A group of a dozen golfers decided to give Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club a second chance. The first chance came nearly a year earlier; we weren’t favorably impressed. But, it seemed unfair to base our opinions on only one data point. Anyone can have a bad day. Perhaps we happened to be there for the only bad day they’d ever inflicted upon golfers. The second chance came Friday, April 21st.
Based upon our experience on the 21st, our first experience may have been one of their better days. The second chance was as close to disaster as one can come without seeing a mushroom cloud. Most of us feel fortunate to have escaped the property with our tattered, challenged and abused senses of humor intact.
It wasn’t all bad. Many of the staff people, inside and out, were reasonably courteous and friendly. The course layout was “cute”. It appears to have been cut out of the flood plain and the architect put most of the available land to good use. On most of the holes, errant shots tended to find heavily sloping side hills intended to channel heavy rains into the basins. Why not channel bad shots into the fairways too? It’s a bogey golfer’s dream. After my worst drive of the day, I narrowly missed my eagle putt. Thank you monsoon season design considerations. The club house was small, but adequate. The par 71 course is pretty easy; the slope from the “tips” is only 113.
It wasn’t all good. There’s no driving range. The course wasn’t in bad condition, but putting could be a bit of an adventure. The random jumps and hops didn’t always yield the desired results, but you probably get a couple putts that shouldn’t have fallen. Fairways were generally in fairly good condition. I can’t comment on the traps; I was never in one. The other guys didn’t seem to have much trouble with them. The course ranger seemed to be a “nice guy”, however, his marching orders appeared to be “find the trouble spots” and avoid them at all costs. The power lines in the line of fire on the first tee made for some interesting deflections.
There was also a “very bad” aspect to our experience. Don’t get me wrong; I believe in capitalism. If I hadn’t endeavored to make a profit in my working life, I couldn’t afford the clubs needed to play the game and I wouldn’t have been able to play the many courses I’ve enjoyed over the years and to which I now compare Silverado.
The goal at Silverado is to get as much play as possible. The more golfers, the more income. At least, that’s the theory. I certainly don’t fault them for that. However, there are limits. For example, consider our experience.
I called for tee times for twelve golfers. I had to give them my credit card number to guarantee them because they had a twenty-four hour cancellation policy. When I arrived at the course an hour before our first tee time, I said it appeared we would only have eleven players. I didn’t know if I would be charged for the twelfth or if they would waive the policy. I didn’t ask and frankly didn’t care. A few minutes later, our twelfth player showed up. I went into the pro-shop and said we were twelve. I was told he couldn’t play because some woman had been moved into that spot. I said, “Well, move her out.” He said he’d already moved her once and didn’t want to move her again. Our guy was just out of luck.
It occurred to me that there were times available at a nearby course and that it might be easier to just move the group to that course rather than kick one of our guys out of our own group. I said I’d go outside and see how the others felt about it. I was told that everyone’s credit cards would be charged if we left. I said, “No problem. We’ll just protest the charges.” I was told we would fail because of the twenty-four hour cancellation policy that was apparently now in effect. That begged the question of “How could he sell our twelfth spot if I couldn’t cancel it without adequate notice?” Per his policy which seemed to go into and out of effect whenever it suited his needs, I still owned our twelfth spot. We were prepared to move the group and I went outside to confirm our decision with the others. When I returned to say we were leaving, the “general manager” was standing there saying that everything had been taken care of and all of our golfers could now play as originally planned.
Then things got worse – much worse. We regretfully elected to stay and play. Due to delays on the course, we didn’t tee off until ten or so minutes late. What we saw from the tee box portended of great problems. As far as we could see, the groups in front of us consisted of five male golfers and one “rent-a-babe”. I’m not sure what the young girls were doing in the groups, but as time went by, it became increasingly apparent that strokes were involved. The boys in front of us began drinking and never came up for air. Play was interminably slow. We had lengthy delays on every shot. And the boys in front got drunk, drunker and drunkest. They became louder and louder and ruder and ruder. By the seventh hole, the young lady driving the drink cart drove by our lead group and said she was leaving the course to “quit”. With tears in her eyes, she recounted the story of how one of the groups in front had insulted her and had made rude and abusive remarks of a sexual nature. She wasn’t taking it any more. Apparently, the course ranger wasn’t taking it either; he was nowhere to be seen. We wondered if he too had gone home after being asked to bare his breasts.
