornerstone of our firm and consumer satisfaction is just one component of GGA’s capabilities in this space. Dr. Brey will play a key role in elevating GGA’s industry leading research, and will apply research best practices and new methods to develop even stronger insights for our clients,” commented GGA Partner Michel Gregory. “As a firm we are working to develop an all-encompassing approach to measuring real time, periodic, and long-term consumer feedback that will benefit a wide range of clients in the private club, resort and hospitality industries as well as municipalities who own golf and leisure assets”.


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

About Dr. Eric Brey, PhD

Dr. Brey earned his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Stout School of Hospitality Leadership. In 2006, he earned his PhD from Purdue University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Dr. Brey spent six years at the University of Memphis, Fogelman College of Business and Economics, Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality Management before joining the University of Wisconsin-Stout, School of Hospitality Leadership in 2012. In his current role, he serves as professor and chair of the school, teaching marketing, strategy and customer analytics courses, and conducting research on consumer-centric strategy.

Dr. Brey has published numerous peer and refereed journal papers, written industry white papers and book chapters, received many recognitions and honors and has conducted applied research for the United States Golf Association. Recently, Dr. Brey completed a research study for the USGA identifying more than 1,000 touchpoints golfers can have throughout their experience that impact satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The results of the research will provide insights to help operators gain a firm understanding of what customers need and how to meet and exceed those expectations.


Media Contacts:

Michael Gregory, Partner
GGA Partners


GGA Partners & the CSCM Renew Platinum Level Corporate Partnership

GGA Partners and the Canadian Society of Club Managers Renew Platinum Level Corporate Partnership

TORONTO, Ontario (December 21, 2020) – GGA Partners (GGA) and the Canadian Society of Club Managers (CSCM) are pleased to announce the renewal of their strategic partnership to produce research and insights for the benefit of the CSCM members and the club industry at large. The CSCM Corporate Partner program recognizes industry partners that share the values of the CSCM and offer members support as leaders in the club management profession in Canada.

The CSCM and GGA have enjoyed a history of collaborative research and investigative solutions. GGA and the CSCM have worked to establish baseline data on clubs perceptions/views since their formal partnership began in 2018.

“CSCM’s new strategic framework will be introduced to the membership by the end of 2020. Research and insights will continue to be an integral part of our approach to the Canadian club industry,” explained “Kimberley Iwamoto CCM, CCE, CSCM president. “We are thrilled that GGA Partners will continue on this journey with the CSCM.”

The CSCM’s vision is to create great leaders through excellence in professional club management and its mission is to promote and develop the profession of club management. The CSCM offers a variety of programs and services in response to member needs and expectations including the certification program leading to the Certified Club Manager (CCM) designation, career opportunities, and a networking forum for executives and managers involved in club management.

GGA is committed to club management and helping facilitate key elements of the CSCM’s provision to provide research, resources, and education to its members. “The role of club managers is diverse, they need to be resilient as 2020 has shown.” said GGA partner Derek Johnston. “Working with the CSCM to create valuable research and insights is rewarding and the addition of the COVID-19-specific research seemed to really help this year.”


About The Canadian Society of Club Managers

Established in 1957, CSCM is the national professional society representing the club management profession in Canada. Of our approximately 600 members, over 70% are from golf clubs, and the remainder from a variety of city, recreation, fitness, curling and other types of clubs.

The Society’s members hold position titles that include General Manager, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer as well as Assistant Manager, Clubhouse Manager, Controller and Food and Beverage Manager. For more information please visit

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 Contacts:

Derek Johnston
GGA Partners

Suzanne Godbehere
The Canadian Society of Club Managers
416-979-0640 x242

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:


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

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 Contacts:

Bennett DeLozier
GGA Partners
+353 44 33 603

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

Think Big Entering A New Decade

Thinking of big changes in 2020?  Writing for Golf Course Industry Magazine, GGA Partner Henry DeLozier shares four macro changes to consider as the new decade begins.

Golf no longer exists in a vacuum, separate and distinct from market forces that shape other mainstream businesses. Gone are the days when golf club and facility managers could operate without a sensitive finger on the pulse of social, environmental and political changes affecting their business. As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, here are four macro changes to be aware of and to use to your advantage.

1. New solutions to labor shortages

Traditionally, labor costs for golf courses have ranged from 52 to 56 percent of golf course maintenance budgets. With increases in minimum wages and the ripple effect throughout organizational charts, labor costs continue to escalate. Derek Johnston, a partner at Global Golf Advisors, says labor costs have jumped as much as 6 percent.

Operators managed the first wave of escalating labor costs by reducing head counts and outsourcing certain activities to third-party contractors. Now, they are being forced to get more creative to deal with what is by far the facility’s single largest line item. Some have reacted by flattening their org charts, eliminating supervisory positions and restructuring responsibilities for some managers and staffers. As a result, staffing levels that ranged from 19 to 25 employees per 18-hole course are in significant decline.

