What do the best bass clubs have in common? The key ingredient has to be a mutual desire to have a good club and the willingness to work hard to achieve that goal. The purpose of any type of club is to provide a place for people to gather where others who enjoy the same hobby or sport may also be found, and in some groups a secondary purpose is to provide an arena for competition. Making it all work, while also putting one's abilities to the test in competition, isn't always an easy thing to do.
I have some friends I wouldn't mind fishing tournaments with, but personally I don't think I want to fish with a total stranger. I like to meet new people, but somehow when I'm in a boat a feel a little safer and more confident if I know the person in it with me. That most likely comes from being a woman, not a man. Yet there are other people who enjoy fishing with someone new or someone they have never met.
Buddy system (defined as fishing with a friend often or regularly) tournaments have become a majority format, at least in Texas. Some "purists" prefer draw events because they believe it holds the integrity of the event better than a polygraph test. I don't know all the reasons, but even two strangers can cook up a plan to cheat, so integrity is basically something only each individual can control.
Holding at least one draw event each year does help members get to know each other and holding several can help new members not to feel left out. Draw events have benefits, but they, like buddy tournaments, have drawbacks as well.
There's nothing like a day on the lake with someone to learn more about them, and yourself as well. But not everyone wants to get to know someone in a location from which there is no dignified escape so majority club vote is the only way to decide fairly on event format.
Tournament format is only one facet of club fishing and while it's important that events be well run, draw only tournaments have been a dwindling format in Texas for some years. On the other hand, paper events and interest in them is growing even for clubs holding buddy system events. That takes a lot of trust. And it is trust, as well as hard work that helps to fuel well-run clubs. Special bonds of friendship cannot form among people who do not trust each other.
I have to commend all the clubs participating in worthwhile local projects. Whatever group of people, or children, you help are surely most appreciative. And while you probably don't realize it, a charity or benefit project designed to help others actually helps you and your club even more. There is a special bonding that can only be built between members by serving a purpose, together, that in some way benefits others.
It is the cooperation and teamwork efforts that can also help lay the groundwork training for competition, especially at events like our Top Six Championship. After fishing against each other all year long, it is difficult to remember that you must cooperate and fish as a team at this event. Those who remember this simple fact are generally the ones who do the best.
Probably one of the other main ingredients for a good club is fun. Old fashioned "havin-a-good-time" kind of fun. Laughing together, enjoying each other's company, even poking fun at each other is important to the group. Because even though we're there to catch fish, and win if we can, we still want to have a good time doing it. What this takes is keeping the "politics" of club operations from becoming too heavy. Not always an easy thing to do, but necessary. Group cookouts and picnics are an excellent way to bring everyone together and many clubs do this at least once each year. Meetings generally have business that must be conducted and therefore tend to be a bit more "stuffy" sometimes. Of course these too can have added attractions such as drawings and other entertainment. The main idea is make it fun for everyone.