I’ve been a member of Richmond Country Club in Richmond, British Columbia since 2005. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of walking the course with many friends and fellow members. In a four-hour round, you get to know a lot about someone, anywhere from their family and friends, to their business ventures, right down to how they hover over their putt before yanking it to the left. You learn who you enjoy golfing with…..or more importantly, who you spend your leisure time with. Some like to gamble, some like to talk and smoke cigars, some like to improve their lie. The beauty of golf is that you make it what you want because there isn’t one way to do it.
Having walked the fairways of RCC for over 10 years, I can’t say I know every member at RCC nor can I say what each member does for a living. Considering the size of this community, I think that’s a bit of a miss. Sure the club tries to encourage camaraderie through a variety of social events, men’s nights, and various tournaments throughout the season, the reality is that we all stick to our usual groups. I know everything there is to know about my group of friends and we value and trust each other’s opinions and knowledge. It would be nice, however to know more about the entire member base.
Recently my wife and I bought a fixer-upper house. There were several service providers we required in order to complete this transaction and the ensuing renovations. The following are some of the service providers we had to find; Realtor, Mortgage Broker, Lawyer, Home Inspector, Home Insurance Provider, Tile Guy, Shower Door Guy, Plumber, Electrician, and a Painter.
While we had some of these providers within our immediate network we had to go through a variety of methods (friends of friends, referrals, Google, Craigslist, etc) to track down the remaining providers. While we ultimately accomplished our purchase and renovation goals through our smorgasbord of providers we likely would have been much more efficient going through a trusted network in which we already belong to. Such as our country club.
I think it’s safe to say that just about every industry is represented amongst the 500+ members at any country club. These members are likely very good at what they do and well respected in their industry. So we probably could have found every service provider we needed just by looking through the member directory of our club. Unfortunately our member directory only lists personal contact information (home phone only) with no mention of professional affiliation.
How could such a tightly knit community be so disconnected? This is when I started thinking of a way to bridge this gap. Adding professional contact information to the member directory would be helpful, however it wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem. Something like LinkedIn with eBay power rankings would be ideal. A profile explaining each member’s product and/or service offering with reviews from other members. Now that would be something!
The framework for the concept was now coming together.
The next component came to me when I was in the process of looking for Canucks tickets. I’m certain most members have tickets or have access to tickets however I didn’t know who to reach out to. I sent an email to my group of friends, but I couldn’t find anything. I instead had to turn to Craigslist and buy tickets from a stranger. What if there was a place for members to post their tickets they have for sale? No strangers involved. You might even trade the tickets to a fellow member for a 56 degree wedge. Who knows. The point is that this would eliminate the uncertainty of dealing with strangers on Craig’s List, Stub Hub, Ebay, or Kijiji.
The last component actually came to me about a year after I joined RCC when I wanted to play a reciprocal course of ours just outside of Portland, Oregon – Tualitin Country Club. I first had to put in a ballot weeks in advance and then I had to follow up with my then head pro to see if my request had been granted. It turns out I was denied because reciprocal play was only permitted weekday afternoons and we were looking to play on a Saturday. The entire reciprocal process is challenging to say the least, actually I haven’t even put in another request since. If I want to play another private course, I play as a member’s guest and pay the guest green fee. I have friends at several private clubs in the area and on the West Coast. It’s simple to organize a round with a friend at their course. No advanced notice. No ballots.
What if ‘willing to play with guests’ was listed under a member’s profile? I guess this would be similar to ‘relationship status’ on Facebook. So if I wanted to play Tualitin I could simply click through the member directory to find a member willing to golf with guests. The idea was now ready and Country Club X was born.
I hope you find Country Club X as useful as I do.