Sandy MacIver is always on the move. An avid athlete who participates in just about every sport imaginable, MacIver is also on the move in her career, taking on new challenges with an infectious, energetic spirit. As Chief Operating Officer of Maryland Golf and Country Clubs (MGCC) in Bel Air, MacIver aims to take the 50-year-old club to the next level while staying true to the club’s rich history. To do this, MacIver relies on her 20-plus years in the industry.
Her career in country clubs began in the late 1980s as a salesperson for the Hunt Valley Golf Club, owned by America Golf. “Within six months, I was asked to take my ideas on the integration of sales, marketing and membership and share them with other clubs owned by America Golf. I then created the first Regional Sales Director position in the company, where I was able to travel the country. Later, I became part of the acquisition team to help the company grow,” MacIver says. “It wasn’t long until I was managing 19 private clubs.” After American Golf, she went out on her own and became a consultant in the golf industry.
“I received a phone call regarding a startup country club in Reno, Nev., that would have a Jack Nicklaus-designed Signature Golf Course. I packed my bags for 10 days, interviewed with them, and within three days, I was asked to stay on for three months. I was there almost four years until the project was completed while selling out the memberships.” She returned to Maryland and became a business partner with her brother in a home inspection business.When her passion for the golf business was once again in her sights, she sent her resume to MGCC.
Sports – golf, cycling, hiking, skiing, mountain biking. MacIver was recently inducted into the athletic hall of fame at her high school and is an “Official Ambassador” to Liv/Giant bicycles helping to promote women cycling.
Entrepreneurship – she started her first business at age 24 by opening a yogurt stand in Fells Point. In addition to still maintaining a partnership in Gen-Spec, LLC with her brother, she recently launched a T-shirt business at www.livedirty.biz. Her trademarked, creative shirts urge people to get outside and get dirty through hiking, biking, lacrosse and running, all featuring her signature “Bandana Man.”
Community involvement – “We’ve received a lot of local support over 50 years, and we have the opportunity as a company to give back,” she says.
“I immediately recognized MGCC was a very special place. The club offered wonderful amenities including golf, swimming, and tennis along with a beautiful restaurant in a location with an enclave of rolling hills and beautiful views. Within months of starting with MGCC, I was offered the position as the Chief Operating Officer,” MacIver says.
She recognized the changing atmosphere of country clubs nationwide. “It’s a challenging time … you want to hold onto the traditional elements – coat and tie in the fine dining restaurant, no cell phones on the golf course – but you must also appeal to the changing culture and demographics of the industry. No matter what activity you engage yourself in at the club, most likely everyone will eat, therefore, the focus point becomes the food and service,” she says. “Understanding how to cater to the changing demographics is important – some want fine dining and others prefer convenience. I participate in a worldwide network of general managers, and we discuss the challenges the industry faces, including food and beverage and how to maintain a successful tennis operation, and recognizing that busy professionals are more apt to play nine holes of golf instead of 18.”
“While striving to introduce operational changes along with continuing to improve on our current member experiences, Sandy remains steadfast that decisions must always be in the best interest of MGCC. She’s not afraid to challenge the thinking of the Board of Governors if she feels the ‘big picture’ isn’t being met, and she does so with conviction and professionalism,” says Linda Walz of the Board of Governors.
As COO, she must also look at the cause and effect of proposed changes. “Some want grass tennis courts, but are those really worth the cost? And some suggest GPS units in the golf carts, but will that slow the game down?” she asks. Another critical element is service to the members. “Enhancing the member’s experience is important when you are in the service industry,” she says.
MacIver says she feels honored to be the COO, especially in a field traditionally dominated by men. “As President of MGCC for the last three years, I have had the pleasure of working closely with Sandy. I admire her ability to keep her team focused on the big picture while managing to deal with the everyday obstacles that come up. Maryland Golf is lucky to have her,” says Richard Simone, President of MGCC. I95