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Captain's Choice
By Anne Marie Goslak


I get "the call" about ten times a year. "Hello, Anne Marie??? My name is Bob. I hear you might be able to help me. I have a company golf tournament next week at Grandover Resort and I have never played before. I have an old set of clubs my neighbor gave me. Do you think you can get me ready to play by next Saturday?"

I try not to laugh, because I hear that's poor customer service. I shake my head and wonder, "Why not get someone ready to play the hardest sport in the world in less than 7 days?" They always end with, "It's a Captain's Choice. What does that mean?"

If this sounds like a call you would make to me, I am here to help you out.

A Captain's Choice is a type of golf game, usually associated with a corporate or fund raising golf tournament. They play a captain's choice so that even if you are a bad golfer, you can still participate. You might pay anywhere from $35 to $150 a person to play with three other team mates. The proceeds will often go to a charity like Make a Wish.

Here's how it works. Everyone tees off. The team selects the best drive. The rest of the golfers in the group simply pick up their golf ball and move up to the shot of choice. They place their ball within one club length of the best shot and they all hit again. This process is repeated until someone knocks the ball in the hole.

It's a fun way to play because, to be perfectly honest, it does not matter how poorly you play, so long as your team knows, in advance, that you are a beginner. They are not inviting you for your skill. They want your money, or your time. The round of golf will take a minimum of 5 hours to play. A typical round of golf should only take 4 hours, but this is "social golf". People talk, strategize, and network.

There is usually a meal provided like a box lunch or dinner afterwards. Also, be sure to bring extra money for mulligans and raffles. If it's a fund raiser, you have been invited so that they can take as much money from you as possible. That means, if they are selling a chance to hit a ball again (mulligan) you better buy one. If they are offering a 50-50 drawing where half the money goes to the charity and half the money goes to the winner, consider buying that too.

If it's a corporate event, you will most likely not need any money. You have been invited because of who you are. Your goal in such an event is to have fun, but behave. I am always amazed to see grown adults who over indulge at a company event just because the alcohol is free.

A word of advice: If you are a new employee, invited to play in an event with the VIPs, they are watching you to see what kinds of choices you will make. Do you cheat, bend the rules, or take advantage of a situation? Or are you a team player, who does your best and encourages, regardless of the situation?

Finally, if you are trying to get ready for an event like this and you are a beginner, do two things. Read about the etiquette of the game and take a lesson on putting and pitching. Those are the two areas where you can help your team the most.

Two weeks ago, I helped a young executive to get ready for her first event. She played with the CEO and VP of Development. In the end, her team finished first. She made the last putt on the last hole. When I asked her how things went, her comment to me was priceless. "I did not get drunk, I made a putt, and I got to hang with the big boys. It was a good day." Mission Accomplished.

Golf is a terrific social sport, even if you are a beginner. Don't be afraid to step out and try it. You might be glad you did.

-Anne Marie Goslak