Category - Amateur Programs
From Star Wars to Caddyshack, West Bay Club's Themed Golf Events Are All About Having Fun
By Kayla Gutierrez
Who said golf isn’t fun?
Certainly not West Bay Golf Club.
As a PGA Golf Management student at Florida Gulf Coast University, I’ve had the pleasure of interning at West Bay Golf Club, a small private course located in the heart of Southwest Florida just a few miles from campus. With a reputation for creative, welcoming and fun events, their can't-miss golf tournaments go above and beyond, being among the most unique events I have ever participated in.
West Bay hosts out-of-this-world “Party of Fore” tournaments on Sundays throughout the season. Members may make their own teams, sign up as a couple or individually and allow the professional staff to pair them.
“We come up with all of our ideas and make all of our props, designs and displays in-house. It’s a game-changer for the club, membership and staff,” says Danny Butts, the PGA Head Professional at West Bay. “The members and staff are extremely engaged in the events, and it’s a great bonding and team-building opportunity for our team."
The events are themed with distinctive formats that vary for each event. Not just that, but from the moment members step onto the property, they are immersed in the day’s theme. From the legendary displays and amusing decorations to the delicious food & beverage options, everything is completely spot-on with each event’s theme.
Below are a few of my favorites.
The Bushwood Cup
This is a West Bay classic, and rightfully so, as it’s a play off the fan-favorite movie “Caddyshack.”
As one of the clubs most anticipated events of the year, the Bushwood Cup is a staff showdown that lacks all golf decorum and is fantastically entertaining. Staff and members are encouraged to yuk-it-up, and dress in their best outfits, giving their greatest impersonations of “Caddyshack” characters.
The event features six holes of aggregated stroke play between the golf professional staff, with plenty of birdies, side bets, gambling, and crown interaction. There are also five competitions, including long drive, longest putt, the blindfolded shot, bunker proxie, and flop short proxie. The winning staff member is honored with the hideous Bushwood Cup and bragging rights.
Par Wars (Star Wars)
In a galaxy not so far away, avid West Bay golfers engaged in an epic battle at the “Par Wars” themed golf event.
The tournament format was a fun step-aside scramble, where each player must use at least two of their drives. The event showcased Dark Side vs. Light Side divisions, where the total score of all teams from both sides were matched to determine the ultimate master of the force. Dressed in imaginative costumes, the professional golf staff added a whimsical touch to the “Star Wars” theme, infusing the event with a sense of galactic adventure.
On-course games included Clone War, where all par 3s have three holes to choose from, “Jaba the Putt” with the longest putt holed out on a par 5, beat Luke Skywalker and hit it closest to the pin on Hole 8, and a Hyperspeed contest, where members guess their ball speed. To top off the day, golf cart spaceships (above) shoot fireworks into the sky for an evening show.
Sin City Slayer Murder Mystery
In a true “Who done it?” competition, the members of West Bay became detectives for the day in the Sin City Slayer Murder Mystery Party of Fore event.
The tournament was a step-aside scramble with two closest-to-the-pin contests on the course and a best-dressed competition for both men and women. A highlight of the event was the unique suspect list featuring five of West Bay’s members and a newsbreak letter describing the crime. Through original storylines and clever attention to detail, the West Bay professional staff creates an entire production to present a well-executed murder mystery.
Helpful clues were hidden throughout the course on various holes and members were tasked with locating them while they play. After their round, the club hosts an entertaining interrogation with each of the member suspects, an “arrest” is made, and the “murder” is revealed. As one of the club’s most interactive and exciting events, it is certainly a member favorite tournament, involving many really cool props, decorations and displays.
Football Tailgate Party
Who doesn’t love a good football party? West Bay scores a touchdown when celebrating their annual Tailgate Party at the beginning of each football season.
This tournament is a 1 Net Best Ball, Gridiron Stableford, with varying points for each score. The field is divided into AFC & NFC divisions based on the team's combined handicap index. To throw a twist on it, there are some fun football-based rules on the course, which include:
- Red Zone: Players that hit their tee shots within the “Red Zone” can make a free “forward pass.” This means that if your ball is completely within the defined margin of the zone, you may pick up your ball and throw it forward to add yardage to your drive. The “Red Zones” are located on all par-5 holes.
- Delay of Game / Penalty Flag: Teams that turn in a scorecard after 5:20 p.m. will be subject to a two-point deduction in score.
- Closest-to-the-Goalpost: Hit it closest to the pin on No. 8 and 16 and win a prize.
After their golf round, members meet on the driving range for an epic tailgate party. With a giant blow-up screen, beloved game day treats, and tasty drinks, members enjoy a fun football game watch party together to finish off their day.
"A lot of hard work and preparation goes into each event to make each one better than the next," says Butts of the Party of Fore tournaments. "That’s what makes West Bay such a special place.”
All photos by Kim Jones/West Bay Club.