A Golfing Misadventure

Yesterday was my last chance to catch up with Scotty Barrow before my big move to Queensland. We decided 9 holes were in order and chose a public course just north of the Melbourne CBD.

This course has received some publicity as management has been taken over by some prominent golfers/coaches. They have also attached a driving range and teaching facility which ensures a steady stream of golfers. When I last visited, I was impressed with the course – it’s a short, but tight and undulating course that offers plenty of interest. The enjoyment on the golf front was let down by sloppy service in the pro-shop. The service assistant was having a bad day and was acting like we were pulling his teeth. His behaviour was so noticeable that Scott and I made mention of it at the time, and again yesterday, as we walked from the car-park to the service center.

Our hopes of a better experience quickly evaporated when we realised we were overcharged for golf. Scott had been charged for 18 holes instead of nine (he prepaid over the phone with his credit card). We’re not talking a lot of money, around $28, but it’s better in our pocket than theirs.

You’d think that a refund would be simple. Nope, not in this case. Their system isn’t capable of such a thing.

How about a voucher? Not a chance. The computer didn’t have a way of spitting out some 9 hole vouchers that could be used at a later date.

Scott suggested a credit towards some beers in the courtyard afterwards. This, I thought, was a brilliant idea as a couple of beers after golf is one of my all time favourite pastimes. Again, we were greeted by a blank stare and told this wasn’t possible.

Was I hearing things? I certainly thought so. The assistant then gave some diatribe about how it’s a computer thing and their system wasn’t capable of issuing refunds. What the?

We overpaid for a service and wanted a simple refund. As a small business owner I know how easy it is to issue refunds – it takes a minute or two. In this case a refund wasn’t necessary – we’d been thrilled with a voucher and I would have been doing handstands with a complimentary cold beer.

Here’s my point. Their computer problem isn’t our problem. There shouldn’t have been any issue and we could have all walked away feeling like winners. And I don’t understand why humans can’t treat people like humans – why let a computer (a tool) get in the way? It doesn’t make sense.

So there were no winners. In two visits this potentially wonderful facility has been let down. I’m sure that the owners would be disappointed to hear this and maybe some better training/systems would be in order. In an era where many businesses are doing it tough (especially golf) it blows my mind that some make things so difficult.

Final word: I had $250 in my pocket that I found while cleaning out my office. This coin was going to go towards a new pair of shoes and golf balls. But this little dilemma caused temporary memory loss and there was no purchase made. Pity, because my old shoes are causing me some nasty blisters.

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  • Cameron

    Reply Reply December 21, 2012

    In my mind they’re not really in the golf business as much as they’re in the relationship building business. Selling Mars Bars and exchanging money for golf is easy – but taking the time to make people feel welcome and comfortable takes more effort. They haven’t quite worked it out just yet…

  • Cam280

    Reply Reply December 21, 2012

    Don’t worry Cam that sort of thing doesn’t happen in QLD!!!.
    I recently purchased 4 rounds of golf with cart and the company of Craig Parry at Kooindah Waters on the Central Coast of NSW. Later I found out that Craig wasn’t playing, apparently he only donated the prize. As if he would be on stand by anyway. Bloody E-Bay. I did for a moment think I had hit the jackpot of playing lessons!. I decided to go ahead with the transaction but knocked a couple of hundred off the price,final result, 4 rounds with cart, $25 bucks a head. Its going to make a great Christmas pressie for my Bro who decided to give up golf when he was playing off 3 at the age of 16 because he found that he could get into night clubs. Only 4 days till Christmas.

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply December 21, 2012

    There is definitely a public course pro shop “culture” which you have captured nicely here and which needs to change. The customer is not the fortunate beneficiary of the server’s services, the customer is the the server’s “raison d’etre”! Businesses of excellence understand this and as a result are successful. I suspect the reason this culture can continue to exist in public golf courses is due to the lack of a genuine profit motive. A business with this sort of culture would soon disappear from the modern marketplace.

  • Troy Vayanos

    Reply Reply December 22, 2012

    I have struck the odd Pro Shop in Queensland with poor service, but generally speaking it’s pretty good.

    It’s hard to believe in these difficult economic times a business could display such poor service.

    I’m the type of guy if I receive poor service anywhere I won’t go back no matter how good the product / facility I visit. On the other hand if I get looked after I can’t wait to tell everyone about it and will return as soon as possible.

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