Now, more than ever, the golf in­dus­try re­quires highly skilled op­er­a­tors who un­der­stand the dy­namic en­vi­ron­ment of sport. It has never been more chal­leng­ing for the lead­ers of our clubs to ad­min­is­trate, de­liver and grow the game of golf.


Thai­land is one of New Zealand's most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions and it is easy to see why.

C lub lead­er­ship faces

markedly dif­fer­ent chal­lenges than they have in the past. Rapidly in­creas­ing op­er­a­tional costs, the need to un­der­stand and em­brace tech­nol­ogy, in­creas­ing com­pli­ance and le­gal re­quire­ments and the strug­gle to de­liver high qual­ity ex­pe­ri­ences to both the cur­rent mem­ber­ship and a grow­ing mar­ket of peo­ple seek­ing ca­sual en­gage­ment - the task is not an easy one.

The lead­ers of to­day are ex­pected to wear mul­ti­ple hats and have a good level of un­der­stand­ing across ad­min­is­tra­tion, mar­ket­ing, hos­pi­tal­ity, fi­nances, golf de­liv­ery, turf man­age­ment, gov­er­nance, com­pli­ance, tech­nol­ogy, event man­age­ment, the list goes on.

It's no coin­ci­dence that those clubs who are suc­ceed­ing in this en­vi­ron­ment have strong lead­er­ship prac­tices. While it may seem that some clubs have fallen in to this sit­u­a­tion, the op­po­site is of­ten true. The Sec­tor Sup­port team within New Zealand Golf (NZ Golf Inc.) ac­tively stud­ies and mea­sures the suc­cess of golf clubs across New Zealand and have de­vel­oped a per­for­mance ma­trix based on this.


• Qual­ity lead­er­ship and

gov­er­nance. • Grow­ing mem­ber­ship and

par­tic­i­pa­tion. • Fi­nan­cial strength and

sus­tain­abil­ity. • De­liv­er­ing high qual­ity


Those clubs com­mit­ted to ac­tively build­ing the skills of their lead­ers of­ten see suc­cess across all ar­eas of club per­for­mance. While there is no per­fect struc­ture or set of skills that guar­an­tees suc­cess there are some very good in­di­ca­tors;


A lead­er­ship team that seek peo­ple with the re­quired skills first. Not the most pop­u­lar, nor the best at golf. They are of­ten aware of what type of skills they would like to sup­port the lead­er­ship team and aware of any skill gaps they may have. A team that un­der­stand and demon­strate the dif­fer­ence be­tween gov­er­nance and man­age­ment. They set clear ex­pec­ta­tions and di­rec­tion for the club and sup­port the man­ager or op­er­a­tional com­mit­tees to get the job done with­out get­ting in the way. It is ar­tic­u­lated in a doc­u­mented long-term plan. They have a clear vi­sion of the fu­ture.

They have a clear plan for the next 12 months.

It is doc­u­mented in an annual busi­ness plan and di­rectly links with the long term vi­sion and plan.

They align their re­source with their plans. They mon­i­tor the per­for­mance of their man­agers/ op­er­a­tional com­mit­tees. They ac­tively sup­port the growth of their lead­ers through train­ing. They make de­ci­sions for the longterm health of the club.

The annual bud­get lines up with the busi­ness plan. Ro­bust re­port­ing struc­tures are in place to mon­i­tor progress and suc­cess, per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors line up with the annual plan. Whether this is gov­er­nance or man­age­ment train­ing, there is a com­mit­ment to on­go­ing learn­ing. Even at the ex­pense of short term wants of some mem­bers. Clubs have options when com­mit­ting to build­ing a skilled lead­er­ship team. The NZ Golf Sec­tor Sup­port Team, based through­out the coun­try, can ac­tively work with clubs or clus­ters of clubs to in­crease their lead­er­ship prac­tices. One of the tools most reg­u­larly em­ployed is the Sport New Zealand Gov­er­nance 101 course. This free, on­line train­ing tool al­lows boards or com­mit­tees to do in­di­vid­ual train­ing at a time most suit­able for them. Spread over 6 mod­ules the Gov­er­nance 101 tool pro­vides a sound un­der­stand­ing of the roles, re­quire­ments and best prac­tices of board and com­mit­tee mem­bers and can sup­port more ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient lead­er­ship.

For a more in­tense and long term set of lead­er­ship train­ing, the Golf Man­agers As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand (GMANZ) with sup­port from New Zealand Golf de­liver the Club Man­agers As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica, BMI cour­ses. This series of week-long cour­ses has pro­duced more than 11,000 in­ter­na­tional grad­u­ates and is one of the most re­spected ed­u­ca­tional ini­tia­tives in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. Each pro­gram is an in­ten­sive learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence em­ploy­ing the lat­est teach­ing method­ol­ogy, real-life ex­am­ples and per­ti­nent col­lat­eral in­for­ma­tion in a struc­tured aca­demic en­vi­ron­ment. Ben­e­fit­ing from the ex­per­tise of pro­fes­sors, in­dus­try ex­perts and ex­pe­ri­enced club man­agers, the group delve into the myr­iad top­ics that make club lead­er­ship such a fas­ci­nat­ing pro­fes­sion.

The PGA of New Zealand are strong ad­vo­cates for on­go­ing learn­ing. In con­junc­tion with NZ Golf they de­liver su­perb on­line mod­ules through the PGA Coach Live plat­form. De­spite the name, the plat­form hosts a re­mark­ably broad range of learn­ing mod­ules out­side of coach­ing and pro­vides a ro­bust path­way for club lead­ers want­ing to grow their skill set.

As golfers, we can for­get how dif­fi­cult it is to lead a multifaceted or­gan­i­sa­tion like a club. Of­ten peo­ple re­late it to manag­ing a busi­ness, which holds some truth. How­ever, as ut­tered long ago and many times since “golf is not a mat­ter of life and death, it is much more im­por­tant than that.” This line demon­strates that peo­ple are fiercely pas­sion­ate about their golf, in a way they aren't about most busi­ness.

The peo­ple lead­ing the grass roots of the game face tough chal­lenges and whole­heart­edly de­serve the sup­port of the in­dus­try. As the mar­ket we op­er­ate in con­tin­ues to change, an on­go­ing com­mit­ment to highly skilled lead­er­ship and lead­er­ship train­ing will be a key to see­ing our clubs thrive.

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