In the months leading up to me getting into this business, a couple of buddies and I engaged in the annual spring rite of spring break, which back then was mostly celebrated in places such as Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale for those of us who resided in the Toronto area.
It was the spring of 1978 when we left, first along Hwy 401 through to Detroit and down I-75 through Ohio and Kentucky and into Tennessee when early in the morning, we pulled into a truck stop off the interstate for some breakfast.
This most personable server you can imagine greeted us and not only brought us our orders, but stopped to chat.
When we told her we were driving right through to Florida, taking turns driving, this elderly lady who I’m estimating was in her 70s at the time became concerned.
She kept filling our plates with bacon and eggs and biscuits, telling us we had to fill up for such a long journey until we literally had to hold this dear lady’s hand in an effort to stop her from loading more on to our plates.
“Honey, you sure?” she asked each of us.
If we weren’t “Honey,” we were “Sweetie” or “Darlin’,” and she didn’t even seem to be working us for a tip. Looking at this sorry trio, there’s no way we would have anything more than the 10 per cent that was common at the time.
It was just a nice side order of down home warmth for a few guys a long way from home and to this day, I associate such pet names as “hun” to that lovely southern lady, likely gone from us now, sadly.
So, my own experiences with such pet names are positive wrapped in a lot of innocence , but not everybody feels that way, perhaps due to their own experiences or the way the were raised.
Some feel such terms are condescending, while others look at the use of such names as being overly-familiar, which is something we must deal with, particularly in a service-oriented busy such as golf in which we deal with a variety of people with differing opinions on such matters.
We’ve seen headlines recently about what can happen when comments strike sensitivities in golf. PGA of America president Ted Bishop, for example, lost his position after calling Ian Poulter a little girl on social media.
While many thought that, while Bishop never should have said that, the punishment didn’t fit the crime. Even so, he paid a high price for not thinking before he tweeted.
Or how about the fellow in this story from the Scottish Express who found himself banned from local golf courses for making comments about somebody’s sexual preference, which he says was just meant as a flip comment.
The reality is that he struck a nerve and is also paying the price.
This is not to judge who’s right in these examples, only to point out that the striking of nerves can have severe consequences, not only in golf, but in any business.
In golf, think of the flirtations that often happen when beer carts stop by and how easily that could get out of control if the wrong thing is said.
How do you deal with such incidents? It’s a complex situation that even the federal government is wrestling with these days.
Recently, two female members of the NDP caucus complained about the alleged misconduct of two Liberal MPs, who were suspended by party leader Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau’s reaction drew criticism because the women involved didn’t want the matter to become public and you wonder if it was fair to the accused that they were publicly disciplined before the matter was properly investigated?
So much for innocent until proven guilty.
Last week, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair wrote a letter to Trudeau and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, proposing that all parties work together to clearly define harassment, draft a new, formal code of conduct and appoint somebody to investigate complaints.
You can read more in this story from the Globe and Mail.
It’s worth watching as this story unfolds and it’s prudent to consider any code of conduct that you have at your golf operation or business to update, perhaps even have a procedure to investigate any such dispute should it arise.
There is no perfect solution, but the potential is there for trauma, lost reputations and legal proceedings.
While there is no clear-cut solution to the problem, it’s too important an issue to pretend it doesn’t exist.