19 Nov

Perspectives from the Other Side

Forging a Deeper Connection with Communities & Members

As the crisp leaves fall to the ground and the smell of roasting turkey fills the air, we begin to contemplate all of the things in our lives that we are thankful for. Thanksgiving may be a time of gratitude and warmth for families across the nation, but it’s also the perfect moment for clubs to begin thinking about how they can give back to their communities.

Most clubs already make an effort to give back. Golf tournaments and other golf industry events, many sponsored or hosted by clubs, are responsible for donating up to $3.9 billion to charities each year. Clubs are some of the longest standing businesses in our communities, driving regional economies by creating jobs and purchasing local products and services. But despite all of these contributions, clubs continually struggle with community perceptions of elitism and disconnection.

How can you help your club fight against this negative image? Get involved and make your contributions known to the community. When clubs sponsor a particular event or organization, they’re typically thanked for their contributions publicly. Hosting charity events provides the perfect opportunity for local media to portray clubs in a positive light. Or think of the causes standing right outside your front door. Participating in local events – like accommodating a high school golf tournament or sponsoring school fundraisers – creates an open dialogue between your club and the community, all while building a positive brand. The equation is simple: When the media promotes your event, they’re also promoting your club. These little mentions may seem insignificant, but they ultimately shape community perceptions for the better.

Opening your club up to the community is also a useful tool for engaging younger generations – after all, they’re the club’s future membership. Millennials are known as one of the most civic-minded generations in history and they want to join clubs that reflect these attitudes. To attract new members and even retain legacies, clubs must not only continue to be charitable, but also ensure that their value to the community is communicated and understood.

The key to successfully connecting with your community is to pinpoint charities and causes that your membership is passionate about. If you are struggling with branding or finding your club’s identity, community contributions can be a great way to put your finger on the pulse of your membership and discover what makes them tick. In the two years that I was GM at the Country Club of St. Albans, we raised close to $400,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation – an effort the club still ardently supports today. During my time as GM at Nakoma Golf Club, I represented the club on the Board of Easter Seals of Wisconsin – a cause that our membership donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to over my 10 years there. Why such high dollar amounts? Because each club was passionate about their cause. When members get involved in the planning and execution of these events, great things can happen!

All in all, opening your club to the outside isn’t just about branding and promotional opportunities. It’s about doing something good in the world. It’s no secret that clubs cater to some of the most upstanding members of our communities – doctors, lawyers, civic leaders, philanthropists, and more. It only makes sense that clubs, and their members, would be at the forefront of giving back. And during this time of year, giving back is more important than ever.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving. With an industry so generous and caring, we certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

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  1. Dan Morn


    Great article! Very well written. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

    Best regards,

    Dan Morn
    Fellow Badger Chapter Member

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