Bad Members Drive Good Members From Clubs

People Crowd

As in monetary policy or with society in general, certain laws of nature prevail. For many clubs they have become overly zealous in attracting new members with much less regard for whether they fit or not. Clubs are all about having compatible members who have something in common. Maybe it is a love of golf, families with children or some other common bond that makes us want to come together as a membership. A club’s mission and vision should clearly guide its selection of new members. When new member admissions are just to get any warm body that will pay the price, a private club will self-destruct. It no longer will be a place for friends, but becomes more of a commercial establishment guided by “What is the club doing for me now?” mentality. 

Another law of nature is “one rotten apple can destroy the bushel”, and this certainly applies to private clubs. Once uncouth, disruptive members are in a private club, it is difficult to get them out. So what happens? Good, long-term members stop proposing new members, stop using the club and in the end, they resign and join other clubs. Soon the once fine club becomes a club of strangers. Members look at the club as a strictly commercial business entity. Members no longer care to serve on the board and committees. And in the end, no one cares what happens to the club. This is how management companies take over private clubs.

Be sure your club’s membership policies protect your club’s culture. Once the bad apples get in, you can’t get them out.

Share This Article

About Bill McMahon, Sr. AIA, OAA

Bill is a strategic, financial and architectural planning consultant to clubs throughout North America. He established McMahon Group in 1983 as an affiliate of the family architectural firm his grandfather founded in 1906. Over the ensuing years, the firm has expanded its club consulting services beyond clubhouse improvement planning to a full range of services for all aspects of private club challenges. To date, the firm has assisted more than 2,000 private clubs across the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. McMahon Group provides a unique approach to developing club facility projects first establishing design and financial feasibility so membership approval is achieved. Thereafter final design and construction firms are selected to build the member approved project.

Mr. McMahon is unique among club consultants in providing an integrated strategic, financial and architectural approach to solving club problems. His personal involvement with his own clubs in St. Louis (serving in the roles of president, board member and committee member) has allowed him to bring unparalleled experience to each client. Mr. McMahon’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis), Racquet Club Ladue (St. Louis), University Club of St. Louis, Spring Lake Yacht Club (Michigan) and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Mr. McMahon is a graduate of Washington University School of Architecture in St. Louis and holds architecture licenses in 44 U.S. states and in Ontario, Canada. He is a featured author in industry publications and a featured speaker at the annual conferences of the Club Managers Association of America, the Canadian Society of Club Managers, the National Club Association and the Hospitality, Financial and Technology Professionals. He serves as a visiting lecturer at continuing education sessions offered by regional CMAA chapters and at Michigan State University. Bill is a co-author of McMahon Club Trends®, the comprehensive research reports on strategic issues facing private clubs published with the National Club Association. He is also founder of the Excellence in Club Management Award.

Mr. McMahon is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and the National Club Association. He is a former president of the Missouri Council of Architects, AIA and has served on various charitable boards in the St. Louis area.

More articles by Bill McMahon, Sr. AIA, OAA