Daniel Asis CCM was born in Madrid and has a long history working in the Spanish golf industry. He started his career in golf journalism, moving on to work in 4 different golf clubs and now manages the Oliva Nova Golf Resort near Alicante, located just meters from one of Spain’s largest Mediterranean beaches. He became a Certified Club Manager in 2013 and enjoys playing paddle tennis and salsa dancing!
In this Q&A piece Daniel gives his insights on the challenges and opportunities of the Spanish golf industry and shares his advice for new club managers entering the profession.
You started out your career as a golf journalist traveling to and writing about all major golf events. What prompted you to move into club management and has your earlier career in journalism helped you when managing clubs?
I majored in Tourism Business and Activities in college, and my first intention was to continue into hotel management. A set of circumstances pushed me towards writing, and I had the good fortune that the editors I worked for liked my work and skills. SO much so that I ended up editing the most important golf magazine in Spain at the time, and writing extensively while also doing TV commentating. But another set of circumstances gave me the opportunity to get into club management, and something inside propelled me to take the opportunity. I am the type that loves to work hard on whatever gives me a sense of fulfillment, and the opportunity of learning and improving new skills is something I always look forward to. In overall terms golf is a very sound industry and a very demanding business. My experience in editing and writing, and my knowledge about the game and the many wonderful golf courses I visited and the competitions I attended was a very solid background to fall upon. Of course I didn’t stop there. I have worked at four different golf clubs, launched an ambitious education project for club managers in Spain, and currently am working towards a master’s in hotel management.
You launched ClubManagersSpain in 2007. What were the main challenges you found for both your members managing clubs and yourself in running a National Club Management Association?
ClubManagerSpain was not the first association for club managers in my country, but the previous efforts had all failed. I felt education was the link missing until then, and it became absolutely obvious to me when I first attended the World Conference of the Club Managers Association of America, in 2005. So ClubManagerSpain was completely focus in two areas: Education, and Networking. A large majority of golf club managers in Spain affiliated and took part in the local events and the 4 international conferences we ran from 2009. It was an exciting and successful adventure, whose future lies now in the hands of the new association for golf club managers (AEGG).
What prompted you to get involved with CMAE?
As soon as I met the administrators of the CMAE we found the kind of partner we were eager to work with, and help our common interest of advancing the professionalism of club managers. We had the very same interests and goals, and I was honoured to be offered the opportunity to help develop the current Management Development Programme. Even though all the courses and education was provided in English we are proud of Spain being the country in continental Europe which has hosted the most MDP courses, and achieved a higher number of Diploma in Club Management graduates. The CMAE is a very sound association, with an ambitious long-range strategic plan that can only bring benefits to a highly dedicated group of fine business professionals. Who would deny the opportunity of sharing the workload?
How was the golf industry in Spain affected by the 2008 economic downturn and have clubs started to see a recovery from the crisis?
The last decade has been a rollercoaster for golf in Spain, and we are facing a huge challenge for the near future. Local interest in golf has shrunk and there are no new developments in sight. But I rather look at the bright side of the moon. Interest in good quality leisure time has always been there. The minute the economy allows people an extra cent to expend in leisure activities, they will do so. The challenge is to be able to offer to them the kind of product they expect. Today’s world has shrunk through the Internet, and consumers have much more knowledge and have millions of options at the tip of their fingers. So the question is: Are we, as club managers, prepared to develop a worthy product, and make it reachable to consumers?. And even more important: can we make golf as enjoyable as other leisure opportunities out there?
How do you see the golf industry evolving in Spain over the next 10 years?
The recovery some golf courses have experienced in the last two years has been motivated by golf tourism running from conflict in Eastern Mediterranean countries. So we have an opportunity in Spain to develop structural improvements for our offer to remain strong in the future. This includes for club managers to improve their knowledge and learn new skills to embrace the golfer of the New Normal. It will be their task to help their Boards of Directors be aware of what club members demand, and be brave to suggest and implement ideas that make their clubs and facilities both different and desirable. But don’t wait 10 years. The need for change is here now.
What advice would you give to any new club managers embarking on their career within club management in Spain?
To learn, to share, and to try. Learn as much as you can about everything. We are so lucky that our clubs and facilities require us to supervise and coordinate areas as different as food and beverage, facilities maintenance, or leadership and human resource issues. There is so much room for learning… and our working colleagues expect a right decision from us.Then share that knowledge. The best source of valid information is not on Twitter, but at the other side of the phone of a colleague club manager often far away from you, Build a strong network of people like you and don’t be shy. Share what you know. They will share what they know. And you will both become better club managers. And finally, try your ideas. Generating ideas is really cheap and easy. Putting them to work is hard, but always rewarding. A mentor I had used to say that the big problem with new ideas comes when they are successful, because you then had to implement new procedures in your day-to-day operation to accommodate the new trend. SO don’t be afraid for failures. If that is the case you will be the smart one who knows what to change or what not to try again. But if you succeed, as the saying goes in Spain, “He who strikes first, strikes twice”.
And now let me put my advice to work. If I can help you anyhow, my email address is [email protected]