Saddle Creek Golf Club ranked No. 6 for friendliest staff

Friday, January 23, 2015

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

Sometimes being nice to others is its own reward. But, sometimes others notice.

The staff at Lewisburg's Saddle Creek Golf Club has found out that its down-home Southern friendliness hasn't gone unnoticed by the course's patrons.

Writing recently on www.Golf, Brandon Tucker, the site's managing editor, rated Saddle Creek No. 6 in the nation in a listing of golf course staffs' friendliness. The ranking, Tucker wrote, was based on golfers' experiences, taken in a Website survey. The rankings included a wide array of courses, from high-end resorts to top 100-ranked courses to family owned and operated courses like Saddle Creek.

"When you rate a golf course in your account on GolfAdvisor, one of the five-star ratings is for 'Staff Friendliness.' We've run the numbers to determine each course's average score, and thus, the most friendly courses in the U.S.," Tucker wrote to his Website's members.

Saddle Creek, located at 1480 Fayetteville Highway, has been owned and operated since last year by Jason Sanders. He refers to the business as a family affair with his mother, Sandy Sanders, working in the bar and grill and his father, Craig Sanders, taking care of the upkeep to the course and equipment. He refers to his father as the jack of all trades.

"My father is Mr. Fix-it. He helps with the kids to fix the equipment for the golf course. It's kind of funny how a 58-year-old can work together with a 16-year-old," Jason Sanders said.

Sanders said he is very selective on who he hires. He added that the use of the referral system works him well. After finding a good worker, he has them refer him to one of their friends who they think would be a good employee.

One big factor he looks for in employees, he said, is personality. The key to having a good staff is making sure they do not overemphasize kindness.

"You don't want your employees too nice because the customers can sense them being fake right off the bat. We try to tell them to stay laid back and always cordial. We try to train them well, but sometimes there's not enough training for some things they encounter," Sanders said.

Sanders was unaware that there was such a listing as friendliest staff and only found out about it after receiving notification from a friend. He likened it to being like a proud father after finding out.

"I want to thank everyone who took the time to actually fill out the online surveys because without those people, we wouldn't have won this great honor," he said.

Saddle Creek, completed in 1995, is a 142-acre, links-style, 18-hole championship course. It was designed in 1994 by Gene Bates, who served as vice president of design and construction services for Jack Nicklaus Golf Services in North Palm Beach, Fla.

Ranking No. 1 on the "friendly" list was Royals Hylands Golf Club in Knightstown, Ind., with another Indiana course -- Eagles Pine Golf Club in Mooresville, second. Others ahead of Saddle Creek were The Trails of Chickasaw Point Golf Club (Westminster, S.C.), Woodstock Inn & Resort Golf Club (Woodstock, Vt.) and Plumas Pines Golf Resort (Graeagle, Calif.). Other than Saddle Creek, no Tennessee course was listed in the top 25.