Sunday, March 13, 2016

Levin Golf Club as an example of Cultural Well-being

My experience at Levin Golf Club on Saturday 12th March 2016

On Saturday I played golf at Levin Golf Course, I play every Saturday if I can, but this time I played at a neighbouring Club.   

First let me re introduce myself.

My area of expertise is recreational management.     I have a masters’ degree in recreation management and cultural studies.  I have had CEO and senior management experience in the cultural and recreational sectors.  Also I have written countless Marketing and Business Plans for many organisations, including a Golf Club.    My other expert area is cultural well-being and economics and my experience on Saturday morning showed me that a golf course can provide a wonderful experience and can be an excellent example of cultural well-being while at the same time being economically sustainable.  I am constantly looking for examples of good practice, particularly when there is a balance between economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being.
On Saturday morning I found a really good example.   I was a visitor at Levin Golf Course as my own course Otaki Golf Course was closed for the morning for interclub competitions.

First we arrived at about 7.40am and the office was open. We got our golf cards and I was made welcome. I bought some golf equipment and had a short discussion with a welcoming woman in the office.     I then went to the women’s locker room.   It was also welcoming - very clean, towels available and a range of toiletries, including hand creams, shampoos, soaps and tissues.   The layout was easy with with a door from the club-rooms and out back to the car park.
Our tee of was comfortable and a little ahead of the time we had booked. The course was in good condition, rough not too rough, greens fast and firm.  The fairways had been recently cut, and the bunkers raked and just waiting to grab my ball!      There are a mix of really interesting holes and boring holes.  Pity my golf wasn’t slightly better, but it was not the fault of the course.   The course was very busy, but there was no waiting around.   A slight wait on a couple of Par 3’s, but nothing to delay our round for more than a couple of minutes.
 Half way around we passed the tee-off area where a significant number of women were getting ready to play and some teeing off.     They were a friendly lot and I think every one of them welcomed me to the course.    “Are you having a good round?”  “Welcome to Levin Golf Club!”   “What is it like out there this morning?”   “You must have been out early this morning, must have been a bit cold.. “     All interactive questions and I was made to feel really part of the course.

At the 10th hole there is a toilet, really handy and perfectly placed before the second half of the course.

The next few holes are very interesting and the 10th challenging, followed by a string of interesting holes, and then by some less interesting, but certainly a range of greens, bunkers, up and down holes.    Nothing too difficult, but not played well by me!

When I got back to the 18th hole there is a comfortable outdoor table and bench to fill in cards, watch the 18th hole and then a very easy place to clean the wheels of my trolley.    
Then up to the club house and into the locker room.   Again an excellent experience.    The women’s locker room so comfortable, easy to change shoes.  I could have had a shower if I had wanted to, and a friendly person who while she took off her shoes chattered away with a clear welcome.  

The club house is on the same level as the club room so after changing shoes and using the facilities I went and joined my friends in the Club room. 
The food is amazing and is one of the features of Levin Golf Course.  My pie came with chips, tomato sauce. Others had full meals, all part of the welcome.    The woman who had greeted us at 7.40 was also serving at the bar and there was a range of drinks at reasonable prices.  

The Club rooms are comfortable, food great and the atmosphere warm.   We could also have gone outside if we had wanted too, but stayed in the club-rooms watching the competition score charts being displayed on a screen on the wall as they were entered into the computer.

I tell you this experience because it demonstrated to me an excellent example of good product presentation and as a marketing example, totally perfect.  

The course was full of people, both men and women, from players were young people, working people and the elderly.  All players were courteous, welcoming and the whole culture of the club showed that it had balanced the needs of members with the need to earn green-fees.      

Congratulations Levin Golf Course.   

Penny Eames
Member Otaki Golf Club

13 March 2016

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Death of organised sport, particularly professional sport

From Roman times on, it has been recognised that the “masses” can be kept in line only as long as they are given diversions particularly “bread and circuses[1].”   

In this 21st century professional sport provided the circuses and up till now the events have been inspired by the increasing celebrity status of professional sports people with the audiences fueling their success, and television and radio being the media that has provides mass distribution and engagement for the masses.  

Now this pattern is beginning to change. Something is happening that is altering the habits of individuals and groups and is leading to the disengagement of the masses from sport, both as audience and as participants.  These dramatic changes are occurring rapidly and may see the diminution of sport as the circus events for the population, especially for those under 40 years old. Some of the elderly will still engage, but with limited disposable incomes they will not be sharing the experience with the whole population.

The first thing that is happening is that audiences are becoming disillusioned by the champions themselves. The media has, in the past, promoted as more than human, but drug scandals, family violence and drinking antics of professional sports men show the myths of champions not supported by facts.  

This diminishing role of champions is being coupled with reductions in the attendance at stadium and the watching of television at home for sporting events. Events are becoming increasingly expensive, particularly for those many individuals and families who have limited disposable incomes and watching live events is reserved to those who have purchased pay television subscriptions.   
It is significant to notice that over the last twenty plus years, the salary packages and sponsorship perks of professional sportspeople have risen faster than the audience numbers.  There are increases in incomes, luxury homes, and lucrative sponsorship deals for top particularly football, rugby and tennis sportspersons. All these income packages need to be paid for, as does the maintenance and security of stadiums and sports grounds.  

