No matter what your opinion is of Golf Canada, which we’ve been discussing so extensively lately, give the association marks for daring to try something new in order to deal with declining membership and financial bleeding.
The last look at this GNN Poll from last week indicates that the number of people who think it’s time to “turn out the lights, the party’s over,” for Golf Canada are about the same as those who feel the initiative has barely gotten off the ground and needs more time to develop.
With a small percentage indicating they believe the rebranding and membership drive will eventually be a success, the number of people willing to cut Golf Canada some slack is slightly more than those who don’t see a future for it, but not by much. You can see the latest numbers in the Poll Archives.
There is plenty of work to be done and Golf Canada executive director Scott Simmons accepts that in this blog that he wrote for GNN on Monday. Work ethic is a necessary quality when launching an untried philosophy or program in an uncertain economy, particularly in a game as traditional as golf.
Golf Canada stepped into uncharted territory with its launch and, as Simmons pointed out in his blog, one of the risks involved was setting aggressive membership targets that weren’t reached, making the real numbers seemingly negative when stacked up against the original projections.
The challenge in trying something new is how do you set realistic goals when it hasn’t been tried before? It’s risky business that can come back to haunt you, but what isn’t risky these days and how much of a risk tolerance do proprietors and executives of golf-based businesses have in uncertain economic conditions?
We all know about risk-reward in golf, where a lower percentage shot over water might either set you up for birdie or cause you to crash and burn, while a couple of safe shots may still get you par. Things don’t change much when you leave the fairways and greens for the office.
So, the purpose of this blog is not to continue examining Golf Canada, but to use it as a timely example of the challenges that are ahead when anybody tries something new. On the other hand, is status quo good enough if your membership base or number of golfers isn’t growing, or perhaps even declining?
These are timely questions to ask at this time of the year with most of our operations now shut down, budgets being formulated and plans being made for next year. Tiffany Gordon touched on that topic in her blog this week.
From a golf operation perspective, any decision to forge ahead with a different type of membership drive or a new program designed to bring in more golfers isn’t likely to be as dramatic as Golf Canada, nor will it be as public in nature as that initiative.
Still, a new program or idea can seem like a major undertaking, which can lead to decision-makers automatically putting up a shield or creating a magic force field around them to protect from intruders that come in peace with good intentions.
From inside that bubble, ask yourself if you’re even willing to listen to ideas, or more likely to strike out against those who bring them?
As planning sessions take place across the country, decision-makers may want to ask themselves if they encourage staff members to take a risk themselves by offering fresh ideas.
As reticent as you may be to try something new, you may want consider the mood among workers these days, when part-time work and contract positions with no benefits and less pay are becoming increasingly the norm.
If they enjoy their current positions at a golf facility, their tolerance for risk may be low, depending on the environment in which they work. If the owner or anybody in a decision-making position is seen as closed-minded, then staff members may shut down out of fear of being seen as rocking the boat.
Their own reluctance to stray from the status quo might affect all aspects of their job. For example, a food and beverage person may shy away from introducing a new menu item, or somebody in the shop may avoid offering a merchandising idea.
Therefore, a potential shot of something new and exciting may never even be discussed and the same holds true for marketing ideas and membership drives, aspects of a golf operation that a decision-maker might think is exclusively his/her realm.
Good ideas are not exclusive to one person, but whether they get aired or not depends on the environment that exists at each operation and it would be a shame if all employees were afraid to at least try and be thanked for their efforts.
In the end, budgets and circumstances may dictate that an idea may not fly, but it isn’t a risk to at least give it consideration around the boardroom table.