Tipping at Golf Courses

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Florida Guide > Golf

Tipping at Golf Courses

Something all veteran golfers know and all beginning golfers learn soon enough is that tipping is often expected and sometimes required at golf courses. However what many golfers aren't sure of is the appropriate amount to tip at a particular club.

First, a couple generalities about golf gratuities:

Like all tipping, quality of service has much to do with the amount of the gratuity you offer at a golf course. If you've received great service, a larger tip is appropriate. The green fee of a course will also pay a part in deciding your tip. You should expect to tip more at a $150-per-round course than at a $50-per-round course.

Not all golf courses require tips. Some even forbid it. Therefore, it's a good idea if planning a visit to a new course or to a known high end club that you should call ahead and ask. There are also plenty of golf courses where tipping isn't expected. Tipping is unusual at municipal courses. If the course you're playing does not have a dress code, then you probably won't have to tip.

Now let’s turn to the actual dollar amounts you might use for gratuities. However keep in mind that of all the golf course staff members listed below as potentially requiring a tip, the odds of you needing to tip them all in one place, during one round of golf, are very slim. If you are visiting a course where all of these staff members work, you will already be planning to spend a great amount of money anyway.

More than likely, the bag drop attendee and cart return staff are the only folks you'll have to tip at a typical golf course, outside of food and drink.

Valet Parking
Valet parking is fairly uncommon at golf courses, but some high-end courses and resorts do offer it. Tip the same as you do at a restaurant or hotel for such a service; if you've never used such a service and don't have a set amount you tip, then $3 is a good baseline amount.

Bag Drop
This is the golf course equivalent of an airport skycap or hotel bellhop. Bag drop attendees take your clubs from your car and place them on the golf cart at the time of your arrival. Standard tip is $2-$3 per bag, maybe $5 if you want to make sure they assist you after the round.

Starter
Tips for the starter aren't necessary unless the starter is doing something special for you. Most starters simply check you in at the first tee and maybe announce that it is your turn to tee off. There really is no service involved unless you show up without a tee time and the starter quickly fits you in. If you're staying at a resort for several days, you can check with the starter upon arrival to see about preferred tee times throughout your stay. Such a service from a starter requires a good tip. A group of four golfers might tip a starter $50-$100 for such help. But again, if you already have a tee time and no special service is performed, then no tip is required for the starter.

Cart Return
These people take your clubs off your cart following the round, clean out the cart to return it to the cart garage. They might also clean your clubs, and should drive you and your clubs to your car. A couple dollars for each; $5 if your clubs are cleaned.

Caddies
If caddies are being used, then you're at a fancy place and already expecting to spend a lot of money. Tip a caddie 50 percent of the caddie fee. If there's a caddie master - the person who assigns caddies to golfers or groups - you can ensure getting a good caddie by tipping the caddie master 20 percent of the caddie fee.

Forecaddies
A forecaddie doesn't carry anyone's bags. One forecaddie will be assigned to a group of four. His job is to move ahead of the group to keep track of everyone's shots, and to direct players around the course. A forecaddie should get one tip from the group, $50-$100 total.

Food and Drink
If buying food or drink at a snack bar, look for a tip jar on the counter. Stuff a buck in, or drop in your change. If ordering from a clubhouse restaurant, tip as you would in a typical restaurant.

Beverage Cart
The beverage cart is stocked with snacks and drinks and driven around the golf course throughout the day, allowing golfers to purchase food and drink while on the course. A $1 tip for a $3 purchase is typical.

Remember, these are just guidelines. Adjust your tipping to the circumstances. The best bet when visiting a golf resort or high-end golf club is always call ahead and ask about the policy on gratuities.

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