CMASA’s 2017 Annual Conference Report

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CMASA proudly hosted our annual conference at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on the 28th and 29th August 2017.

Today's club manager is expected to manage a complex and sometimes large property of several hectares; maintain multiple buildings and facilities; provide sports and leisure services for members and visitors; manage a team of employees and contractors; promote the business to the local, regional, national and in many cases international communities and of course manage the club's finances efficiently and prudently.

The Conference fulfilled both ours and that of our global affiliate partners (CMAA) mission to provide a variety of relevant education opportunities that reflect the latest trends in the club industry.

“I recommend the conference to all Club Managers, Senior Managers and Golf Directors. It was a great networking opportunity. The conference has left me re-energized and full of energy for the road
ahead” – Pascale van Maris, General Manager of Durban Country Club.

There were 78 country wide delegates that attended the conference. They enjoyed two days filled with valuable sessions, laughter and even a little bit of magic! Wolfgang Riebe, the Master of Ceremonies, Inspirational Speaker and Magician brought a unique mix of magic and motivation to the conference.

“Really fantastic, he kept the momentum going, the engagement felt like he definitely understood the audience. A very well rounded entertainer and speaker” – Megan Spencer, Financial Manager, Ruimsig Country Club.

For those who want to recap or share with their staff/family, below is a link to redo/visit Wolfgang’s Discover Your Magic Course on the Internet (free access to the first 25 delegates).

If anyone would like to receive daily quotes and inspiration from Wolfgang, kindly sign up at for a complimentary month. If you wish to carry on with the subscription, kindly send Wolfgang a personal mail and he will sign you up for a year. Wolfgang can be contacted on

Highlights from the two days:

Deliver Change, presented by David Grier (Adventurist and Motivational Speaker) kicked off the conference and set the theme and tone for the remainder of the event.

His inspirational and motivational session was based on the realisation that everyone and everything around us is evolving and changing at such a rapid rate and in order to keep pace, one has to have the ability to evolve with it.

“Life changing and could not have come at a better time.”
– Francois Swart, General Manager of Randpark Golf Club.

Arnold Tanzer, Chief Chef for Food on the Move, presented on the latest and upcoming food and beverage trends, such as exotic drinks, different forms of healthy eating etc. Arnold provided some great insights and ideas to keep up with these trends within the club industry. He concluded his presentation by weighing up the pros and cons of out-sourced and in-house food and beverage.

"His presentation was also very informative with loads of relevant info." – Lessyl Niemandt, General Manager, White River Country Club.

Another top highlight from Monday’s sessions was Ian James’ presentation; Managing and Marketing to a Community.

Ian James, CEO of RetailTribe has a very simple philosophy for growth - Focus on the consumer and what they value. Ian’s session consisted of strategies and ideas to increase membership as well as how to increase the value of membership in the club industry.

“My favourite presentation of the lot, Ian has tremendous insights into this side of the industry” – Paul Stoner, Golf Director of Clovelly Country Club.

Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO, gave an environmantal update and informed the delegates of the ongoing projects and platforms to create a sustainable, profitable and succesful business.

Jonathan expressed the importance of sustainablity in the club/sporting industry. GEO is helping the industry speed up and communicate this sustainable development through its easy to use online platform.

The GEO certification was presented to Andrew McKenna for Silver Lakes Country Club . CMASA would like to take this opportunity to congatulate Silver Lakes Country Club on being the first club to achieve this certification.

Tuesday afternoon consisted of three breakaway sessions;

  • Attracting Members and the latest trends in marketing and comunicating to them.
  • Environmental Sustainabilty – are you on the right track?
  • Food and Beverage trends and ways to increase income for member events.

These breakaway sessions served as a valuable opportunity for all clubs to communicate and provide some insights on these topics.

Below is feedback from each session;

Attracting Members and the latest trends in marketing and comunicating to them

  • The main point that came out of the discussion is that we need to engage with our members.
  • Relationship marketing has disappeared. There is such a focus on emails, SMSes and social media that we have forgotten about the interpersonal interaction.
  • Contact members who haven’t played in a while.
  • Compile a ‘risk list’ of members who could potentially leave at the end of a year and engage with them.
  • As much as we need to focus on attracting new members, we also need to focus on retaining existing members.
  • Find out why members are leaving. One of the main reasons is because they don’t know anybody.
  • Integrate new members into the club – find them games; invite them to club functions.
  • Use golf days to communicate with non-members i.e. one-on-one interaction; table-talkers advertising offerings; become part of the golf day to collect email addresses e.g. sponsor a short hole or take a picture on a tee and email it to the players along with offerings etc.
  • Set PGA Pro targets to play with members or sign up new members. If the Pro is outsourced, make them feel part of the ‘family’.
  • Work out how much each member is worth to the club as every member retained is an ongoing revenue stream.
  • Develop programmes for wives and children remembering that each family has a social network with potential new members.
  • Encourage members to sign up new members.
  • Manage the ‘complainers’. Use committee/board members where possible to manage them.
  • Focus on value ads rather than discounting.
  • How welcoming is your club?
  • See every person that enters your club as a sales lead.
  • Be open to change and become the change agent.
  • Look for alternative revenue sources.

Environmental Sustainabilty

  • It is not only the right thing to do but it also makes good business sense. If you are engaged with and are a “good” community member then your community will want to be part of your family
  • What should we be doing?
    1. Create a team to do an appraisel on environmental practices
    2. Start reporting progress in newletters and annual reports
    3. You don’t need to put too much money into becoming sustainable as there may be investments that can save money (irrigation, heat pups, insulation etc.)
    4. Most importantly, register for onCourse and start the process to become a sustainable and successful club.
  • Why is golf perceived to be slow in the engagement in environmental sustainablity?
    1. There is currently a lack in clarity of whos responsibilty this is.
    2. We need a law in South Africa for promoting sustainability
    3. Lack of time and Human Resources
    4. Struggle to survive financially and we are concerned of the cost

Food and Beverage trends and ways to increase income for member events

  • Various suggestions of functions that clubs could host were given to improve revenue;
    1. Super draws
    2. Movie Nights
    3. Christmas in July
    4. Family Day’s
    5. Chip n Sips on Fridays
  • A suggestion to streamline halfway houses by providing food trucks on the course, making food and beverage more accessible on the course.
  • A suggestion to consider when food and beverage suppliers want to introduce new brands into your club- encourage them to give the first round of stock to the club, and only if the product is successful purchase more stock could reduce costs.

CMASA would like to thank all the delegates who attended the conference, from feedback received, it was a great success.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2018 conference which will be held in the Western Cape.

Dates and details to follow in due course.