How welcoming is your club?

The region is renowned for its warm welcome but tell that to some clubs where guests can be seen as a nuisance rather than paying customers

As a general rule, when I sit down to write this column I take time to study both sides of the argument. I see the advantages of amateurs hitting the ball further as much as I wish to see the distance the pros hit the ball reduced. I can see the many merits in Ready Golf while at the same time understanding that golf for most is to be enjoyed rather than being a race.

However, this month I cannot understand the opposite side of my argument. This month I am arguing, pleading even, with the small-minded, self-centred, small proportion of golfers who elect to spread ill-will, contempt and misery through the golf clubs and clubhouses they spend time in.

Actions including complaining openly about a non-member popping in for a drink or a meal, complaining about the number of visitors on the course on a Tuesday afternoon in February when there are just three members on it while a group of guests are enjoying a drink, and obnoxiously complaining about the near-100 Sunday lunch diners slowing down service at the bar are all examples of what I have seen in clubs recently.

I was appalled to hear the story of two non-golfing friends who had visited a golf club on a weekday afternoon between Christmas and New Year with their two-year-old son for lunch. The stares from the group of three members (the only others in the clubhouse during their whole visit), those members moving to the opposite side of the clubhouse, the rudeness of the bar staff while serving their food, and them feeling “unwanted” and “incredibly unwelcome” irritated me as a golfer. For those who have little interaction with a community as broad and diverse as we who play golf, and to experience such an appalling treatment was infuriating.

My friends do not visit golf clubs often; they will now never set foot in one again.

I must temper that account by saying that this isolated incident, and those I have witnessed recently are a tiny proportion of what I have experienced in our region’s clubs.

Many of the golf clubs I choose to visit in the North East are not filled with those fitting the character of those above. Most are great places, embracing their local communities, welcoming custom from those who pop in for lunch or hire the facilities and these clubs – and all golf club members who go out of their way to offer a warm welcome – should be thanked for doing so.

Those clubs, and those positive experiences, do golf’s image and the potential for growing the number of golfers in the future a great deal of good.

To those who do not, I beg them to change. It would be a shame to see old, highly respected golf clubs fail to exist as the old guard make those who will fill the ranks of membership in future years and those who will keep external revenue streams flowing disappear. We all like spending time at our golf clubs; we should welcome the chance to share it.