Confessions of a Weary Pro Shop Assistant, part II

John Craven

Seven Springs Golf Course (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

For those of you who missed part 1 and wish to catch up on the trials and tribulations of the weary pro shop assistant this winter, you can do so HERE


Confessions of a Weary Pro Shop Assistant, part II


Such a morning.

I had to send out a second text to the members:

‘Dear members. Following another inspection, this morning’s frost delay has been extended. The course will reopen at 10am, at which point we will do our best to run the tee-sheet in its original order and get you all playing golf as soon as possible.’

The email hadn’t left my computer before the phone was ringing off the hook. It quickly became apparent that my message wasn’t clear. I had mistaken the recipients for native English speakers.

“I was originally due out at 10am,” the first voice tells me. “Should I still get to the tee for 10am?”

I explain that there was two and a half hours of golf planned prior to their tee time and that would be a bad idea. They’re happy to take their chances.

I’d hardly put down the phone when I spot another member making a dart for the first tee from the carpark. He hasn’t checked in with me and was originally due out at 10.20am. I radio the starter to ensure he doesn’t jump the queue. The member had no idea that there was a frost delay. The empty kettle on the passenger seat of his car tells a different tale. I hope you left your wife without a spare.

A voice calls my name from the foot of the stairs. The computer’s not working. The computer never works. “What about my sticker?” What about me? Cooked up here with this elevator music playing on repeat in the background while a bunch of grown adults complain about not getting a sticker.

I tell them, politely, to write their names down and we’ll get the computer sorted for when they come in. It’s non-counting anyway, I say.

That was a mistake. “Non counting, why?” they yell, in a perfect chorus of entitlement. Maybe because it hasn’t stopped raining since 1987. Fairways are sodden, rough is worse. Lift, clean and place in operation.

One asks what placing in ‘general areas’ means, with the page I’d left printed on the sign-in desk to avoid such repetitive questioning, in their hand.

“Everywhere on the golf course except tee-boxes, greens and hazards – the same thing as ‘through the green’.

“Why didn’t you just write ‘through the green then?’” Because you told world golf that was confusing. Instead, I chew through a pencil so hard that it breaks in half in my mouth. That’s a splinter in my lip and a stab wound in my hand from the pitch repairer, all before breakfast. I push the stragglers out the clubhouse door and into the Arctic before saying something I regret.

My stomach rumbles; the ruins of an uneaten fry by the computer call out to be microwaved. Not quite the breakfast it once was but at least the Chef was kind enough to make me some fresh toast. Relieved, I walk back to the office, hot meal in hand; the butter melting against the sourdough to form a golden crust.

“Two breakfasts!” A voice exclaims.

It’s Frank, obviously. For a second I wonder if I can pretend I never saw him. He’s standing three feet from my face.

I thought you’d be two-under by now, I tell him, exhaling a forced laugh of a man audibly dying inside.

“Not playing at that pace,” he says. “40 minutes to play two holes. I was losing the will to live.” The irony, I thought, as my abandoned fry let out one final breath of steam.

He tells me that he’s going to hang out for a while, that it was too soon to go home to the wife so instead he’d relax with me. He assures me not to worry; to pretend he’s not even there. He picks up a size 6 DryJoy and a size 8 adidas Tour 360, fails to juggle them and casually puts them back in the wrong place on the display. It would be easier to pretend you weren’t there if you pi**ed off to the bar, Frank.

“What was that?”

“I said the Premier League hasn’t been the same since they introduced VAR.”

He seized his window to start up a conversation. His wife, Jane, who plays nine holes on Tuesdays but takes enough strokes to last the week, was thinking about getting him golf lessons. She heard I was offering great discount rates throughout winter. So’s the head professional at a hidden gem of a club in Mozambique, but I don’t say that.

Frank has a swing like a playground in Baghdad – dangerous. The last professional that gave him lessons took an early retirement; Frank’s action so complicated that apparently the professional’s grasp on basic swing mechanics was so skewed afterwards that it never returned. And now here I was, a rabbit in the headlights of a PGA apprenticeship about to become roadkill before my career got off the ground. So, I did what any self-respecting professional would do in that situation. I plucked up the courage to walk over to Frank, stared him right between the eyes, and with every ounce of energy I had left in my body, I told him to tell Jane to get in touch any time.

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