The PowerTurf Canterbury Club Golf Forum " Managing Your Club's Future" was held at Clearwater Golf Club yesterday with 80 participants from local clubs and guests from throughout New Zealand attending. This included staff and volunteer leaders from 28 Canterbury Golf Clubs, the Canterbury Golf Executive Committee, New Zealand Golf staff, Tasman and Aorangi Golf reps, the entire Golf Managers Association of NZ Board, guest speaker Todd Heller, and our own Sir Bob Charles.
Master MC Stephen Gee kept proceedings fun and interactive as well as informative as the meaty issues of maximising club profitability, effective governance relationships, using technology to drive your club, and club sustainability were digested and discussed. Each session was led by a four-person panel of experts who stimulated thinking by giving their insights into the topic at hand.
After lunch keynote speaker Todd Heller gave an engaging address about his life from a humble butcher shop in New Brighton to growing a multi-million dollar global business. He also provided anecdotes about his golfing experiences including going to this year's Masters at Augusta, and playing with Seve Ballesteros in the St Clair Classic many years ago.
Sir Bob Charles fully participated in group discussions throughout the day and gave valuable insights about his input into the new rules for golf, and his crusade to make golf courses shorter so that more people will play the game.
The last session of the day was on club sustainability. Most thought that the discussion would be on club mergers and amalgamations. However this was tempered somewhat when panel expert Carl Fenton (NZ Golf Sector Relationship Manager) spoke about New Zealand Golf's work in researching and analysing what golf facilities would best serve each region. This approach will lead to adapting current facilties to cater for market needs rather than necessairly closing or merging them.
Instead the main discussion was about green fee levels; the consensus being that overall green fees were too low in the region, making it less attractive for casual golfers to joins clubs based on the price of green fees versus membership. NZ Golf CEO Dean Murphy offered a useful guide for clubs in that their green fee should be a 12th of their annual subscription. This is based on the premise that a green player who plays more than once a month would be better off joining a club. A quick calculation by club reps revealed that many green fees are too low if we are to encourage people to join clubs based on price.
The parting question was "where to from here?". MC Stephen Gee got each participant to write on a piece of paper three actions points and then seal that in an envelope, with a commitment from Canterbury Golf to open those envelopes at a later date, contact the participant, and see how they are they getting on with implementaion of their action points.
Canterbury Golf will also be looking to hold a Club Manager's Meeting within the next six weeks to debrief the forum and further discuss issues that arose.
The day went by quickly and ended with reflection and conversation over a drink in the Members Lounge.
A huge thanks must go to principal sponsor PowerTurf, associate sponsors GMANZ and Asahi, hosts Cleawater Golf Club, and co-organisers Andrew Bell and Neville Bamford.