As so often happens, members of Gainey Ranch Golf Club couldn’t arrange to play a routine eighteen hole round at the club they had joined. Once again we were forced to go off-campus to play. In that “the season” was upon us, many courses had raised their rates. Being the bargain conscious group we were, we looked for a deal. What about Stone Creek Golf Club? Most of our guys had never played it; others hadn’t played it in years. I called.
“I’ve got a dozen guys from Gainey Ranch Golf Club that would like to give your course a try next Monday, September 22nd. What kind of a good rate can you give us?”
The man on the Stone Creek end of the phone paused, but finally said, “I can give you twenty-five dollars per player including range balls, cart and eighteen holes of golf.”
What kind of condition is your course in?” I asked.
“Fantastic!” he said. “Mother Nature has taken care of that.” We had some rain recently and he assured me the course couldn’t be in better shape.
“Done deal,” I said. “See you on the 22nd.”
So with great expectations, a dozen Gainey Ranch golfers headed for Stone Creek. As it turned out, we had a Dickens of a time. It started off poorly, but rapidly went downhill from there. The first thing each of us noticed upon arrival was that the course had been scraped for the over-seed. If there was any grass in the area, it was airborne from the mowers that were darting in every direction on the course. The dust was so thick, I was starting to cough and wheeze. As the rest of our golfers arrived one by one, the reactions were the same. Wide and watery eyes betrayed their thoughts of “What the hell happened to the fantastic condition we were promised?”
Alright – a little inconvenience. Most valley courses have to over-seed in the fall. Maybe the guy that made the tee times at the great price offer had over-indulged with medical marijuana and the Stoned Creek over-seed had just slipped his mind. Hey, we all make mistakes. We were off on the wrong foot and we hadn’t even entered the pro shop yet. Strike one.
As each of our guys arrived, he went into the pro shop to pay the promised fees. It seems we’d walked into a den of chicanery. As it happened, a couple of the guys paid their twenty-five dollars, grabbed the bag of range balls and headed out into the dust cloud. However, most were told the range balls weren’t included in the price. Rather than argue with the man behind the counter, they coughed up an additional six dollars for balls.
Perhaps, the astute gentleman at the desk had been trained to estimate the amount of money remaining in a prospective mark’s pockets. Some of our golfers were then told they had to pay an additional three dollars for the GPS that was an integral part of the cart. It didn’t matter that they had their own range-finders and had neither desire nor need to use the GPS in the cart. Those who were confrontation averse dug into their pockets yet again for another three dollars. What a deal!
As the boys arrived on the driving range, they began comparing notes. Some had paid twenty-five dollars. Some had paid twenty-eight dollars. Some had paid thirty-one dollars and some had paid thirty-four dollars. As if the collective anger level of the group hadn’t risen enough, the booster rockets kicked in when a couple of the guys noted the existence of a very large sign facing the road near the course entrance which proclaimed a special price of twenty-five dollars INCLUDING cart, GPS and range balls. Stone Creek’s public relations expert must have been gone for the season. It couldn’t possibly get any worse, could it?
As our players sat down in their carts waiting to go to the first tee, they took note of a placard clearly displayed inside their carts. It was promoting a “special” deal for Monday golf where you get eighteen holes of golf, a cart (with GPS) and range balls for twenty dollars! September 22nd was indeed a Monday! We hadn’t put our balls on a tee yet and we’d been squarely kicked in them.
It was time to lick our wounds and tee it up. That’s when things starting going downhill. The course was in abysmally poor condition. It was as close to unplayable as any I’d seen. The air was thick with dust and dead grass powder. There was enough maintenance equipment on the fairways to rebuild the World Trade Center. Well, we may have been screwed, blued and tattooed, but at least we had a horrific and miserable time playing the course.
If there are times during the year when the course is worth playing, it damn sure wasn’t on September 22nd. All I could think was “They sure ruined a fine nuclear test site with this waste dump.” As far as the business practice of over-charging our guys, I can only hope it was due to poor training and gross incompetence. If it was actually a result of unethical intentions, I wouldn’t recommend this course to Ali Baba or any of his forty thieves. They would have felt cheated and blamed me for the recommendation (just like the dozen guys I convinced to play the course did).
Stone Creek? Bring a paddle.