Welcome to the first in a series of articles about the hidden people in golf. Later versions will cover other people who are vital to the game yet often ignored.
I spoke to Jennifer (not her real name). She works 4 days a week part time driving the beverage cart at a course that gets heavy use from both locals and people from out of town. Jennifer (not her real name), in exchange for total anonymity (the picture above is not her) and a healthy tip on a Gatorade, gave me 20 minutes of her time to tell me the truth about her job, warts and all.
Jennifer has been doing this job for just over 2 years and does it while she attends college. She likes the job because she’s outdoors, and doesn’t have to work nights (she made a point about a lot of her friends spending money they don’t have going shopping during the day and being on the course keeps her out of that temptation and helps her earn money).
Q: How do you like the job?
A: It’s pretty good I guess; the course is owned by (name of course owner redacted) so I get pretty decent benefits…better than I would get working retail or in a restaurant and I keep my evenings free. I usually get at least one weekend day (tips are better) per week.
Q: Did you have any experience in golf?
A: Not really. I mean, my uncle plays a lot of golf. One of my friends in college heard that (name of course) was hiring; at time I wasn’t working and needed money so I applied. Honestly I don’t really see the appeal- you guys always look frustrated when you’re playing!
Q: Any desire to take up the game (note- Jennifer would be considered a Millenial by age standards)?
A: No; I mean…I hear that people are always doing business while playing but right now my free time is limited.
Q: Who are your best customers?
A: Couples (we get a lot of husbands/wives, boyfriends/girlfriends)- guys aren’t going to act up in front of their girlfriend or wife and they typically know how to tip. Locals are good tippers. A foursome of middle-aged guys are probably going to tip well.
Q: I have to ask, but who are your worst customers?
A: Older women and a lot of foreign players- a lot of women groups resent me and will ask me why I’m doing this- I have no desire to steal your boyfriend or husband. If I’m being polite and smiling it’s to hopefully earn more tips. I don’t really know why but foreigners don’t tip much if at all; like, if they order beers and it comes to $19.50 they’ll hand me a $20 bill and some will expect change.
Q: What about guys hitting on you?
A: I was told on my first day that it happens and you need to be polite but firm. Our boss has told us we should report any harassment; mostly it’s just guys being guys. Luckily it’s not cheap to play here which keeps out a lot of younger guys. It happens quite a bit which doesn’t make any sense. The last thing I want to do after work is hang around here or with the customers. I want to spend time with my friends and my boyfriend (she shows me a picture of her boyfriend…with a staunch record of heterosexuality describing him as attractive would be accurate). If you’re old enough to be my dad and you’re hitting on me…yuck.
Q: Any odd or unusual requests?
A: At least once a day I’ll get asked to give them tips on how to play better (the head pro gave me a couple that I can tell the golfers about). I get asked to give a neck massage on occasion. I get asked to help find a lost ball all the time…I can’t help you.
Q: Let’s talk about tipping…what are the expectations?
A: We’re trained that a tip is just that…but the way I look at it is this- our course has a snack bar between the 9th and 10th holes where you can get something. Or, you have the convenience of me driving up to you? That convenience comes with a price. Amounts? At least a dollar per beverage, or at least 25-30% of the total.
Q: Do you sell more beer or more soda/gatorade?
A: Depends. Typically we sell soda and coffee in the mornings and beer and gatorade in the afternoon, but you’ll get a morning group that wants beer on occasion. We have airplane liquor bottles which do very well.
Q: What else would you want golfers to know?
A: The pro shop and the marshal is always pushing us to be quick because they don’t want to slow golfers down. So have an idea of what you want…if you’re spending several minutes and you can’t decide what you want, it slows everyone else down. Have your money ready! Typically we don’t have a credit card machine (some courses do have them equipped) so you have to pay by cash. If you know what you want trust me- I know how to get it quickly and let you get on with your round. Everyone at the course wants you to have a great time so you’ll come back.
Q: Thanks for your time…appreciate your candor.
A: You’re welcome…gotta run!