Golfers who hit the links regularly with the same group of four-to-eight players depend on someone in the gang to make it all work. The magic doesn’t happen automatically. Somebody has to keep an eye on the weather forecast, get on the phone or online to seek a tee time and often figure out the transportation plan.

If you’re encouraged to be this person for your group, a word of advice from a wealth of experience: Don’t.

It can be as difficult as herding cats.

And the difficulty has increased in recent months because it seems as if everybody who ever thought about the possibility of playing golf has decided to join the game. In many parts of the country, thanks in part to the COVID virus and the fact that golf is a reasonably safe game under the conditions, there is considerable pressure on tee-times. Everybody wants to play. Or at least get out of the house, jump in a golf cart and cruise through nature. And breathe without masks.

So, it becomes important to know as far out as possible what day you’re trying to play. That phone call to the pro shop will produce a more desirable tee-time the earlier it’s executed.

Making that call, however, requires knowing how many golfers will be in your group, and therein rests the problem. Often, people in your group will want to play. But they don’t necessarily want you to know if/when they can play. They like to keep it a mystery so as to make the organizer’s job as difficult as possible.

For example, consider this recent scenario that involved herding cats on a grand scale. The invitation to play went out via email and text. Two players responded immediately to sign on with the organizer. No response from the rest of the litter. Can’t make the pro shop call yet.

Next day: Two more yes votes. This makes five players in all. Time to grab those two tee-times. Call the home course. No morning tee-times available. Call the second choice. Get back-to-back tee-times. 

One of the players calls. Three of his buddies want to join the group. That’s OK. Call the course again and let the desk know you’ll have two groups of four. An hour later, one of the regular players texts in with a “yes,” expanding the group to nine. Call the course again. Get a third tee-time.

A few minutes later, another text arrives. One of the players drops out “so that you won’t have to get three tee-times.”

By this time the organizer is ready to take his driver and whack several small animals – perhaps cats — with it. Or to consider carrying a machete in his golf bag. Not to clear debris. To paralyze players.

It’s enough to make a person join an expensive golf club and lock in the Tuesday 9 a.m. tee-time in perpetuity. No phone calls. No texts. No emails.

Just golf. And no small animals in jeopardy.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.