CMASA plot the way forward for golf in South Africa


The Club Management Association of South Africa (CMASA) facilitated an essential workshop for all stakeholders in golf to discuss key issues affecting the sustainability of clubs, retention of members and to review and commit to current and new initiatives to grow the game.

Club management in South Africa and internationally is no longer a hobby but a profession and clubs need to apply sound business principles to sustain our sector.

The event was hosted by Janyne Marais, the newly appointed General Manager of CMASA, and hosted at Bryanston CC.  Janyne and Paul Leishmann, General Manager of Bryanston CC, ensured the  workshop ran smoothly and was informative to all delegates. Over 120 delegates – from golf club CEO’s, GM’s, Golf Managers, Union representation and golf club committee members nationally, participated in this worthwhile workshop.

The event was compered by Dale Hayes and speakers topics covered the following:

Justin Cohen, a leading authority on human potential, emphasised the importance of communication between club management and members.  He felt that every member of staff is a potential sales person for improved rounds of golf and food and beverage sales at all clubs. Personal service has not died and is the single most important factor in contributing to a business’s sustainability and survival. A simple smile can do wonders, and encourage better relations between members and club management

This was followed by Brandon de Kock who gave interesting stats on the number of golfers, both active and inactive members.  The survey highlighted a potential to attract the large number of inactive golfers.  These inactive golfers do not find, for whatever reason, the game a great pull any more and it is up to management to ensure that the “package of golf”  be made more attractive to them.  The “package of golf” includes additional facilities available to the members and
their non- playing family members.

In 2002 there were 130 000 registered golfers and this figure peaked at 146 000 in 2008.  Since 2008 this figure has dropped to 132 000 registered golfers in South Africa.

Three speakers:  Christo Bokhorst, Leon Slotow and Andrew Pons – discussed legislative updates. These legislative updates on rates, liquor licences and promotion of previously disadvantaged staff will prove very difficult for the golf market.

Presently golf clubs pay sports club rates but there is talk of this being changed to either household rates or commercial property rates.  There is also talk of liquor licences being cancelled at all sporting clubs which would probably mean the
collapse of a number of golf clubs.

The workshop culminated in breakaways into round table discussion groups where topics such as the challenges of handicapping, golf as a brand, virtual golf/memberships and environmental sustainability were debated.  The next day presentations were made by the group leaders of the four discussion groups where a number of pertinent points
were digested by the club management.

The virtual golf discussion provided strong opinions on their usefulness to the golf industry by the workshop participants.

The last speaker at the workshop, the newly appointed CEO of Golf RSA Grant Hepburn, informed the delegates on the ongoing success of SAGDB where a number of previously disadvantaged players were now representing their provinces on skills ability alone.  This was followed by details on the amalgamation of the various golf bodies including men’s, women’s, senior and disabled golf.  He intimated that it would be an improvement for golf when dealing with government and international bodies
as a total South African golf package.

The workshop provided a clear indication that the golf industry has a lot to do to ensure the continued growth and  existence of golf clubs and that the professionalism of staff was key.

Golf clubs are a business and with SAGA appointing Hepburn as the CEO all indications are that this wonderful game of golf will be headed in the right direction with the correct people.

At the end of the day a business only succeeds if it satisfies, in this case, the needs of the golfer,  and to this end a lot of work must be done.  Service and communication are not words that have been thrown out the window and must be brought back with verve and enthusiasm. The old saying of  “Everyone knows my name” could not be more apt and we are looking forward to the new way forward.