“It’s a thoughtfully curated, no nonsense, no bullshit, perfectly planned five days that allows us to maximize our levels of tomfoolery, nonsense, and bullshit.”-abk
In last week’s piece, I talked about my childhood friends, some of whom I have known literally my entire life. This week, I am going the complete other direction. I met Iowa Jay, Alabama Ben, and Wyoming Chad at a conference just under four years ago, and we hit it off. We now text or chat almost daily, and once a year, we vacation together in one of our hometowns. And it is an absolute riot.
Welcome to Birmingham, Alabama everyone, and please don’t let the kids read this one. Actually, scratch that. Everyone should read this one. I believe more people should do trips like this to balance life out. Guys trips. Girls trips. Guys and girls trips. To new places. To less glamorous places. To real places. Make your own parameters. It’s not about debauchery or escape. It’s about passion. It’s about exploration. It’s about friendship.
This trip is unique. It is a heavy hitting golf trip where the golf only makes up some 20% of the festivities. We challenge each other to make it better than the previous years, which took us to Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, and North Carolina. We want it to be more memorable. We want fun, obviously. But we also want firsts, new places, different perspectives, and to meet new people.
Generally speaking, people are proud of their hometowns and home states. They like to show them off. This mentality is a key cog in these trips. What are the best courses in Alabama? What are unique Alabama-only experiences? Where must we eat? Let Ben show us where he works and how he lives. We aim for the best, but it must be brutally authentic!
GolfWeek 2019 had four very distinct pieces:
1. New Orleans
2. Local Living in Birmingham
4. Auburn football weekend
I go to New Orleans once a month to get the juices flowing, but Jay and Chad had never been, so that was a Day 1 must after they flew in. We went to one of the oldest bars in America, an Esquire Best New Bar, and then my go-to, The Ace Hotel (I could live in that hotel.). The boys got the flavor, which was the point, and we grabbed beignets for breakfast on the way out.
Who knew that Birmingham was so hilly? That was a shock to me. What was not a shock was the glorious tastes of Saw’s BBQ and Rodney Scott’s, as well as brewery row. We stayed at Ben’s lovely home, met his cool dog Phoenix, saw where he worked, and really got the vibe of what Birmingham was all about (he knows everyone).
Four rounds of golf in four days sounds like a regular week for me now, but definitely not at the caliber of courses that Ben put together. We started on top of a mountain at Vestavia Country Club for sunset golf (my favorite).
Next, we walked Shoal Creek, site of two PGA Championships and last year’s Women’s US Open, with caddies.
Friday was at Farm Links, a rural sleeper that came out of nowhere. And Saturday, after about 12 minutes of sleep, we played Moore’s Mill Club in Auburn, where Jay and I played our first nine in an unreal birdie fest.
Speaking of knowing everyone, Ben’s friend in Auburn knew everyone and played a gracious host to us for an SEC weekend vs. Mississippi State. Food, golf, housing, sightseeing, exploration, tailgating, and the game.
We got the flavor of it ALL, so mission accomplished.
Two final things.
First, I’ve known these boys for just under four years. I don’t know how they feel about me, but I appreciate them for a couple of reasons. They get me, and they encourage me. During GolfWeek, we have tons of fun, but one night we REALLY talk, and it all makes sense.
Second, and I told him this to his face, Jay better go ahead and start thinking about GolfWeek 2020. Ben raised the bar extremely high this year, and he’s up next.
Iowa 2020. Forget politics. The boys are coming to town next year, and they better be ready.
Have a great week.-Benj
Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.
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