Enhancing Club Value and Success by Wisely Investing in the Right Club Facilities!


Over the last ten years, we have seen an explosion in reinvestment in club facilities. And the results have been growing memberships, much higher club satisfaction and a more comprehensive approach to planning, maintaining and adding club facilities.

Today we are finding clubs finally understanding the need to fund facility depreciation as they wear-out. They are inserting depreciation expenses into their operating budgets. We are seeing clubs approaching facility improvements, not as one-off projects, but as those driven by overall strategic plans. Clubs are developing membership, financial and facility goals before trying to build quick-fix projects. The results are overall master plans being developed which let clubs plan ahead and allow for prioritized improvement plans that provide the most important projects being built first, thus driving maximum member satisfaction and club performance.

The Results From Wise Planning and Investing

Clubs are increasing their investments in depreciating facilities as historically they have been ignoring real maintenance costs. The results are better facilities and fewer deferred maintenance assessments. Clubs are also planning ahead for cyclical facility improvements so there is a more orderly and long-range strategy for doing them. The club facility master plan is guiding immediate and long-range projects. Based on McMahon Group’s almost forty-years of planning, approving and building club facilities, we find most clubs are on ten-year cycles for doing major facility projects, those that are above and beyond necessary maintenance repair and refurbishment projects. These major projects are required to address changing marketplace conditions affecting member usage and societal issues necessary to keep a club current.

These ten-year cycle projects are what keep club’s continually attracting new members and remaining financially viable. Without them, clubs begin to attract fewer new members while normal membership attrition continues unabated. You can’t stop mother nature.

But to plan future facility projects, we need the comprehensive master plan for all club facilities to guide today’s and tomorrow’s project. This master planning with costs also allows forward facility budgeting so funding is not the big challenge it is today for most clubs.

The results from planning and adding facilities per a club’s strategic master planning are:

  • Properly upgraded club dining areas are resulting in 20% to 30% more-member dining usage.
  • Club managers rate improved club facilities as the most successful way to attract new members.
  • Well run clubs and well provided facilities drive members’ overall satisfaction with their clubs to the stratosphere of having over 50% of all members rating their club satisfaction as “very satisfied”. Clubs with over 50% of members being “very satisfied”, have full memberships. Full membership paying dues and initiation fees that provide the capital to properly maintain facilities and programs which make clubs great. How many clubs do we have that don’t have full memberships, but could, if they offered a better club product?

Where to Invest for the Best Success?

Based on McMahon’s almost forty years of surveys, strategic planning and facility project development, four basic club aspects are primarily most important to members and most responsible for club success. They are:

  • Dining,
  • Golf,
  • Clubhouse, and
  • Wellness/fitness.

Excel in these four primary club aspects, and clubs will excel. This is where clubs must spend to stay current with changing conditions. Keeping in touch with members, monitoring facility conditions and reinvesting based on a long-range master plan, this is the facility way to drive club success.

– Contact McMahon Group today to speak with the most knowledgeable consultants in the club industry!

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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
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