What is the HGP?
The HGP is many things, most of it having to do with golf. It is an annual event. It is a rite of passage. It is what keeps us sane throughout the year. When we’re not there we wish we were. When we are there we don’t want to know about any place where we aren’t. It is a bunch of guys. It isn’t a bunch of men; men are refined, dependable, stable. It isn’t a bunch of boys; boys don’t have the means, they think with their unit and they’re usually pretty fucking stupid.
We’re pretty much in our 40’s these days. Our bodies are in varying states of decay. On the whole, we’re smarter than the average bear (even Shanu) but none of us will be winning any Nobel prizes (especially Shanu). Most of us have crazed miniature tax breaks tearing up our houses. We’re from all over the planet. From the right coast to the left coast and even a couple of goofs from the other side of the pond. We’re the tired, poor, huddled masses of golfing. Have track, will golf.
None of us are destitute, although we’ve all been through the fiscal wringer at some point in our lives. None of us are fabulously wealthy, although some of us piss some of the rest of us off because they possess a fuck-you pile of cash (ie., enough to very comfortably retire on but not enough to have their personal Citation X share runways with a Larry (pick one: Ellison, Brin, The Cable Guy) on their monthly jaunt to Dubai).
We almost all loathe the Republicans and the Democrats but unfortunately think the Libertarians and the Independents are a bunch of fucking whackos. We all believe in fiscal conservatism and, to some degree, are somewhat socially liberal. And we pretty much hate anyone who actually wants to be in a publicly held office; find a person who doesn’t want to be president running for president and you’ve found our candidate.
We laugh. A lot. And there are some funny fucks that hang with us. When we head out on our trips each year, funny shit starts five minutes out the door, your sides ache after day two, and by the time the trip is over you can account for at least three instances where you couldn’t breathe you were laughing so hard.
The focus of the HGP is golf. And it’s golf in our own special way. We all want to play year round, but no one can or does. We’re all hacks. Our handicaps range from a 7 to a 36. Most of us silently harbor dreams about the Senior Tour. Yeah, it won’t happen, but don’t say that in our presence, especially on the HGP.
When we finally get together, it is the Type A Special Olympics. The drinking isn’t as intense as it once was, we’re no longer racing out at night to see The Motor City Madman after the day’s events, and our bedtime is nearing the weenie side of midnight. But we’ll still play 36-54 a day (72+ on the Solstice Round) in 102 heat and 100% humidity, we’ll still travel 3-4 hours between courses every night for a week, and we’ll still bet on anything from the lowest score to whether or not Spaulding will pick his nose ($50 says yes and another $50 says he eats it).
We’ve had guys knocking a $1200 5-foot putt into the cup with 15 others watching, half of whom shared in the winnings. We’ve had high handicap, certifiably died-in-the-wool bad golfers play a miracle round and thump a 9-handicap. And we all really, really, really hate to lose. Except Starky. He found a way to not really care and still hang with us. The butthead.
We have one big event a year where we somehow convince our spouses that it is more important than oxygen. We go someplace for a week(ish) and play at least two rounds a day. We’ll play anywhere in the world, but mainly in the US. We love warm weather but two of our more favorite trips have been to Scotland and to Bandon.
We love golf. We love playing it. We love talking about it. We love watching Tiger’s 218 yard 6-iron out of a fairway bunker over water to within 18 feet on the green below in the final round of the Canadian Bell Open. We love chuckling at "Gaak" Norman and the explosion at Augusta against Faldo. Several of us have actually attempted (and miserably failed) Watson's chip at Pebble's 17th. We dream about Larry Mize’s miracle chip at Augsta. We hold our own version of the Ryder Cup; ours is a lot more intense because the pro’s get to play in the course of their job whereas we spend an entire year waiting for our chance to completely screw the pooch.
We've played some amazing courses. Pebble and Spyglass are, of course, favorites of some of the Bay Area attendees. Cabo was great but is now ridiculously expensive. The Trent Jones Trail is a cool trip and cost effective. Wisconsin houses some crazy-amazing tracks. Myrtle is great golf coupled with 35 miles of fast-food restaurants, liquor stores, strip bars and golf stores. And there will always be Scotland where we struggle to figure out what not to play on our return trip - how can you pull out Troon or Turnberry or The Old Course or Kingsbarns or Carnoustie or Muirfield while adding others?
The acronym HGP is something you discover while you’re touring with us. It’s nothing legendary, but learning it is a step in our process and therefore you’ll have to suck up not knowing what it stands for.
A great bunch of Type A guys playing a lot of golf and laughing our asses off while consuming illegal quantities of Scotch. It ain't perfect, but it's close. And now we have a Quest, but you'll have to read on to figure out just what the fuck that's all about.