The H. Chambers Company

Are Private Clubs Still Relevant?
The New Role of Private Clubs in Today’s Society


It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the United States was in the midst of the Great Recession. Many industries were impacted by the financial crisis—and the private club industry was no exception. Clubs across the country suffered and some were forced to close their doors forever. At the time, the industry faced much uncertainty and many were fearful for what it all meant for the future of private clubs.

Today, the energy in the industry is vastly different—much more upbeat. For many, the recession was an unfortunate wake-up call leading to the realization that this isn’t our grandfather’s private club any longer. Today’s memberships are diverse, complex and have different priorities than those from decades past. Still, with questions surrounding the future of golf and the club industry itself, some are left wondering: Are private clubs still relevant in today’s society? We certainly think so—at least, they can be.

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Five Great Reads to Become a Better Leader


We’ve closed the book on 2017 and we’re now well into the next chapter. This may mean a slew of different things for leaders around the world, but most can agree that growth, both personal and professional, is always necessary. What can you do as a leader to benefit your club, its employees, and your relationship with the latter? If you’re feeling stuck, these five books are chocked full of great insights to help move you and your club management efforts in the right direction.

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Is Hiring a Membership Director Worth It?


It is impossible to ignore the vast utilization shifts occurring in private clubs around the world. Once acknowledged, however, club leaders can find themselves feeling overwhelmed or struggling to know how best to welcome these changes with an appropriate strategy.

Holding tight to processes and techniques of years past aren’t going to help see your club through the coming years. A proper communication plan and brand image within your club is critical in relation to member engagement, retention, culture and overall satisfaction. Which leads many to an important question—who is the best person to help set these efforts in motion? Is hiring a Membership Director the answer?

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A Five-Star Experience:
How Private Clubs are Taking Cues from Hotels


In many ways, a great private club is much like a great hotel. It has a distinct sense of place, creates a feeling of warmth and community, and provides valuable services that enhance the lives of its guests or members. Keeping this in mind, it is not surprising that private clubs have often looked to the hotel industry for inspiration.

Though hotels and private clubs face very different challenges in their respective industries, the ways they cater to today’s guest (or member) regularly intersect. Both hotels and private clubs must create a “home away from home” experience to bring value. In order to accomplish this, their amenities and design must continuously evolve in the face of today’s ever-changing, fast-paced world. Here are a few ways that hotels have (or could) influence the private clubs of tomorrow.

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Shifting Perspectives:
How Clubs are Becoming More Female-Friendly


When you think of a private club…what do you envision? High-level executives closing deals on the golf course? A group of “old guys” exchanging witty banter in a smoke-filled cigar lounge? Facilities that offer a wide range of amenities to men, women and children, embracing the family unit as a whole? We hope you answered the latter… But if not, you aren’t alone.

For decades—and in some cases, for more than a century—private clubs have been known as a place where members can enjoy unique, exclusive and memorable experiences. Traditionally, however, they have also been generally regarded as male-oriented and male-dominated.

Today, women play a vastly different role in society than they did 20, 30 or 50 years ago. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center (2017), women make up about 44% of the overall labor force—36% of which hold mid-level managerial roles, and 25% in executive or senior-level roles. Now, as clubs continue to adapt and evolve to remain relevant in today’s society, they are becoming much more age diverse and gender neutral. From club-wide activities, to committees, to leadership roles, the female authority is becoming more and more common across the industry—and it would be foolish to ignore it.

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Meet the Manager:
Traci Bichalski, GM of Great Oaks Country Club


Private clubs are becoming increasingly dynamic as the industry continues to adapt to a changing and complex world—in part, thanks to the creativity and innovation enacted by individuals bringing a fresh yet respectful perspective to the private club experience. In our last installment of this series, we gathered insights from Paul Spencer about enhancing member communications, catering to families, and enhancing levels of service throughout the club.

In this issue, we spoke with Traci Bichalski, CCM, CCE, general manager of Great Oaks Country Club in Michigan. Traci brings 23 years of professional experience to this role, having quickly risen to leadership positions early on in her career. Traci brings a thoughtful perspective, canny expertise and fresh ideas to Great Oaks while enhancing the overall experience, connectivity and sense of community within the club. We sat down with her to discuss her journey thus far, as well as some of the exciting changes she has made since her arrival at Great Oaks 4.5 years ago.


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