The Ranch Golf Club, where every player is a special guest for the day, opened in 2001 in Southwick, Massachusetts. Prior to being a golf club, it was a dairy farm owned by the Hall family. The Hall family wanted to turn the farm into a golf club with the help of Rowland Bates as project coordinator. The Halls were to provide the land, and investors would provide the capital. Peter and Korby Clark were part owners of nearly 50 Jiffy Lubes, selling most to Pennzoil in 1991. Through the 1990s, the Clarks had a variety of opportunities to invest in new and ongoing businesses. Nothing interested the Clarks until the late 1990s. Unlike other businesses looking simply for investors, Bates offered Peter Clark the opportunity to create and help manage a new golf club. Although Clark played golf, it was not so much the golf but the challenge of creating a new course and also playing an ongoing part in its management that interested him. Bates found two more investors, Bernard Chiu and Ronald Izen, to provide the additional funding, creating a one-third ownership by the Halls, Clarks, and Chiu and Izen. The Clarks were happy to have the professional golf management team of Willowbend. First, they realized that they could not create and run a successful golf club business without expertise. Neither of them had ever worked for a golf club, and they only played recreational golf. Secondly, they would not have to manage The Ranch full time. However, in 2005 Willowbend stopped managing golf courses and sold its business. By then the Clarks had gained enough experience running The Ranch and no longer needed professional management. Peter Clark increased his management role to become the managing partner, overseeing day-to-day operations, and Korby works full time too. The Ranch’s competitive advantage is its upscale public course with links, woods, and a variety of elevations with unsurpassed service in New England. The Ranch is striving to be the best golf club in New England. In less than a year, The Ranch earned a 4-star course rating, one of only four in New England. In the January 2003 issue of Golf Digest, The Ranch was rated number 3 in the country in the new upscale public golf course category, and it was ranked as the best public golf course in Massachusetts in 2007.1
Opening Case Questions:
1. Why is communication important to the management of The Ranch?
2. How does management use feedback at The Ranch?
3. Is there a difference in managing an oil change business, a golf course, and a sports team; and how does Peter Clark use coaching at The Ranch?
4. Which conflict management style does Peter Clark tend to use at The Ranch?
5. What types of conflict resolutions do the Clarks deal with at The Ranch?