This last weekend should have seen the latest episode of golf’s ultimate team contest, The Ryder Cup , when the game’s best representing Europe v USA get to engage in another gladiatorial sporting “ battle “ over three days, roared on by an ever increasingly boisterous, some-time baying crowd. Whilst this year’s get together scheduled for the Pete & Alice Dye designed Whistling Straits Course in Wisconsin has fallen foul of COVID restrictions, this enforced suspension has not prevented numerous publications and social media sites from speculating on the likely team compositions as well as provoking debate on who would be included in any fantasy best ever team for both sides. Any list for the latter would certainly include names such as Montgomerie,Faldo,Ballesteros,Olazabal, Garcia,Rose,Westwood and Poulter for Europe and Palmer,Nicklaus,Watson,Wadkins,Kite,Irwin and Trevino for USA.
The conversation naturally leads on to considering who would we select for next year’s Cup matches if we were made captain in place of Messrs Harrington & Stricker.
For club golfers of course our selection issues normally extend only to choice of partners for the annual fourball,foursomes,Tri-am or Texas Scramble.
However what happens when we decide to embark on a special “ bucket list “ type golf vacation spending a couple of weeks living and breathing golf, perhaps in The Home of Golf itself Scotland, indulging a shared passion and together creating life-long memories.
Whether we travel surrounded by family,friends,golf buddies or work colleagues, we want everyone to have a great time and have great fun. We want everyone playing to a reasonably decent standard. This is particularly relevant on any of our classic Scottish links courses as dealing with a tough layout combined with some challenging weather conditions will be difficult enough without a rapidly deteriorating golf swing. We want a nice balance of the keen, competitive sporting types blended with those for whom the travel and after golf activities are just as important.
We embark on these greatly anticipated trips secure in the knowledge that we know our travelling companions thoroughly. How wrong we can be ? Experience suggests it doesn’t take very long on any golf tour before the individual roles for the tour are firmly established.
First up….The Organiser or alternatively Big X. The go-between Tour Operator & the group. Someone who likes a thick folder, preferably cross- referenced and colour co-ordinated. Always immaculately dressed and is the proud owner of the shiniest clubs in any group. Maintains discipline and tough on time-keeping. In short a Tour Operator’s dream client.
Second: …The Courses Expert…Blessed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of most top courses in most of the golfing world.A keen student of course design, championship history together with a continually updated log on yardages, tee options, bunkering and green speeds.This is who you want as your tour partner.
Third….The Local Historian/Geographer….Any Scottish Golf Tour will provide ample opportunity to soak up the country’s rich history and stunning scenery. No better way to endear yourself to the locals than to be ready with some key dates, perhaps the odd battle ( don’t mention Culloden ! ), local industry and some points of interest. It’s not all just tartan and whisky !
Fourth….The Tour Match Secretary & ( rules official)…Please feel free to ignore advice above. This is who you really need as your tour partner. Loves nothing more than dreaming up an entire trip’s worth of daily competitions. Not just your standard best scratch, nett, stableford,individual, pairs or fourball but also longest drive, nearest the hole, oozlers, foozlers, ferrets, sandy ferrets and the odd last hole bing,bang,bong ! If your own golf game deserts you there’s always best/worst dressed plus the dreaded worst shot of the day. You would be well advised to brush up on your rules knowledge as well prior to departure as The Rules “ official “ will enjoy challenging you on that free drop or slightly questionable marked & replaced ball.
Finally….Entertainment Convenor ….For many the single most important member of any Tour Group. In conjunction with a good Tour Operator, committed to ensuring the fun factor is liberally applied across all members. Ability to inject some energy when required, balanced with ensuring some quiet time to allow the necessary rest & recuperation. May have to sacrifice their own wellbeing to ensure all interests are catered for. This selflessness should be recognised by The Match Secretary when assessing overall performance.
A final word. You are heading off on a well deserved Golf Vacation. Sorry to disappoint you but this is not The Ryder Cup. For some reason you have been overlooked for selection. Again ! The difference is you get to simply enjoy your golf , enjoy sharing some great experiences and enjoy creating those great memories.