The wife of one of my regular golf buddies not only encourages him to take golf trips but actually makes his plane reservations and packs his bags. Quite obviously, she’s having an extramarital affair and wants him out of the way—so his golf trips are win-win at their house. For the rest of us, though, the issue of spouse-free golf travel is usually more contentious.
My kids are grown now, so I can no longer be accused of doing them permanent emotional harm by abandoning them for a week in order to play golf in another country with my friends. But my golf trips nevertheless retain some of their old power to engender domestic resentment. The best approach, I’ve discovered, is direct negotiation, which is both more productive and less emotionally taxing than the simmering psycho-battles that husbands and wives usually engage in. If my buddies and I are hoping to take a spouse-free trip to Myrtle Beach, for example, I might say to my wife, “Honey, this trip is extremely important to me—what’ll you take for it?” (Before trying this yourself, have an attorney vet the wording.)
The best thing that ever happened to me, golf-trip-wise, occurred when my wife, at the age of almost-forty, took up ice hockey. She now goes on buddies trips of her own—to goalie school in Vermont, to an international tournament in Montreal—and she and I have achieved a sort of unspoken sports-travel parity. A few years ago, she visited her brother, who was living in Russia. She took her skates, and one afternoon she joined a pickup game on a frozen pond in central Moscow.
That, in my opinion, turned a family visit into a hockey trip, and therefore entitled me to spend a compensatory week in Ireland with my pals. (Before trying this yourself, have an attorney, etc.)
Speaking of my wife, Jay Leno’s retirement from the Tonight Show this past week reminded me that the first guest on the Tonight Show on June 1, 1989—when Leno was subbing for Johnny Carson, three years before Carson retired—was my wife. She was on by herself for two entire segments, and for the first of those segments she got to sit in The Chair and chat with Leno. Here’s the first segment:
And here’s the second: