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"If I Knew Then What I Know Now...": Advice from Club Managers to the Next Generation

One of the coolest things we saw at the CMAA World Conference in Orlando this year was the tremendous amount of student groups that were present and engaged on the expo floor and during training sessions. It's always exciting to see the quality and talent of the next generation of club leaders, and this year was no exception.

It got me thinking: while I am privileged to learn from RCS president Whitney Reid Pennell's immense knowledge and experience at close hand, I wondered what advice other managers might give to newcomers in the industry. So I asked!

If you could go back in time to your very first day as a manager, what would you tell yourself?

Here's what I heard on my LinkedIn page, and Whitney was kind enough to share it on hers as well:


"Everyone can make a valuable contribution. Do they feel inspired to?"

Bill O'Brien, Troon Golf

Motivation is the key to everything. You can hire the most top-tier individuals, but if they aren't personally motivated you'll never get the best that they can give.


"I would tell're going to experience a lot of different styles of leadership. Remember which ones you like, which you didn't like and as you grow don't adopt the leadership characteristics you didn't like!"

Marc Moulinet, Dallas Country Club

Marc's words resonated with me because this is a particular concern to those who are new to the workforce in general, regardless of the industry. It can be a painful part of the growing process as you find out, usually through trial-and-error, about the various leadership styles and how you as an individual interact with each. However as frustrating as it can be to find yourself at fundamental odds with a superior, finding the type of leadership style that you "click" with will take you to places you never knew you could go.


"Make it a point, sooner than later, to emphasize the empowerment that each person [has] at all levels; remind them about the authority they hold and expect them to practice it regularly."

Maria McGinity, CCM, Royal Oaks Country Club


"I am not a club manager but I would offer up that the successful managers have a solid understanding of the power of creating family engagement. The better they can tap into kids being involved with junior golf and other ... (sic) Has a direct positive impact on all key metrics - retention, member lifetime value and acquisition of new members."

Jason Black, Junior.Golf

Jason's observations are spot on, and very much in line with the club trends we're seeing. Members are pushing for more family-oriented spaces and youth activities so that the Club can be a better fit for today's busy lifestyles.


"Be a leader not a manger. Then lead by example!!! Be willing to wash carts, fill divots or take inventory. Every job matters but it can't be accomplished without a team. I call myself Head Organizer not manager."

Laura Reed, The Alsatian Resort & Golf Club


"I wouldn't change a thing. Every day is different no boredom in this business. 👍"

Rick Convertini, Tijeras Creek Golf Club


"I'd tell my 'newbie' self to start reading books on leadership--and to never stop that habit. I knew absolutely nothing about team building when I accepted my first job. Learning and leading go hand in hand, which is why my current leadership team reads/discusses/grows together now."

Steven Backman, CCM, CCE, CAM, Colonial Country Club

At my request, Steve also provided some of his favorite leadership books that he would recommend to new managers:

"Our team just finished a read/review/implementation of ideas from Patrick Lencioni's 'The Three Signs of a Miserable Job'. I'd also recommend Angela Duckworth's 'Grit', and for foundational concepts, Steven Covey's '7 Habits of Highly Effective Leaders'."


It was a lot of fun to hear from managers across the country, and this is just a sampling of the many responses we received. Thank you to everyone who participated in sharing your wisdom and insight!

If you'd like to chime in, Tweet at us @ConsultingRCS. We'd love to hear your thoughts, and are looking forward to hosting more community-sourced articles like this in the future, so stay tuned!


The RCS Hospitality Group, creators of RCS Food & Beverage Boot Camp™, specialize in operations consulting, strategic planning, food and beverage management, and training programs for private clubs, fine dining restaurants, and high-end hotels and resorts around the world. For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCSHG website at

#clubmanagement #credo #advice #leadership #tips #CMAAeducation

Whitney Reid Pennell
 Founder & President

Whitney Reid Pennell is the founder and president of the award-winning RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services). She is a published author and widely praised seminar leader, with over 20 years of club operations management and consulting experience. 

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