8 Characters You Will Likely Meet at Your Golf Club
MANY people have either joined a golf club for the first time in the past 15 months or so or have taken the decision to rejoin. All golf clubs are different, of course, but there are some characters you are likely to meet.
I have played this game for more years than I care 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 pretty mixed.
They all depend upon a hard core of characters. These are just a few of the individuals you may encounter...
THE BAR STEWARD
The man or woman who determines the warmth of your welcome when you enter the clubhouse. What you want is to enter the bar and see him or her already pouring out your drink. What you get, all too often, is a sniffy individual who looks down his or her nose at you. He knows what you want to drink because you always have the same thing. But, as a matter of principle, he won’t even lift a glass until you make your order. And he loves it when you order a steak sandwich and he is able to tell you: “Sorry, we’ve run out of steak."
One of the most important individuals at the club. So you really don’t want to be having a drink with him in the clubhouse and hear him tell you: “You know what Derek? I really don’t understand the World Handicap System."
A good club professional can make 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 place is well stocked and you want to know that he isn’t going to rip you off. You also hope that if you ever go to him for lessons he knows what he is doing. I went to a nearby local club for a lesson after hearing from a few friends that the pro was the best teacher they had ever come across. The practice ground was across the road and as we walked over, the pro, who was as bald as a coot, told me a couple of jokes. He asked to me to hit a few shots and as I was warming up he reached into his back pocket and turned his back to me. When he turned round he was wearing a tartan cap with ginger hair sticking out. I cracked up. He believed it was important that his pupils felt relaxed and this was his way of achieving it. Genius! And a fabulous teacher, and somebody I still go back to when things go awry.
You turn up for a 7am start - the assistant pro is in the shop. You turn up for a 6pm start during the summer - the assistant pro is in the shop. When he turned pro he dreamt of following in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy. The reality is usually very different. Life as an assistant pro is a tough gig. But here’s the thing - this is the sport that they love. They are young, they are enthusiastic and, no matter what time of day you come across them in the shop, they ALWAYS greet you with a smile and engage you in conversation.
Everybody has an opinion about the head greenkeeper. He is the man (or woman) who dictates the condition of your course. And they are individuals who probably receive more criticism than anybody else at your club. They can be a law unto themselves.
Let me tell you a story…I was playing in a fourball and we came to the par-five third. For the first time in my life I found the green in two. I couldn’t be sure, but it looked like my ball had finished about six feet from the hole, giving me a great chance of making an eagle. The three guys I was with all hit their approach shots. There were four balls on the green. From the left, our head greenkeeper appeared, walked onto the green, removed the flag, picked up all four of our golf balls and threw them off the front of the putting surface. With that, he then clambered onto his mower and drove it onto the green. I was incandescent. “Gordon, why did you do that?” I asked. “I have to cut the green,” he replied. “Couldn’t you have waited until we had putted out?” “No. There’s another fourball coming up behind you. I would be here all day.” When we finished our round I went to see the secretary to complain. The response? “Well, he does have a job to do Derek.” And that was the moment when I realised that a) our secretary was frightened of Gordon, and b) your greenkeeper is the single most important person at your golf club.
This is the old boy who occupies the leather armchair in the corner. He drives a Jaguar or a Mercedes. He wears a blazer, shirt and tie. Always. No matter how sweltering hot it is. Nobody has ever seen him out on the course. He is always there, giving the impression that he is sitting there reading his copy of The Daily Telegraph. In actual fact, he is probably sound asleep. The only time he ever moves is to reach forward for his gin and tonic.
If you are lucky, you have a young-ish, forward thinking individual at the helm, somebody who embraces new technology, ensures that he has the email addresses of each and every one of his members, keeps the club website up to date and relevant to the 21st century. If you are not quite so lucky, the secretary is somebody who should have retired years ago, doesn’t know what email, Twitter or Instagram are, spends most of his time out on the course and sees the members as an inconvenience.
Why is it that so many club captains are so set in their ways? I just don’t get it. And they are usually the last person on earth that you would actually want to occupy such an important position. What you want is somebody who is adaptable to change. What you usually get is somebody who spends most of their 12 months in office saying something like: “We’ve always done it this way.” And is usually somebody who is part of a clique, who ensures that only his mates are chosen for club matches.
So, how many of Derek's characters do you recognise from your own golf club? Let us know if there are any other types that need to be included!
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