Tricky Terrain

How to survive your golf club holiday party

December 12, 2017
People socializing and flirting at Christmas party
Veronica Grech

Your club’s annual holiday party is a chance to meet new members, get closer to old ones, and consume the rest of your minimum. But as with any seasonal gathering, hazards abound. So we offer our:

Hints for the Club’s Holiday Party:

Think of it as the Husband-and-Wife in formal wear. Remember how patient and careful you were that day, repressing the desire to teach, advise or recommend the golf swings or attire of other spouses? Put that attitude right back on. A Rye-and- Ritalin as your spouse finishes dressing can set the rudder.

Dance like everybody’s watching. It’s joyful when the band hits its stride and the entire Board of Governors takes to the Pretzel. You may want to update the proceedings by shouting “Let’s all Nae Nae!" Hold that thought.

Like, be careful how you talk. Not as many members as you think, especially among those who can remember G. Gordon Liddy or Howdy Doody, answer to “dude.” And, like, they think “like” means appreciate or similar to. Think of the whole night as, like, a job interview.

Avoid bifurcation . . . or anchoring, rolling back the ball, or the totally bogus “played out of turn” penalty the champion called on you during the fifth flight championship. Rule of thumb: Ask about the kids.

They don’t really want to know about the kids. So when you get the question, a quick, “She’s walking and speaking Mandarin,” or “He’s early decision to Harvard and Reed” should suffice. Details on first words, first arrests, or his role in the Palo Alto Ultimate Team’s undefeated season…. not necessary.

Beware recruiters. Your club has agreed to host the 14th Annual Idaho Super Seniors Preliminary Qualifying Event and the board is seeking a chair. When late in the evening the head of the golf committee finds you in the men’s room checking babysitter messages and says, “I have a question,” do the right thing. Just say Nay.

Leave the band’s instruments alone. Long ago you wowed the prom with a wicked, if approximate, version of "Black Dog." When the band takes a break, resist your inner Jimmy Paige and let sleeping Fenders lie.

Don’t forget: The waitresses smile at you because they’re paid to.

How to tackle Tiger. Your stance here is critical, especially if you’re on probation. Get a sense of whether the inquiring member thinks Tiger is a) the greatest thing ever to happen to golf or b) a moral profligate undermining the foundations of our great game—before you say whether you’d like to see Eldrick win again. Always add, “I love the club’s hats-forward policy.”

No lessons. Chances are you’ll meet the pro and his terrified spouse, tip-toeing through the ballroom as if through a minefield, which for them it is. Don’t seek to make his or her night more comfortable by asking about your tendency to get too upright on pitch shots over ravines. They get paid for that stuff.

No massive announcements. Your club, like so many others, has unbuttoned its cultural corset, and, welcomed a marvelous mix of sexes, races, and even Millennials, provided they’ve got the cash. After an egg nog or two it might seem in keeping with the the season to inform the four-term President that you and he don’t play for the same team. We once saw a woman at an office party come out to her boss—while sitting on his lap. Let’s postpone that conversation until, well, never. Country clubs invented Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Oh, and don’t drink too much.

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