Leagues are a loose definition - it can be a highly organized group or co-workers, or a less organized band of friends who meet once a week for a few hours. A league can be as few as four players!
Tips to Organize a Successful League
- A formal structure. Leagues require an organizational structure and organizers to keep them on track. Usually this means a league president, a secretary for communication, and a treasurer. There should be an open application period to make sure the league is "as democratic as possible, when problems arise about issues such as absenteeism, slow play, or handicaps -- three recurring problems among leagues -- these problems will be handled by those chosen few. Depending on how many players you have and how extravagant you want to get, a league fee of $25 to $50 generally covers the cost for prizes and administration, and green fees will typically be the nine hole rate offered at the course, at Copper Hill Golf Club this would be $13 to $15 (depending on the fee structure chosen) weekly unless you take a cart. Sometimes leagues are subsidized by a company. An enthusiastic administrator is the point person for making a company or group league work. But he or she can't always go it alone, especially when problems arise. To help deal with grievances, small committees ensure that no single person/employee is constantly pitted against others. This way you get different viewpoints and three or more people listening to and ruling on any problems that crop up.
- Handicapping. This is a thorny issue for all competitive leagues, especially ones designed to attract beginners. Some golf leagues purchase a software system that provides a handicap with players' four best of their last six scores. Some league officials must deal with sandbaggers and "vanity" handicappers who don't play anywhere near their posted number.
- Timing. One of the allures of league play is the early escape from work, a semi-legit excuse to get out of the office on company time. But once on the course, the time that league play requires quickly becomes a sore point when nine-hole rounds exceed 2 1/2 hours. With individual and team matches often in play at the same time, players tend to hole out everything. Try to avoid the tendency to turn casual Tuesday afternoons into U.S. Open Sundays. Leave a little time for the cocktail hour before it turns dark. Monday-morning quarterbacking is fine, but morning hangovers are not recommended.
- Communication. Make sure employees/particpants across the company's or group's divisions and departments know about the league's existence. Not everyone is part of the e-mail culture.
- Building and sustaining interest. Because most leagues run concurrent with the golf season from May into September, it can become a lengthy commitment. That's why substitutes are needed to fill in for regulars who are out of town or otherwise unavailable. Some leagues allow nonemployees to serve as substitutes. Teams and individuals who are faring poorly tend to lose interest as the season progresses. To counteract this, sometimes it makes sense to split the season in two with a midseason special match-play event followed by a clean slate when league play resumes, because if you're near the bottom in the points standings by mid-July there's no way to catch up. This way there is a fresh start at midseason with everyone even.
- Avoid sexism/elitism. Leagues dominated by male players inevitably tend to be regarded as elitist or sexist. Women need to be encouraged to play so the league doesn't become a "boys night out."
Leagues can thrive in companies or groups of many sizes and structures. They are great opportunities to network and to share a little down time together, aside from the often forgotten idea of having some fun!
If the Copper Hill Golf Club can be of assistance in helping to set up your league or let you know what time slots we have available, please contact PGA Professional Paul Banks at 860-653-6191.