Facing new challenges for success

By Andrew Whiley
A voice from the south


Last month, I had the pleasure of attending a Rotary District conference in Wanaka.
It was interesting to see the attendees, with an average age of more than 60, engaged and excited to be there and having fun.
There were some great speakers who asked everyone to think about their current business model, the importance of leadership and good governance, and who challenged how we are viewed and what the next generation is thinking and doing.
What struck me about this conference is that it addressed many issues that were not just Rotary-related but could be facing many organisations here in New Zealand and even globally.
What we have been doing in the last few years or are currently doing will not attract future members, so it is critical that all organisations meet the market and prepare to change for the future. So what is it you would like your club or organisation to look like? What is the image that you are projecting to prospective new members or green fee players?
What I noted during the conference was the change in the mood of the attendees. Over drinks on the Friday night, there was general chat about how everything was ticking along just nicely. By lunchtime Saturday, there was the feeling of “how do we tackle these issues?” and by morning tea on Sunday, I got the vibe that people were feeling better about the challenges ahead and that they were ready to face them head-on. Portraying a positive and progressive image was vital, and that meeting the market and having a product that was attractive was essential.
So just like Rotary clubs and many other organisations and clubs, it is important that golf clubs are meeting the needs of potential golfers and new members. Golf clubs need to be about more than coming to the course and needing to play 18-holes. Heck, when I got my subs notice in the mail, I checked how many rounds I had played in the previous 12 months and realised I was much better off paying green fees and playing with my mates and enjoying various golf courses than paying a full membership.
However, for me, it is about supporting the club and I like the fact that it is my time to catch up with a bunch of guys with whom I enjoy spending four hours. I know many in my position who would simply not renew their memberships and leave their clubs.
What I really enjoy about Rotary is that every week I learn something new from the speakers that come to the meetings. It’s also a great place to network with a diverse group of men and women and I get to participate in some wonderful local community projects as Rotary does make a difference on the global stage.
To be truthful though, at the golf club it is generally the same old, same old. Thirteen years standing behind the counter at the golf club as the local pro, I saw that very little changed. There is basically the same routine each day and I was generally able to tell what time of day it was by who was teeing off. Is this actually the recipe for a successful golf club in the future?
If your golf club has good strong governance and leadership, you will see a thriving club with a variety of activities and new initiatives that attract new players and participants of all ages. In most cases there should be a regular change-up in play, enabling members to meet and play with new people.
Unfortunately, two-thirds of all golf courses today are struggling to break even; there are only about 10 percent of golf clubs that are actually thriving. If clubs don’t wake up and adapt to the changing market, then like all clubs, sporting or community focused, they will not attract new members and will slowly die.
Be honest with yourselves – take a good look around at what is happening at your club. Can you feel the positive energy and enthusiasm or is there a sense of dwindling memberships and entrenched routines?
Now is the time to be pro-active and adapt to the changing market. No matter what traditions that are being held onto, it’s time to accept change.
Everyone must welcome new people and a new generation of members and acknowledge that what you have done in the past is not going to be the pathway to a successful future. Begin the discussion at your club and if you’ve got an idea speak up and even consider joining the board. Whatever you do, just start the discussion.