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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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,


September 2020: What I Have Learned Over the Past Six Months

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09.22.20 CF Run

September marks six months of society living in an extreme public health crisis. As I took a walk this morning, I mulled over what I have learned throughout the past six months. I want to share as self-reflection exercises like this give perspective:

1. I have learned how precious time is to a much greater degree, and how I value the time spent with my family and friends even more. But I also miss the open access to them.

2. I have learned I can work from anywhere (I already knew that) and for long periods of time (but I don’t like that). While CMAA staff is back in the office on a staggered basis for safety, I also miss having us all together at one time.

3. I have learned that I am grateful for my health and that I must do all that I can to protect myself (I just got my flu shot) and those around me, like family and CMAA staff. But I sure miss the occasional hug from someone I haven’t seen in a long time too! 

4. I have learned that CMAA members are resilient and creative and so giving of themselves to their club members. But I also know you are not [super]human. You are on your own emotional roller-coaster created by COVID, even if your members do not see it. Please, take care of yourselves.

5. I have learned that planning is tough in this environment – budgets, local COVID regulations, member amenities, etc., The ability to react and adjust on the fly is a necessary skill during any crisis, but specifically this one. 

6. I have learned the club management professional’s community has grown even stronger during the pandemic as sharing ideas, solutions, and concerns with each other has been a key to clubs and club professionals surviving and thriving during this unique time.

7. I have learned that CMAA National and Chapters are also resilient and creative as the entire CMAA family has rallied to find new ways to serve members, amplify CMAA community support, and provide value too!

8. I have learned that CMAA members have not only accepted, but learned to thrive in virtual events, Zoom calls, and using other online tools as a must to maintain connections with peers. But I know everyone misses being together in person.

9. I have learned that there are many ordinary heroes in our midst – like medical professionals, teachers, trash collectors, and so many more who have continued their work during all phases of the pandemic to ensure others are taken care of. We can never take any of them for granted and we should be sure to say thank you. Thank you CMAA professionals for your work to create great experiences for your members too during the past six months! 

10. I have also picked up some additional skills too, such as giving myself a haircut – I know others at CMAA National have as well! But I really prefer someone else do it for me.

In conclusion, I have learned we have a lot to be thankful for and reflecting on it regularly is a way to keep the proper frame of mind as we trudge toward a solution to this crisis! Earlier this week, we celebrated National Gratitude Day. I hope you will join me in honoring The Club Foundation with a gift of gratitude in honor of someone who has supported you in your career. Do you have a mentor, colleague, or member you want to thank? Text CFGRATEFUL to 41444 to start your donation and give the #GiftofGratitude

Thanks for your time this month and always.

Until next month, 

Jeff Morgan


August 2020: Back to School with CMAA Fall Opportunities

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CMAA BackpackIf you thrive on leading change and evolution, 2020 is the year for you! But change in conditions where the ground is constantly shifting can be exhausting. Our world has been changing since March, so you a have right to be a bit tired. Regardless, what I have seen over the past five months is that CMAA members have been putting aside their own weariness and rising to the occasion day after day to ensure their members are having the best possible club experience. 

The CMAA staff has been focused on the same – ensuring you have an exceptional and engaging member experience – despite the storm around us. As we head toward the fall, I want to share a few things happening at your Association and I invite you to participate because CMAA needs your support more than ever. 

 The 2021 national membership renewals were sent out in early August, with the new CMAA year beginning November 1, 2020. Just like at your clubs, dues are the lifeblood of CMAA. I want to thank you for your continued membership commitment. Please note, your timely renewal is especially critical this year as other sources of CMAA revenue – both at the National and Chapter levels – have been impacted by COVID-19.

• This past spring, we had to cancel many of the Business Management Institute (BMI) programs as we were just entering the COVID-19 public health crisis. Unfortunately, we’ve had to pivot again and make the difficult decision to cancel some fall BMIs due to safety concerns; CMAA’s core BMI programs will still go on, but via a virtual format. In the spirit of making lemonade with lemons, we have been able to re-open the registration for these programs where applicable, and add space for a limited number of extra attendees. This is a rare opportunity to continue (or start) your CMAA certification journey with the same commitment to participate and network, minus the travel. Take advantage of these opportunities! 

• Even more professional development opportunities are right around the corner. Please consider enrolling and participating in a Summit and/or Conference in the coming months. These now virtual programs/events provide top-notch education and learning without any travel required. They include:

The sold-out Membership & Marketing Summit – August 25 
• Leadership/Legislative Conference (LLC) – September 9-10 

• Communications Summit – September 22-23

• Mid-Management Conference (MMC) – October 19-20

• The Club Foundation (CF) is a critical component to the CMAA family with members helping members by funding scholarships, supporting students, and other worthy industry causes. There have been other priorities over the last several months, so while CF has continued its important work on your behalf, there hasn’t been a lot of active fundraising efforts. However, with a new CF strategic plan in place and designs to help the profession and the industry, raising funds will be ramping up. As fundraising begins again, I respectfully ask that you do two things this year: first consider making a CF contribution when paying your CMAA membership renewal; and second consider reaching into your pocket and making a donation to one of the upcoming campaigns. My wife Susie and I earmark dollars annually for giving and The Club Foundation is always included. In my mind, it is rewarding to give to an organization that has such a powerful industry and personal impact and focus. 

Thanks in advance for your support of and assistance with each of these items. These are unique times and CMAA is your professional home. The Board, CMAA staff, and I want to continue to ensure we are doing all we can to support you.

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan


July Blog - An Important Organizational Journey

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The terms —racism, glass ceiling, white privilege, title nine, black lives matter, unconscious bias, inequality, and equal opportunity — all evoke emotions and opinions for each of us. Likely they are different for each of us too. I must admit my own perspective is evolving as the current conversations around the nation have caused me to pause and reflect. I have spent the past several weeks trying to learn more to better equip myself as a person in society who wants to do better. As your CEO, I have also been trying to better understand these terms and their meanings from various points of view so I can be equipped as CMAA prepares to do more. We cannot navigate these issues, emotions, and feelings by ignoring them. I have grown from this learning process but will continue that journey. 

CMAA is on this journey too and has taken an important step forward as an organization. I am proud of the CMAA Board’s action to establish an executive ad hoc committee, the Diversity & Equity in Leadership Task Force. CMAA is committed to equity and an ongoing dialogue across cultural lines as a strategy for excellence in serving our members, for addressing the needs of an increasingly diverse society, and as a mechanism for equipping current and future CMAA leaders. This Task Force will leverage our pillars of professionalism, education, leadership, and community with a goal to ensure that CMAA welcomes and encourages participation and advancement for all club professionals.

My sincere thanks for the leadership of Board members Janine Budzius, CCM, CCE, and Richard LaRocca, CCM, CCE, who will co-chair this Task Force. I also want to thank the following CMAA members and staff for agreeing to serve on and help with this important undertaking:  

Oliver Boudin, CCM, CCE   Jim Moody, CCM, CCE
Nadia Dunrod   Ana Muniz-Trboljevac
Carrie Eyler    Kim Pasquale
Passion Graham   Randy Ruder, CCM, CCE
Michael Henley, CCM   Preston Smith
Joe Krenn, CCM, CCE   Brian Watkins
Kristen LaCount, CCM    

I accept my responsibility that I must learn more, and act more. CMAA has also accepted its organizational responsibility to be a positive catalyst for all in the club industry. Education and mentoring are at the core of our purpose – to develop people so they can be their best. I would ask you to do the same going forward by taking advantage of this time and opportunity to learn and act in a positive way for your club and the club management profession. 

Thank you and until next month,

Jeff Morgan