Consultant Draws Club Managers' Ire

August 09, 2009

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know this is a complicated, challenging time in the world of country clubs. David Shaw is either a guy trying to help clubs sort through those challenges -- or prey upon them. His story is told in this article in Sunday's New York Times.

According to the article, Shaw, 47, started his career in the hospitality business at 14, earned his college degreen in hotel management, and became the general manager of a Poughkeepsie, N.Y., country club while still in his 20s. By 2004, he was earning $250,000 annualy as the general manager of Engineers CC on Long Island. But he wanted to start his own business, offering his services to country clubs in order to help them grow membership, save money and operate more efficiently.

As the article says, Shaw "[vowed] to be an impartial consultant between the two forces that control country clubs: the board -- member-volunteers who oversee the clubs -- and the general managers, the paid staff members that run the clubs."

What happened next? Predictably, there was an uproar among the New York community of country club general managers -- whose organization is the Metropolitan Club Managers Association -- who resented (or felt threatened by) Shaw's company, Country Club Advisor. Shaw claims that MCMA members told him to quit soliciting their clubs, and in some cases destroyed CCA correspondence rather than forward it to club management.

As one general manager of a New York club said in an e-mail about Shaw, "If he wants to save clubs money, let him go to any of the other 49 states and see how they like it."

Shaw has now filed a lawsuit against the MCMA seeking financial damages, claiming it blackballed his business. The MCMA declined comment but, in a letter to its membership, denied the allegations and said it would fight the suit in court.

-- G.R.