When is it ok to turn a customer – a customer willing to spend significant amounts of money that is – away? A bigger question; when is it RIGHT to turn a willing customer away?

I am a golfer. Well, not really. I am a guy who owns golf clubs, who tries relentlessly to play the ridiculously frustrating game with some semblance of skill. Honestly, it seems my golf game gets worse the harder I try. But I try nonetheless.

One of the ways I assuage my pain is to blame the golf clubs. Before you judge me, I know it is my fault and not the clubs – I know very well that a skilled golfer can use average clubs and still play well, whereas a useless golfer can use the best clubs in the world and still be useless – but it makes me feel better.

On a recent trip to the Woodmead Pro Shop I decided I would replace my perfectly good Taylormade driver with a Callaway alternative. The salesman, thinking he needed to let me swing the golf club to secure a sale (when I would have happily walked out the door with it straight away), secured a net and a few stray golf balls and encouraged me to have a wallop. The series of wallops that followed confirmed beyond a doubt that I am able to produce a big ugly fade with remarkable regularity, and as such, that my swing needs serious work.

The salesman gave a bit of advice, advice I have heard before, and encouraged me to try again. Same results.

He then told me, in no uncertain words, that he refused to sell me the club, or any club for that matter, until I fixed my golf swing.

Here was a guy who, I imagine, does not earn a fortune doing what he does, and yet he turned away a sure sale (and I’m sure guaranteed commission) because he knew what was right for me, and insisted I acknowledge the facts.

The Pro Shop lost a sale that day (of a R 4,000 driver, I might add), but because of one salesperson’s honesty and integrity, have secured a customer for life. Sometimes it pays to turn business away.