Dealing with emotional ownership

Working with as many private member golf club as I have over the past 20 years, it still surprises me how the decision-making process can often get so highly charged because of “emotional ownership”.

A club member is investing not only time and money but also a strong emotional engagement with ‘their club’. A golf club is like a family business with decision making driven by more than just financial performance. Nothing wrong with that but the strain of meeting member (and often friends’ expectations) and who are often resistant to change- gets too much in the way.

As many clubs attempt to become more business-like in their approach, I have witnessed some very intense exchanges at Board meetings and club forums. It takes a strong Chair to manage the emotions running high. Being able to put your own viewpoint to one side and listen with a truly open mind is also an art.

Its no surprise that transparency and communication are in the list of top member gripes with their club- especially when change is afoot. Every time I work with a club on a project I am constantly asking them to pause and check back in with the membership. A simple update email from the Chairman, a notice at a very prominent spot in the club house (yes they do exist), a simple walk round the clubhouse on a Saturday morning checking in with members outside of your regular circle. Too many golf club Boards still work on a need-to-know basis and mistake lack of feedback for acceptance- until it’s too late. One top tip- texting has a great response rate.

A simple text question about your project reaches the broadest range of members. But be prepared to follow up on the replies!


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