“Kalispera! Have you ever played golf?”
The old man furrowed his bushy brows and walked quickly in the opposite direction. Another couple was heading my way, so I tried again.
“Ya sas! Ti kanete? Would you like to take a golf lesson?”
The husband laughed nervously, continuing to walk into the hotel. After he was safely through the glass doors he yelled back, “What, are you going to beat me with that thing?”
I looked at the golf club in my hands, wondering if I really did present a threatening image to the incoming guests. You see, today was our test-run promotional setup at the Westin lobby. I was standing just outside the reception foyer with a golf bag, trolley, and bucket of balls. A glass table held brochures and tees (and several large rocks since it started to get a bit windy!). I was assigned to man the station during the afternoon, as guests checked in for their weekend stay. The thinking was, “we need to be proactive about getting guests to come to the golf course!” So I was doing my best to present golf as an exciting attraction.
The thing is, I terrified most of the Greek vacationers. Not only is golf a completely alien sport to them, but I was also an American who could not communicate with them in their own language. Kids hid behind their parents, even after they saw my bucket of shiny white golf balls. Men frowned. Women smiled hesitantly but did not respond to any of my attempts at cordiality. I simply wasn’t getting through to the Greeks.
Other foreigners, I had no problem with! A family from Germany grabbed a handful of brochures. A couple from Switzerland thought it would be fun to try a lesson together. One young man, being rather resourceful, calculated how many people he needed to gather for a group lesson in order for it to be cheaper than an individual one. Several of the resort staff stopped to stare as I took a few practice swings (I promise that no windows—or guests—were harmed in this process). Three guys from Amsterdam were hesitant at first, but warmed up to the idea after I showed off the new TaylorMade rental clubs and chatted with them about beautiful golf courses. I handed them brochures, but ten minutes later one of them came back… for my phone number.
Apparently I was successful on a number of accounts.
But it is the Greek population that I truly want to reach out to. This is their land, their resort. It is their beautiful, immaculate, panoramic golf course. Tomorrow, I will be back at my station during peak check-in hours. And I think I have a clear goal to work towards this summer!