It's that time again. Thirteen down and many more to come. One of the groups below will be the 14th Golf Digest Ambush and will be featured in an upcoming issue of the magazine (and on this website).
What is the Ambush?
Here's a short video summary I did on the Golf Channel after the first few Ambushes last year:
I've now received over 4,000 entries and the concept continues to gain momentum. As I've said before, to Ambush is the most enjoyable part of a ridiculously fun job. Thanks again for sharing your trips with Golf Digest and our six million readers every month.
THE FOUR FINALISTS:
Group A) Mark Johnson of Grinnell, IA started his trip almost 15 years ago, "As a way to reconnect with my Dad," he says. Johnson's parents divorced when he was young and so the game of golf would be the vehicle for catching up on some lost time with his dad for both Johnson and eventually his little brother as well. At the time of the first trip Johnson lived in Denver and his father lived in Idaho Falls. They each brought a friend and met in the middle--Wyoming. Unfortunately Johnson's father passed away two years ago, but over the years the trip served its purpose and continues to do so as the group has grown to as many as 20 players now. This year they're going to Omaha, NE. It's being called the "F&*$@ing Pilgrim Open," in honor of Johnson's father because "That's the moniker he'd place on just about anybody," Johnson says.
Location: Omaha, NE
No. of rounds: 6 (18 on Thursday, 36 on Friday, 36 on Saturday and 18 on Sunday).
No. of days: 4
Format: Modified Ryder Cup
No. of players: 20
Courses: Quarry Oaks, Iron Horse
Group B) Glen Wilson of Milton, ON submitted an itinerary for the 20th annual "Watson's Springfest." He says 120 to 140 guys get together every year at Bristol Harbour, located just outside of Canadaigua, NY. "We play in all kinds of weather," says Wilson. "Yes, even snow!" Wilson says he went on his first Springfest nine years ago with five friends. "Now I have 120 friends," he says. Ages range from 20's to 80's. The trip coordinator is Dave Walker (and his crew). Their website gives a better look into who they are: www.watsonsspringfest.com. I liked this quote from Walker in a news item on the website: "An economy that's in the crapper and a Canuck buck that has just barely climbed over 80 U.S. cents and I'm about four entries away from being full. That's right my Springfest friends, we're a couple of guys short of 135."
More evidence that an annual buddies trip is recession-proof. We refuse to lose those four to seven days we squirrel away each year for friends, golf and debauchery.
Location: Canadaigua, NY (90 minutes east of Buffalo)
No. of rounds: Hard to tell.
No. of days: "Some stay for a week, some only stay for three days."
Format: "Big Bopper, Little Bopper, scrambles, cleaners, and shootouts"
No. of players: "A couple guys short of 135."
Courses: Bristol Harbour (18 holes)
Group C) __Dave Carothers of Buffalo, MN__says that for the past 10 to 12 years 16 guys have been coming from all over the country to meet in Kansas City. The group is made up of guys who've played high school and college golf against each other--some are now related, others simply remain good friends. "We've had hats and sweatshirts made," says Carothers. "We have a traveling trophy that goes to the individual who gets voted as to doing the dumbest/ funniest things and they need to wear the sweatshirt teeing off the next round." Carothers also says they have a computer guru in the group who has created a program that helps keep track of all the various games within a single round and also keeps an overall total. Carothers says the program is so good it might be worth marketing at some point. "I don't want to tell you everything or there would be nothing left for you to know," says Carothers. "But it's a great group of guys for a great long weekend of golf with many laughs. I'm sure you would not be disappointed."
Location: Kansas City
No. of rounds: 5
No. of days: 3
No. of players: 16
Group D) Alan Buckley of Victoria, BC is the Entertainment Chairman of the 15th Annual Plaid Jacket. In his submission to us, Buckley listed some reasons why he and his crew are worthy of an Ambush: "No. 1) We are polite, hockey-loving Canadians who drink real beer. No 2) If the ambush goes bad, we are doctors so we have you covered--19 doctors and one lawyer (just in case). No. 3) Gary "Stats" Nielsen has us scrambling, shambling and Las Vegas Peppering all week until someone wears the Plaid Jacket home and either the White Hats or Black Hats are crowned Ryder Cup champions. No. 4) Entertainment on the team bus--every player has an original song that is sung by Two Tone Deafs and a Tenor. No. 5) An open invitation to join us (win or lose) at one of Canada's most beautiful courses for eighteen before or after the trip."
No. of rounds: N/A
No. of days: 7
Format: Scrambles, schambles and Las Vegas Peppering (whatever that means).
No. of players: 20
So that's what I'm picking from this month. Readers thoughts and suggestions are always welcome. Or, if you're a member of one of the groups above, feel free to fill in some details or anecdotes that I may be missing. (See comments box below.) It will have an impact on who I pick. And if I don't see you this year--there's always next year.
If you haven't submitted an itinerary yet, here's the link to the Ambush entry form.