Two Takes on Oktoberfest – On and Off the Course


It's hard to imagine the scale of Munich's Oktoberfest if you haven't been. There are more than a dozen "tents" like this.

UPDATED For 2011: Thinking about going? Check out my new post on the Ultimate VIP Oktoberfest Trip!

200 years ago, Bavaria’s Prince Ludwig got married. He threw himself a crazed 5-day bash in Munich that put all other wedding parties in history to shame. Local residents liked it so much, that the party (not the wedding) became an annual event, known today as Oktoberfest.

The name is confusing because the event is actually in September, which is even better because it is now September.

That makes 2010 the bicentennial Oktoberfest, and bigger than ever. That is really saying something, because Oktoberfest is already recognized as the world’s biggest party, annually attracting about 6 million visitors in just over two weeks. Because of the historic nature of this year’s event, the heavily regulated Oktoberfest got permission from the government to add an extra day – for one year only – and the official estimate is than an additional attendance spike of 25% is expected.

That translates to roughly 7,500,000 beer swilling drunkards descending on Munich, or to put it perspective, as if almost everyone in New York City decided to visit one place to drinking.

What makes Oktoberfest so great? Duh!

What makes Oktoberfest so great? Duh!

I have been to Oktoberfest in Munich, and it is an awesome experience, a true bucket list item, and I am going again this year and have all the details arranged, but for most people this might not be the year to go unless you have strong stomach for crowds and deep pockets. Flights and hotels are already sold out, and word on the street is that the closest available rooms are about 250 miles away. Thanks to Europe’s great high speed rail network, party-goers will be coming from distant cities in other countries – just for the day. I’d hate to see what the train bathrooms look like on the ride home.

I’ll report back on this year’s Oktoberfest as soon as I get back and recover.

Here’s another way for the golf lover to experience the thrill of Oktoberfest closer to home. Mystical Golf, the venerable owner and operator of three top Myrtle Beach golf courses, the award-winning The Witch, Man-O-War and The Wizard, has an “October Fest” stay-and-play package. The deal is light on beer, but also light on the wallet, and the weather is great at that time (if there are no hurricanes). Available from October 3-31, the special rate is $297 per person, double occupancy. This includes three rounds of golf (one on each course) with cart and lunch included, plus two nights accommodations with breakfast at the Patricia Grand Ocean Front Resort in efficiencies and two-room suites.

True golf gluttons can squeeze in even more: A second same-day round “instant replay” is available for the $23 cart fee only. The way I figure it, if you play your cards right, you could probably get 5 rounds and the lodging for three C-notes, and as they say, you can’t beat that with a stick. Plus, they are really fun courses.

Here’s another option that includes both golf and beer (and pretzels, wursts and oompah music): the often unheralded Crystal Springs Golf Resort is by far the largest in New Jersey, the largest in the New York City area, and in fact the second largest on the east cost after Pinehurst, with six full sized layouts plus one of the country’s best short courses.

Did I mention it is the second largest golf resort in the US and one of the biggest on earth?

Like New Jersey itself, Crystal Springs gets little respect, despite some truly excellent courses, especially the highly ranked Ballyowen, the Number One public in the Garden State.

More importantly, they a have a big Oktoberfest, or as they describe it, a “HUGE Oktoberfest,” on Saturday, September 18. It starts at noon, so squeeze in a morning round, get hammered, don’t drive after because that’s just wrong, then stay at the resort and play again the next day, twice if your headache goes away.

Wherever you spend Oktoberfest, enjoy, and as my friends in Munich say, Ein Prosit!

Seriously, it's not all about drinking beer. Munich's Oktoberfest is more like a State Fair, with attractions for all ages. And lots of beer.

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