The third club where I was able to observe progressive and motivated leadership was in Michigan at Midland Country Club, a club I hadn’t visited in over twenty years. Midland is a town of about 40,000 people.  My last memory of the club wasn’t a strong one, but I didn’t recall particularly good ‘curb appeal’ and wondered what I might do from a club in, arguably, the worst state economy in the country (Note:  Midland, Michigan is just north of Flint, the highest unemployment rate area in the U.S.).

Now, I will preface my very positive thoughts on this most progressive and innovative of clubs by saying that it does have a strong financial supporter in the town’s biggest employer, Dow Chemical, but they couldn’t/wouldn’t be ‘benefactors’ of the club if they didn’t believe that there would be a ‘return on their investment.’

So, back to Midland Country Club… What I found when I arrived with Dick to do a board retreat was a completely new, 92,000 sq.ft. clubhouse, a completely renovated golf course and a resort pool “on steroids” under construction and being readied for grand opening next summer. Now, simply having a new facility is great, but one that large in a small town in economy devastated Michigan really had us wondering what was in the water!

Once we then got the grand tour, met with Steve Pederson, their GM/COO and the entire Board of Directors, we quickly understood the ‘how and why’ of what they had done. This is a group that clearly recognizes that they are running a business, a business that happens to be a club. Their efforts to make the Club one that would be THE centerpiece not only of the community, but of their personal lives (and that of their families) was very clear. The net result in their efforts to drill down and ensure that the amenities, programs and services being provided (which I’ll get to in a moment) are relevant to today’s member expectations was this – a ‘net’ increase in new members of nearly 330 since the project was announced and commenced. Additionally, just in the food and beverage operation where projections for increased revenues were very optimistic at a 100% increase, the actual was closer to 200% increase over the next best year! And, that was BEFORE the new banquet facility was even open; it was essentially all new ala Carte sales! The numbers will be even higher when the full array of weddings and other special events have a full year of activity!

So, what did they do with the facilities? They added child care facilities, a teen center (the typically ‘forgotten’ group in most clubs), and an INDOOR golf practice area with five hitting bays and nets (high ceilings) and a golf simulator where members can actually continue to play/practice their game when snow covers the ground (as it does in my home state from November to April most years).

Additionally, they created multiple dining areas from a ‘sports bar’ type area, to casual dining to family focused dining to loads of beautiful outdoor dining spaces with multiple views and fireplaces, all centered around an open air kitchen that served both ala carte and banquet areas directly. Additionally, after recognizing that the younger members they were going after for new members, in addition to the families already part of the club, they created what can best be described as a “Cheesecake Factory-like” menu. Its multiple glossy pages leave one with the impression that there are hundreds of choices of appetizers, entrees, desserts, etc., when, in fact (we asked) there are thirty-five items that are primary to the menu, but used in multiple variations to give one the impression of many more ingredients and choices.

The other things that really caught our attention were the fact that the club ‘flow’ had been extremely well thought out and clearly multiple functions can occur without impacting one another. Further, the interior design was more reflective of an updated style more often seen in up scale restaurants and hotels where, in their case, many of their members are used to finding in their travels.

If you ever find yourself in Midland, Michigan (granted, not many people do!), the Midland Country Club is a “must see” to recognize what leadership (both paid and volunteer) can do when strategic, visionary and collective well focused heads are bound together for a positive, common cause!

Have an outstanding holiday season!! – KK

Kurt D. Kuebler  Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM, is a Partner of Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]