MANY people have either joined or decided to rejoin a golf club for the first time in the last 15 months or so. Of course, all golf clubs are different, but there are some characters that you are likely to encounter.
I’ve been playing this game for more years than I want to remember and my work has taken me to many different parts of the country. As a result, I have been a member of several golf clubs and my experiences have been quite mixed.
They all depend on a hard core of characters. These are just a few of the people you may encounter …
The man or woman who determines the warmth of your welcome when you enter the clubhouse. What you want is to step into the bar and see him or she already serving your drink. What you all too often get is a person sniffing at you from their nose. He knows what you want to drink because you always have the same thing. But as a matter of principle, he doesn’t even raise a glass until you place your order. And he loves it when you order a steak sandwich and he can tell you: “Sorry, we run out of steak.”
One of the most important personalities of the association. So you really don’t want to have a drink with him in the clubhouse and hear him say to you, “You know what Derek? I really don’t understand the World Handicap System. “
A good club professional can craft or break a golf club. When you walk into his shop, you want to be greeted with a smile, you want to know that the shop is well stocked and you want to know that it won’t cheat you. They also hope that if you ever visit him for class, he’ll know what he’s doing. I went to class at a nearby local club after hearing from a few friends that the professional was the best teacher they have ever come across. The practice site was across the street, and as we walked over, the bald professional told me a few jokes. He asked me to take a few shots and when I warmed up he reached into his back pocket and turned his back to me. When he turned around, he was wearing a plaid hat with protruding reddish hair. I crashed. He felt it was important that his students feel relaxed and that was his way of achieving this. Genius! And a fabulous teacher, and someone I still return to when things go wrong.
You appear at 7 a.m. – the assistant professional is in the shop. You come to the start at 6 p.m. in summer – the Assistant Pro is in the store. When he turned pro, he dreamed of following in Rory McIlroy’s footsteps. The reality is usually very different. Life as an Assistant Pro is a tough job. But here’s the thing – this is the sport they love. They are young, they are enthusiastic and no matter what time of day you meet them in the store, they ALWAYS greet you with a smile and engage you in conversation.
Everyone has an opinion about the Head Greenkeeper. He is the man (or woman) who dictates the terms of your course. And they are people who are likely to receive more criticism than anyone else in your club. You can be a law to yourself.
Let me tell you a story … I was playing a fourball and we got to the par five third. For the first time in my life I found the green in two parts. I wasn’t sure, but it looked like my ball was about six feet from the hole, which gave me a great chance of making an eagle. The three guys I was with all met their approach blows. There were four balls on the green. Our head greenkeeper appeared from the left, went onto the green, removed the flag, picked up all of our four golf balls and threw them off the front of the putting area. With that he climbed onto his mower and drove it onto the green. I was glowing. “Gordon, why did you do that?” I asked. “I have to cut the green,” he replied. “Couldn’t you have waited for us to wipe out?” “No. Another fourball is coming up behind you. I would be here all day.” When we finished our round, I went to the secretary to complain. The answer? “Well, he has a job for Derek.” And that’s when I realized that a) our secretary was scared of Gordon and b) your greenkeeper is the most important person in your golf club.
That’s the old boy sitting in the leather armchair in the corner. He drives a Jaguar or a Mercedes. He is wearing a blazer, shirt and tie. Always. No matter how scorching hot it is. Nobody has ever seen him on the square. He’s always there, looking like he’s sitting there reading his copy of the Daily Telegraph. In fact, he’s probably sound asleep. The only time he moves is to reach for his gin and tonic.
If you are lucky, you will have a young, forward-thinking personality at the helm who embraces new technology, makes sure he has the email addresses of every single one of his members, keeps the club website up to date and relevant into the 21st century . Unless you’re quite as lucky, the secretary is someone who should have retired years ago, doesn’t know what email, Twitter, or Instagram is, spends most of her time on the class, and finds members an inconvenience.
Why are so many club captains so stuck? I just do not understand. And they are usually the last person on earth to whom one would actually like to occupy such an important position. What you want is someone who is adaptable. What you usually get is someone who spends most of their 12 months in office and says something like, “We have always done it this way.” And is usually someone who belongs to a clique that takes care of it that only his buddies are selected for club games.
So how many of Derek’s characters do you know from your own golf club? Let us know if there are any other types that need to be included!
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