United States

A few minutes with a CMAA chapter president Insight from Florida Chapter President David Colclough


For David Colclough, the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) is about two value drivers: education and networking. Having assumed the role of Florida Chapter President in late September 2011, Colclough sees ensuring that club professionals realize the power these value drivers can have on their careers and ability to bring value to their clubs as his top priority.

"I attribute the success I have had in my career to hard work, great mentors and CMAA," says Colclough. He goes so far as to describe himself as a "product of CMAA" and speaks about his "passion" for the organization. "I believe in what it can do for someone's career. The tools, education and relationships made available by CMAA can have a tremendous impact. Our chapter recently completed its strategic plan and I am very excited about how it will shape our future. The plan is a blueprint which clearly defines the voice of our membership ranking these two value drivers as our top priority. However to benefit, enhance your job performance and career, participation is a must to get the full value from these exceptional opportunities. Our goals at the chapter level are centered on increasing participation through enhancing these two value drivers."

Colclough's career in hospitality and food and beverage began at the early age of 15 years old when he managed an Orange Julius. He continued to work in various restaurants throughout his college days. After earning his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, he was hired to manage a high-volume Bennigan's Restaurant across the street from his university. As he advanced through his career, Colclough has managed several restaurants, hotels and clubs. He spent a number of years with Grand Heritage Hotels. Each time this boutique-style luxury hotel chain acquired a new property, Colclough was sent to reopen or revitalize the hotel. His entry into club management began at TPC at Avenel where he was hired to facilitate the food and beverage operations of the club to include the PGA Tour's Kemper Open. Colclough has spent the last nine years as the assistant general manager of John's Island Club in Vero Beach, Florida.

"Staying attuned to club industry trends is another valuable benefit of membership with CMAA. At John's Island Club, we participate in several club surveys and studies analyzing trends in golf, tennis, fitness and food and beverage operations. Food and beverage operations are the bulk of most surveys since all clubs experience similar challenges in operational expenses, menu concepts and pricing. One trend that has altered the culture of many clubs over the past several years is the transformation from formal to casual dining. While John's Island has been impacted by this trend, we still have a high demand for customary formal dining experiences, requiring men to wear jackets in a traditional club environment."

"What clubs are seeing is the need to provide a variety of dining experiences to its members. While smaller clubs are limited to the footprint of their facility, other larger clubs can support more concepts simultaneously. One key is not to duplicate menu concepts in each restaurant." Colclough emphasizes the importance of providing desirable specialties for each dining facility with distinguishing concepts. "Specialties are what are and will continue to make successful dining experiences for clubs, but you have to get your membership and board behind the concept."

To illustrate his point, Colclough describes the five dining facilities at John's Island Club. "We have two at the beach club, two at the golf club and one at the west club. One of two restaurants at the beach club is converted four times each day. We offer a traditional breakfast complimented by a coffee and espresso bar, burgers and salads for lunch and our very popular tapas menu in the evening. After the dinner crowd, the restaurant, called Rafters, transforms into a bar which during any holiday has standing room only. About 100 feet to the south, our second restaurant, known as the Ocean Room, offers Sunday brunch and traditional lunch served seven days a week. In the evening, the Ocean Room features fresh Florida seafood, brick oven pizzas, steaks and salads. On Friday nights, which is the most popular dining theme of the club, we feature Pasta Night, where our culinary team will prepare fresh pasta dishes according to your selection of ingredients, right before your very eyes."

Among other culinary trends, Colclough references a familiar theme—the prevalence of multiple generations visiting clubs. "There is an increase of families coming to clubs today. The children of members are coming to utilize the amenities of the club. While here, they eat, and they have unique tastes. More clubs are realizing that they need to provide a menu that features meals that appeal to different generations at the same time," he says.

With that being said, there are traditional favorites and comfort foods that are always in demand and always available. "At John's Island, we have an amazing culinary team with Executive Chef, John Farnsworth, who has been with us for 17 years, and Executive Sous chef, Chris Sozio, who has been here for 15 years. Much of our success is due to this team and their creativity. It's the quality of the food and the level of service in which it is served. We are proud to offer fresh, local, organic produce for a true 'farm-to-table' experience for our members. Menus are changed daily, but when a member asks for a dish that is not offered, we accommodate them if we have it in the kitchen."

Having been in the private club industry in Florida for approximately 15 years, Colclough recognizes that the area benefits from being a "destination." This is a characteristic that has become more noticeable over the past few years, with this past holiday season being the busiest on record. "The past couple of months have been very successful for clubs in Florida. People are coming to visit families and use the club as the place to relax and enjoy the facilities. We've had exceptionally great weather this season and that really adds up to more club business. Families are enjoying the beach club and playing golf and tennis together and our outdoor evening events have been well attended. Our Beach Outfitters, a successful amenity added two years ago has been a huge draw for families. The Outfitters provide kayaks, Hobie wave sailboats, surfboards, boogie boards and fishing gear to members. No appointment necessary! These services have been the best amenity added to the Club in years."

Nonetheless, Colclough sees the area slowly becoming a bit less seasonal. "At John's Island Club, summers used to be quiet, but the last three to four years have picked up, especially in the months of May, June and July. We have always had a very popular 4th of July celebration but have added a week-long Adventure Island Camp for kids along with other Florida indigenous family activities to enhance extended vacations. The camp sells out early each year as the children and grandchildren of our members fly in for several weeks to enjoy the fun. New traditions have started as kids who were in the first camp have continued each year and now have become camp counselors. Strong family club traditions such as these are beneficial to the club and provide priceless memories for members and their families."

Colclough is excited to attend the CMAA World Conference in New Orleans next month. "The Florida chapter has been very fortunate to have great representation at the national level of CMAA. Kevin Carroll, CCM who is COO and general manager at The Loxahatchee Club is serving as the president of CMAA nationally; Rick Bayliss, CCM who is the COO at Lost Tree Club is secretary-treasurer and soon to be vice president; and Michael McCarthy, CEO and GM at Addison Reserve Country Club is on the board and is currently campaigning for a three year term. They've all been very supportive and we appreciate their dedication and contributions at the local chapter level."

Even more than the elections, Colclough is looking forward to the networking and education at the conference. "Having worked in the hotel industry for a number of years, I continue to appreciate how collaborative the club industry is. In contrast, the hotel industry is fiercely competitive by nature. CMAA connects and builds relationships between managers of clubs which allows them to share a variety of experiences, information and best practices, whether it's across the street or across the country. A club manager has easy access to other club professionals for input on virtually any issue at any time. There's a unique openness and enthusiasm in the sharing of trade information. Many fellow club managers have become close personal friends and are considered an extension of my family. We all share a common goal of succeeding at our clubs and careers and take pride in sharing our life lessons so that others may learn from them."