Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Steps for a Better Golf Management Business

By Michael Vogt, CGCS

Step #1

Have a Mission Statement

I ask a superintendent at one club I was visiting, “Of your entire crew who could cut the straightest line with a walking greens mower”? Without hesitation the super said, “Jose’ has been mowing greens for 6 years, his lines are the straightest, without a doubt”. I then posed a question and a challenge to the super, “I’ll bet I can teach any of the crew at your course, even the newest guy, to mow straighter lines than Jose’ in five minutes or less, ten dollars is my bet!”

The super took my bet picked up his radio and called for Jose’ and Primo to meet at the sod nursery to mow straight lines with a Toro Flex 21. Primo was a new hire (2 weeks) and was routinely assigned to hand rake bunkers and work around the club landscape, he hasn’t so much as used a rotary mower at the club.

As preparations preceded I reached in my back pocket and pulled out a handkerchief and tied it around Jose’s head covering his eyes, then I spun Jose’ in five quick circles. The super called fowl; and I said, “Your withdrawal from the bet is accepted”. My point being that it is certain that a master of the greens mower had no chance to mow a perfectly straight line while blindfolded and disorientated. It also holds true that an organization no matter how proficient and experienced can expect to achieve superior results without a mission statement. How can the superintendent and his team ever cut the straight line unbalanced and without being able to see forward to the next turn?

If your team is operating without a mission statement I might compare it to Jose’, scalping a path to the parking lot behind a Toro, blindfolded attempting to mow a straight line!

While your club, as a complete entity might have a mission statement it doesn’t preclude you and your team to being guided by a mission statement that complements or feeds the clubs overall mission and ultimate long term goals.

The second story I would like to share happened years ago during my career. I worked for a large management company. A golf professional was caring for a member that just got off the course playing behind a group that was particularly slow. The member was a regular, several times per week player along with his foursome; what I would call an extremely active members.

The member wanted to vent and the conversation escalated and got to a point where the golf professional finally said to the member, “What can I do to make the situation right.” The member said, “There’s nothing you or anyone can do to make the slow play I have just experienced right, I believe it's getting to be a problem here, this slow play.”

The golf professional without another word walked over to the putter rake and grabbed a Scotty Cameron putter that he saw the member looking at before his round and said, “I know nothing can make that unbearably slow round go away. Think of this gift as a token of our appreciation and how important you are as a member of the club.”

The member was floored by the gift of a $300 putter and the heated exchange ended. Each member of the staff is empowered to make these types of decisions and is still guided by a mission statement at this management company:

Do the right thing, do it daily, just do it!

The general manager (still a good friend) was asked to sign off on the golf professionals “gift” to the irate member, at first he thought, “What’s the golf pro trying to do, give away the shop?”

Then the light went on and the GM realized; the dues, golf cart rental income along with F&B revenue - if the group decided to take their golf somewhere else the cost of the putter was a drop in the bucket.

Later in the year the golf pro was selected as employee of the year by his quick thinking and conflict resolution skills.

By the way, this foursome was estimated yearly at well over $35,000.00 in revenue to the club.

Mission statements are powerful tools, which lend clarity and goals to your team. A mission statement can also give guidance for employees to act in a certain manner.

A club's mission statement is a constant reminder to its employees of why the club exists and what the founders envisioned when they put their reputations and resources at risk to breathe life into their club.

Woe to the club that loses sight of its Mission Statement for it has taken the first step on the slippery slope to failure.

Sample Mission Statements

1) To form a team dedicated to providing exceptional golf course conditions to the members we serve. We will provide a professional approach to golf course maintenance and exceptional quality projects which meet budget and schedule goals.

2) Above all we highly value the importance of our members to deliver high-quality golf course maintenance by employing and supporting motivated, flexible, and focused teams. We will remain fair and true in our dealings with all members, employees, vendors, and partners. The club counts on our dependability, our drive, and our integrity. We take great pride in our accomplishments and build on them every day.

3) To provide excellent golf course conditions centered on the entire membership and to foster a family centered golf experience that meets or exceeds the expectations of those members and families we serve. To collaborate with members, committees, management and boards of directors to improve the overall conditions and environments of the club’s golf course and surrounding grounds all while protecting and safeguarding the environment.

Try a mission statement on for size, change some of the words, create your own but don’t forget - share it with your team, it might change how straight your lines are!

No comments: