If Umhlali Country Club’s recent accolade of being voted the 2019 Club of the Year proves anything, it’s that you don’t need to be the biggest club with the biggest budget to be able to thrive in challenging economic times.
The club, located on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, surprised some of the biggest clubs in South Africa when it received the top award from the Club Management Association of South Africa (CMASA).
It did so by excelling in a new criteria system developed for CMASA in partnership with RCA Consulting, and which is the most objective, transparent and inclusive of the collective club than ever before.
Umhlali Country Club scored an overall 96.5% in the seven criteria of Benchmarking and Finance, Training, Legal Compliance, Environment Sustainability, Transformation, Guest Experience and Member Satisfaction, and Communication and Participation.
For General Manager Derick Reinke, the award was the result of years of hard work by all concerned to ensure every area of the club is improving and enhancing the value for its members and guests.
“It’s been a process at Umhlali Country Club over the past couple of years. In the challenging economic climate, we took an approach towards increasing the experience and adding value to everybody who visits the club. We didn’t just discount our product. If people can still have an enhanced experience at your club, then they will still see value in what they’re paying.”
Reinke says the new CMASA criteria and guidelines served as the perfect checklist for him and his managerial team to ensure they were meeting the standards they want as a leading country club in South Africa.
“It’s through following that process that we were able to achieve this award. We used all of those areas as a guideline to running a proper facility, and it showed us that our members are generally very happy with how we are running the club. The big question everybody is asking us now is how do we maintain this? It’s all about the finer things and the attention to detail, listening and seeing what the needs are. That’s the only way you can move forward and have never ending improvement. You need to think outside the box and take it one step at a time, tackling each area where you can. It’s the small things that make the difference, not just the big things.”
Reinke is also confident that the South African club industry as a whole, under the leadership and guidance of CMASA, is in a very positive space.
“It’s been a tough past five years for the industry, but you can feel it changing and there is now a very positive vibe in our industry. The managers are enthusiastic about the industry through CMASA’s guidance. I’m very positive about it and I think the industry will grow from strength to strength in years to come.”