RSFGC President’s Message to Members

By Blair Nicholas

June 3, 2022

13th hole.

“Do something worth remembering.” – Elvis Presley

After two years serving as RSFGC’s President and four years on the Board of Governors, I will be handing off the baton to an incredibly talented and visionary Board on July 1st. It was nothing short of a pleasure to serve the membership and Board of Governors, work with an incredibly talented and dedicated Staff during challenging and uncertain times, and at the same time, remain fully committed to RSFGC’s Mission and Vision goal of becoming one of the finest golf clubs in the country. Over my tenure, we made significant strides towards fulfilling our Mission and Vision goals, but there is undoubtedly more work to be done. I’m fully confident in the Club’s Board, leadership, and staff to continue the upward trajectory of delivering a first-class memorable experience for all our members and their families.

As you know, over the past four years, RSFGC has been dedicated to taking on bold initiatives which started with recruiting and retaining highly talented leadership and staff, enhancing the golf course playability and experience, and significantly improving the dining experience for members to enjoy with their families and friends. I am very proud of what was accomplished by the Board of Governors and Staff, and among other significant accomplishments, below is a summary of 10 notable achievements:

  1. Renovation of the Golf Course: After receiving nearly 95% membership approval of the Updated Masterplan, renowned architect David McLay-Kidd together with RSFGC’s leadership executed the Updated Masterplan to deliver an exceptional renovation of our golf course. The renovation has elevated RSFGC into being widely recognized as one of the top three golf courses in Southern California.
  2. Recruitment and Retention of Top Leadership: Over the past four years, RSFGC has actively recruited top leaders in the industry to join our team: General Manager, Todd Huizinga; Director of Golf, Michael Jack; Director of Agronomy, Tom Huesgen; Executive Chef, Aaron Burns; and Food and Beverage Director, Chris Sarten. These accomplished leaders have effectively built a dedicated and loyal staff that has transformed our membership experience. At the same time, these leaders relied upon and were guided by the Membership Director Shanon McCarthy who has been loyal and dedicated to RSFGC throughout the ups and downs over the years and has always provided invaluable input and advice to the staff and leadership at the Club.
  3. Major Membership Growth: Over the past four years, RSFGC’s membership has increased by 117 new members for an overall increase of 26% in the membership. The influx of new members and their families has brought an exciting new energy to the Club and provided important financial stability that will enable the Club to continue to invest in enhancing the membership experience. The Membership Committee and Board of Governors also instituted important changes to the member initiation fee as well as the inactive and former membership rules to ensure the future viability and continued investment into the Golf Club while at the same time increasing and enhancing membership retention.
  4. Financial Growth and Fiscal Responsibility: The Golf Club’s financial strength is as strong as ever. As promised, members were not assessed for the renovation nor did the Club have to assume any new debt. The Golf Club paid for the renovation entirely out of its operational and restricted reserves and the expectations are that future planned capital projects will continue to be funded out of the Club’s reserves. After including the renovation expenditures, the Golf Club projects at the end of June 2022 it will have approximately $2.6 million in operational reserves and approximately $2.2 million in restricted reserves to fulfill future capital expenditures such as renovation of the practice areas and replanting and redesign of the native areas.
  5. Accelerated Paydown of Outstanding Debt: Given the Club’s strong financial strength and influx of new members, the Club has accelerated the paydown of its debt incurred from a Clubhouse renovation project completed back in 2007. With the accelerated debt payments, the Club projects to be completely debt free by 2027, which will only strengthen the Club’s balance sheet and ability to invest in future projects.
  6. Re-energizing the Golf Events: Over the past four years, the Golf Club and the Golf Activities Committee focused heavily on re-energizing our golf events and delivering memorable events for our juniors, women, men, couples and seniors. Now, many of the golf events fill up quickly as members greatly value the comradery and experience the events deliver.
  7. Re-Establishing the Men’s Locker Room: The men’s locker room was re-established to include the Men’s lounge which provides a spacious, private and inviting locker room as was originally designed and intended.
  8. Tree, Brush and Pond Management: The Golf Club invested significantly in identifying and removing non-native brush and debris on the golf course as well as ensuring that diseased, dying and compromised trees were removed in order to ensure the safety of golfers and those on the surrounding trails. The Golf Club also invested in cleaning up the ponds and waterways by removing overgrown vegetation to provide a healthier environment and ecosystem.
  9. Marketing of RSFGC to Association Members: The Membership Committee together with Shanon McCarthy revamped RSFGC’s marketing materials and established an outreach campaign to ensure that all new and current Association members were made aware of the membership opportunities at the Club as well as full access to the Restaurant and Snack Bar. This outreach was a significant driver of new memberships.
  10. Syncing Financial Results and Projections with Association: The Golf Club and the RSF Association have worked cooperatively together to finally synchronize their finances and future cash flow and capital expenditure projections to streamline the financial reporting to members and to assist the governing Boards and Committees with analyzing the financial decisions and the budget of the Golf Club.
18th green looking towards player’s clubhouse.

