Customer Service
By Snyper on 11/29/10
Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

Have you ever walked out of a pro shop shaking your head and wondering why you just handed somebody fifty dollars of your hard earned money after they treated you as though you were in their way? I know I have and it infuriates me every time it happens.

When I walk into a golf shop, I am usually anxious to get out on the course and start my round. The last thing I want to do is stand around and wait for somebody to come take my money from me. I get especially angry when the person who is supposed to be robbing me is out on the range hitting balls, talking to his buddy on his cell phone, sitting in his office playing games on his computer, or just no where to be found! I just want to scream, "Excuse me! I'm trying to hand over my money to someone here! Does anybody want it!?" I'm not trying to start my round off by being frustrated because I had to stand and wait for someone to take my money. My game on the course will frustrate me enough!
"Excuse me! I'm trying to hand over my money to someone here! Does anybody want it!?"

As we all know, now that golf is a mainstream sport, it is no longer reserved for only the well to do in society. Pro shops all across the country are seeing more and more “blue collar” golfers, if you will, walk through their doors. Public golf is riddled with golfers, just like myself, who are cautious about where and how much golf they play because of the cost of the sport. This, combined with the increasing prevalence of golf courses around the country, causes the experience that the customer receives to be more important than ever before. Now, no course can guarantee that you are going to play well, but they can guarantee that you will be treated as a valued customer. That doesn’t require a complimentary shoeshine and a free drink, it simply takes prompt service and a positive attitude. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t seem so difficult to provide.

In the days of old, those who played golf were usually members of a country club. For those of you who haven’t experienced the ambiance of a country club, for the most part, they are the epitome of customer service. Going to the club to play is a pleasurable experience from the time you get out of your car until the time you drive out of the parking lot on your way home. Most all the employees know your name and greet you with a smile whenever they see you. The other golfers that you encounter during your round also greet you with a smile and a wave. It seems as though everyone is happy to be there and the staff is willing to do whatever they can to ensure that you enjoy yourself and your round. If you were to have a complaint, management is there to address it and rectify the situation as soon as possible. Now, does any of that resemble your last trip to a public golf course? While I would like to think that it might, I am guessing that none of that even rings a bell.
How can it be that when I go to Wal-Mart to buy a five-dollar bag of chips, I leave feeling better about my service than when I drop 50 dollars to play golf?

Now, why exactly is this the case? How can it be that when I go to Wal-Mart to buy a five-dollar bag of chips, I leave feeling better about my service than when I drop 50 dollars to play golf? Granted, not all customer service is equal. Some courses do a great job, which makes it obvious that such service is possible to provide. Even though the public golfer holds no fancy title like “member”, they are still the ones that pay the bills. The customers are still the ones who determine whether the course will remain a course or become a housing development in five years. So why are today’s public golfers so often treated as though they are in the way when they visit a course? Next week, I’ll be addressing some of the reasons that I believe this giant lack of customer service exists in the world of public golf. Until then, chime in and let me know what you think!


* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.

photo source


[ comments ]
guzzlingil says:
The Bluffs, a golf course in St Francisville, La....is notorious for poor service....they try to make you feel like an idiot if you are not a member there....basically that is why we quit going up there to play...
11/29/10
 
TeT says:
Quail Valley SW of Houston. Fantastic guys for service, busy but attentive from the counter to the starter to the cart girls and I had a grounds crewman chase me down from a couple of holes back to bring me a head cover I dropped in the fairway...
11/29/10
 
chief_broom says:
Memebers only clubs survive solely because of their members. A fairly small group of people who are paying a membership premium. As a result such operations must insure their members are happy with the services provided for that membership premium. This is also a way for said club to gain new members as word spreads of the qulaity of the service they provide. Public courses by nature draw from a much larger pool of potential players who only pay each time they come to the course. Such operations are selling "value" rather than the service aspect that private clubs provide. Public clubs survive on volume rather than the whim of their small group of members.
11/29/10
 
