The sudden resignation of Steve Carroll will have a two-pronged effect on the Golf Canada rebranding and membership drive, according to executive director Scott Simmons.
Carroll, the former executive director of the Canadian PGA, has resigned as Golf Canada’s regional director of membership development for Ontario and Atlantic Canada to become executive director of the Ontario Volleyball Association. You can read that story here.
Simmons says the loss of Carroll, who had built strong relationships with golf professionals and golf course representatives who are key to the Golf Canada membership drive, is unfortunate for his organization.
“I was shocked to hear the news from Steve, but that being said, I think it’s a great opportunity for him. We were certainly very lucky to have a guy of his calibre for the last year. Never did I imaging that he was going to stay with us for a long time, but we certainly benefited from having him over the last year,” said Simmons.
“It’s all a personal decision for Steve to meet his own personal objectives. When you look back in hindsight, his stint at Golf Canada was kind of a bridge for him, while he found his next ideal landing spot,” he added.
“Was it a good decision for us to bring him in, knowing that was going to be the case? I’d say absolutely because what he did in terms of starting to develop better relationships at the club level in Ontario and Atlantic is certainly going to benefit the person who comes in behind him, so it wasn’t wasted effort,” he said.
So, the loss of an industry veteran from a key role within Golf Canada will impact the initiative, but that’s only part of the story, according to Simmons.
“The other question that will likely come from the media sources is, `Is this a reflection on Golf Canada, the organization or the success of the membership initiative?’ ” he said.
Certainly, there were rumblings in the media about the success of Golf Canada when chief operating officer Peter Beresford moved to a consulting role within the initiative, while Ron Gardner, who had worked with Golf Canada as managing director of membership development and services, took on a similar role.
Simmons admits that membership numbers for Golf Canada are only about half of original expectations, but he adds he and the organization are looking at the program more long term.
“I think what has to go with that is that we set very aggressive targets – very aggressive – which, in hindsight, may not have been realistic,” said Simmons.
“The membership initiative, while we didn’t hit the targets that we set for 2010, we’ve had tremendous success,” he said, adding that golfers and golf clubs warmed up quickly to a program that was breaking new ground.
“The potential for riots in the street, if you will, was big, but generally speaking, the entire country and the entire industry just wholeheartedly embraced it and said, `Long overdue,’” said Simmons.
“Our membership numbers, which were declining for five years in a row, we’re finally seeing an increase in 2010 over 2009, not the increase we would have liked, but just to stop the bleeding and actually reverse it and get an increase in membership is very encouraging,” he added.
As a result, you take small steps instead of expecting instant success.
“Whether or not we hit the numbers in 2010 or hit them in 2011 or 2012 really doesn’t matter to me. It’s the fact that you’re showing progress and you don’t build a new brand overnight. The glass is half-full,” said Simmons.