New Golfers Say the Darnest Things
As the founder of Women on Course, I’ve guided thousands of women who want to learn the game of golf. And there’s a growing interest from corporations looking to prepare their executives to get in on the dealmaking taking place on the golf course. While lessons are important in learning the game, understanding the golf culture and lingo should not be overlooked. Over the past 15 years I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. New golfers continue to surprise me with their questions and interpretations.
What is your handicap?
A handicap is a calculated number that represents your average score. This is a common question one might be asked when signing up for a tournament, or by players looking to gauge your skill level. While a handicap is not required to play in Women on Course events, one of my staff members was asking this question as golfers checked in. It never occurred to her that she would get the answer, “My knee.” This woman went on to explain the details of her recent knee replacement surgery and that she was still not 100%. We now ask our golfers if they keep score and what they typically shoot.
And while we’re on subject of handicaps, Women on Course members are offered a handicap service when they join online. When a caller asked if our handicap service included carts to pick people up from the parking lot, it I knew we needed further explanation.
Check in with the Pro Shop
Women on Course offers over 200 golf clinics around the country each year. Knowing that many will be taking their first lesson, we send instructions in advance to ease their fears. “Upon arrival check in with the pro shop to make your payment, where you will be greeted by Susan Smith our member ambassador.” Pretty clear right?
I received a call from a new golfer who spent 20 minutes looking for the pro shop without success. She gave up, missed the lesson and went home. This particular golf course was part of a resort, and my new golfer went to the hotel front desk expecting to check in. When her name did not show up, she continued looking for what might be a pro shop. She passed a gift shop, restaurant, clothing store, fitness center, business center, meeting rooms, but no pro shop. Wait – a clothing store (aka pro shop) just to the left of the restaurant? “I didn’t need to go shopping. It never occurred to me to go in there.”
Buy a Bucket of Balls
I’m known for my entertaining and informative corporate golf workshops. To be fully prepared, we start from the moment a player pulls up to the clubhouse reviewing the check in process, lingo and expectations. As part of the arrival process, I recommend that golfers buy a bucket of balls to warm up at the practice range before a lesson or round of golf.
“How do you get the balls back?” “Did I hear that question correctly? “I went to the pro shop, (hurray, my golfers are now finding the ‘store’) bought the balls, went out to the range and hit them all.”
Apparently, this golfer took me literally and bought a dozen brand new balls and proceeded to use those on the range. She didn’t realize that the pro shop carries buckets of recycled balls you can ‘purchase’. I now clarify that you are really ‘renting’ these balls as they course collects them for future use.
A Game of Bouche Ball
I take groups out on the golf course for the second part of my workshop. It’s much easier to learn when you can demonstrate the etiquette and rules while playing a hole. My first stop is the tee box area where I explain that players choose one of several options to begin each hole.
The players opting for the box farthest from the hole tee off first.
“That’s a nice touch to have bouche ball set up while you’re waiting for your turn.” “Excuse me?” “Isn’t that why they have all the colored balls set up around here?” That might be a great idea actually, but those are the tee box markers that indicate where golfers set up for their first shot.
Need a Translation?
I advise new golfers to let people know they are learning so others are aware they may not be familiar with common terms and phrases. During my on course tour we check in with the starter. This is the person stationed near the first hole who explains a few things before players start a round. I let the starter know my group is new to golf, and to keep this in mind when he delivers his instructions.
After five minutes of what her or she believes is a great overview, I pull the group aside . “Did anyone understand what the starter was saying?” Without fail I am always met by blank stares. Pin placement, 90 degree rule, cart path only – just about the only thing they undersood is that the restrooms are near hole number 5.
As golfers and golf professionals we forget that someone new to the game will be lost if we use jargon without explanation. For business golfers looking to make a good impression, it’s important to understand the lingo and golf routines to avoid embarrassing moments and get the most out of your golf experience.
Ask about our Women on Course corporate programs. We offer half and multi-day formats to create course ready leaders, business developers and mentors. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org