Whistler Golf – Beverage Cart Ride-Along
Picture this: a warm afternoon on a Whistler golf course. The clean aroma of freshly cut grass, the ripples on the water as a breeze flows down from the towering mountain peaks. The sun shining, the smiles after a great drive– just another day of good times with good friends. What could possibly be better? A drink perhaps, or a candy bar, or both. The roaming beverage cart can play a pretty integral role in any day on the golf course. If you’re playing well, you drink to celebrate. If you’re not, you drink as therapy. If the weather’s nice you drink to cool off, if it’s raining….
“I bring the liquid sunshine,” says Danica Herbert aka “Zumba”, an enthusiastic first-year Whistler Beverage Cart Girl who is kind enough to let me ride along for part of her shift in order to get the inside scoop on A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CART GIRL.
2PM – Clubhouse.
“You know how to cut limes?” Zumba asks. “On a hot day like this Corona’s with lime are popular.” I hop to it. Beer limes are easier to prepare than cocktail limes because you don’t need to put that extra slit in so it can sit on the edge of the glass. We are working the afternoon shift (thankfully), the morning shift starts at 7AM. I am not dressed the part (no Skort) but she brings me along anyway.
2:20PM- Clubhouse Restricted Area
The Beverage Cart is electric, one charge will almost carry through an 8-hour shift. It’s wider than a regular golf cart and also very heavy, crammed full of ice, drinks, candy bars, sandwiches, insect repellent, golf balls and various other handy things. Despite the weight, the beverage cart has power to spare and motors along quite nicely.
“You get pretty good at driving,” Zumba says. “Lots of tight squeezes. I’ve only had one ‘incident’ this season. I tore someone’s cooler off the back of their cart. This thing is wider than it feels.”
2:30PM 18th Green
We hit the course switch, starting at 18 and working our way backwards. “The goal is to see every golfer at least twice on a busy day and three or four times on a weekday,” Zumba explains. “Offering refreshments, taking their empties, keeping everyone happy. Whistler is serious about service, I worked at a course in another town before and it was nowhere near this good.”
2:45PM 16th Fairway
We’re hunkered behind a tree as a foursome fires their approaches almost right at us. A ball bounces past, not that close, but not that far away either. “You learn the safe zones on every hole pretty fast,” Zumba says. “I’ve been hit a few times, the cart not me. It keeps you awake.”
When asked how their day is going this foursome waves us aside like we’re Vegas cocktail waitresses– not quite rude, but not all that friendly either. Zumba doesn’t take it as personally as I do. “Most people are really great,” she explains. We motor on.
2:48PM 15th Fairway
We run into Meg, a local and also ex-cart-girl, out shooting a round with her family. “I loved the job but I wasn’t playing enough golf,” she says. “On your day off you don’t want to go back and hang out at your work.” She laughs, “My game was suffering even though I worked at a golf course.” A chink in the armour of what seems to be a pretty sweet job otherwise. While i know Zumba is forbidden from drinking on the job, as a member of the sporting press I fall into a grey area – I half-expect every foursome to be ordering shots of tequila (and sharing with us) but beers seem to be the big sellers on this day.
2:54PM 13th Teebox
Thirsty customers. Zumba’s other job is as a fitness instructor/dancer and she brings those skills out on the links as well. Her economy of movement while opening beers, processing credit cards and doing all kinds of quick math in her head is impressive. “You gotta be on it –multitasking and time management skills are integral because every group has someone behind them and you have to keep everything on pace. You figure out a system pretty quick.”
My face hurts from smiling. Every person gets a smile, or two. That’s just part of the job. There are occasionally problem customers, however. Usually just dudes who don’t understand that BC liquor laws prevent them from bringing their own drinks out onto the course. Zumba is in constant radio contact with the clubhouse, for special requests or, occasionally, security. “After a warning we will confiscate liquor but you get it back at the end of your round, we’re not cops.”
3:15PM 10th Fairway
A foursome of old-schoolers seem extra happy to see us (or at least Zumba. Most people laugh at my role in this, “You get paid to do that?!”) It’s good to see some people still smoke gigantic cigars on the golf course (just make sure the stogie butts go in the trash boys). “I love it here,” says a 50ish-year-old man with a heavy American accent. “Beautiful mountains and the cart girls are on loan from modeling school.”
3:23PM Hole 4 – The Home Stretch.
We see a bear foraging in the rough by the Valley Trail. The golfers nearby are pretty stoked but not quite enough to celebrate with four shots of Tequila. “The shots are more a weekend thing,” Zumba explains. “You get a lot of stag parties and stuff coming out. It’s busy but a lot of fun. Things can get pretty wild.” Although the offers certainly come up, cart girls in Canada are forbidden from drinking on the job.
Back at base to restock before starting out again. By now Zumba knows everyone out there, what they’re drinking and how their round is going so far. To be a beverage cart girl you have to be part bartender, part hostess part rally car driver, part mathematician and all smiles.
“You get to work outside and see this beautiful scenery every day,” Zumba says. “You get to meet people from all over the world.”
While the life of a cart girl seems pretty good, they’re also unsung heroines of a sport where so much attention is paid to the land – the type of grass, the condition of the fairways– and the scenery. The people working on every golf course play a huge role in making everyone’s round the best it can possible be. Here in Whistler, it seems, we’re lucky to have people who bring a lot more to the Whistler golf experience than just a little “Liquid sunshine.”