Sample Coronavirus Planning Framework

This week GGA Partners continues its series of communications to help leaders of private clubs address challenges confronting their businesses and their employees with three perspectives from the front lines of club management.

Today: Robert Sereci, GM/COO, Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois.

A Comprehensive Project Plan for Responding to Rapidly Changing Circumstances Focuses Efforts and Assigns Responsibility

You can’t predict a crisis, but you can – and should – plan for one.

Having a plan for how to respond in times of crisis is essential to ensuring that all critical action elements are addressed. Equally important, a comprehensive plan helps your leadership team understand their individual responsibilities and the actions for which they will be held accountable. In addition, a timeline sets out clear deadlines and helps track progress toward your goals.

We developed a comprehensive COVID-19 project plan for our leadership group at Medinah and with the help of GGA Partners (with whom we recently collaborated on a strategic planning project), loaded the plan into the Smartsheet software tool to assign tasks, track project progress, manage calendars, and share documents. Below is the template we developed, which we’re happy to share with fellow club leaders.

To see a clean templated version that readers are free to use as a starting point, click here. Users can also download the corresponding Excel export that is editable and able to be imported directly to their instance of Smartsheet (click here to download).

From the planning template, we wrote a summary of the four key elements of the plan. In total, we viewed the actions under each section as a non-negotiable checklist for our leadership team.


  1. Assemble a COVID communication/response team – Should include members of the management team and the board.
  2. Member Communication – Focus on awareness, early measures and key dates, including club closure, locker and club storage pick up, etc.
  3. Staff Communication – Determine potential payroll taxes relief and other payroll aid tools available and seek legal advice. Identify the work-from-home capabilities and obstacles for team members.
  4. Board Communications – Brief the board and seek approval on immediate priority policy changes required.
  5. Committee Communication – Work with committee chairs to reschedule future meetings and determine conference call solutions.
  6. Other Stakeholder Communication – Plan for reaching out to vendors, prospective members, group reservations and other relevant stakeholders.


  1. Member Offerings/Venues – Separate into short-term versus long-term. Key checklist items include F&B menu/offering, vendor relationships, golf course opening plan and member access to pick up property.
  2. Cleaning Action Steps – Update the cleaning checklist with added preventative measures and assign personnel.
  3. Facilities – Define the future usage of each core facility at the Club (clubhouse, pro shop, F&B, admin offices) and any policy or function changes required.
  4. Other Operations – Define the operational plan for other areas of the business, including turf maintenance/engineering facilities, prospective member programs and non-member business- related income such as existing bookings for banquets and tournaments.
  5. Staff policy/scheduling and pay scenarios – short-term and long-term policy, and expected costs for salaries of full-time, part-time and seasonal employees (full shutdown vs. partial shutdown).

Financial Impact Planning

  1. Scenario Planning – Identify the most likely shutdown scenarios and model assumptions that have the greatest impact on the financial model (i.e. change in dues, wages, etc.).
  2. Preserving Cash Plan – Review all capital projects, loan schedules, outside revenue contracts to identify ways to conserve cash. Adjust assumptions for new member forecasts and resignation forecasts.
  3. Cost Cutting Plan – Based on the new assumptions for revenue and cash, determine the most prudent areas for cut-backs to payroll, operating expenses, contracts, events, etc.
  4. Revenue Generation Plan – Identify any new offerings the club can provide to support revenue generation, such as meal replacement, to-go orders, limited golf, event catering, etc.

Contingency Plans

  1. Determine a plan for shelter in place – Determine the trigger that would lead to no staff or members on property (i.e. order from city officials) and the time-sensitive steps to be taken in that event.
  2. Determine trigger and plan to close club completely – How does the plan change if shelter in place orders are extended or if a member or employee is diagnosed with the virus?
  3. Determine trigger and plan to reopen club completely – Leadership team develops a back-to- work protocol and a ramp-up plan.
  4. Club Events/Golf Tournament Status – Determine how each scenario above affects the status of scheduled club events that have not been postponed.

A note about Smartsheet: there are several different project planning tools out there, but I am quite fond of Smartsheet ( I use the software extensively for project planning and highly recommend it. From a strategic planning perspective, it has been a great tool for us to keep track of progress on our strategic action plan and to keep our leadership group aligned on performance against our goals.

Because sometimes we just need to laugh …

What Does Golf’s Green Future Mean for You?

