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Local Fam Trip

A few weeks ago, along with seventeen others from our Northwest Golf Media Ass’n, I went on a two day ‘Fam Trip’ to East Brewsterport (or Bridgster as you wish). This was to attend a pre-preview of the completed-enough-to-play-on-but-not-open Gamble Sands Golf Course. And we played on it on two successive days, us writers.

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘Fam Trips’, I think it comes from the abbreviation of the word familiarization. ‘Trip’ is added and means you go somewhere near or far from home to get familiar with the subject. This particular place could also be located as North Fort Okanogan. Our job as writers was to observe, play the course, listen to talks and write about it. For the only time in my life, I lived closest of all the scribes to the subject.

On a successful Fam Trip, we receive VIP treatment that is tantamount to royalty. Well, to be accurate, we don’t get presidential suites. But on a good trip we are well fed, put up in a fine hotel room and given gifts of varying nature. On this outing there was a gift box waiting next to the bed at the hotel. It contained top-of-the-line Delicious apples from Gebbers Farms, along with a golf cap with the course logo and a sample scorecard. (The Gebbers family owns the course.)

The most extravagant Fam Trip I took was in the company of my wife, my guest, aboard Garuda Indonesian Airlines to the island of Bali. That was not an ordinary trip, for rather than write things about a golf course and hotel, and maybe the meals (One course provided lunch sandwiches and we had to pay! Horrors!), we were ensconced in a five-star Sheraton Hotel on the beach of the Indian Ocean. In case the ocean did not have enough water, we also had a private lagoon in which to swim and a butler to pick up the towels. There was extravagant food, local and universal. The gifts were manifold—golf stuff, foods, an umbrella, appearance on local television. Gloria and I went to a local restaurant one night and were table-serenaded by a quartet of Indonesian men singing every song in The Beatles’ Abby Road album. Fun and indigestion.

The reason for all this was to get two teams of golfers from around the world to compete in an event called The World Writers’ Cup, a takeoff in the name of—but very specifically maintaining the format of—the Pro Ryder Cup matches every two years. Teams of 14, as I recall. We were there to play a team from Japan. There are strategies in these matches and very secret they are. So secret that the team from Japan was suspicious of Ms. Gloria, who just happens to be of Japanese descent.

Okay. So now you have 28 visiting writers writing about the golf. How was the flight over? First Class (Well, Business, actually). It will get written about, certainly with accolades. And the lodging? Need you ask? And so forth, free advertising in close to 30 international publications, about the course, the match, the food, the dancers at the hotel and at our stopover in New Guinea. More advertising from double or triple-dip writers, as was I.

Oh yes, how was the golf?

We played the course at the Bali County Club, where the weeding is done by a line of people on hands and knees and the average national income is $5.00 a day, U.S. My caddy, Miss Suryana, was happy with twenty buck tips for each of our three days in the competition. She called me “Meester Bub.”

So? Who won?

Well, us Yanks did not. And I may have played a role in our defeat. You see, my opponent and I I were tied near the last hole. I had an uphill shot to the green. I asked my caddy for a seven iron. She handed me a five. I said no, I wanted a seven iron. She looked me in the eye and said, “You not good enough for seven iron, Meester Bub.”

She was correct. Nuff said?


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