Back in May of 2007 the world of private country clubs and golf resorts was rocked by the sale of Club Corp of America to the investment group called KSL. Now, almost two years later and the icon of private golf clubs still is not standing very strong in the eyes of their bill paying memberships. I wrote about the event surrounding the sale of CCA to KSL as they unfolded that first year of the sale which caught the attention of several hundred members of several hundred private country clubs that CCA owned.
I am still getting comments to a number of the blogs I wrote back then and it seems the ‘same old, same old’ is still the norm with the largest private golf course owner in the world. Here is one of the blogs I wrote.
Below is a blog I posted June 8, 2007
Everything has a reason for happening. And the same goes for an investment group having a reason for buying a business. Sometimes the reasons are explained and sometimes they are not. Eventually the reason is found out and eventually a reaction is made to what was found out. Every time a business decides to not tell stakeholders why they are doing something causes the stakeholder to react negatively every time. Trust is built from effective communications and trust is destroyed by the lack of communication.
I think I have got my point across on what would happen when the people who pay the bills are not told what the plan for their money is, but no plan has been laid out to what exactly will be happening to the private country club properties CCA sold to KSL.
Why am I concerned? Well there are two issues. The first is I think the new owners of CCA have lost sight of what exactly they bought and how they went about dealing with the transaction. The majority of the world of business golf is housed at private country clubs and negative change to that environment will negatively affect golf. If golf is affected negatively then the livelihood of thousands of the members of these clubs and the millions who love to play golf is at jeopardy of going away forever.
Secondly, many, many people have their life’s savings invested in their homes that are located along the fairways of the golf courses now owned by KSL. If those investments are negatively affected by shoddily managed golf facilities and the golf courses are not maintained to an impeccable level then those property owners stand to lose what they worked their entire life to secure.
It would seem that a company who has any kind of respect for the communities their acquisition affected would have some common sense towards what is right and reach out first to the people who are holding the value of their business up to let them know before anyone else in the world what they are going to do to keep their trust.
Trust, that word keeps coming up when you talk about anything that touches golf or people who play golf. I am starting to wonder if any of the principles of the new ownership of CCA really understand the importance of trust or how golf can build the trust. They may want to consider playing golf since there is a need to repair the issues the disrespect they keep dishing out each day they do not communicate with the main body of their club’s membership on what the plan is for the membership investments.
I hear changes are coming and a few selected people with the CCA clubs have been told the details on the plan, but me hearing from a third party is not hearing from the people who would be held responsible if what is planned to take place does not happen.
It is encouraging to hear good news in the golf world, but is it good news or just a message sent out to soften the blow of bad news? Who knows?
Recently I received a comment to this blog that serves as an indicator of what more businesses who own golf courses are going to start doing. I had figured all a long that it was just a matter of time before the giant of the private country club industry would make a move to show how they are going to deal with the failed economy.
Following is the comment that explains what has taken place recently in the private country club and golf community development industries.
Club Corp/KSL isn’t helping their reputation in Pennsylvania where they just announced they have backed out of owning and operating the new Nicklaus Designed Applecross Country Club outside of Philadelphia. I bought a home on the course, which is scheduled to open in 2010, based upon their sales pitch. I understand that the economy is in bad shape, particularly the real estate market, but these companies must not understand both the short term and long term consequences such a decision has upon their reputation. What will future homeowners or developers believe the next time Club Corp try’s to sell their services? Will they cut and run at every economic slowdown? Their decision here at Applecross not only effects all the initial homeowners who relied on their word to make an enormous financial investment, but surely effects their standing in the golf industry.
I am sure there is more to come now that the glitz of the new Presidents coronation is dyeing down. I look forward to hearing from others on what is going on in their golf communities.