Let’s face it — most of us will never know what it’s like to step up to the tee on the PGA Tour.
We’ll never know what it’s like to have our names announced on the first tee then stripe a ball 300 yards down the middles. We’ll never know what it’s like to make a putt for thousands of dollars or to win a major.
But — what we can do, is play meaningful tournaments with our golf buddies. We can play for money, we can play for bragging rights and we can play major championships — just like the PGA Tour
Sound intriguing? Here’s how you can set up a PGA Tour-esque amateur tour for you and your buddies:
Since you’re the one with the idea, you’re going to have to be the defacto commissioner of this Tour — which, honestly, should be fun despite all the work you’re going to be in for.
As commissioner, you’re going to be responsible for finding players, you’re going to be responsible for collecting prize funds, making tee times, building relationships with courses and keeping track of statistics, scores and more.
It won’t quite be a full-time job, but you’ll be spending a lot of time committed to the Tour. That being said, you’ll have more fun than headaches — I guarantee it.
Honestly, if you play fantasy football or baseball and have been a commissioner of one of those leagues, then handling the rigors of being “Buddies Tour” commish shouldn’t be that big a deal.
Here’s what you’re going to have to do:
Odds are, if you’re a golf nut then you’ve got plenty of like-minded cronies who have PGA Tour pipe dreams just like you. Grab these players and bounce the idea of a “Buddies Tour” to them and odds are, you’ll be able to find yourself 10-15 players or more.
The opportunity to beat your buddies, take their money, get together to play some golf, enjoy some adult beverages, the summer sun, and bro time on the links will surely be able to persuade some of the less ardent players to join the tour. Well, that and playing with handicaps.
If you’re having trouble finding people, visit golfmatchapp.com and find local players who share the same desire and passion to play golf as often and at the same level you do. Odds are, you’ll be able to add a few players who will eventually become great friends.
Afterall, that’s what golf is all about, right?
Probably the most difficult part of the whole process will be creating a Tour schedule. This will involve a lot of logistics management. You’ll be responsible for orchestrating events that can be played in by the most amount of people and work directly with courses to secure tee times and make sure their filled.
The best way to do this is to create a tentative schedule early. Plan it in December or January with selected weekend dates or weekday dates that might work for everyone. Keep in mind Monday holidays and things of the sort when you plan, as you might actually be able to get some mid-week rounds in during the summer.
Most of the time, when you schedule tee times, you have a particular time window to book — but if you’re booking in bulk, most clubs will be happy to accommodate you and your group. They look at it as guaranteed rounds and ones they don’t need to worry about filling that day.
For your friends, this early planning will let them select the dates they want to play and keep them open during the summer. For the golf courses, they’ll appreciate the business. For you, you’ll appreciate the headache-free process the day of the event.
Ideally, your tour will have about 10-12 events — six to eight regular tournaments and four majors.
The way I set my tour up was to host the eight regular events on affordable, municipal tracks that will be solid choices for players of every ability and then four majors at more expensive, difficult courses.
La Mirada Golf Course — host of the 2016 Buddies Tour Los Angeles Championship
Here’s a look at the mock schedule for my “Buddies Tour” next year:
Welcome Back Classic — Rancho Vista Golf Course, $80 entry fee (greens + prize fund) — Saturday, March 26, 2016
The “Matt-sters” Tournament — Trump National LA – $200 entry fee — Monday, April 4, 2016
The AMATEURS — Rancho Maria Golf Club — $55 entry fee — Saturday, May 14, 2016
Summer Sizzler — Santa Barbara Golf Club – $70 entry fee — Saturday, June 4, 2016
Tommy Guns Open — Vista Valencia Golf Course – $100 entry fee — Saturday, June 18, 2016
“Real American” Open — The Links at Riverlakes Ranch – $80 entry fee — Sunday, July 3, 2016
Late Summer Shootout — Los Robles Greens Golf Course – $65 entry fee — Saturday, July 30, 2016
Palm Springs Classic — Bel Air Greens — $45 entry fee — Saturday, August 20, 2016
Los Angeles Championship — La Mirada Golf Course – $75 entry fee — Monday, September 5, 2016
Buddies Tour Championship (Top 12 players, 9-hole match play) — Arcadia Golf Club – $50 entry free — Saturday, October 1, 2016
Obviously, nothing says your tour can’t have more events or less — but this is the structure my tour will be looking at next year as we hack it up around Southern California.
Create a Facebook Page
Like any organization or group looking to organize the masses, creating a Facebook page is probably the best bet. It’s the easiest way to make announcements, keep track of group members, announce tee times, announce prizes, tour news, etc.
Collecting Prize Funds
In the scheduling section, I listed entry fees with tournaments. These include the greens fee and the prize fund for the event. You can make these work however you want. Majors, of course, should be a little more expensive to play and have a greater reward for winning or doing well.
You can go about this one of two way: Collect prize funds for the season early and keep them in a tour account or you can collect it day off with the greens fee. I prefer to collect day or week of as schedules change, people need time off and you don’t ever know exactly who will be playing week to week.
The best way to do this is to convince everyone to get a USGA handicap. Obviously, you can do this through the SCGA or any particular golf club of your choice. Some golf shops even allow you to get your official handicap through them.
Odds are, you won’t be able to get everyone to drop the $45 fee to keep a handicap, so you’ll have to go on trust — or sit down with the player and agree on an appropriate handicap for them.
Once you’ve got this figured out, you need to create a master list of tour players and their handicaps for tournaments. This is the only place that could get sticky during the year, especially if players keep improving.
One way to fix this — or to keep sandbaggers out — is that if there’s no official handicap for that player, agree that the commissioner has the right to add or subtract handicap strokes based on performance from tournament to tournament.
If you’re playing for money — regardless of the spirit of the tour — you have to be sure it’s fair.
Now that you’ve got an outline, it’s time for you to put your leadership skills to the test, wrangle up some golfing buddies and get your PGA dreams going. It’s a lot of fun and quite rewarding. You may not be able to officially put the position on a resume, but becoming commissioner of your own golf tour is still worth doing.