Your perfect golf vacation with your friends starts and stops with you. Toss the vacation package brochures in a heap and design your own ideal golf getaway. This is the final of four articles to assist you in providing an outing for yourself and your friends that will make you want to do it every year (as we have for 19 years running).
From the last article, you are now at the minus one month point. So far you have rallied the troops, picked the dates, selected the lodging and golf courses and are in the final preparation stage. You will soon see your friends smiling faces at the airport baggage claim. The final preps and smoothly running the whole show are child’s play. The tough part was getting your bunch of friends to buy the tickets to enjoy the event. Here are a few things you will want to do before the scream of the aircraft’s tires on the tarmac.
- Transportation. The limiting factor is arrival and departure from the airport due to clubs AND suitcases. If you can just barely stuff everyone in the vehicles at this point, the rest of the week is gravy. From your experience, you know that when you pack up four guys to go golfing locally, you will entirely fill the trunk of a full sized car. With that in mind, you should plan on a full sized car for every three people. We use one minivan/SUV augmented with cars for our adventures. Just make sure you allow for the limiting case.
You need to arrange these rental vehicles ahead of time, but you can only drive one yourself. Here is the minus one-month mandatory. When you figure out your vehicle requirements, contact the group to arrange among them and you who will contact and rent the remaining vehicles. There will probably be some in your group that have existing discounts and can score a great rate. Hash this one out via email.
- Entertainment. Unless you are going to the deserts in Arizona or get exceedingly lucky, you will have a rain day or two. You will also have a bunch of time at night after golf (after you have all told your lies). We suck that time up pretty effectively watching the golf channel, ESPN, playing cards, or watching videos. The latter is what you can address ahead of time. We have a guy that is pretty good at selecting movies to watch and we task him to bring them with him. Movies like “Gladiator”, “Miracle”, etc. are big. More risque’ titles are optional. On severe rain days, we also have gone bowling (a real hoot), done the local movie theater, and toured the area.
- Checklists. After about ten years of being asked twenty times per day where we were playing the next day, or when we had to leave, or what was for supper, or who stole my teddy bear, I finally started typing out these things. I make a copy of each and post sporadically throughout the house. I make individual laminated cards and hand to each golfer. Know what? It reduced the questions to half and now when asked, I say that I can’t remember, let me walk over to the frig and read it for you. Here are the things I prepare ahead of time:
- Listing of course, tee times, course contact number, and departure time. I base departure time on MapBlast directions and factor in a stop for ice for the coolers and if we will need to hit range balls.
- Listing of the menu for the evening meals. If this is your first time, keep the menu simple and make sure you have the recipes in hand. With any size group, you are going to have a chef or two and this won’t be a big deal.
- Multiple copies of the “order sheet” for sandwiches. For most of our noon meals between rounds, we dine on our self-prepared, gourmet sandwiches prepared the night before. As you saw from the previous articles, I solicit what the group wants and have that on the shopping list. What winds up being the least confusing way is to have some sheet for people to circle or fill in to specify what sandwiches they want for the next day. You rotate the preparers (two is best) every night and with that sheet, they manufacture the gourmet feast. (Don’t discount this! The sandwiches you make will be superior to anything short of the full meal at the course AND you will not have to wait on it if you are pressed for time between your rounds.)
- Biggy! We did not keep a record of our scores for our first few years. Big mistake. What great history we tossed out. Keep a record! I prepare a hard copy sheet to fill in as we go. It allows us to follow who is the overall stroke leader and gives us all ammo to use in negotiating the next day’s bets. I take this home and plant it permanently on our golf website.
- Expenses. I pay for everything with minor exceptions and collect everyone’s share the final evening. That keeps it simple. I currently use a spreadsheet to administer this. It works great. I would provide this for you, but this article format doesn’t allow. Before that, I simply used pen and paper and got it to within a penny. My point is that from the minute you start your adventure, keep a tally of what you have spent! Streamline course check in by paying for everyone, buy all the food and drink, buy all the gas, etc. If someone pays for anything, log it in immediately. If you are religious in this, you will have no complaints, only praise.
- Things nobody else will bring but you:
- Several decks of cards, poker chips
- Cribbage boards
- Screw driver and pliers (you never know)
- Pens, pencils and permanent markers (you will need all)
- Over the counter pain killers
- Arrival. So here you have a rambunctious group of friends descending on the Mecca of golf. You have motored to the house your staying in and it is the mad dash to the best room to be found. NOT. To avoid any hard feelings between the lodger that got the queen bed and the lodger that got the twin bed, simply set up a quick draw out of the hat. For subsequent years, do the same, but use the seniority system. Once a person misses, he goes to the end of the list.
- Once you have dumped your bags in the drawn rooms, it is time to go shopping. With the template I gave you in the last article, and with your modifications based on menu and orders, grab one or two volunteers and get what you need.
This is the conclusion of my recommendations on how you can have the best golf outing or outings you have ever had. The fact that folks have been coming to enjoy my preparations for 19 years should be testimony to you. At least give it a shot once. The first time may not be exactly perfect, but my guess is that it will be superior to and more remembered than anything you can buy as a package. Go for it!