I recently visited a very prominent country club, in this blog post I will attempt to articulate my experience at the country club and what I believe to be the biggest challenge facing golf in South Africa.
Firstly, this isn’t the way I wanted to start this blog but this experience had a long-lasting effect on me.
Alright, so I arrive at this CC and my immediate response was “WOW”, this is posh. From the entrance hall to the manner in which the bar staff carried themselves (yes, my first stop was the bar). Now don’t get me wrong, I love a posh clubhouse with years of history and well-presented staff, it adds to the overall experience of the round you’re about to play.
My snag with this CC however was its members. From parking lot, through entrance hall right through to the bar area, I passed a total of 10 members that were playing their usual Friday 4 ball. I’m a courteous young lad that is well presented with the exception of some artwork on my right arm. I greeted all 10 of those members with a smile and got a grand total of ZERO returned greetings, not even as much as a nod. Besides the obvious rudeness towards a fellow golfer, where have we lost our sense of humanity that we no longer greet each other? I am not a hacker, nor a new age kid with swag that looked ridiculous, I am a professional that is in the golfing industry so why on earth would I be looked down upon?
This made me think, imagine you’ve run into a bit a money from a distant uncle that passed away and left you a small fortune. You want to take up golf for enjoyment but also networking so you think to yourself, “wow, joining at this CC must be amazing”. So, you make your way to the CC and you’re confronted with this situation. How are we as golfers expecting to grow the game in South Africa if we are socially shutting out any “outsider” that hasn’t been at the club for years or doesn’t carry the right surname? I was disgusted to say the least and because of that I will NEVER return to that CC nor will I ever recommend them. I wouldn’t bad mouth the CC but I most certainly won’t be sending one of my members to go play a round there.
At this point you may be thinking, “Ok so the members are pr**ks but hey, maybe it’s worth it because it’s a phenomenal golf course”. That would be a valid argument that I would justify to myself as well should I be confronted with the situation.
Fortunately, GolfHub reach is broad and a few of my members work for the CC. They gave me a complimentary round, this in itself is a testament to the GolfHub family experience that we are trying to create within our group. Never the less, we set off to take on this “amazing” golf course which I assumed would be reason for the snotty attitudes I received in the clubhouse.
2.5 hours later (yes we finished a 2 ball in 2.5 hours), I can honestly say that this golfing experience was the absolute low point that I’ve had. Course conditioning was horrid, granted this is also due to the economic climate so I could overlook this but basic things like a directional board to the next hole were nowhere to be found. We had to ask on 4 occasions where we need to go to find the next tee box. Again, one could argue that it’s a new course so of course you’ll be lost. Granted but I played 5 new courses in that week and didn’t find myself lost once. So then when you start looking at the bigger picture, this is pretty much a balls up situation at this CC.
The impression they gave me was this:
You’re not a member, we don’t know you so we don’t like you
We don’t need your business
We’re not prepared to put up a R100 directional sign at complicated holes because well, you should know this but you’re not a member so who cares.
The irony in all this is despite the round being free, I spent just under R900 at the club house before playing which is much needed revenue!
4 drinks – R120
Cart – R300
New glove – R320
Box of balls – R250 (because we all know how well I play)
I didn’t bother to stay for another 4 drinks afterwards because frankly I was fed up with this situation.
Now given that amount of spend, how much could our clubs be benefiting from travellers like myself playing even a single round. Let’s say hypnotically you get 4 travellers per day:
4 guys drinking 3 drinks each at R30 per drink
12X R30 = R360
Let’s say 2 of them took carts
2x R300 = R600
Halfway meal and top up
4x R90 = R360
Average the club pro shop at R150 per person
4x R150 = R600
4 x Green Fees
This varies for the sake of this story, let’s say it costs R300 to play
4x R300 = R1200
What you’re looking at in total for these “outsiders” is a total spend of R3120. Let’s take this amount and average on 25 days a month, that gives the club an extra R78,000 revenue per month!
I hope that this post will strike a nerve with all golfers.
Let’s stop the snotty nonsense and basically just be decent human beings by at least greeting someone when they greet you. It’s easy for golfers to say the industry is in decline and point fingers at golf courses for steep membership rates but at the end of the day, we as golfers are equally responsible. You alone sitting reading this article cannot change the world but you can change someone’s world today by making him feel welcome and encouraged at your local course. If we all did our own little bit, we would have a mass movement in no time.
Likewise, the select staff members that do think we should praise them because they work at the exclusive CC. You may be awesome because you work at this CC but always stay humble because the inconvenient truth is that the very golfers that you look down on are the ones that are paying your salary.
Happy golfing GolfHubbers,