Reader’s Trip Report: North Carolina

Graham Stevens, a reader, sent the following report. He doesn’t name the course, but I’ve encountered the same policy and it drives me bats.

I called a semi-private course I’d never played near the mountain town I was visiting on vacation, and made my usual request: “I would love to be first out. I play fast and I’m a solid golfer (6 handicap). I will play with anyone from any tees as long as they play fast, too. My typical rounds take less than two hours when I play by myself, and I hate playing in more than three hours.”

They said, “No problem. We’ll see you at 7:30 and take good care of you.”

I showed up a little after 7:00 and the guy at the pro shop was great. He gave me tips on which holes were quirky, and told me how to get to the practice areas and the first tee.

At my allotted time, I striped one down the middle. As I walked toward my drive, though, three carts came racing over the tee boxes and down the hill. Their drivers—the entire early-morning staff of the clubhouse—were shouting, “Wait!” “Sir!” “Excuse me!”

The starter, breathing hard, explained that I couldn’t walk. I told him that I had perfectly good legs and that I could walk. He said he couldn’t let me go off first unless I took a cart. I told him I would play faster on foot. He said that wasn’t possible on a mountain course. I said, “I bet you $5,000 I can play faster walking than riding on this course.”

He pleaded with me: “Please, sir, I can lose my job if someone sees you walking.”

I have heard a lot of crazy excuses, but this was a first. 

In the end, I didn’t want to argue. I love this time of day for the solitude, long shadows, and fresh moist air, not for endless irrational discussions. More important, I wanted to play quickly and get back home before my wife and daughter noticed I was missing. I took the cart and played 18 holes in an hour and fifty-one minutes. The starter (still employed!) approached me after I putted out on 18 and he said, “Wow, that was fast!”

I told him, “I would have been in my car ten minutes ago if you had let me walk.”

He smiled and said, “I appreciate you being accommodating this morning and I hope you will come back and see us.”

I said, “You have a great golf course here on a beautiful piece of land, but there is not a chance I will be back unless you change your policy on walking.”