Kentucky Wild Cats
Brian Boyle (front row, third from the right) and his father, Bob (seated next to Brian), anchor this buddies trip.
The hardest part about my job," says Chase Haven, head pro at Peninsula Golf Resort in Lancaster, Ky., "is giving directions to get here."
It's a 45-minute drive from Lexington -- not any more remote than, say, Bandon Dunes in Oregon -- but sure enough, I got lost. My mistake was not trusting my car's GPS on a few turns down small roads.
Difficult as it is to find, Peninsula Golf Resort
is one of the better bargains I've encountered in golf. I was there to ambush Brian Boyle's 20-man group, which had made the three-hour drive from Indianapolis. They were paying $291 per person for -- get this -- three nights in two-bedroom villas, three rounds on a four-star Pete Dye design, carts and breakfast.
Boyle, 31, collects an additional $20 a man for food that they grill on the back decks of some of the 24 villas overlooking the last three holes. Alcohol isn't sold at the resort because it's in a dry county, so the guys bring their own.
"Our location is a blessing and a curse," Haven says. "We encourage buddies trips -- in the villas you can cut up and do just about anything."
The course is long enough (6,647 yards) and tough enough around the greens to challenge low-handicappers. Yet there are no forced carries, and the fairways are wide enough to keep high-handicappers in the game, especially from the 6,082-yard tees. Overall it's an excellent buddies-trip venue, though there is just one course, so if you have a four-day trip, the experience might feel repetitive.
Inspired by the loss of a friend two years ago, Boyle organized this annual buddies trip to cultivate camaraderie for at least four days a year. "I'd been wanting to do something like this for a few years," says Boyle, "then a friend of ours died, and it woke us all up."
The death of a friend wasn't the only inspiration for Boyle. Another was getting to play with his father. About three years ago Bob Boyle was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. "My favorite times with my dad are on the golf course," says Brian, who has been taking the occasional Thursday off to play in his father's weekly foursome back home in Indianapolis.
Bob Boyle, 73, is a proud Irishman who lives for his family, friends, all things Notre Dame and St. Patrick's Day. "That's Bob's day," says David Smith, who joined the trip with his father and all three of his brothers.
When Bob Boyle woke up for Day 2 of a loose Ryder Cup format of competition, he declared, "I'm ready for another great day." On the topic of the group's slow pace of play on the first day, Bob offered a solution: "Tell 'em we need faster carts."
And when Bob was asked to critique Brian's trip-planning efforts, he just smiled and said: "Thank God for my son. This trip is the best thing that ever happened to us."
The last 15 minutes of the drive to Peninsula Golf Resort are the trickiest, taking you down little country roads without a lot of signage. My advice: Take it slow, watch out for stray farm animals, and if you have a GPS, trust it.