Golf Management Business Plans for 2010.

September 7, 2009


As we enter the final  months of 2009, your Club should be well on its way if not finished with its Business Plan for 2010. Yet, I find that in many cases golf clubs have not yet even started the process. When I ask why the plan hasn’t begun, I hear a litany of amusing responses, well actually unfounded excuses. A sampling of the feedback includes:

  • We can’t start a new budget when we don’t have final numbers for 2009.
  • We haven’t decided what we are going to do with our operation in the off season.
  • We’re too busy to worry about planning.
  • We’re afraid of what it might look like.
  • We tried that before and it did not help us.
  • It takes way too much time and we don’t ever use it for anything.
  • Our golf management company needs to be involved.
  • Our golf marketing companies’ pricing isn’t set in stone.

Any of this strike a chord? Be honest now!

The reality is that many golf clubs either don’t have the skills, commitment, discipline, or desire to put together a plan. Planning is a lot of work! Very hard work! But like any other hard work well done, it provides benefits.

A forward thinking approach with a financial plan in place for the entire year and then updated on a quarterly basis with a forecast with a focus on creating the future is a paradigm that any successful business utilizes. Yet, I find that in most cases Clubs do little more than take a perfunctory look at the numbers from the prior month usually about 15 to 20 days if not more after the month has ended.

I have seen amazing transformations in the actions golf clubs take when the financial realities of their business are made known to them in black and white terms with a well thought out financial plan and a forecast of the future business. I’ve implemented forecasting where it previously wasn’t utilized and immediately new plans were developed for better expense controls and the marketing ideas became number one priorities instead of just “when I get to it” afterthoughts.

Directing focus towards creating the future through a thorough, well crafted business plan is what separates great operators from marginal and poor operators. It the difference between swimming strong toward a destination and just drifting with the current. This makes me recall a passage from the movie Alice in Wonderland. When Alice encounters a Cat during her travels, she asks the cat for advice on the road she should take. The Cat responds by asking her where she wants to go. Alice responds that she really doesn’t know. The Cat responds by telling her that if she doesn’t know where she wants to go, then the road she takes really doesn’t matter. Do you know where you want your golf club to go in 2010?

You need to set goals for your golf club. But putting together a financial is more than just crunching numbers on a calculator all day. There is much groundwork that must be completed in order to get the proper foundation to plan. A solid financial plan is the final results of a thorough Business Planning process which includes:

Components of a thorough Business Plan include:

1. SFSWOT Analysis

This is analysis of each Club department’s and the Club’s overall

  • Successes
  • Failures
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Threats
  • Opportunities


It provides a critical self assessment of your Club and provides a great foundation for goal setting for both qualitative and quantitative improvements in the upcoming year.

2. Competitive Analysis

Who is your competition? What do they charge? What is your golf club’s unique selling advantage?

3. Membership Planning

What are your Club trends for both membership enrollment and attrition by category? What amount of growth do you want to plan for in 2010? What has been the trend with downgrades and upgrades? What are you doing with Initiation Fees? Do you have financing in place? How will you handle your wait list to join? How will you handle members wanting to resign?

4. Pricing Plan

What price increase will you take this year and when? Will dues increase? will that cause attrition? How will you price your golf cart and guest fees? What about F and B. Remember, except for a very few elite Clubs in the Country, cost does matter.

5. Payroll Planning

What payroll increases are you authorizing for the Club’s employees in 2010? Are the salary increases performance based or just “no thought” across the board increases? Can the golf resort even afford to give employees raises? Do you have incentive based compensation plans in place or do you just pay for showing up regardless of the job performance?

6. Expense Planning

What expense increases are you anticipating? Have you reviewed each department on a line item basis to determine if the expenses may have significant fluctuations up or down? Items that can change considerably include utilities, fuel cost, property taxes, fertilizer, chemicals, and general liability insurance. Did you review these thoroughly to ensure you have an accurate view of the expense side of the financial plan?

7. Marketing Plan

Do have a written quarterly game plan for driving the revenue sources that are important to your Club? Are there specific timelines and employees assigned to carry out the plans? Did you make sure you budgeted the needed dollars for marketing to ensure you will be able to achieve the results you need? Check out our industry best website solution for Private Clubs at Private Club Commander

8. Retention Planning

Do you have a comprehensive calendar of events that appeal to all segments of your membership to keep them using the Club and providing needed revenues. Is your calendar planned ahead at least 3 months at all times of the year? Or are you trying to come up with things or offers at the last minute because the newsletter copy is due?

9. Qualitative Improvement Planning

Do you have a written quarterly plan in ever department for qualitative improvement? Specifically, are you challenging all of your golf club departments to implement 2 or 3 initiatives that either create a better member experience, provide for improved employee efficiency, introduce a new product or service, or produce a better financial result?

10. Capital Planning

Do you have a written capital replacement plan in place for 2010? Replacing depreciated assets on an annual basis is another component of a successful business. Do you have the necessary cash to replace what is needed in 2010? Are you going to lease or finance needed equipment? Have you done the analysis of this? Is your plan at least looking ahead 5 years?

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