Tipping Points for Golfers
There is something wonderfully indulgent in having someone else clean and polish your shoes. This is a service offered in more pricey clubs, but often the guy doing the job is located in the men’s locker room. I had been told I too would get this service at Fallen Oak Golf Club in Saucier, Mississippi.
So after checking out my sorry mud-scarred Eccos, I looked forward to some self-indulgence. When I arrived, I had barely climbed out of the car before a man came over and took my shoes. Later I found them sitting on the seat of my cart. Clean as a whistle.
Fallen Oak, a course exclusively for guests staying at MGM Mirage’s Beau Rivage Resort & Casino near Biloxi www.beaurivage.com, offers not just shoe cleaning, but other amenities like caddie service, on-course food and beverages and swing tips on the practice range.
Which brings up one of the more challenging dilemmas: what to tip without looking cheap or overly naïve or inexperienced. Tipping is an especially hot button for lady golfers, often not as comfortable with this part of the golf experience.
One thing I have learned: for sure you won’t be slammed for over-tipping and never have I had anyone return anything. Even a five disappears quicker than Lulu the Stripper’s top.
One guy I know who owns a number of car dealerships, sometimes slips the young man (or woman) cleaning his clubs, a cool $100 bill. He sees it as budget-priced advertising or PR. “That guy will talk to the others and when any of them are thinking of buying a car, who do you think they’ll come to?” he says.
For those of us not peddling cars, here are a few thoughts on these tipping points. On arrival at the bag drop, a $1 or $2 a bag still works although several people I know don’t tip at all, but wait until after the round is finished. But this begs the question, are you going to be able to find the same guy? Still if tips are pooled — and they often are — that’s not a problem.
After your round as the attendant approaches waving a wet rag and a cheery smile, it’s bad form to wave him off with a feeble, “Not necessary. I’m taking these to my car.” You need to pony up with a buck or two per bag or $4 to $10 per foursome.
There is a caveat: if the cleaner simply goes through the motions and your grooves are still fuzzy, it is perfectly all right to give the guy a $5 bill and ask him to go back and finish the job.
If you did not tip on arrival and the guy does a good job cleaning your clubs then carries them to the bag drop or your car, $2-$3 is O.K; $5 better.
Inside attendants and pros are usually not tipped, but in special situations like a Member Guest or Pro Am, my friend Doug says, “If I see the locker room attendant busting his back side to help, I’ll give him a $20 the first day even when we’re told not to tip. It’s never been refused. When I return the next year, he remembers me.”
For services like cleaning shoes, $3-$5 is reasonable and regripping your clubs might warrant a couple extra Washingtons. Restaurant staffers and roving beverage cart girls should be tipped the 15 to 20 percent
When it comes to caddies, it’s best to ask before you go out. Caddie fees and sometimes tips, may be included in the green fees.
Acceptable tips at most clubs are $20 to $25 per player for a forecaddie; $25 to $30 per player for a double-bag caddie; and $40-$50 for a single-bag caddie.
If the caddie fee and tip has been prepaid, it’s not unusual to give an extra $10 if the caddie has done a great job.
Tipping is an important part of service personnel’s compensation and should be seen as part of your golfing experience responsibility. I know one bird who runs away quickly, does not make eye contact with the cart guy and leaves others to pick up the tab. Who’s she kidding?
If in doubt, ask.
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