New Years Resolution: Reinvention

by Brian Dobak
January 4, 2010

Since we have just rounded the corner of a new year, what better way than to incorporate the new year with an article revolving around....our New Years Resolutions.

As New Years Eve came and went, you can count on one thing that was and still is on everyone’s mind - their new year’s resolution. Have you ever really thought about what a new year’s resolution is? What is a resolution? It’s a solution, right? A commitment to an advantageous "solution" to something that could be a problem, habit, or an issue you perceive as something you would like to change, eliminate, or modify. The "re" represents the part where we seem to redo the process every year. For as long as the celebration of the New Year has existed, it has represented a "fresh new start" for society to regroup.

The tradition of new years resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” John Piper states, "Well, the examined life is not worth living either if the examination produces no resolutions. What examination and experience teach us is that the unplanned life settles into fruitless routine. The drifting life—the coasting, que-sera-sera, unreflective life—tends to be a wasted life." And so this can be applied to not only our lives but the golf operations we work in as well. The unexamined operation is not worth operating. Can you imagine your operation if you didn't examine it and periodically try and make it better?

On a personal and professional level, the New Year is a great time to at least make an assessment. Reevaluate where you are, how you got there, where you want to be, and how to get there. The thinking that got you where you are is not the thinking that will get you where you want to be. We should be periodically reinventing ourselves and our operations by reevaluating our personal and professional processes. We should be working off our strengths while also assessing our weaknesses and improving upon them. There is always room to improve.

From the standpoint of a golf operation, you should have a goal of periodical reinvention to stay a step ahead of the competition. In a public facility environment, your competition is competing public facilities. In a private atmosphere, your competition is the member expectations that will inevitably get higher and higher as your operation gets better and better. Among other ways, this can be done by being better personally. Being better personally means being better professionally, and vice versa.

How can you become a better-rounded person and golf professional? How can your golf operation evolve for the better? The New Year is not ALL about having resolutions, and resolutions don't have to be restricted to the New Year, although we often save them for this time. For some reason it has become difficult for society to make changes during the year because of all of the activity surrounding us, so we tend to blow off a commitment to change until the New Year. We might be able to get away with putting some personal resolutions aside, but can we afford to when it comes to our golf operations? In the current economy, the heat is on from the golf committee, members, or owners. They want you to do more with less, so you better have a plan.

In terms of a golf operation, we need to always be resolving. However resolving tends to be more effective in our down time, when we have time to sit back and reassess with a clear mind. Different parts of the country allow for different periods of down time for golf operations. The off-season in south Florida is different than the off-season in the northeast. In the northeast, their off-season is a great time for operations to resolve. Jim Smith, Director of Golf from the Philadelphia Cricket Club was kind enough to share with PIFG his "laundry" list of operational areas to address for the coming 2010 season. The spreadsheet list is long, however no matter how big or small the modification, addition, or elimination, they all serve a very positive and important purpose in enhancing the services they provide to their members so they can meet and exceed their expectations.

If your golf operation had a successful year in 2009, congratulations! But don't rest on your laurels and just try to duplicate it again this year. What made you successful in the previous year likely will not make you successful in the coming year because you have to assume that the competition is getting better and/or your members and guests expectations are growing. You improve by building upon your past successes. Having the same schedule of tournaments is okay, but change up the details of the tournaments, i.e. format, prizes, food & beverage, etc. Modify the product mix in your merchandising operation based on any trends you recognized the previous year and anticipate new industry trends so you can stay a step ahead of the memberships needs. Introduce some new teaching concepts or instruction aids to your instructional program. Modify the junior program to better improve the juniors experience at your club.

What are your personal and professional resolutions? What are your operations resolutions? The New Year is a great time to answer these questions, but don't restrict your self to answering them only once a year. Have quarterly resolutions, seasonal resolutions, and maybe even weekly resolutions. The more you can reassess yourself and your operation and do it effectively, the better you or your operation will be for it.

Happy New Year!