Skip links

Why are some clubs doing very well and others struggle?

A new separation is occurring in the club world and it is based on one critical element: can your club raise the capital required to maintain premier existing conditions and offer the new amenities it needs to compete? As you know from reading NCA-McMahon’s Club Trends, societal values have already shifted, and if your club isn’t offering new and updated dining and social areas or the latest in golf, fitness and other recreation, it won’t have the appeal that it needs to thrive. The ability to generate these funds is among the top challenges facing clubs today, and it is the key force behind the “winners and losers” market. Generating funding for facilities demands a great plan. Most clubs require a member vote to move forward with large capital projects, so your proposal must be something that a majority of members can get excited about. To do this, collect input from your members on how they feel about the existing facilities and what they would like to see in the future. This provides the necessary data to develop an effective solution and engages them in the planning activity. From there, you need the combination of a strategy, a great understanding of your current conditions and a design and financial plan to solve these issues. Ultimately, you’ll need to communicate this information back to membership to begin the process of education and endorsement that you will need to move ahead. A capital improvement is challenging for clubs as it brings up a lot of member emotion around the need for change and spending money. While there can be pushback from those who feel this activity threatens the club’s stability; the reality is that more clubs have failed or weakened because they didn’t reinvest in facilities than those that have gone the other way. Club boards should be actively involved in identifying their club’s needs and desires and developing a plan that generates the capital required to maintain and build a relevant club facility.

Frank Vain is president of McMahon Group, Inc., a premier full-service, private club consulting firm serving more than 1,900 private clubs around the world. He also serves as secretary of the NCA board and chairs the Communications Committee. He can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, visit