Environmental Dynamism and the Imperative of—Perhaps Counter-Intuitive—Adaptation: Prof. Mike Connell and “Keeping the Doors Open” at the Monmouth Country Club

Last Thursday marked the annual guest-speaker appearance of my co-teacher of the class; Professor Mike Connell. His focus was on how environmental change can cause entrepreneurs and other managers to have to take drastic measures to merely survive. The context of his lively interactive discussion with students was his entrepreneurial-like co-management of the Monmouth Country Club; specifically, as he put it, to “keep the doors open” at the once thriving establishment that has fallen on hard times in recent years.

Probably most enlightening and unique in this presentation was the focus on how, in hard times, one must creatively find ways to significantly cut costs but still provide at least the most desired of services to enough customers to keep the business running (at times when “the logical thing to do” to many would seem to be put more money into getting more clients). This is something that any entrepreneur can potentially be faced with due to environmental change.

I now turn things over to class blogger Collin Glas for more on Prof. Connell and “keeping the doors open” at the Monmouth Country Club.

Prof. Gabel


Our speaker in class on Thursday was Professor Mike Connell and talked about the Monmouth Country Club. Professor Connell has been with the County Club of Monmouth for around twenty years. In twelve of those years he served on the board and for ten years he was the president of the country club.

During Thursday’s class period, Connell explained to the class about traditional and untraditional Country Clubs. Also, he talked about the operations of the country club despite the dying industry.

The first thing that was talked about in class was the culture of a country club. Country Clubs in the 1950’s and 60’s were a big deal for society and people who could afford being a member of the country club. These country clubs were a thriving industry because people would build their lives around the country club. Country Clubs, at the time, where social centers for people including golf, tennis, restaurants, or even a gathering area for people.

The country club experience may differ depending on where the country club is at and what kind of club that it is. Country clubs may range anywhere from a very low entry fee to anywhere in the six figures just to join the club. However, some clubs may require a recommendation to just be considered to get into the country club. Also, at these country clubs there are minimums that a member must pay and do at the country clubs. For example, Prof. Connell explained that at some clubs, the member must spend a minimum amount on food and will be charged that amount regardless of whether or not they actually ordered or ate the food.

Also, we talked about the differences behind a traditional and an untraditional country club. Traditional country clubs require an entry fee, monthly and annual dues, and sometimes may have assessments if the country club needs updates or renovations. Monmouth’s Country Club used to be this way, however, with the struggling nature of this industry, the club had to make an important decision and become an untraditional country club. Due to the falling of hard times, the country club has reduced their entry fees and eliminated the assessment fees for the end of the year. Also, the country club has no golf pro or employees due to the struggling times of the new era of country clubs (brought about by economic conditions and changing lifestyles that often leave many people with no time for golf or other country club activities).

Professor Connell expressed the importance of creative cost-cutting and other surprising approaches to management in this type of business situation. With the responsibility of a struggling business, every decision needs to be completely thought through. Every decision for this business could potentially shut down the business or help the business to just maintain where it is at. Management for this business can be difficult because people come to the country club to participate in all of the activities that are at a country club. Due to the struggling times, the country club eliminated the restaurant and cut labor for the club.

Another discussion that we had in class was people now just do not have time for the country club. Back in the 50’s and 60’s people built their life around the country club. Now many people build their lives around their children. This industry deals with a lot of competition as well. Restaurants are very assessable to get to as well as other activities that anyone would want to do.

The Monmouth Country Club was founded in 1902, making it one of the oldest in Illinois. This untraditional country club has been changing and adapting to the new times. Due to the adaptations that have been made, Monmouth’s Country Club has been able to stay in business and continues keep the traditions going.

Collin Glas

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About Terrance Gabel

Terrance G. Gabel is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Economy and Commerce at Monmouth College. Originally from Keokuk, Iowa, Dr. Gabel earned his BBA (Marketing) from the University of Iowa, his Master of Science degree (Marketing) from Texas A&M University, and his Ph.D. (Marketing) from the University of Memphis. He possesses three years of business-to-business sales experience, one year of executive-level marketing management experience for a heavy industrial international trade services firm, and one year of product management experience for a large banking organization. He was also a freelance business writer and consultant for approximately three years.

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