A New Model For Running a Golf Club?

Scottsdale National Golf Club 2One of the interesting things about knowing as many golfers as I do is that I get to hear unusual golf related stories all the time. I regularly get emails and phone calls from my friends detailing especially bizarre or outrageously hilarious happenings at their clubs. Last night I got one of those emails and although my policy is normally not to publish these stories, I thought this one was worthy of discussion.

Within the last few months GoDaddy founder and executive chairman, Bob Parsons, purchased Golf Club Scottsdale which is an ultra-exclusive club in the Phoenix suburbs that was rumored to have been struggling. Now renamed Scottsdale National Golf Club, Parsons is in full control of the club operations and recently announced some interesting changes. The new changes include everything from cutting-edge equipment for the grounds crew, to a state-of-the-art clubhouse for the members, and even the breaking of a few time tested traditions in golf club operations.

The long running standard operating procedure at most clubs is to charge their members monthly dues to cover their golf privileges and then per usage fees for guests, food & beverage, carts, etc. The newly announced policy change at Scottsdale National will include – in addition to monthly dues – a service fee of $100 for each day that a member plays the course. This is an effort to ensure that the members who use the club the most are carrying their fair share of the financial burden. In another unusual policy change, members will only be allowed to play the course 30 days a year (the golf season in Scottsdale opens in the Fall and closes in the Summer) without hosting a guest. Members who regularly host guests will be able to play as much as they want (for the $100 daily service fee). Guest fee revenue is certainly crucial to most clubs and it seems that a policy like this is putting a priority on guest play over member play which is a little unusual. Of course with a new name of Scottsdale National Golf Club my hunch is that Parsons will not be seeking out local members and will be focusing more on national members who traditionally bring guests when they visit.

In the good news department, golf cart usage will be complimentary so there will be no fees associated with taking a cart. Also, in a great act of generosity, Parsons has offered a full 100% refund of initiation fees for any members who are not in favor of the policy changes as long as they resign by a specified date. According to club bylaws he is only obligated to offer a 50% refund.

In an environment where so many golf clubs are struggling to stay afloat, these policies are an interesting new way of generating much needed revenue. I’d love to hear some people’s thoughts on these changes and how you would feel about them if something similar were implemented at your club.

  • Mike Matson

    The best course I have ever played by far! The condition and the service is off the chart! Playing again this December. I don’t belong to any private golf club,but I do like the approach they are using.