Ladies and gentleman, the judges have made their decisions: We have the six winners of our first Golf Digest Buddies-Trip Planner Contest.
This contest was inspired, in part, by the Golf Digest Ambush. Parachuting into buddies trips all over the country, Senior Travel Editor Matt Ginella began to realize how seldom the trip planner gets to enjoy the fruits of his or her organizational skills. More often, they're too busy being the starter, marshal, scorer, referee and maître d' for their gathered friends.
So now, in conjunction with one of the greatest buddies trip destinations in golf, we're treating six selfless givers of the game to three days of pampering at Pinehurst from July 16-18. Ginella and fellow Digest editor Pete Finch will host a Ryder Cup format tournament on three courses (No. 2, No. 4 and No. 6). The Pinehurst Spa is even throwing in a 50-minute deep tissue massage.
On to the winners!
• ROY GRIFFIN: "Meet our trip planner nonpareil," wrote Roy's friend, Bill Cooper. "After eight years, Roy's adeptness at herding our feline-tendencied group has resulted in his new moniker -- Royacity (aka. Detailocity, Analocity and Minutiaeocity). Replete with laptop and green eyeshades, Roy handles the mundane with aplomb; the tedious with alacrity. Plus, he putts like Crenshaw on steroids. We wouldn't trade "Royacity Griffin" if you spotted us two travel agents and a CPA a side." From the RTJ Trail to the Old Tom Morris trail in St. Andrews, this group has been (almost) everywhere.
• BOB SANDT: His friend Bob Gorelik told us about this worldly golf trip planner. "Plain and simple, he's the best," wrote Gorelik. "He has never asked for any compensation or recognition of his efforts, except for maybe some fun and a lot of laughter. His trips go on without a hitch, come in on budget and include a photo album of our adventures for each player. He coordinates travel groups from four to 80 golfers and they range in ages from 26 to 76 and have included 80 to 100 different people over the last 20 years. (We had eight guys named Bob on one trip.) Without his expertise in trip planning, I would have never experienced the true appreciation of the greatest game in the world that he has passed on to so many of his friends who love golf."
• CALVIN WEIDE: "Calvin is the quintessential golf trip planner," wrote his friend, Patrick O'Bryan. He's so meticulous he created a 10-year golf trip planner complete with venues and suggested accommodations. We are at year 10 next year and each trip has been a success. This guy lives, eats and breathes golf and his buddies have benefited from his efforts. We attempted to play Pinehurst one February and we were unable to fit it into our schedule."
• __BARBARA BERWICK:__According to her golf buddy, Shelia Cail, six years ago Berwick chose Pine Needles just down the street from Pinehurst, where she formed the A.P. Open (Almost Pinehurst). She rallied nine players, negotiated rooms, picked Stableford as the tournament format, established handicaps, a side skins game, a nighttime glow-ball challenge "and a green jacket with an A.P. emblem that goes to the winner."
• NEIL THOMSON: Neil and his buddies were the subject our first Ambush. Last year they went to La Quinta. Next year Thomson will bring their Ponce De Leon, the search for eternal youth, back to Sea Island. The Ponce is 16 guys who get hand-written invitations six months before the tournament. For eight years they've paid tribute to the traditions of the game, they have guest speakers, a 20-page plus program, a logo on shirts and hats, and they "get after it on the golf course." (Read: "The Pursuit of the Ponce" from Golf Digest April 2008)
• DAVE WALKER: "Walk," whose group was written about in a more recent Ambush, has coordinated the Watson's Springfest for the past 20 years at Bristol Harbour Resort in Canandaigua, N.Y. He's had as many as 130 players. As his friend and Springfester Paul Greenwood wrote, "Dave initiated this event 20 years ago as a get-together for a few baseball-playing buddies. This event would've never started, and flourished like it has, without Dave."
So there you have it. You'll read and see more about our six winners on this website and in the magazine. While they're at Pinehurst, Finch and Ginella will pick the brains of these expert trip planners and share what they learn in Golf Digest's Buddies Issue later this year.