Are private clubs relics of the past?

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I was reminded recently of a well-known poem that has been attributed to Robert Dedman:

A club is a haven of refuge and accord,

in a world torn by strife and discord

A club is a place where kindred spirits gather

to have fun and make friends

A club is a place of courtesy, good breeding and good manners

A club is a place for camaraderie, merriment, good will, and good cheer. It humbles the mighty, draws out the timid and casts out the sorehead

A club is one of the noblest inventions of mankind.

It would be easy to say that the feeling of the poem has been lost with time — that our society has changed.

Today we talk about how to use technology to attract, retain and engage members; Blackberries and smart phones on the course and in the clubhouse; social texting, twitter and Facebook.

We know we have to listen to members and potential members, and it seems the younger generations are too busy to play golf, too casual for a dress code, and too tapped into technology to want a refuge.

The world is without question filled with an increasing amount of commotion, strife and discord.

But perhaps that is exactly why a club should, more so than ever before, be “a haven of refuge and accord.” Perhaps the world needs private clubs more so than any time in its history.

There is no doubt that people still cherish and desire “camaraderie, merriment, good will, and good cheer.” And increasingly, our cities are becoming less friendly, and less focused on real relationships. Yet, the more time people spend connected through technology, the more they want to spend time with real people.

But not just any people. They want to share their time with people who share similar interests, backgrounds and experiences. And so, if a 35-year-old walks into a private club today and sees a bunch of “grey hairs,” he is likely to turn around, even if the ambience, décor and refuge appeals to him.

This is exactly where technology has its place — to help bring together people with common interests. A club can take advantage by using social networking to find the right people, and getting them into the club at the same time.

But once potential members are in a club, for a visit or a guest event, it is connection that they seek. We all desire real relationships —to get to know others at an intimate level, and to be accepted without being judged by the car we drive or the clothes we wear.

I personally don’t think the answer for private clubs is to become like the outside world that is filled with commotion and strife, poor manners and lack of courtesy. Instead, the answer is to be a place of refuge — a warm and welcoming refuge. A place where everyone knows your name, accepts you without judgment, and genuinely seeks camaraderie. In such a welcoming place, generations don’t matter as much, technology is secondary, and a club can truly be the noblest invention of mankind.


This artical is brilliant, thoughts that are so true and direct and will someday become to pass. History will repeat it self again, perhaps not exactly as before but a new generation to find what our fathers and grandfathers found so rewarding about being a part of a self selected private group and calling it "The Club"

So much food for thought and for its absolutely spot on.. Very articulate and agree that these " clubs" are the place we should seek refuge

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