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Fancy being a golf organiser, running golf out of a bar from a Pattaya sois?
It’s hardly rocket science after all – running golf two or three days a week for a bunch of expats and visitors. What, maybe up to twenty per day in low-season, and twice that number in high-season – be a doddle, surely. It would hardly tax an organised and logical mind. What can possibly go wrong?
TIT – just about everything.
Having an organised and logical mind – a Farang version – is absolutely useless in an environment where a Farang’s understanding of logic or reason simply does not apply.
Leaving aside “minor” issues such as how to attract and retain customers in a dwindling market, one of your main duties will be to negotiate with Thai management at the various courses you hope to play. This includes securing agreement on green-fee rate (which may depend upon the number of your playing group), time your first group will tee-off, and the understanding that all your playing groups play in an uninterrupted sequence. This “agreement” will normally be reached about two months in advance, prompting you to enter it into your published schedule.
That you actually get to play under the conditions negotiated, on the day you booked, at the price you “agreed” with the number you naively promised, will have nothing to do with your organising skills, no matter how honed. Rather, it will all depend on Buddha, the weather and whatever golfing spirit is in ascendency on the day – TIT.
And it doesn’t stop there. Assume you have booked five groups of four – twenty players – just the minimum number to secure the green-fee discount promised. As all your golfers bar four require transport, you organise two mini-vans at a cost of 2,000 baht each. Come departure time however, and you have two no-shows – a common enough occurrence, particularly during high-season. With each golfer paying 250 baht transport fee, that’s a shortfall of 500 baht, which needs to come out of your pocket. Ah well, the day can only get better.
Upon arrival, reception staff reminds you that the green-fee discount was dependent upon a minimum number of twenty, which you haven’t mustered. Each member of your group will be required to pay the extra 500 baht green-fee. One glance at the queue behind is sufficient to tell you they’re not happy campers.
With some confidence, you relate the story regarding how many years your group has supported this golf course. You also stress that the last six times you have played at this course, your numbers averaged 30 – way in excess of the 20 minimum. Surely logic suggests the minimum number be based on averages, or aggregates? And what about the value of future support, especially during low season, when reason implies the course will need all the support they can get.
Nothing in your previous life has taught you how to debate with the blank stare that is likely to greet such argument. It is about here that some organisers lose it.
Your choice is either to accept the increased fees, knowing that this precedent will apply forever, or to take your group to another course – a course that can accommodate you, and at the right price. The additional costs of getting there will, naturally, depend upon the goodwill of the mini-van drivers. And remember, your customers have already paid for their transport.
When finally you get your first group to the tee, the complaints start – mainly from those who object to playing way down the starting order. Due to the two no-shows, your first two groups are three-balls. It is within these groups you “hide” your two notoriously slow players – one in each. But despite your well-intentioned efforts, the two lead groups still hold up the rest of the field – on every hole.
Due to the time taken to play the first nine holes, or not, as it’s impossible to tell, come the turn and the starter inserts two five-balls, immediately in front of your first four-ball – your third group. One look tells you they are beginners.
It’s 6.00 p.m. when you are finally deposited back at your home bar. After a quick presentation, which sees all the prize money awarded to players in the first two groups, you sit back and reflect on your day. It’s about now that more complaints arise – ranging from slow play to preferred playing partners, and claims that other golf venues seem to get cheaper green-fees than yours despite playing at better courses.
It is then you realise what today’s round of golf really cost, and it can’t be counted in purely financial terms. The biggest loss was undoubtedly your game of golf.
And this hasn’t covered the half of it. Spare your organiser a thought, or three.