Colonial Country Club members were outraged — outraged! — about Fort Worth Weekly revealing the private club’s inner workings, money woes, and disgruntled members (“Making The Cut At Colonial,” Sept. 23, 2009).
How dare we poke our noses in Colonial’s affairs, especially without gushing over its charity work.
“Good to see a local ‘news’ paper kick the club during tough times,” a reader commented online. “Surely there are more important matters out there, but let’s worry about a club that does more for our community than most other organizations.”
“What a waste of ink,” another reader commented. “One of the main points is that the membership and club is racist? What?”
Actually, the story never said the club was racist. The racial incident mentioned in the article was not a main point and was only included because it was cited as one of numerous reasons that some members want out.
“The tried and true tactic if there is nothing to report, just bash the ‘rich’ white people that belong to the exclusive club,” the commenter continued.
The story’s point was that some members are unhappy with club management and they want out. About 60 members are waiting for a partial refund of their membership equity (as much as $24,000 in some cases), but the club is not paying because it appears to be in financial straits. The story examined this situation and some of the reasons for the exodus. There was no bashing of rich white people, no condemnation for racial prejudice, just a look behind the private walls of one of Fort Worth’s most storied clubs.
Today somebody forwarded me this email written by a club member who is unhappy with Colonial’s management. I’ll keep the email writer anonymous because he sent this to the club’s board of governors and wasn’t intending to have his name published. The member has belonged to the club since 1959, and in the past has served on the board of governors and served two terms as board president. The letter was edited for length but the author’s original boldface and exclamations points are included.
“To the Board of Governors of Colonial Country Club:
“First of all, I am very fond of the club and I am very proud to belong and to have served in capacities I have mentioned. I also appreciate the time and effort put in by each board member and I know that each one of you has the best interest of Colonial in mind each and every day.
“But!!! In my opinion we have gotten off the main road that made us so great and we have taken a path that is very member unfriendly and is not going to appeal to future prospective members. Keep in mind, the members own the club and the board only represents them.
“Specifically, our membership is overpriced. We have, as of today, approximately 62 members on the waiting list to get out. Other members have resigned and forfeited their equity. These people are unhappy for a reason that I will address in a minute.
“A few years ago, Shady Oaks was trying hard to get new members and Colonial had almost 60 people on the waiting list to get in. Today, Shady Oaks has a waiting list to get in and people are leaving Colonial as fast as they can get out. Shady has out-governed and out-managed us during the last few years and I think it would be difficult to argue otherwise. Their club has a smaller initiation fee to get in and does not have the restricted times their members and guests can play.
“So what are some of the other problems at Colonial? If you are a tennis player, why would you want to join Colonial? The outdoor courts are taken away from you in mid-April because of the PGA tournament and not playable again until the first week in July.
“If you are a golfer, the yellow ropes start going up 6 to 8 weeks before the tournament and completely cover the golf course. Guest play is restricted for weeks before and after the tournament, and when the tournament concludes, members are not allowed to play the course for five or six days because the greens superintendent doesn’t want the members to be in his way. That is like your housekeeper telling you after a party to not come home for a week because she needs that time to clean up. The board allows this and the members don’t like it.
“Finally, the tournament is over and members are allowed to play! Golf season has begun! But wait! Because of the heat, humidity, and golf tournament, the bent grass greens are stressed out and Colonial has the worst greens in Fort Worth for the next four months. The heart of the golf season! You can still play though on bad greens if you can endure the noise from the seventy or so fans all over the golf course that sound like a runway at D/FW Airport. It doesn’t matter that wonderful grass is now available to solve this problem. We are going to keep doing it the same way that hasn’t worked for the last 70 some-odd years.
“Another little perk we have to put up with is that the 10 or 15 touring pros that live in the area can play Colonial anytime they want free of charge and each can bring 25 guests per year (free of charge) to play Colonial. If you can’t get a starting time some day, this could be one of the contributing factors.
“I know that other letters about the greens have been written to this board and I know that other suggestions have been made, but I also know they have been all but ignored. In spite of the absolute proof that some things are being done wrong, you are only listening to each other.
“The solution to the problem is very simple. If you want the club to prosper, charge the proper initiation fee and turn the club back over to the membership. Have it open to them at all times and they will be proud of it and bring friends to enjoy all of the facilities the club has to offer.
“You can continue to deny and ignore the obvious, and the situation will continue to be bad and very likely get worse.”