Surviving charity golf tournaments 


Please understand, I’m a humanitarian. I love people, animals, the environment, and try to do my part by helping others. By years’ end I’ll have played in three charity golf tournaments. Following each event I’m always thankful to have participated, but during the day I find examples of things I could complain about (if I were the complaining type). So here are some tips on dealing with items that might bug you while playing a charity golf tournament.

Prepare for a very long day 

Considering travel time to and from the course, registration, lunch, the putting contest, re-acquainting with old friends, you’ll invest in a ten hour day. So ensure your phone is fully charged so you can appear busy when you’re really getting bored. Have a wad of cash in your wallet for the reciprocal beers you’ll need to buy on course, not to mention the extras for a variety of contests you will be subjected to.  If you are the shy type, brush up on making small talk with strangers.  And don’t forget to dust off those golf clubs that have been lying in your garage since last year’s event.

Get comfortable with strangers

Your buddy, who talked you into participating, got an offer to play with a more prominent group of golfers, leaving you stuck with three strangers. You are the shy type and a lousy golfer, and the feelings of discomfort are overwhelming.  There is a simple solution; buy the first round of drinks from the cart girl.  You can afford to since you’re either an engineer or work in IT. You’ll make friends fast. Then you’re off the hook for the rest of the day and others in your group will automatically like you.

Fake it to avoid public humiliation

Your total lack of golf skills will be on display for all to see. But the key point to remember is this; everyone else sucks too. Even tour players embarrass themselves on occasion, so relax and have fun. If you worry that your manhood is at stake, let your group know that you are the CEO of company X (yes, lie if need be) and let them see you on your phone constantly pretending to be taking multi-million dollar orders, as if to say, “I’m too busy making millions and never had time to learn how to hit a silly white ball around. Can someone hit the next shot for me? I have to take this call from Tokyo.”

Be ready to shoulder the burden

Beware if you are a good golfer. Arrive with a strong back as you’ll be carrying your team for the day. Your three teammates may have played a combined two rounds of golf in the past year. The pressure of being the only guru who can drive, chip, and putt will get to you after you’re given a dirty look because you dared to hit one bad shot into the lake. These beer drinking bystanders aren’t even buying you drinks because they don’t want you to lose your focus. They want that first prize at the table and you won’t get any thanks for the $250 gift card received later. Thanks, ingrates.

Mutiny on the fairway

Prepare to deal with rebellion.  As the obvious leader of your quartet, who makes most of the team decisions and shots, you’ll notice one player getting visibly upset. He is the sensitive, insecure fifty something still living in his parent’s basement, who questions why his shot is never used. So what if he’s thirty yards behind you on a downhill lie. That guy who had just invited you and your family to his Muskoka cottage has now rescinded the invitation. He hates you. At this point you may want to throw in the odd shank or slice and give others their turn, make them feel like important contributors, even if it costs you victory.  Ah, being a saviour isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Bring lots of cash

Ah, the endless train of hole contests.  There’s a reason charity golf rounds take six or more hours; every other hole serves as an entertainment centre, a.k.a. an opportunity to make money for the cause.  For twenty bucks you can beat the pro, hit the straightest or longest drive, shoot for the million dollar hole in one, participate in wine tasting, bake-a-thon, adopt a pet, wear the pink dress – all for a chance at a 25%  discount in the pro shop for a marked up $200 shirt. Come prepared with lots of extra cash, otherwise you’re team members will brand you with the cheapest schmuck award.

Time to pee

The speeches we don’t need to hear. Did the organizers really have to invite the local politician, or even worse, a cabinet minister? Hmm, wonder why he’s really there?  This is clearly a time when you can walk out to relieve yourself. You won’t get dirty looks. Can we also tell the organizers, with greatest respect to Wendel and CuJo, (who gave speeches at the last six events I attended), we’d like to hear from Auston, Mitch, or Babcock? New blood is good for the soul and for the ears.

Pretend you’re happy

Booing the usual band of winners is not cool at a charity event. Yes we hate that foursome of young twenty somethings who appear every year to grab the hardware for their score of minus fifteen. Why couldn’t they also be handed the most dishonest trophy at the same time? In the future can we ask that an official walk with them and record their score?  I’d really like to witness fifteen birdies. The best thing to do is look away and don’t acknowledge the young punks’ presence. And focus on the cause.

Keep smiling

Hide your disappointment when called up as the fiftieth person at the prize table.  We know you don’t need another towel or double extra large shirt that George Richards won’t carry.  Yes you actually fluked out the closest to the hole prize but only won a sleeve of old DT Solos while the long drive guy won a set of clubs. Sorry you spent another thirty bucks on raffle tickets with nothing to show for it but you’re still in a good place, right? So smile, and breathe!

It’s all for a good cause

Getting through the tear jerking speech delivered by the person with the disease you are here trying to cure won’t be easy. At this time, the master of ceremonies may ask for increased bids on auction items or support for the charity in general. All I can say is, prepare your Kleenex and your wallet, and thank your lucky stars that you are healthy, and able to make an important contribution to a most worthwhile cause. And just ignore the last nine points – it’s always good to play a charity tournament, no matter what!

See you next year!

David Goodman
David is an overgrown kid still who still believes he can play a decent game of squash and hockey when he’s not on the course or range working on his game. Long gone from the medical industry, David loves studying the social/psychological implications golf has on the lives of its participants.

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