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Club Mission Statements

A club’s mission state­ment is at its essence how a club perceives itself and how it wishes to be viewed by the outside world. As our society evolves, a club’s mission should be examined and, if neces­sary, changed to reflect the club’s rele­vance to current and future members. An informal survey of 20 clubs on their mis­sion statements uncovered several themes that could be instructive.

The word “tradition” was used in less than half of the clubs’ mission statements. This surprisingly low number shows how clubs have evolved in their thinking and their marketing to the outside world. With each succeeding generation, “tradition” carries a diminished value. The three up­coming generations expect evolving and improved performance and experiences, and place a high value on progress, (i.e., Moore’s Law, the doubling of computer chip performance every two years), and are are less likely to value the traditions treasured by their parents’ generations.

The word “family” appears in about half of the mission statements. Its use is low considering Millennials tend to gravitate toward family-oriented values. Coupled with the larger demographic trend of fami­lies forming later in life—dual earners, with more disposable income and younger chil­dren—appealing to families for club mem­bership deserves more gravitas.

And golf? All of the clubs surveyed save one have golf as an offering, however only seven mention golf outright and an addition­al four use the term “athletics” in describing facilities and offerings. While the surveyed clubs will assuredly continue golf, it’s cu­riously missing from a prominent role de­scribing the essence of a club lifestyle. One club “doubled down” on golf describing it four times in its mission statement. It clearly broadcasts the club’s love of golf and its val­ues to attract new golfing members.

Other frequently appearing words were: “facilities,” “service,” “friendship,” “fellowship” and “social”—conveying generic offerings and social frameworks, perhaps designed to serve as catch-all terms with mass appeal. Delivering more specific messages that resonate enough to be memorable and quotable by current members to membership candidates may serve clubs well in the future.

Kirk Reese is the executive VP of DENEHY Club Thinking Partners, an executive search and management-consulting firm that has assisted more than 220 clubs and resorts on more than 500 projects. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit