Category: Latest News

CLA Expands to Add Services & Expertise

ANNOUNCING CLA INTERIM MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS AND THE EXPERIENCE NETWORK

Seven months after the addition of John Schultz, CCM, CCE, ECM to lead the Club Leadership Alliance, the firm is proud to announce its expansion to include Interim Management Solutions and the CLA Experience Network, a hands-on consulting operation focused on providing private clubs with expertise that is tailored to their needs and adopts the CLA Core Values and Best Practices recognized as essential to a club’s long-term success.

The Club Leadership Alliance (CLA) is a partnership between three of the nation’s most highly regarded firms serving private clubs. Established in March 2020, CLA is comprised of partner firms KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, McMahon Group, and Club Benchmarking.

Interim General Manager Solutions through CLA are led by Executive in Charge Dan Miles, CCM, CCE. The CLA’s approach to interim management is to “strengthen the search”. The CLA interim general managers are proven leaders in the field with track records of success through long-term positions at top clubs nationwide. Clubs that utilize CLA Interim Management Solutions are further supported through oversight and custom consulting services that embody the CLA Core Values and Best Practices that create relevant, enduring clubs.

Dan Miles joins John Schultz in providing oversight and expert management of CLA Interim Management Solutions. Dan’s professional background includes work for top clubs nationwide as a longtime General Manager and consultant for CLA partner firms KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE and Club Benchmarking. He has served as an interim general manager and is uniquely positioned to leverage his expertise and industry-recognized best practices in his new role with CLA.

The CLA Food & Beverage Experience Network is led by Executive in Charge, Lawrence McFadden, CMC. For CLA clients, Lawrence offers a rich and diverse menu of programs easily customized to meet the specific needs of club clients. These encompass: Food & Beverage Assessments, Culinary Diagnostics, Staff Training, Interim Executive Chef Solutions, Culinary Concept Development and Executive Chef Mentorship, including onboarding support.  Lawrence also works closely with CLA Partner firm KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE as part of their executive chef search and staff training offerings.

A Certified Master Chef, Lawrence’s impressive career includes leadership roles with iconic brands such as The Ritz-Carlton, MGM Resorts and Casinos, The Greenbrier Hotel and Spa, The Waldorf Astoria, and Shangri La Hotels and Resorts of Hong Kong. His work for clubs includes Jupiter Island Club in partnership with Ritz-Carlton; River Club, Jacksonville, Florida; Sporting Club in partnership with The Greenbrier Hotel and Resort; Villa Paterna Club, Marbella, Spain; Aberdeen Club, Hong Kong in partnership with Shangri-La Hotel and Resorts; Idle Hour Country Club, Lexington, Kentucky; Aurora Club in partnership with Aurora Hotel and Spa, Anguilla.

Helming the CLA Fitness and Wellness Experience Network is highly respected industry veteran Herb Lipsman. These consulting services encompass all aspects of a club’s Fitness and Wellness operations, including recruiting, staff training, program development, and optimization of a club’s current and future fitness/wellness facilities. Herb’s experience includes 30+ years managing luxurious country clubs, upscale athletic clubs, and luxury resort properties. Herb has achieved a unique level of experience working with some of the most prestigious private clubs and resorts in the industry. Additionally, he has cultivated a robust network of fitness, wellness, and spa professionals and has established long-term relationships with top equipment suppliers.

The CLA Communications Experience Network is led by Executive in Charge Corey Saban, crisis management and communications expert. He works with general managers, boards of directors, and management teams on internal and external messaging and training. An Emmy-nominated and former Associated Press award-winning TV journalist, Corey’s media career encompassed interviews with some of the world’s most respectable and recognizable figures.

Since taking charge of the Club Leadership Alliance, CEO John Schultz, CCM, CCE, ECM has also expanded the firm’s offerings in the arena of strategic governance. From hands-on support providing club stakeholders with customized strategic governance programs to more focused efforts such as the board-specific “A Day with CLA”, Schultz has added a diverse range of services that “Rally Club Leaders Around Best Practices.” The CLA Presidents Council is expanding to reach twice as many club leaders by being held in both spring (April, 2023 – Monterey Peninsula Country Club; Monterey, California) and fall (October, 2023 – Cherokee Town & Country Club; Atlanta, Georgia). CLA has conducted recent CMAA Chapter education for the Florida, Carolinas, and Georgia chapters. Schultz also sits on the National Club Association Governance Committee, formed to guide clubs in best practices around creating board policy manuals.

McMahon Group and NCA Spotlight the Racquet Sports Renaissance & Clubs Ahead of the Game

9440039 © Leelian Chong | Dreamstime.com

Thriving clubs provide compelling member experiences. It is a core value that drives relevant, enduring clubs. In the Fall 2022 issue of Club Trends, McMahon Group and the National Club Association share the most recent trends and data about the exploding popularity of racquet sports, along with how leading clubs are capitalizing on it to maximize member satisfaction.

Read the Fall 2022 Club Trends issue here.

John Schultz Joins CLA

Industry Veteran to Lead Club Leadership Alliance

On June 16, 2022 the Club Leadership Alliance launched a new chapter with the announcement that acclaimed, award-winning former private club General Manager John M. Schultz, CCM, CCE is joining the team as CEO. This heralds an expansion of the CLA offerings and increased industry presence for the Club Leadership Alliance and its partner firms. Established in June 2020, the CLA is comprised of partner firms KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, McMahon Group, and Club Benchmarking.

After 18 years leading 36-hole member-owned Carmel Country Club (Charlotte, NC) to recognition as one of the country’s most successful, family-oriented private golf clubs, John Schultz brings numerous strengths to the Club Leadership Alliance and clubs seeking to improve the effectiveness and success of their governance and operations. Under Schultz’s leadership as General Manager, Carmel Country Club’s achievements included implementation of waiting lists in all membership categories, the increase of initiation fees by 100%, and improvement of the club’s net worth by approximately $40 million following close to $60 million of capital improvements.

Schultz sees his new role at the Club Leadership Alliance as an exciting opportunity to partner with the industry’s best. “By combining forces around our shared expertise and vision, we’re helping private clubs increase their value, elevate member experiences, and achieve new levels of success in all areas.”

Individually, the three CLA partner firms are national leaders in the private club industry, with over 3,000 clubs served. Together, KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, McMahon Group, and Club Benchmarking have collaborated for more than a decade. By pooling their expertise, data, and resources, the partner firms increase the reach of their individual offerings, which remain independent, while providing new and increased opportunities through the CLA for private clubs to become top performers.

Club Benchmarking Founder and CLA Partner Ray Cronin said Schultz brings a unique skillset to CLA that was the “secret sauce” behind Carmel becoming one of the industry’s greatest clubs. “The innovations, discipline, and vision John Schultz brought to Carmel’s strategic governance program have been emulated at top clubs nationwide. Now, as CEO, Schultz will work with the three CLA partner firms to drive the industry forward by helping clubs seeking to transform their leadership models and embrace best practices.”

Why so Many Country Clubs are Undertaking Massive Capital-Improvement Projects – Golf Digest

There’s beach volleyball, a soccer field, basketball courts, batting cages, tennis (obviously), pickleball, bocce, a pool with a “splash zone” for kids, a pool with an island in the middle, and two lap pools so that you can swim without interruption while listening to music through the underwater speakers. There’s an AMF bowling alley with arcade games like air hockey and pinball. Around the corner there’s a wall-to-wall Lego area and a “dream room” where overstimulated kids are snoozing, a 23-seat movie theater with a fully stocked snack bar, steam rooms, TV rooms and wine cellars for storing and sampling.

This article is from Golf Digest, read it entirely by clicking HERE

Club Trends WEBINAR VIDEO: Creating Club Culture – It Begins with Orientations

In this webinar industry experts and insiders from McMahon Group, Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace and the National Club Association share with you insights from the latest issue of Club Trends, “Creating Club Culture—It Begins with Orientations.” Our team provided the highlights from this issue including best practices for board and committee orientations and strategies for onboarding new members and staff.

Thank you for watching.

A Commitment to Best Practices

A Commitment to Best Practices

One thing is always consistent with the strongest leaders and clubs: They are fiercely focused on understanding and implementing the industry’s best standards and practices.

As I travel the country, I have the opportunity to observe many extraordinary club leaders and see many great clubs. One thing is always consistent with the strongest leaders and clubs: They are fiercely focused on understanding and implementing the industry’s best standards and practices. It doesn’t matter if clubs are running at top speed or just coming out of the starter blocks, those who keep industry best practices as the guideposts always stay on track, even during challenging times.

These practices are important and must be understood for clubs to evolve and succeed. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same.”

Evolution is hard but necessary for our great industry. It may seem as though we are beating people over the head with these best practices, but I’m going to keep reminding everyone about them because they aren’t as generally accepted as they should be.

Informed Leadership Best Practices

  • Continuously educate stakeholders (boards, committees, members and staff ) on industry trends, best practices and important societal trends impacting the private club industry.
  • Conduct mandatory and comprehensive orientations for all stakeholders.
  • Adopt the fact-based private club business model and related financial best practices. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and use them to drive decision-making.
  • Embrace data-driven leadership rooted in strong governance principals. Ensure transparent communication to all stakeholders.

Informed leadership creates the best possible stakeholders who fully understand their role and the role of others in the organization. Every club should strive to create a culture of constant learning from service to governance through education and training. Constant learning for every board member, committee member and the entire staff is the foundation for these best practices.

Strategic Stewardship

  • Develop and maintain an effective strategic plan.
  • Protect, preserve and grow the assets through comprehensive capital planning that addresses obligatory and aspirational improvements with a unified master plan.
  • Enhance member value by creating innovative club experiences.
  • Ensure seamless transitions of boards, committees and senior staff.

Keep stakeholders on target. The best way to do this is to use a strategic road map for where you are going and then constantly remind everyone to keep them on track.

Empowered Management and Team

  • Create and maintain robust systems for talent acquisition, retention and professional development.
  • Utilize proven performance management systems to set goals and measure outcomes.
  • Perform regular team engagement surveys and compare them to benchmarks. Act on survey results.

Managers and management teams who are empowered and trusted to lead the club will do so nicely with pride and enthusiasm.

Compelling Member Experience

  • Match member expectations to the club’s primary purpose. Evolve and adapt as necessary.
  • Measure member needs, preferences and satisfaction on a regular basis.
  • Provide a value proposition that cultivates highly engaged, loyal and satisfied members who think like owners.
  • Present a relevant experience that easily attracts the next generation of members.

Creating a compelling member experience and a compelling team experience is a direct result of a club that functions on the best practices detailed above.

Additionally, there are two emerging practices that would benefit many clubs: 1) Managers and board presidents meeting quarterly with the club’s past presidents to keep them informed, provide education on the “issues of the day,” and use their counsel to guide in the decision-making process. 2) We are seeing local Presidents’ Councils form (with the help of regional club managers) as a way for club presidents to share ideas and data. This has been especially important during COVID-19 but also helpful for everything affecting clubs such as water issues, labor challenges, programming and amenities. The gathering and sharing of information continue to build on the culture of education and informed decision-making in which all these best practices are centered around.

Contributed by Thomas B. Wallace III, CCM, CCE, ECM
Partner, KOPPLIN, KUEBLER & WALLACE
Connect at tom@kkandw.com or 412-670-2021.

National Club Association – Club Director – Spring 2021

WEBINAR VIDEO: Club Trends Winter Outlook 2021 – The Member-Centric Club

The Winter Outlook Webinar was held on Thursday, February 18, 2021. Listen to this recording to hear from the Club Trends authors speak and answer questions about topics covered in this issue.

Thanks for Watching.

WEBINAR VIDEO: City Clubs – Thriving Not Just Surviving

The City Club – Thriving Not Just Surviving webinar was live on January 14, 2021. Hosted by the Club Leadership Alliance (McMahon Group, Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace and Club Benchmarking) and Henry Wallmeyer, President & CEO of the National Club Association to share their experiences which address how the club world is changing and especially how city clubs must change with it. 

