This blog features information and advice from industry professionals on relevant club topics and issues. A companion to CMAA's Research Archives, this resource is updated biweekly.

Submissions should be sent to Kyle.Jennings@cmaa.org for consideration.

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Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 55: Research and Advocacy

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For the second half of May, we’re bringing you a jam-packed episode and our first international interview! First, we are joined by Young Hoon “Hunter” Kim, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Global Research and Innovation Lab at University of North Texas, to discuss his research project: A New Phase for Clubs (Membership & Management). This research was funded by a Faculty Research Grant from The Club Foundation. Following that, Chava McKeel, Director, Government Affairs, for Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) joins us to break down National Golf Day and discuss the importance of advocacy work in the golf and club space.

Remember, you can find us on iTunes! Please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!


Time to Dream!

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Last week we made some space for dreamers to come together and dream. They came to dream out loud. They came to get support for their dreams. They came to support others with their dreams. It was Extraordinary!

One of our colleagues told us that the night before he was walking by his four-year-old daughter (she would say “almost five”) and overheard her say to her mother “I think I need to schedule some time to dream.” He walked by not wanting to intrude on their conversation. He thought he would talk to his wife about it later but just forgot about it.

He told us that he drives his daughter to school every morning. The drive is about 15 minutes long. There is a routine. His daughter watches Paw Patrol on the video screen in front of her seat on the way to school. He put her in her seat and was about to put the cartoon on when she said “Dad, you don’t have put Paw Patrol on today, I have decided to take this time today to dream.”

He told us that he didn’t question it or say anything other than OK.

About halfway through the drive he asked his daughter who she thought she might be playing with at school today. She said “Dad, I mentioned at the beginning of our drive that I was taking this time to dream and I can’t talk when I am dreaming.” He apologized for the interruption and kept his eyes on the road.

A few minutes before they arrived at school his daughter said “Dad, I am done dreaming now so we can talk if you would like to.”

After hearing the story one of the people in the group suggested that perhaps his daughter was trying to teach her Daddy a lesson. Someone else said “Perhaps she is trying to teach us all a lesson.”

How is it that a four-year-old understands that she needs to take time to dream?

When I think back to a time when I was four my memory tells me that most of my day would be dreaming. I think I did some of my best dreaming between the ages of 3 and 18. I was pretty good at it. It was fun. It was a game and when the things I dreamt came true it was exciting. I used to wonder why are all these wonderful things I was dreaming, happening to me? Doesn’t everyone do this?

Then when I was about 18 something happened. I don’t know if this is true or if I just believe it to be true but now that I was a man, I seemed to be receiving the message that it was time to grow up and stop dreaming. It was time to stop playing and to start working. I really don’t remember if I was being told this message or if I thought it must be the message I was supposed to get.

I learned to work, and I learned to work hard. Working and working hard seemed to pay off with recognition and opportunity so I doubled down and worked harder.

Then in my forties when I was questioning if it truly was working, I came to the conclusion that a four-year-old could make.

“I think I need to schedule some time to dream!”

I did take time to dream.

I realized I could dream about the future. I could dream about the present. I could dream about what I wanted to do, what I wanted to have and what I wanted to be. I could dream about things that at one time I wouldn’t dare to dream about. I could dream without knowing how or if my dream would come true. I could dream about a future when I could dream with some big dreamers!

I learned to spend less time with people who discouraged dreaming and more time with people who could have more belief in my dreams than I did when I came up with them.

I learned that if you help people make their dreams come true, they help you make your dreams come true.

Now you might not be the kind of person who thinks they can learn from a four-year-old or someone who is 60 years older than that. I hope you can learn from anyone at any age. Here are a few thoughts about dreaming from someone at this age.

  • If you don’t take time to dream, you will live someone else’s dream.
  • A dream is the beginning of a design.
  • Dreaming is fun.
  • Dreaming done well energizes.
  • Dreaming can inspire action.
  • Sometimes it is ok to take time out from Paw Patrol.
  • When you are dreaming relinquish your attachment to the how.
  • Dare to dream some things that you do not think are possible.
  • Search out dreamers to dream with.

