Tuesday, January 31, 2012

And your golf prize is…

You’ve played out of your skin, tamed the weather and racked up 40+ points. Sure, sure, you missed a tiddler there on 18, but you must be in with a chance of a prize. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it?

But how does it feel to discover that you’ve won the whole thing, and all you get for your golfing brilliance is a tacky lamp. Only it’s worse than that. It’s a lamp made out of a brass figurine of a golfer. Yea, the kind of lamp you wouldn’t put anywhere in your house, couldn’t give away as a present, and shouldn’t even mention in polite company. Hell, you wouldn’t even use it to beat your worst enemy to death with. You also know it was on sale for half price, because that’s the only way those disgusting things ever sell. That or a car boot sale!

Your joy of winning has been cruelly crushed. How can you brag about that 5 iron to two feet when you can’t brag about the prize!

Simply put, all too often the prizes offered by golf clubs are a turn-off. Or useless. Or both. I’m sure some of you will say that it’s not the prize or even the winning that counts, it’s the taking part… pleeeeeease! You’re kidding yourselves and you know it. Winning IS a big deal, and you want to win a prize that means something.

So what makes a good prize? That depends on you, doesn’t it! The golf figurine lamp might just be your thing, but what about the other options? I’ve done a bit of research on the matter (through Twitter and Boards.ie) and here are the scores.


A popular prize for big events – e.g. Captain’s Day. It’s a big deal, so a big prize is well deserved, but that still leaves questions: what do you use it for, and where do you put it? Does it end up proudly displayed, collecting a few years of dust before it quietly disappears into a cupboard? How about a bowl full of pot pourri or a vase filled to the brim with jelly beans… there are only so many uses and only so much crystal your spouse will tolerate…

… especially if the name of your club is engraved on the glass. If you win a piece, wouldn’t you at least like the option of selling it on eBay? With the club name emblazoned across it, the eBay value has dropped from ‘weekend-away’ to zero faster than our economy’s pants dropped around its ankles.

And in case you hadn’t heard, Ireland’s famous Waterford Crystal ain’t made in Waterford no more. Now everybody seems to make it: Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Italy… ah yes, that Irish symbol of quality.

Desirability: 9%

Golf Vouchers/Golf Green Fees

Yes, very desirable: you’re playing golf so why not win a prize that corresponds – we all like to buy extra golf gear, be it new shoes, a new bag or a classy, sleeveless, pink Pringle sweater (you fashion icon, you); and green fees for a big name club always hit the sweet spot. It’s great to be able to treat your buddies for ‘free’, especially when you know they’ll be buying the drinks.

Then again, golf clubs don’t see much kudos in putting an envelope on the prize winner’s table. Not when they’ve got golf figurine lamps collecting dust in the basement. No, in your golf club’s eyes (or the sponsor’s) an envelope doesn’t say ‘you’re a winner’ quite like a golf bag, lamp or crystal bowl does, which is why envelopes are usually reserved for lower placed prizes.

Desirability: 34%

Golf Gear

Golf gear is close enough to Golf Vouchers as makes no difference, but a golf bag often appears on the table because it looks big and expensive. The prizes are fine as they are, but even if they’re not you can always take it back to the Pro shop/retailer and exchange it for something you actually need – maybe swap that pink Pringle number for the blue one with the yellow stripes.

Desirability: 19%

Weekends Away

A smart prize, for sure and your partner finally gets something out of all those hours you spend on the golf course. Yes, after listening to you endlessly moaning about missed putts, unlucky breaks and shots into trees that mysteriously moved since last week, she (or he) gets to be a winner too. Whisked away – your clubs hidden in the boot – you even have a legitimate reason to sit her down and talk her through every single shot of your prize-winning round. She’ll be so proud of you she might even listen.

Desirability: 33%

Bottles of Wine/Newbridge Cutlery etc.

Not a bad prize actually, especially if you’re throwing a party or you have a wedding present to source.

Desirability: 4%

Golf Clubs/Sponsors could learn a thing or two about selecting prizes. Good prizes keep golfers happy and interested; bad prizes can be a serious turn-off to entering Open events.

[Another popular fallback prize...]

Don’t believe me? I went to a Scratch Cup with two friends and we had lunch before heading out. There, on the winner’s table, were the brass, golf figurine lamps I mentioned. We made unappreciative noises as we headed out…. and five hours later, we were standing on the 18th as one of my friends drained a birdie putt for a serious score. He looked at me and smiled weakly.

“Of all the days to play perfect golf,” he said. “Do I really have to accept that thing if I win?”

He did win, and as he accepted the prize his smile would have made a politician proud.

We didn’t go back the next year.

And if you happened to notice that the above totals only add up to 99%, that’s because 1% of respondents want to win a golf figurine lamp. Lads, get yourselves on eBay – my mate’s auctioning it tomorrow.

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