Golf trips are about so much more than just the game.
The “Pack Your Clubs Cup” is an all-male golf group established in 1999 by Rod Howard, a golf tragic and father of five young children. The impetus behind forming the group was purely an effort to bring a bunch of mates together and have fun playing golf, but what has evolved during 20 years is something far more special.
The group has grown from a handful to more than 70 golfers, ranging in age from 18 to 70, who play for four days. The calibre of golfers varies from newbies to single-figure handicappers and they come from all over Queensland. They are there for many reasons but the two that really stand out are: support for each other and friendships that evolved from playing golf.
The foundation of the group is based on the idea that golfers could go away with their golf-loving mates; a time for men to play golf but also support each other by chatting and spending time together without their families. Today there is a huge amount of pressure on men in the modern world and few resources for them to turn to for relaxation. Howard may have inadvertently created a men’s support group, but with the group growing every year it’s clear there is more to this group than golf alone. It’s not uncommon for male friends to go on occasional golf trips but this group has now been in existence for two decades, which is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the bonds that have evolved over the years. There is a strong sense that these men not only revel in each other’s company, they need each other’s support equally as much.
They are more like a family with everyone belonging to a group Facebook page to communicate between annual events. Howard explains the golfers are incredibly close and really look forward to catching up on the trip.
“The friendships that have developed over the years are quite incredible,” he says. “The great thing about golf is there is time while on course to chat to your playing partners about what is really going on at home and in their work, and also to talk about the struggles we all face in life.”
It is well documented how men are more inclined to withhold expressing the stress and strain that might exist in their lives. Golf trips are a perfect opportunity to share their thoughts and gain some perspective from others who might be in the same boat or to simply express their worries.
“It is amazing that golf can bring people together in such an emphatic way and it’s clear these men have forged life-long friendships through spending quality time together,” says Howard.
“It is amazing that golf can bring people together in such an emphatic way” – Rod Howard
The group plays some of Queensland’s finest courses, teeing it up at first-class layouts like Capricorn International, Brookwater, Noosa Springs, Links Hope Island, The Glades and RACV Royal Pines. And a golf trip is never complete without the après golf activities! Along with four days of solid competition the group tries to add activities to make their time away even more memorable. Over the years they have attended AFL and NRL games, played putt-putt golf and driven go-carts. This year they will be heading to the Gold Coast where Topgolf will be one of the feature activities plus a special dinner to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Pack Your Clubs group.
It might sound like a walk in the park to attend but there is a highly competitive side to the trip with the coveted Pack Your Clubs Cup trophy up for grabs. Each day is a different format – day one: four-person ambrose, day two: four-ball, days three and four: single Stableford. The group also has a sponsor, Fairbairn Bakery in Emerald and Airlie Beach that donates prizes up to $1,000 per year. There is an enormous leaderboard showing everyone’s names to keep the field informed.
For the past 20 years the group has travelled far and wide across Queensland, however, with time and money permitting (and permission from their better halves) the guys would love to one day take the tour to New Zealand to play some of the spectacular courses on offer there.
Howard says the organisation is a labour of love and he is more than happy to give a few pointers about how to organise 70-plus males on a destination golf trip:
- Organisation. Prepare every scenario and leave nothing to chance.
- Make it memorable and make all the golfers on the trip feel special.
- Give value for money (fight tooth and nail for the best deals for your group).
The Pack Your Clubs Cup provides a special pack for every player, including shirts, player introductions with music and even an on-course photographer to capture the trip.
If you feel inspired to start a golf group, remember that not only are you enjoying this great game but you’re also providing support and friendship to your fellow man. You might be helping a mate more than you could ever know.