Not far (in miles) from Silicon Valley, Cordevalle Golf Club and Lodge is a pressure-release valve for high achievers from the famed technology hub and beyond. Tucked into wooded foothills outside the small California town of Morgan Hill, CordeValle holds itself to unusual service standards. Staff members do more than just cater to the wide realm of needs their members and guests express. They put out a Zen vibe that says: We’re going to make today count and take pleasure in each other’s company.
And no, admits Nick Bailey, head golf professional at CordeValle, you couldn’t pull this off at a large-scale resort. “We do things in a way that makes the new arrival say to himself, ‘These people want to get to know me, what I’m all about, what makes me tick.’”
The caddie program is a prime contributor to CordeValle’s culture of personal service. One reason is the lengthy togetherness on the fairways enjoyed by player and caddie. But even more important is the complexity of the relationship between the two. Much more than a series of simple tasks strung together, the caddie’s work for his or her player calls for understanding, encouragement and advice-giving. To Bailey, it’s a model for the respectful but familiar tone to the service provided throughout the 45-room resort.
“Our caddie program is easily one of our strongest assets,” says Bailey. “Out on the course, the caddies go about their golf work with great care. But when you play past our winery your caddie will mention a new pinot that’s being featured. They’ll point out guests on the hiking trails and explain which trails bring you where. They know the wildlife and the names of the plants and flowers.”
Most new visitors to CordeValle are seduced by the quiet beauty of the surroundings and the relaxed but refined attitude that pervades this region of Northern California. The staff members they encounter—in the dining room, common rooms, the lobby desks and outdoors—all exude a pleasure at living and working in this community. “That impresses our visitors,” says Bailey. “You know when people are committed to the place they’re at.” One member of the resort caddie corps is actually a restaurant manager in the nearby town and makes area recommendations for guests stepping off-campus.
Addressing a guest by name is a staple of boutique resorts and better golf clubs, but just repeating “Mr. Smith” mindlessly is no sign of sophistication. At CordeValle, knowing what relaxes or pleases a guest is the mission, and knowing their name is just a start to that. “If ask for a certain newspaper one or two times during your initial time here, very soon you’ll just find that paper on the table without you having to ask,” says Bailey.
Coming up the hospitality ranks as a golf specialist, Bailey has a special regard for how CordeValle caddies spearhead the service and guest-care effort.
“We look for people who are good communicators,” he explains. “To do the job of a caddie properly, you need social skills. One golfer will need to be revved up to play well, another one wants a calming voice, another needs reassurance. Our caddies have a thousand or more loops under their belt and they’ll know which approach to take.”
The group effort put forth by CordeValle staff has the effect, according to Bailey, of “making time slow down.” The 21st-century world does need new technology in a hurry—that’s clear. And many a Cordevalle patron is in the business of inventing or selling it. But the high-stress pace they work at requires an antidote, which they find inside the gates of CordeValle.