Most country clubs pride themselves on their member-guest tournaments. But did you ever wonder what it takes to host such an event? At Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, they hold one of the finest, and biggest in the country. This year’s Invitational included an Argentinian themed barbecue staffed by servers dressed in classic Argentinian fashions.
Superlatives flowed from members and guests. Gushing adjectives like fantastic, unbelievable, incredible were the words of the day. “I came as a guest last year and joined the club this year so that I could participate every year moving forward,” says member Jeff Day. “It is just fantastic. I’ve been to many and this is by far the best member-guest I have ever experienced.” Membership Director Allison Garber reports that the club added 6 new members to its roster who participated this year as guests.
“The Invitational at our club has taken on paramount significance,” according to General Manager Tom Hurley. “We close down all three championship courses for three days in response to the demand. This year we had nearly 300 participants!”
Fiddler’s tries to anticipate everything. One guest who partied a bit too much was driven home in the club’s brand new custom Sprinter van. According to Clubhouse Manager Michael Nyerges, “Our philosophy regarding all participants is that ‘the answer is always yes, now what is the question?’” One example is a guest who requested a beer not typically stocked at the club. A case was delivered to the guest’s locker within minutes.
Director of Golf Mat Kent says, “As soon as we concluded our 2016 Invitational we began planning for 2017. It is truly a team effort between our golf department, our culinary team and our events staff.” Each year the Fiddler’s staff sets out to improve upon what is already a highly regarded event. It takes a staff of more than 200 to deliver this best in class experience.
For the first time in 2017, registration for the Invitational was conducted online in real time. “All members receive an equal shot at getting in,” says Kent. “For those who were traveling, they had an assistant or family member log in and sign them up.” With nearly 300 players and 60 plus matches to track, the golf staff got little rest. And while there was a spritz in the early hours of Day 1, mother nature helped to make the event a big hit.
Chef Michael Weisshaupt put it this way, “There are winners and losers in the golf tournament, but the 2017 Invitational was win-win all around. We wowed them again and that’s what we aim to do at Fiddler’s. It’s really great to see them enjoy themselves and that’s what drives my team.”
The club introduced a branded craft beer this year, called ‘Fiddler’s Elbrew.’ It was a big hit. “The food is just amazing,” said member Paul Gillard. “They have really outdone themselves.”
Director of Events Annette Ruiz said, “Each member and guest has a different reason for coming. Many use this to catch up with old friends or to reciprocate to their guest. Others love the competition. The common denominator is that they all love the camaraderie.” Member Dr. Nick Molinaro raved, “The stag night was epic! Between the drinks, the hand rolled cigars, the night golf, ping pong and cornhole, I didn’t want to go home.”
In the end, 20 teams made it to the shootout, with the team of 25-year member Robert Cappy and guest Chad Bonn emerging victorious.