If you went online you can locate different examples of by-laws for sports clubs, and you may be able to find other p-ball club by-laws besides these. But the two that are here represent (1, Palm Creek) the most common form and (2, Bend Pickleball Club) the most functional form. We’re big believers in the latter.

Why? Because, done with care, a good set of by-laws actually serves as an extension of the mission statement in a concrete way, spelling out the expectations of each officer in terms of that mission and also clarifying potentially contentious issues like successions in the event of resignation, termination of officers in the event of their non-performance, and etc. This in turn sets a reasonable expectation in the mind of anybody running for office in your club.

(We know, yes, it’s difficult enough to get any good candidates much less risk running them off by setting the expectations for their performance too high, right? But it’s worse to sandbag somebody into taking the job by telling them it’s a piece of cake when it isn’t, and worst of all to get somebody in a critical position who really doesn’t want or doesn’t have time to do any real work. Running any sports club, any club of any kind, can be real work. So, truth, clarity and completeness are key.):

1.  Palm Creek Pickleball Club bylaws

Nothing wrong with these that a few revisions won’t fix, a task that should be ongoing in any club (bylaws should be living documents), but these certainly are not functional bylaws for the obvious reason that they do not describe the FUNCTIONS of each position and, further, rely too much on “At-Large Positions” which typically (wherever used) “Serve at the Pleasure and Direction of the President” or some such silliness. This  particular example isn’t all THAT bad and legally does what bylaws must, spelling out the responsible officers of the club, how money will be handled, reporting, voting, and the rest. All necessary and basic.

2.  Bend Pickleball Club by-laws

IOHO, much improved from the above, especially from the standpoint of having real functional detail in the officer’s descriptions, a better-defined mission statement, clarification of chain of succession in the event of issues, resignations, or termination of officers in the event of non-performance, descriptions of membership rights and obligations, and several other things. Still needs some tweaking but pretty good, in addition to handling all the necessary and basic stuff mentioned above.

4 Comments

  • Darlene Mathews Jan 21, 2020 at 07:56 pm

    We are a village that has just built 6 new pickleball courts by donations, fundraisers, and contributions. Can we limit use of our courts to just those residents who live in our village and pay their membership dues?
    People outside our village now would like to come and play, but our courts are filled with members who live, contribute and financially have contributed to the building of these new courts. Can we require a member to live in our village to access our courts? Either as a homeowner or a renter?
    (Outside people would just like to pay the $35 membership fee and have access to our courts. )
    Is there bylaw language we could write??

    • Us Jan 23, 2020 at 08:14 am

      Hi, Darlene. Thanks for the timely post. We hear about this issue quite often and have experienced it big-time in Bend, Oregon, where we helped form a club that was built on city land with our heavy contributions. In our case we negotiated in advance with the Parks and Recreation Dept. in Bend so that we, the club, would have member sole access to 12 of the 16 courts, and 4 of the courts would be left for the public. This worked well enough, and we think partially because there was also substantial public time when all the courts were available to the public. For instance, we had all morning hours six days a week (again with 4 courts left for the public) and all the rest of the time the courts were open play. We also had the contractual right to reserve all 16 courts X number of times per year for tournaments, clinics, member events and what have you. Bend is a big place physically; quite spread out, and fortunately (with substantial self-thanks to our pioneering efforts, ahem!) there were eventually enough places to play other than our courts that it worked pretty well – we could even direct overflow or public play to other public courts although we had the bulk by far. So thinking about your situation (we recognize it’s not always about us), we would posit that you have a more significant problem than we did. We negotiated for rights to the courts in advance as “payment” for our cooperatively funding the place. We also had enough courts (eight from the get-go and 16 within a year thereafter) to allow lots of open time as described above. Our dues were (and are) higher than yours at $50 but that was never enough to turn people away. Thus we could have had the same problems easily if it wasn’t for the difference in size and the contractual agreements. You could try establishing the prime and non-prime times and allow the public to play during non-prime time without charge. You could also try establishing a second level of membership. For instance, those who live in town (and presumably whose taxes paid for the courts, along with your contributions) could pay $35. Non-citizens could pay, say, $70. That seems eminently reasonable to us as they did not pay for the courts and should have no “legal” rights to them – but if they were inclined they could still participate. That should cut their numbers down and by re-directing all non-members to less busy times (whatever they are for you, if in fact you have any!) it might help a bit. Regardless of what you do, employing our suggestions may mean you in the club have to become the Pickleball Police – a role few of us like. To counteract some of that confrontational angst you may want to obtain Town permission to post permanent signs outlining the rules of use, and provide an easy way for non-members to self-regulate. Nothing we know of is perfect and we see holes in the above…but everybody has problems with this and you’ll probably have to be ready to continue to tweak this as you go forward. You should also start preparing now to build more courts, and naturally they won’t be enough either! Good luck!

  • Nolan Lang Nov 05, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Are by-laws mandatory for a pickleball club.??

    • Us Dec 06, 2016 at 08:40 am

      Sorry for the delay getting back. As you may have seen elsewhere in comments on our site, we’ve had a major problem and are trying to re-create links to over 3,000 documents and files/jpgs/videos etc. even as we speak, and that’s taken a bit of our limited time…but to your question, we’d say no, they are not mandatory unless you want to do it the right way, and we’re not being sarcastic, but there are issues that could come up with taxation or even legally if you are collecting money for dues, tournament fees, etc. and need to have “rules” in place for distribution of funds, paying taxes, etc., and perhaps the lack of by-laws and official organization may impact your ability to get certain types of insurance, although we’re not sure about that. Additionally we think a simple set of bylaws, written functionally with built-in job descriptions, is a great way to set the expectations for each board member and is really worth doing. But also we suggest not re-creating the wheel but just starting with something already in place on our site or elsewhere and just edit away from there. It’s really pretty easy. Good luck.

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