THE FUTURE OF COUNTRY CLUBS IN THE USA

     The mid Michigan area has two old tradition rich country clubs-- Walnut Hills in East Lansing and the Country Club of Lansing, the latter of which is now in its 101st year.  Both are struggling like many other clubs across America.  Expenses and mortage payments are up, membership is on the decline.  As my oldest son always tells me "Country Clubs are a relic from a bygone era.  My generation (he's 21) can find good places to play golf and dine without paying heavy dues.   And we can swim and play tennis almost anywhere else."  He's right of course.

     Lansing has lost at least 70 members from the end of last golf season.  The club is approximately $6.75 million in debt.  I believe the club will solve its problems but as the membership was told at a Thursday meeting, "the current business model does not work."  And it hasn't at Walnut Hills and elsewhere for the past few years either.  Walnut is now owned by six businessmen from the area who hope to cut expenses and lure members with a variety of different plans at varying costs.  Likely Lansing will have to follow suit at some point.

     I've never felt Country Clubs were prudently run.  Money is spent excessively and the answer has always been to charge the members more-- they'll pay it.  Now they apparently will not.  Private individuals get on boards and make poor business decisions but satisfy their egoes to spend more and more.  It's a broken system.  Like I say, I think both area clubs will survive but their business practices will drastically change from yesteryear-- there is no other choice for survival.

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