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Who’s your next new member?

There is no argument that we are in the midst of an unprecedented economic period—now in its 10th year of growth—making it the perfect time for club owners/members and board members to take a step back and really assess how their clubs are faring.

If you’ve strategically increased membership pricing and initiation fees and wisely invested in capital improvements, the overall health of your club should be good. What does that look like? Membership numbers right on par, robust golf and tennis leagues, established committees made up of long-term members and weekly Pasta Nights and Taco Tuesdays faithfully attended by regular members, who your employees know by name. That is all well and good, but check the demographics. It’s true, people are living longer but they won’t be living forever. Now is the time to plan for the future—well into the future.

Look beyond baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials to Gen Zers, (also known as the iGen generation or those 10 to 24 years old), and even Gen Alphas—yes, there already is a term for those younger than 9. It might seem absurd now but it won’t in 10 or 20 years. It’s never too early to help your members find a love for golf and tennis and form connections to your club. Best of all, these simple investments in the future of your club require no capital dollars.

Focus on Teen Programming

  • Organize fun teen golf and tennis leagues that offer team play, fun competitions and contests. 
  • Form a junior board of governors committee and let them help plan monthly events for high-schoolers, such as trivia nights, cook-outs and summer relays at the pool.
  • Add a game room with electronic gaming consoles, ping pong, retro pinball and arcade games and hold competitions and contests. 
  • Hold regular game nights featuring old-school board and card games. Incorporate competitions against some of your more seasoned members.
  • Encourage philanthropy through fundraising activities and service-hour opportunities, which are required by many high schools and will be much appreciated by parents.

Your Youngest Members

  • Offer a variety of fun summer camps that teach the games of golf and tennis. Make sure activities are age appropriate for each group and add elements as the kids get older—make them want to come back the following summer.
  • Offer robust junior golf and tennis leagues that grow the game and grow talent. Give them confidence to pursue their sport.
  • Offer cooking classes, camps and competitions. Shows like “MasterChef Junior” and “Kids Cook-Off” are enormously popular. Reward your standout chefs by featuring their recipes on your menu.
  • Hold seasonal mini “summer camp” reunions throughout the year by inviting attendees back for various events.

Clubs often focus on connecting their adult members. Expand that focus to the children. In the short term, parents will find more value in their membership. Long term? Children really are the future and investing in the future is never a bad thing.

Tom Bennison is chief development officer at ClubCorp, the largest owner and operator of private golf and country clubs. He serves
as an NCA director. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit