Fat Guy's Bachelor Party Golf Tips
I've planned a couple bachelor parties and attended my fair share of others. It's a hokey excuse to leave your significant other and family behind for the weekend, act like a complete ass, blow a bunch of money, and you're more or less expected to go to the Gentlemen's club. Who doesn't love these?
Bachelor Party Golf: I've actually found golf to be one of the harder pieces of the bachelor party to plan. Seems like every group of guys, whether it's just a few close friends or a fraternity house full, has a guy or three who don't play golf at all, one or five others who only play once or twice a year at events like this, a few hardcore golfers who play most weekends but still don't always break 100, a couple country-club types, and a single-digit course snob or two. Given that most guys generally get married in their 20's (at least for the first time), and that you'll sometimes have the father of the groom and/or bride along, there's usually a pretty good age range among a bachelor party crowd too, plus a wide spectrum of budgets to appease.
It's near-impossible to find a golf course that will appeal to everyone in any crowd. My advice: Forget the over-priced trophy couse and pick a fairly easy, relatively inexpensive course that's conveniently located near whatever else is planned for the night, and play a scramble. That way the twice-a-year hackers won't get beat up, embarassed, or spend $40 on lost balls, and the A-players can grip-it-and-rip-it, carry the team, gain the adolation of the C&D players, and brag about the "76" they would have shot on their own ball (yeah, right). Any non-golfers can either tag along in a roving beer cart playing video camera guy (oops, maybe not... the Guy Code says no cameras at bachelor parties), or book a separate activity for any non-golfers, and they can just meet the group at dinner after golf.
Course policies for booking group outings also vary pretty widely, but it's been my general experience that if you don't have upwards of 16 golfers or more, they won't do a shotgun or even hold a block of tee times for you. Get a rough headcount, understand the course's cancellation policy, book a string of tee times well in advance (it's worth a call to the pro shop to see if they'll allow you to book your group ahead of their normal tee time lead policy), then trim your reservation to the real number of golfers in the days approaching the event.
If you're the Best Man/golf organizer, show up early to make sure things go smoothly. Also make sure you and the groom are in the last group off the tee (ask him who he wants to fill out his foursome in advance to avoid any uncomfortable cart re-arranging the day of the event). Being last off will give you time to get everyone organized, track down any hungover stragglers via cell phone, and have the full group of the groom's best friends and family all waiting around the 18th green to heckle him as he finishes.
Renting a party bus for the afternoon and evening is always a great idea to eliminate any unnecessary driving. Pitch it to everyone as a cheap alternative to massive DUI fines and their car insurance going through the roof.
Dinner: Sanity and stomachs dictate a meal as a logical buffer between a round of drunken golf and a night of drunken buffoonery. You've gotta lay down a good drinking base, especially if you're already half in the bag after golf. The only rule here is it's gotta be a man's meal. No fern bars or small-portion gourmet cuisine tonight. If you play a course with a decent restaurant, you might be able to get them to serve you a nice dinner in a private room, or reserve a section of the grill room for your group.
If not, steak is always a great first choice for a bachelor party meal. Just make sure it's a place that will put up with a few rowdies who'll likely cross the line while flirting with the waitress. The steak chains are almost surely out, even with call-ahead seating... can you imagine trying to land tables for 20 at Outback on a Saturday night? Try to find a local steakhouse or restaurant that'll take group reservations in advance, but isn't too stuffy. Sports bars with a decent steak on a strong menu might be an option. In the absence of a good steak, Italian is a nice second choice, for lots of booze-soaking carbs. Another good choice is a favorite local spot of the groom's... for my bachelor party for my first wedding, we hit my hometown tavern with my favorite wings on the menu.
Nightlife: Again, the diversity of the crowd will likely dictate your chosen spot(s) for nightlife after dinner. The father of the bride tagging along will likely rule out a trip to the Gentlemen's club for all but the bravest of grooms (unless Daddy-In-Law-To-Be is wise enough to bow out early and let the boys go be boys). Younger groups will likely be closer in age and bring out a wilder bunch. A broader spectrum of ages and/or lots of close family members will likely tone down the evening's overall debauchery level.
Tip: A progressive itinerary that starts off with an innocent venue then builds from hip towards raunchy, with a logistically strategic routing that will have the party bus passing by the hotel more than once after dinner to allow for elders, relatives, and mama's boys to drop off as things progress, is a great plan if the local hot spots are condensed enough to pull it off.
A night or two at the strip club can be a surprisingly polarizing element of any golf weekend, even at bachelor parties. Some guys love 'em and would go every night if they could afford it (and/or not end up divorced), while others don't seem to get much out of the whole experience. Single guys might prefer to chase amateur talent at the bars, some older guys may not care much anymore, some dudes seem to fight going to the strip club out of a vague Catholic paranoia that it's somehow cheating on their significant other, other idiots let themselves get bullied into "promising" their girl they wouldn't go before they left (yet some go anyway), some are too frugal to part with strip-club-tab cash, and still others consider the clubs to be skeevy and beneath them.
