Tulsa Country Club faced a mounting
problem. ;e 108-year-old club had only
done minor renovations years to its clubhouse and golf course over the years. Its
irrigation system alone was 40 years old.
And with a large number of private clubs
in the market, Tulsa Country Club’s future
looked bleak unless it made some signi;cant capital improvements.
But how to get members to support the
Bring in a hypnotist, perhaps?
In Tulsa’s case, an $8.5 million capital
improvement plan was deemed necessary.
“It was a big number for our size club and
it took a real leap of faith from our members,” said General Manager Jason Fiscus.
When Fiscus took over as general manager, the club had no long-term plan. With
the club’s board, he went about creating
one, which included the key — and pricey
— capital improvements. ;e next step was
to rally membership support. It took several starts and stops to reach a consensus,
which shouldn’t come as a shock since the
discussion took place during the height of
“Clubs were really struggling,” he said.
He did have momentum. ;e members
were bolstered by earlier improvements
that included a resort-style pool and outdoor patio seating at the clubhouse. ;at
cost $2.5 million.
And the club didn’t go through the
process alone. It hired Signature Group, a
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., consulting ;rm,
to help persuade membership to invest in
the improvements.“If a course has prob-
lems and it does not renovate, it will lose
its most valuable members,” said Bruce
Lucker, CEO of Signature Group.
Lucker worked closely with the club to
identify needs and funding options. ;e
key is to listen, build a consensus with the
board and then have members chime in as
well, Lucker said.
Transparency is key, Lucker noted. Focus
groups are held. Digital and print newsletters are created. If a member wants, he or
she can even have one-on-one talks to go
over the plans.
Lucker’s organization also helps clubs
cra; innovative ;nancial plans. If bank
loans are unavailable or interest rates too
high, there are other options, he said.
Members can invest in second mortgage
notes, meaning they lend the club the
money themselves. ;ese ;nancial models
are quite complex and may run 30 to 40
pages, he said.
Yes, of course, there can be pushback
from some members. A number may quit.
However, he has found that they are the
minority. Most members want to keep
In the end, the Tulsa Country Club’s
improvement plan had full board support
and an 82 percent approval rate by members.
How to get members to
support major upgrades
It can be challenging to convincing members to invest in major capital
improvements. But a transparent process, backed by data, can get everyone
on the same page. BY MIKE STETZ
at Tulsa Country
Club, seen here
at the halfway
house on the