By John Torsiello
Bringing together four to a dozen buddies for a week of golf in Myrtle Beach can be an exercise akin to planning a military operation against a hostile foreign nation.
Let’s face it, humans are not herd animals, at least not for long. Oh sure, we come together for 18 holes and a few beers once a week. But sticking a bunch of guys in close proximity for longer than a day, well, you know what they say about fish and company . . . Yet we do it anyway— buddy golf trips, that is. Some work out fine and some create former buddies. Getting together with a group of your friends away from home should be a real kick and create epic tales for a lifetime. You just have to do it the right way.
The most important ingredient for a successful buddy trip is, obviously, the cast of characters. If you’re the sucker who got goaded into planning the trip, job one is making sure you bring a combination of players who are unlikely to shed blood. And don’t bring the guy who may inspire bloodshed through his slow play or constant nattering.
Next, settle on a workable number of participants. Four is always nice, especially if they’re the guys you play with every week. Expand to eight or 12 if most of the guys have played together before and gotten along. Anything beyond a dozen risks disaster. A large group of guys is unwieldy at the airport, on the road, in the hotel, and on the golf course.
Then figure out where you’re going: as leader, offer up four or five choices for accommodations for the guys to vote upon. Include a variety of price levels, and don’t assume everyone wants to go back to the place you visited the past five years. Also consider hiring a golf packager to arrange the trip—everything from travel logistics to room reservations. And on that note, we strongly recommend separate rooms based on the ever-large snore factor and the more-or-less guaranteed situation where someone will stumble in at 3 a.m. despite an 8 a.m. tee time.
Also make sure to ask what the guys want to do after golf. If you’re golfing in the Grand Stand you have a ton of options – More golf? Hang at the beach or condo? Gentlemen’s club? And don’t ever guilt anyone into going along on something they’re not inclined to do—like convincing they guy prone to motion sickness that he’ll be fine on the fishing boat. Take votes on dinner options and other outings and make sure to empower every trip member. It’s also not the end of the world if two factions head to different places on any given night—at least there’ll be more stories to repeat over and over again for the rest of the trip.
On almost every buddy trip (and any one that I’d want to go on) you need some sort of competition, and you need to mix it up so that each golfer gets to play with a different partner every round. Change the games, too, to increase the chances of everyone finding one they love. Or can win. Make wagers reasonable. Consider conceding all putts shorter than a foot in an effort toward world peace. And remind the guys that even if they lose a $5 Nassau their families will probably still love them.
If you’ll be awarding prizes, create a lot of them so that everyone gets something—even if you include a funny prize for high net or worst shot of the week or most trees hit on one hole. Match play is always better than medal play on buddy trips so nobody ruins his day because he took twelve shots to escape a bunker—and match play speeds up the round, as well.
If you’re the organizer, make sure you get all money up front—including any birdie pools or skins games. And before you hit the first shot remind everyone you’re there to have fun, and that while winning is usually fun, engendering bad feelings in other almost never is.