Business Golf: A Change May Be In Order for ClubCorp Members

The BIG news online this morning and in the newspapers around the world, is the sell of ClubCorp to KSL Capital Partners. There are a lot of questions KSL will need to answer quickly to keep the CCA membership from fleeing.

The concern is, How will this effect Business Golf? Right now, it is too early to tell, but can we trust there will not be a change?

Yes, I also am concerned. Being a member of ClubCorp’s Brookhaven Country Club here in Dallas for nearly 11 years and one of their Signature Gold members for just as long, I have had the privilege of seeing a number of the other clubs owned by CCA.

But can CCA members trust that this deal is going to make any improvement? We can only hope.

It seems my club, Brookhaven Country Club, has gotten the short end of the stick as far as any recent improvements being made to the facility to bring the clubhouse and golf shop at least into the 70’s… After seeing the other facilities and speaking with their management it seems most of the other all got their facilities enhanced in the last three years while the flagship of CCA, Brookhaven Country Club, has received little if any improvement.

This seems a shame, and a little disrespectful to the BCC membership, since BCC will be celebrating its 50th year next year when all of the other facilities are spending tons of money redoing golf courses, updating clubhouses and popshops. And BBC is getting nothing. Brookhaven County Club is where ClubCorp started and is where Mr. Robert Deadman Jr, grew-up. Making it a travesty that he did not see the need to respect the flagship of the CCA endeavor by reward it’s members with a new facility. Guess Bob, Jr., forgot how good of salespeople the members of BCC are for CCA.

Yes, BCC had a cart path or two partially repaired and the new Superintendent was god sent and has done with nothing to get the three golf courses into absolutely suburb shape. But, as far as the clubhouse, pro-shop and dining area…well as one of my clients told me while I was trying to get him to join, ‘When will Donna Reed arrive?”…that describes the décor and the age of this facility…BCC has lost its classiness.

The BCC members have been told for the past three years that change and improvements to the club’s facilities are coming which now is obvious was to divert their attention from the sale to KSL. The change and improvements mentioned included one of the golf courses being brought up to the standard of the other facilities owned by CCA. And in the past year a rumor of the Clubhouse being bulldozed and replaced with a new design really got the heartbeat of the baby boomer membership racing… But, none of that happened and after the announcement of the sale no explanation to the general membership, the average members or the people like me who are out promoting Business Golf to be played at Country Clubs, has been provided.

So what it looks like is all these plans seemingly got canned due to Mr Deadman’s wanting to get rid of his father’s empire. As a result, senior members started scurrying out of the club by the droves and in came the new younger members who were given hopes that they could get in now and raise their kids in an updated facility.

Well, now the entire golfing memberships here at Brookhaven and at all CCA facilities around the world, are asking, what will KSL do? KSL admittedly has no experience in Private Clubs and from all indications have bought CCA to cut their teeth on getting that experience.

But at whose costs? It doesn’t take an MBA to know that the dues paying members of CCA are holding up the majority of the $1.4 Billion annual Gross revenue of CCA.

The article in The Dallas Morning News ClubCorp sells golf resorts provided

Tim Wyman, a specialist in golf, hospitality and real estate consulting in the Dallas office of PKF Consulting, said the purchase was a good value for ClubCorp, but that it remains to be seen whether KSL has the expertise to run private golf clubs.

“I’m not sure if KSL knows the private club business,” he said.

Mr. Wyman said the purchase also is representative of a consolidation trend within the industry.

“The big guys are acquiring – that’s definitely the case,” he said. “There are a lot of institutional investors that are starting to view golf as a good investment again, which hadn’t been the case for a few years.”

But is the current management of the CCA Private Clubs up to the task and will they be able to accept change? Will the needs of the average members of the clubs be finally recognized and will KSL improve the ‘club vs members’ relationships or leave them alone.

There probably is some need for new and fresh management to be brought into the private clubs. Or at least in the cases I am most familiar with, a big need bring the club management into modern age. A change to a Management that treats women as equals and puts the needs of the Club and Members of the club first before their personal agenda of enhancing their own revenue horizons.

Golfweek Online Magazine article, ClubCorp to sell portfolio to KSL provided the public the first statement from KSL that may indicate the first problem the CCA members will deal with.

“ClubCorp provides a significant platform for our entry into the membership side of the leisure business,” said Michael S. Shannon, KSL Capital Partners’ managing director, in a statement. “We have been impressed with the management team, and we believe the investment by our firm will add value.”

I am sure there is much more to come on this situation in today’s online feeds and in other articles that are going to be written today and for the next several months. The members of CCA can only hold their breath and see how KSL will handle this situation and hopefully for the better…

My advice to KSL is to make that statement now so the members of CCA can get out and sell this deal to the public for them, or start finding another club to be a member of…

Scot Duke, President of Innovative Business Golf Solutions, provides over 31 years of corporate management experience to helping small businesses improve their marketing strategies. As author of: How To Play Business Golf, Mr. Duke outlines the steps to sucessfully using golf as a business tool. To learn more about Mr. Duke, IBGS or to purchase How To Play Business Golf visit



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