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Executive Leader Of The Year – 2021


Terra Waldron, CCM, CCE, ECM, General Manager/COO at Greensboro Country Club, has been recognized as the very first KK&W Summit Executive Leader of the Year for her tremendous mentorship of young professionals, paving a path for women in the private club industry, and defining Executive Leadership At A Higher Level. Waldron joined industry peers via Zoom in early October during the 2021 KK&W Summit, hosted at Arizona Country Club to accept her award.

Waldron has been the private club industry for nearly 35 years and has participated in the KK&W Summit event since its introduction, collaborating with and learning from the brightest minds inside and outside of the private club industry.

When asked about leadership, Waldron shared she believes integrity is a characteristic every leader should possess. She also spotlighted the importance of ongoing professional development opportunities for people within an organization and establishing mentor/mentee relationships. Waldron has prioritized mentoring industry professionals throughout her career, establishing a supportive yet honest environment that is centered around listening and learning.

“The Partners at KK&W felt that this was an easy selection; Terra has done an exceptional amount of work on behalf of this great industry and is a tireless advocate for its success, relevance and to help elevate others to achieve great things. A big congratulations to her in being our inaugural and highly deserving recipient,” agree Dick Kopplin, Kurt Kuebler and Tom Wallace.

Prior to joining the team at Greensboro Country Club, Waldron served as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Desert Highlands Association in Scottsdale, Arizona, from 2006-2018. Desert Highlands, a Platinum Club since 1997, also received America’s Healthiest Club award. Waldron also served as GM/COO at Dataw Island in South Carolina; Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina; Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina; Cedar Point Club in Suffolk, Virginia; and the Engineers’ Club in Richmond, Virginia.

Her passion for the club industry has led her to participation on many national industry committees. As a result of her experiences, Waldron has been requested to make numerous presentations for such groups as CMAA, USGA, the Johnson and Wales University campus, the Kiwanis Club and the Optimist’s Club. Waldron has also authored articles for leading industry publications, including Club Director, The BoardRoom, and Club Management.

Waldron, who was listed by Forbes as one of America’s most influential women in the Western U.S. in 2015, was awarded the 2015 Excellence in Club Management Mead Grady Award co-sponsored by Club & Resort Business and McMahon Group. In 2016, the Club Managers Association of America named her the Club Executive of the Year. She was selected for CMAA’s inaugural class of 2019 Fellows in recognition of her leadership, integrity, involvement and contributions of club management professionals. And, most recently, featured by Golf Channel as part of their Women Changing The Game Series.

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Executive Leader Of The Year – 20212021-10-07T18:04:52+00:00

Best Practices For Forming A Fitness & Wellness Search Committee


Hiring the best Director of Fitness and Wellness at any club or resort who is the best “fit” for the role, is obviously imperative in determining the success of the fitness and wellness program and overall organization. However, the exercise of forming a search committee is arguably the most important in the process of hiring a top notch, Director of Fitness and Wellness. Consider these six tips that will help set you and your organization up for success!

First and foremost, confidentiality is the most important component when determining who should be selected to the search committee. The only people who should serve on the search committee are those that will not, under any circumstances, reveal any information about candidates. Organization reputations are at stake, as well as the candidates’ current jobs. Even the slightest inquiry with a friend or colleague who knows a candidate could cause a major issue and could lead to job loss! For this reason, only trusted members who can provide complete confidentiality should be invited to serve on the search committee.

Number of Committee Members
A recommendation of five (5) people for the search committee – seven (7) is the maximum. Odd numbers are better in case of a tie, and the fewer the better because of the confidentiality required and mentioned previously. Too many “cooks in the kitchen” and opinions will also work against you in the process!

Diversity of Committee
The composition of the committee should include some representation from the various demographics and club constituencies including active members who represent all aspects of your fitness program (personal training, group exercise etc). Typically, frequent users of the club and a cross section of tenured, senior members; and younger, newer members is recommended. Members who are currently serving on a club committee or board are especially valuable since they already have a good understanding of how the management/governance works and they are truly committed to the club.

