Courses & TravelJune 13, 2008

Golf Digest Ambush: Are You Next?

To ambush: The act of concealing yourself and lying in wait to attack by surprise.

In May I Ambushed Tom Messmer, Tim O'Neill and Mike Cornelius at Pinehurst. They were there to celebrate their 40th birthdays. I gave them golf balls, scotch glasses, hats, cigars and a round of golf. We played Pinehurst No. 2 and Pine Needles. We ate, drank, set land-speed records on bikes doing the loop in front of the Manor Inn and together we ambushed one of golf's living legends--Peggy Kirk Bell. You can read more about the trip in the August issue of Golf Digest.

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I've Ambushed five groups out of 800 entries so far. It's time to pick number six.

I've narrowed it down to the following five buddies trips taking place in June. One of them will be featured in the September issue of Golf Digest.

From Michael Chao of Broomfield, Colo.: When: Friday, June 26th and Saturday, June 27th. Where: Keystone Resort, in Colorado on Friday. Breckenridge Golf Club and the Ravens at Three Peaks on Saturday. We have a group of 20 guys who have been getting together annually for 15 years. Most people in the group are old college buddies. We've named our event "Birdies and Beer." Our event is unique for a number of reasons: 1) The format. We play 3-4 rounds over two days. First day everyone plays their own ball. Based on the results of that day, we nominate captains at dinner who draft a scramble team for Saturday's trophy tournament. 2)  The players. We've got all levels of playing ability. A handful of scratch players who played college golf. Several single-digit handicappers. A bunch of weekend warrior 15-25 handicappers. And a couple of 30-plus handicappers who attend more for the social aspects. Everyone is welcome. The only rule is that it's a guy's weekend. No wives and no kids allowed. 3) The trophy. Like the Stanley Cup, the trophy for the winning scramble team is handed down from one year to the next. Winning team members have their name engraved on the trophy. And each team member gets to keep the trophy in their house for a month. 4) The tiebreaker. In the event that more than one team ends up with the lowest scramble score, the winner is decided based on a beer "boat-race". In 15 years, its come down to a "boat-race" only a couple of times. 5) Location. This group is partial to Arizona, Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Monterey. It's the first time we're playing mountain resort golf. Getting our group photographed and mentioned in Golf Digest would be a highlight of the 15 years of this event!

From Steve Fraser of Toronto, Ontario: The "Mad Max Annual Invitational" in Prince Edward Island, June 25th through 28th. Our group started in '03 with a buddies trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada. The invites are sent early in the year by our good friend (and better organizer) Dave Power. The lively banter continues until we all arrive in Halifax on the day of departure. The group is mostly made up of guys from Corner Brook, Newfoundland that have been the best of friends since before we can remember. The first year we had nine players, we've had as few as four, but we refuse to miss a year. It's a lot more about the camaraderie than the golf. Plaques are awarded for the "Top Golfer" based on money won in our daily skins game and for "Best Newcomer/Best Laugh" for outstanding performance in the off-course activities. We have an annual "Beer Match", which consists of two man teams. The scoring is a little unusual in that one stroke is deducted from your overall score for each adult beverage you consume. If you shoot 92 and have 12 beers, it's a total of 80. As Dave points out in one of his many e-mails about the trip, "It is a great time. If you're not a good golfer, don't worry about it. The best golfers the last three years have been Ari, Chipper Sr., and Higs. Guys like Shane and Dr. Rum have also enjoyed success while not breaking 100. It is more about having some laughs." I don't think I could sum it up any better. The beautiful part of this is the investment. It will cost no more then $500 all-in, per person, and maybe less once we get things confirmed (last year was $480). This covers the four rounds (carts and range balls), cottages, and vehicle rentals. I certainly hope this qualifies our group as "unique" and would look forward to seeing you in a beautiful part of Canada at the end of June.

From Sam Pavoni of Aliso Viejo, Calif.: We're playing the Peter Hay, par 3 course at Pebble Beach on June 22nd, Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz twice on June 23rd, and then Poppy Hills and Bayonet on the 24th. This is the "Second Annual Cheers To Honor Invitational" (I'm a founding member and the 2007 champion). The other two founding members, who are also my only other friends as I am theirs, are friends from High School. One of them played on my high school team and is 26 years old but he looks like he's 12. The other guy played for a rival team in high school and decided to get married and ruin all of our lives (I still haven't forgiven him for this). In fact, he almost tried to ruin this year's trip by getting his wife pregnant again, but luckily the arrival of the baby won't interfere with the trip. Back to golf. We even got a perpetual trophy for the tournament. It currently sits in my office at home. We literally send 15-30 e-mails a day for the nine months leading up to the trip and they're hysterical. My buddy's wife made me sign a contract saying that I wouldn't drive unsafely and endanger her husband's life. (Apparently my friend told her stories about last year's trip). So what do you think?

From Brandon Dean Lowery of Charlotte, NC: One of my really great friends, Jack Burris and I, started a golf trip five years ago. We realized, as we were reaching our mid-twenties, that life was getting faster paced and it was harder and harder to see all the guys we knew from our days in college at Chapel Hill. We started the "Barou Cup," named after the famous putter that failed Judge Smails in Caddyshack. The Barou is a Ryder Cup format pitting Team Charlotte against Team National. We have a group of 20 guys; 10 who live in or are from Charlotte, and 10 from around the country. We have shirts, hats and even a Claret Jug that we ordered from St. Andrews for the team captain to retain. We have team logos, pairing sheets, best-ball formats and singles matches. We have been to Myrtle Beach, Harbour Town, Innisbrook, and Sugarloaf, Maine. For '08 we will be in Charleston, South Carolina playing at Wild Dunes from June 26th-29th. Team National goes for its fifth in a row, but Team Charlotte thinks we've made some progress. This trip has taken on a life of its' own and has become something everyone refuses to miss. We have everything from scratch golfers to guys who could not break 100 on a par-3 with Butch Harmon on their bag. Some guys turn in early; some drink their face off until the next tee time. Come on, step it up, AMBUSH the Barou!

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From Larry Wagner of Bixby, Okla.:__ We will be in Kansas City from June 26th through the 29th. There will be a round of golf every day and baseball (Royals vs. Cardinals) on Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoon. Baseball tickets are already procured and the tee times will be set a couple weeks in advance. This is a unique trip because at its' core is four guys (I am one) who went to grad school together at Oklahoma State. Then we went our separate ways with jobs and families, but for 11 years now, we have blocked off a weekend every summer to get together, play golf, watch baseball, and treat each other like dirt. This summer we'll have eight guys in our group (other years there have been as many as 16). We've taken our trips to Houston, Arlington, St. Louis, and Kansas City and there has always been one constant--cherished camaraderie. There's a guy in our group who plays to a single digit handicap and there's a guy in our group who plays four times a year--those four times are all on this trip. The rest of us are somewhere in between. But it doesn't matter, we pair up, tee it up, and have more fun than we deserve. So I'll do to you like we do with a lot of our friends; I'll extend the offer to join us for a great time with a great bunch of guys who have used golf for 11-plus years not to occupy our time, but to enrich our time together and create memories that will last forever. Oh, and I'm hoping your publication doesn't mind if we take liberty with the USGA rulebook. We play by the rules, but have added one; "There shall be no stroke counted if the individual playing from the tee box area is able to catch their drive prior to it landing." It almost happened once so we thought we better address the issue before it actually happened.

Use the "Comments" link below if you care to weigh-in on the decision. I'll be busy "concealing myself and lying in wait to attack by surprise."

--Matty G.

*Want to submit an itinerary and be Ambushed? Go to http://www.golfdigest.com/contact/ambush.

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