I hesitate to write this article. First, because it will appear to be a shameless plug for a family business, and second, because now more people will flood to this piece of heaven making it more difficult for me to get in!
For me, Quit Qui Oc Golf Club in Elkhart Lake is personal. For those of you not into golf, it isn’t always about the score, the handicap, the winner’s purse. It is about the beauty of the game, the family that taught you and the free pass that family gave you on Sunday to skip church services to go and play.
For me, Quit Qui Oc is the quintessential family business. QQO has been in the family for 50-plus years and when you arrive, Todd and Rachel Montaba make you feel like family. Frequently during the round, Todd will usually check on us to see how things are going. It matters to him, as it does to all family businesses, that our experience is a positive one.
It didn’t start that way over 20 years ago. My first experience after being new to the game of golf was to witness a bumper car match between two golf carts throughout my 18 holes. It became more intense when the foursome became a six-some and then an eight-some, all while bashing carts in a good ol’ time by yahoos from out of state. I called the clubhouse and Todd made sure that got shut down in a hurry. He apologized and tore up the credit card charge for the round. It wasn’t his fault. In fact, his carts probably sustained some damage, which he was not too happy about. What hooked me as a customer was how he handled a less than positive experience.
This is what families that want to stay in business do. They control the narrative. They make sure they do everything to help their customers through the rough (golf pun).
Another thing that sets QQO apart from the rest – in addition to the glorious views and incessant sounds of Road America that greet you and soothe you throughout your round – is a very personal meeting with your maker on the tenth hole. If you survive the tricky 90-degree dogleg left, you are met with a cemetery plot of the homesteader from years gone by. The back nine was abandoned during World War II for a lack of use but had been built around a family burial plot from a century or more before. It is authentic. It is history. It is what makes a family legacy what it is.
Even the name Quit Qui Oc, derived from the French and Menominee Indian words for “land along the crooked river,” has history and character. A sense of history is another key to a successful business. This along with a respect for that history, like the maintenance of gravestones not even part of your family but certainly part of your legacy.
Food and drink is part of many a family tradition, from serving it to other family members at holidays or strangers passing along the road of life. Food is a symbol of welcome for those of us who are German, gemütlich.
QQO has that, too. Great food! For fear my editor won’t publish my fanboy appraisal of this place, I won’t gush too much. OMG for the QQO 19th hole sandwich!
But since I am not the food critic for BizTimes, let me tie in a family note. When a family business wants to be successful, they care about the entire experience. At QQO, they do. And the difference here is that it is real.
Some golf locations plant their flowers, cut their lawn, trim their trees all a certain way to look good. But when something is natural and beautiful all its own it doesn’t need all of those trappings. You know when something is loved and natural. Perfect and pristine like Augusta it is not, but cared for and maintained just right – it is.
The next time I head up to play golf at QQO, I will feel like Norm in Cheers, as I will be welcomed like a family member. But that is the point of all successful family businesses. You, the customer, are one of them. You are a member of the family. And you care about it just as intensely as they do because of that care and concern.
I hope you don’t make the trek to Quit Qui Oc. Leave the place to me. It’s so far … but if you do, they will know your name because you, the customer, are family.