The golf “buddies trip” is a tradition as old as the game itself—a group of friends plan a trip to a golf destination where they will play more golf in a long weekend than they thought humanly possible, and pair it with great food, activities and camaraderie. The golf professionals at the American Club Resort in Kohler, Wis., are used to seeing buddies trips visit their facilities year-round, and they’ve recently created a service that customizes these trips for the groups of men and women who come to Kohler for this specific purpose. They call the personalized experience “The Ultimate Buddies Trip,” and it takes all the usual elements of a buddies trip—from golf and dining to spa services and leisure activities—and adds a bunch of personal event touches that make smaller groups of guests feel like they’re on the trip of a lifetime.
“About 75 percent of our Buddies Trips consist of guys, but we get couples and groups of women too,” says Dirk Willis, the director of golf operations at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, American Club’s two golf clubs, each of which features two courses. “The focus is on a lot of golf and a lot of socializing.”
The trips, which are geared for groups of 12 to 20, are built around a minimum of three nights and four rounds of golf. “We can make it as custom as a group wants to,” says Willis. “The itinerary is based on a group’s needs,” he adds, “and an individual golf concierge stays with the group throughout their entire stay.”
Guests can choose from any of the courses at the American Club. “The quality and variety of the golf courses offer dramatically different styles and layouts so you don’t feel like you’re playing the same course every day as you can at some resorts,” says Willis. Kohler’s four championship courses were all designed by the legendary Pete Dye, and named to Golf Digest’s 2015/2016 list of America’s Greatest Golf Courses. Adding to the allure, Whistling Straits will be the host site for the Ryder Cup the next time the prestigious international team event is played on American soil, in 2020.
The buddies trip tournament format depends on the make-up of the group. “Ryder Cup-style match play is the most popular format requested,” says Willis. “But for mixed groups with varying skill levels, we would suggest a scramble or similar low-pressure competition.” Leaderboards, personalized on-course scoreboards, customized cart signs, team shirts and hats all add to the official feel. You can even request name plates for the range, where players have stations set up with their names on display just like the Tour pros do. The most popular add-ons are the caddie bibs with the player’s or team name printed on it, says Willis. “People love that. Seeing a caddie standing on the tee carrying your bag with your name on it really gives you the tournament feel.”
But the Kohler buddies trips are not always all about golf. “We’ve done Scotch tastings, excursions to Lambeau Field and tours of the Kohler design studio,” says Willis. “We can do anything under the sun, within reason. The key to a successful trip is to keep the group together and keep the party rolling.”