12 Unforgettable Quotes from the 2017 National Club Conference

A visual look back at #NCAConf17

Published Friday, June 2, 2017

The 2017 National Club Conference was held in New York City on May 22-24 at premier clubs across the town including the New York Athletic Club, The University Club of New York and The Friars Club.  Attendees enjoyed informative and inspiring education and entertaining social events that made it NCA’s most attended and highest rated conference to date. Here are some of the most memorable moments from the conference.

Click here to see NCA’s live Twitter updates from the 2017 National Club Conference, #NCAConf17.

"Twenty years ago you could fake it better than today. Today, I don’t think anyone is faking it." – Eric Trump, The Trump Organization.

Eric Trump, executive vice president of development and acquisitions from The Trump Organization, spoke at the opening reception at the National Club Conference to discuss his company’s progress and growth as well as where the private club industry is heading. There are new ways for members and customers to share information with one another, raising expectations for the club industry and wider hospitality industry. Clubs are becoming more inclusive, providing tailored amenities for families, women and children.

"We are living through an unorthodox time. People will spend their entire lives studying the times we are currently living in." – Matt Scogin, Perella Weinberg Partners

Matt Scogin, managing director, Perella Weinberg Partners, a global advisory and asset management firm, offered his perspective on how the national and global economic and political trends are impacting businesses. While nationalism has become more prominent in the U.S. and other parts of the world, impacting fiscal policy and practices, Scogin considered technology to be the number one economic disruptor. "The question is not whether globalization is dead; it’s how do we adapt to globalization?"

"Neglecting risk does not make it go away." – Frank Rodman, TorchStone Global

CEO and Co-founder Frank Rodman, Senior Vice President Joseph J. Funk, and Senior Consultant Val LeTellier of TorchStone Global, a worldwide security system provider, discussed how clubs are at risk for serious threats from cyber attacks and physical attacks at the club. The panel analyzed case studies that offer important lessons for clubs and how the club industry needs to prepare for security risks.

"Leaders make other people better." – George Bodenheimer, ESPN.

Former President of ESPN George Bodenheimer gave an exciting presentation on how mission, brand and culture develop and shape an organization. He offered highlights and videos from ESPN’s earliest days to its rise to mainstream success. Bodenheimer emphasized the role of employees in carrying out the company’s mission and supporting its culture. The former ESPN president noted the importance of taking risks, making honest mistakes and valuing all employees regardless of tenure.

"You must have data to fulfill your fiduciary duty." – Ray Cronin, Club Benchmarking


CEOs Ray Cronin, Club Benchmarking, and Kevin Kopanon, MetricsFirst, discussed the need for fact-based governance at clubs. Clubs today have access to more relevant data to optimize their performance, making it incumbent for boards to utilize this information for governance decision making.

"[Longleaf] isn’t foot golf, or larger cups, this is the real deal. It allows less skilled newcomers to play and be able to get par and birdie and feel good about it." – Rees Jones, golf course designer

Rees Jones, golf course designer, Marc Whitney, director of marketing and communications at the American Society of Golf Course Architects, and Robert Sereci, CCM, general manager/COO at Medinah Country Club laid out Medinah’s innovative plan to make golf more accessible to all golfers.  By adapting the Longleaf Tee concept and inserting more tees that shorten the course, golfers of all ages and skill levels can enjoy Medinah No. 2 in their Golf For Life initiative.

"Wage and hour lawsuits have increased by 450 percent in recent years … You have do to whatever it takes to be in compliance." – Jeff Ruzal, Epstein Becker Green


Clubs and businesses today are more vulnerable than ever to wage and hour lawsuits, said Jeff Ruzal, attorney at Epstein Becker Green. Lawyers have increased their scrutiny of employer wage and hour practices, putting clubs at risk for litigation. Increased risk comes from issues like misclassification of independent contractors, failure to pay overtime and minimum wage. Ruzal offered advice on how to lower risk of litigation in these areas and how to navigate an unannounced audit from the Department of Labor.

"See the gift in the adversity ... run toward it." – Bob Litwin, Wall Street Performance Coach, U.S. National Tennis Champion


Wall Street Performance Coach and U.S. National Tennis Champion Bob Litwin offered attendees a new way to look at their life “stories”—the various ways in which people define themselves. Litwin described how individuals can change their stories from those that are ineffective to those that are life changing.

"Do you know what you're watering and why?" – Rand Jerris, USGA


Rand Jerris, Ph.D., senior managing director, public services, United States Golf Association, discussed how golf courses can optimize their watering practices. Jerris emphasized the need to save water from economic and environmental perspectives, and offered key ways to understand how much water a course is using effectively. Technology is aiding this process by identifying where water is being poorly used and turf that is at risk of disease.

"You owe it to do the best job you can." – Bill McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, George W. Bush Administration


Bill McGurn, The Wall Street Journal editorial board member and former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, gave an insider’s view of the Bush administration as well as today’s political landscape. The former speechwriter discussed how critical it was to represent the president at the highest level. McGurn offered strategies for both Republicans and Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, focusing on the likelihood of success from the “#Resist” movement from Democrats as well as Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. McGurn commented on President Trump’s presidency thus far and said it is a good move to “shake up the press corps … I’m not a believer in the press; I’m a believer in the first amendment.”

"Eat your heart out!" – Marvin Scott, NY-TV News Broadcaster, The Friars Club Board of Governors


During lunch, New York Broadcaster and The Friars Club Board Member Marvin Scott shared stories from the famed Friars Club and his career in journalism. In one anecdote he recalled when he was named “Friar of the Year” on the same night as the Donald Trump roast at the club. After receiving the award, Scott looked at Trump and in a light-hearted moment said, "Eat your heart out! I’m the only one they’re going to say anything nice about tonight." Scott also shared highlights from his career in journalism, which includes a groundbreaking interview with Abraham Zapruder about the Kennedy assassination that was paired with his original film footage.

 "Major regulatory reform is the biggest single success of the new administration" – Brad Steele, NCA


NCA Vice President of Government Relations & General Counsel Brad Steele updated attendees on activity from the first few months of the Trump presidency as well as the critical issues NCA is advocating. Developments like deregulating burdensome policies and expanding the H-2B visa program have given clubs more flexibility in how they can operate. Other issues like tax reform and health care are currently being discussed in Congress, however any changes in these areas would likely benefit the private club industry. 


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