Robert Henry Dedman Sr.
Founder of ClubCorp Inc.
|Robert Dedman Sr. set a goal at age 18 to earn $50 million by the time he was 50, and give away $1 million a year later. As founder and chairman of Club Corporation International, he well surpassed his goal. At the time of his induction into the Hospitality Hall of Honor, Dedman was one of Forbes Magazine’s 400 wealthiest people.
While growing up in an impoverished family during the Great Depression, Dedman realized that education and a strong work ethic were the keys to a better life. After graduating from high school, Dedman enlisted in the Navy and proceeded to earn three degrees in four years from The University of Texas while selling insurance and real estate full time. After graduation, he returned to Dallas and earned a law degree from Southern Methodist University. By his mid-20s, Dedman already was a partner in a prominent Dallas law firm.
While on vacation with his wife, Dedman learned of the real-estate craze surrounding a newly built country club. Dedman had an idea to build three courses around one clubhouse, and then the club would triple its income without increasing its operating costs. He also realized it would be more profitable to cater to the upper 10 percent of the community rather than just the top one percent that most clubs reached.
When he returned to Dallas, he bought 400 acres in North Dallas. Within three months he had taken deposits for 2,000 memberships and was able to build an expansive clubhouse and 54 holes without needing a loan. Brookhaven Country Club established its charter in 1957.
After the construction of Brookhaven, ClubCorp also acquired existing clubs. At the time of Dedman’s induction into the Hall of Honor, ClubCorp owned and operated more than 200 country clubs, resorts, public-fee golf courses and real estate developments, making ClubCorp the largest championship golf-course chain.
In 1987, Dedman was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, and in 1989 he received the Horatio Alger Award.
In his autobiography he lists Robert Dedman’s Ten Rules of Order. The 10th rule is, “Don't forget to have fun. The more fun you have, the more money you make.” He practiced what he preached, and played golf or tennis on a daily basis.