Labor will remain a primary focus and concern for operators in 2020. Suggestions for managing rising costs are to re-evaluate all operational activities with an eye for possible benefits to be gained from outsourcing; take labor-intensive components of your operation and determine how the work could be accomplished more efficiently; and look at non-golf sectors for solutions being implemented in other fields such as hospitality and manufacturing.

2. Increased environmental awareness

Golf courses throughout North America have embraced opportunities to increase their environmental stewardship. Beekeeping, which sustains the bee population and ensures ongoing pollination; bat houses, which address mosquito infestations; and habitat restoration for butterflies, especially monarchs, whose habitat supports pheasant, quail, waterfowl and many other species; have been introduced at many locales.

Making golf courses and their surrounding grounds environmental sanctuaries is resonating with key market influencers, including millennials and women, who are also prime targets for increasing play and membership. Audubon International CEO Christine Kane reports that clubs as sanctuary communities are on the rise nationwide: “Audubon-recognized sanctuary communities have increased more than 20 percent over the past five years,” according to Kane.

Progressive superintendents and golf managers who expand the reach and impact of their environmental efforts will be viewed favorably by community leaders as well as current and prospective members and customers.

3. Expanded reach of social media

Superintendents and facility managers have become important sources of content relevant to club members and consumers. Photographic images of flora and fauna on club grounds are of interest to members who take pride in their clubs’ beauty and connection to the environment.

Instagram and Twitter can be used to show images sourced by staff members — golf course workers, cooks, janitors, golf professionals — who are alert to opportunities to snap butterfly habitats, wildflowers and all sorts of wildlife that call the club home. Such images are often posted to the club website and distributed to club members and visitors as a means for extending brand engagement.

Gone are the days of the cut-and-paste guidance for how to repair a ball mark. The increased relevance and timeliness of today’s news is attributed to the capability and proliferation of social media.

4. Comprehensive planning

The growth of strategic planning (supported by specialized plans for marketing, communications, finance and membership) is another example of general business’s influence on a more enlightened group of golf managers. Just as most any business relies on a strategic plan to guide its decision-making, golf is recognizing the importance of establishing a clear vision that serves to prioritize programming and investment. Top performers rely on data-based plans to distinguish their facilities not only in overcrowded markets, but also with consumers debating their leisure activities and spending. Those facilities that create market differentiation will prosper in 2020 and beyond.

Substance Over Style

In the old west, big talkers who didn’t deliver on what they promised were described as “All hat and no cattle.” Simply put: more image than substance.

None of us wants to be thought of in those terms. We all want to deliver the goods as promised. Doing so, while often challenging, is more achievable when you take these important steps:

1. Develop your strategic plan carefully because that’s where you lay out your promises in the form of goals and objectives. Stephen Johnston, the founder of Global Golf Advisors, often explains the importance of strategic planning by saying, “The lack of a strategic plan is not as dangerous as not having fire insurance, but it’s certainly playing with fire.”

The key components of a sound strategic plan are: (a) market analysis; (b) operational review and comparison against performance benchmarks; (c) financial measurement — especially of the sources and uses of funds; and (d) clear-eyed evaluation of governance practices. These four components assure that you have a plan that states clearly your goals and objectives and establishes a broad understanding of expectations.

Remember that an effective strategic plan answers the question: What? The business plan provides the details behind How? When? Who? and Where? The tactical plan outlines the steps that will implement the strategy.

2. Put your strategy to work. Strategy is only as good as the execution that backs it up. Putting strategic goals and objectives into action also requires a plan — one that describes in detail how you and your team will achieve the goals and objectives of the strategic plan.

3. Make sure club leaders and managers understand the plan and how their functional areas are expected to contribute to its success. In 1962, President Kennedy declared, “We will put a man on the Moon in this decade and return him safely to Earth.” Shortly thereafter, while on a tour of the NASA Space Center, the president came upon a janitor mopping the floor. When asked by the President about his job, the janitor responded, “Mr. Kennedy, I am part of the team that is going to put a man on the Moon.” That is plan buy-in and real-life awareness. The lesson: Make believers of your staff.

4. Review your plan’s success. No matter how well-intended a plan might be, careful evaluation and follow-up ensure that the plan remains relevant and purposeful. Another benefit of ongoing evaluation is evolutionary improvement and maximized understanding. Here are three steps to ensure that your plan is working at full capacity:

  • Provide quarterly strategic plan updates. Report your accomplishments and missteps with equal openness. Quarterly updates keep strategy alive in the boardroom and assure members that their board and club management are keeping their promises. Members support trustworthy leadership and trust is built on accountability in your actions.
  • Post a strategic scorecard. After the quarterly update, post the results truthfully and without acclaim. No different that posting your golf score, this is a matter of open accountability for performance. Embrace accountability for your strategic plan’s effectiveness.
  • Produce an annual report. Tell your members what has been accomplished. Align the annual report, as any major corporation would, with the strategic goals and objectives for your business and report on progress toward those goals. Provide members and stakeholders with a succinct summary of the strategic effectiveness of your plan, your board and yourself.

