I’ve had an article about the plight of many private golf clubs (likely hundreds). There seems to be a common series of events leading to the classic eleventh-hour “Save our Club” meeting.

Based on my article, I received Email message from every corner of the country, wondering if it was based on their club’s state of affairs. One member even asked me where I obtained the information about his private golf club, because my article described his club’s situation quite accurately.

Most have followed these developments:

• It began about fifteen years ago when they expanded the clubhouse for more ‘fine’ dining, added a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a fitness center.

• Later, the membership is aging and shrinking due to natural attrition. New members are becoming harder to recruit, partly because the old crowd is somewhat unappealing to the under-50 set - like dancing to Tommy Dorsey at the New Year’s Party.

• After year-2000 the monster clubhouse is no longer the center of the community. Thousands of square feet of building lie empty for days and weeks while expenses upon expenses pile up on very little income. The kitchen is out of date, cooks and chefs are almost impossible to keep, and Outback Steakhouse serves a better steak anyway. I’ve seen gas stoves burning fuel day after day serving no more than a handful of cheeseburgers.

• The golf maintenance facility is equipped with worn out old machinery that waste more time on blocks than on the job. The superintendent spends most of his time begging for chemicals, fertilizers, grease cartridges, help, etc. Meanwhile, the membership complains the superintendent is falling down on the job.

• The cart leases are due.

• The swimming pool has a $40,000 leak!

• The clay-court tennis surfaces need a $15,000 refurbishing!

• Four, forty-year-old bridges are unsafe. Budget $25,000!

• Water spots on ceiling tiles – a new roof is due! Budget $40,000.

• Cart paths are cracking apart from tree roots. Budget $100,000.

• All the new rooftops are causing serious drainage problems. A thunderstorm makes the course unplayable for days. It didn’t happen thirty years ago. Budget $100,000 minimum to correct drainage.

• The golf course is more than twenty years old and the irrigation system is ready to crash (if not already). A $1 million replacement looms. I interviewed a superintendent who told me his repair costs were in the thousands monthly – not to mention browned-out areas here and there. Budget up to $1 million!

• The condition and playability of the golf course lags behind newer competition. Many members that didn’t die off jumped ship to join more modern, more ‘hip’ golf clubs.

• As bad as the finances are, the membership will not allow the ways-and-means committee authority to allow some form of outside play on the course to supplement a falling monthly dues line. “This is a private golf club. Let in the riffraff and I’ll resign!”

Anyway, If your club is in a similar condition, write to me about it. You don’t have to name the club.

I truly believe all the clubs can be rescued. It might help your club just knowing their plight is so similar to others. If the board recognizes many of their problems are very common in the private club world, they might become more innovative in their thinking.

They might even consider bulldozing 80% of the clubhouse, filling in the pool, grassing over the tennis courts and return the club to a pure golf club. In my opinion, that’s exactly what many dying private clubs need to do!

Write:, or order a Site Review and Analysis - $2,500.00

Sincere thanks if you reply.

Mike Kahn (941) 739-3990