In this blog I am suggesting that these trends will shift sports participation away from team sports participation and audiences of the big team sports towards individual sports like cycling, walking and running.

This shift is exacerbated by  the diminishing disposable incomes being allocated on sport and demonstrated by fewer people attending events, less people joining and playing sport at club level  and the increasingly expensive fees necessary to enable them to watch games, play sport necessary while supporting the growing expense of sport generally.

Also there is a further change that parallels that growth in the costs associated with staging events and events.  This new era is associated with the internet, and mobile distribution of information through tablets and smart phones and the shorter attention spans that are fuelled by mobile devices and the simultaneous watching of multiple communication systems.   Premier sport will be screened on the internet at a higher price than Sky PayTV and will be watched by a small elite.

So let’s look at what is happening. 
Some of the signs have been seen with the increasing disengagement with Super 14 Rugby, Cricket and “A” League Soccer and with that, half empty stadiums for other sports events.  While a few events are still command large audiences, they are now the exception and are not enough to keep stadiums profitable.

At the same time as audiences are reducing, we hear tales that many team sports clubs are struggling financially.  Sport’s clubs are coping with increasingly ageing memberships and less commitment by younger players.  

The Brazil protest movement has shown that the popularity of big events has not been universal and national planning for economic growth from events is criticised, especially when the core service expenses associated with health, education and transport are being put off till after the events.  

We need to see some of the more recent political events as yet another signpost of change away from sports circus events.   The people of Brazil don’t believe that prosperity will come from spending billions of dollars on ‘entertaining’ overseas visitors. The widely broadcasted event this week has been the massive popular political reported demonstrations in many parts of Brazil might have started with an opposition to the increases in transport costs, but they quickly evolved into demonstrations against the major events in sport for Brazil (Olympics 2016, Soccer World Cup) and the costs of these events is being met by Brazilian tax payers and the general public, some living in poverty but also the middle class who want basic services before entertainment from sport.

"This is not just about bus fares any more. We pay high taxes and we are a rich country , but we can't see this in our schools, hospitals and roads." Many in the mostly young, middle class crowd were experiencing their first large protest. 

Matheus Bizarria, who works for the NGO Action Aid, said people had reached the limit of their tolerance about longstanding problems that the Confederations Cup and World Cup have brought into focus because of the billions of reals spent on new stadiums rather than public services. Rio is also due to host a papal visit to World Youth Day next month, and the Olympics in 2016[2].  "It's totally connected to the mega-events …" Bizarria said. 

So back to Brazil and the deal with Coliseum Sports Media. Is this a sign of what is to come or is it just another way to grow sports professionalism?  
What does this mean?       Really what is happening?

In summary:
1.   Less people are attending events
2.   Less people are participating in sport
3.   Coverage of sport is becoming too expensive
4.   Attendance at big events is dropping
5.   Sports scandals associated with high profile sports people has dented the celebrity status of sports people
6.   Disposable incomes of the masses is diminishing
7.   Individuals are no longer totally absorbed in watching sport and they watch on their second screens parallel with the sports event
8.   Sports clubs are finding their memberships dropping

Finally individuals are no longer seeking mass entertainment and maybe the internet and smart phones mean we no longer need circuses.  Hopefully there will still be bread, or at least breakfast in schools for the poor.  The only positive is that many people are striving for physical fitness. They want to do exercise and wish to have group companionship.  Hence individual activities, casual sports in the form of cycling, walking and running is growing and gym membership remains high.  

What happens in the next ten years will be interesting. I suspect the huge incomes of professional sports people will be under stress first, then premier events will no longer be profitable and the popularity of sports people will be significantly reduced.  Sponsorship will dry up.  Will team sport then die?  

Well maybe – but there will certainly need to be change otherwise major sport as we know it today will be dead and with that stadiums will be empty and our sports fields, golf courses and sports clubs generally will be empty or sold off as prime real estate.  

[1] "Bread and Circuses" (or bread and games) (from Latin: panem et circenses) is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace, as an offered "palliative." (Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Travel with a Teenager

My Granddaughter Emily (13 years old)  arrives from Australia, where she lives in Melbourne, later today. On Friday we are off on an adventure that will take us to Auckland, Hong Kong, England and France.

We are booked on Planes, Trains, Buses and we have a rental car.   We have a couple of apartments booked and we are staying with a lot of friends.

Emily has school homework to do and we are both going to keep a blog.

Watch us and we will share our experiences.    

Follow up as we go.

Friday, December 21, 2012

That's what friends are for.

This is my son Stephen's class blog for the end of this year.   

 It is worth looking at and it is also my Christmas greeting to all my Blog followers.

Watch and enjoy.     Year 8 Leaving Video.