You get to decide if it is time to dream or not!

You might think you are too busy to dream. You might think that dreaming is a waste of time. You may have some evidence that dreaming in the past has resulted in disappointment. You might believe that dreaming is for children. You might believe that dreaming doesn’t pay the bills. You might not see yourself as a dreamer.

If you believe any or all these things, you may be right.


Maybe it is Time to Dream! Maybe it is time to think differently than I have been thinking up until this point. Maybe I need to learn how to dream and how to dream well.

You don’t have to play, but you get to if you choose to.

Have fun!


Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. To reach them you can call 1-866-822-3481 toll free.

Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 54: Innovation and Ideas

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This month, we’re joined by John Csukor and David Hamilton of entegra – A CMAA Business Partner. John and David continue the discussion of trends started during the well-attended education at the 2021 World Conference in March, tackling Foodservice Trends and Innovation in the leisure industry. Then, Holly Bilotti and Tyler DeFilippo of Bay Head Yacht Club join us to talk about two of their winning Idea Fair entries from the 2021 Idea Fair - Safety Programs & Risk Management and Leadership Philosophies & Development.

You can find all of the entries from the 2021 Idea Fair online in the CMAA Connect Community. Please take some time to browse the incredible entries from a year that required true creativity and ingenuity.

Remember, you can find us on iTunes! Please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!


Finding Energy!

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Finding Energy!
It seems lately that I have been in a lot of conversations with people who have been using words like tired, drained, exhausted, running on empty, frustrated, and unmotivated. Our words are powerful! It could be that they are using those words because it describes how they feel or it could be that is how they feel because they are using those words. Human beings are pretty good at finding evidence to support their beliefs.

It used to be that when I would speak to people in seasonal clubs, they would use these words at the end of their season. I have noticed in this past year that many people have been using these words at the beginning of their season.

It is understandable because in the past year it has taken us out of our comfort zones, and we have spent a lot of time learning and adapting to the changing rules of the game versus just playing our game.

We are privileged to work with leaders, and we often say as leaders we are managers of energy. The truth is that whether we are leaders or not we are managers of energy. This is clearly a time when those who manage energy well will stand out.

It is a great time for finding energy!

Whether we are talking about energizing ourselves or energizing our teams there are three things we can focus on. They are;

Creating (Finding) Energy! Conserving Energy! Expending Energy!


Creating (Finding) Energy
Energy may just seem to happen but when you observe people like world class athletes who depend on having reserves of energy to be able to perform at their best at key moments, you can see that creating energy is quite intentional. The key for each of us is to determine the things that give us energy and make sure we employ them to give us what we need.

The more obvious things are the physical habits like getting the sleep we need, eating well and often, hydrating and moving our bodies. There are vitamins and supplements to support the health of your body and your mind. You can get clear on the things that energize you. Having a clear vision and a clear plan can energize. Listening to great music or being inspired by a speaker or a teacher can energize.

Associating with inspiring and energizing people can energize. Finding space in your day to do the things you love to do can energize. Breathing can energize. Accomplishing goals can energize. Deciding to use the thoughts, feelings and words that support you can energize. Creativity can energize. Love can energize. Doing what you are meant to do can energize. (To thine own self be true.)

It is up to you to decide what energizes you and plan to take you energy to another level to be world class at what you do.


Conserving Energy
Whether you are doing well at creating energy or not your skills at conserving energy are going to be important to your overall success. Like money if you have no constraint about spending you will end up with little energy. Most people do not put a lot of thought into how or if they can hold onto this precious resource.

There are people who may try to suck the energy out of you. They may say words that take energy. They may think their agenda is more important than anything you have on yours. They may be miserable and feel that you should share in their misery or they may want you to believe that you are the cause of their misery. Be conscious about who you let in and reconsider how you are letting them impact your life.

