THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF TIPS FOR THE BEST GOLF BUDDY TRIP all over the web. We’ve combed them all so you don’t have to.
Here are the 10 best tips to ensure you get the most out of your next buddy trip, with a little something extra off the tee for some.
10. R&D makes for the best R&R It’s not how long you to plan, it’s how well you plan. If your dates are flexible, ask about specials. Many golf resorts have “shoulder seasons” such as March or November when the weather might still be great but high season rates haven’t yet kicked in. And sure, you might need an extra layer, but that extra layer might mean an extra day – and an extra 18 or 36 – as well.
Extra Club: Ask about shuttle service to and from the airport. Why drive if you don’t have to? Often airport shuttle rates are discounted depending on the number in your group. And some resorts like Pinehurst offer free shuttle service around the resort during your stay. Leave the keys – and the road rage – at home.
9. Let it Grow You don’t have to be too ambitious too fast. Our friend Matt Adams has a simple suggestion for the birth of your first buddy trip: Keep it small to start, then let it grow. It’s just like anything else: the more you do something, the better you will get at it. The planning, the itinerary, costs, dinners, games – everything.
8. Play for Something…Different Yes, it could be a trophy. But make sure it’s interesting. Michael Jordan always had an answer when someone asked how much they’d play for: “Whatever makes you nervous.” We’d paraphrase that to be, “Whatever makes you putt the 3-footer.”
Extra Club: It doesn’t have to be for cash. How about this? Loser babysits the kids so the victor can take his wife out for dinner when they get home. Ready to concede that 3-footer now? Didn’t think so.
7. RELAX! Too much competition might lead to some frayed nerves…and tempers. Make sure to incorporate a noncompetitive round in your trip – something just for fun where scores don’t matter. Just want to get in 9, or 14? Fine. Mulligans? Sure, just don’t hold up play. Have fun, play fast. Golf is a game, after all. Enjoy it.
6. Ship Happens Don’t fly with your clubs. Use a club shipping service like Ship Sticks. It’s what they do, they do it well, and most resorts deal directly with them. Golf bags are always the last bags off the plane and are often sent to a different area of the baggage claim. Time is golf, people.
5. The Committee of One Golf Digest’s David Owen makes the best case for this: “Give one person the overall responsibility for managing the itinerary, keeping track of reservation deadlines, reminding laggards to make their deposits, and deciding which minor tasks can safely be delegated. Having a single, reliable leader makes it less likely that critical details (such as tee times) will be forgotten and creates a clear blame path if things go wrong.”
Extra Club: Same thing applies to rules decisions. Ask the club pro to make the final decision on a rules claim. Keep the boys – and their hurt feelings – out of it.
4. Take a Break Yes, you are there to golf. But don’t be so blind that you miss the culture, too. Why go to Ireland or Scotland and not experience what the actual country – outside of the country club – has to offer? Time off from competition helps recharge the batteries, not to mention the sore muscles and egos. Speaking of sore muscles, try the resort’s spa. A treatment could go a long way, and many resorts offer spa discounts – especially midweek.
3. Take a Break…from Each Other: Another great tip from David Owen. Don’t feel like you have to do everything as a group all the time. “We often split up for dinner, primarily to eliminate tedious arguments about who is willing to pay how much to eat what. Doing this also occasionally generates interesting demographic data, as it did when (as someone realized later) all the Democrats went to a sushi bar while all the Republicans went to Outback.”
Extra Club: Speaking of politics, just…don’t.
2. Fun and games Mix it up with different games and different pairings for each round. But don’t get too heavy on stroke play. Ever start a round with two doubles and a triple in the first four holes? You’re done, right? Not in match play, or in…
Extra Club: Modified Stableford. As Barbara Berwick told Golf Digest, “Our group uses a modified stableford format, where you get points for bogeys and better. I didn’t want everyone to be too worried about their score. Stableford scoring rewards you for risk, which is a fun element. And they like it because we now have a big scoreboard, but people can’t tell what they actually shot.”
1. Stick and Stay As Dave Walker explained to Golf Digest: “If you find a place you like, stick with it. The people at the resort or the golf course, they’ll go the extra mile if they know this is a yearly thing.”
Extra Club: Some resorts offer return guests special rates. Note the name of your reservationist and ask for him or her the next time. Most likely they’ll still have your guest record, which will make planning all the easier.
Also, the better you know a course, the better you’ll play.
And isn’t that the point?