This blog features updates from CMAA’s CEO, Jeffrey D. Morgan, FASAE, CAE, for the CMAA membership. It will keep you up to date on the latest CMAA news and club industry developments.

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April 2021: The Impact of COVID-19 on Club Governance

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04.20.21 BOD

Hello CMAA! In a past life, I was involved in corporate governance of NYSE and NASDAQ listed companies. I still get a steady stream of corporate governance focused emails and articles in my inbox regularly. One that recently stood out was the Director Institutes 2020-2021 survey. As we continue to exit the pandemic, governance is key for our clubs and I think the findings of this corporate governance report may help you reflect on your own club governance. Here are the key findings:

1. More than 72 percent of public companies believe Boards and operations teams managed effectively through the pandemic and their organizations adapted to whatever was thrown at them. How do you think clubs would fare on this question if your Board were asked? From my perspective, clubs might exceed the 72 percent mark. We can stand tall with other businesses in the community for our crisis management abilities during the pandemic.

2. Due to the pandemic, the focus on risk by Boards will increase. Twenty-six percent indicated a need to improve their crisis management planning as well. The last two decades has illustrated the principles of VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex & ambiguous) with economic downturns, new government influence, extreme weather, cyber threats, and safety concerns. Many clubs likely need to take this same view and ensure the club can react quickly and effectively in crisis with the Board discussing what should be done to mitigate risk now.

3. Virtual board and committee meetings are likely going to be incorporated into corporate governance going forward. They are a useful tool to enhance board engagement. But virtual meetings have their limits as noted in the next finding.

4. Virtual board meetings worked during the pandemic, but few corporate directors view them as effective as in-person meetings due to the lack of community building, casual idea sharing, and strategic side conversations. I suspect clubs may consider incorporating a virtual component into their own governance structure going forward. If so, club managers should try to find other ways to compensate for some of the downsides of not having in-person meetings.

5. Seventy percent of corporate board members indicated they spent more time in their corporate board role during the pandemic than in past years. Most report their time commitment increased by almost 50 percent this past year, but the time was manageable. I am not sure if this trend carried into club governance, but it is certainly something to be mindful of as we exit the pandemic. Did your club board members spend more time in their service role during the pandemic? Will service levels return to former practices after the pandemic? If not, will it impact the recruitment process for Board and committee members, as well as their board service satisfaction?

If you read the report, only 14 percent of corporate responses indicated they had included a global pandemic in their organizational planning. I suspect clubs would be much less than 14 percent and kudos to any club that had the forethought to ponder “what if there was a pandemic?” While I hope we will not see another global pandemic in our lifetime, it is just a matter of time before each of us has some type of minor or major club crisis. In a VUCA world, leadership and management requires you to be ready and nimble. 

Have a great month and let us hope we all have some calm in our foreseeable future.


March 2021: Our Favorite Event, Easter Eggs, & the Little Things

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 Jeff with Shades

For the CMAA HQ team and me, our favorite National event by far is the World Conference. It is our chance to see so many of you in one place over the span of several days. Ok, I used the wrong word – see. While it was good to get to see so many of you last week virtually in one place, what I missed most was the chance to be with you in person and give a handshake, a hug, and share a moment or two! We cannot wait for next year in San Diego, CA, when we are together in person. I know you feel that way too. Still, I am proud of our virtual Conference this year.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to our speakers, our volunteers, our partners and exhibitors, and the National Board for all their contributions to the 2021 World Conference and Club Business Expo. I am also thankful for the technology that did not exist five years ago to create such a multi-faceted event. It is people that make any conference come alive. So most importantly, I am thankful to each of you who attended. Attendance exceeded our in-person 2020 World Conference numbers and I sincerely appreciate all the faith you had in us to create something complementary to a normal World Conference virtually. Thanks for stepping into the unknown with us.

