Being a supportive golf partner is, in many regards, the same thing as being a “good” partner. The type of partner you are can be the difference between having a memorable experience on the golf course or a day everyone wants to forget.
Here are a few tips for how to be a good partner that people will enjoy playing with. It really is as simple as the paraphrased “Golden Rule” – “treat others as you would like to be treated.” We have all had bad partners over the years and all you need to do is think about what they did and don’t do those things yourself.
There is an event held every Friday at my club called “The Dogfight.” Everyone signs up in advance and teams are put together based on handicap. There are two guys that play almost every Friday. One always complains about his team and the other always finishes in the money. I finally explained to the whiner that I could give the other guy his team and he would still win because of the way he treats his partners.
One guy gets upset when a partner hits a bad shot and the other says encouraging things to the person that hit the bad shot. Guess who wins most of the time? Precisely. Here are some of the things that make you the good partner:
Be On Time
People don’t like to play with others that are always showing up at the last minute or showing up late for their tee time. This gives people the idea or feeling that you have no respect for them before the first shot is ever hit.
This simply means that you should not slow the team down. Always be ready to play when it is your turn. Check your yardage, select your club and plan your shot while others are playing theirs. If you are riding in a cart, you can’t do this by sitting in the cart until your partner plays and then going to your ball and then starting you pre-shot routine.
By no means does this mean playing the round in silence. It simply means knowing when to talk. When someone else is hitting, it is not the time to start searching for something or unzipping your golf bag to get another ball or tees.
Tend to the Flag Stick
Make sure it is out of everyone’s way and if you have putted out, be ready to pick it up when the last person holes out. I remember one of my partners and his dialogue with another golfer:
Partner 1: “Do you have any idea how much a flag stick weighs?”
Partner 2: “No idea.”
Partner 1: “If you would ever pick one up you might have an idea.”
Don’t Expect Others to Hunt Your Ball for Ten Minutes
This is self-explanatory. Call the search off in a reasonable amount of time, especially if you are in an area where it is next to impossible to find a ball. Be mindful and care about someone other than yourself.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
If you are having a bad day, don’t take it out on others and whatever you do, don’t throw a temper tantrum. Throwing clubs or a stream of profanity only creates tension.
I have saved the two most important for last:
Never Be Negative
Be supportive even when your partners hit a bad shot. They already feel bad about it so try to say something to make them feel less upset. Saying “Don’t worry, you can make it up” or “I’ve got us covered” is much more effective than saying “Oh crap.”
Never Offer Unsolicited Advice
I don’t care that you just read a great instruction book, article in a golf magazine, or saw something on the Golf Channel. You are not Butch Harmon and even if you have a single digit handicap, you don’t know how to teach. Giving someone another swing thought during the round is a bad idea. Even as a teaching professional, I NEVER gave unsolicited advice on the course. When I am asked for help, the advice is always something simple and positive.
If you follow the advice outlined above, you are on your way to being the kind of person that people are always asking to play golf with and if you ever use golf for business or networking that can be a really positive thing. It also means that you never have to play by yourself unless you want to.