If the groom genuinely swears he doesn't want to see strippers (even if it seems out of character for him... keep in mind he's starting a new life chapter with new priorities, so give him the benefit of the doubt), it's supposed to be his night (even though it's really more of an excuse for everyone else in attendance to cut loose). Regardless, you should respect his wishes. If that means that some of the crowd breaks off to go to the club late night without him, so be it, as long as everyone doesn't bail on the groom.
Whatever your views--whether you're the ring leader or get "forced" into going--here's some tips to keep a handle on your spending and get the most from your Gentlemen's club excursion:
Never ask for or take a Gentlemen's club recommendation from a cab driver. Cabbies usually can't afford to see what goes on inside the doors on a regular basis, so it's not like they've personally tried every club in town, and big name cash-sucking clubs often pay cabbies to deliver drunk idiots (like you) to their doors. Ask a local, a bartender, or the young assistant pro at whatever course you played that day for a recommendation. Or do some research beforehand at www.tuscl.com.
Go early to avoid cover charges, or higher cover charges, and big crowds of dudes who'll be competing for the dancers' attention. Call the club ahead of time to make sure there's not some feature dancer you've never heard of, a meaningless heavyweight fight, an MMA pay-per-view, the NBA finals, or some other bloated event going on that they can use to justify doubling their normal cover charge. Check the club's website for free cover coupons and drink specials. For larger groups, you may want to call the club in advance to see if you can reserve tables for your party.
Drinks: Drinks are almost always ridiculously expensive at the G-Man's club, outside of the occasional happy hour special. Top-shelf, Red Bull drinks, or cocktails that combine exotic liquors are even worse. There's really no way around it, because even bottled water will run you about $5 a bottle at the club. Good advice for capping your strip club bar tab: Pre-set a drink limit for yourself before you arrive, and stick to it. It'll also help with self-discipline on other spending while you're there. The strip club is the one spot where I'd recommend staying away from using the Slush Fund. Go for seperate tabs or take turns buying rounds, as individual spending habits while here tend to vary wildly.
Food: Avoid venturing on to the menu at a Gentlemen's club. There are a few uber-upscale clubs that are the exception, mostly in Vegas and a few other big cities, where they serve top quality restaurant food. In a pinch at standard clubs, order something frozen-then-deep-fried to ensure an edible snack. And never go for the free strip club buffet. While I've never heard of anyone getting food poisoning from one, I've had buddies who've consistently had the trots after making that mistake a few times. Food is not a core competency of girly bars (just imagine the kinds of guys who walk in to apply for strip club kitchen jobs). Plan for a meal before you go.
Tipping Bartenders: I've never quite figured out why, but the bartenders are almost always the hottest chicks in the joint at a Gentlemen's club. I'd guess it's likely because they're on that uber-hot level of women who have figured out they can still make big money off their looks without having to take their clothes off. Start off tipping big, to make sure you get prompt service for the rest of the night. From there out, if she's blistering hot, double your normal barkeep tips (typically $2/round to $2/drink). If the service doesn't match the tips from the get-go, or starts to drop off as things get busier, downgrade your tips back down to your standard amount. And give up on offering her $20 or even $50 to show her goodies... don't even bother going there. She's heard it a million times before, she's clearing as much as you make by working 3 nights a week, she's had more lucrative offers by better-looking guys than you, and if she was up for that she'd be up on stage instead of behind the bar.
Tipping Dancers: If you're there just for some brief eye candy or to appease your buddies who insisted on going, don't sit at the bar or on the "stage rail". It'll keep you from having to tip each dancer who comes on stage $2-$5 every third song.
If you're there to snag a couple table dances from the hottest dancer in the joint, then tipping at the rail is a must. Depending on the club, the crowd, and the talent on duty on any given night, sometimes all those variables can add up to make it surprisingly difficult to garner attention from the upper echelon of dancers. Sometimes it can reach a level where it starts to feel like the same shallow games that go on at the meat market singles bar when all the guys are preening (and spending) to vie for the attention of the hottest girls. So when your dream girl comes around to you for a stage tip, turn on the charm, and make sure your rail tip to your new favorite hottie is enough to get you noticed ($10 is usually a good start, unless you're in Vegas, L.A., or NYC). Then ask her to stop by to see you when she gets off stage. It might also be worth taking up a strategic spot at the bar near the stage exit so you can be among the first to greet her when she finishes her 3 song set. If it's uber-busy (think Spearmint Rhino in Vegas during Super Bowl weekend), things can get all-too-close to resembling a shark feeding frenzy (not unlike being in a meat market singles bar)... in this scenario, you may have to resort to offering double (or even quintuple) the standard lap dance rate to garner attention. If that's too rich for your blood... then what are you doing in Vegas on Super Bowl weekend?
