- Golfer Benefits
Has this ever happened to you before? You book a tee time with a friend or a full foursome at your favorite course a few days ahead of time. The forecast looks great, and you’re looking forward to an enjoyable weekend round. Then all of a sudden, life gets in the way for somebody in the group. They get sick, there’s a family emergency, they overslept, you name it.
All of a sudden the club fills the open spot(s) with golfers you don’t know. Naturally, there may be a fear of judgement if you’re teeing it up with somebody different, adding to those first tee jitters. But fear not, at the end of the day, you’re all heading in the same direction and are seeking an enjoyable experience. Who knows, you could start a round with a stranger and leave as friends.
Here are six things to keep in mind to enjoy your experience when playing with somebody for the first time.
This may sound like basic etiquette, but it may take some time to properly warm-up to somebody new. Maybe you don’t have anything to say on the first tee, and that’s OK. Either way, it never hurts to emphasize politeness and make small talk as soon as you have an opening. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on hole 1, but if it is, it can set the mood quickly.
There’s a whole bunch of conversation starters:
-How long have you been playing golf?
-How often do you play this course?
-What’s one of the best shots you’ve ever made (hole-in-one, perhaps)?
Non Golf Related
-What do you like to do outside of golf?
-Do you have any children (or pets)?
-Have you seen the show (insert Hulu, Netflix, etc. show here)?
There’s nothing wrong with simply golfing your own ball, but it might be wise to share your handicap beforehand and clarify the format you’d like to play before you tee off. If you want to focus on shooting the lowest score possible, say so beforehand.
Or if it’s just a friendly game, keep it as such. Don’t be afraid to mix things up mid-round. Also avoid getting overly caught up in rules if you or somebody makes a mistake. Get a ball back in play and keep things moving. You can figure out scoring and whatnot later.
No matter what level you’re playing, everybody can do the simple things like asking if you want they flagstick in or out, picking up a club or keeping an extra set of eyes on your playing partner’s ball in case it misses the mark and drifts off course. Especially in a friendly game, it doesn’t hurt to simply ask, “What would you do here?” Perhaps your playing partner(s) for the day might know about a bunker lurking on the other side of a dog leg or know which side of the green is best to land on. Likewise, you may know the best line off the tee, or you have a good read of the green. It’s wise to avoid unsolicited advice, but if the person is receptive to it or seeks it, share away (so long as you know what you’re talking about).
It may be funny to see a friend of yours chuck their club or say some not so nice words about the ball or themselves. But in front of strangers, this may build a further divide between you and your playing partners. Keep it positive and remember everybody gets to laugh at themselves from time-to-time. Oh, and pretend the golf course superintendent is watching at all times. It’s a frustrating game, but don’t take it out on the turf or sand. We may get a kick out of watching outbursts (see below), but save it the professionals. They’re the ones actually making a livelihood playing this game.
If you’ve been around people long enough, you know when somebody is not being genuine. Even if you think you might not see this person again after your round, you want to leave a good lasting impression on others. People tend to gravitate to those who are good company, so even if you don’t have a good round, if you share some laughs and good stories and you extend common courtesies, there’s good chance you’ll meet for another round in the future, and hopefully shoot a lower score the next time.
The 19th hole is a great way to stretch out your day after 4-plus hours on the golf course. If you’re the type who doesn’t say much on the golf course, this is the perfect opportunity to connect with your fellow golfer(s). Even if you don’t end up playing golf with this person again, you may still find a common interests outside of golf. Not everyone will be your best friend, but as legendary teacher Harvey Penick once said, “If you play golf, you are my friend.”