Wed Oct 3 2012Membership: History, tradition, and honour
Years ago as a young PGA trainee I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play Sherwood Country Club (north of Los Angeles, California). Sherwood Country Club used to host Greg Norman's Shark Shootout (now the Merrill Lynch Shootout) for numerous years before becoming the now current home of the Tiger Woods Foundation/Chevron World Challenge Tournament.
I vividly remember driving up to the residential community's guardhouse and seeing what looked like huge "pearly" front gates as the entrance to the club. I was in awe. This was going to be something special regardless of how well I played. Fairways were manicured like putting greens, putting greens rolled like glass tabletops, and hardly anyone on the course playing golf except a few celebs of course (Mel Gibson played through my group on this occasion). After a pretty uneventful but still incredible round of golf I had to have a quick trip through the clubhouse. What stood out the most inside was the hallway lined with Honour Boards and the pictures of the club's Board of Directors and other dignitaries of the famous club- of course Tom Selleck was the one that I remember the most. (It wasn't to long after the Magnum PI times.) You could just feel this place was full of great stories and wrapped in years of tradition. If the massive beautifully red-brick clubhouse could only talk! This was my first foray into experiencing what a traditional club can truly be like.
When you think of history and tradition in regards to clubs worldwide, a couple names would always make the Top 10 list. St. Andrews and Augusta National are the ones that come to my mind. You don't have to say much more than their names and you can already draw-up a great visual and feeling about them.
St. Andrews Golf Links is undeniably the home of golf and where the history and tradition began for the game. "A landscape of infinite variety, golf has been played here for over 600 years, evolving on these Links into the game we know today." quoted from the St. Andrews Links website.
Augusta National, one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, and the home of The Masters golf event played each April. The amazing images we see during The Masters are of pristine manicured holes and we remember the infamous golfing battles from over the years. A simple mention of Amen Corner, Rae's Creek, and Magnolia Lane and you would automatically know what and where they were talking about.
When I started my golfing career years ago at a city owned Par 67 course in California, my first boss told me, "no matter what type of course you work at, top or bottom tier, remember your players and members think of it as their own Augusta or St. Andrews. Help them create their own history and tradition like it was one of those clubs."
Our clubs here in Australia are all full of history and tradition, though some more than others. Have a close look at the names on the Honour Boards of the clubs you most frequent. There are many stories behind each of those names and competitions. It's something that is so special to the people that have their names listed, but this feat is taken for granted many times by most. You have to wonder who these people are, how did they win the same competition 5-years in a row, and what was happening in their life at that time. It's only a small bit of the club's history but generations of members to come will get to see and hopefully ponder these facts, and try to add their own names. Some clubs have names of the players we currently watch on television, before they were famous- you never know- that could be you!
Most clubs will offer a regular yearly "fixtures" calendar of all the recurring events held at their club, such as Club Championship, Monthly Medals, Four-ball, and other team events (Mixed and not mixed). Many clubs opt to host some high profile (and not so high profile) events as a great way to start tradition at their club and to add to the history of great players attending before they became famous.
Though not all clubs may be steep in tradition, they still do have some kind of history, tradition and honour. Have a serious look into joining a club near you and make your mark on their history and help them set up some tradition of their own. Go create your own St. Andrews or Augusta National.
Mike Orloff is a golf marketing and operations specialist with management experience in the golf industry in Australia and United States. He offers marketing and operational advice for golfing facilities in the areas of revenue generation, membership attainment and retention, new player development, staff recruitment, event management and retail management.
Marketing to grow golf businesses is Mike’s main focus these days.
As a current US and Australian PGA Member, Mike has more than 22 years of experience working his way up from pro shop assistant to general manager of two to five-star operations for two of the biggest international golf management companies globally. Now Mike is offering his experience, knowledge and tools to golf clubs and other golf-related businesses in Australia and New Zealand.
Articles by Mike Orloff