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September 2020 Industry Report

Jack Nicklaus has profoundly impacted our sport since his first corporate contract was signed in 1961. I thought you would find of interest how he derived the nickname “The Golden Bear." Mr. Nicklaus – stepped off an airplane in Australia in the early 1960s – to newspaper headlines announcing “Golden Bear from U.S. to Arrive Today.”
 
The headline referred to his alma mater athletic team name: The Upper Arlington Golden Bears in Ohio.
 
Still brainstorming on his brand logo, Jack turned to his wife Barbara and said, “Well, I’ve been a Golden Bear all my life, I might as well continue to be a Golden Bear.” The nickname stuck ever since.

Wages in Golf

Last year, the median hourly rate in America, with all occupations combined, was $18.58 – this compares to $3.72 in China and $10.43 in Germany (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
 
That works out to an annual American salary of $38,646. How does the golf industry stack up?
 
The average head golf professional salary (combing public, private, municipal, and resort) in the United States is $51,955 and for a golf course superintendent is $69,259 (according to Salary.com).
 
Next time you see your golf shop staff, say thanks for a job well done!

Caution to Outside Play

Currently 82% of private clubs are temporarily banning non-member play. Scores of Member/Guest tournaments around the country have been canceled this summer.
 
Clearly outside weddings, charity tournaments, and public wine festivals can prove highly profitable.
 
As private clubs and golf resorts grapple with revenue declines because of the pandemic, evaluate just how far you are willing to “bend the rules” for revenue.
 
A club in New Jersey is still suffering from a non-member event by hosting a Monday outing for Club Risque regulars. The tournament promised “Risque Girls and bartenders” for a “sexy round of golf with lovely lewd ladies offering encouragement, and maybe some sexy hijinks on the side.”
 
The television show, Inside Edition, determined the event to be worthy of coverage, signed up for the tournament, with plans to produce a salacious story.

Litigation in Golf

Although we all have been preoccupied with implementing Covid-19 operational changes, it’s essential we don’t take our “eye off the ball” on non-pandemic management issues.

Current litigation against Silverleaf Club in Arizona carries an important lesson.

Last year, the club terminated the membership of a family for “repeated acts of misconduct.” The family sued the club to recover their $100,000 membership deposit made a decade ago.

Two words – recalled and/or terminated – in Silverleaf’s membership contract will determine the outcome.

If the family’s membership was recalled, Silverleaf’s membership documents state a full refund of the $100,000 membership deposit must be paid within 30 days.

If the family’s membership was terminated, the club is not required to refund any membership deposits.

The court’s decision: “There are too many missing pieces and unsettled issues to grant the plaintiff judgement.” Thus, handing Silverleaf a victory for now.

The lesson learned? When was the last time you reviewed membership contracts? Is all wording clear and unambiguous?

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