CMASA Annual Conference Report
Theme - Diversity in the Clubs
27th & 28th August 2018 @ Pearl Valley, Western Cape


A jammed-packed two days of education, information sharing and networking between a vested group of 96 delegates, consisting of CEO’s, General Managers, club employees, committee members and industry stakeholders working in the club industry in South Africa and abroad, took place at CMASA’s annual conference.

“It was an absolutely fantastic few days in the Cape, at Pearl Valley. Really well organized conference put on by CMASA. The speakers were of top quality and it was brilliant to network with the other Managers and Club Staff” – James Searson, General Manager of Parkview Golf Club.

Attendees had the great pleasure of listening to many powerful and passionate local speakers as well as two international keynote speakers, Jeff Blunden from GBAS, Australia and Mike Leemhuis, President of Ocean Reef Club in the USA and Honorary Member of CMASA.

Mike Leemhuis met all our expectations and more with the insights he delivered over three of the 15 sessions.

Certification combined with education is what Mike believes are the cornerstones of success in business and in life, and to that end Mike is a Certified Club Manager (CCM) and Certified Chief Executive (CCE) Chief Executive (CCE), as well as a PGA Member.

Effective leadership is what is needed to ensure staff are engaged and happy. Happy staff = happy members.

Jeff Blunden from GBAS, made the trip from Australia as CMASA’s newly appointed research services provider, to share his expertise in delivering independent value-added advice to many clients across the full spectrum of the club industry. His opinions, insights and recommendations are underpinned by vast experience and an enduring commitment to delivering industry research.

Wolfgang Riebe was back as the Master of Ceremonies, and once again did not disappoint. His session on Power Charge your Memory was phenomenal, with delegates being able to remember 20 items in the order they were given, after 45 minutes! Truly amazing and I’m sure that the tools he provided to the attendees are already being put to good use in their clubs.

“Overall a very informative conference and something that I will take back to benefit me and my club” – Tony Louw, Club Manager of Atlantic Beach Country Club

Highlights from the two days:

Monday, 27th August 2018

Mike Lacey-Smith, Psychologist and Inspirational speaker started the conference off with his session titled – DIVERSITY in THE CLUBS. His session focused on one of the great challenges facing organisations; getting all employees, from the CEO to the hourly workers, to realise that to become the best, they need to embrace diversity. There is nothing in the world more powerful and dividing than personal beliefs, values, experience and culture. On the flipside, there is not anything more binding than common interest, understanding and acceptance.

Everyone is a beautiful and special soul – treat them as such!

“As per last year what an unbelievable conference with each piece of information and interaction being a valuable stepping stone on my journey to becoming a successful club manager.”
- Paul Stoner, Golf Director at Clovelly Country Club.

The second session of the day was facilitated by Rob Arnold from RCA Consulting. Rob is the founder and operations director of RCA Consulting, a leading customer experience advisory in the hospitality and retail sectors of Southern Africa. Rob’s presentation, titled Customer Experience 2.0, provided the delegates with some great insights on the expectations of the customer and how we can increase customer satisfaction in our Clubs.

Graham Corbett, Turf Management Consultant, took the floor to speak about ‘The Essentials of Greenkeeping for GM’s’. Graham covered key elements such as regular facility checks i.e. when last did your GM check on your maintenance facility and chemical room; turf pest problems; Golf Course infrastructure and labour, managing for firm and fast greens,

TO KNOW is to UNDERSTAND was the title of Gustav Putters’ session. This presentation was based on the fact that members of staff consist of people from various backgrounds, each having his/her own personality, attitude and opinion of how the department/organization should be run and how team members should work together. The solution to the problem lies in the African bush, with lessons often spell-binding in their simplicity, with excellent examples of these lessons being practiced on our doorsteps. Managing and working together through understanding the attitudes and personalities of each other as imitations of the behaviour of the lion, elephant, zebra, buffalo and even the hyena.

Gustav’s presentation was followed by an interactive panel discussion, titled ‘Food Innovation’, facilitated by Francois Swart, General Manager of Randpark. The panel members consisted of Mike Leemhuis, President of Ocean Reef Club; Jeff Blunden, GBAS; Gareth Wever, F&B Manager at Kelvin Grove and Alfie Schneeberger, F&B Manager at Durbanville Golf Club.

The panel discussion covered relevant elements including latest trends, the importance of identifying who you are as a club and how this can improve the F&B experience that clubs offer.

Outcome from the discussion was that the panel unanimously agreed that having F&B In-House is the way to go, as management have control over product selection, trends, profitability and the overall member and guest experience.

“Very useful information. Great interaction and sharing atmosphere.” – Maureen van Jaarsveld, Chairlady of Dainfern Golf Estate.

Our last session for the day, ‘Boots on the Ground – Crisis Management’, was presented by Mike Leemhuis, It's one thing listening to "experts" in the insurance field pontificating about how you should handle crisis/disaster situations at your club. In this presentation, Mike took the delegates through the many disastrous events that he has dealt with over his 30 years in the club management arena ... from Hurricane Irma, to floods, to mini tornados and finally to a derecho (straight line wind storm) Some of these happening at the same time as hosting a major golf event! The purpose of this session was for the delegates to get a better understanding on how to handle these "disastrous" events when they come their way.

