On the west coast of Scotland, between the islands of Jura and Scarba, lurks a monstrous whirlpool so menacing that it even has its own name. Fed by a tidal surge that picks up speed as it races through the narrow strait separating the islands, Corryvrekan is a devilish surprise awaiting ill-prepared sailors, taking unsuspecting ships to a watery grave.

Though not quite so devilish, it’s often the unknown that sinks a good year and an otherwise solid strategic plan in the golf business. But rather than chalking up performance setbacks to something out of your control, consider five planning suggestions that will help avert those ever-lurking surprises.

Align Your Core Values

Know what you stand for and what you mean to accomplish. Ask yourself:

What’s most important to me? Your work and interactions with others demonstrate your value system, whether you are a hard-nosed money manager or a touchy-feely departmental manager. See that your actions are consistent with your core values.

How does my work serve others? In management, one is often a servant leader who must place the needs and expectations of others ahead of his or her own. Study your course or club and understand what values are most important to your customers, members and staff. Organize your work to fulfill their priorities and your desire to serve others.

What legacy do I wish to leave? Most people do not consider the lasting impact of their countless hours of dedicated work. But they should because the best way to serve the interests of your facility and the environment is to make sure your work is building the reputation you want to leave for your successor and generations to come.

Understand Your Market

What do you know about your market? Is it primarily golfers? Families? Non-golfers seeking socialization? You should know. Are your golfers mid-level managers or high-flying wheeler-dealers? Are the women of your club working professionals or those who do not work outside the home?

Three ways to know more about your market:

  1. Understand the demographic profile of the most current member survey.
  2. Obtain the demographic profile for the local area that you serve (www.census.gov).
  3. Host discussion groups or roundtables so that your market segments can tell you about themselves and what they want from you.

Establish Clear Goals

Be specific in what you expect of yourself and your staff. Set goals that align with your long-term vision, then confirm that they align with those of management and board of directors.

Your goals for next year should be set by now. If they’re not, have a conversation with your manager and make sure you’re both on the same page. While you’re at it, set up regular meetings during the year when you both can sit down to review progress and make adjustments.

Develop a Realistic Action Plan

Convert your core values, goals and objectives into an action plan that is sized appropriately to your resources, including staff and budget. Then align authority and accountability to make sure everyone knows their roles, responsibilities and deadlines. reckoning as certain as the Corryvrekan.

Refer to the action plan and chart of accountability every week, month and quarter to ensure that you are on-course. Good or bad, report your progress up the organization. Transparency builds and sustains trust.

Re-evaluate Constantly

Few plans are perfect and most goals and objectives requires adjustment from time to time. Be flexible. Stay current and measure everything accurately and without bias.

Similarly, ask your staff to evaluate their own work and yours. Ask members and regulars for feedback. Listen to the most frequent critics … they often know what they’re talking about! Hold yourself and your plan accountable for the results being achieved.

Sometimes, as was the case with ships encountering the vagaries of the Corryvrekan, surprises are out of our control. Often, though, some careful planning will give us the opportunity to steer clear of turbulence that lurks ahead.

Henry DeLozier is a principal in the Global Golf Advisors consultancy. DeLozier joined Global Golf Advisors in 2008 after nine years as the vice president of golf for Pulte Homes. He is a past president of the National Golf Course Owners Association’s board of directors and serves on the PGA of America’s Employers Advisory Council.