For the CMAA HQ team, we experienced the excitement of creating something brand new using a traditional roadmap of our in-person experience. But we also had the opportunity to add some “easter eggs” or surprises that you had to look for, which could not be done at an in-person event. Did you see them? …the celebrity drop-ins? …the networking event fun? …live musical artists for just chilling? …the staff sunglasses handoff? …Mark Bado dressed as a pirate? It was a lot of fun to do these things, as well as nerve racking for the CMAA team. We were providing conference via an online medium that required everyone at CMAA to learn and perfect new skills. I am so proud of the professionals at CMAA Headquarters for all their hard work, creative abilities, and willingness to do whatever was necessary to provide a great experience for you last week! Thank you Team CMAA!

Congratulations to Brian Kroh, CCM, on becoming CMAA’s National Chairman, and thank you to Mark Bado, MCM, CCE, for your service as CMAA’s National Chairman this past year. What a year Mark and all of us had! Speaking of last year – congrats to the entire CMAA membership for being named the “Club Executive of the Year.” While no one gets a trophy, everyone can take pride in a job well done throughout the pandemic.

World Conference also signifies a change in committee appointments. On behalf of CMAA, thank you to all those many volunteers who served on National committees and in other capacities this past year. And welcome to all those returning and new CMAA National Committee members for this coming year! 

A few more things to share as we turn the page to a new CMAA leadership year:

CMAA’s Annual Report and annual audit are online

• My State of the Association address will be available in the coming weeks via our YouTube Channel

• The Idea Fair was completely online this year and is available here

CMAA’s Pro Shop is open and available online through April 4

As I close this month, I am reminded of something the writer and author Robert Brault said, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” I am not sure if last week’s event will be one of those big things you remember for years to come, but we sincerely hope it left you with a lot of little things from education to camaraderie that will get you through the next few months as we continue to exit the pandemic.

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan


February 2021 - Groundhog Day – Was That Today?

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February 2nd was Groundhog Day – another six weeks of winter! But this year the pandemic makes some of us feel like we are living just like Bill Murray in the movie “Groundhog Day” with a repeat of life from day-to-day as we get through this current chapter of the pandemic. Please know, I am generally an upbeat person with my sights focused on upcoming opportunity around every corner. It is one of the ways I am driven. However, there are some days I wake up feeling tired, irritable, stressed that today is more of the same – Groundhog Day. Then I remember we have a vaccine (several, in fact) and this pandemic should be over in the next few months. 

So why do I feel this way, kind of burned out and feeling guilty about feeling this way too? What’s my issue? Does this go beyond winter blues or just having a bad day? It did not take much to research to realize this is not something that I am going through alone. Many of us are struggling with the same feelings and emotions and that is why I am sharing this. 

When the crisis of the pandemic hit, the adrenaline kicked in and there was no stopping any of us. Clubs and CMAA kicked butt. Frankly, we are all still kicking butt for our members! But we cannot keep that adrenaline on high for an extended period and so then comes the period of letdown. We are still in this crisis, but our own and our team’s resolve is being tested as our lives become a blur. Pandemic fatigue is real, and you might have it. If you have it or think others on your team do, there are ways to fix it. It worked for me and I hope the following will help you avoid it or get rid of it too.

Smarter people than I share that: understanding your situation is key, having compassion is another component for success, and finding a path forward for yourself and your team in this situation is vital. Mental health is not something we often focus on. Many of us were taught to be strong, keep it to ourselves, and tough it out. But we all know our mental and physical wellbeing make us whole. So, I feel it is important to bring it up and share a few articles that might help you personally, and as a club leader find of value, as we deal with our present situation:

How to Lead When Your Team is Exhausted and You Are, Too

Navigating Pandemic Fatigue as a Working Parent 

Six Ways to Combat Pandemic Compassion Fatigue

Feeling Exhausted? You May Have ‘Change Fatigue’

Speaking of mental health, are you registered to attend virtual World Conference? It is a great way to recharge, (virtually) be with peers, and give yourself a chance to get away from the day-to-day grind and learn. If you are attending, please consider where you will be joining Conference from. Try to find a place away from regular interruptions; a place where it is quiet and you can focus; and a place where you can participate, learn, and recharge! See you on March 8!