Banker85 says:
i hate when i get treated like crap or they are annoyed by me wanting to play their crappy course. ya i dont understand it. maybe they hate their jobs like i do. I still am always customer service driven, if they think i am a jerk i wont get the referrals i need to get me a big bonus check!
11/29/10
 
terpsno1 says:
I actually have not found this to be the case in recent years - I have found that for the most part the pro-shop guys are more friendly and accomodating then they used to be. I attribute it to today's competition for golfers - They want you to come back & are competing with all the other courses for your business - Maybe it's just the area I live in. I find the starters & marshalls to be more friendly also.
11/29/10
 
bkuehn1952 says:
My service experience at most courses has been very satisfactory. My feeling is poor service is the exception rather than the rule. When I do encounter poor service, I tend to vote with feet and do not return.
11/29/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
This was a retail-end scene but interesting nonetheless.
Wifey and I went to the GolfSmith in Walnut Creek, CA checking out pushcarts. I let her out at the door and went to park the car. She preceded me thru the door by about 10 minutes as I took an unexpected fone call. When I went in, the staffers were chatting it up with a business casual guy about his last round at "BigBux CC" and his annual fees and how big his drive was and the color of his golf bag and what ball he prefers and...you get the idea. All while my wife was trying to get some attention to learn the features of the push carts. Now, she is the kind of girl who will interrupt this kinda scene UNLESS she senses potential sexist underpinnings. Then she doesn't waste her time. From my POV, it was looking pretty clear. So I wandered around observing the scene not letting on we were together. I watched her get ignored for another few minutes, we exchanged a quizzical glance and GTFO.
Ended up getting our carts from Dick's.
11/29/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
I gotta shout-out to all the local courses in my area in San Francisco North Bay.
Except for Blue Rock in Vallejo, the staff are always exceedingly cheerful and helpful. Rancho Solano, Paradise Valley, Green Tree, Cypress Lakes, all great folks who have always made me feel welcome.
11/29/10
 
bducharm says:
@Kurt - would have done the same thing. I will relate a story that is opposite from your experience.

My wife used to work for Golfsmith in Austin. She always had issues with sexist guys coming in and thinking a woman didn't know anything about golf. I will admit (and she would too), when she started her golf knowledge was pretty thin. But she really studied hard to learn the craft. She knew how to regrip clubs (she helped regrip Tom Kite's irons), talk about loft, lie, flex, kick point, etc. Once she started talking, they would mostly listen but there were always a few.
11/29/10
 
bducharm says:
I will guarantee one thing - if you ever come and play my club (River Place CC in Austin TX), you will get the finest service around. The gentleman who works in our pro shop (Glen Stevenson) is the friendliest, most accommodating person I have ever met. We call him the Ambassador of River Place!!!
11/29/10
 
Hoinacki says:
Captain Crunch is amazing, enough said. I tend to get the best service from the young and the old at golf courses. The middle aged, say 30-50 seem to have the least care for their quality of service. I have golfed at many courses in the Northeast and that is how it tends to be. I really do believe the level of service tends to coincide with the amount of traffic and how well to-do the golfers are.
11/29/10
 
dottomm says:
I'll shout out to some other courses in the Northbay. Foxtail, Rooster Run, they always seem to enjoy making sure I have a great time on their course. I played Johnny Millers Metropolitan and the NCGA Poppy Ridge recently and it seemed in both of those cases, the extra money I spent on a tee-time brought me even better customer service. Maybe it's a California thing.
11/29/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
I have to do the same - went on a guys week last year to Florida on a budget. We played a lot of 'twilight' golf at some realy low rates - most were a discounted 50-70% off the going daily rates! We didn't once feel like the 'homers on vacation' at these places. Staff at all the places we went were all really great, courteous and friendly. They gave us some tips at the start (and they earned it, so we returned the favors in tip$)

If we return to the Orlando area again this year, we'll seek them all out again. - Southern Dunes, Providence, NorthShore, Ridgewood, Windermere to name a few. (most were semi-private, but their service was top-notch to us snow-birds)

I have to say a lot more 'friendly' than I'd found at some of my local courses here in, not all but some.
11/29/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
Can't forget Ka'anapali. Simply awesome staff.
From the cat opening my car door and lugging my bag and the moist cotton after-round face towels, to the real-time beer cart call button, club cleaning and complimentary equipment storage.
My first taste of resort golf was a real eye-opener.
11/29/10
 
dottomm says:
@KurtTheKnife - Did you say Beer Cart Call Button? Wow! Sign me up!!!
11/29/10
 
falcon50driver says:
I was surprised to realise how many of the courses you guys mentioned, that I have played also. Small world.
11/29/10
 
