May 2007

Tippie Jaunte 007 - The Greatest Weekend Known to Man!

Author: Paul deVere

“Thin” is Minister of Propaganda. “Thick” is the Chief Tipster. “Bulldog” is Offensiveness Coordinator. “Diesel” has a tournament named for him, “D-Day,” where the participants wear the ultimate cliché in the game of golf: really bad clothes. According to Thick, on Diesel’s inaugural outing in 2000, he appeared in pink polyester from head to toe.

“He was reminiscent of Ty Webb in Caddyshack. That’s Diesel’s typical gear. (What is a bit unnerving is that upon meeting Diesel, he actually does look like a young Chevy Chase.) He does a great job putting together outfits that most people have buried in the closet,” Thick explained.

Diesel admitted as much. “I raid my Dad’s closet before every Tippie Jaunte,” he said. “Polyester is my fabric of choice. The tighter, the better.”

Wait. Tippie Jaunte? Billed as “The Greatest Weekend Known to Man™,” the Tippie Jaunte is a long golf weekend on Hilton Head Island for a band of 30-something friends, frat brothers, and a few brave fathers, (who push the age range up to mid-60s), who mostly have ties to West Virginia University (Mountaineers), Morgantown and Charleston, WV. They have been coming to Hilton Head Island in March for the past 12 years to celebrate friendship, golf, and a very serious affection for fun, adult-style.

Actually, “adult,” for the Tippie Jaunte crew, might be a contradiction in terms. As one father put it, “I’ve been on golf trips that are all about the golf, and you’re in bed by nine o’clock because you’re playing 36 holes the next day. I’ve been on golf trips where it’s all about the partying, where the golf is a way to rest for four hours. But I’ve never been on a trip that’s all about the golf and all about the partying.”

Asked where the name came from, Thick and Thin, Jay and Chad Cipoletti, founders of the yearly Jaunte, said that no one knows. Considering the long weekend’s endless activities, it could be just as easily said that no one remembers. No real names are used during the Jaunte, just nicknames. Stickers, Wedge, Huz, Doc, Biz, Fun and Five Card are examples. “I don’t know where that came from either. Almost everybody had one before we started [the Jaunte]. If they didn’t, they definitely got one,” Thick said.

While the island is host to hundreds (thousands?) of golf outings throughout the year, the Tippie Jaunte definitely stands out. This year’s Jaunte (officially titled “007 Tippie Jaunte”) included 28 golfers. The long weekend has drawn as many as 40 players. There are 24 “core” members, who have 11 or 12 Jauntes under their belts. The others are friends that members of the group have picked up along the way. In this age of political correctness and sensitivity, the Jaunte is an anachronism. Think Caddie Shack and Animal House rolled into one.

While the Jaunte might sound like an excuse for a group of young professionals to have the opportunity to reprise the good old frat house days (Thin described it as “well organized, semi-controlled chaos”), Thick claimed that the weekend was important to the golf world. He cited an example. “This year, we are replacing the PGA Tour’s International Stableford Competition, which was permanently canceled this year because they lost a title sponsor, with a tournament of our own. We ran into the same problem they did. We couldn’t get Tiger Woods to play in our event either. But that’s all right,” Thick said with a straight face. Its official title is “The Inaugural Islandational Stableford.”

There is also the long-standing duel for the TJ Cup, a Ryder Cup-style tournament that the Tipsters have played for eight years. The group is broken up into Team Tippie and Team Jaunte, captained by brothers Chad and Jay, respectively. “Once you’re drafted onto that team, you’re there forever,” Thin said.

The “cup” is actually a galvanized 12-quart bucket that is filled with beer. At the end of the tournament, which was played at Palmetto Hall this year, the winning team empties the “cup” while the losing team watches and listens to jokes and insults. “Whatever muse visits you at the time is what you say,” Thick explained. “I wouldn’t know what it’s like to drink out of it because we haven’t won in 5 years,” he lamented.

Prior to the TJ cup, Chad was asked what chance his brother’s team had of capturing the cup. “On a scale of 1 to ten, I would put my confidence level at 9 for our team,” Thin said, a sardonic grin spreading across his face.

(Note: To Thin’s humiliation, the 2007 TJ Cup went Team Jaunte, 11-10, for only the second time in the Cup’s history.)

The importance of the Tippie Jaunte, Thick explained, is taken very seriously by each member. “The only thing that’s going to keep the core group away is the cycle of life, a birth or a death. In the core group, our wives know the Tippie is not negotiable. For 360 days a year, I’m probably going to cave if you put enough pressure on me. But for the Tippie …” Thick said, his voice trailing off.

During the rest of the year, the group keeps in touch with phone calls, e-mails and an electronic newsletter, “The Chronicle,” which Thin, a copywriter for a Los Angeles advertising agency, edits. The newsletter features everything from advice on how to prepare the mind and body for the next Jaunte to actual information about reservations and dates.

“This trip, it’s one of the few things that no matter how much you look forward to, it always disappoints,” Thin joked. “No, seriously, every year it’s different, but it’s always a whole bunch of fun. I’m not sure how to describe it. For me, it’s like Christmas for adults.”

One thing is for sure. Every Tipster has already begun the countdown to 2008.

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