Time & Commitment Needed
Serving on the search committee requires a great deal of time, effort, and commitment. Committee members will receive a lot of information and documentation about top candidates prior to interviewing them at the club. Typically, the committee members will be responsible for reviewing résumés, questionnaire responses, professional portfolios, and behavioral assessment results. Additionally, the search committee will be required to participate in a full day(s) of interviews. A commitment to participating in interviews is important because each search committee member will have some time to ask the candidates questions. Also, this will give the candidates time to ask questions they have about the club, the club culture, and the membership.

Role of Search Committee
Another decision to make is determining the role of the search committee. Best practice is for the search committee to make a recommendation to the GM/COO. From there the GM/COO will be part of making the final decision, notifying the club’s board members, and extending the employment offer with the input and support of the search committee.

Candidate Relations
Finally, at the end of the day, look for committee members who enjoy the club and will represent the membership in a very positive manner. While their purpose is to interview the candidates to see who the most capable leader for the club’s program is, keep in mind that the candidates will also be closely observing the search committee members to determine if the culture of the club is compatible with their career goals. The more “chamber of commerce” type members of the committee, the better!

About the author…

Len Simard, PTR, USPTA Master Professional is a search executive and consultant specializing in Racquet Sports and Fitness & Wellness placements, compensation, programming assessments and committee retreats for KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. Len can be contacted via email at len@kkandw.com or by phone at 407-463-8923.

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Best Practices For Forming A Fitness & Wellness Search Committee2021-10-01T18:29:12+00:00

Preparing For The Virtual Interview & Navigating The Video Platform

Several years ago, I published an article entitled “They Can Hear You In Your Pajamas” regarding non-verbal communication and phone interviews. The basic message? Take the interview seriously, as if it were in person, because how you sound on the phone is affected by your appearance and surroundings.

Your voice becomes the “telephonic appearance.” In a phone interview, it’s just as important to get up, get showered, and get professionally dressed as it is in a live interview. The reason is simple. “They can hear you in your pajamas.” Let’s fast-forward.

With today’s uptick in Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, and other popular platforms for virtual interviewing, the applicant has many new communication challenges to consider. Not only can the interviewer potentially “hear you in your PJs,” let’s make sure they do not see you in them (or anything else personal and unprofessional for that matter)! This brings voyeurism to a whole new level.

I maintain my original position for video interviews. We should treat them as if they are in-person and prepare accordingly. Yes, I encourage all to go the extra mile and complete the outfit – tempting as it might be to remain in your boxers or yoga pants and only dress from the waist up. Beware! You never know when an interviewer may want to test how serious you are and ask you to please stand for a moment.

Proper dress aside, the video interview has many touchpoints, and we need to be aware of what they are and how we prepare for them. Candidates are also at a disadvantage by interviewing on screen.

Non-verbal body language makes up 55 percent of communication, and the video interview makes it far more difficult to receive, transmit, and/or accurately interpret those non-verbal cues. So, let’s look at both.

Interview Prep
Check the internet connection the day of the interview and if you have concerns, make sure to have a backup venue.

There is nothing worse than being late to an interview, so double-check the day, time and time zone! Too often, a candidate has blown the interview because of a scheduling mix-up or not having read the invite carefully. Also, with video interviews, a candidate is often interviewing in another time zone so make sure everyone is clear about the time.

Always  practice, and if possible, ask a friend or colleague to log on with you so they can see how you are positioned on camera. Check for good lighting, reduce any glare, ensure that all equipment is working and that your audio is clear.

“Set your stage” by minimizing any clutter or personal items in your background. I don’t recommend any of the computer offered backgrounds as they can distort your image and distract the viewer. Make sure to close your door to minimize sound and deter any furry/four-legged visitors who might want to make a sudden appearance.

