Be a Better Playing Partner

I’ve played with and seen many characters on the golf course during my career. Luckily, most have been great people and a pleasant experience. But I’ve seen my fair share of obnoxious idiots too. Read the room, observe, and be aware. Follow a little advice, and even if you can’t break 100, you’ll always be invited to play or become a regular in the Saturday foursome.

Ask before rocking out These days8 out of 10 foursomes have a portable speaker in one of their golf carts, playing a football game or someone’s favorite playlist. These Bluetooth speakers are so popular they are sold at your local golf shop and some now feature gps capabilities to where they’ll read out your distance from the pin. So I’d say they are here to stay. I don’t mind music during a casual round or even when playing a scramble. But turn up some Johnny Cash or Bon Jovi during the club championship or an important match and I might fire a stinger right at your cart. When playing with new players for the first time be courteous and ask if playing music bothers them. It should be set at a volume level that can only be heard when near your cart anyways. If your partners can hear it from across the fairway, it’s too loud whether they gave you permission or not.

Get off my ball “Get up” “Sit down” “Bite” “Kick right” How about shut up? Talking to another players’ ball is tacky and can sometimes backfire. You yell sit down and it does…30 yards short of the green. You then stumble and stutter and force out a “get up” but it’s too late. You look and sound like a jackass. The occasional “go in” is fine and saying nice shot is always welcome, especially after a nice shot. But let the player talk to their ball.

Spare some change If you mark your ball by sticking a tee in the green I may stick that tee in your eye. Ok, so you forgot to put a quarter or your favorite ball marker in your pocket on the first hole. Fine. But pull that tee out later in the round and I’m gonna throw a handful of coins at you.

Pick up a round Pick up the tab at the turn or the 19th hole every once in awhile; especially if you’re a guest or if someone else paid for you. You bust your boy’s chops about everything else. Don’t be shy in telling him you’ve paid the last 5 bills at the halfway house. Not everyone carries cash these days, but stash some ones in your car for the bag boys and cart attendants. The worst is when your group all throws the staff a five and you’re standing there with your debit card like a moron.

Be on time And with that, I mean be 20 minutes early. People underestimate how long it takes to put your shoes on, check-in, get your cart, and fill your cooler. Not to mention have at least 5 minutes to spare to stretch or hit a few putts. Waiting on the first tee for your buddy while the starter scolds you like the principal in 8th grade is no way to start the day. Plus, not rushing around and a few minutes to spare is beneficial to you as well.

Out of sight Where to stand during someone else’s shot, especially on the tee, is extremely important. Standing directly behind the player, or down the line, is not the place to be. You can still be seen in their peripheral vision. Instead, slide to the left or right of their target line. They can’t see you but you can still keep an eye on their shot. This goes for the green as well. In fact, it is against the rules to stand directly on someone’s line whether it is behind them or beyond the hole. This is why you see a caddie or partner in a team event walk away right before the player takes their stroke. It’s even more uncouth to do it to an opponent. Once the ball is struck you can then step in and get a read as the ball rolls to the hole.

Misery loves company We’ve all been there. You’re playing so bad you want to punch a puppy and throw your clubs off a bridge. But try your best to not let your bad day and mood effect the rest of the group. They paid their money and this is their day off too. Only a select few play better angry. Swear for a sec, take a few deep breaths, and shake it off. Have your moment, but let it be just that…a moment. Chances are you’re not good enough to get mad anyways.

One and done Take one practice swing. One. If it didn’t feel just right, address the ball and make that one count. Unless you have a funky shot and need to rehearse a shorter backswing because of a branch or check your balance on an uneven lie. One is enough. Take 3 or 4 every shot and your next invitation will be lost in the mail.

Silence is golden We get it, it’s a Wednesday and you really should be in the office. But keep the calls and earbud convos to a minimum. If you can’t, perhaps you shouldn’t have played today.

Take care of the course This will rub off on the rest of the group. Don’t litter. Replace or fill your divots. Repair your ball marks. Rake the trap.

Cheaters never win Nor do they get invited to play again. Don’t be the cheater in the group. Period. There’s nothing worse. I’d rather play with three 30 handicaps. I’ll actually encourage them to cheat…just a little.

Enjoy the game and each other,

Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional

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