Chapter 2: Literacies at work, for fun, and at school
2.4 Communication while working at a golf course (argument from experience)
English 102, September 2020
A gentleman or woman approaches the counter at the golf course. We greet each other and they tell me the time their round of golf is scheduled for. I find the tee time on the online tee sheet and click on it. I tell them about the total cost for the round, and they suddenly get uneasy or upset. They claim that they already paid online. This prompts a five-minute search on their phones for a digital receipt from the app GolfNow.com, which is where the customer went online to schedule their round of golf. Meanwhile, the other ten folks in line are held up by this lack of communication brought on by an app, when the problem could have been resolved with the personal touch of an employee like me.
At this golf course, I keep track of all the tee times on a tee sheet that displays all the rounds scheduled for the day into view. The images below indicate what a tee time sheet look like, in which we as Seneca employees schedule golf rounds for specific customers over the phone or in person.
This way, when the customer comes to the course to play, the customers’ name and round time can be found on this sheet, and they can pay for the golf. However, there are two ways that the customer can schedule a round of golf, and these two paths can butt heads at times.
The first way to schedule a round of gold is to simply call the golf course itself. The number is available by simply searching the golf course name on any smartphone. The number appears on the screen and all you must do is call. An employee like myself will answer and say, “This is your local golf course, this is Cameron. How can I help you?” If the customer wants to schedule a round of golf at a certain time, the customer must tell me what time they want to golf, how many are in their group, and if they would like to ride in a golf cart or walk. Once a customer answers these questions, they are all set. I will put the information into the selected time and schedule them with or without a golf cart, and I will note how many golfers there are in a group. From this point, all the customers must do is to show up at the golf course for their tee time. The process is extremely simple, it takes no more than two minutes. However, there is another option to schedule a round of golf that seems to always complicate things.
The other option to schedule a round is through an online platform called GolfNow.com. On this website, a customer selects a time that they would like to golf. Once selected, the golfer must then enter their credit card information to pay a small fee in order to keep the spot for themselves. From there, all the golfer must do is come to the golf course and pay for their round.
However, the problem with scheduling on the website is the lack of communication between the staff of Seneca and the golfers. When the golfers that scheduled their round online come to play, they are often confused about the function of the website they previously used. Some customers come in and think that the charging of their credit card was paying for the round, rather than saving their spot for playing at a specific time. When told that the customer still needs to pay for their round, they often become irritated and angry, and this becomes difficult to deal with while other golfers are waiting to pay. Many times, us cashiers need to get our manager to settle the dispute. Once the golfers understand, they are still left upset because they feel as if they are paying twice.
Another problem that occurs with the use of the website is that the site is not updated as much as the online tee sheet we have on the golf course. This poses a problem because what the customer scheduled online may differ from what we have available at the golf course. For example, sometimes we are so busy, especially this summer, that we run out of carts to give. To avoid losing money, we usually stop letting carts go off one of the specific courses to reserve them for those who come in to play. A customer comes in and says they are scheduled to play Back A, which is one of our nine-hole courses. They scheduled it online and with a cart. We then must inform the customer that we cannot send golf carts out on that course because of a shortage. This sparks a debate on why this is, and they complain that it did not say that on the website. In this case, the customer is right. However, if they had called, there would be no question what the course had available that day.
At the golf course where I work, communication is key. It is what makes the business work. If there was no communication between customer and staff, the whole course would be a jumbled mess. To avoid a mess, it is best to be in touch with a real staff member that knows the course conditions that day and confirm your scheduling without cost. Calling on the phone to schedule is better than the alternative of using the website or app and having to pay for scheduling and having the chance that the scheduled round of golf could possibly not be available that day. It is always better to have an employee’s personal help, rather than help from a website that often gives incomplete information.
This recurring issue of confrontations, due to the website and app, between customer and employee seems like something that could be a quick fix. This is especially true because my manager often has to reason with customers to amend the issue. When I started working at the golf course earlier in the summer, I wondered why my manager did not just stop taking tee times over GolfNow.com. After working a few months now, I know that the solution to this problem is far from an easy fix.
The Metroparks owns the golf course, and the board has very strict policies that dictate how their courses operate. I am sure my boss tried to fix the infamous app problem a long time ago, but the truth is, it is not up to him. The Metroparks are the ultimate authority over big-picture finances for the courses, and the workers manage the day-to-day issues. Although this issue truly is “day-to-day,” it is Metroparks wide. Every Metroparks course, including three others, use GolfNow.com to book tee times. The parks system believes it helps the courses manage tee times in a better way, which allows for more tee times. The reason the Metroparks want more tee times is because that generates more money, just like any other business would. Although the app is a hassle for me and my fellow employees, it is here to stay.
The GolfNow.com app seems great on paper. It seems like it would make life easier for the customer and employee. Allegedly, the employee can book a tee time without ever having to make a call, and the golf course could have already practically sold a round of golf. These are the reasons that most likely cause the Metroparks’ continued support for such a troublesome program. As I have explained, the optimal way to book a tee time is to call us at the local golf course during business hours. Employees like me will take care of any golfer who wishes to play by including the number of players, holes, and if the golfer wants a cart or not. Most importantly, an employee will reserve the customer’s tee time correctly and there will be no confusion upon arrival to the golf course caused by an unreliable app.