Once again, get fully and professionally (suit, sport coat/jacket, tie, etc.) dressed for your interview. Again, solid colors are suggested as we can’t be sure how patterns might distract on the other end.

Take care of all grooming in advance (shaving, hair combing, fixing makeup). Sit up straight and look into the camera. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by your image. The camera is not a mirror. Resist the tendency to be “fixing” yourself up during the interview. Sign on early and wait patiently without fidgeting until admitted to the video call if you have been placed in a “waiting room.”

Make sure to have a printed copy of your resume, a pen and a pad of paper for notes on your desk.

Navigating The Video Platform
Although COVID-19 has forced many into substituting the in-person interview for the video interview, the video interview presents challenges that the face-to-face interview does not and, in the long run, is not the preferred method.

A study from the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, revealed that applicants interviewed via video platforms were viewed as less likable than in-person candidates. It’s very difficult to build rapport on video the way one can build rapport in person. Therefore, the video interviewer is at a disadvantage.

Eye contact in a live interview is crucial. Making eye contact during a video interview is not impossible; look directly into the webcam. Stay focused and not get distracted. Don’t get too comfortable. Because applicants are interviewing from home these days, there may be a tendency to forget they are in a “real” meeting. Maybe you tend to work in your comfy chair with your feet up or spin in your chair while you are thinking.

Remember to bring your executive demeanor to the interview and present yourself accordingly. For the interview, you are not sitting at home but in an important meeting.

Your interview will most likely have a designated start and stop time. Be succinct. Do not look away from the camera to think about your answers. If you need prompters or reminders to keep the interview moving along, place sticky notes on the wall behind your screen to aid you, such as “look at webcam”, “stay focused”, etc.

“It” Happens…

As Forrest Gump says, “It happens…Sometimes.” Our best laid plans can go awry. Eliminate all potential issues and distractions. Find a quiet, uncluttered space to conduct a professional interview; we live in unprecedented times and have ll had our share of “COVID-age” work interruptions.

If it happens during your interview, remember you are on camera. How you handle the unexpected situation indicates how you might respond to a minor work situation, so respond wisely.

Perhaps the lawncare company showed up a day early and you hear the lawnmower outside your window. You might want to apologize and ask if they can hear you clearly and if the noise is distracting. The right move might be to apologize and excuse yourself for one minute, turn off your video/ audio and remove the distraction. Apologize for any inconvenience, don’t get flustered, and jump right back in where you left off.

Whether in-person or through one of the many video platforms available today, the interview is often the most important part of the application process. Our goal and commitment is always to help you present yourself in the most professional manner possible.

Michelle Riklan, ACRW, CPRW, CEIC, CJSS is a career strategist, consultant and search executive with KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. She can be reached via email: michelle@kkandw.com.


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Preparing For The Virtual Interview & Navigating The Video Platform2021-08-31T02:22:57+00:00

2020 Gary Player Educator Of The Year


Someone once said that if you need to have something done, make sure you give the assignment to a “busy person.” That seems to aptly describe the lifestyle of Tom Wallace, who is the recipient of BoardRoom’s Gary Player Educator of the Year Award.

I first met Tom when he was the assistant manager at The Country Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. Tom picked me up at the airport and was driving me to the club, where I was going to do a presentation at the Ohio CMAA Chapter meeting. During our conversation and while answering the series of questions I was asking him, it became evident that he not only had a sincere passion for the private club business but also a strong desire to continue to learn and share his knowledge with others.

I continued to observe his career when he was hired at the age of 28 to be the general manager of the renowned Oakmont Country Club. While serving 10 years at Oakmont, he pursued his CCM designation and was also presented the Excellence in Club Management Award from the McMahon Group. Tom oversaw the 2003 U.S. Amateur, 2007 U.S. Open and 2010 U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont, which some USGA tournament executives claim were some of the very best events they have held. It set a new standard for the major USGA events that followed.

