The H. Chambers Company

Archive for the ‘Club Road Issue No. 4’ Category

How Green Will We Go?

Private Club Sustainability

The Club of the Future — Self Sustaining

In addition to the feel good or even community responsibility aspects of pursuing green building and operational practices, there are a few very compelling reasons we expect to see private clubs making major strides toward greater sustainability in the coming decade.  Namely:

  • Sheer acreage. Country and golf clubs cover a lot of ground.  Which means their impact on the environment — good or bad — is significant
  • Long-term value. “Generations of members buy into the long-term value clubs provide,” says Chambers Director of Architecture Ken Hart.  Sustainability is a long-term commitment to the environment, the community and a club’s members.  Hart anticipates a move toward a fully self-sustainable club
  • A holistic approach to wellness.  Clubs have become increasingly focused on overall member health and wellness.  From efforts to reduce negative impacts on local air and water supplies to the selection of whole and locally grown foods, clubs will continue to find ways to marry their operational efforts to their philosophical approaches to personal health
  • An evolution of the definition of “luxury.” “We expect the club community will experience a mental shift on the idea of luxury in the future,” says Chambers Managing Director Patricia Sampson.  Though responsible environmental practices aren’t relegated strictly to a notion of “luxury,” certainly those who seek (and can afford) luxury should expect — if not demand — them as a benefit of their commitment to their club as a primary fixture in their personal lives

In an effort to define and shape the ideal Club of the Future, Chambers has considered what sustainability will mean to clubs 10 and 20 years from now and its impact on membership and facilities.

Says Hart, “We think private clubs are going to champion the notion of maximizing the use of natural resources.”  Right now, he says, “the trend is to make sure you’re retrofitting your space to get the most out of your square footage.” Down the road, he expects clubs will be looking to make sure they’re using every club asset — including its natural resources —  to their best fiscal and environmental advantage.

“When members join a club,” says Sampson, “they’re looking for a certain lifestyle.” They want to socialize with like-minded people or may join around a specific commonality or interest, like golf or even religion.  As new generations come in, environmental consciousness will be part of that like mind, Sampson says.  “Younger people will demand that their clubs be more environmentally responsible and will look at those practices as natural components of a quality life.”

On the Road with… Jill Philmon

Jill Philmon of Ballantyne Country Club

Jill Philmon, General Manager/ COO of Ballantyne Country Club in Charlotte and National CMAA Director

Under Jill’s leadership, Ballantyne Country Club is in the midst of a master planning phase for what is likely to be a significant transformation of its 15-year-old clubhouse.  With visions of specialty retail, flex office space, daycare and other resort-like amenities, Jill is clearly a visionary within the ranks, ready to challenge established norms.

“Tradition is important,” says Philmon, “but you can’t hang your existence on it.” We talked with Jill recently about her vision for the Club of the Future.

CR:  You’ve already begun the planning process for transforming Ballantyne into a club ready to take on the next generation (or three).  Broadly, how would you describe your vision for the club?
JP:  Certainly multigenerational, a city club within a country club, more resort-like, and, finally, a “home away from home.”  That has never been more important than it will be in the future.

CR: What sorts of amenities are you considering?
JP:  We’re looking at services that will generate additional revenues by creating greater value and serving a greater variety of needs for our members.  Office space and services for home-based businesses, including a modular office area, FedEx delivery and copying services; full meeting facilities for company events; in-club shopping — a Dean & Deluca-like place where you can get a great deal on wine, appetizers, and prepared dinners.  (Ballantyne already sells fresh seafood and meats to members at its Butcher Block, as well as wine.)  We’re also looking at the possibility of providing real daycare services for members.

CR:  What’s the driver behind some of the bigger ideas you’re pursuing?
JP:  We have to constantly strive to be relevant. That means looking far beyond just our members’ needs right now.

CR:  What do you see as the greatest impediments clubs face in realizing this potential?
JP:  Leadership has to be open minded. And yes, they might have to be willing to reconsider their tax status from a 501(c)7 so they can shift their revenue models. Frankly, I see too many clubs avoiding change and using their taxes status as an excuse.

CR:  Will environmental sustainability be important for the club of the future?
JP:  The club of the future has to be green. Or we won’t be here.

CR:  You came into the club world as a second career, I understand.  What draws you to it?
JP:  There are so many opportunities!  Clubs are always changing, always moving.  I love the diversity of the work we do every day.  And that it’s always been and will always be a business built on relationships.

CR:  How important are those relationships in recruiting new members?
JP:  Immeasurably.  The sizzle and the show and tell gets them in the door and excited.  The people and creating a place that feels like they belong — that’s what turns them into members.

CR:  What’s changing about the business?
JP:  Clubs used to be more about “eliteness.” That’s still there — there’s something really nice about being able to say you’re a member at a nice club.  But now it’s more about finding a place that has something every member of the family can enjoy.

CR:  How have you been able to break through traditional confines to be able to consider some of your more radical ideas?
JP:  I have the most wonderful board.  Open minded, no personal agendas, really committed to looking at what we want to be in 20 years.  They realize the club of the future is very different from where it is now.

CR:  What advice do you offer a club considering change?
JP:  Service will always be the top priority of any club.  I look at more amenities as, simply, more service.  And everything I can do to keep them there means they’re not spending their money elsewhere.