birdieXris says:
When i go to a course i only ever expect 2 things. To be treated like any other patron, and to pay for what i'm getting. I can't stand places that have poor greens or just aerated and they don't tell you anything about it until you pay full price and have begun your round to find out the hard way. Then they act like it's your fault and you should have known. I think honesty in course management is what i look for rather than people being overly nice.
11/30/10
 
mclayton1970 says:
the worst I have ever seen was at Rolling Hills Golf course in Longwood FL. My Brother and I had just Moved to the area a week before it was in Dec. and it was cold But being from up North it was alright for us Nobody was on the course not a car in the Parking lot , We booked a tee time On golfnow.com for $20 pp when we got there they told us it was $40 pp and started to argue with us so we turned around and left we were going elsewere ...The golf Pro chased us down and said he was sorry about all this and told us we could play for the $20 pp..and gave us two free passes for the next time ...so we go back a week later and were told the Pases are no-good cause the Golf Pro was off that day and it was $40's to play ...BTW it's not a $40 course and that was the last time we have been there
11/30/10
 
majorduffer says:
My local course has one assist pro who asks may I help you, and when you reply I'm just looking, he retorts back that it will cost you. Salesmanship is not something taught to people working in a pro shop. Now go to your local golf retailer and you will find people aways eager to help and talk with you. They also don't seem to be offended if you don't buy something.
12/3/10
 
Christine S says:
@Kurt - I've been to GolfSmith in WC & Golf Mart in Concord and consistently experienced terrible customer service, or basically just ignored. So now I take all my business to Kepler's. Hands down, the best customer service and great staff.

Also, I'm a little surprised that you haven't received good service at Blue Rock. This past summer they did have a few personnel changes but the new guys at the desk seemed to settle in pretty quickly. They remembered me each week and started calling me by name. Then again, after showing up each week they probably knew not to piss me off :)

As for golf courses, it's hit and miss with the pro shop customer service, especially being female (that's a whole other topic). Am I going to be taken seriously or not, especially if I'm playing by myself. Some guys are uber friendly and provide great customer service and some barely give a nod. When walking into the pro shop, I am always nervous to see who is there because I don't really want to deal with their lack of enthusiasm.
12/28/10
 
jpjeffery says:
Although I started having lessons about two years ago I only started playing in Feb this year. After 17 rounds of golf I've never had a problem with any of the staff at the five courses I've played at so far. Nobody has particularly stood out as great but there's been no bad service. And my only golf teacher, Jon Bird of Cannon Golf (Sydenham), seems a good teacher and is friendly and courteous (hence he remains my only golf teacher!)
12/30/10
 
jpjeffery says:
By contrast, step up the staff at World Of Golf (now American Golf) driving range and golf shop in Croydon. Almost uniformly disinterested and bordering on rude if I happened to turn up close to 'last balls served' time ("Oh, you've left it a bit late , sir. I can let you have 50 balls..." Gee, thanks. Sorry to have bothered you).

Worst experience there was when I was hitting balls from a power-tee and the lights went out. To be fair it was 20:55 and closing time was 21:00 but I was concentrating on trying to remember what I'd been taught, not watching the clock. They could have walked along at about 20:45 to remind me of the time, in which case I would have finished off my balls with quicker chip and pitch shots. Instead they chose to 'tell' me by plunging the range in to darkness leaving me with about 10 balls unused in the power-tee hopper. Not a word was said to me as I left through the shop.
12/30/10
 
jpjeffery says:
I emailed them to complain, figuring the manager might get to read what I had to say. No response.

So, I emailed the head office address to let them know what happened and point out the lack of response from that branch. Still no response!

Clearly they don't want my business. Good job. I've never been back there.
12/30/10
 
jpjeffery says:
@mclayton1970 Sounds like the Golf Pro deserves to be working somewhere better. Go back there one more time to let him know what happened so he can at least weigh up his options! :)
12/30/10
 
biglou11 says:
I was in San Antonio, TX last weekend. Had some time to kill Friday afternoon so went to Edwin Watts on Loop 410. I walked around for 30 minutes looking at vaious clubs, balls, shirts, etc. There were several employees and only a few customers. The entire time I was there, no one said a word to me until I walked out and the guy behind the counter said "have a nice day." Needless to say, I won't be back.
3/26/12
 
Dman924s says:
Interesting
7/29/12
 
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