breaking rulesI recently went on a golf vacation with my two brothers – both celebrating a 50 and 53 birthday. Not really on a hard and fast budget, we were looking to play as many fun, attractive and challenging courses as we could in our limited time together.

In the pro shop of our second round, two elderly gentlemen casually approached us as we were about to pay.

My 50 year old brother asked to walk with a pull-cart and was told, “You can’t, it’s against the rules at this time of day.” My brother who is an ex-college football player, marathoner and in great health and just walked a course the previous day with no challenges was ticked off as was I.

Then, as we boarded our golf carts, the same guy hurriedly ran out to us as we were about to tee off on the first hole and said, “I’m adding a single golfer to your foursome.” And, when we explained again that we were on vacation together and just wanted to play by ourselves he sternly said, “Well, that’s the rules, I don’t make them, the Board does and I have to follow them.”

So, we asked for and got a refund of over $150. That day the golf course lost more than $250 because of lost food, beverage and souvenir revenue. Plus, they’ll lose more in the future, because my brother vacations in the area a few times each year and will never go back – let alone refer anyone to play there.

Our rule? You tick us off and we don’t pay you or use your services and talk badly about you to lots of people. I’m sure a lot of folks follow that rule too.

We then took off and went to another golf course a few miles away – a far better course – and walked away with better memories to boot.

Now, I’m all for rules – without them you have total chaos – however people need to be trained to offer solutions when rules don’t make sense.

The course was not crowded, it was short and flat and was an easy walk in the park. Plus, we would have paid a little extra to play by ourselves.

Also, if the golf course attendant would have been friendly to begin with (a basic greens fee these days) and took a little time getting to understand our situation – vacation, special birthdays – his common sense might have prevailed because there are always special circumstances to bend said rules.

I’d bet that if our situation was presented to the “Board” – which I’m sure will not be the case – they would have let us play as a three some and let one of us walked.

I wonder if the Board has a process on place for employees to bring improvement suggestions to the table based on customer feedback?

What crazy old rules do you still follow that prevent your front line employees from making a sale, saving a sale and creating a happy customer?

Make a new rule in 2010 to break all stupid rules!

P.S.: Here are two cool quotes to keep in mind.

“Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.” Dalai Lama

“If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.”
Katherine Hepburn

P.P.S.: Next time you’re in Florida near Bonita Springs, Naples, Ft. Myers area, play golf at Stoneybrook Golf Course. Not only is it a great Florida golf course (it’s Ft. Myers best golf course and facility), the people are super nice!