Although, all of that still isn't a gaurantee. Sometimes it's shocking how close some dancers stick to their well-paying regulars, even when there's good money to be had on the floor.
Private Dances: If there's a graduated scale for lap dance pricing (i.e. $20 per song out front, 3-for-$100 in the back), the general guideline is the further back in the club and/or the higher the price per song, the lower the number of rules. It's also not a bad idea to continue tipping singles during the dance, and always reward an above-average private dance with a sizeable tip (over and above the per-song charges) afterwards ($20 is usually a good starting point).
If the club's not packed, talk to a bunch of dancers before you make a choice. Most guys have a physical type they dig, or some guys like the innocent type, or the girl next door, or the bad girl, and every guy loves a pretty face. But personality is a better indicator of enthusiasm than looks or style. As a general rule, drop dead gorgeous/perfect-body dancers usually don't have to work too hard for tips and usually give tame, boring private dances with minimal effort towards anything more than minimal grind and small talk conversation.
Individual dancer's boundaries often differ--sometimes greatly--from the house rules. Even at big name clubs with strict private dance rules, there's almost always a bad girl or three who's willing to bend them for a bigger tip. So outline the rules with a cool dancer up front. A good way to guage this after some initial banter is to ask each dancer, "So what are the house rules for private dances?" (even though you may already know what they are). After they give you the party line, fun dancers will usually add an addendum or comment that'll give you a decent preview.
If you offer to buy her a drink, and she accepts, then she orders a real drink and actually drinks it... she's a party girl, get her in the back room as fast as you can.
The exception: Remember that Chris Rock song, No Sex In The Champagne Room? Don't fall for vague promises of "wild" things that go on back there, especially if she's giving you the hard sell for the pricey Champagne Room two minutes after introducing herself. Keep in mind that more than half of the tab is for some cheap bottle of Bubbly you're barely even going to touch, and all that money goes to the house, not the dancer (thus lowering her motivation to give a quality couch dance). So the Champagne Room is a usually a really bad value, if not a complete rip-off. That's normally a no-brainer assumption, but if you must, try this: Grease the back room bouncer with a Jackson up front for lower supervision levels (a good tip in any room with bouncer supervision, regardless of the level of privacy).
Cash: Never, ever go plastic at a strip club, even just for bar tabs--always stick to cash--for two reasons:
1. Giving away real cash money keeps your spending tangible, not just some imaginary inaccurate drunken ticker in your head. Using cash also helps with self-discipline, especially when you're halfway to hammered. Like a visit to the casino, always arrive at the club with as much cash as you're willing to spend (no more, no less), and be prepared to bail back to the hotel solo if your boys haven't hit their limit yet (note: this might require hanging on to your last $20 for cab fare). The late-night ATM withdrawal or cash advance at the club is usually not only bad judgement, but also comes with a $5-$25 surcharge, and/or they'll only advance you funny money with some clever name that's only good in the club, plus it leaves a paper trail the wife may not be too happy with when she checks the bank statement online (and you know she's checking).
2. The occasional unscrupulous Gentlemen's club has been known to pad the bill--heavily--on occasion, and chances are you'll be in no condition to remember, let alone argue, how many drinks or lap dances you really had once your tab shows up four hours later. If they're trying to pad the bill, it's alot more noticeable if you're paying cash as you go.
This is also the one place where you shouldn't be embarrassed to ask how much your drink costs up front. Not only will that knowledge help you set a drink budget as you belly up, it'll also tell the hottie bartender you're paying attention, and help you spot any attempted bill padding as the night unfolds. If you and your boys are taking turns buying rounds, volunteer to grab the first one and mention to everyone how much it was, so everyone in your group can help spot bill padding even if a different guy is paying for every round.
"What happens in..." Different groups of buddies and destinations produce different dynamics. Some are tame, some are wild, but most are just good old-fashioned male bonding. Sometimes you end up becoming fast friends with guys you barely knew before the trip started, or you get a chance to reconnect with guys you haven't seen in awhile, but don't assume that you know everything about them or their relationships at home. Whatever the level of debauchery that goes on, it's important to remember that some guys have more open levels of communication with their wives/girlfriends than others.
Your obligation to your golf trip buddies new and old extends for years, an eternity even, after you return home from Myrtle or Phoenix or Vegas or wherever. Stick to the Guy Code whenever possible. I'm not condoning lying to your wife/grrlfriend to cover your buddy's tracks with his, but there is such a thing as over-sharing. If your peripheral involvement in a buddy's/acquaintance's debauchery leaves you with a guilty conscience, swear your wife to secrecy on her mother's life before you confess. Or, if you find yourself at dinner with a golf trip buddy and his wife a few months later, there's no need to regale her with every drunken escapade from your last golf trip. Never assume he's shared as much with his wife as you have with yours, and don't put him or yourself in a position to regret drunkenly guffawing through a story that will have her steaming at him for a week afterwards.