Thursday, September 15, 2005

Have a nice day, Nebraska! Thanks for the great service.

I don’t know if it’s the entire population of the state, the policy of the golf course, just this one guy, or if it was just “right place, right time.” Whichever it is, I recently had one of the best experiences in customer service at a golf course I’ve ever had. And it was easily the most above and beyond gesture of accommodation I’ve ever experienced or even witnessed. Of course, it was just one guy, the starter/pro (I guess he was the course pro) who checked me in at Tara Hills in Papillion, Nebraska.

I originally went to Johnny Goodman which was a little closer to where I was staying. I called to make sure that there weren’t any tournaments or anything that would prevent me from getting out. However, I neglected to ask if they had any rental clubs. They didn’t, and I was out of luck. However, they recommended Tara Hills due to its proximity and I called over before going to make sure they had some clubs. The guy said they had one set but warned me that it was in pretty sorry shape. No problem; I’ve played with crap clubs before.

So I headed on over and checked in at the pro shop. He charged me $29 to ride and $10 for the clubs and went down to retrieve the rental set for me. Upon his return, he was exceedingly apologetic for the condition of the clubs, which he left downstairs by the carts for me. He even told me to come back in after the round and he’d refund the $10 because it just wasn’t right to charge me for them. He said how he wished they had a nicer set of women’s clubs for me to use and asked if I swung the club pretty hard. I told him that I actually use men’s clubs at home, to which he responded by excitedly informing me that I could use his own clubs and he rushed right out and got them for me. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t even know of any friends that let friends borrow their clubs. And it’s not like it was some shabby set, either. I forget what the fairway metals were, but they were nice Titleist irons, Cleveland wedges, a Titleist hybrid and what looked like a brand spanking new Titleist driver! I have to say, I was reluctant and nervous to accept, but it was such a generous offer and he was so upset about having me use the other set. He told me there were balls and tees in the bag and to help myself. Is this guy for real?

So I headed out to the first tee, acutely aware that it can be seen from the pro shop and that, if roles were reversed, I’d be watching that first shot. One of my strengths is that I typically get off a solid first tee shot and start the round well. Typically. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t get off the first tee in decisive fashion. Until now. The poor guy. I hope he didn’t see it, because he surely would have spent the next few hours worrying. He didn’t come out to swap clubs so maybe he missed it. There was a little thick stuff to carry the fairway and I was so nervous and hacking so terribly it took me four just to get into it. Then I took an unplayable lie , hit it up to the fairway, where I finally hit a solid shot just left of the green and ended up salvaging a nine (NINE!) which I had to adjust later to an eight to post. Worst hole in recent memory (five-putt notwithstanding – at least I found the green on that one).

Here's the site of my first hole debacle. Just at the bottom of
the hill is the rough stuff I finally found after four shots.

I did settle down after that and shot a 100 (adjusted from 101 due to the fiasco at #1) from the whites, which is about normal for me. I even pulled off bogeys at the 1 and 2 handicap holes, which were mighty difficult due to landing areas.

I saw him at the turn when I went in to use the facilities and he asked how the clubs were treating me. I told him I got off to a rough start but all was well. If he did see my shenanigans, he was too polite to mention it, even though he would have been well within his right to.

It was my first time playing with a hybrid club, and it was my best club of the day. I definitely will be acquiring one or two of those in the near future. Then, after not trying it all day, I hit a nice five wood off the tee at the number one handicap hole that I put right where it was supposed to go. I joined up with a guy named Mike who was a tremendous help on tips like that (he did request a caddy fee after that one).

Here's the 18th hole (#1 handicap). The ideal shot - and where mine went - is right up
between the 150 stake and the tree to its right, a little closer to the tree. From there, it
rolls down to a nice flat spot where you have a close approach shot to the green to the left.

Overall, it was a neat little affordable course with friendly folks and plenty of challenges. Special thanks to Mike and especially Benji. I do suspect that the congenial nature is built into Nebraskans. Every local person I talked to, whether in the airports, hotel, or rental car facility, were so naturally cordial. When they said “have a nice day,” (and they all said it), I really felt like they actually wanted me to … have a nice day!

For all my New England friends and other Patriots' fans. A real NE fan from the "other" NE.

Next post.


dave said...

That was a wonderful experience for you and a great post to read. Thanks!

TartanGolfGripsDotCom said...

It's true it's true - Nebraskans (for the most part) ARE truly NICE, down to earh, give-you-the-shirts-off-their-backs NICE people...

I know, I MARRIED one!!!

If you're ever back that way, drive a couple of hours West on i-80 to Gothenburg, and play Wild Horse Golf Course. I had a similar experience with nice Nebraskans, both on and off the course...