Until then, 

Jeff Morgan


January 2021: Outlining Our 2021 Agenda

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 01.19.21 CMAA HQ

Happy New Year! 2021 has set high expectations for a year with promise. After enduring all that was 2020, 2021 must be a better year. I am hopeful it will be outstanding! COVID vaccine distribution is certainly a strong indicator for a positive year. While no one can predict what is in store, I do have good insight into what will happen at CMAA this coming year. So, let me share what is on our CMAA action list from our Strategic Plan:

1. Top of mind for our CMAA Board and Staff is the active management of the CMAA National organization through the remainder of the COVID pandemic. Financially we stayed in the black in 2020, but with World Conference moving to a virtual platform, we expect 2021 to be a bit more of a challenging financial year for us, so careful oversight will be key. 

2. CMAA National staff and select managing directors have been working with a company to develop an integrated CMAA membership application for both Chapters and National. Everyone wants a more straightforward process for prospective members to join the organization. This two-year project will reach completion in 2021.

3. We have been on a multi-year journey to overhaul CMAA.org. This process began with upgrading internal systems; a new association management software system; a review of all the information buried in the current website; and development of a taxonomy for the future. We will now issue an RFP in the spring focusing on launching a new CMAA website by the end of the year. 

4. CMAA’s Diversity & Equity in Leadership Task Force was established in 2020 and 2021 efforts will include collecting diversity data, implementing opportunities for more inclusive professional interest, and increasing DEI awareness in the club management profession and governance.

5. Students continue to be an important focus for CMAA, and the pandemic was one more hurdle to overcome for students to know about – and increase their interest in – clubs. We will continue to leverage the tools on hand for more impactful connections between students and club managers, especially in the area of internship experiences. CMAA will also work toward a better awareness/understanding of clubs and club management by faculty.

6. The pandemic exposed us all to more online learning opportunities. In 2021, we will return to in-person learning, but continue to evaluate and implement more active learning methodologies for national events. 

7. A new Strategic Plan for The Club Foundation was just approved. Our goal for 2021 will be to ensure the implementation of the Plan moves forward with purpose and pace.

8. CMAA continued our one-to-two-day Summits virtually in 2020. We will conduct and expand our Summit offerings in 2021 with in-person and virtual formats.

9. With more focus on club governance in 2021, we will continue to grow resources and education in this area. 

10. Other areas we plan to focus on in 2021 include: offering more in career services; initiating a review of learning management systems (LMS); studying alternative dues models; continuing to grow sponsorship opportunities; and conducting an analysis on HQ building ownership in advance of considering a new mortgage in 2022.

This is a weighty list of goals for 2021, but our partnership of Board, staff, and volunteers working together will ensure we are successful. I truly believe 2021 will put the wind at our back with positivity and success being plentiful for all of us this coming year.

Until next month,



December 2020: What a Year!

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The saying goes hindsight is 20/20. In hindsight, things are obvious that were not so understandable from the outset. We can evaluate past choices more clearly than at the time of the choice. While this use of “2020” has its roots in vision (20/20 is perfect eyesight), the year 2020 will be scrutinized for decades with a critical eye of learning and understanding about what worked and what did not during this unprecedented period in our world history.

First, let us pause and just celebrate that we have made it through 2020! Woot! Congratulations for all that you have accomplished in 2020 – this has been one of the most challenging and extraordinary years in our lifetime. Remember, we made it through this:

• The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic was declared on March 11, 2020.

• COVID-19 pandemic has set records for number of infections and deaths globally. So many of us knew people who were infected or sadly lost to the virus.

• In 2020, we endured with social distancing, sheltering-at-home, diligent handwashing, and mask wearing.

• We adjusted to schools being closed with online only learning for many, and no graduations, no sports, and no proms for our friends and family.

• Businesses were closed at times and the number of people allowed inside those open businesses was limited. Many businesses closed permanently, unable to make it through the year. 

• At its worst, unemployment exceeded 14 percent nationally and this touched each of us as we saw friends, co-workers, and employees affected.

• People hoarded disinfectant, toilet paper, and food, while distilleries switched from making liquor to hand sanitizer. 

