Wednesday, November 4, 2009
A Tradition Unlike Any Other...Well, Not Really
It all started 20 years ago. We were two and three years out of college, trying to find our way in the Real World. Some had serious girlfriends, others had no commitments whatsoever. I was working in New York for Sports Illustrated. The rest were scattered around the Southeast, mostly in North Carolina. "Let's go some place and play golf," I said to my friend Steve one day over the phone. A few days later, he told me he had uncovered a $99 "Sizzler" package in a place called Ocean Isle, NC. Four days of golf, three nights accommodations and free Continental breakfast. It was set.
The first annual "college friends golf trip" was created.
In the beginning, the golf was really bad. None of us had played much growing up. We'd all taken the game up a little bit in college, but entry-level jobs with long hours and little pay had rendered most of us "beginners"...at best. I can remember buying used golf balls (knowing I'd lose them by the dozen) and wondering to myself if I really needed golf shoes. I tried to practice before the trip, but it didn't matter much. Quickly I learned that the golf trip was not going to be the place for stellar play. What it was, however, was the place for Drop and Draw and Credit Card Roullette. It was mostly where you went for belly-aching laughs.
Over time, we all became better golfers. For some that meant consistently breaking 100. For others, the guys who succeeded most in the Real World (or the guys who never married or got divorced), it meant some rounds in the 70s. Guys started showing up with better equipment and nicer clothes.
Still, it was always about the laughs.
In its best years, the trip attracted 20 or more players. In its leanest years, maybe eight. We divided in Year 10 as some guys got the go-ahead from their wives to go to the Bahamas (I was not one of those guys), even though everyone knows you do not go to the Bahamas to play golf. You go to gamble. Half of us ended up in Myrtle Beach and had a good time. Of course, we were rewarded for our loyalty to the game of golf by learning that everyone on the Bahamas trip made a killing playing craps and got the whole trip comped. Of course, as predicted, they didn't tee up a single ball.
We did Pinehurst. We did Myrtle. We did the North Carolina Outer Banks. Two years ago, we got eight guys to go to Kohler, Wisc., to play The Irish and Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run. Last year, we did nothing...and I figured it was gone forever.
But the trip wouldn't die without a fight. The email went out a couple of months ago. Outer Banks, weekend of November 6th. Anyone interested? We've got a foursome.
And talk has begun about what we're doing next year. Gotta keep the tradition alive.