I'm the mother of the groom and I want to have some guests play golf, both on the day before the wedding and the morning of the wedding. The bridal couple will participate. We are planning to put a note in the invitation asking people to indicate whether they plan to play. The big question is WHO PAYS FOR THE GOLF? If the guest pays, the price will be indicated on the golf insert so it is clear ahead of time.
If you invite people to play golf with the happy couple, then you the host and inviting person should pay.
Are you worried there will be a huge number and it will be a giant expense? Do you already know pretty much who will play and who won't?
Here is my suggestion. Think of how much money you spend (bottom line) on the golf outing. Then figure how many people you can pay for out of that bottom line. That would include hosting any 19th hole round of drinks.
Invite specifically those people. They should be people you already know play golf and would enjoy a round with you.
What if someone else expresses an interest in playing golf? Someone who already plays golf? (Not just some novice.) Take those on a case-by-case basis. If you still have room and still have money, then invite them in. If you don't have room and don't have money, then don't let them invite themselves.
If the person says they will pay for themselves, then that's between that person and the golf course management, assuming it's a course accessible to the public.
There's no real polite way to say "A round of golf is part of our wedding festivities. If you want to participate, you have to pay your own way."
I'll add this: I'm really leery of those "come to my party but pay your own tab" type parties. It's one thing is a bunch of friends go out and all pick up their own tab. I do that after church every week, and we all pay our own part of the lunch bill. No problem.
In the case of this wedding, the golf game is a part of the wedding festivity. The guest should only pay for their own transport and their own lodging. Any wedding-related party should be hosted by whoever is issuing the invitations to the party.
Your proposed golf game is really a special case. You don't want to invite "everyone" because "everyone" does not play golf. Why should you pay for someone who has never picked up a club in their life and will just make things miserable for everyone else?
On the other hand, hosting a round with known golf players is a good idea. That's why I suggest you consider, carefully, just inviting those who are known to play golf, then pick up their tab.
This is a sticky one. Usually, as AOTB says, if you invite, you pay. Often, though, especially for destination weddings, there is a list of suggested activities that are available if the guests have some down time. For example, if you are at a resort, one guest may choose a morning of golf, another a massage at the spa, and another a shopping jaunt in town. You can provide information on all of these activities without actually inviting anyone to do anything. But, the minute you say, "We're playing golf. Please join us," then it's your party.
myra at www.classysassyweddings.com