Making the Rounds: Unexpected hazards are a reason to vent

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C

The day when there were more golfers than tee times and players weren't told before paying full fare that holes had just been punched in the greens disappeared in the 1990s with the proliferation of courses throughout the region.

That doesn't mean golfers still don't have complaints.

Bob Chiechi's weekly foursome made a 40-mile trek from Yuba City to Cherry Island on Sept. 10 to find the course's back-nine greens had been spiked and topped with sand.

"They said, 'I've got to caution you, we've had a treatment on the back nine on the greens,' " Chiechi said of the pro-shop staff. "I said, 'OK, a treatment doesn't sound bad.' Mostly, it was just a thick layer of sand. Obviously, we wouldn't have played if we knew that."

Chiechi's group, not the contentious types, didn't express its dissatisfaction to anyone at Cherry Island.

Sacramento's Eric Jarvis had a poor experience in three consecutive visits to Turkey Creek this month. Among his complaints were on-course workers causing a distraction. Jarvis' problems came to a head in Northern California Golf Association Net Amateur qualifying when he hit into a greenside bunker that a worker was spewing water into while attempting to spray over.

"(My friends) will tell you I am a terrible bunker player, so it doesn't matter to me," Jarvis said. "In fact, I got up and down. But you get the point."

Jarvis said his postround complaints, which included his competition being conducted on greens that were aerified nine days before – "They were riddled with sand and had a carpet-like feel to them" – were met with indifference.

"The guy in the pro shop just shrugged his shoulders as if to say, 'Yeah, OK, so what?' " Jarvis said.

There are few complaints that Brent Cohen, general manager at Turkey Creek and Empire Ranch, hasn't heard. He offered two suggestions for unhappy golfers looking to vent effectively.

• Be timely. "If you don't like your meal at a restaurant, you would never wait until the end of the meal to complain. So let us know the problem while we might be able to fix it."

• Be civil/ask for a manager. "The thing that really bothers me is when people aggressively go after my staff. You're probably barking up the wrong tree if you're yelling at a guy behind the counter."

Cohen said he welcomes discussions about problems that he can fix. Jarvis' complaints about the maintenance worker is a good example.

"That behavior was totally unacceptable," Cohen said. "A lot of times, maintenance workers aren't golfers and the only way we can educate them is if we know about experiences like that."

Cohen also likes the chance to explain the business side. For instance, aerification schedules are often set a year in advance, he said, and it's tournament directors who fail to inform their players.

So the pace of play stinks. The course is too wet. The beverage cart didn't make it around. Those beefs pale when compared to one directed at Cherry Island superintendent Kurtis Wolford.

"I had a guy tell me the bunker rakes are the wrong color," Wolford said. "He said dark green absorbs heat and makes them too hot to pick up in the summer."

Some golfers will complain about anything.

Et cetera

• Sacramento high school senior Cameron Champ made his official college visit to College Station, Texas, over the weekend. He had 40-yard-line seats among an announced crowd of 87,596 at Kyle Field to watch host Texas A&M drop a 49-42 decision to No. 1 Alabama.

• Folsom's Isaac Sanchez returns to the Golf Channel next month in "Big Break NFL Puerto Rico." The reality series pits six three-person teams, each with a former NFL player and LPGA Tour hopeful. Sanchez, who finished third on "Big Break Greenbrier," teams with Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and Emily Talley.

Call The Bee's Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.

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