Standing near one of our tee boxes recently, I watched a member of our club pull his cart across the middle of the tee, in the process nearly running over the little sign that says “No Pull Carts On Tees.”
After a calming breath, I walked up to him and asked if, in the future, he would mind not walking his pull-cart up onto the tees.
He gave me a rather quizzical look and asked me, “Why’s that?”
The question, for some reason, caught me off guard. “Pardon me?”
“Why?” he asked again. “What’s the reason?”
“Well,” I said, “because that is our policy. We ask our guests to keep pull carts off the tees. See the sign?”
I pointed to the little green and white sign he had almost toppled, one of 27 on the golf course. There is one on each hole.
“Yeah,” he said, “I get what you want. I’m just asking, for what reason? What exactly is my pull cart hurting?”
He folded his arms comfortably across his chest and awaited my answer.
I proceeded to give him a few reasons why we ask golfers to keep the pull carts off our tees. Compaction being the main one, and the detrimental effects associated with that. I came up with a couple more off the top of my head, but I have to admit I wish I had had a few more. As I said, I was a bit caught off guard by his question.
This conversation, reflected upon later, got me thinking. If we are asking certain things from golfers on our courses, we should be ready at any moment to explain why we are asking it. And not just superintendents – who more often than not have instituted or approved these rules around the golf course – but all members of the maintenance staff. Everyone should know what answer to give in these situations.
The reasoning behind the rule, if you will.
Had it not been me in this conversation with this particular member, would one of my workers been able to explain to him our reasoning behind keeping pull carts off tees? Maybe. I do have a terrifically smart, agronomic group. But if they aren’t 100 percent sure of the exact reason, I’m kind of putting them in a tough spot. That isn’t fair to them, nor is it fair to the golfer wanting to know why.
Just think for a moment of all the different things you are asking from golfers each time they come out to your course: Keep pull carts off tees; keep golf cars away from greens; golf cars follow 90-degree rule (or cart path only); repair ball marks; replace divots (or fill); rake bunkers and, when finished, place rakes back in bunker (or leave outside bunker, depending on your preference).
And this is hardly the entire list. Each course probably has its own take on many of these rules and even some entirely specific to that course.
For example, we have a sign that asks golfers on the driving range tee to avoid hitting our maintenance building (which is rather poorly positioned 150 yards to the right of the tee) with their practice shots. The reasoning behind this sign is pretty obvious, but still good to go over with the crew.
In fact, it makes sense to inventory all of your rules and signs and then go over them with the staff. I even came up with a worksheet, and had everyone on the crew fill it out individually one morning during a staff meeting. I had them try and give five reasons for each rule we are trying to enforce. After everyone finished the sheet, we went over the answers together.
It was a great way to get dialogue going among the crew regarding our signage. Many of them were not aware of the reasons behind each rule and sign (like why we want golf cars to use the 90-degree rule), and there were also a few good reasons that popped up for some of the rules that even I hadn’t considered.
Bottom line: If we’re going to ask things from the golfers, make sure everyone knows exactly why we’re asking.