When my group reached the ninth hole, our first group was waiting. They were angry and fed up with the slow play, the shouting and raucous behavior of the groups in front. They urged us to call it a day. We waited for our third group to discuss our options. By the narrowest of margins, the players elected to soldier on and try to finish the round. After all, the course ranger would surely take some action soon. Before going to the tenth tee, the cart girl came by. It was a different driver. We asked her what had happened to the previous girl. She explained that the other girl had left the course under “stressful” conditions. She had been treated so rudely by the drunks, she was gone.
We headed for the tenth tee one or two golfers lighter. No amount of talking kept them from leaving. As a result of our impromptu meeting, we now had a hole or two open in front us. We could play golf at least for a short time. For a couple of holes, it was almost as if we were on a golf course instead of attending day two of an Irish wake. But, it wasn’t long before we caught up with the boys with the babes. They were drunker than ever. They were yelling and shouting, usually during our backswings. They were hitting balls in all directions. One of their tee shots actually went so far left as to fly OVER the canal that runs through Scottsdale. They weren’t raking traps after demolishing them. They were chewing up the greens. Our patience was wearing thin. With more than a couple of bucks on the line, I shanked a ball on the 13th hole when the drunks on the 14th tee box shouted boisterously to the drunks hitting their third shots in the 14th fairway. It should give you a clue as to the quality of golf being played by the inebriated boys when you realize the 14th hole is a par three hole. Despite playing a scramble with five men on a team, the group had been unable get a ball on the green in less than four shots.
As their last group, i.e., the one in front of us, waited on the tee, they gleefully shouted as we played. One of their guys was quiet, but only because he was locked in an embrace with the rent-a-babe. I must confess, the girls were very well designed and dressed in such a fashion as to leave little to guess work. When the previous group finally cleared the green, we watched as the final group of rowdies tried to hit one of the three balls they no doubt saw on the tee box. The scantily clad, breasty brunette grabbed a ball, teed off and the ball curved hard to the left. She was obviously a hooker.
We’d had enough. We sent messages to our following groups that we would be skipping a couple of holes and that they should do the same. We drove around the 14th and 15th holes and began play again on 16. On that tee box, we finally saw the man purporting to be “the ranger”. We called to him. He smelled trouble and made a wide arc avoiding any possible contact with us. He stopped some distance away and chatted at length with the cart girl. He then turned and went the other way. After all, if he had continued in the same direction, he would have come upon the drunks. Clearly, we couldn’t have that happen. He’d end up tearfully leaving the course just like the first cart girl.
Nonetheless, we finished the round, the 16 holes we were able to play, and came together for our scoring and recap. However, we unanimously agreed that if it was hell on the course, it would be hell and beyond in the course bar. Discretion being the great part of valor, not wishing to confront the odds with a group of drunks, we all agreed to take our group off campus for the recap.
After sharing our war stories, we concluded:
- The lion’s share of the blame for the nightmare we experienced at Silverado rests with course management. When they allowed fivesomes with a sixth “player” for service needs, they violated every reasonable interpretation of golf etiquette. They also made more enemies than friends in doing so. If the drunks had a good time, future business from those boys won’t offset lost business, if for no other reason than the drunks probably won’t even remember their day.
- Staff training at Silverado leaves a lot of room for improvement. Marshalls should be taught to identify and deal with problems on the course rather than master the art of stealthiness. The general “screw you” we were given at the front desk probably isn’t the best way to lure future business.
- The State of Arizona has requirements associated with maintaining a liquor license. To say the boys on the course were over-served is an understatement. If one of these guys left the course and killed someone as a result of DWP (driving while pickled), Silverado might have a new owner.
So how was our day at Silverado? Let’s just say I’ve got a way to make a lot of money. I’m going to get our group together and try to sell them on the idea that we should play Silverado again. I’m going to sell tickets to that meeting. People will pay a fortune to watch as the rope is put in the tree and I’m strung up. No one’s been able to see that since the old days in the wild, Wild West. May I rest in peace.