Monitor the czars wherever they may lurk

Contributing Columnist

Hurricane George
Marathon, Florida 1998

I was living and practicing in Marathon, Fla., in 1998. Hurricane George hit Marathon causing extensive damage that September. The country club where I played golf received a considerable amount of damage as well.

Between government and private insurance, the club received about $500,000 and added its own $500,000 to make a $1 million pool for restoration and improvement. A general meeting of the membership was held and a plan was discussed. Many camps were heard from.

The Board of Directors was in one camp, the general membership in another. As you may surmise, a food fight began. Cooler heads prevailed, and it was reluctantly decided by the Board of Directors to commission a survey of all the members in an attempt to get an accurate idea of how to spend the $1 million. A great idea!

Not so fast… As with all inbred organizations, the powers that are in control do not go peacefully into the night. There are various committees in country clubs that “run” the club. These committees have chairmen whom I refer to as czars. For example, there will be a house committee czar who chairs the house committee, a grounds czar who oversees the golf course, an administrative czar who handles administrative matters and so on.

These czars form a base of often self-serving leaders whose main objective is to perpetuate their agendas. How does this happen, you ask. Very easily. The nomination committee for candidates to run for club office is selected by the present board members. The old czars nominate the new czars. You can only vote for a person who has been nominated for office. Hello! Guess how many dissenting voices are nominated for office? You are correct. None. This practice perpetuates more inbreeding and even less effective leadership.

To finish my story, the surveys were sent out, then resent and resent again until 80 percent of the surveys were returned completed and gave an accurate reflection of the membership’s desires for their club. As I recall, the top item was to spend the lion’s share of the money on the golf course itself. The next most requested desire of the members was to create a greater variety of membership offerings to attract new members and thus reduce costs for all of us.

The “Czars “ however prevailed. The $1 million was spent on landscaping, carpet, locker rooms and dining areas. The golf course proper was not improved and no new membership classifications were added. Socialism at its finest! Our czar delegation felt they knew better how to spend the money, and in the end, the survey was discarded, the members were ignored and the powers that be remained in power.

Members of that club, as with most clubs, tend to spend their emotional energy on matters that more directly affect their lives. They have spouses, children, jobs and more critical interests in which to invest the limited pool of emotional energy that exists within us all.

Club members, as well as people in general, often abdicate critical responsibilities to these czars until this habit becomes comfortable and leaks into more critical areas of our lives. If we become too disconnected to life outside our immediate interests, this can have dire consequences. It is a constant battle to stay alert and to monitor the czars wherever they may lurk.

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