Golf — supposedly — is a gentleman’s game. It’s built on integrity, self-awareness, respect and honesty. Sometimes, however, those who play the game for fun occasionally manage to forget some of these ideals.
Regardless of how hard you try, you will, at some point, be one of the guys listed below. Obviously, you don’t ever want to be that guy, but hey — golf is tough. It’s frustrating. You get into zones. On top of that, your life isn’t on the Tour. You’ve got spouse’s and day jobs and children and obligations that can distract or take away from your golf.
That all being said, you really don’t want to be any of these guys when you’re on the golf course:
Jack Nicklaus has said that when he was a kid, his father saw him throw a golf club — once. It never happened again (well, that dear ol’ dad saw, anyway) and Nicklaus went on to become the greatest golfer of all-time.
So what’s the lesson here? Well, there’s not one, really. Not throwing your clubs won’t help or impede you from becoming one of the greatest golfers of all-time, but it will help you to remain a tolerable golfing companion and keep your name on the call list whenever your cronies are looking for a fourth.
As I said before, everyone has chucked a club. It’s a natural, zesty enterprise that feels incredibly satisfying when you do it — but then again, so does popping a zit. Neither of these activities should be carried out in view public lest you want your image tarnished.
There’s just something about the game of golf that makes us feel inadequate — and in a time and place where every kid in Little League gets a trophy, regardless of whether or not they got a hit or caught a single pop up all season — that’s not something most of our fragile little psyche’s can handle.
Because of this, we find every possible excuse in the book so as to pass off our terrible play as someone — or something — else’s fault. It may not seem too annoying, but trust me and everyone you’ve ever been paired with: It. Is.
Look, we can make a pretty fair assessment of your game based on a few things. Golfers stereotype just as bad as anyone else. If you’ve got clubs older than Betty White and you are wearing jeans, we aren’t shocked you shot 56 on the front nine. You don’t need to tell us you sprained your back or that you slept on your buddies floor last night and that’s why your game isn’t there today.
We don’t buy it.
Ultimately, you’re responsible for the swing you make. Sure, golf is full of bad bounces (and those excuses, we will accept in full, no judgement as long as the swing that produced it was sound) and tough lies — but trying to get me to believe the reason you’re gonna shoot 110 today is because you bruised your wrist saving a cat from a tree? That’s not going to fly.
Alright, guy — we get it. You like poker/have been to Pebble Beach/your grandfather gave you this medallion/etc. That doesn’t mean you need to use it to mark your golf ball on the green.
Now, if you’re playing by yourself or with a close friend, it’s fine. But if you’re playing with strangers or in a foursome where more than you will be on the green, it’s rude to use a space station to mark your golf ball. Unless your over the age of 75, you really don’t ever need something size of a manhole cover to mark your ball — period.
I’ll never understand the guy who shoots 88 and wears perfectly pressed slacks and polo’s with logos on the collar. You do understand nobody at the course thinks they’re in the presence of an actual PGA Tour pro, right?
In all honesty — except for protection from the sun or ticks — what does wearing the long golf pants do for you on a hot Saturday afternoon at a public golf course? Unless they’re LoudMouth pants and you’re trying to make a statement, then I don’t know what you get out of wearing them — except for creating unattainable expectations of others who will inevitably think you stink at golf when you don’t shoot 66.
Look at it this way: Tour pros would commit murder to be allowed to wear shorts on the PGA Tour, so it’s kind of a slap in their face to wear slacks when it’s perfectly legal for you to wear shorts.
When you’re an amateur, every putt is important — we get it — but there’s no reason for you to look at a putt from 27 angles, go back and look from sides you already looked at, mark and remark your golf ball and generally waste time. The putt is important, but it’s not that important.
Do yourself and everyone around you a favor — stop, look around, gain some self-awareness and just roll the rock. Odds are, you’ll make a better putt than you would if you over thought it for seven minutes.
“Ohh, good swing,” the overzealous stranger says as you majestically high drive gets caught up in a gust from the gods and lands three yards short of the green, plugging deep in the face of the bunker.
Believe me when I say, if you wanted to punch that guy in the face for prematurely complimenting your shot, there’s not a jury in the world that would convict you.
When it comes to talking to the golf balls of your competitors or passing out compliments, it’s probably best to play things close to the vest. If you’re going to dish out some praise, make sure the result is praise-worthy before you launch into worship.
If you hit your tee shot into the woods, hit a second tee shot, hit your approach into the left bunker, take three to get out of it and then three putt and tell me, “I saved bogey,” then you’re one of two things: Stupid or a liar.
Please, don’t be this guy — while it doesn’t really affect the people you’re playing with from a playing standpoint, we are judging you more harshly than anything Judge Judy could dish out. You are a pariah if you lie about your score, whether or not you found your ball, etc.
At the end of the day, people will be more apt to play with you if you’re honest about your 102 than if you fabricate your way around the course and report you shot 89.
Have you ever heard the term, “better safe than sorry?” Well, that applies to the golf course, too.
Look, no one expects amateurs to hit the fairway every time. No one expects anyone to be a pro if they’re playing at their local municipal golf courses — but they do expect people to give a heads up when they might be putting you in danger.
Enter the guy who is afraid to yell fore. If you hit your ball even remotely close to a group of fellow golfers and don’t yell fore, you deserve every dirty look, every parking lot stare-down and every brutal, condescending question you’re inevitably going to get from the group you hit into.
Like opening a door or picking up some litter, stop and think how much extra effort it takes to yell “fore.” Is it really worth the risk of not yelling it?
I’ve got to admit — if I fall into any of these buckets, it’s self-loathing guys. I know it’s wrong, but I have a hard time not beating myself up over a round of golf. Blame it on an inappropriate amount of my self-worth being tied to my performance on the course or the fact that I have high expectations, but I tend to yell at myself a lot.
Please — don’t do this. It’s not worth it. It’s just a game. Unless you’re not going to be able to food on the table because you stumbled around the golf course, then you can’t yell at yourself. If you’re not playing every single day, you can’t yell at yourself. Just keep calm and grind on — eventually, your game will come back to you if you don’t get into a mental space where you’re beating yourself up.
Oh, and it’s really, really inconsiderate to your playing partners. They don’t need to hear it, either.
Dig this scenario: You and your buddy get paired with a single on a busy Saturday afternoon at your local course. Somewhere shortly before the turn, the beer cart girl drives up and you buy a round. Soon after the turn, she appears again and your buddy buys a round. Then around the 14th hole, she appears for the last time. The guy you’re paired, however, buys his beer and snubs you and your buddy — despite the fact that you’ve purchased two beers for him.
Seriously, who is this monster? If you’re willing to take a beer from a stranger, you’d better damn-well be ready to reciprocate. The world works a lot better when you do. If you can’t afford to, make sure you let the guy or guys buying that you can’t swing it. If they still decided to hook you up, good for you. If not, at least you didn’t snake two beers from these guys for nothing.
Because, really, that’s not cool.