It was during Tom’s tenure at Oakmont that I noticed his attendance at CMAA educational programs, both locally and at the annual world conference. I will always recall his interactive engagement with me during one of the programs, where I was the presenter during the CMAA World Conference in Hawaii. I was impressed with his questions and contributions to the session. (Even though I was a little put off by his not wearing socks to the meeting, something I still kid him about today.)

Tom had a reputation for developing very good employee teams, and I could see that his interest in educating his team leaders was a major factor in his management philosophy. He shared his knowledge of the club business not only with his subordinates but also with other club industry leaders. It’s likely the reason he was often asked to speak at CMAA meetings and conferences.

When Tom continued his management career at Mediterra in Naples, FL, he became even more engaged in presenting leadership programs and seminars to his peers in the industry. After joining Kopplin and Kuebler, soon to become Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace (KK&W), he initiated his teaching in the BMI programs developed by CMAA. Over the years, he has instructed hundreds of managers and he continually ranks as one of the highest-rated presenters for CMAA. In looking at some typical comments from the attendees, many of them note that he delivers not only great content but does so in an entertaining manner with a base of personal knowledge. He knows of what he speaks.

In addition to writing numerous articles on a variety of club management and governance topics, Tom has traveled the country to present educational programs for CMAA chapters and private club boards. In a typical year, Tom works with 20 to 30 general managers and their boards at annual retreats, discussing the best management and governance practices in the private club industry.

While actively engaged in his writing, teaching, and executive search work, Tom also balances his busy travel schedule by spending time with his family.  Additionally, Tom serves on the National Club Association Board, functions as the managing partner of KK&W and contributes his energy to the Club Leadership Alliance.

Education is his passion and the foundation of his very busy schedule, making Tom Wallace a truly worthy recipient of the Gary Player Educator of the Year Award.

Contributed by Richard Kopplin

BoardRoom Magazine – 2021 July/August

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2020 Gary Player Educator Of The Year2021-08-25T19:12:54+00:00

Creating Alignment: The GM/President Relationship


If you are not already registered to attend, we encourage you to consider joining us for the 2021 President’s Council being hosted by Carmel Country Club on Monday, November 15th.  This unique networking and educational event will bring together Club Presidents, Board Members, and Executive Level Team Members to learn what the highest performing clubs are doing to stay relevant and vibrant in today’s competitive market. [Learn More and Register]

General managers should discuss with their new presidents how they are going to communicate for the year ahead. This includes deciding on the frequency of communication (specific times or days or just as needed) and what forms are best (in-person meetings, phone, text, email). Every president is different, with different preferences and availability, so getting on the same page is essential.

General managers should have a conversation with their president about how they are going to disagree. Simply asking, “How should I tell you when I disagree with you?” can be an immensely powerful and honest way to set the relationship up for success.

Another best practice continuing to emerge is the educational partnership of the general manager/chief executive with the board of directors. This kind of collaborative education provides private clubs with the strategic thinking necessary to meet current and future member needs. Recognizing that volunteer leaders must be aligned with paid leaders is critical. This educational partnership can be achieved by incorporating an educational component led by the general manager or board president during every meeting. Examples of meaningful insight could be industry reports produced by respected industry associations and consulting firms or details of trending club issues and supporting case studies. Experts on local issues can also add tremendous value at board meetings. During COVID-19, leading clubs invited a panel of health professionals to share and engage in Q&A to guide decision-making and forward-thinking clubs in California invited experts to offer insight on water management.

General managers are expected to be experts on club business and operations. Bringing in outside knowledge to support their recommendations can encourage a unified understanding of circumstances.

Contributed by Richard Kopplin, Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM & Thomas B. Wallace Ill, CCM, CCE, ECM

CLUB TRENDS – Summer 2021

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Creating Alignment: The GM/President Relationship2021-09-23T19:50:04+00:00

Committee Orientation


As KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE works with hundreds of clubs each year, we have discovered there is a big disconnect in the industry: Boards get all the education and training, and committees get very little, if any, education or training. This is a serious oversight because committees need to understand their area of focus and level of input. Just as board orientation is essential to the effectiveness of the board, committee orientation is essential to the effectiveness of committees, the board and the staff. When committees function properly, they are outstanding resources to be utilized while moving the club forward. When commit- tees are dysfunctional, they cause headaches for the general manager, department heads and the board.

