Our resident collection of basket cases gather their collective minds to discuss who would get the nod for invitation day..
It’s quite simple or, at least, should be. Ring a mate, see if he’d like a nice day out at your expense and then have the favour returned at a later date. Or it’s just another way of frying your golfing brain..
It’s your club’s Guest Day – who do you pick and why?
Dan: I’ve tried all sorts of strategies, with limited success. My first instinct is to say my dad but the last time I did that he couldn’t make some of the carries to the fairways and then he thought he was letting me down and it was all too much. I have also tried handing out a work invite but it just felt weird because it was on a Saturday. And once I reciprocated hospitality having been invited to somebody else’s Invitation Day first. I didn’t get asked back so read into that what you will.
Thing is, it’s not just the chemistry as a pair, you’ve got to think of the other half of the fourball as well. It’s complicated.
Mark: It won’t be laid-back, because I’m a moron, but my invite would reflect the fact that I might be so someone chatty and normal. And, most definitely, someone with a higher handicap than me, I’m easily intimidated, and with a few shots up his sleeve. My cousin was always one of my golfing heroes growing up and is brilliant company but these days he can’t putt from three feet so he’ll never get the nod now.
There’s a very good chance that I’ll spend large chunks of the day wishing I was mates with the other member’s guest and then slipping him my number so we can team up in 12 months’ time.
Steve: I’m surrounded by people who’d rather be doing anything than playing golf – I choose my friends very badly – and so I’m always at a loss when it comes to these things. All my golfing pals at the club have already got in there first and I always end up feeling like the odd one out, basically offering my services on the understanding that they won’t be taken up unless someone pulls out/is ill/got too drunk the night before.
Harvey: Family and close friends are out of the equation, we’d either argue or drink too much. Colleagues and friendly acquaintances are also out, we’d argue or drink too much. So that leaves me with the cold, calculating plan of befriending someone in the local golf scene I only know on a name basis but is renowned as a bit of a bandit. So we can be crowned champions of the day, win the jackpot and never speak again.
Where are you at in terms of putting too much pressure on yourself in terms of being a nice host and trying to make your friend have a nice day, trying to play well and trying to be normal?
Steve: The odd thing is, given I’m the most neurotic person that anyone knows, I really kind of enjoy these dos. It’s pretty much the only time I’ll feel relaxed on a golf course. There’s no pressure at all – you’ve paid for someone to have a nice day and they’re usually pretty grateful – and it all flows rather nicely. Like when Billy Preston went into The Beatles.
Harvey: These days are just a shotgun start with frills on so there’s not too much pressure on your game but your hosting skills are under scrutiny. A tally is kept of the number of times you congratulate the non-members in your group for getting the ball in the air. You’re expected to foot the bill for a pint, plus a sausage sarnie at the halfway hut and then a three-course dinner. As well as thinking of every excuse under the sun why them three-putting the last is the course’s fault and not theirs.
Dan: It’s exhausting. You have to pretend to be popular before play to impress your guest and that involves lots of backslapping. Then you hit some balls and you desperately want to work on your game but not be seen to be doing so because, hey, it’s a social occasion and we’re just here for a nice time. You’ve also got a very close eye on your partner and you don’t want to see any sockets, for example, emanating from his 9-iron. You’d also like to see him do some putting because they always get the greens quick on Invitation Day and the round could be over before it’s started with three putts from eight feet for an opening six for none.
The final act in this charade is feeling obliged to have a beer halfway round and stuff two pork pies/sausage rolls away. By the time you’ve also entered the raffle on behalf of the entire fourball in a show of largesse, you’re £40 in to play at your own course and it’s taken three hours to get to the 10th tee.
Mark: The most likely scenario is that I will slip into ‘Pro-am Mark’ where I will try and appear more confident than I am while hoping desperately that I don’t do something horrific like double-hit anything, not that that matters any more.
I’d let my guard slip if he were to hole a 30-footer for four points and you’d find me doing a Hale Irwin round the green. I’d then get far too excited and emotional about winning the day, picturing the pair of us falling into one another’s arms on the last and bring us crashing down to earth. Then we’d end up with 39, four points short of a pair of socks and get down to the real business of the day – spending the next three hours pointing the finger at one another about where it all went wrong.
What’s your strangest/worst experience of one of these days?
Harvey: Where to start… How about not even on the day but the night before and getting a call from your partner asking what colour team shirts do we want to wear tomorrow? Red to impersonate Tiger or black to mirror Gary Player, high-kicking your way around 18 holes and celebrating every birdie with a barrage of push-ups. Safe to say I turned up wearing white and left my other half for the day in his Sunday red. We still did the push-ups after a pint though.
Mark: Not that the offers have been flooding in but, unless we can get off by 8am, I’m struggling to set aside six hours for this. I played in one last year where the golf bit took five and a half hours alone though I didn’t need to eat for the rest of the weekend.
I did once play one invitational where one member of the fourball didn’t speak from the 4th tee to the time we had some sandwiches after the round which was all a bit odd.
Dan: As a junior, my dad would often invite two of his friends and then we’d play as a four. As a junior, you have no concept of an enjoyable day out, just of winning. As a junior, you have scrutinised the prize table before play and lined up a new stand bag. As a junior, you expect to birdie all the par 5s and most of the par 3s. As a junior, you expect your 17-handicap partner to be completely aware of the holes where he needs to have your back. We duly opened with a betterball blob on the par-5 1st where that planned opening birdie turned into being behind a tree 50 yards from the green in four. It barely got better from there. I don’t think my dad was overly proud of my demeanour that day.
Steve: A couple of years ago, when I was playing off 13, I got an invitation on the grounds that I would be the team’s secret weapon. It all started well, when I holed a bomb at the 1st, but gradually deteriorated into recriminations and silence as I three-jabbed my way round the rest of the course. No-one stayed for lunch.