My only golf "date" with my wife was a total disaster.
I can admit that now because we are still married decades later. My first mistake was trying to take her to play golf at the Black Bear Golf Club in Vanderbilt, Mich., without any real range time or lesson to introduce the game. She had never played golf but was curious and came along for the cart ride.
Our versions of what happened that day have gone in wildly different directions over the years. She says I was overwhelmingly obnoxious and bossy. I claim innocence: that I was merely trying to help her hit better shots and learn to play. Regardless, she will probably never tee it up again.
Let me be your golf romance doctor. Don't make the same mistakes I did. You can take a non-golfer on a golf date this Valentine's Day without ruining the relationship. The key is where you go and to make sure you take a hands-off approach to his or her game. The choices are so much better than the ones I had all those years ago. Valentine's Day is next Monday, so you've only got a short window of time to start planning:
Escape to a Golf Resort
If you're splurging for a visit to a nice golf resort, things must be serious in your relationship. The best thing about most golf resorts: they are more than happy to please your non-golfer. Book that couples massage and make sure there's a nice dinner involved before or after. Maybe ask if the hotel staff can deliver a bottle of champagne or flowers to the room ... anything to make your non-golfer feel special. Only then can you maybe - maybe - sneak out for some golf on your own before heading home.
Have any tips for successful Valentine's Day "golf" dates? Let us know in the comments below.
Tee up Topgolf
I like to describe Topgolf as the bowling of golf. You don't have to be good at either to have fun. The drinks certainly help. Every time I've been to Topgolf, it seems there are more non-golfers than true diehards in the bays and that's a good thing. There always seems to be plenty of couples on a date, too. Topgolf provides a safe space to swing a little, get to know someone and have a good time.
Tackle a Short Course
The pandemic and the ongoing short-course construction boom at destination golf resorts has made playing pitch-and-putts and par-3 courses more popular than ever. They're perfect for everybody, from beginners like your date to golf buddies who think they are good. They're fun, fast and relatively inexpensive to play. Most important, they're less stressful than a real round of golf. If your date wants to pick up after 5 swings, no problem. Just walk to the next hole and try again.
Hang out on the Driving Range
Maybe you've already done the putt-putt thing. This is the next step. Take your spouse or significant other to the actual golf course for a taste of the real thing. Just don't pay the greens fee. Hanging out on the driving range and putting green will provide all the action you need for 60-90 minutes of entertainment. Don't pester him/her about what club is used or how ugly the swing is. Just turn your date loose until he or she tires out or gets bored. A drink or two on the clubhouse patio or inside at the bar can show your date just how hang-worthy your local club can be. Maybe it will spark an interest.
Playing mini-golf (it's called "putt-putt" in Michigan where I grew up) is one of the oldest dating tricks in the book, along with going to the movies or out to eat. It's fun, affordable and anybody can do it. Both Tiger Woods and GolfPass Ambassador Rory McIlroy are attempting to take mini-golf next level with investments in two new businesses named Popstroke and Puttery, respectively. Seven 36-hole Popstroke facilities are scheduled to open this year from Florida to Texas and Arizona. Puttery, a nine-hole indoor themed bar/restaurant where all customers must be 21 years old, has already opened in Charlotte and Dallas with more coming soon to Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Houston and Miami. These are meant to be high-end, golfer-centric experiences. If you just want to putt through the clown's mouth at your local establishment, that can work, too.