• Zoom and other online communications grew in popularity as large in-person gatherings were suspended.

• Governments closed borders to travelers.

• Convention centers closed and hotels halted conferences and many housed COVID patients. Clubs lost wedding and event revenue.

• The federal government provided $2+ trillion in aid, but the country needed more.

• Medical and other essential workers were the heroes of 2020. 

• The Olympics were cancelled, and golf majors were not completed until November. 

• We survived the most active Atlantic Hurricane season on record at 29 named storms.

• California and Colorado had their worst wildfire season in state history burning millions of acres.

• The US endured its worst economic quarterly contraction at more than 30 percent in early 2020.

• The US elections became a national focal point and ultimately had the highest voter turnout in American history as everyone believed their vote mattered.

• Social unrest focused attention on diversity, equity, and inclusion for all.

Hitting closer to home, it was a year to remember as clubs largely were one of the brighter spots in the wake of carnage for the hospitality industry. I do want to recognize that many clubs, particularly city clubs, have been extremely challenged this past year, but en masse, clubs fared much better than most other hospitality establishments. Regardless, it was a tough year for everyone, as club professionals reacted to a sea of continuous change to survive and often thrive by creating new and exceptional experiences for members in ways unimaginable a year ago. It was a year where club management professionals stepped away from budgets and formal business plans, and actively managed using art and science – combining all their business skills and creative acumen – to ensure clubs survived. Clubs provided strong member ROI, and clubs largely grew in member stature and value. It was a year where clubs became an even more critical local asset as they reached out to help their local communities weather COVID.

It was also a year where associations and the industry came together to support the shift created by COVID and ensure golf and other outdoor activities were deemed necessary for the well-being of all. It was a year when CMAA launched an important effort to focus on diversity and equity in club management. And it was a year where club members discovered that their club extends beyond facility property lines and is truly a vital community that is more significant than they ever realized. 

While this year had many low points, in general clubs and club professionals can mark this year by so many extraordinary innovations! As we close out 2020, kudos to each of you and to the club management profession – you are indeed #CMAAStrong. Now onward to 2021 and let’s start it with the CMAA Virtual World Conference from everywhere!

Happy Holidays!



November 2020: Preparing for a Once-In-A-Lifetime World Conference

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 11.16.20 Social Distancing

Hello CMAA! Last month I shared that an announcement about World Conference in Tampa in 2021 was coming very soon. I am hopeful by now you have read that announcement and know we will be having a virtual World Conference in March. Like many of you, I am disappointed. The entire CMAA team feels the same, as we truly look forward to planning the event and spending a week with you. But such is the world in a pandemic. Before I “pivot” to next year, I want to share some of the backstory on the decision:

1. We looked at various options for an in-person event from a full in-person conference, to a modified attendance conference, to a hybrid live/virtual event. Ultimately one of the big limiting factors was requirements in the Tampa Convention Center. Requirements mandate six feet of social distancing, including chair placement for general and education sessions. It creates a situation where about 500 to 700 people would be allowed to meet room capacity for the general session (typically we set the room for 2,200-plus seats). That does not work for our purposes and the inability to sit next to others would not be very CMAA-like either. 

2. As equally critical to the decision was the input from members through our recent survey that they were unsure of the optics of leaving their club in a pandemic. If their state pandemic regulations required quarantine, it would also eliminate their attendance. Finally, many felt it was not good fiscal management to spend several thousand in club dollars for a week away from the club.

3. These member and facility factors really left the CMAA Board and staff with the only decision of moving to a 100 percent virtual event.

Despite my disappointment, I am very excited for possibilities of conference virtually from everywhere. It is a chance for us to do most of the tried and true pieces you expect, while trying some new things. It is a chance for everyone in CMAA to attend World Conference. For those of you who have never attended previously, it presents a wonderful opportunity to make 2021 your first World Conference! 

I can hear the groans in National Headquarters from some that you are tired of being online. Me too! But my desire and need to be with people, even virtually, is the best we have. So, I will make the most of it and hope you will too. The CMAA National team is committed to doing everything we can to ensure this an awesome experience. 