His whole blog is worth exploring.    Wonderful things about creativity in teaching.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Women on Boards

There is still a glass ceiling when it comes to having women on boards of New Zealand publicly listed companies.  (And I suspect many other countries)

Only one in twelve people on our boards are women.  This is the average number onr all the  NZ Stock Exchange Boards and there appears to be little that can be done to change the reluctance of existing Boards to open their doors to women.   There are some exceptions, but not enough.

This reluctance is not based on fact or the good govenance. It appears to be an Old Boys Club.  Research has shown that companies with women members do better than those without women - so one would think that shareholders would start voting by selling shares with men only boards.  

Recently I put my name forward for a Board of one of our listed companies.    I offered  my knowledge of the working of boards.   I have been on many boards, am chair of two not for profit Boards.  Have been CEO for two companies run by boards (for 9 years each) and been a senior manager for another Board for 9 years.   My Masters degree and my specialist knowledge of cultural well-being and consumer cultures were also not attractive.   The existing Chair wanted an accountant with financial knowledge - a man.    The fact that I have extensive financial knowledge also didn't count.

I was asked to address the annual meeting as I had provided a formal nomination by existing shareholders.  I took up the offer to speak.    

I had been told that the Chair would not be voting for me and he would exercise ALL his proxies unless they indicated differently, to vote for the accountant/ financial manager.    

I think he was surprise that I am an experienced public speaker.    I talked about women in New Zealand getting the vote in 1893, Women being Mayors, Politicians and being on and Chairs of Not for Profit organisations.  I noted the number of VERY important people who were stressing the need for women on boards.   Then I took the Annual Meeting on a voyage through the current global financial crisis and the two social movement - Wall Street coming down to Main Street, and the Women on Boards movement.

The moves to social interaction and changes in global communication.    I then told them why they should vote for me.

There was a lot of support at the meeting, but it was not worth counting the votes and proxies.  The Chair had the majority.     It is sad - but I will put my name forward again next year and every year until a women or two are appointed.

It has been interesting watching the Obama win in United States and I was watching the Men of the Republican Party totally surprised that they had lost.   The Republican men looked as if they were in different era. 

I read the Annual Reports of many of our companies and look at the photos of Boards - all or almost all those in the photos are white older men - no diversity and no women or only one. 

I am sure this is not restricted to New Zealand, I don't want a quota, but I do think something will need to be done, if only so that these companies can change their business models. 

In the same way as the Republicans are now realising that maybe the have to change, it is also  time this male dominance of Boards to change.     

There are many women with skills and experience that could make our businesses more innovative and more customer friendly.

Women must continue to put their names forward.   Maybe there will be change.  Lets hope that change doesn't take another decade.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

No longer shades of Grey – The creative elderly - Creative Ageing

The baby boomers are now retiring and are healthy, adventurous, creative and energetic seniors.   Many will live 30+ years after they retire.  Many will live quality lives till well over 100 years old. Most will retain their enthusiasm and be very active throughout their lives and will demand social, economic and environmental well-being. Most will want to live in their own homes and they will remain their intelligence and demand activities. 

This new generation of senior citizens will want, in fact demand, age appropriate activities that have no relation to sickness, nursing or health care. Seniors will want music, art, literature and performance during the day. They will want fast broadband and good café environments

The sickness model characterised byGood morning dear, and how are we today?”  must be replaced by a well-being model Good Morning Mrs Brown, what are you doing today?  The well-being model for seniors has choice, creative engagement and social connectedness with others in society.

The Grey Power generation is embarking on a silent revolution and creative people and arts administrators should become a part of this social movement, which like all social movements will be lead by the energetic seniors themselves.   Some of today’s 65 year olds were 60’s hippies and community activist.  There is no reason they can’t be active in politics and the arts again.

No longer will the seniors sector be called “aged care”. It will be called retirement, but that word will mean action, and it will mean music, drama and films. 

Currently the sickness model dominates the residential accommodation and programmes for many of our over 70 year-olds. Many programmes are imposed on the elderly. This is no longer satisfactory, and will become less acceptable as our baby boomers become older.

No longer is it acceptable to place the elderly in a room with a TV set “on full” or “keep them busy”, with “diversional” therapies in their residential homes. Programmes should not be run by nurses and health professionals they should be run by the elderly themselves and recreation specialists and artists. 

This elder social movement is similar to the movements of the 1980s and 90’s associated with people with disabilities. That movement saw the closure of institutions and residents moved back into the community and taking control of their support organisations. That movement generated in New Zealand the creative spaces.  These creative spaces provided positive employment of time and meaningful relationships for those who had previously been institutionalised.  They encouraged creativity and creative choices.

At last there is a social movement being run by the seniors themselves and they are demanding the same choices - no more institutions, real community connectivity. This is social connectedness through creative activities not “care”.  

Older people are writing novels and histories, making pottery and glass works, creating films and videos, performing in theatre and film, in orchestras and choirs.  They are engaging in the men’s sheds and connecting more on the internet and digital platforms.  Many are returning to universities and attending community learning courses and craft clubs.   

These activities and the art works that result will not only be shades of grey, they will be shades of red, blue, yellow, green, purple, pink, orange, black and white.