Tuesday, 28th August 2018

Wolfgang was first up on the second day of the conference with his presentation ‘PowerCharge your Memory’. In this very humorous and interactive session, Wolfgang proved that a way to remember lists of duties is by imagining weird and insane scenarios relating to them. He demonstrated this by getting a list of 20 duties from the delegates, this included buying dog food to renewing your driver’s license. In the beginning of the session, the delegates could not remember more than 6 out of 20 duties, after going through this process; we were all remembering at least 18 out of 20 things.

“Wolfgang was again superb!” – Hans Jonck, General Manager of Centurion Country Club.

Jeff Blunden from Golf Business Advisory Services (GBAS) Australia, shared information from operational surveys conducted with CMASA members, highlighting ways that clubs can make more informed decisions regarding the overall management and performance of their clubs by implementing smaller changes in various areas that can be measured and serve as a benchmark for clubs in future.

Warrick Stewart, Managing Director, Resilience Environmental Advice, gave a GEO update and informed the delegates of the ongoing projects and platforms to create a sustainable, profitable and successful business.

Sue de Zwart, Director of Talking Turf, followed with an environmental update and expressed the importance of sustainability 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 Atlantic Beach Country Club and accepted by Tony Louw. CMASA would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Atlantic Beach Country Club on achieving their GEO On Course certification and we encourage all our member clubs to register on this platform and start making a difference to our environment and being accountable.

Robert Gray, CEO, Livewired Public Relations highlighted the importance of marketing to specific groups and segments within our clubs. He focused his presentation on ‘Marketing in 2020’. Robert’s presentation covered Generational marketing, Integrated Marketing Communication, Platform proliferation, Crisis Communication, the Digital and Social Media space, and the current incoming iGeneration.

Mike Leemhuis gave his second presentation of the conference, ‘Career Transition’. Depending on the stage of your life and career, you are dealing with one of these three scenarios; you are either Getting the position, keeping your position or leaving your position. Having completed a number of Ironman triathlons, Mike knows how crucial the "transition" is in a triathlon event ... moving from swimming to cycling and from cycling to running. Mike used his experience and lessons from his career and the Ironman, to help illustrate how important "Transition" is in managing your career.

Simon Colman, Executive Head at SHA Specialist Underwriters, present on Cyber Crime. He covered the basic elements of how and why we fall victim to Cyber Crime. This insightful session gave the delegates the information they needed to hopefully avoid these situations in the future.

Paul Leishman gave a fun presentation on ‘Family Activations and Community Projects for your club.’ Giving a few great examples on how to attract the families to your clubs, this session provided the delegates with some ideas on the latest family and community trends in the industry. He ended his session off with a fun ‘Pop Quiz’, giving us a taste of the ‘family/community’ fun that can be had.

Garryn Heathman, from SAB/ABInBev representative, joined us to announce which club had earned their betterball team spot in the upcoming CMASA Inter Club Challenge at Fancourt. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate East London Golf Club and we look forward to hosting their team at the Inter Club Challenge at end of October at Fancourt.

There are still spots available, and we encourage our member clubs to book and take part in this fabulous event.

The second panel discussion was Effective Board/Committee Governance Within Clubs – Learning from ‘Model Clubs’. The discussion was facilitated by Paul Leishman, GM of Bryanston CC and his Chairman, Ian Murdoch and Francois Swart GM of Randpark and his President – Garth Elliot. Club presidents play a huge role in professional operations of their clubs as volunteers working diligently with their board of directors and general managers, striving for well informed, but not emotional decisions.

Paul and Francois shared their experiences with the attendees and spoke to what has worked in their own clubs, and how our fellow clubs can use the same processes with their boards and committees.

CMASA will be offering Governance workshops in 2019 to provide information and cover elements such as Roles and Responsibilities of the Board; President and GM/CEO, Board Self Evaluation; Evolution of the Club Industry; Strategically Thinking/Forward Thinking to Meet Member’s Needs; Strategically Setting up the Board and Data Driven Decision Making Vs. Emotional Decision Making.

‘Shaping your personal future’, presented by Mike Leemhuis was the closing session for the conference.

Mike shared what he believed are the characteristics that are required from GM’s to manage their clubs and how one can develop and hone the skills needed, to allow yourself to become one of the really successful private club leaders, and importantly to still find that work life balance.

Louis57 Wines, Jonas, Club Recruitment, ClubChat and Stocklevla gave their partner updates over the course of the two days, providing our members with up to date information on their services.

CMASA would like to thank all the delegates who attended the conference, from feedback received - this was a fantastic event!

“Well organised and time schedule was immaculate. Well done to all involved. Our industry needs these conferences and more platforms to share information with each other. Thank you for a great few days” – Mark Wiltshire, Mark Wiltshire Golf.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2019 conference. Dates and details to follow in due course.