How to organize your own weekly golf group…
I’ve been playing golf every Saturday for about the last eight years. In the beginning, I would set up a foursome and once it was full, well we were full. Usually we had the same four players, but if someone couldn’t make it we would find someone else. Eventually, those guys wanted to play every week and we would have to fill two foursome’s. Well you can see where this is going. I’m now to the point where I’m messaging about seventy guys every week for the Saturday skins game. It sounds like a lot and it is! However, we usually average about 10 – 14 players with the most ever being 20. Lets go ahead and tackle the logistics of putting this together.
Choosing a course:
The first obstacle is where to host your group. If you play the same course each week it is possible to have a permanent booking and even special rate for your players. Of course, you will most likely have to guarantee a certain amount of players and notify the course at some point prior to tee off of how many you are expecting each week. I recommend working with the club pro or course management. Most courses won’t give a special rate for groups that don’t commit to playing weekly or bi-weekly. Personally I don’t agree with this and think it’s bad business, as a group organizer I will just leave your course out of the rotation and play somewhere else.
Booking tee times:
This is where things get tricky. The old proverb “which comes first the chicken or the egg” fits well here. Do you book the tee times first or figure out how many are playing. The problem with waiting to see how many are playing is the tee times may be gone by the time you know, especially during the busy season. Typically you will want to look for tee times at least 6 – 7 days prior to play. Once you have identified the course, tee times and price per player, it’s time to send your message to the group. When you have your initial response (I usually give it 3 -4 hours) and figure out any players you think will come that haven’t responded you are ready to book. I usually book one extra tee time than I have players for and adjust from there. If you fill it great, if you need an extra you can still try to book it and make sure you contact the course to remove any tee times that you have not filled.
I’ve used different systems for this. There are text and phone call programs that will allow you to send the messages and gather results. Usually either yes or no or the player can contact you back directly. For the last few years I’ve mostly used text groups direct from my phone. This can be a pain, you have to space out the texts and send them 10 at a time. I also recommend that you turn off group reply’s so that all 10 in the group don’t get every message. You don’t want to be that guy! Unfortunately, I have been before and have had players ask to be removed from the group. I’ve just started using the Evite free version to send out the invites. It seems to be working well so far, but I’m only on the second try.
Pairing the players:
I try to accommodate all of my players to play with the group they want. With that being said it’s only four players per group and you can’t accommodate everyone. Most of my players know each other and some will request ahead of time their playing partners. I usually just assign all the groups on the fly and usually have no complaints. For those of you that are super organized, you can get score cards in advance and fill all of the names out per group.
We play net skins and pins. Decide how much each player will contribute to the pot, it is the same flat fee for everyone and then decide how much will pay out for each closest to the pin. The rest of the money will be distributed in the skins game. To determine who wins skins, subtract the strokes given from each score on every hole. If two or more players tie, that hole is cut. Every hole that has one low score will be awarded a skin. Divide the prize pool by the amount of skins won. Everyone gets all of their strokes according to their handicap and closest to the pin for every par 3. I require all of the players to keep track of their own handicaps. For those that don’t keep track, I assign them a handicap based on what I have seen their ability to be. If at some point you think someone is being dishonest or not keeping up with their handicap you may have to change it for them. This system has worked very well for our group.
A lot of groups play a Stableford or modified Stableford format. This awards points for each score typically 8 for eagle, 4 for birdie, 2 for par, 1 for bogie, even for double bogie and -1 for triple bogie or worse. Players will be given a number to reach based on their past scores or handicap and however much they score over that number is counted and the highest score wins. I like this format, but it is a lot of work for the organizer. For that reason I choose net skins and pins.
In the end, just remember to have fun. This isn’t a full time job, in fact you aren’t being paid! If someone in the group is a pain in the ass, don’t invite them back. This is your group and it is supposed to be a hobby and escape from work and other responsibilities.