There are activities and habits that can suck the energy out of you. They may be activities and habits that you like, but you might consider the cost and decide if that cost is acceptable.

We are often programmed that we constantly need to be doing something. The highest performers have programmed themselves to be doing the things that support them and finding time to not do things. Some people are constantly spinning their wheels and not getting close to their destination.

In coaching we teach people to be aware of tolerations. We often tolerate things because we think that dealing with them may be painful and we may pay a higher cost than if we just tolerate them. The problem is that tolerations take energy. Whether we are tolerating little things like a squeaky door or a piece of equipment that isn’t working properly, or something big like the behaviour of someone that is sucking the energy out of our entire team, it is costing energy.


Expending Energy
Now that you have built up reserves of energy and you have made sure that it has not leaked out from its container, you get to decide what is worthy of your energy. You get to decide what is truly important to you. Your career and your life deserve your best and not your all. You can take the time to decide what you should be doing and what you should not be doing. If you are a leader you need to use a significant amount of your energy energizing the team you lead. You might consider if what they are expending energy on is supporting them and the team.

Consider what the two or three things you do that create the biggest results and schedule more time doing those things.

The two words “I am” followed by anything are powerful. They are powerful positively and negatively.

Try this: I am energized! I am excited about my day! I am rested, fueled, and ready to fly high! I am a leader of energy! I am clear on how I create, conserve and expend energy! I am a positive influence on others! I am a manager of energy!

I am finding energy everywhere I go!



Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. If you would like support with your energy plan you can call toll free 1-866-822-3481

Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 53: A Showstopper for Sure

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After a podcast-filled March, we’re back with the April edition! This month, we’re joined by Ashly Ryan, CCM, of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club and Missi Johnson of Philadelphia Country Club to talk about their Idea Fair entry – and the winner of the Showstopper Award – from the 2021 Idea Fair. Ashly and Missi dive in to the details of how Philadelphia Country Club’s Independence Day Extravaganza came together in 2020 and how the Club pulled off five unique and separate events in one night! (It’s pretty impressive.)

You can find all of the entries from the 2021 Idea Fair online in the CMAA Connect Community: connect.cmaa.org/browse/ideafair. Please take some time to browse the incredible entries from a year that required true creativity and ingenuity.

Remember, you can find us on iTunes! Please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!



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Each year for the past four years the members of my Mastermind Group and I have chosen one word as a theme for the year. In my first three years my words were Contribute, Connect, and Create. This year my word is Experience.

In 2020 a lot of the experiences that make life exciting and that we usually take for granted were not possible. I decided that in 2021 I needed to create experiences that make this year exciting and meaningful. More than anything I wanted to pay attention to the experiences I was having and truly appreciate them.

On Wednesday, March 3 I had an experience that most people will never have. It was on this day that in the early hours of the day I read my obituary.

A few years ago I watched a documentary by Carl Reiner called “If you are not in the Obituary, eat breakfast.” It was a study of people in their 90s who were thriving.

Many of you have read “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom. Morrie had a living funeral so he could hear the things that people would say about him before he was gone.

In 1998 Rose asked me what I would like for Christmas. I said “Instead of receiving a thing, I would like to receive an experience.” The experience we shared was an Irish one. We had an afternoon and evening with an Irish friend and his wife. We went to see the movie “Waking Ned Devine” and went for what we called an Irish dinner with perhaps a glass of Guinness involved. In the movie a character named Michael got to hear his best friend give his eulogy.

Now, spoiler alert, as I write this I am very much alive, maybe more alive than I was before I read what was written about me.

More than 50 years ago, I met a friend when my family moved to a new town where I entered high school. Unlike many high school friendships this one has stood the test of time. We have been part of most of each other’s landmark moments in life. Our careers have dovetailed. I got into hospitality because of him. He worked in hotels, I worked in restaurants. He moved to restaurants I moved to hotels, but within a month of each other we became Club Managers. We have always been huge fans and supporters of the other. He focuses on my gifts and I focus on his.

