DURBAN COUNTRY CLUB
Durban Country Club is an iconic brand, and is often referred to as “The Grand Old Lady”. “The Club is recognised globally as one of the best golf clubs and one of the best country clubs in the world. It has a rich tradition and a rich heritage.There are number of factors that influence this standing, including its position on the Durban beach front, the venue itself and the climate,” explains Kamlesh Ranchhod, Chairman, Durban Country Club.
The official opening of Durban Country Club took place on t he 9 D ecember 1922. T he m an r esponsible for the first layout of the golf course was George Waterman, a Scottish professional golfer who was assisted by local golf professional Laurie Waters, a four-time winner of the South African Open. The impressive, stately, white-gabled building in Cape Dutch style, was completed in 1924 by architects Wallace Paton and WG (Billy) Moffat. However, the building has seen many alterations over the years to accommodate the changing needs and growing membership of the Club. “Durban Country Club has been a vibrant bastion for society in Durban. It is a place where people can really enjoy what Durban has to offer,” says John Terry Lloyd, past captain.
“We have a dynamic Board of Governors that sits as the leadership of the club,” says Kamlesh. “We look at the Management and instil in them a sense of pride, duty and responsibility for the Club, always keeping in mind our heritage as well as our current business model and future strategy. We would like to move the Club forward for the next 50 years.”
Gary Geddes took up the position as General Manager in March 2018. He explains that, as far as he is concerned, this is one of the prime jobs, and he is proud to be General Manager. Gary points out that although there are many challenges at managing golf clubs, he is passionate about what does. “I enjoy bringing all the elements together to make happen, to build a successful club.”
Employees are critical to the success of any organisation, and particularly so in the hospitality industry. ”We in excess of 140 staff members and it is my job motivate them and keep them engaged and enthusiastic,” says Gary. Staff understand that since members are the club’s patrons, they play an extremely important role as frontline of the club. Since staff must display the passion, culture and vision the club, they participate in ongoing training and evaluation. “We have a focus on building a committed team in order that we may become more successful.”
“We are in a service industry, we are a club, and we have members who pay subscriptions annually,” says Kamlesh. “We strive to attract new members and retain the old.” “Durban Country Club is a special place to be a member, and our members are proud of their club,” says John Terry. “For many years, members have seen Durban Country Club as their second home. It is a place of fellowship where you can go at the end of a busy day, meet people from different walks of life, socialise and chat about the day, and play sport over the weekends.” “We add value to our members, and we have a very strong and unique brand,” says Wassen Genghan, Golf Committee member and Captain of the Performance Squad.
The success of the golf course has been the forerunner of the club’s longevity. “The men who designed the course had vision. The course has a feel about it. When people from around the country hear that there is an event at Durban they come to enjoy their golf,” says John Terry. The golf course is rated in the Top 100 in the world, most recently by Golf Digest this year, and voted 5th best Golf course in South Africa. The course’s signature hole is rated best 3rd hole in the world. Steeped in tradition and legacy, the course has played host to the South African Open on 17 different occasions. “The golf course is known as an iconic seaside golf course with rolling sand dunes. We have to keep this dear to our hearts and make sure that it is part of our business plan,” says Kamlesh.
The Club offers a number of other sports activities such as tennis, squash and bowls. The KidZone is an extremely popular venue for birthday parties and children’s events. In addition, the Club offers ten different venue options, which include several restaurants, as well as a cocktail bar and the Waterman Bar. The Club has also been growing strategic partnerships to host unique events that don’t happen elsewhere.
THE FUTURE IMPACT
“We understand that we have to serve the needs of family – times have changed and family dynamics changed. We need to cater for people of all ages to ensure that we get the support that we require at Durban Country Club,” says Kamlesh. Country clubs have evolved, in terms of catering for 3Ms – millennials, minorities and moms, and clubs need ensure that their lives are made more enjoyable. “We are striving to be completely inclusive and attract people who did not previously come to the Club,” Kamlesh. As Durban Country Club heads towards its Centenary, the vision is to celebrate this milestone from a position strength. Durban Country Club is aware that while tradition is important, so indeed, is change.
“We aim to build the club to regain its rightful place Durban society, providing the best leisure experience our members. We are in for exciting times.”