Swing & Bling on the Links
This blog is dedicated to my pal, Robert.
Golf tournaments. Have you ever been to a fundraiser golf tournament? Although these are really struggling today, they have long been a popular way for charities and foundations to raise money. Each tournament usually has an organizing committee made up of prominent business people who donate their time to the cause. Foursomes are sold- typically to other business people who write off the expense and then invite clients or contacts as a form of business entertainment. The format for a golf tournament usually includes brunch, then the golf tournament, a cocktail and then a dinner. Along the golf course, you will find food stations, cigars, drinks, games, prizes and sometimes even some golf pro’s. The dinner includes speeches, prizes and fundraising auctions. I attend quite a few golf tournaments each year and they are fantastic networking opportunities. The top business owners and professionals turn up and it’s a real “see and be seen” type of thing. And this, of course, leads to that all-important timepiece selection for the event.
Many golf tournaments are a real display of wealth and bling. You might even say they’re a pissing contest. Guys roll up in the most outrageous cars and, of course, the most outrageous timepieces. The brunch, the cocktail and the dinner are prime time for flashing some wrist candy. I remember when I acquired my first Panerai. I strapped it on and met a bunch of business buddies for the brunch before a golf tournament. Those guys just drooled over my PAM and it was very cool. I passed it around the table and these guys were saying things like, “This is my ultimate dream piece!” Even though I rolled up in an economy car, I was “da man.” Never mind all the Bentleys and Ferraris outside, and the gold Rolexes that popped up at the cocktail. I was the king during that brunch. But as the day progressed, I realized that your mint Panerai may not be the ideal piece for a golf tournament after all.
So what is the ideal piece for a golf tournament? I have spent a considerable amount of time pondering this question. Let’s discuss and let’s see if we can determine the optimal timepiece selection for your next golf tournament.
Now, your first instinct is to wear your absolute best, most prestigious timepiece because of all the high rollers and big shots you will meet and drink with. But I discovered a few issues with this concept. Allow me to explain.
Back to my first golf tournament wearing a Panerai. It was a hot sunny day and I had sun block all over my arms. My Panerai was a Radiomir and it had no rubber strap for days like this. So, after only an hour at brunch, there was sun cream all over the leather strap and sapphire crystal case back. This was not too nice. Had I actually worn it while golfing, there would also have been sweat all over it. And why didn’t I wear it to golf?
You should never golf while wearing a mechanical watch! Please! I recently read an interview with the CEO of Panerai where he explained how he has been golfing in a Radiomir 1940. But he does this to test the movement to its limits. And I know that Omega and Richard Mille have developed mechanical watches specifically designed for high impact sports such as golf. Typically, however, your mechanical movement is NOT designed for the extreme impact of a golf swing over 18 holes. This could wreak havoc on an intricate mechanical movement. I see guys on the golf course all the time whacking away at golf balls while wearing Rolex Daytonas and Panerai Luminors. Oooof… I cringe. So if you care about your watch, you will remove it while you play golf. This means that you SHOULD choose a timepiece for a golf tournament that you will stuff in your golf bag, put in your locker, or leave in your car while you’re golfing. With this is mind, do you really want your best piece? Maybe. Maybe not. I have gone both ways. I have carefully placed a Panerai in my golf bag while I play in a tournament and I have also used a solid quartz piece that I can stuff in my golf bag without any care or worries. The Panerai is supreme for dinner and networking, but the quartz rules for being stored without a care in the world.
Now, if your timepiece is automatic and it stays in your locker or golf bag for 5 or 6 hours (yes, golf tournaments are SLOW), it might actually stop ticking if not fully wound. You don’t want to have to reset it before the cocktail. One easy solution is to manually wind your automatic before storing it away. But I don’t like that. Another option is to wear a quartz that never stops ticking. I have used my TAG quartz quite a few times, but there is no joy or prestige or wow factor from quartz. My favorite option is to use a manually wound piece. You crank it up in the morning, wear it to brunch, put it away for golf, and then find it ticking when you need it for the cocktail and dinner. And you get all the joy of a real mechanical movement. You can’t beat that.
Until recently, my favorite option for golf tournaments has been a Panerai Luminor, with a manual movement, on an OEM Panerai rubber strap. On rubber, I can get sweat on the piece, get sun cream on it, and even wear it in the shower if I’m afraid to leave it in my locker after the round of golf. The manual movement is perfect, as discussed above. And, of course, any Panerai watch gives you plenty of style, prestige and pizazz. Really, this is it.
But something slowly began to bother me about the PAM strategy. I just hated stuffing such an expensive watch in my golf bag. After every hole, I’d be checking my bag to make sure the PAM was OK. It became an unpleasant distraction that eventually outweighed the benefits of said PAM at dinner time. I also realized that, although you look and feel mega cool wearing a Panerai, it goes largely unnoticed as you eat dinner sitting at a table. You will probably be wearing a dress shirt and jacket, so your Panerai will be hidden part of the time. For sure, during the cocktail, your top timepiece will stand out as you strategically hold your glass with your left hand. But still. This is a small benefit after 6 hours of worrying about your expensive watch hidden in a locker or golf bag.
So what next? Well, do you know what I’ve been doing this year? I actually have a couple of “toy” watches that use my favorite ETA 6497 manual movement (like a base Panerai). These are large, sporty, “fun” pieces that didn’t cost much. They are bold and flashy, so they make a statement. And I’m not worried about stuffing them in my golf bag, dropping them or leaving them in my locker while I shower after golf. They do not provide any snob value for the cocktail, but they at least give me the feeling of wearing a proper timepiece on my wrist. One of them is a 47mm titanium Meccaniche Veloci. It is very attractive and has a wonderful case. It is so large that it shows well when I arrive in my short sleeved golf shirt. And I don’t get many occasions to wear it, so it feels nice to have an event perfectly suited for it. My other NEW golf tournament candidate is a U-Boat with the same movement. Once again, I won’t wear this on many days at the office so a golf tournament is the best occasion to see it an action. It was an absolute bargain so I don’t have to worry about taking it off and storing it while I (try to) golf.
At my next golf tournament, there will be moments where I ache for my PAM. But I’m going to have fun cranking up my 50mm U-Boat for the occasion. A gold Rolex it ain’t, but it still looks better than those GPS watches that SOME guys will be wearing. And it sure is better than a quartz or even worse… a smartwatch…