A City Club Manager Roundtable from some of the most successful city club managers in the nation (Jeffrey McFadden, John Dorman and Matthew Allnatt) capped the webinar to show where the city club of the future is going and how to be sure your club is one of them.

Protect, Preserve, and Grow Club Assets

Protect, Preserve, and Grow Club Assets

Why every Board Room meeting should include a conversation about Growth.


Core Value: Strategic stewardship 

Best Practice:  Protect preserve and grow the assets through comprehensive capital planning that addresses obligatory and aspirational improvements within a unified facilities master plan.


Has your board ever had a discussion about growing the club’s balance sheet? The key balance sheet metric for measuring growth in clubs is Net Worth which we believe is the single most important data point for any club. Non-profit clubs generating capital income in excess of the depreciation expense are growing (net worth) and those generating less capital income than depreciation are shrinking (net worth). Growth in clubs results from generating the necessary capital to fund a unified facilities master plan which addresses both obligatory and aspirational improvements. The plan is critical to protect, preserve, and grow the club’s assets.  

Increasing your club’s net worth is important because it forms the foundation of well-maintained and relevant facilities, which along with access to special people and programs, is the ultimate promise of club membership. The facilities are the vehicle through which the club drives engagement and builds a sense of community. Therefore, facility maintenance and enhancement are a critical function that requires the leadership’s full and consistent attention. To have the greatest chance of sustained success in the new economic and demographic environment, clubs must provide an excellent recreational experience along with up-to-date dining and social facilities that are in tune with current consumer preferences. Offering a broader variety of activities and services in addition to the key dining and golf offerings is a strategic response to the greater emphasis members and prospective members now place on these once less-important services and amenities (i.e. fitness, group exercise, aquatics).  

You might ask, “Should my club be growing when we are a not-for-profit business?” Isn’t the club business different because we have a fixed number of members and fundamentally operate on a break-even basis each year? We must grow to remain relevant, improve membership satisfaction and loyalty and continuously and consistently recruit new members. Ninety percent of not-for-profit clubs set the operating ledger to break-even, excluding depreciation. The financial growth in a club stems from the capital ledger requiring capital income in excess of depreciation. This is a key point to understand in not-for-profit clubs.

Despite its importance, most clubs struggle to manage facility upkeep and planning future improvements effectively. It is a capital-intensive process, yet the rotating board structure, all-too-frequent management changes and concerns about member pushback derail efforts to ask the members for the capital to renovate or add facilities. Without a master plan to guide orderly and cost-effective facility development and a financial structure to regularly replace and grow the assets, appearances fall below acceptable standards, and the member experience stagnates. The best positioned and maintained clubs continue to prosper and grow. Many are benefitting from a “flight to quality” as members defect from lesser performers. Their success validates the benefits to be gained from thinking strategically, maintaining existing facilities with strict attention to detail, and investing in new amenities to respond to changing social habits and recreational pursuits.

What does growth look like in a not-for-profit club? The answer is found in investment in property, plant and equipment.  As a matter of fact, 80% of the assets in the average club are in the net property, plant, and equipment line of the balance sheet. Net Worth is not a new term in the corporate world, but we believe it needs to be embraced in the club industry based on the fact that 63% of clubs are not growing Net Worth at or above the 3.5% per year recommended by Club Benchmarking. Is your club meeting the recommendation? Are your facilities up to date? Do you have a great resort pool, an updated irrigation system, a dynamic fitness center and great casual dining? The member experience is enhanced by great facilities which are the result of great capital planning and execution. Clubs with great facilities are typically successful and clubs with lackluster facilities are usually not successful. The quality of a club’s facilities and the strength or weakness of its financial outcomes go hand in hand in most instances.

Why should you be concerned about growth of your club? As fiduciaries of the club, managers and boards are responsible for growing the business. In fact, the definition of fiduciary is just that – one who is entrusted with preservation and growth of assets. It is one of our primary functions as professional and volunteer leaders and yet industry data shows that 66% of all clubs have net worth that is stagnant or declining. Clubs have many assets including the physical structure, the golf courses, fitness centers, tennis centers, restaurants, boat slips, and all the equipment that fits into those spaces. As leaders, we must keep moving the club forward in investing and growing our property, plant and equipment which, on average, form eighty percent of our assets.  We must stay focused on planning to preserve, protect and grow the assets – which means focusing on forward-looking capital planning to assure we can keep our property, plant and equipment, fresh and up to date. A unified master facility plan coupled with a forward-looking capital plan is the vehicle for doing so.

