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Besides being a wonderful sport that nearly everyone can play at any age, golf is a great social venue.
You might invite a friend to bowl or to play tennis with you, but you probably would not invite a friend to participate in your senior men’s ice hockey league. You might invite a friend to your club or neighborhood pool for the afternoon, but that visit would not involve swimming competitive laps. Imagine a basketball, football or baseball invitational tournament in which folks of all ages and abilities compete?
I think not.
See what I mean? Golf is a sport that lends itself to socializing. You’re out there for four or more hours; you can talk and schmooze while you play the game. No wonder many businesses sponsor after-hours leagues, and annual business meetings and conferences often include golf.
A member-guest golf tournament is a fabulous way to entertain a friend or family member. It can be as simple as a continental breakfast, golf and awards luncheon. It can be as elaborate as a weekend of competition for couples that concludes with a black-tie dinner/dance with full orchestra.
No matter what the format or style, guest days are fun and I’m always thrilled when someone invites me to play at her club.
Last week, I played at the Ocean Ridge Guest Day with my friend Michelle Sherwood. For the last few years, we have been joined by Jean Maxon and her sister Janet Warren from Boston, and every time it’s been a hoot.
This year, Kathy Graniarlo and Sally Duffy were the co-chairs of the event. Kathy is a relatively new golfer (she started to play eight years ago) and new to the area (a little over a year), but the two gals pulled it off beautifully.
“We had a great committee and lots of volunteers,” Graniarlo said. “Everyone worked hard. We first met in January to decide on a theme. After many suggestions, we decided on a Disney theme and someone came up with ‘Minnie Mouse, When You Wish Upon A Par.’ In subsequent meetings, the ideas just flowed.”
Members of the committee included Linda Buck, Alice Christiansen, Linda Johnston, Judy Keegan, Lin Kelly, Patsy Mays, Pam McCafferty, Marie Pugh, Peggy Rowland, Cathy Story and Ruth Woodward.
The most essential facet in executing a fabulous guest day is coming up with a theme. Over the years, I’ve been to many guest days and the ideas have been incredibly diverse.
“It’s Crystal Clear” included crystal gifts and sparkling silvery decorations. “My Country ’Tis of Thee” had a patriotic theme and everyone wore red, white and blue. “Circus Day” included clowns and other circus performers.
Think about Victorian Day, Black and White Day, Christmas in July, Garden Party, Olympics, Beach Party, The ’60s, or ’70s. With a little imagination, the whole process is fun.
Finding a theme sets up everything from table decorations to prizes to costumes, even to the music played while lunch or dinner is served.
The table decorations at “Minnie’s Wish Upon a Par” were beautiful black paper gift bags with stars on them filled with pots of white mums. The program, an essential part of any good guest day, included a schedule of events, tournament format, a list of members and their guests, and the rules of play, plus a page of kudos to businesses and individuals who had helped.
Many teams wore matching Minnie Mouse shirts or costumes.
Maxon and Warren have played together at the Ocean Ridge guest day for many years. Janet travels down from Boston each summer to participate, and part of the fun is the elaborate costumes sisters dream up.
This year, Jean and Janet were dressed as Minnie Mouse, complete with mouse ears, red tops and polka dot skirt. White lace bobby sox and Mary Jane shoes completed the outfit.
In addition, their golf cart sported a sign that proclaimed “The Mouse-Cart-Tee-Ears” across the front and huge mouse ears on top.
“I was trying to find a way to create mouse ears for Jean’s golf cart when I discovered a packing crate that had some round forms in it,” Warren said. “I put it all together, covered the circles with black felt, painted the frame black and soon we had big mouse ears for our cart.”
Some at Ocean Ridge had dreamed up a slightly obscene version of the Mickey Mouse theme song and, of course, we found ourselves humming it all day long amid giggles and guffaws.
Maxon said her guest day is a fixture on the calendar for the two sisters.
“Neither one of us would miss it,” she said. “It’s a chance to talk and play golf together and have a real visit with each other. Janet is the one who dreams up the costumes and cart decorations each year.”
Years ago, I played in a ladies member-guest with three of my daughters. We all wore matching outfits. Now years later, I don’t remember if we won anything, I can just remember that we had a gloriously good time.
Guest days bring golfers of varied abilities together. Our foursome last week consisted of a reigning club champion with a single digit handicap, an occasional golfer, a long-ball hitter and me, an average golfer who played less than average.
Michelle and I played as a twosome, and unfortunately, the team of Sherwood and Bonstein did not win any prizes, but we had a wonderful time anyway.
Ah, well. Maybe next year.
ELSA BONSTEIN is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.