Strategic plans are based on the notion of having a focused plan of action on which all can rely. This step helps to make you and your work more trusted while bringing focus to what makes your facility successful.

One of the more common concerns in many golf courses and clubs is the question of vision or what it really wants to be. A carefully developed strategic plan clearly states who and what you are and establishes a trustworthy foundation for achievements. It shows people that you’re more than just a hat – it’s evidence that you’re bringing the beef.

This article was authored by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier for Golf Course Industry Magazine.

Covering Isn’t Just For Music

The inimitable Elvis Presley’s version of Hound Dog sold 10 million copies and holds the 19th spot on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Best Songs of All Time. But the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll can’t claim Hound Dog entirely as his own. Elvis was covering a version recorded three years earlier by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, an American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter.

Elvis has been accused of stealing or culturally appropriating Hound Dog. But the truth is that covering was even more popular in his day than now. The more important takeaway is that we should always be paying attention to the past, learning from others and developing our own plans for success. There are three distinct plans that club leaders should have within easy reach at all times.

Strategic Plan

A strategic plan should clarify two aspects of purpose: what we are and what do we intend to accomplish. An effective strategic plan builds on the knowledge of past experience and market understanding to describe the club’s goals and objectives.

All businesses benefit greatly from the discipline and clarity provided by sound strategy. Although many golf facilities lack formalized strategy, those that actively use their strategic plans hold a distinct competitive advantage. According to research completed by Global Golf Advisors, 73 percent of clubs that rely on a strategic plan to guide their operations outperform their competition.

Marketing Communications Plan

Most golf courses and private clubs do business in markets that are extremely oversupplied. Further, many of these facilities lack a current and actionable understanding of the people who are their customers, members and prospects. In highly competitive and crowded markets, the advantage goes to those who know whom they are looking for, where to find them and how to communicate with them effectively.

Effective and purposeful communication plans are target specific. Knowing how to communicate with your baby boomer audience is different than reaching millennials, for example. The best communications plans utilize multiple media and reinforce messaging on a disciplined schedule.

Most people find time only for trusted information sources. Thus, golf courses and private clubs have the advantage in most cases of being “known” to their active market segments. What tactics are working best?

  • Robust and engaging websites are the platform for any communications plan today. They must be inviting, engaging and functional.
  • Print communications – newsletters and postcards, for example – are sticky with many golfers, especially those over 50, and should not be disregarded even in a digital age.
  • Engaging social media help create conversations within your community of members and prospects.
  • Video that shows images of people enjoying the golf course and clubhouse activities help tell the club’s stories in authentic ways.
  • Person-to-person contact from key staff members remains a difference-maker. There is no substitute for a personal invitation.

Staffing Plan

Access to affordable labor is one of the most important operational challenges at most golf clubs. With labor costs now exceeding 55 percent of most clubs’ operational expenses, thoughtful planning is essential. Borrowing ideas from the past enables managers to create meaningful relationships with employees and keep them committed to their jobs. What’s more, clubs that encourage their best employees to recruit friends and relatives have an advantage in attracting top talent.

A reliable staffing plan identifies the utilization flow of the facility to ensure that the club is properly staffed at all times. The plan must calculate labor and payroll burden costs to enable dependable budget projections. The best staffing plans show the position title and description, number of employees required, allotted compensation and benefits, and options for flexing staff size and positions as conditions change.

Big Mama Thornton inspired Elvis to lay claim as the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll. Who’s your inspiration, and what’s your plan for success?

This article was authored by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier for Golf Course Industry Magazine.

The Keys to Successful Strategic Planning

Research by Global Golf Advisors indicates more than 80% of top performing clubs believe they are working to a strategic plan. But are they?

It is absolutely true 80% of clubs wish to have a strategic plan and truly intend to have a strategic plan, but if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, not all of them do,” says GGA Partner Henry DeLozier.

The reality is that many managers are not clear what a bona fide strategic plan is. They believe that if they have a capital asset roster or have developed a master facilities plan they are well on their way to developing a full strategic plan, which is not accurate.

So what is a strategic plan and what happens when clubs successfully implement strategy?

In this video, Henry DeLozier explains Global Golf Advisors’ five key elements of an effective strategic plan and why a focus on implementation and performance monitoring frequently leads to success and an increase in club membership.

For more insights on successful strategic planning, download the GGA whitepaper ‘Strategic Planning: A Road Map to Club Survival and Success.’