Golf Course Dress Codes, Cell Phones, and Snobs

There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life. - Frank Zappa

Every industry has their stupid, unfriendly, non-customercentric policies, but the golf industry in which I often work has more than most. Following are just a few shining examples.

At North Berwick Golf Club (Scotland) on a damp and foggy morning, I was asked to remove my $100 navy-blue, waterresistant sleeveless sweater with the logo of a very high-end club on it as, according to the steward, it constituted rain gear which was not allowed in the clubhouse. I had just stepped out of my car and I protested that it was my only sweater, that it was dry, and that I was cold. To which came the reply, “You’ll warm up in a wee minute as soon as ye get yer coffee in yea.” Which, loosely translated means “I don’t give a damn. Take it off if you want to come in!” I did take it off, but was cold for 15 minutes while I waited for my coffee to arrive and warm me up. Yes, I know I was a guest and should just be delighted to be there, but instead I was cold and irritated.

Gullane (Scotland) is a monster of a course at almost 6,200 yards with the fairways hard as rock after weeks of high temperatures and no rain, thus ensuring that even a missed hit went 300 yards. We were forbidden to play the back tees (very typical in England and Scotland, as they consider it a privilege for the members, and, even then, only in tournaments). So we played Gullane at 5,800 yards or less with a driver and a sand wedge. If I had wanted to play pitch and putt, I could have done that on the free course at the Gullane village green. I felt cheated!

My club bans jeans (as most clubs do), a policy that costs my club about $3000 of my business because I can’t be bothered to change to go to the club for lunch. (Besides, I look better in a pair of $150 Armani jeans than Bob Lynch looks in his 1978 brown polyester Sears slacks!) Some clubs allow black denim jeans, but no blue jeans.

Now I’m not asking to play in jeans, but how about you let me go in the club restaurant for a burger at lunchtime? At most clubs I have to wear shorts to my knees which makes it hard to walk, especially when it’s dripping hot. What is wrong with tailored tennis shorts to play golf in? I’ve seen Jack Nicklaus play in them several times, and if it’s good enough for Jack, it ought to be good enough for everyone else. I’m not asking for jogging shorts—I just want to be able to walk in comfort. Besides, the people who make these stupid rules are not the ones walking in 90-degree heat and carrying golf bags.

Let’s take the tee-time reservation policy, which at most private clubs is that reservations cannot be made more than seven days in advance. What if you have a guest coming from out of town and you want to make sure you can get a tee time that coincides with his flights in and out four weeks from now? At a private club, why should that be a big deal? Isn’t it membercentric to take care of situations like this for the enjoyment of the member and the traveling guest? Try doing it most places and you get the old “my hands are tied” story. Or they will do it but only after the director of golf, club manager, or club secretary has stepped in to help.

At a private club why does the driving range close at 5 or 6 PM? What difference does it make (except the day the range is being cut) if I want to hit balls until dark? I really don’t need any supervision. At my club, they leave all the balls out six nights a week, so it’s not an issue of theft.

I could go on and on but I won’t… Slay some sacred cows in your business to make doing business with you fun, easy, and customer centric.

Eliminate STUPID, non-customer-friendly policies from your business.

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