I'm a cart girl on a California golf course. The cash tips are the best part — even though I have to drive past the jerks. (2024)

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Lauren Balcioni, a 25-year-old beverage cart girl in the Bay Area. Her income has been verified with documentation by Insider. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I used to work a boring, remote corporate job, but I quit it in May 2022 because it was difficult to manage as the single mom of a baby.

I started researching ways to make a lot of money in a short amount of time, and I came across a beverage-cart girl named Cassie Holland who said she made $600 in tips in one shift. Her job looked like something I could do on the weekends when my husband, who I'm separated from, looks after the baby.

Within a month of quitting my old job, I started my new career on the course. Now I work most weekends in the spring, summer, and fall. I make $19.15 per hour plus tips, which can total up to $300 per shift.

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Getting the job was an easy process

I contacted a couple golf courses by email, and I decided on two based on location and potential for money. The first course I wanted to work for was really exclusive and good for tips, but there weren't enough hours available, so I went to work for another course, where I also get to dress up more because there isn't a strict uniform.

My first interview was with the head chef, and he hired me on the spot. He asked if I had worked in service before, how I'd heard about the job, and if I knew anything about golf. I was up-front that I didn't, and, to be honest, I still really don't. It's not important for doing the job.

After that, I did a drug test and showed my vaccination certificates, and I was ready to start training. Training took place over six shifts, or three weekends. The training process was just shadowing the best cart girl and having her show me everything that she does. On the second day, I drove the cart while she managed everything. By the fourth day, I was on the cart by myself.

I learned about the inventory — including how many bottles of each beer to keep on the cart — the prices, the cash system, how to use the iPad, and how to close out.

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The best advice I received during training was to just drive past the jerks. If someone is rude to you, skip them the next time you come around. I've had people make sexual jokes at me, and in those cases, I just don't go back to them.

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You can't be afraid to get a golfer in trouble if you experience something like that — if you're creeped out or grossed out, report it to the marshal at your course.

My working day begins at 8:30 a.m. when we load up the carts

It's pretty easy because, usually, the girl who worked the day before will have already stocked it. All we need to do is grab fresh ice and snacks. We can't leave the snacks on the cart overnight because there's a chance the raccoons will steal them. Closing is more work because we have to restock all the refrigerators.

I'm a cart girl on a California golf course. The cash tips are the best part — even though I have to drive past the jerks. (1)

I head out on the course for a couple of hours starting at 9 a.m. The early part of the day is really beautiful. I drive around and watch the birds flying over the lake and the people rowing on the water.

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Golfers start drinking around 11 a.m. Usually, the hotter it is, the more they drink. Typical golfing groups tend to drink Powerade and water, while bachelor parties go for six packs and shots.

I've never had any trouble with bachelor parties, but a guy once told another one of the cart girls he'd give her $100 to see her boobs, and she got him kicked out.

We drive the course backward so we don't wind up following one group around. Starting at the back also allows us to get to people who have been there the longest. I usually pass each group about four times.

I put in a lot of effort for tips

The girl who trained me said that she made between about $50 and $150 in tips on a good day. When I started, I was determined to make way more than that.

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I put more than $500 into decorating my cart with things like a fuzzy pink steering-wheel cover. People sometimes stop me and hand me $20 because they like it. I average around $250 per shift in tips, which is more than the other girls, so it was definitely worth doing the layout. I take my decor home with me after my shift.

Another good thing for tips is staying later in the summer. Golfers will often offer a $50 tip if you come back around again, which takes about another hour.

The best thing about the job is that I get to take my tips home in cash at the end of each shift.

Holidays can be good opportunities

When picking my own outfits, I typically go for cute skirts. The course has a uniform, but as long as the cart girls wear a collared shirt, we don't have to wear the uniform. I love dressing up for holidays, including Halloween — again, if you put in a bit of effort, you definitely see the rewards in tips.

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On the Fourth of July, I was running a special, which was a triple shot, and a guy from out of town was ordering it and tipping me really well.

He was probably in his 50s and had a wedding ring on. At one point, he leaned into my cart, wrote his number on my inventory sheet, and asked me to come by a nearby restaurant later. I looked at him and said, "What would your wife think of that?" He tried to pretend that she would think it was great, and I just drove off.

A lot of guys mention that their wives don't want them drinking that day, and I try to hold them to that.

Are you a beverage-cart girl who wants to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at lhaas@businessinsider.com.

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Editor’s note, March 23, 2023: Lauren Balcioni and her husband are no longer separated.

I'm a cart girl on a California golf course. The cash tips are the best part — even though I have to drive past the jerks. (2024)
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