3 Fascinating Private Club Management Lessons from Qatar

Last month I took a trip to Education City Golf Club in Qatar. It’s fitting that they call it “Education City”, because I learned so much and I’m excited to share it with you and the other club industry professionals around the world. Here are three of the biggest private club lessons I learned.

Watch & Listen to the the Private Club Radio Episode:

Watch the Let’s Play Thru Episode from Qatar:

Lesson #1: Capitalizing on Local Culture

Qatar is soccer crazy. Their national team just recently won the Asian Cup and of course the World Cup will be played there in 2022. There are 8 stadiums being built and everywhere you look it’s soccer, soccer, soccer.

Education City Golf Club found a unique way to capitalize on the country’s enthusiasm. They installed a 6 hole Foot Golf Course. I got to play it with my new friend Mohammed Al‑Naimi​, the Deputy General Manager.

It is quickly becoming a wonderful way to introduce a soccer culture to a new sport in hopes of growing club membership as well as interest in the game. Locals can learn the rules of golf in a way that makes sense to them. It’s genius!

What can you do to tap into your community’s unique culture?

Do you have a foodie culture, a wine culture, a particular sports team or particular event? I’d encourage you to find and create a cultural tie-in amenity that might attract new eyeballs on your club.


Lesson #2: Innovation Breeds Excitement

Education City has built the most innovative practice facility I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying a lot!). From a Trackman range, to putting and hitting bay floors that adjust slope and lie angle, to 3D swing analysis – it’s truly a site to behold.

As a result, they are able to teach the game from the ground up. This makes a much more enjoyable experience for newbies and less intimidating when they step onto the course.

Even for an experienced golfer like me, I was able to make a slight change to my swing that added 5 more yards of distance! What member wouldn’t want that?

What are some innovations you can add to your club’s practice facility to separate yourself from the competition?

What can you build that will bring people to your club during the off season?

What have you built or added recently that you can promote?

The right capital expenditures will pay dividends for years to come.

Lesson #3: Reduce Friction Points & Create Safe Spaces

Education City Golf Club took a very unique approach to creating a “safe space” for its members and guests. As you’ll see in the show, the local Qatari men wear a traditional style of dress called a thobe. This is a long white garment.

A standard locker in the men’s locker room would create a friction point for local members because they would need to fold their thobes to fit inside – possibly wrinkling or even damaging them. By building special 6 foot high lockers, they’ve made it easy for Qatari men to hang their thobes, put on their golf attire and hit the course. It’s a simple, yet elegant solution.

Another wonderful thing they are doing is creating a walled off practice facility for women-only. A locker room will connect to a hitting bay and chipping, bunker and putting area. This will allow women to remove their burkas and feel comfortable learning the game together without worry of exposing themselves. What a fabulous idea!

What safe spaces / amenities can you create at your club so that members feel it’s their second home?

This could mean complimentary baby sitting on weekends for parents to relax, fast-casual dining options, quiet work spaces, etc. The possibilities are endless.

I hope this gets you thinking and innovating at your private club. And if you have any ideas to add I’d love to hear them too.

Here’s our episode from Education City Golf Club…Enjoy!

Wishing you membership success!