The Annual Golf Trip



The Annual Golf Trip

Taking an annual ‘golf trip’ is one of the (many) great things about being a ‘golfer’. The chance to sneak away with a group of mates every year for a week of ‘cough’… serious golf, is one of the great joys in life. With winter approaching, you may be already starting to organise yours… and if you haven’t, you should be!
I’ve been going on an annual golf trip with my mates for nearly 20 years.

This particular year was always going to be tough to make. The boys selected Tasmania as the venue, with golf scheduled at Barnbougle Dunes. For those bad at geography, Tassie is an island state on the southern end of Australia, about as far away from Dublin as you can get. For those based in Oz it meant flights from either Brisbane or Sydney to Melbourne, then a quick jump across the Bass Strait to Tassie.

“I’ve been playing in The Von (our annual mates golf trip) with the same group of guys for nearly 20 years, and there's still nothing quite like it. I spend most of the year trying to figure out how I can schedule a trip home to coincide with Von Week.”

For me, I decided to fly out from Dublin a week earlier than my family, and meet a couple of the boys at Sydney airport & fly down together to Tassie. I’m not sure if anyone’s ever flown from Dublin to Launceston directly just to play golf, but I did. After around 36 hours in transit, plus the bus ride to the course (another hour +),
we got there.

First night always involves a welcome dinner, where past winners can rub it in and the usual suspects cop a bit of stick. In our group, there’s a few guys who don’t play all that regularly, and no doubt just come for the camaraderie (I have to assume it’s for that, as it can’t be just for the golf). The Von format is two rounds of Stableford, with a trophy for the winner (I’ve won it twice) and a jacket for last place. You want to avoid the jacket, as those lucky (?) enough to win it have to wear it all weekend… think of it as the jacket of shame.

The golf, somewhat surprisingly given the wide variety of abilities on display, is competitive. There’s been a couple of playoffs, and a several heart breaking near misses. All of which has become part of the shared experienced and the folklore. After being involved, on & off, for nearly 20 years, I’ve a pretty good appreciation for what make a mates golf trip work (and how to win… did I tell you I’ve won it twice?). And I’m not just talking about avoiding the big drinkers in the bar the night before (but yeah, I suggest you avoid that if you can).

It may seem obvious, but the joy of a golf trip is much more than just golf. It’s a chance to reconnect with old friends and keep those relationships alive. It’s the planning, the emails, the group texts before and after (which is the best part, if you’ve won). There’s a special bond that forms on these trips… the accumulated funny stories, the missed putts, the shanked tee shots, the bomb-dives into the hotel spa (yes, that happened). The bonds we’ve develop compound like interest around The Von, and every trip helps mark the passing of time as we get older. It’s a snapshot of the year that I always remember.

If I had more space here I could offer more detailed advice about how to plan a mates golf trip, but it doesn’t really matter where you go or what courses you play, and even who wins. It’s going to be a memorable whatever happens.

So my advice?
Just do it. Get a group together and book something. Every year.
You and your mates won’t regret it.

Article written by Dean Klatt