I have always marvelled at his creativity. Whether he is putting on an event or expressing a sentence, it is creative. He is a writer, he is an artist, he is a poet and he is a great gift that I have been given in life.

Three years ago, after a family tragedy he and his Extraordinary wife had to write an obituary. It was beautiful. It brilliantly let people know who their son was. He used his gift as a wordsmith to honor his son. As part of his journey since, he has been asked to write obituaries for people who want to honor someone important to them. He calls them celobituaries.

As part of my year focused on “Experience” I asked him if he would write one for me. I asked him not only because of his gift with words but the length of time he has known me and how well he knows me, sets him apart.

Even though I asked him to do it, even though I knew it would arrive in my inbox and even though I knew roughly when it would arrive, it was still a bit of a jolt to read about me in the past tense.

It sounded a bit like an alarm clock. I read what I read. What I heard was “wake up!”

We all have a limited number of days. John Jordan used to tell me that we all have a predetermined number of ticks in our heart and he felt that more you exercised the more ticks you used. That is why he avoided exercise. He makes me laugh. We will be talking later today.

When you have a whole bunch of something you can take those things for granted. If we think we have tens of thousands of days left it may not be a problem wasting a few. I think reading my obituary helped me to consider the value of each day.

It was fascinating that in the beautiful piece that was written about me it didn’t list the things I did. It didn’t refer to schools or teams or jobs or careers or even hobbies. It talked about who I was (am).

It listed the many familial relationships in my life. It referred to me as Grandfather and a Great Grandfather. This was particularly pleasing because I am writing this on the due date of our second grandchild (our first grandson). Since my granddaughter will be 20 months old tomorrow, if I have left Great Grandchildren, it means I have quite a bit of time.

Let me tell you what this “experience” has given me.

I realize that if my days on the planet were to end today, I have lived an Extraordinary and blessed life.

I am so grateful for the gifts I have received. I am so grateful for the experiences I have had. I am so grateful for the family I have. I am so grateful for the business partner and collaborator I have. I am so grateful for the relationships I have. I have had the habit for the past 2,734 days of writing down 10 things that I am grateful for every day. I am grateful that it is so easy to do that.

I feel energized. I am very intent on being the person that my premature obituary says I am.

I wake up with intent.

Life is to be lived. Life is series of experiences. It is canvas for creativity. It is a stage for contribution. It is an actual place for non-virtual connection. Life is a place to write a script.

Life is a place where I can celebrate my friend Jon Fisher, and we have had some Extraordinary Experiences!


Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. To reach them you can call 1-866-822-3481 toll free.

Catch Up on The Daily Grind

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During CMAA’s Virtual World Conference and Club Business Expo, the Let’s Talk Club Management Podcast transformed into a daily news show. The Daily Grind, presented in partnership with Royal Cup Coffee, brought #CMAAVirtual attendees Conference tips, Association Good News, and a Fast Five segment with different CMAA Partners throughout the week.

Daily Grind Podcast

You can listen to or watch each installment below: 

Monday, March 8: Listen | Watch

Tuesday, March 9: Listen | Watch

Wednesday, March 10: Listen | Watch

Thursday, March 11: Listen | Watch

Friday, March 12: Listen | Watch 

Remember, you can find us on iTunes! Please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!

Why the “Best in Class” Seek Coaching!

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In 2003, CMAA launched a coaching program as another way to support the development and professionalism of its members. It seemed like a cutting edge initiative in 2003 and now 19 years later I have not met any of my coaching colleagues who are doing a comparable initiative with other professional associations. In this association members can experience coaching and be educated on coaching concepts as a benefit of membership. One of the goals of the program was to help leaders in the industry develop coaching skills to enhance their leadership effectiveness. Mostly it was designed to support professionals in taking accountability for their success and helping them to teach their people to do the same.

I was asked if I could coach 7,000 people. After saying “yes” I worked on a plan to give time, education, concepts, tools, and awareness to everyone in the organization.

