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Gene and I have been playing in couples (mixed) golf tournaments for most of our adult lives. We have had lots of laughs and good times and, best of all, we’ve made lasting friendships.
As implied by the term, mixed golf is a tournament where men and women play on the same team. Everyone is in it for fun and everyone understands couples golf is not the U.S. Open or the Masters. It’s not the club championship or even the Saturday morning shootout.
Forget serious, think social. If you want to play couples golf, you need to bring your sense of humor and realize golf is often secondary to the food and the fun. So let’s talk with some of our mixed golf chairpersons to get the skinny of what’s happening in their leagues. In this two-part series, Golf Gab will cover Lock Folly Golf Course first. Next week, we’ll visit Ocean Ridge and Sea Trail.
On Friday morning, I drove up to Lockwood Folly and spoke with Beecher and Cheryl Washburn and Marlene Kleinbauer (husband Russ was on the course that day) to find out how it’s done at our only member-owned golf course in Brunswick County.
“The whole purpose of couples’ golf at Lockwood is to have fun,” Marlene said. “It’s run through the Ladies Golf Association, and there is nothing serious about it. Basically, golf is a vehicle to get people together.”
The couples’ golf league tees it up every Wednesday afternoon year-round. They play nine-hole tournaments, starting at various times after 3 p.m., depending on the time of year. All events are net events. Anyone who is a member of Lockwood Folly is eligible to play. Men receive no more than an 18 handicap for nine holes. Women are restricted to a 20 for nine holes.
Formats are varied, but the curious thing about Lockwood couples golf is that whoever wins this week is in charge of the next week’s tournament.
“We gather at the clubhouse afterwards and announce the winning team,” Beecher said. “Whoever wins gets the dreaded purple folder with all the instructions and a whole year’s worth of suggested tournaments to choose from.”
The couple who is running the tournament posts a sign-up sheet in the clubhouse on Thursday morning. Anyone wanting to play must sign up by Monday.
“Couples” is a loose term in this league. While many of the participants are married, singles are welcome to play but must find a member of the opposite sex and sign up as a twosome. In addition, while the group plays in foursomes, the competition is always in twosomes.
The price for each event is $6 per person, with $2 going to the bag boy.
“Because there is not much at stake except bragging rights, no one gets serious about their game,” Beecher said.
The pairings are made by the host couple, and every effort is made to mix up people so the same folks don’t play together each week. At dinner, the foursome is expected to sit together.
“The whole purpose of our league is to get people to know each other. New residents get quickly integrated into the golf community because they play with a lot of different people in couples’ golf,” Cheryl said.
The Lockwood couples league plays a bunch of wild tournaments.
“We have lots of crazy events,” Marlene said. “In our April Fools’ Day tournament, no one knew it until it was over, but the worst score was the winning score. Another time, we gave everyone 25 feet of toilet paper and they could lay it down anywhere on the course and use it to move their ball to wherever they wanted. They could move it out of a trap or across the green or wherever they wanted.”
Because this is a family newspaper, I cannot tell you what that tournament was called; just use your imagination and you’ll come up with the name.
“Sometimes we put the tees in funny places” Cheryl added. “Once we had to hit over a tree to get to the green on a par-3 hole. Once there were beer bottles on a green and you had to putt around them. Another time, a stuffed animal was placed on the green in front of the cup, so you had to come at the hole from the back part of the green. It’s all crazy.”
Sometimes the theme of the day requires costumes, as when Hillbilly Day took place recently.
Dinner is somewhat more serious than the golf. The food schedule for the year is posted in advance. There are about a dozen catered events throughout the year, but the rest is pot luck, often with a theme like chili, chicken, salads, pasta, stews or soups. Everyone brings something and the organizing couple coordinates it. At least once a month, the dinner is appetizers and deserts.
“We have some great cooks at Lockwood,” Kleinbauer said, “and it’s always fun to sample everyone’s cooking.”
During the year, there are several big events in the mixed golf schedule at Lockwood. Christmas is a sellout and the St. Patrick’s Day Tournament is huge. There’s something called Hillbilly Day, when everyone wears bib dungarees and straw hats.
For St. Pat’s Day, competitors decorate their carts and line up for a parade all around the community. Dinner is corned beef and cabbage with Irish soda bread. The following Wednesday, Reubens are served, made with the leftover corned beef.
“This year, we honored Anita and Tim Stevens, the founders of our couples golf league at the St. Patrick’s Day event,” Beecher explained. “Tim has had some health problems in recent years, and we wanted to pay tribute to him.
“One of our holes is a dogleg with a big tree that overhangs a bunker. Tim was always in that tree, and he always swore at it when he hit it,” Beecher explained. “We took a picture of the tree and the bunker and made it into a plaque. We named the tree ‘Tim’s $$(!)##%*@@ Tree’ and put that on the plaque. He loved it.
“Tim came to the ceremony and afterwards we took dinner over to their home, complete with Irish coffee.”
We could all learn a lesson from Lockwood. Keep it simple, keep it fun, have lots of good food and you’ll have a great couples league.
Next week, Golf Gab will feature couples golf at Ocean Ridge and Sea Trail. Each of these leagues does its mixed golf differently, and you’ll enjoy reading about their particular take on mixed golf!
GOLF GAB GROANER
Famous people commenting on the game of golf:
“Eighteen holes of match play will teach you more about your foe than 18 years of dealing with him across a desk.”
—Grantland Rice, sportswriter and poet who coined the phrase, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”
“Golf appeals to the idiot in us and the child. Just how childlike golf players become is proven by their frequent inability to count past five.”
—John Updike, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, poet and critic.
“It is almost impossible to remember how tragic a place the world is when one is playing golf.”
—Robert Lynd, Irish writer and essayist.
“If profanity had any influence on the flight of the ball, the game of golf would be played far better than it is.”
—Horace G. Hutchinson, British golf professional and writer, known as the “Father of Golf Instruction.”
“If a lot of people gripped a knife and fork as poorly as they do a golf club, they’d starve to death.”
—Sam Snead, PGA golf professional, winner of 82 PGA events, including three Masters, three PGA Championships, and one British Open.
“The ardent golfer would play Mount Everest if somebody put a flag stick on top.”
—Pete Dye, world-renowned golf course architect.
ELSA BONSTEIN is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at email@example.com.