You love golf, right?
You wouldn’t be reading this blog which is all about golf, if you didn’t. But there are a few things you should know about when you are just beginning this sport. You need to know which players are good for you to play with and which you want to avoid.
If you’re a beginning golfer, you’re probably all excited to get out there and play. Enthusiasm for the sport is contagious and when you hear your friends talking about the great game they just played, or you watch the latest LPGA Tournament on the Golf Channel, you find yourself eager to get out on the course. But before you grab your clubs and rush to the local links, carefully consider who to ask to partner with you.
It’s likely that you are going to play slowly. Your drives will not go as long as you might want and the occasional ball will end up in the woods. This is absolutely normal and to be expected when you are just learning the game. You want to play with someone who understands that. You want to play with someone who remembers what it was like when they began to play the game. In other words, you want someone who is PATIENT.
You also want someone who plays the game at a higher level than you do. As a beginning golfer, finding a fellow golfer who has more experience than you do should be relatively easy. One of the phenomenons of golf I’ve discovered is that you always play better when you play with better golfers. It’s just a fact. Get out on the course with someone with a lower handicap than yours and unless they are having a really bad day, chances are they will beat you. This is not a bad thing. You want them to beat you. You want them to show you how to play, and inspire you to play as well as you can. So seek out golf partners who are better than you are to play with you. Of course, I would discourage you from trying to get the club champion to play right off the bat, unless they are a good friend. Getting squashed like a bug with a score that beats yours by twenty or thirty strokes is not something you need when you are just learning to play.
Before beginning your practice round—and that’s what it should be—practice— you want to be sure your partner knows what you are looking for from them. Is it guidance and advice on every hole? Or just silent support? Do you want them to give you tips after you’ve driven your ball into the lake or sent your ball flying across the green? If you want advice while you play, be sure they know that before the round begins. If you prefer a summary of advice when you finish, tell them that as well. If you just want to play and talk about anything but your game, let them know that too. It’s only fair for both of you. Especially if you are playing with your husband or partner. Too many relationships have been sorely tested on the golf course when golfing buddies aren’t clear about what they expect from each other. Just be clear and things should be fine.
One type of player you want to avoid for sure are the cheaters. You know who they are, or, after one or two rounds with them, you will find out. Golf is one of the few sports that has no umpire to call the penalties. You have to call them on yourself. Which means that honesty and integrity is key to the game.
I’ve played with golfers who think nothing of giving the ball a little kick out of the rough, dropping the ball three or four club lengths beyond a lateral hazard when the rules clearly state the distance should be no more than two, or putt two or three times and give themselves a score that doesn’t count the extras. They are only kidding themselves. Players who compromise on the golf course build a reputation that preceeds them to the club house. Other golfers quickly learn who they are, and though they may climb the leader board, no one takes their scores seriously. Cheat just once and your reputation can be seriously ruined. If you know someone has such a reputation, avoid them. Guilt by association is not something you want on your score card.
The last type of golfer you may want to avoid is not exactly a cheater, it’s the player who insists you cut corners – I call them the “gimme golfers.” Perhaps I’m being fussy here but it is one of my pet peeves. I need all the practice I can get and when I am playing golf I want to finish each hole if I possibly can. Yes, I will pick up and pocket my ball if I am really screwing up. Double par is often the max you can take on a hole. For example if you have not holed out on a par 4 and you are lying 8 in the rough, it’s time to pick up and move on. I agree to that. (By the way, clubs and leagues have different “course rules” for this circumstance, so just check what the max is before you begin your round if you are not sure.) By what gets me is the golfer who looks at my ball four feet from the hole and says, “That’s a gimme.” In other words, he expects I’ll get it in so I should just pick up and move on. It’s quite possible that I would sink the putt, but I really want to do it. “Gimmes” of maybe under a foot are fine. But I’ve watched guys give themselves “gimmes” of six feet when they just want to pick up and move on. No one is consistently that good. Even Tiger misses three foot putts once in a while. NOTE: I deliberately use the male pronoun when I talk about “gimme golfers.” For some reason guys do this “gimmee” stuff a lot more than women. Don’t know why, but that’s my experience.
Bottom Line: Find a golf partner who understands what it is you are looking for in a round, whether it is just practice, advice or companionship. Avoid players if you’re just not comfortable with their style of play. Best advice, join a clinic or a league with like minded players, find an instructor who is willing to play a few rounds with you and enjoy the game as you learn.
Who is your best golf companion? Or your worst?