These achievements and progress at RSFGC would not have been possible without the strong support of our membership, the dedication of the RSFGC Staff, our Committee members, as well as the strong support of the Association Staff and Board. As my tenure comes to an end, I would be remiss not to mention initiatives that are in progress or in planning that I believe are critically important to moving the Golf Club even closer to its Mission and Vision Statement, including:

  1. Renovation of the Practice Areas: Upon regulatory approval expected this Fall, execution of the approved Updated Masterplan’s redesign of the short game area and driving range will serve as the perfect complement to the newly renovated golf course. The renovation of the practice areas is fully funded in the Golf Club’s budget for next year and this project will only elevate the members’ golfing experience and the prominence of the golf club.
  2. Renovation of the Snack Bar and Restaurant: The snack bar and restaurant are enjoyed by all Association members and are in dire need of a complete and major renovation to deliver a membership experience consistent with our Mission and Vision. It is my hope that the Golf Club and the Association can work cooperatively together to finalize architectural plans and deliver a dining and social experience for all Association Members, Golf Members and their families that is consistent with the elevated and enhanced experience of the renovated golf course.
  3. Strengthening the 1987 Resolution Termination Trigger: The 1987 Resolution between the Golf Club and Association enables the Golf Club to effectively operate the Golf Club and Restaurant independently while at the same time maintaining certain reporting requirements, fiscal responsibility commitments, and final Association approvals of major decisions. With the completion of the golf course renovation and the intended completion of the practice areas, the Golf Club, without the assistance of the Association, will have invested over $10 million of its members’ funds into the golf course property, which not only greatly enhances the golfing experience, but has also contributed major value and prominence to the entire Rancho Santa Fe community. Currently, the 1987 Resolution can be terminated by the Golf Club or Association Board with a simple majority vote of either Board. Given that the 1987 Resolution has served both the Golf Club and Association very favorably for over 35 years, it is critically important to strengthen the termination trigger to provide more protection for both the Association and Golf Club. For example, triggering the termination clause could conceivably require a majority vote of both Boards coupled with a majority vote of Association members. Adding greater protection to the termination trigger is vitally important to protect the integrity of the Resolution from a potential whimsical or special interest Board in which four members could unilaterally decide to terminate the longstanding Resolution even though such a decision may be misaligned with the strongly held views of a majority of Association members.
16th green.

In closing, I could not be more pleased with the trajectory of the RSFGC and our prospects. With our outstanding membership and leadership, we are continuing on the road to greatness. I sincerely appreciate the trust and patience of the entire membership throughout my tenure as President and as a member of the Board of Governors. I could not have envisioned a better group of Board and Committee members and Staff to work together with to accomplish our goals.

I look forward to enjoying our incredible golf course with our great membership and everything our membership has to offer. It’s a very exciting time to be a member at RSFGC and I’m really looking forward to the future. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you. I truly spent the last four years doing something worth remembering.

Over and out,

Blair Nicholas
RSFGC Board President

12th hole.

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