Dave Porter has relied on innovation as long as he’s been at Greystone Golf and Country Club. As the GM of this statuesque club in a gated community in Birmingham, AL, he guides a team that offers an astounding list of amenities for its 850 members. In addition to the two 18-hole golf courses, two clubhouses, two swimming pools, full fitness center, and 10 tennis courts, the club offers dry cleaning, lawn care, pizza delivery, indoor batting cages, and even a pitcher’s mound for aspiring baseball players. If members aren’t involved at Greystone, they’re attracting the wrong members! Needless to say, Dave Porter’s members have excellent engagement, and it’s one of the primary reasons Greystone is making it through the pandemic with flying colors. In fact, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought out some of the club’s most significant innovations.
“I think the most important thing for me was how many employees can I keep working and keep them safe? And how many members can I keep without leaving the club and making sure they feel like they're getting value?” Said Porter.
And Porter has succeeded on both counts so far. Thanks in part to some of the new services he and his team brainstormed and brought forth, like:
- Build your own ice cream sundae parties for families
- Dinner kits with ingredients that families could make at home, along with video instructions from the club's chef
- A mobile golf shop
- Sunset "cruises" to create time outside with cocktails for members
At a time when the pandemic seemed to be breaking our country down, Greystone was building up community - virtually.
"The club kind of saved me from all this horribleness"
“If people can remember back 10 years later, and say ‘the club kind of saved me from all this horribleness,’” Porter says, “that's going to be a lasting thing.”
Of course, Porter and his team - for as creative and innovative as they have been throughout this pandemic - couldn’t move quickly and adapt without trusting support from the club leaders. Fortunately, the mutual respect held between board members and Porter preceded these unprecedented times. Daily conversations between Dave and the club president allowed for the most unique solutions to rise to the top.
“I think that that trust comes with performance,” said Porter. “I definitely make mistakes. But overall, I think they appreciate that the staff pushed and challenged and is excited about what we do.”
As 2021 starts, the pandemic is still the top story of the day, and Porter is hunkered down to deal with whatever comes next. Greystone Golf and Country Club relies on revenue from outside events like a PGA Champions Tour Event, Monday outings, and weddings, which may be slow to return. Still, Porter believes that as long as Greystone can continue to serve its guests outdoors and deliver a member experience that exceeds expectations, they will endure.
“There are so many creative, awesome managers out there ... I'm so impressed by everything everyone else has done too, and if anybody ever sees any of our ideas and they like them, I'm flattered. We're not the greatest, but I can tell you we're going to try as hard as everybody and try to make it as great as we can.”