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.
THERE ARE FOUR KEY INDICATORS IN THE PERFORMANCE MATRIX
• 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;
THESE INDICATORS ARE
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.