The weekend is supposed to be glorious here in Southern Ontario, with the Saturday temperature around 26 or 27 and Sunday not much lower.
That’s not to rub it into other parts of the country that may not get this taste of summer. Rest assured, that warm weather coming to a golf course near you and it’s enough to make you want to sit back outdoors and relax with a cold one to celebrate the end of a long, dreary winter with too much bad economic news.
Apparently, you won’t be alone in that guilty little pleasure. Many of your customers will be joining you as well, with Statistics Canada reporting recently that Canadians are drinking more these days.
In the year ending March 31, 2008, beer and liquor stores and agencies sold $18.8-billion worth of alcoholic beverages, up 4.3 per cent over the previous year.
There are a whole bunch of numbers to back up the claim that Canadians are dipping their bills into the suds and vino a little bit more these days, but who in the golf industry will complain about a rising profit centre within their operations in these troubled economic times?
Not to put a damper on the liquid lottery, but let’s be careful now and remember the allegations faced by ClubLink Corporation executives and seasonal employees who in January were charged with supplying liquor to apparently intoxicated people and permitting drunkenness on licensed premises.
The charges were laid after a car accident claimed the lives of three young people who were allegedly drinking to excess at the Lake Joseph Club near Port Carling, Ont., last summer. Another passenger in the car was injured.
A pre-trial date is set for next month and, if convicted, the ramifications against the company and individuals could be devastating, so it’s little wonder that that this case was a wake-up call to the golf industry when the charges were laid in January.
The bells from that wake-up call should still be ringing with the weather getting warmer. Purchasing liquor liability insurance is one avenue, but now may also be time to do a checklist on your serving policies as the season is getting underway.
There are responsible serving programs in which to enroll employees, but those servers also need the backing of management in order to properly deal with potential confrontations.
How well do your employees monitor the consumption of alcohol, which can easily begin out on the golf course and continue in the clubhouse during dinner with several different individuals serving a particular patron? Will your club check a golf bag if a person is suspected of hiding a mickey?
Do you encourage an employee to ask an intoxicated patron for car keys and do you have a taxi program available to get that person home?
The important thing is communication. Is there a written set of regulations and club policies available for reference by employees and are customers aware that intoxication will not be tolerated at your club through posted rules?
With the season upon us, now is the time to go over club policies, make any necessary amendments and get the message across to servers and patrons that the regulations will be strictly enforced.
Having more people use your food and beverage service is good news, but if it gets out of hand, the consequences could make all the bad news you heard about the economy this past winter seem pleasant. The wake-up call for the golf industry has been sounded and now, it’s time to respond.
Here’s to a great season in 2009.