In Plain Sight

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What is the responsibility of an employee to their company?  Does the level of responsibility change if the employer is a daily fee, military, municipal golf course, or private club?

Several months ago, we were speaking to a General Manager at a municipal golf course.  Prior to the Pandemic, their cash flow from operations was negative $500,000.  While the Pandemic has improved operating results, they are still substantially financially underperforming.

Two significant issues causing the cash flow deficits were their use of a software product where over $100,000 in trade times were being liquidated on gross revenues of $1.8 million, and season pass holders were paying 30% of the rack rate assessed to the tourists.

When I indicated to them that their summer weather in 2023 would not be as favorable as last year, resulting in a delayed opening and likely reduced revenues this year, I was caught off guard when their response was, “Great.”

Why would they not address the known issues to improve cash flow?  Why weren’t they disappointed by the weather forecast?  Their response was insightful.  I have only a couple of years to retire.

Managing a municipal golf course is a challenge, and the interest among the stakeholders is diverse, as reflected in the graph below:

Balancing these issues is wearisome.  I am sympathetic to a golf course general manager’s responsibility to the diverse constituencies.  Perhaps the bigger issue is the challenge of bringing about change at a municipal golf course is that there are five hurdles to be surmounted in implementing change:

It is perhaps with the understanding that the political viability of changing season pass rates, which are usually revenue dilutionary programs, is why the general manager doesn’t want to resolve the issue on their watch.  Changing software systems can also be a challenge.  Their final comment was, “The next person” can do it.  I am not going to touch it.

While a person’s self-interest will nearly always take precedence over the interests of their employer, do you think this person has fulfilled their ethical responsibility to their employer?  I don’t believe so.  What do you think?

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  1.    Reply

    No, the GM should be embarrassed by that strategy. Where’s the accountability? Where’s the oversight?

    My blood was boiling after reading that article.

    The industry deserves better.

  2.    Reply

    No, they have not. I had a co-worker who would often say, “once the paycheck for the period arrives, we are square again. Time to earn my paycheck again.” It sounds like this person stopped earning their pay a long time ago and feels like the course owes them.

  3.    Reply

    I believe that GM reached the ‘peter’s principle’ on the ladder. He could not work for me and I would not have him work for me.

  4.    Reply

    This story reminds me of the unfortunate situation in business, perhaps in-part due to the Elite College MBA curriculum, where short term goals in profit and shareholder dividends, outweigh long term financial success, technology investments and employee appreciation, i.e. Southwest.

    Yes Golf Managers and their leadership are being negligent of their facility, customers and the golf community, when not committed to making sound managerial and fiscal decisions.