Why Should You CARE?
April 2018, I heard a story that was all too familiar. On April 21, five black women had the police called on them by a golf course owner for slow play. This drastic action took place after they had already been harassed by the owner’s father, who was playing behind them. Now I’ve never had the police called on me, but I can relate to older Caucasian males making false reports to rangers on the course and to the pro shop employee that my group (four black youth) was causing slow play in my weekly junior program. Having been in these situations, I know what it’s like to feel unwelcome at a golf course. As a 25-year golfer and LPGA Class A Golf Professional, those memories are seared in my mind to this day. So, when I heard what happened to these ladies, I couldn’t help but to take action.
"And the owner who was directly involved in the incident never apologized, and the club hasn't yet explained how it's going to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future," Bannett said. 1
This response by the owner is the reason I created CARE training. Although his actions were wrong, it does not surprise me that the owner had no prevention plan to put in place. As a former head golf professional, I too struggled with how to address difficult customer-related situations, especially if it pertained to sex, race, age, or physical ability. You see, when golf professionals get certified to teach or manage golf courses, customer service is not a component of the training. Now some clubs do provide some basic training like, how to answer the phones or greet customers, but there is no training on customer sensitivity or awareness. This never dawned on me when I managed two golf courses, but this incident at Grandview Golf Club brought this issue to light for me.
As of April, I have set out to connect with the movers and shakers in the golf industry to research if there was some form of customer service or awareness training that I was unaware of, and to no surprise, I received a resounding “no”. I started to research how this lack of training may be affecting our industry and discovered that “fifty-five percent of non-golfers do not expect to feel welcome/comfortable on a golf course,” according to a 2014 National Golf Foundation report. Without training how can we prevent situations like the one at Grandview Golf Club from happening?
The golf industry needs to realize that this incident at Grandview is not unique because it made national news. These incidents of harassment to women, juniors, and people of color happen quite frequently on the golf course. For people’s perceptions to change, the industry will need to seek training for their members and show their existing and potential customers, they CARE.
1. McDevitt , Rachel (2018, Dec 26) Stories we followed in 2018: Grandview Golf Club incident. Retrieved from: http://www.witf.org - (2018, June 21) Grandview Golf Club Hearing Begins Today – What We Know. Retrieved from: https://www.ydr.com