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A Digital History of The Golf Trip.

 

The Golf Trip is the brainchild of Greg Logue and Monty Walton, two lawyers in Knoxville, Tennessee, who were looking for an escape from a cold January afternoon.  The year was 1991.  On a suggestion from Michael “The Godfather of The Golf Trip” Moser, they decided to take a golf outing in early March, when the rates would be lower.  Within the hour, they had filled the eight slots of the first Golf Trip, played on the three courses at Bay Tree in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Included in that first group was Michael “the Chairman” Wood.  Wood was brought along more for comic relief than his playing abilities.  Since then he has evolved into one of the better players on The Trip, and along with Logue, has maintained a perfect record of attendance ever since. 

Others on that first Trip were Dennis McClane, Joe Fielden, Louis Crossley, Steve Williams, and Warren Longmire.  Over those three days in March, the fellows played the Bay Tree courses, and engaged in other dissipations.  With The Golf Trip still in its infancy, and not yet a competitive tournament, no format had emerged to measure the competition.  The players returned to Knoxville with renewed vigor and a greater appreciation for the game.

With new-found enthusiasm, Walton and Logue decided to make the Golf Trip an annual event.  The next year, with players lining up to enter, the field grew to twelve, and the range of courses was expanded.  The Surf Club was discovered and made a permanent venue for the balance of the years The Golf Trip called Myrtle Beach home.  Logue still reflects wistfully on the years at the Surf Club, where he turned in some of his best rounds. That year the tournament moved to a modified Stableford Scoring System, with point quotas adjusted after each day’s play.  Daily cash prizes were awarded to the individual and team winners, out of modest contributions from the players.  A variation of that format is still in use today, although the dissipations have dwindled and the stakes are higher than they were then. Click here to review The Golf Trip Scoring Rules.

The Myrtle Beach years included some of the finest locales the area has to offer.  Such courses as Pine Lakes, Blackmoor, The Legends, Pawley’s Plantation, and The Dunes all had the honor of hosting rounds of The Golf Trip.  Those who participated will always remember the now infamous round at Angel’s Trace, where it was so cold the greens were harder than the parking lot, and Danny Comer looked like a masked terrorist in the group photo.  Former Trip regular Jeff McCall turned in a stellar performance under extreme conditions to take the win that day.  And who could forget the beaning Mark Williamson took on the emergency nine at Ocean Harbor, when Fielden had to be restrained from giving the beaner an ass-whipping. 

Even though Myrtle Beach has a vast array of courses, the accommodations and morning commutes caused the steering committee search for another venue.  After seven years in Myrtle Beach, the Trip moved to Seabrook Island near Charleston, South Carolina.  The rooms there were better than in Myrtle Beach, and no travel was required to get to the courses each day.  The Trip lingered at Seabrook for two years, where the tournament was conducted on the Ocean Winds and Crooked Oaks courses.  The courses there were serviceable, but not particularly memorable. 

It was at Seabrook that Wood, in one of his more prescient moments, introduced the Calcutta, a sort of pari-mutuel auction that allows the players to bet on their competitors.  The advent of the Calcutta breathed new life into the Trip, which had by then become a bit rote.  A professional auctioneer, Chairman Wood now conducts the Calcutta prior to each competitive round.  In his inimitable way, it is common to see The Chairman coax large wads of cash into the pot for the next day’s competition.  Ever since its introduction, the Calcutta has become one of the defining features of The Golf Trip.  Click here to review the Rules of the Calcutta.  Originally conducted over the final three competitive rounds, the first Calcutta for each Golf Trip is now held on the Monday before The Trip, where the players dutifully recite the Golf Trip Creed and Invitation.  The Golf Trip Creed symbolizes the camaraderie and sportsmanship that are evident in every aspect of The Golf Trip.  Whether you’re waving your partner’s cash in his face, or hitting the ATM’s at Pinehurst for the fourth time, the Creed says it all.

After the two-year sojourn at Seabrook, the steering committee sought a more upscale site to celebrate The Trip’s ten-year anniversary.  The Golf Trip made its way to its current home at the beautiful Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club in the heart of North Carolina golf country.  With its southern charm and hospitality, there is no finer venue for The Golf Trip than the Mid Pines Inn.  It was there, in 2001, that the Southern Pines Invitational was born. 

Wood showed up that year with something that vaguely resembled a stuffed flying squirrel.  He claimed the squirrel would be the new trophy for the winner of The Golf Trip tournament, which he had dubbed “The Southern Pines Invitational.”  Former ribbon salesman Carl Trantham had other notions, though, believing that an event with the stature of The Golf Trip militated in favor of a more suitable trophy.  After Wood won the squirrel that year, it was never seen again, presumably because Wood believed no other golfer was squirrel-worthy. 

With no trophy to award to the winner of the 2002 Invitational, Trantham began scouring the countryside for a suitable Golf Trip accolade.  Trantham found the Terrapin Travelin’ Trophy, commonly known as The Turtle, languishing at an antiquities auction in Maryville, Tennessee.  The Turtle instantly became emblematic of all The Golf Trip has to offer.  Since its rediscovery by Trantham, The Turtle has become simply the most desired trophy in sport.  Every year since 2001 (to Wood, ex post facto), The Turtle has been awarded to the winner of the Southern Pines Invitational.  Click here for an elaboration on the history of The Turtle, and here for the classic slide show, “Not Everyone gets a Turtle.” 

That year also saw the birth of the Dimpled Orb Digest.  The chronicle of The Golf Trip, readers breathlessly await the annual publication of the Dimpled Orb Digest to follow the exploits of their favorite players (themselves). Current and back issues are available here.

The eclectic cast of characters that have populated The Golf Trip over the years would have made Walt Disney envious.  Players like Louis “Night Train” Crossley, Steve “Big Boy” Williams, and Danny “Joe Buffalo” Comer used to be regulars, but have since retired from the Trip.  The likes of Mark “The “Human Rain Delay” Williamson, David “Tai Stick” Mirts, and David “Effin'” Lewis will not be seen again soon.  And who could forget Mike Ivens, who quit the game for good out of frustration after the 1994 Trip.  With the current cast, from the likes of Danny “Depot Stove” Pressley to Mike “High Maintenance” King, there is never a dull moment.  And Wood is likely to utter an amusing remark during the event.

Because the players are so varied in both personalities and skill levels, the custom was begun in 2002 to create slide shows of Player Profiles of each year’s competitors.  Modeled after the profiles used in most major golf tournaments, The Golf Trip’s Player Profiles are state-of-the art.  Replete with each player’s photograph and cutting-edge performance statistics, the Player Profiles are both entertaining and instructive, especially when it’s Calcutta time.  Click here for the current Player Profiles.  Past editions are available here.  Accompanying the Profiles are Calcutta Cards.  Bearing reasonable likenesses of the players, these debentures are awarded to the winning bidders at each Calcutta.

No tournament would be complete without a leader board, and The Golf Trip is no exception.  The Golf Trip Real Time Leader Board employs the most advanced technology available for an amateur golf outing.  Replacing the poster boards and markers of yesteryear, the computer-generated Golf Trip Real Time Leader Board automatically recalculates point quotas daily, and allows players to see exactly where they stand at every phase of the tournament.  It is hoped that beginning in 2009, the Real Time leader Board will be available on-line, so that interested parties back home will be able to track the progress of their heroes.

Since 2008, Golf Trip competitors have been accorded the privilege of wearing Golf Trip Medallions.  These consist of carefully crafted Golf Trip Medals hung from Green Lanyards, to be worn by all the players while on the grounds at Mid Pines.  The Lanyards are festooned with special Turtle pins to signify victories in the overall competitions since The Golf Trip’s inception.  A player receives stars for placing in each day’s Calcutta—Gold for first, Silver for second, Bronze for third.  To top it off, the current possessor of The Turtle has the special privilege of being attired with a singular Gold Lanyard bearing a Gold Medal.  Introduced by Monty Walton to make sure he would be invited back, The Golf Trip Medallions have become an instant classic.  Whether you’re on the course, or in the dining room challenging some proctologists to a match “mano a mano,” people know you’re a player to be reckoned with when they see that Medallion around your neck.

As the Golf Trip has continued to evolve over its nineteen-year history, it is no longer a friendly little match played in early March for chump change.  With an expanded field of sixteen players for 2009, The Golf Trip has blossomed from its humble beginnings into a prestigious event of major proportions.  The Golf Trip is now accorded honored status in Southern Pines, where it is known among the locals as “The Golf Trip.” 

Chuck D.  April, 2009.

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This page was last updated 04/11/17.