When it comes to committees, volunteers should not enter their committee term thinking “What are we going to fix this year?” It should be explained to them, “This is the priority for the year ahead.” To guide committee members’ thinking, education and training are crucial.

Each year the outgoing board should set the annual goals for the incoming board and committees. The board should set the goals for the general manager. The general manager should set the goals for the department heads.


By conducting a board-like mandatory orientation session for all committee members at the beginning of the commit- tee year, every person sees what the goals are for the committees, how they will be held accountable, deadlines for when things need to be achieved and so forth. This way committees are not setting their own agendas, getting too involved in operations and setting their own initiatives, and there is much greater overall alignment throughout the club. Instead, committees are tasked by the president and the general manager, with the support of the board, what the goals are for the year.

It is a mandatory orientation and if you cannot make it, then you cannot sit on the committee.

If people do not come to the orientation, they do not take their role seriously and that’s when things can go off the rails. Furthermore, it is an ideal time to allow incoming committee members who have not yet served to shorten their first-year wonderment of how, when and where they need to focus their time. The dynamics of involving both new and returning committee members in the orientation experience is impactful and allows those new contributors confidence in what they need to focus on and how they can contribute.

Sometimes when committee members find out their roles are strictly advisory, and they do not have decision-making power, or they do not get to make certain changes (per their personal agenda), they do not want to be on the committee anymore. Those members with personal agendas are often the people that should not be on committees; that is why proper committee orientation and training is so important. Additionally, arming all committee members with factual data and not allowing unsupported opinions, no matter how well intended, to prevail is done at this stage of the orientation process.


When committees understand their advisory role, they also understand that they are tools for the general manager and board to use, not the other way around. It is essential that committees recognize that there is not a lot of extra talent lying around the club with nothing to do and that they are there for the general manager to use as tools for getting things done, versus the general manager running around trying to make committees happy. Committees must be educated and trained that their role is to do the work of the board and the general manager, not vice versa. When used effectively in this manner, they are outstanding conduits to and from the membership.

Clubs should hold detailed committee orientation sessions at the start of the committee year, just as they do with the new board of directors. A mandatory orientation session should include a review of the club’s mission, vision and strategic plans. Carefully explain the “responsibility matrix” (see sample in Board Orientation article) and how each person’s role fits into the organization. Consider making copies of the responsibility matrix for committee members to take home with them so they can review it after the meeting and use it for reference throughout the year, or even having them sign off to acknowledge that they understand their role and how it fits into the decision-making process.

During orientation, detail the committee responsibilities, charters, the role of the committee chair, code of conduct, member grievance flow chart and any other documents vital to the club’s governance. Include core values and guiding principles that are the foundation of how you will operate. Just as you told the board, tell committees, “This is how we get the work of the club done,” to ensure they understand their role on a deeper level. These orientations should also include a full tour of both front and back of the house of the club in all areas, not just those under the purview of a particular committee. An educated member, often done in this manner, can be the best supporter of the club in the long run!

It might be overkill to provide the committees with some of the information that is provided in board orientations (such as the club master plan) but the more information committee members have up front the better. It is also great for other committees—the Finance Committee, for example— to hear what the goals and objectives are for the Tennis Committee, House Committee and Golf Committee during the orientation. When committee members know and understand their role in the organization, they are more effective and more efficient. Too many clubs are being managed by their committees and it’s because the industry doesn’t match committee training with board training.

Contributed by Richard Kopplin, Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM & Thomas B. Wallace Ill, CCM, CCE, ECM

CLUB TRENDS – Summer 2021

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Committee Orientation2021-08-03T01:43:35+00:00
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