Editor's note: Part 1 of this series laid out the guide to smooth golfing. Today, we bring you the essential tips for a smooth game everywhere else, both on and off the course.
Smooth Tipping, Off-Course
With the possible exception of a flop shot over water, nothing is as flummoxing as tipping etiquette.
Steven Freund, general manager at Georgia's very classy
Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, offers these pointers and guidelines, while politely noting that gratuities are always appreciated, never expected. (But trust us, they really are.)
- Basics: Bellmen, doormen, automobile valets, maids and the service staff in restaurants and bars all fall into the tipped category. Current norms suggest that Lincoln is the most popular president -- stock up on those $5 bills -- and that 20% is the new 15%.
- A Little Extra: When someone outside the tipped category goes beyond the scope of his or her normal duties, recognize it with a gratuity. You wouldn't tip a concierge for setting up a tee time on the property, but securing a Saturday night reservation at that hot new French bistro in town merits a five-spot, while creating a detailed itinerary for your weeklong stay warrants $20.
- Timing: It's generally best to tip after service is rendered. After all, a tip is a monetary thank you note. "Fore-tipping" in the hopes of extraordinary service opens the door to disappointment -- and can create awkward situations where requests can't be met ("What do you mean I can't get Sunday Masters tickets?").
- Preparation: Have the money at hand, and be proactive. Well-trained staffers won't stand around with an open palm and a pregnant pause as you fumble to find your wallet.
- Handoff: Tipping is an accepted part of the resort experience. Don't act like you're passing contraband, Mr. Money-in-the-Palm, and don't make a Broadway production out of it, Mr. Wad-of-Bills-Peeler. A quick, simple handoff and a sincere "thank you very much" always does the trick.
- Complaints: Fifteen minutes to get a two-minute egg? Before docking the waiter for the delay, make sure the problem isn't in the kitchen. Service personnel should only be penalized when they show a lack of attentiveness, caring or respect; if you suspect the fault lies within the system, tip appropriately and politely voice your complaints to management.
- Golden rule: Someone once said the definition of class is behaving well when you don't have to. (We think it was either Martha Stewart or Paris Hilton.) "The guests my staff talk about the most aren't necessarily the biggest tippers," says Freund. "They're the ones who treat them like service professionals instead of subservient staff. They're long on dignity and respect." Take that lesson to heart -- and remember one of Ritz-Carlton's mottos: "We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen."
Smooth Tipping, On-Course
Most of the above tip tips can be applied to the course, but some golf-specific wisdom can help make you the toast of the tees, no matter what you shoot. Bob Mauragas, director of golf operations at Reynolds Plantation, the Ritz-Carlton's golf facility, offers the following.
- It's OK to ask the starter to try to get you into an earlier group and tip him or her if successful; it's not OK to try a bribe to do so. Leave the payola to local politicos and mobsters.
- Shoe attendants should get a minimum of $5 for shining a pair of shoes, with more for changing out spikes or a buff that lets you see your reflection in your saddles. The same goes for bag personnel.
- You're one of those absent-minded professors who leaves his sand wedge off the green, his 3-wood on the tee and his cell phone who knows where. The course ranger makes like Lassie and tracks them down for you. Give him or her a little something, you know, for the effort -- a fiver ought to do it.
Smooth Invite to that Great Private Club
We all know the guy who's a member of Privilege National GC, which we'd join too if only we had that extra $100K and the blood as blue as the ocean. Maybe in the next life. The next best thing? Wrangling an invite -- which, if you play your cards right, could be the first of many.
Our approach: Ask our pal Justin Marcus, the 36-year-old CEO of Princeton Information, one of North America's largest privately held IT staffing firms, and member of several prestigious New York-area clubs, including the new and fabulous
Bayonne Golf Club, for his advice. (Providing a little free publicity never hurt one's chances...)
- Friend or client: "If you're a client, simply go ahead and ask to be taken out," Marcus says. "The prospect of writing some business usually trumps any concerns the member may have." One concern is financial: Guest fees have skyrocketed at many clubs over the past five years, and hosting a threesome can easily run $500 or more between guest fees, cart fees, lunch and beers.
So, friends should consider the following:
- Mr. Quid, meet Mr. Quo: While many members just plain like hosting their friends, settling the table with an invite to the ballgame or dinner never hurts. "It's a lot better approach than, 'Geez, you haven't taken me to your club in, like, a year,'" Marcus points out.
- Be prepared: "My buddy Scott always brings me a breakfast sandwich when we play or takes us for pizza afterward," Marcus says. "It's a small, thoughtful thing, and that's what counts. When I'm a guest, I'll usually bring a bottle of wine for my host. Nothing crazy -- you're not trying to match the value of the member's outlay, only express your appreciation."When it comes to what expenses the guest should expect to pick up, the answer is "not much." A fiver for the shoe guy and $2-$5 for the valet attendant and club cleaner should just about do it -- unless you take caddies, for whom the guests should always offer to pay. (Find out in advance, and at least match the accepted norms.) Don't try to tip waiters and bartenders, which most clubs don't allow; in any case, food and beverage is the member's responsibility, and generally now operates on a computerized system.
- Oh, behave: Common courtesy and common sense dictate that you don't drive through sand traps or do donuts on the greens, but there are subtler faux pas, too. "Tuck your shirt in, and keep your hat on straight," Marcus cautions. "The last thing a member wants is a warning letter from the board. Also, no really loud cursing -- at least not on the first tee."
- Be thankful: The money involved in hosting a guest isn't the only cost, notes Marcus. "Most ... club members like to get out early," he says. "Bringing guests means you're going out later in the day. Then there's the warm-up, the meal afterward, et cetera, and suddenly a four-hour loop is a seven-hour day." The least you can do is say something nice afterward about the course design, the conditions and your host's game. ("Heck of a chip back there on the second hole" will suffice. Save the groveling for your spouse when you come home late and miss dinner.)
Smooth Your Way to a Free Beer
Ansel "Bunny" Swaby, 43, knows friendly islands. Born and raised in Jamaica, Swaby's been bartending in the States since 1999, first at Palmetto Dunes Resort on Hilton Head, S.C., and for the past four years at nearby
Daufuskie Island Resort. His counsel for parched and/or tightwad golfers in search of a free round?
Be a good tipper -- like gimmes, you gotta give 'em to get 'em -- but more important, be a pal.
"You've got to make the bartender feel like he's known you forever, like you're old friends," Swaby says. "People who ask me about my accent, where I'm from, those are the ones I seem to pour free beers. You could also tell me you had your best game ever, but then I've got to believe you! Show a little interest in your bartender. That's the easy way to go."
Final Thoughts From the Undisputed King of Smooth
He's the golfer women want and men golfers want to be. He's George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan and Fonzie rolled into one. He's ... oh, let's just let Freddie Couples give you the final word on how to be smooth.
"I've heard all kinds of theories about what makes me smooth. That term's been applied to my swing, but I'm not very smooth at the moment, let's put it that way. A lot of people talk about the way I walk. A few even say it's because I don't wear a golf glove, which looks different. Some people take smoothness to mean something like cockiness, but I don't think I'm that way. I suppose there's cocky smooth and then there's silky smooth. Either way, it's all about your attitude.
"My best advice on how to be smooth? Just slow everything down. That's what pros try to do on the golf course, but it applies everywhere. Anytime you slow down, you'll come across much more smooth. When you rush, you're never smooth."
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Evan Rothman is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. A former executive editor at Golf Magazine, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Men's Journal and other leading publications.