At Ingersoll Golf Course in Rockford, Ill., an annual SWOT analysis pinpoints the facility’s strengths and weaknesses and helps guide planning for course leaders, including GCSAA Class A superintendent Matt Dutkiewicz. Photo courtesy of Matt Dutkiewicz
Matt Dutkiewicz has never been one to shy away from feedback or constructive criticism.
Whether the opinions are coming directly from patrons or members of his own maintenance team, the GCSAA Class A superintendent at Ingersoll Golf Course in Rockford, Ill. — one of six golf properties operated by the Rockford Park District — has always tried to pay heed to what he’s learned from comment cards or online critiques as he’s organizing the course’s maintenance operations.
So, when the park district asked its six facilities to participate in a deeper, more quantitative review of their operations through the use of a SWOT — or, in other parlance, a SCORE — analysis, Dutkiewicz was quick to embrace the idea and the potential it held for Ingersoll GC.
“We felt like this would be a great way to learn more about what we were doing, and really show how some of the things we were wanting to do could help improve the experience,” the 17-year GCSAA member says. “It wasn’t just the maintenance department wanting this or wanting that. It was also people in the pro shop, the patrons — people who care about the facility.”
So, exactly what are SWOT/SCORE analyses? At their core, these assessments are evaluations of the things that your organization or operation does well and the things they don’t do so well. The acronyms paint a fairly self-explanatory picture — a SWOT looks at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, while a SCORE is a slightly deeper variation on the theme that evaluates Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities, Responses and Effectiveness.
SWOT/SCORE analyses come in many shapes and sizes depending on exactly who is invited to participate. At Ingersoll GC, the first incarnation included participation from a broad spectrum of people with interests in the golf course, from golf course employees to park district officials to those who regularly played the golf course, all of whom came together for a series of meetings that went in-depth into the experience of working and playing at Ingersoll.
“The fact that we had so many people involved in giving their input, we were able to come up with a pretty good list in each of the sections — Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats — and it really gave us things to think about,” Dutkiewicz says.
Following the meeting, Dutkiewicz typed up the overall responses that touched the golf course maintenance team, then held another set of meetings with his own employees to discuss the findings.
“That allowed us to prioritize which issues were the ones that we needed to address right away, and which ones could have the most immediate impact on what we were doing. It was just a process of narrowing down what the feedback identified as most important, what we felt like as a team was most important, and doing our best to match those together,” he says.
Of course, individual facilities aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a SWOT or SCORE analysis. GCSAA’s field staff representatives regularly use the exercise as a part of strategic planning sessions they conduct with GCSAA-affiliated chapters.
“Knowing the results of a SCORE analysis can go a long way to ensuring the mission and vision (of an organization) are being realized,” says Steve Randall, GCSAA’s director of chapter outreach. “We’ve found this exercise to be really worthwhile in determining areas where a chapter can focus in establishing both short- and long-term goals, which helps them know where to concentrate their efforts and resources.”
Dutkiewicz couldn’t agree more. Ever since receiving the directive to conduct a SWOT/SCORE analysis, he and his team have gone through the process on an annual basis. And while the scope has differed each time, the value derived from each review has been consistent.
“It’s been a really good process for us,” Dutkiewicz says. “When I started to learn more about it and what it could do, I started to wonder how we’d gone without doing one for so long. It just generates a lot of valuable information that can help you make good decisions and make the product that much better.”
Scott Hollister is GCM’s editor-in-chief.