The Smartest People In The Room

Continued (page 2 of 4)

GD: To be a successful trip planner, it seems like the word "democracy" cannot be a factor. It has to be a dictatorship. Do you agree?

BARBARA: You have to have the illusion of a democracy. Otherwise you'll have coups going on and all that stuff. Keep the illusion alive, but you have to maintain control.

ROY: After you've done it so many times, you really know the best way to do it. So at some point you're almost snobbish about it. Like, "This is how we have to do it: This is where we're going to play, and this is where we're going to stay." Certainly there's flexibility. If eight guys don't want to go out and have Thai food, that's fine. You can go with five or six. But with our group, they pretty much fall in line.

CALVIN: If you open it up to people, half the guys want to play in the afternoon and half want to play in the morning. Then you've really defeated the point of it, because you're trying to get them all together at the same time.

I always try to get the morning tee times. The guys who go out and party hard the night before are always lobbying against that. I say: "Hey, if we go later and happen to hit a frost delay for two or three hours, then we've kind of blown the whole day." The best thing is to take the 8 o'clock tee time, and if we get a frost delay till 10, that's fine. We'll still be the first ones to go out.

‘You have to have the illusion of a democracy. Otherwise you'll have coups going on.’

GD: Dave, you're a pretty big dictator for your spring trip?

DAVE: No, one thing I learn as I age is that I really don't know everything. Guys come to me all the time and say, "Why don't we try this?" And then I go to my little inner circle, we discuss it, and lots of times we try it. Maybe we try it for a year, maybe we keep it. We tried night golf for two years on Wednesday night—four holes from 150 yards. It was a blast until one of my buddies almost walked into the pond on the ninth hole. Well, that was the end of that. But our trip is always evolving.

GD: Some of your trips are more focused on venues, some on camaraderie. How about service? Is service another key for you?

BARBARA: Definitely. Quite honestly, I didn't know to ask for enough when I first started; I didn't know the clout that we had. Now the resort where we stay, Mid Pines, does everything for us. The pros make up scorecards with our pairings and strokes, tally our scores at the end of each round and maintain a big, professional scoreboard for us. Last year I decided on Sunday morning that we would have a glow-ball tournament on Sunday night. Bob the pro called around and located glow balls for me and helped to set it up. They've accommodated many special requests through the years, from feather pillows to special bottles of wine. We want the same table in the dining room each night we're there, and we don't even have to ask anymore. It's taken care of.

NEIL: That's the great thing about going back to the same place. Going back to Sea Island for the third time, they know we'll behave, and we know they'll really customize our trip. We'll meet with some of the management, and we'll do little outings in the trophy room and stuff.

BOB SANDT: My group goes on a trip to Cozumel [Mexico], and the service is incredible. The cart girl comes by, and I'm "Señor Bob"—I'm a king. But when you're traveling, you're at their mercy. Like on a Scotland trip, you'll run the gamut: You'll go from excellent service to "they-don't-care" service. The group has to be go-with-the-flow kind of guys.

GD: Do you ever have cases where some people start to irritate each other and don't get along? And if so, what do you do?

DAVE: Mine's easy. I've got it right on my form: Who do you want to room with? And I already know what groups of guys are together. We have a five-man scramble on Friday afternoon, which is a random draw, and that really is a great mixer. That was the whole idea when we started, so guys could get to meet other guys, play as a team, drink beer, high-five and have fun. But for the main rounds, I always try to get the groups of buddies who come together. I'll allow them to play in fivesomes because there's always a group of five coming down together. We have the course to ourselves, and a fivesome can play just as fast as a foursome. So no, I never have issues with that.

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