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September 2021

The Dormie Network – Philanthropy is Part of its Culture

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By Harvey Silverman

Every year golf facilities, mostly public but some private too, are inundated with requests from charitable organizations for donations of golf. It’s one of the noble characteristics of our industry that we donate twosomes or foursomes as well as host and manage charitable golf events. Together we proudly account for millions of dollars in charitable donations and fundraising, most of it on a micro-local level.

The Dormie Network contributes differently. In several ways, it is a shining beacon illuminating golf’s generosity. For starters, how many golf courses, clubs, or multi-course operators have a Chief Philanthropy Officer? Brian Schenk, who holds that title at Dormie, told us, “As a growing company, the Dormie Network is proud to be able to help support non-profit organizations all across the country.  Through our in-kind donation model, we can contribute to large-scale events as well as small, helping us as an organization continue to strive to be the best corporate citizen we can be.”

Here is how they do it.

Dormie Network is a national network of clubs combining destination golf experience with the premier hospitality of private membership. It’s pure golf as it should be.

Headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, Dormie Network is under single ownership – the Peed family. Its club portfolio includes facilities boasting Golf Digest and Golfweek ratings, including ArborLinks (Nebraska), Ballyhack (Virginia), Briggs Ranch (Texas), Dormie Club (North Carolina), Hidden Creek (New Jersey), and Victoria National (Indiana). A critical feature of each club, now and in the future, is having an architect’s pedigree like Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio, Coore and Crenshaw, and Lester George.
 
The Dormie Network Experience for members and guests includes luxurious,  private cottages with four master suites, a fireplace, private patios with firepits, and fully stocked bars. Also, a culinary team and executive chef create regionally-inspired menus and craft custom dishes and drinks for members and guests. 
 
Golf is limited to just 18 daily tee times spaced at least 15-minutes apart, and members have full privileges at each club with no greens fees, cart fees, or reciprocal play arrangements. Other amenities include concierge service, instruction, personal shopping for hand-picked apparel, and more that appeals to the most discriminating golfer. Membership opportunities include national, regional, and corporate.

So that’s the setup. Elite clubs spread across the country with unmatched member and guest services and experiences. But if the Dormie Network has a soul, philanthropy is at its core.

Non-profit organizations of all kinds across the country that inquire about donations from Dormie have two in-kind choices. The first is a one-night stay-and-play package for four people, including a four-suite cottage and all the golf they can play for two days. Included is member-level access to practice facilities, teaching staff, and onsite restaurants (meals not included). The package value is $3,400, and Dormie requires bidding to start at $1,000.

In 2020, this package earned $371,000 for non-profits, with an average of $2,700 per auction.
Full disclosure: I’ll auction this Dormie Network package at a golf event I run for a non-profit on whose board I sit. It might be a tough sell in California – the closest Dormie club is in Nebraska or Texas. But for golfers with friends and family across the country who can plan a trip to somewhere nearby a Dormie club, this can be a fun one-night getaway experience unlike any other. So that’s how I’ll sell it, and I’ll report back with the results.

The second package is a complimentary, one-year membership with full privileges. The certificate holder has an option at the end of 12 months to join as a dues-paying member. This option works great for non-profits proximate to a Dormie club. Bidding must start at $10,000, and Dormie Network’s non-profit partners continue to have much success auctioning the offer. Schenk said, “New members gained by their donations already have a spirit of philanthropy, adding to a culture of giving within Dormie’s membership structure and tying them closer to their communities through the spirit of golf.”

In 2020, this package earned more than $872,000 for non-profits.

The Dormie Network responded aggressively to the COVID pandemic to raise money for distressed people and organizations cruelly affected by the raging scourge. A Caddie Relief Fund donation request sent to members raised more than $74,000 for caddies unable to work. Once reopened, each club hosted an event on the Dormie Day of Giving, raising more than $80,000 for Youth on Course, Folds of Honor, and local First Tee chapters. Last, Dormie launched an initiative to help its front-line workers via ClubsHelp. Members responded with over $32,000  
2020’s total of money raised with direct and in-kind donations total over $1,429,000.
The Dormie Network’s philanthropic culture and member efforts are testaments to golf’s long-time commitment to helping others. Dormie Network is relatively small – just six clubs – but its reach is national and substantive. Most importantly, woven into the fabric of its culture is philanthropy. The Peed family and Brian Schenk make it so.

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