Anyone who texted, emailed, or called me between January 31st and February 8th, likely experienced a significant delay in my response because I was essentially off the grid, and often under the influence for a week in the desert.
For 9 months (no exaggeration), seven of my friends and I have been planning our (now bi-annual) golf trip and this year's site moved from Phoenix, AZ which hosted our last four trips to Palm Springs, CA - a place with which I am highly familiar.
My parents have been escaping Winnipeg winters in the Coachella Valley for more than 20 years, and since retirement, they now spend 4+ months in the desert. It's a golfer's paradise with blue skies, mountains, sunshine nearly every day, low winds, and over 120 (again, no exaggeration) golf courses within about an hour drive.
The 8 of us reserved a nice house on Airbnb which included a pool table, pool, hot tub, putting green, ping pong table, and plenty of fridge space for our before, after and during golf libations.
We reserved back-to-back tee times well in advance (often two months ahead of time right when the tee sheet opened online) on 7 premier golf courses. Although our green fees ended up averaging about $95 USD, that was actually amazing value given the beauty, and torture, we were able to experience. Incidentally, this is also where it's nice to earn USD :). My favourite course had to be the Stadium Course at PGA West - it hosted a PGA tour event just 2.5 weeks before we were able to play it, and the difficulty showed. It was relentless - you had to focus on every single shot, chip and putt, or it would make you pay. Giant bunkers, island greens, trouble everywhere, and very fast putting surfaces showed the four of us that day just how bad we are at golf!
Our daily routine during the trip fell into place quite quickly. We'd wake up, usually between 7 and 8 because half the guys are dad's so they haven't been able to sleep in for years, throw on a pot of coffee, re-hash the previous night's shenanigans, make a big breakfast/brunch, have a few putting contests in the backyard, jump in the hot tub to soothe our aching muscles, discuss the day's course and groupings, shower and put on golf clothes, fill our golf bags with beers and birdie juice, then order Ubers to the golf course. We''d get to the course, hit some balls, explore the facilities, take a team photo, and then head out for the 18 holes. Key note here, while the guys will never admit it, I think they enjoyed my vegan breakfast creations (tofu scrambles, and lentil salsa veggie burritos).
After the round, we'd Uber back to the house, make or order some dinner, then start pre-gaming for whatever we were going to do that night. Often it was just to hang out, watch a movie, play pool, and go in the hot tub but we also checked out downtown Palm Springs, or the nearby casino. Then we'd go to bed and get ready to do it all over again the next day.
While planning can be half the fun of a trip, the planning for this went to a whole new level. Our planning committee consisted of Randy and Ryan, both veterans of the trip and they were constantly on the lookout for deals at courses, flights, food options, weather reports, etc. They booked all the tee times and even negotiated rates with some courses based on the weird collection of folks in our group (a police officer, a GM of a golf course, and a TaylorMade rep). I was the third member of the planning committee as basically a consultant - because I've played many courses down there, I could comment (with the help of Dave Arnold) on the quality of the course they were scouting and the value they were quoted.
Given the intense level of effort, I'm glad everyone had an absolute blast. Dave was a key filler for three of our rounds and was able to keep up with the boys, and Dwenda supported by coming out the last day to enjoy a patio drink and providing us with two amazing lasagnes which the guys devoured right after they arrived off the plane. Nice bonus for me to see the fam for a couple extra days!
The week was absolutely amazing, the weather was great, the golf courses were pristine and it was essentially just non-stop laughter. I really enjoyed catching up with the guys I rarely see, hearing about their families, their new jobs, their new homes, and everything in between. We all live such different lives now, that it's super interesting to picture what a day in someone else's shoes might look like.
Some key ingredients that made the trip our best one yet:
We ordered groceries and booze ahead of time and had them delivered the night we arrived
We didn't rent any cars and instead Uber'd everywhere (the Palm Springs layout allowed this to work financially)
Everything was booked ahead of time - scrambling to book tee times while trying to just enjoy the vacation is annoying
Small planning committee - it would have been impossible to run every single decision across an 8-man group chat
Zero judgement - if some guys wanted to stay home and get to bed early instead of going to the casino, nobody cared; want to call your wife back home while on the golf course? No problem. Zero judgment = zero drama = non-stop success
Great Airbnb host - worth the premium you might pay to get a highly-rated host who will respond quickly to any issues
Now that I've recapped the trip with so many people back at work and in NYC, I'm realizing just how special it was that we were able to make this happen. With family, work, and other commitments, it can be tough to get away. I received so many comments/texts during the trip saying "wow that looks so fun" or "that's so cool you guys were able to do that" which really hit home, and made me soak in every last second. Further, I realize how rare it is for 8 guys to stay such close friends for such a long time. Some of the guys I've known since I was 6, others I met at the golf course back in Winnipeg when I was 16.
We have a saying in the group that "They'll never take these times away from us", and while I'm still not entirely clear on what it's supposed to mean, it's also obviously true. I can't wait until next year!
Thanks for reading,