Developing and Maintaining an Effective Strategic Plan

Developing and Maintaining an Effective Strategic Plan

The strategic plan is vague. The majority of clubs have them and they were usually developed when a club had a major challenge. This was often when the need to make significant facility upgrades was realized and the club had no funds available. It was when membership was declining, with new members not joining. Or it was when the board was not on the same wavelength as the members on basic philosophical issues like dress codes, golf only attitudes, youths against seniors’ schisms and attitudes of frugality strangling a club’s ability to serve its members. 

One way or the other strategic planning has become the best method of bringing members and their boards together to understand what the club’s purpose is, in other words its mission, so then all members could work together to achieve that purpose in a spirit of compromise to achieve an end goal.

Just what is strategic planning?

Private Club strategic planning is essential to do and is effective for achieving and maintaining club success in our ever changing world. Its process, is accomplished by a club’s Board and General Manager. Don’t let it be done by selecting a special group of older members or past presidents. If this is done, you will get a plan for the past, not for the future. Only the current Board with the General Manager should strategic plan because if the Board develops it, then the Board, future boards and the General Manager will follow it. The Strategic Plan’s continued use, however, very much depends on a club’s General Manager. He or she will be most responsible for keeping the plans alive. 

The Strategic Planning Process

Strategic plan development takes six months to complete. It starts with a comprehensive, membership survey having initial focus groups to identify strategic issues from the members’ viewpoint. Then with survey results in hand, the Board, General Manager and strategic planning moderator review the survey results, do the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT) analysis, identify the club’s key success factors, and then develop the club’s Mission statement defining:

  • Who the club serves,
  • What the club provides,
  • What quality level does it strive for, and 
  • What makes the club unique in its marketplace.

Once the Mission is determined, the next step is setting goals with specific action plans necessary to achieve each goal. The strategic planning’s success greatly depends on the plan’s moderator and his/her organizational skills and knowledge of the club world. The club world is very different from the for-profit business world and even the charitable organization world. A club’s members are both owners and customers, one-in-the-same. This complex relationship with each member of the club affects this duality relationship which can make club governance and accomplishing major achievements difficult. This is where strategic planning becomes so necessary as it resolves issues amicably so the club can move forward in achieving its success in service to all members.

Maintaining A Strategic Direction

Having a good strategic plan is one thing, following it year after year is quite another challenge. Almost always the strategic plan was developed to help solve a major club challenge. It was usually very effective in resolving that one thing, and then it, the plan, is laid aside as other ongoing issues arise. The Board that developed the plan, change. A new president is elected who has new ideas on where the club should go. It is at these times that it is most important for management to keep the Board focused on the strategic plan, to keep the plan relevant as a guide for directing the club’s future. Only management can do this, so the General Manager becomes the custodian and promoter of the strategic plan. If a manager leaves for another club or retires, this becomes when a new or refreshed Strategic Plan should be developed by both the Board and new General Manager. It is critical that when managers change, the new General Manager and the Board need review and refresh the old strategic plan.

The most forgotten aspect of effective strategic planning is, “Following it”. This means when every important club decision is made, this Board and General Manager should ask the question, how does our action comply, or agree with the club’s Mission? The club’s newsletter should always state the mission. The Board and General Manager should have an annual planning retreat to reflect on the year past and with a view to the year ahead so the primary strategic objectives for the year ahead are endorsed by the new Board each year. Only by following this practice will the governance and management be effective in leading the club in good and bad times.

Strategic Planning – The Key to Club Success!

From an old Japanese proverb, truth is learned.


“Vision without action is a daydream” “Action without vision is a nightmare”


We in club governance and management have the responsibility to lead. Only through this leadership will clubs succeed.