You are only going to have one major golf vacation with your pals per year. Make it the best possible by designing it yourself. Forget the standard golf package and do it yourself.
In our last article we got to the minus two months point of your schedule. You have researched and found the ideal location, picked out the perfect house, sent out the word to your pals, and settled on the dates. By this time, you should have a confirmed group, any of which would just as soon lose their right arm as miss the event.
Let's lock in the rental house. You DO need to get this done as early as you can. If you are setting up your vacation during the off-season like I do, you are in the driver's seat. Talk directly to the property manager and negotiate a better rate. Here is a summary of my discussion a few weeks ago.
"Hey, Tiffany. Randall here. It's that time again but our group is smaller. We really like the house at ... but it is more than we need. We will be staying a full week. I figured the owner would rather have a bird in the hand and rent the house for a full week instead of taking the chance of renting it for just a couple days or not at all. We can afford $xxxx. I can pay you today."
The result of this little conversation was that she immediately lopped twenty percent off the advertised rate! You will never know until you ask. Shoot for about a thirty percent reduction and go from there. I slapped the deposit on my credit card and emailed the group. (Yes, I was looking for praise.) You can dust off the smaller details like arranging linens (if not provided in the rate) and final payment later.
Time to grab tee times. What I recommend is setting up early morning tee times for each day. You will have to get up earlier than you may like, but scheduling tee times around 8:00 to 8:30AM will accomplish several things, including:
Being close to first off the box on rain or frost delays (allowing a second 18).
Finishing your round early enough to grab a second 18 with lunch in between 18's.
Allowing easier to change to later tee times if desired rather than to move them earlier.
Over the Internet and by talking with local pros on the phone, you have come up the courses you want to play. As with the house, you DO need to get this done as early as you can so that you can get the tee times you want. When scheduling tee times, I prefer talking directly to the head pro. In general, you will find more flexibility on prices. Other bonuses like getting a second set of tee times while only paying for a replay fee are easier. The head honcho is also more likely to bend the rules to allow advanced tee times if you are beyond the time window normally allowed.
Granted, this may be your first time in the location you picked, but you can use about the same language as I do. I have just locked in our tee times for February. I associate myself with a golf course to let them know I am a "player" and the pros seem to be more deferential in talking with a "player". Here is a summary of a standard call:
"Hey Bucky, Randall from Snee Farm here. It's getting to be that time of the year again for our annual golf vacation. You have always treated us so well and given us such a great rate in the past. The guys love the challenge of your outstanding spread. I was just wondering if you fit us in again on February 23rd. We are looking to play 36 and would appreciate anything you could do for us."
With that or something similar as an opener, I forecast that you WILL get a great rate from most of the courses. Don't make a second set of tee times at this point unless you get them for just the replay fee. If you are playing during the on-season and want to play 36, you may have to make and pay for a guaranteed set of afternoon tee times. Some of the courses may have events already scheduled when you want to play that particular course. You may have to juggle this slightly and change already made tee times, so complete your tee time set up within a couple days.
Now you have your group, your house and your tee times. It is time to get down to real business. Now is the time to get the financial commitment. Send an email spelling out the accommodations and the tee times. Ask for your troops to send you at least half of what the final cost per man will be. Our total per man is normally around $900 for all the lodging, transportation, golf, food and beverages for the week.
Dining. In general we fix whatever breakfast we personally want, make sandwiches to eat between rounds, and fix our own gourmet supper (with loads of snacks to wreck our appetites during the entire day and night). You can see our 2006 evening meals by clicking on 2006 Schedule at the sample website <a href="http://www.eye-mind-tricks.com/golf" target="_blank">www.eye-mind-tricks.com/golf</a> . To support all this, you will need to know what the group wants and prepare a shopping list. This year, I used a free survey website and built a fill-in-the-blank survey for the troops. You can see that at: <a href="http://www.surveymonkey" target="_blank">www.surveymonkey</a> DOT com/s.asp?u=256691624905 (remove the "DOT" and insert a "." )
You can use surveymonkey like that or ask the same questions in an email. To give you an idea of what your shopping list will look like for a group of eight and assuming you follow our general plan, I put a close copy of last year's shopping list at the above eye-mind-tricks website. Substitute the word "shop" for "golf" to see it. With your shopping list built, you will either grab the goodies before the flights of the group arrive if you live locally, or have the troops assist on the way to your house.
You are now at the minus one month point of building the perfect golf vacation. The next article will provide recipes, administration details, entertainment ideas, and odds and ends.
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Article Added on Tuesday, January 24, 2006
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