By Dave White, editor
Cover and cover story photos courtesy of Patrick Sola
Private Club Presidents of the Year major supporters
Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace | The Association of Private Club Directors
Sometimes in our lives we’re in need of an ‘angel’… a guardian angel, a financial angel, or for that matter, any kind of angel.
Sometimes, that ‘angel’ just appears…and that’s proven to be the case for the Colorado Golf Club in Parker, CO.
It’s also one of the reasons why Matt Kellogg, president of the Colorado golf Club is being recognized as one of BoardRoom magazine’s two Distinguished Club Presidents for 2016. Fred Arbuckle, president of The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, near San Diego, and president of 3 Creek Ranch Golf Club in Jackson Hole, Wyoming earlier was featured in our January/February issue.
BoardRoom magazine this year is recognizing 22 Private Club Presidents of the Year – 2016, for practicing what they preach – leadership for the betterment of their clubs – board presidents or chairs who serve as the volunteer leaders of their club.
It’s the ninth year the industry’s top private club presidents have been honored by BoardRoom magazine for their outstanding work.
“We accepted nominations and applications from many different clubs for 2016 and are honoring 22 club presidents from Canada and the U.S.,” explained BoardRoom magazine’s publisher and CEO John Fornaro.
“Our selection of the top 22, Fred Arbuckle and Matt Kellogg as our Distinguished Club Presidents, signifies another successful search for leaders who have contributed so much to their private clubs and their member experience.”
The impetus for BoardRoom’s top president recognition program comes from its sponsors, the Association of Private Club Directors, the parent organization of Boardroom magazine, and Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, one of the country’s leading private club industry consultants.
Nominations now are open until mid-November the private club industry’s top presidents for 2017, and can be submitted to BoardRoom magazine.
“This is only the second time in nine years that we’ve recognized two Distinguished Presidents for one year,” explained BoardRoom’s publisher and CEO John Fornaro. “But the achievements of both Fred Arbuckle and Matt Kellogg must be recognized. And in President Kellogg’s accomplishments highlight just how valuable one person can be in assuring the sustainability of a club. His achievements are unmatched,” he added.
“It is really gratifying that we’re able to assist BoardRoom in identifying some the top club presidents each year,” expressed Dick Kopplin, partner in Kopplin Kuebler and Wallace with Kurt Kuebler and Tom Wallace.
“And it is rare to find an individual with the enthusiasm and passion for his club as it is with Matt Kellogg. This is reflected in his leadership style, which is a collaborative effort with his fellow board members. When the membership began began the process of buying out the original developers in early 2011, Matt had just joined, and he immediately took a leadership position in the effort to put the club on a sound financial footing,” explained Kopplin.
“Matt became part of a group of 35 members who purchased the club from the previous ownership. This allowed the members to enjoy their club without the financial strain of interest payments on a bank loan. The club has seen a significant growth in membership under Matt’s guidance and additional amenities, which complement the “world class” golf course,” Kopplin added.
“Matt was the right person at the right time to lead Colorado Golf Club,” injected Jim Boots, Colorado Golf Club board members. “His work ethic is beyond compare, and he’s used it to lead through some tough challenges. The funny thing is that, because of the incredible work he’s done as president, this club will never need a president that good again. And that’s good – there aren’t many people out there like Matt Kellogg.”
Words of praise indeed.
President Kellogg authored a real act of faith that set a tone of commitment and willingness to participate in establishing a new club of, by and for the members. The new club faced a series of very real challenges, including:
• completing construction of the 44,000-square-foot clubhouse
• expanding a depleted membership roster and make up for members who left during the transition
• navigating headwinds in the local golf community – CGC had debuted with a high profile, and the club’s struggle through the recession was well documented, and
• retaining the 2013 Solheim Cup, which the LPGA had awarded to CGC in 2009.
He joined the club’s board of directors in 2012 and took chairmanship of the membership committee. Under his direction, the club introduced its “preview program,” which gave membership candidates a chance to experience the club for one year while considering whether to join as full members.
The program had risks – pricing needed to reflect the true cost of membership, and the new club’s progress needed to be swift and visible in order to achieve high conversion rates. Since its introduction, the preview program has accounted for a significant portion of the club’s new members and has returned a lifetime conversion rate of approximately 70 percent.
“Matt works with me as both a leader and collaborator,” offered Tom Ferrell, the club’s membership and marketing director. “As we worked on the preview program, he brought a business vision and an entrepreneurial spirit to the central issue: making the new club attractive to new members by removing their primary objection – concern for the future.
“As new members joined, they referred others. Matt made sure to welcome the new members and make them feel at home. The program conveyed confidence, and we worked to the back that up,” added Ferrell.
Kellogg became the second president of Colorado Golf Club in 2013, following a successful Solheim Cup that re-established the club as a top-tier championship venue that showcased the progress made under member governance.
President Kellogg signified the future in a message to the board, members and staff: Do not rest. To capitalize on membership interest, Matt lobbied for and oversaw the launch of a non-equity membership that further extended the club’s outreach to the Colorado golf community. To date, more than 200 new members have joined Colorado Golf Club during President Kellogg’s board tenure.
In 2014, Colorado Golf Club debated and ultimately decided to add another dimension to the club experience by building a spectacular resort-style pool complex. The Paintbrush Pool opened in 2015 and has attracted families and social members to the club.
Matt then led the effort to attract the club’s first national championship and, in December of 2015, the USGA awarded the 2019 US Mid-Amateur Championship to Colorado Golf Club. These milestones have all required dedicated work, but Matt and his family have remained among the most active and enthusiastic of the club’s membership. By 2016, Colorado Golf Club had erased the difficulties of the recession and was thriving.
President Kellogg, however, has always challenged the club to look ahead. With the club no longer in “restart” mode, the board made the difficult decision to effect a leadership change and begin the search for a new general manager.
He brought the same vigor and depth to the executive search process that has marked his presidency, and Colorado Golf Club welcomed Bob Kunz to the team as general manager, chief operating officer in late 2016.
“The club president plays an integral role in the selection and negotiation process of a general manager/COO search. My recent decision to relocate my family and assume a new challenge is due in large part to my interactions with President Kellogg,” offered the club’s GM Bob Kunz. “He exemplifies the critical characteristics of a president with transparency, integrity with a disciplined appreciation of the separation between governance and management.
“As I navigate my early months, it’s apparent that President Kellogg serves as a strategic thinker and an advocate to set policy with an eye on establishing culture. He dismisses personal agendas and in the event of such a conversation quickly resets the compass to strategic thinking for the betterment of the club.”
These are thoughts reiterated by fellow board member Vince Donahue.
“Matt has a passion for excellence and a commitment that is absolutely unfettered. His strategic vision for the club is sound, because he is always testing it. He and the board establish the vision, and then Matt has the knack for letting the operational professionals do their work. That is so critical. He knows when to be hands on, and when to be hands off.” Ah, a process of collaboration.
All this has set Colorado Golf Club on a great trajectory for the future. Whatever heights Colorado Golf Club achieves in that future, the club and its members will owe a major debt of gratitude to CGC’s second president, Matt Kellogg. All good reasons why Matt Kellogg is one of BoardRoom magazine’s two Distinguished Club Presidents for 2016. BR