As environmental consciousness continues to rise across the world, GGA Partner and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Audubon International, Henry DeLozier, identifies the three starting points for clubs looking to make the shift towards a greener future.

Americans are more concerned about climate change than ever before. According to a recent Pew Research Center Survey, “About two-thirds of U.S. adults (67%) say the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change, and similar shares say the same about government efforts to protect air (67%) and water quality (68%)…”

The study also found that concern over the state of the environment is more than a national interest or partisan issue, with the majority indicating that climate change is affecting their daily lives, “Most Americans today (62%) say that climate change is affecting their local community either a great deal or some.”

Does the same sentiment exist in golf?  Since 2017, managers have reported to GGA that their clubs are under the microscope in some areas, receiving provocation from local municipalities and increased pressure to comply with local rules and environmental regulations.  These pressures have led to the need for clubs to increase their ‘green’ efforts in education, labor and training inputs, as well as governmental reporting.

Whether it’s a case of compliance or the desire to develop a greater sense of environmental stewardship and eco-friendly operations, it can often be difficult to know how and where to start. To ease this process, here are three starting points for clubs looking to make the shift towards a greener future.

1. Assess current levels of resource utilization

Understanding how much your club is using, in what areas, from which sources, and at what price is an essential first step.

This will allow you to develop a baseline for evaluation, and measure these against performance goals.

In need of a helping hand to get started? A number of associations and organizations have developed intuitive and informed tools to enable clubs to conduct these evaluations in-house.

  • GCSAA’s BMP Planning Guide and Template is an online resource that provides for the development of golf course BMP programs at the state level. Based on a high-potential impact on operation of your facility and its bottom line, GCSAA recommends attention to performance goals in four distinct areas: water conservation, water quality protection, pollution prevention, and energy conservation.
  • Audubon International, which promotes sustainability for businesses, recreational properties and communities, has developed Standard Environmental Management Practices that are generally applicable to all golf courses. These standards form the basis for the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) for golf certification guidelines which include habitat planning and management guidance, while increasing the understanding of best management practices for pesticide use.

2. Develop an environmental policy.

“Putting your golf course, community or resort on the path to sustainability may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be,” Audubon International CEO Christine Kane says. “We suggest starting by establishing an environmental policy that will guide your operations. This will bring your employees and members onboard and pave the way for incorporating topics such as water conservation, IPM or wildlife management into your budget, marketing and maintenance processes.”

3. Seek a certification program and pursue recognition.

Establishing a reputation for environmental stewardship in the public eye – that is, from the viewpoint of your current and potential future members – is a valuable business marketing tool for clubs to wield.  Pursuing formal recognition and certification for the club’s commitment to “green” operating practices can grow its market share and build loyalty among the power-spending generations of the future.

If your club is looking to bolster its environmental credentials, here are some awards and programs to consider:

  • Audubon launched its Water & Sustainability Innovation Award this year to recognize landscape companies, organizations, and municipalities for sustainable, water-efficient projects. Corica Park South Course of Alameda, California, and its management firm, Greenway Golf, was the first recipient.
  • ACSP for Golf provides a tangible form of recognition for clubs and courses committed to protecting the environment and preserving the natural heritage of the game.
  • Monarchs in the Rough is a program that partners with golf courses to combat the population decline of the monarch butterfly and to restore pollinator habitat in out-of-play areas.
  • The Green Restaurant Association is an international nonprofit organization encouraging restaurants to ‘green’ their operations using science-based certification standards in order to become more sustainable in energy, water, waste, food, chemicals, disposables, and building.

Golf facilities and clubs also benefit from sustainability’s halo effect.  Many members today expect greater levels of environmental stewardship from businesses and other organizations with which they are associated.  In addition to its environmental impacts, sound resource management and recognition through certification has taken on a good-for-business shine as well.

Research points out that sound environmental stewardship matters to women and millennials especially.  While sentiments diverge along lines of on geographic location and political affiliation, it is apparent in the Pew Research study that women and young adults (e.g. Millennials and Generation Z) exhibit a higher propensity to regard climate change as a serious issue which affects them personally.

The bottom line is that that these groups represent the next generation of members and they are both concerned about sound environmental practices and are receptive to learning how club managers are caring for Mother Earth. Clubs and courses seeking to attract younger members would do well to take a responsible approach to environmentalism.