Itching to take a golf trip with the family? Ask yourself these 8 questions first

November 9, 2019

Family trips are rather like a round of golf — you never know how they’re going to unfold or end up. To stretch the analogy a bit more, any family trip will feature a few bogeys (and others) along the way.

The words “family” and “familiarity” do not share an identical Latin origin, but they are close enough, and both occasionally breed contempt on family trips. However, when the nerves begin to frazzle, one must refocus one’s efforts in pursuit of the greater goal. That goal, by the way, is the central point here, and it should encompass what you want to get out of the trip, and your role in making sure others on the trip also have a good time. With that in mind, here are a few questions you should ask yourself — and answer — before agreeing to pack up and head yonder with your family.

Do you know the right selfish/selfless ratio?

On a family trip, you cannot do everything you want to do. Actually, you can, but you’ll ruin the trip for everyone else, in which case, why bother — go on vacation by yourself. Try a 25/75 selfish/selfless ratio. In other words, for every one pursuit you desire, agree to do three things other people think are good ideas.

That is some bullsh*t.

Not a question, but you may be on to something. And that something is you really should consider staying home.

Am I willing to plan “me” time that maximizes “them” time?

Let’s assume that your “me” time is playing golf. That is a lot of “me” time on any given day, so in the context of a family trip, plan your rounds very early or very late in the day, leaving a full morning or afternoon for time with non-golfers on the trip.

Do I really need to play every day?

This is a family trip. If you want to play 36 a day and then drink all night, that’s a buddy trip. So, the answer here should be “no,” even if you have three other willing participants in the clan.

Have I considered the skill level of those likely to play golf with me?

Everyone has a better time when they play well, including the choppers among us. Good on you if, including yourself, you have four single-digits in your family, but it’s unlikely unless your name is Nicklaus. Plan an easy track or two for the swing-challenged.

Am I willing to sit one out for the team?

I was in Ireland once with my father and two of my brothers, and one morning my father said, “I don’t feel like playing today.” So, we dropped my brothers off at Lahinch, and papa bear and his baby boy set out to do some sightseeing. We drove 15 minutes before my father said, “I’ve seen enough rocks and grass. Let’s have a pint.” Turned out to be one of the great days of my life.

Am I ready to get everyone in the game?

Here we aren’t talking about golf. I was in Normandy a few years ago on a family trip. My “me” time was two intense days of D-Day-related touring, but I realized it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Knowing that, I planned, according to taste, other excursions for family members who hadn’t watched “Band of Brothers” 173 times. When one of my daughters wanted to do something particular to her, my son stepped up and said that sounded really fun, and went along with her despite having no idea what he’d actually agreed to do. And guess what? They both really did have fun.

Can I be the peacemaker?

You’ve been a part of your family long enough to detect the early warning signals that someone is inching toward blowing their stack. As soon as you sense this in someone, start to deflect it — change the subject, talk about something you know the simmerer enjoys, distract, make fun of yourself. Stories that begin “I did something so stupid the other day…” are excellent de-fusers.

Do I really love these people enough to make this trip?

For me, the answer to that question has always been “yes.” I hope it’s the same for you.

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