More details about 2021 World Conference and Club Business Expo are forthcoming. However, a few highlights include a week of great general session speakers, multiple breakout education sessions, peer networking, exhibitors, Wine Society events, The Club Foundation integration, Idea Fair, Run for FUNDs, and much more! CMAA is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars for this event, just as we would for an in-person World Conference. 

We have listened to your requests to move this virtually; we have also heard you loud and clear that you want this to be a must-attend event. So, I will ask you to register and support this conference when registration opens in early December. It will be different format but it will still be an excellent program and an important source of funds to effectively operate our Association. Registration will be individual, just like any other CMAA event. CMAA education credits will be tracked and awarded as if we’re in person, enabling members to continue their certification journey. Thank you in advance for your support and for sharing in our excitement about World Conference from EVERYWHERE!

As we approach Thanksgiving, please note our Club Foundation “Giving Tuesday” campaign is underway in conjunction with the national “Giving Tuesday” campaigns for non-profits. If you are thinking of giving to a non-profit this month, please consider The Club Foundation in your plans. 

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan


October 2020: Planning for What’s on the Horizon

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 10.23.20 Archery

Fall is upon us and my thoughts are about what the next six months will bring – from politics to flu season to COVID vaccines. We have a lot on our minds as we plan for the next six months. How great would it be to look into the future with a crystal ball? Since we don’t have one, we continue to watch and learn from you as you manage your clubs to the best of your abilities. It has been an amazing vantage point to see how you’re dealing with what is known, and planning for many more twists and turns over the next few months. We are here for you with guidance and resources and community. The CMAA staff team is also planning for what’s on the horizon… 

At this point, CMAA is midway through running our Business Management Institutes (BMI) virtually for the fall. They are functional and those attending acquire the education without the travel. These BMIs require extra focus by participants and staff, as there are a lot of moving parts. For many of us, we realize how much we long to be back in person as this component of the BMI is missing. The Leadership/Legislative Conference and the Mid-Management Conference, as well as several Summits, occurred virtually this fall too. These too were very successful for virtual events, but once again we noted how much we all missed being together and learning from one another in person, onsite.

I am glad to see there is a bit of a CMAA thaw happening in some parts of the country regarding in-person CMAA programs. I have seen several announcements of in-person Chapter events. Just like your club, the key is implementing safe practices for all involved. In August, a few of the staff team and I got to participate in the National Capital Chapter’s golf tournament. It was great to see people; all of us dealt with the awkward elbow pumps and virtual handshakes and greetings. 

After a six-month COVID break, I took my first flight at the end of September to visit with members of the Greater Michigan Chapter. I must admit I was anxious about the travel experience and wondered how different and how safe I would feel. I’m happy to report that I was completely comfortable with flying and staying in a hotel. The hotels and airlines have done an amazing job of creating an experience where all can feel safe and comfortable. Frankly, the only time when I felt a bit uneasy was with the rental car experience, until I did my own wipe down of the car’s interior! The Chapter visit itself as well as hearing about what’s going on in clubs in Michigan was invaluable. Nothing beats that in-person connection, camaraderie, and sharing.

10.23.20 Plank

This past week, I took some newer CMAA staff to see a couple of the DC city clubs and a local country club. Their COVID operations were impressive! In addition, those CMAA staff who were interested and COVID comfortable, partook in a staff field day at the CMAA member-managed club Bretton Woods in Maryland. The team at Bretton Woods led us in various socially distant team building exercises. It was a nice break, gave everyone a glimpse inside the COVID workings of a club, and allowed us all to feel almost normal. 

As we move forward into the next six months, I am hopeful this COVID environment will lend itself to allowing for more in-person CMAA events. Many of you recently answered a survey on your thoughts about the 2021 World Conference and Club Business Expo. Thank you for your important feedback. As you can relate from planning events at your facilities, there are a lot of scenarios to evaluate and consider. I am hopeful we can share news on World Conference plans in the next few weeks.

Until next month,