Chief Hospitality Keynote speaker Colin Burns

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  • CCM (Certified Club Manager)

  • Member of the Honor Society of CMAA (Club Managers Association of America)
  • Member of the Board of the Gladney Center for Adoption/The Cup, one of America’s preeminent adoption agencies
  • a Trustee for the Metropolitan Club Foundation, a charitable Foundation supporting hospitality education and good and welfare needs

Colin Burns

As one of the preeminent private club managers in the US, Colin helped set new standards at a one of the world’s most renowned private clubs, Winged Foot Golf Club. The name is synonymous with championship golf, elegance and a warm and embracing environment. When Colin arrived in 1991 his mission was simple, make the club as great as its reputation; this was no simple task. A very traditional club set in its ways, Colin spent years enhancing the brand , the service and culinary programs, upgrading the physical plant, reengaging with critical externals partners like the United States Golf Association, scheduling another golf major championship and creating an embracing hospitality environment.

Raised at the foot of one of his true hospitality mentors Colin learned early on the importance of a warm, genuine smile, an extended hand, and a warm embrace.  “Almost every day of my childhood was spent, in part, in the womb of my parents’ restaurant.”  Most, if not all patrons referred to his paternal grandmother as “mother.”  There were family members everywhere; but there was no doubt who the patron was – “Your Host, Harry Burns.”  Every piece of marketing materials, ashtrays, matchbooks, menus were all signed, “Your Host, Harry Burns”. Harry greeted you at the door, visited your table, or met you at the bar; at some point in the evening, “your host” Harry Burns was present. To this day, Colin still encounters former patrons who consistently talk about their happy times, holidays, wedding, and quiet dinners. “That kind of hospitality, pure and earnest, remains aspirational for me and has served as a guide for my approach to welcoming members, guests, mentoring staff and serving as a leader.”

That early road led me to a 31-year career at Winged Foot Golf Club, one of the most prestigious private golf clubs in the world.  Established in 1923, Winged Foot Golf Club almost immediately established itself in the world of golf by hosting the 1929 US Open.  During my 31 years we hosted the 1997 PGA Championship, the 2006 and 2020 US Opens, the 2004 US Amateur and countless prestigious charity events to include Michael J. Fox Foundation, Christopher Reeve Foundation, Autism Speaks, and Cystic Fibrosis.  While always famous, Winged Foot GC was not always great.  Over his career Colin strove to make Winged Foot “a place a greatness,” a place where, “Members are treated like family, and guests like Members…”

My career has been spent in the private club space. Private clubs have their issues, some perceived some real. And yet, private clubs, social, golf, racquets, often serves as that place where young men and young women learn (outside of their homes) how to behave in a civilized, respectful manner.  Yes, private clubs around the world have relaxed their respective dress codes, modified menus and yet, for the most part they remain one of the last bastions where manners matter. Private clubs, elegant hotels, fine restaurants HOPEFULLY serve as educational centers where young men and women are reminded that, manners matter.

Humanity is at an inflection point, certainly in the US, and perhaps worldwide the ubiquitous and dangerous use of social media by our children, the lack of civility in our politicians, families sitting around death scrolling…what do we do?

We as a collective community promote hospitality values and the societal benefits of the hospitality industry and its dedicated servants.

The father of American psychology, William James said, “We don’t smile because we are happy, we are happy because we smile.” So let’s smile, let’s love, let’s bring our guests into the embrace of true and pure hospitality. Let’s embrace our weary travelers, let’s walk towards our guests, welcome them, “embrace” them and smile…


“I have known Colin Burns the General manager Winged Foot Golf Club since 1994. I have always been impressed by the fantastic job he did which allowed the Club to become one of the most prestigious in the world.

As the President of the French Golf Federation, I have asked Mr Burns at the occasion of the World Amateur Team Championship to speak in front of our 700 members about his experience in the organization of the 1997 PGA Championship and the 2020 US Open hosted at Winged Foot, about all the evolutions made on the courses and concerning all the improvements for the facilities which contributed to its greatness.

At the WATC, Mr. Burns fascinated the audience and I still have great comments in France about his performance.”

Pascal GrizotPascal Grizot, President of the French Golf Federation

“Colin Burns lights up any room he enters.  He can captivate the attention of an audience with his stories making everyone feel they have been a part of his amazing journey. Colin, whether on stage or sitting across from you at a table, has a gift of engaging your interests. He never makes you feel as if you are an observer, but an active participant of his speech or conversation”.

Susan FeasterSusan Feaster, Chairman, Monte-Carlo and St. Moritz U.S. Celebrity Golf Cup | U.S. Ambassador for the Yacht Club of Monaco | President, Monaco U.S. Business Forum

“I have had the great fortune to hear Colin Burns speak publicly many times, and on a variety of topics.

Whether it was the PGA Championship, the U. S. Open Championships, Board Governance, Employee Retention, and more, Colin has been able to articulate exceptionally well, when speaking to his audience.

Colins’ knowledge on various topics related to golf, the golf industry, and the hospitality business in general, is vast. Colin has a great way of sharing that knowledge, in a down-to-earth manner, keeping his audiences engaged.

I look forward to attending the next Colin Burns session!”

Barry L. ChandlerBarry L. Chandler, President Metropolitan Club Foundation

Colin Burns, while in his role as the General Manager of the prestigious Winged Foot Golf Club, made a presentation to the Irish Golf Club Managers Association.  Colin is a captivating public speaker with a natural ability to engage, inform, and inspire his audience. Colin possesses a commanding presence that immediately captures the attention of his audience. Whether he’s addressing a room full of golf enthusiasts, club members, or industry professionals, his confidence and poise create an atmosphere of respect and admiration. As the General Manager of Winged Foot Golf Club for over 30 years, Colin’s deep understanding of the golf industry is unquestionable. He effortlessly weaves his extensive knowledge of golf course management, club operations, and the rich history of Winged Foot, including its Championship history, into his presentations. This expertise lends credibility to his words and keeps the audience engaged.

One of Colin’s greatest strengths as a speaker is his storytelling ability. He brings the world of golf to life through anecdotes, historical narratives, and personal experiences. His stories not only educate but also entertain, making the content relatable and memorable. Colin is a master of effective communication. His speeches are well-structured, clear, and concise. He uses language that resonates with both golf aficionados and those new to the sport, ensuring that everyone in the audience can follow along and appreciate the subject matter.

It’s evident that Colin is deeply passionate about golf and his career in the golf and hospitality industry. His enthusiasm is infectious, and it encourages those listening to share in his love for the sport. This passion adds an authentic and genuine quality to his speeches. He imparts valuable life lessons, such as discipline, dedication, and the pursuit of excellence, which can be applied not only on the golf course but also in various aspects of life. His messages are both motivational and thought-provoking.

Colin understands the importance of engaging with his audience. He encourages questions and interaction, creating a dynamic and participatory atmosphere during his presentations. This approach ensures that his audience feels heard and valued.

Colin is an exceptional public speaker who combines his extensive knowledge of the golf industry with captivating storytelling and a passion for the sport. His speeches leave a lasting impression, inspire his listeners, and are a testament to his dedication to the world of golf and hospitality. If you have the opportunity to attend one of his speaking engagements, I highly recommend it for a truly enriching experience.

Jeff FallonJeff Fallon, General Manager The Royal Dublin Golf Club