Rancho Santa Fe Association survey results positive overall

By Karen Billing

The Club Mark survey that was conducted earlier this year by the RSF Association showed that the community feels very high levels of service are provided by the RSF Association and the RSF Golf Club, according to a report given by Club Mark’s Rick Coyne at the RSF Association’s Oct. 17 board meeting.

The survey’s purpose was to gauge levels of service provided by the RSF Association and the RSF Golf Club, and to learn more about Covenant demographics.

Survey results showed that the RSF Association, RSF Patrol and RSF Golf Club staff scored extremely well (see sidebar below). Coyne said they conduct surveys across the country and the results show that the RSF Association scored in the top 5 percent of all surveys they do nationwide.

According to Coyne, the main strategic implications from the survey are that 29 percent of the overall demographic that responded is over 70 years old and in 10 years or less 61 percent will be over 70; there is a decline in Golf Club membership (from a peak of 680 it is now down to 512); and a decline in capture rate for new members. The survey also showed younger members of the community have differing needs and golf is not as important to the under-45 age group — they are looking for lifestyle amenities, such as a fitness center, spa or pool.

Coyne said that golf clubs around the country are experiencing similar challenges —golf play has been on a decline since 2004. Coyne said while the survey shows the vast majority of the community views the golf course as valuable to property values, as they plan for the future they need to look at compelling ways to increase membership and revenue.

“As we see the elasticity of golf contract, it is important to find out what other lifestyle interests there are to draw the younger community,” Coyne said.

Coyne said other clubs around the country have been creative in turning things around: Hillwood in Nashville added a health club and doubled its numbers; Brookhaven in Dallas has added cabanas to its pool area and it has become the social spot to be.

Already this year the RSF Golf Club has created the new junior executive category, which allows new members under age 48 to spread out payment of their $50,000 enrollment fee. It has helped: According to RSF Golf Club Manager Al Castro, 14 of the 20 membership spaces have been filled.

“There’s a legion of ideas out there to make the community more vibrant,” Coyne said, noting that it’s all part of the strategy they develop, figuring out what is relevant to the new marketplace and how to monetize it.

RSF Association Director Jerry Yahr proposed the Association board use the results of the survey to have strategy sessions with the Golf Club board, so the two boards can work jointly to get a grip on what the most important needs are.

Director Larry Spitcaufsky agreed, saying, “You can’t solve a problem until everyone agrees what the problem is.”

The survey, which some respondents said was too long, resulted in a 287-page results document. Of 1,745 eligible responders, the survey had 438 participants.

Fifty percent of responders were property owners and 37 percent were members of the Golf Club.

Only 8 percent of responders were under the age of 45; 32 percent of responders were in the 46-60 age range; 32 percent were in the 61-70 age group; and 21 percent of responders were in the 71-80 age group.

Board members Rochelle Putnam and Heather Slosar pointed out that it’s possible that younger residents did not take the time to fill out the survey. Putnam said, as with past surveys, she struggled with whether they were getting an accurate representation of the younger demographic.

Twenty-nine percent of responders were avid golfers and 30 percent don’t play golf and likely will not in the future. Twenty-five percent said they were occasional golfers and 13 percent said their play was very limited. Only 4 percent said they planned to learn to play golf.

Eighty-four percent of those who participated in the survey are not a member at another golf club in the area.

The survey revealed that 87 percent of responders use the clubhouse for dining or other activities. While 58 percent come to the club for dinner one to two times a month, 45 percent dine out at other area restaurants five to seven times a month.

In the written responses part of the survey, some respondents said the club lacks the amenities of a “true country club.”

“In other communities we have lived, the club was much more central to family life,” wrote one resident looking for a pool and casual dining around the pool.

“If the RSF club doesn’t start appealing to non-golfers and the entire family, it’s doomed,” wrote one respondent.

While some were interested in more social activities, others praised the new ones that have been brought to the club by Manager Al Castro.

In the survey, 58 percent said their experience at the club would be improved with a fitness center; 49 percent with a children’s play area; 43 percent with spa facilities; and 42 percent with a swim complex.

The golfing respondents were overall satisfied with the greens, fairways and bunkers on the course. Several remarks were made about the driving range in the written comments —people reported not liking to have to pay for balls and some Covenant members who were not Golf Club members also wanted access to the driving range with a fee or bucket charge.

In the survey, 65 percent said the club would be improved with access to the driving range.

Overall, 94 percent of responders were satisfied with clubhouse food and approval was high for the club’s appearance, friendliness, menu selection, attentiveness, value, ambiance and clubhouse reservation process.

A somewhat surprising outcome of the survey was that 43 percent agreed and 38 percent strongly agreed that membership rights should be giving to Covenant condo owners. RSF Association Manager Pete Smith said condo owners who don’t currently have rights to the club wouldn’t have received the survey so that was an interesting outcome.

That is one area that they could revisit as they look at their future strategies, Yahr said.

Currently, only two memberships are allowed for each condo development regardless of the number of units in the development. There are 17 condo sub-associations within the Covenant. Of the 82 units, there are 34 units with voting and golf club rights and 48 without.

There are also approximately 17 acres currently zoned multi-family that have yet be developed and any Covenant parcel has the potential to be converted through a Covenant modification.

Rancho Santa Fe Association staff performance scores extremely high on Club Mark survey

By Karen Billing

In addition to golf club and clubhouse issues, the community also provided input on community satisfaction with the RSF Association through the Club Mark survey.

The survey found that the community is extremely satisfied with the RSF Association, led by Manager Pete Smith, and its staff: 95 percent of those who responded said they are overall satisfied with the services provided by the Association; 97 percent are satisfied with the landscaping of common areas; and high marks were given for the RSF Association’s staff’s helpfulness, courtesy, knowledge and promptness.

The RSF Patrol, led by RSF Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser, scored a 98 percent positive rating. The Art Jury scored a 69 percent satisfaction rate.