The truth is that 7,000 people don’t want to be coached. In any field of endeavor there are those who rise to the top. They rise to the top because they are always striving to be better. They rise to the top because they want to have a slight edge. They rise to the top because they know they don’t know it all. They rise to the top because they never act as though they have arrived at the top. They rise to the top because even if they are in a very individual game, they know they won’t get to where they want to go alone.

Over the past 19 years we have had the privilege of working with the Extraordinary of an Industry.

Whatever industry, sport or field of endeavor, here are some of the reasons that the Best in Class seek coaching.

No matter where we are on our journey in life or in leadership, we don’t know what we don’t know. The people who rise to the top seem to have a better understanding of this. The average or below average have all the awareness they need. The Best in Class strive to be aware but more importantly they strive to be self-aware. They want to understand how they operate, and they want to operate at their best. They know their coach can see from the outside what they can’t see from the inside and they want that information. They want to know how they think, how they feel, and how they act and they want to determine not if those things are right or wrong, good or bad, but how they are working for or against them. If they don’t know they have a problem they can’t fix the problem. If they don’t know they have an opportunity or a gift they may not be able to capitalize on them. They want to be aware. It takes courage and strength to be vulnerable and aware and the best seem to have both. Coaches have tools and techniques to help clients see how they might be getting in their own way or how they might unlock a competitive advantage. Often our biggest obstacles or threats come from within. Being unaware of these things can work against us and being unaware of the power of our gifts and uniqueness can also keep us from getting to where we want to go.

Action and Accountability
Knowing something leads to doing something. Many use coaches to support them in developing the plan which is an action but, they also understand that if they don’t take the first step in the journey they will not arrive at the destination. The Best in Class take action and they are often very good at holding themselves accountable to do what they need to do. The best also at times use their coach to hold them accountable if they need that support or reminder.

You can use a coach to support you in designing the future of your dreams. A coach helps people to dream, to decide and to plan. When you can truly benefit from knowing where you have been, where you are and where you want to go, then it is time to create the blue print on what you future looks like. You wouldn’t dream of building a new clubhouse without a blue print and yet most people have not developed the plan for their career and for their life. The Best in Class know that the clearer the plan the more likely it is to be successful.

For many people, the idea of reinventing themselves seems out of the question, scary or ridiculous. The Best in Class are constantly reinventing. Whether they are little “r” reinventing making tweaks or adjustments or big “R” Reinventing making changes in who they are or how they operate they have a constant desire to improve. Often reinvention is triggered by a time of transition. In life there are numerous times of transition. People experience moves from student to a career, single to married, couple to family, Illness, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, moving from married to single, moving from career to retirement or moving from life to death. The Best in Class understand that reinvention is not just desirable but essential. Coaches can support them in making reinvention quicker and more effective.

The people who strive to be their best will inevitably spend time with critics, opponents; people who can’t dream or think at the same level and it takes a lot of energy. It can take energy away from the things that truly lead to their success. Coaches help them to learn how to maximize their energy.

The Best in Class use their coaches to stay focused on the important. They may use them to identify the important. With all of the distractions that the people at the top will face this clarity on the important along with the resolve to focus on it is critical.

It can be lonely at the top. It is often true that because of the competitive nature of some careers that you have to be careful who to confide in. Coaches are often used as a place where you can have conversations or collaborate without fearing that it is not in confidence.

There are many reasons why the Best in Class gravitate toward coaching.

We feel so privileged that we get to partner with these Extraordinary individuals. Every time we do we are inspired, energized and a little bit better.


Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. To reach them you can call 1-866-822-3481 toll free.

This information is provided for informational purposes only. The contents are presented with no warranty, either expressed or implied by the Club Managers Association of America. No legal responsibility is assumed for the outcome of decisions, commitments or obligations made on the basis of this information. If your club is faced with a question concerning legal issues, you should contact the club’s legal counsel for the specific application of the law to your situation.