DALLAS -- Like many golf clubs across the country, The Field Club of Omaha has struggled with declining membership over the last few years. But the Field Club is not just any club; it is a former host of the U.S. Amateur and one of the oldest member-owned private clubs west of the Mississippi River.
As the club's revenues began to shrink in conjunction with the membership decline, the Board of Directors at The Field Club decided it was time to turn over operations to a professional management company. After researching options and conducting thorough interviews, Dallas-based Eagle Golf was selected to manage the 113-year old club beginning in March of 2011.
The results since then have proven the decision was the right one. The club experienced tremendous gains in membership, financial savings in several areas, expanded services for members and a great working relationship between the board and the management company.
"Hiring a management company was a tough decision for the board of directors and the membership at the Field Club," said Tom Berger, President of the club's Board of Directors. "It was a major concern that the Field Club members not give up control of their club. The direction for the club and all major decisions are still made by our elected board and carried out by the professionals at Eagle Golf. We are thrilled with the relationship that has developed between our membership and Eagle."
Eagle Golf took a unique approach to managing The Field Club, implementing business practices that improved the financial health of the organization while also working closely with the Board of Directors to determine the future direction of the club.
"Our management style is to create a partnership with the club," said Kathryn Comfort, Senior Vice President of Private Clubs for Eagle Golf. "We don't ask our clubs to let us have control. We ask them to let us bring our expertise to an ongoing discussion about how to improve the club."
Since taking over the operations, Eagle has delivered improvements to the club's operations in several ways:
- Membership has grown by a net total of 239 members since March of 2011, thanks to the work of a membership director hired by the Board of Directors with Eagle Golf building the Membership Platform for them to enroll new members.
- Insurance costs are down significantly, and purchasing of equipment, fertilizer, chemicals and merchandise has become less of a financial burden thanks to Eagle Golf's national purchasing ability.
- Staffing levels have improved and HR costs have dropped due to Eagle Golf's evaluation and training practices.
In addition to results that show up on the bottom line, Eagle Golf has made the management transition seamless for members. New services have been added and current services have expanded, and members haven't noticed a difference in the club's laid-back culture.
"Everything we do is about creating and maintaining value for the current members of the club," Comfort said. "At The Field Club, part of that value was the culture. We were able to grow the club because we asked the members to invite their friends to activities and share their experiences. The members' pride in their club is what we tried to bring out, and it is what made the biggest difference in our progress."
Under Eagle Golf's management and with the input of club members, The Field Club now has a full year-round calendar of events. Club members cite the popular Tuesday night dinner -- cancelled due to low attendance in 2010 -- returning and becoming more popular every week as a prime example of Eagle Golf's impact beyond the business office. The Club always has something going on for members to enjoy, keeping the club active throughout the year.
Perhaps the best person to hear from regarding Eagle Golf's success at The Field Club is Jim Boulay, a board member who was originally strongly against hiring a management company to oversee operations.
"Our club needed the level of attention and dedication that Eagle Golf brought to the table," Boulay said. "I was against the idea, but I did my homework and realized it made sense financially compared to hiring a course manager with the wide-ranging skill set we needed. We were in a situation where we couldn't afford to get the decision wrong.
"Eagle recognized the strengths and weaknesses of our club right away, and they have come here and gotten everything right."
Eagle Golf has been in operation for more than 28 years. Based in Dallas, the company provides a full suite of golf course management services to 30 golf courses located in major metropolitan areas in seven states. Eagle Golf's portfolio includes seven private country clubs and 23 properties classified as premium or moderately priced daily fee courses. More than three million rounds of golf are played at Eagle Golf courses each year, making up almost one percent of the total rounds played in the United States every year. More information can be found at www.eaglegolf.com.
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