In Praise Of Michigan Golf Leagues
I think an argument can be made that the weekday afternoon league is at the center of golf life in southeast Michigan.
For players, leagues offer a golf home and a golf family. League night is a weekly family reunion at the old home place. Unlike real family reunions, though, everyone seems happy to be there.
At Washtenaw Golf Club (club website link) league members arrive early, both to warm up and to catch up. They congregate around the clubhouse, or down the hill by the tenth tee and halfway house, depending on which nine they’re playing. The fleet of golf cars lined up one behind the other looks like the I-5 during rush hour in Los Angeles.
Fortunately, the starter, Doc, gets them sorted out and off they go. Doc just might be the best starter/ranger I’ve ever encountered.
I have only watched these leagues from afar, but they all seem to be having a lot of fun as they play. As a dedicated solo, walking golfer, I am occasionally envious. In their play, league golfers are creating stories to retell and experiences to share.
Now that Coronavirus restrictions have been loosened in Michigan, Washtenaw’s bar and grill are open, so after league rounds, players stick around to have refreshments on the club’s wide veranda. More yarns are spun.
It’s a similar story at my other favorite local haunt, Green Oaks. League players start arriving in late afternoon, congregating on the concrete walk and pad outside the Leon Jackson pro shop. After the rounds, players congregate under the picnic pavilions to swap tales and square bets.
Leagues in these parts come in all flavors and sizes: Men’s leagues, women’s leagues, mixed leagues, couples leagues and seniors leagues. There are probably also juniors leagues. I know of leagues composed of plumbers and leagues composed of programmers.
The strength of SE Michigan golf leagues is a good thing. I’m not privy to the finances of any area golf courses, but full tee sheets in the middle of the week are surely welcomed as predictable income, both in greens fees and purchases from the bar and grill.
At the Novi golf show, area courses seem eager to sign up leagues. I have observed many a commissioner deep in negotiations with course pros, trying to find the best deal for their players. In the fall, many courses have flyers out advertising deals for leagues that sign up early for the next season.
The enthusiasm for leagues tells me Michigan golf leagues are highly profitable. I haven’t done a comprehensive survey, but my experience is that if you want to play golf after work on a weekday, your best bet is to belong to a league.
My own “league” is a very occasional and very much ad-hoc group of teachers who try to schedule tee times on Fridays after school. We don’t even keep score. But the goals are much the same as more organized folk: share a few hours together, share some stories, leave with a smile.