Interclub Matches with Neighboring Courses

Allan Bowman, the 2004 New Jersey PGA Section Golf Professional of the Year and 2011 New Jersey PGA Section Teacher of the Year, is the PGA director of golf at the Cherry Valley Country Club in Skillman, N.J.
For the last two years the PGA head professional at Bedens Brook Club, Paul Poandl, and I have run a very interesting and exciting interclub match between our clubs. The match is called “Take Down The Fence” because our golf courses are right next to each other and are literally separated by an old wooden fence. In the morning, our members meet at Cherry Valley wearing our team shirts and drive golf cars to Bedens Brook for breakfast. After a greeting from Paul and his staff, a nice meal and a warm-up session, we review the rules (standard Nassau match: one point for nine holes at Cherry Valley, one point for nine holes at Bedens Brook, one point for total) and have a shotgun start. After the match, which takes place on the back nine of each course, we all stay for lunch at Bedens Brook and tally up all the points to see who won. Matches like these help club morale, and help to bond our members closer by not only spending a day playing together but also by wearing team shirts, a la the Ryder Cup. It also gives the members a chance to play a different golf course for the day. We try to spice things up a bit by making the pairings interesting, such as pitting former club champions against each other. It also creates its own unique “postgame show” of sorts, as it is always fun to hear who won and lost, who was a sandbagger, and who made the great shot or missed the crucial putt in the weeks following the matches.

We have gotten great PR from the members, and we have a waiting list each year of players wanting to play. I tend to play in the same group as Paul, along with other players who hold positions of importance at our clubs, so we get to exchange ideas that could work for both parties. From a revenue standpoint, more members stay for lunch than on a typical day. In addition, select members always look forward to the competition and thus will practice and prepare for the matches, which increases our total numbers of rounds played as we see participants practicing and playing at a 20 percent higher frequency than non-participants. The increased activity on the golf course and practice areas has also allowed to the club to benefit, as members will gather at the bar and stay for dinner. The night before the match we all gather together and are anxiously waiting to find out who our partners will be the following day, thus serving as an additional use of the food & beverage operations. The event also stresses the importance of keeping our current members, which can sometime be lost in what seems to be the constant quest to recruit new members.