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Advisory Board Introduction: Neil Rooney

Neil Rooney, COO and General Manager of The Royal Canadian Yacht Club, was welcomed to the Club Leaders Forum Advisory Board for the 2021-22 term.

Neil has spent most of his club career in the golf/country club side of the industry, so his recent move to the Royal Canadian Yacht Club was a new adventure in club management. Considering himself a club manager who primarily worked in golf (as opposed to a golf club manager), Neil felt prepared for a shift to a club focused on the sport of sailing.

RCYC will host international match races against the United States for the 124-year old Canada’s Cup in September 2021, along with many other championships throughout the sailing season. A Canadian institution steeped in history since its founding before Confederation in 1852, the RCYC has the largest collection of sailing artifacts in Canada. Originally located on the Toronto waterfront, the club has called Toronto Island its summer home since 1881, with a winter home adjacent to the University of Toronto built in 1984.

Neil started in spring 2019 when extensive flooding on Lake Ontario caused many operational challenges at the Island property for that year. Then we all know that March 2020 brought COVID-19 and the challenges we have all been working through since. “Boredom has not been a problem since joining RCYC” noted Rooney. The Club is a year-round operation with a City Clubhouse (multi use) in downtown Toronto which offers full winter activities when the Island shuts down for the season.

Neil’s introduction to the private club business began at Clontarf Golf & Lawn Bowling Club in Dublin, Ireland. He served as General Manager for 3 ½ years before leaving the club’s employ (and Ireland), to emigrate to Canada with his wife Sharon and young family.

Transition to the club business in Canada was smooth with his move to the Royal Mayfair Golf Club in Alberta. This was followed with a move to the wet coast [not a typo!] and Vancouver where he was GM at Capilano Golf & Country Club. Capilano probably has the most picturesque four finishing holes in Canada. From Vancouver Neil and his family moved back to Alberta and the Glencoe Golf & Country Club. Glencoe is a private 45-hole golf club owned by the Glencoe Club (Canada’s largest multi-use club). The golf courses are Robert Trent Jones designed and the championship Forest Course was extensively renovated in 2012/13.

Neil and family's next move was to Toronto and a wonderful opportunity at Scarboro Golf & Country Club – the only Tillinghast designed course in Canada. Six years later the RCYC opportunity presented itself and Neil is now able to get behind the closed doors of the Yacht Club Round Table session at the CMAA Annual Conference.

The Canadian Society of Club Manager’s has been a key source of support, career advancement and education for Neil over the years. He volunteered on many provincial & national committees serving on the Pacific Branch Board, as President of the Alberta Branch in 2010 and President of the National Board of CSCM in 2013/14.

With over 25 years of experience in the club industry, Neil is really looking forward to contributing to the Advisory Board and working alongside an incredibly distinguished and accomplished group of club managers. “I am really excited for this new learning opportunity and working alongside some of our industries great leaders”.

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