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Each golf club has its own individual take on mixed golf because each golf club has different needs and interests.
Frank Burniak has been running the mixed golf events at Ocean Ridge for more than a year now and enjoys doing it.
“We have a great group of people who play in these events,” he said as we sat in the Plantation Club at Ocean Ridge last week. “We play every Sunday afternoon year-round and we run a variety of tournaments. It may be an alternate shot or a best ball or a red ball tournament.”
Every Sunday afternoon, 12 tee times are reserved for mixed golf. Times vary from week to week, but are usually between noon and 1:50 p.m.
On Monday, Frank puts up a sign-up sheet and couples can sign up for mixed golf until Thursday. The interesting thing is the group alternates between “Couples Golf” and “Mixed Golf” from week to week.
“In Couples Golf, couples play together in the same foursome. In Mixed Golf, you do not play with your spouse,” Frank explained.
All of the men’s, ladies’ and mixed golf leagues at Ocean Ridge are run through a program developed by Pete Seelos, a retired computer expert who is a member of Ocean Ridge.
“Having Pete’s program in my computer takes all the hassle out of running golf tournaments,” Frank said. “It tracks handicaps, it pairs people in a variety of ways and prints up the pairings each week. His program is much more complex than ones in most pro shops. Sometimes the pro shop computer pairs the same people together week after week. The whole point of mixed golf is for people to mix and meet other people, and that’s what Pete’s program does.
Like most mixed events, cost is minimal. Ocean Ridge mixed golf costs $2 per person, so basically, the competition is for bragging rights. During the year, there are some serious events, however, like the annual Couples Championship, a three-week, three-course event.
Are there glitches?
“I usually get a few calls at the last minute,” Frank said. “Someone hurt their back or family unexpectedly came to visit. I keep a sub list of people who can jump in and play if we need them.”
“It’s a totally nonthreatening environment,” Frank continued. “We allow our players to move the ball out of a footprint in the sand or out of a divot in the fairway. It’s all about having a good time and making new friends.”
Sometimes dinner is a potluck affair at the Plantation Club. At other times, couples make up their own groups and go out for dinner afterward.
A few miles down the road, couples golf is alive and well at Sea Trail. Denny and Bobbie DeLagarde are the current overall chairpersons, but a different couple acts as hosts of each event, doing the pairings and arranging for the social afterward.
Players must be a property owner at Sea Trail and have a Sea Trail handicap. Guests may participate but are not eligible for awards. The cost, again, is a minimal $2 per person, unless it is a major event.
“We play on the second and last Sunday of each month. Since April of 2008, we’ve had 232 different players,” Denny DeLegarde said. “Because we are all transplants, it’s a wonderful way to meet people when you move into this community. We always get a good turnout, especially when the weather is good. Sometimes we field 100 golfers.”
Like the Ocean Ridge mixed golf league, Sea Trail mixes everyone up periodically. On the second Sunday, couples can play together in the same foursome, but on the last Sunday of the month, everyone is mixed up.
On the “Instructions and Guidelines for Hosting Couples Golf” it clearly states: “The last Sunday of each month is Mixed Golf. This means that no one is allowed to play with his or her spouse or significant other. There are no exceptions to this rule. If a couple signs up and requests to golf together, just call them and explain our policy.”
This wonderful three-page document lays it all out so each host couple knows exactly what they are to do from sign-up to awarding of prizes. To help single golfers come into the mixed golf tournaments, a list of single golfers is maintained and golfers are free to call anyone on the list to complete the partner set.
During the year, Sea Trail schedules many different events. The Golden Oldies tournament encourages golfers to come dressed in what they wore as teens or young adults.
“It’s hysterical to see some of our older golfers come dressed as hippies or flower children,” Bobbie said. “Everyone has a good time that day.”
Sea Trail also runs a Couples Match Play Championship. “After two rounds, the field is reduced to 16 competitive teams, and then they play matches against the other couples until a champion couple is determined,” Denny said. “It’s one of our big events.”
Another huge event is the Two-Day Couples Championship. This is different from the Couples Match Play Championship because each couple team plays four different formats (nine holes each) over two days on two different golf courses. The net aggregate score overall wins.
“At Sea Trail, the maximum handicap that will be allowed is 40, but everyone is encouraged to play,” Bobbie said.
“One of the best things about Couples Golf is the social part,” Denny said. “We usually meet for dinner afterwards at the Pink Palace or MAC Center at Sea Trail. For the Couples Championship, we usually go to the Elks Club in Calabash.”
Running a couples league (or starting one) can be a lot of work and requires a certain amount of organizational skills, but it is well worth the effort. After playing serious golf in men’s and women’s leagues, interclub events, pro-ams and charity golf tournaments, it can be fun to tee it up with a mixture of guys and gals.
If it’s run right, mixed golf is low-key golf and high impact fun. It’s all about laughing and telling jokes and teasing and celebrating the joy of the game.
So sign up for your local couples golf event. If you don’t have mixed events at your club, create them. Do a Memorial Day Mixed Tournament, then continue with July 4th and Labor Day. If the turnout is good, gather a committee and start playing once a month.
After awhile, it will be the thing to do at your club.
GOLF GAB GROANER
A little old lady in an adult golf community is sitting on a bench near the clubhouse. A man walks over and sits on the other end of the bench.
After a few moments, the woman turns to the man and says, “Are you a stranger here?”
“I lived here 10 years ago,” he replies.
“So, where have you been all these years?” she asks.
“In prison,” he says.
“Really? Why did they put you in prison?”
He looks at her, ducks his head and very quietly says, “I killed my wife.”
“Oooohhh,” says the woman leaning towards him with a big smile. “So, you’re single…….?”
ELSA BONSTEIN is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.