Creating The Governance/Management Partnership That Is Essential For Club Success

45755893 - team of paper doll people
45755893 - team of paper doll people

Does the Board at your club work together as a cohesive group? While lively debate and deliberation at board meetings are signs your Board members are seriously invested in their responsibility as governors of their club, do Board members speak with a single voice outside the boardroom once the Board has voted on a particular issue or ruling? Does the Board understand their role and responsibilities in club governance are to:

A) Set policy and direction through identifying their club’s mission for today and vision for the future?

B) Ensure sufficient financial resources are available to operate the club successfully and consistently deliver the sought-after member experience?

C) Hire a General Manager/COO capable of implementing the Board’s directives, achieving the club’s mission and vision, and then holding him/her accountable for achieving the daily operations successfully without Board interference?

D) Communicate effectively with both the executive management and entire membership regarding the strategic direction of the club?


Does the General Manager/COO:

A) Always feel respected and fully supported by the club’s Board?

B) Understand the traditions and core values the club was founded upon and feel willing to make changes that will preserve the past while ensuring relevance in the future?  

C) Consistently communicate his/her, or the club’s needs to the Board necessary to achieve success?

D) Have the right professionally certified Department Heads on their team which are capable of consistently delivering successful member experiences?

E) Understand the importance of consistently delivering a high-quality dining and hospitality experience?

F) Have member experience feedback mechanisms embedded into the day to day operating ethos of every department that provides management and the Board timely and accurate data on the club’s performance? 

G) Have a Human Resource department that ensures ‘right-fit’ employees are hired, onboarded, trained and professionally developed, with a focus of maximizing employee retention?

H) Understand the importance of the role effective member communications plays in achieving the highest levels of happiness and ease of use for all its members?


All of the questions above are some of the most important challenges facing Boards and managers today. When any of the answers are NO, these essential partnership areas stand in the way of achieving success and maximizing your club’s highest potential. 

The McMahon Group has developed a Governance/Management Partnership Audit. During this audit, the McMahon Group consultant will visit your club, interview to understand the Board, Management and key staff issues and concerns, learn of opportunities for the future and devise a strategic process the club should pursue to be successful. If you would like to learn more regarding McMahon’s Governance/Management Partnership or to schedule a First Impression visit, please e-mail Alison Duffy at 


Read another club operations article – Bad Members Drive Good Members From Clubs


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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