The messy, contradictory world of golf resort and travel tipping
I woke up this morning fresh as a daisy, chipper as a woodpecker, and before I could take my first sip of coffee, I stumble across Katharine Dyson’s blog on tipping.
And it set me off. My blood pressure will be off the charts through the weekend now.
For me, tipping is usually uncomfortable, and I’ve worked two years in a country club bag room, a summer as a valet and five summers at Applebee’s.
Now, I spend about 1/4 of my life on the road at golf courses and resorts where tipping is a constant.
I know the culture, and I’m as confused as ever.
I keep having awkward tipping exchanges everywhere I go. For instance, upon arrival in Cancun’s airport in January, I entered the men’s room next to the baggage claim. An attendant there tried to shake my hand (awkward) and I didn’t because I had my phone in one hand and my carry-on in the other. I’m used to seeing bathroom attendants in airport bathrooms all the time, but upon leaving he asked me for $3 because he handed me a towel when i was washing my hands. I gave him $1 and he looked mad, but that’s what I tip attendants in night clubs - the only other time I see these guys. One time I tried to walk out of a Chicago night club bathroom without tipping the attendant and he yelled at me. I had to go to the bathroom again an hour later so I got my hand stamped and went across the street to an Irish pub to use the facilities.
That leads me to my main rebuttal with Katharine’s article: once you start incorporating foreign countries into your tipping strategies it gets messy real quick. Ever try tipping a Euro coin to someone? Any American knows that feels just too bizarre and cheap and I can’t do it. We have to tip paper money. Certain services you get for free in Europe you’re expected to tip in Asia.
For Americans, tipping in Europe is an absolute mess. I’ve tried to tip before and have been declined, haven’t tipped before and received a major stink eye. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re American, you’re expected to tip well, everywhere, even when our dollar isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on overseas, but Europeans have a wink-wink system with each other (maybe I’m just paranoid). It’s the burden of being known the world over as a generous country…
At the Spa at Pinehurst last week I saw someone tip the spa locker room attendant. You tip spa attendants? What do they make an hour? You don’t tip janitors, do you? My girlfriend was with me at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort on her way to a massage when she asked me if she should tip the masseuse in cash after the treatment (maybe only in certain Asian spas…). I’m led to believe she’s virtually clueless with resort tipping. If I can’t figure it out as a professional traveler, what chance do Normal People like her have?
What do you tip a private car hire vs. a cabbie? What if it’s on someone’s corporate account? is the tip included when they book the car? What about intra-resort shuttle drivers? Sometimes they have a cash cup, sometimes they don’t. I’ve googled, I’ve asked, and it’s a different answer every time. Nobody knows.
That’s one of the reasons I liked staying at the Boulders Resort in Carefree last winter so much. There, all tipping and services except spa and food & beverage tips are included in a flat $30 resort fee. I felt at ease and shot my best round in months on the Boulders North golf course, which probably isn’t a coincidence.
There is speculation that Tiger Woods wouldn’t be in the predicament he’s in had he tipped his ladies a little better, so I guess the golden rule is that we should all just err on the side of generosity. Nowadays I stuff my wallet with ones every time I head to the airport.
|« Pinehurst Academy study reveals the right and wrong way to practice at the driving range||Dallas Morning News unveils the 50 best public golf courses in Texas »|
Not worth worrying about, though. Grab a Blue Moon and a slice of orange and think about putting instead.