Mastering Club Master Planning to Assure Club Success


Over and over again, as the specialty club consulting firm which is ultimately responsible for getting many club facility projects approved, we see master plans developed that propose many improvements, but have little bearing on assuring the future success of a club. Such improvements address today’s facility shortcomings, but they do little to address the financial realities of member willingness to pay, and they do not address true strategic issues of future member attraction essential for long-term club success.

You Must Start with Club Strategic Planning

A club must understand its business and membership model before it builds new facilities. If facility improvements don’t attract and retain members, drive more usage, and achieve high member satisfaction, then they should not be done.

Examples of short-sighted but well-meaning projects are:

  1. Clubs that redecorate or even expand dining areas, but totally ignore kitchen size, equipment or design issues.
  2. Clubs that replace the same 40-year-old facilities with little consideration of how today’s and tomorrow’s millennial members may want something totally different.
  3. Clubs that need new younger members, but continue to pour millions of dollars into golf courses which attract few next generation members.

So if your club is contemplating facility improvements, be sure your board and planning committee know the strategic issues affecting facilities before an architect draws a single line. Wasting capital dollars that don’t have a return on investment (retaining and attracting members) is a good way to destroy a fine club.

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About Bill McMahon

Bill is a private club planner providing strategic planning, member research analysis and facility planning services for private clubs across North America. Bill joined McMahon Group in 1999 and has worked with over 200 clubs helping to solve their strategic and facility needs.

Bill is Co-Editor of Club Trends, a quarterly report published with the National Club Association (NCA). He has written for many private club publications like The BoardRoom Magazine, Club Director and more, and has been a featured speaker at national conferences, local chapters and other associations serving the private club industry. He is also on the NCA’s Communications Committee.

Bill has been instrumental in developing and enhancing the McMahon Group online presence. He created and runs Clubtopia® ( – an online business directory of firms and companies serving the club industry.

Bill’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis), Glen Echo Country Club (St. Louis) and the Missouri Athletic Club (St. Louis). He has served on the Boards of Cinema St. Louis ( and the Tennessee Society of St. Louis (former President).


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