Okay, so you’ve not only managed to find yourself invited to a business minded round of golf, but you’ve somehow managed to not lose that invitation from the time you received it to the first tee. Good job. But, there’s still 18 holes left to play so pay attention to these tips so you don’t look like too much of a rookie out there.
Don’t make the round last any longer than it already is by trying to stand on some kind of ceremonial nonsense. If the group who invited you really want to adhere to all that teeing order crap then fine, but the best way to earn an invitation back is to leave an impression of efficiency by not dawdling around waiting for the guy who made par to get off his phone so he can hit before everyone else. The only time it’s advisable to follow order of play is on the green, but even then you should be ready to place your ball and putt as soon as it’s your turn.
Leave the movie references out of the conversation
This goes back to a post I submitted previously, but mindless banter offered simply to fill the silence is far more awkward and annoying than the silence ever was. We’ve all seen Happy Gilmore, we’ve all seen Tin Cup, and Bagger Vance, and The Greatest Game Ever Played, and Seven Days in Utopia, and whatever other golf movie you’re waiting to shovel one liners from down everybody’s throats. If golf movie references are getting added to your conversational cue cards, you’ve got bigger social skills issues to attend to than this golf game. Go fix those before you come out to the course.
This isn’t a long drive contest
You know what’s cool? Watching a five yard draw carry 290 and roll out to 300+. You know what isn’t cool? Watching someone who has no idea how to make the ball go 300 yards try to make the ball go 300 yards. It looks like a baby deer trying to throw a squirrel off its back. It’s awkward, not athletic in any form, and guaranteed to be the only thing your partners talk about after the round. Unless your handicap is one digit, in which case you probably don’t need to be reading this column, don’t try to wow anybody with distance off the tee. Hitting the ball 300 yards and still making double is the same double as the guy that took five shots to reach the green but only needed one putt. Swing within what you can control, and max out your swing at about 70-80%. You’ll get a more consistent flight, you won’t look like you’re trying to clear a jungle, and you won’t walk off 18 wringing sweat because you’ve been going balls to the wall on every shot.
Concede the first putt
By giving the group you’re playing with a putt, you’re letting them know that you don’t play to stick them with any archaic rules not seen since Palmer was still on tour. You’re also signaling that there are bigger things at hand besides golf like the business that brought all of you out there in the first place. It also tells them that you’re gracious, and that you either believe they’re good enough that you know forcing them to hole out a 3-footer is wasting everyone’s time, or you’re experienced enough in the game that you understand the nerves and frustrations that come with short putts. Spare them those feelings and keep them having fun. Whatever your reason for doing it just do it, they’ll appreciate the gesture and it’ll go a long way toward cementing whatever impression you’re trying to put off.
Be the first to buy the round, but the second to hit on the cart girl
Cart girl etiquette can be tricky. Flirting with the beer cart girl is almost as fundamental of a part of the game as cultivating a solid short game, but you never really know how your flirtations are going to be received. If you’ve been invited to a course your group regularly plays, there’s a solid chance they’ve made a relationship with the cart girl and have come to regard her as their own. Someone they try to keep scumbags such as yourself away from, because they feel they’re the only ones harmless enough to get to hit on her. (Think Gus and Lorrie from Lonesome Dove, that kind of relationship). Because of this it’s best to just be polite and generous with your tip, and wait for someone else to test the waters on how acceptable both hitting on and talking about the attractiveness of the cart girl is. Another reason for avoiding getting too blue with your comments is one of your playing partners may have daughters exactly the same age as aforementioned cart girl. The last thing he wants is to be reminded that his little girl has reached an age where she’s vulnerable to the disgusting advances of all the men of the world.
Leave your swing advice at home
I shouldn’t have to type this, but I’ve been in situations where I’ve seen guys who on their best day wouldn’t see the low side of 100 toss out swing advice like it’s candy from a parade float. You know what grown men pretty much universally find annoying? Being told how to do something they’re already doing, especially if that advice is coming unsolicited. The closest you should ever get to swing advice is if someone compliments some aspect of your game. Mention where/how you learned it, and talk about how grateful you are for having it. Don’t tell them you think it’d help their game, and don’t offer websites and videos to watch. Just acknowledge the compliment and the origin of the skill, and move on. If you’re going to be audacious enough to throw out swing advice to a bunch of people you barely know, you better also be throwing out a red number.
Check your emotions
Remember what you’re here for. You’re not here to go low, the guys you’re playing with didn’t bring you out on a contingency that they won’t buy your product unless you break 80 or beat them, and if they did, they’re probably assholes to do business with anyway, don’t waste your time. If you have a bad hole, forget it. If you put one in the water, then you’re done. Don’t bother trying to take a drop and save double or one over. Just get back in the cart and get back to why you were brought out there in the first place. Nobody likes to watch a grown man throw a temper tantrum, especially if it’s a grown man throwing a temper tantrum who is nowhere near good enough to have cause to get angry in the first place. So again, if you’re going to be weaving tapestries of profanity all across the course, it better because you almost broke the course record. If you’re struggling to break 90, keep it PG; these shanks should come as no surprise.
There you go, some basic rules to avoid incurring the wrath of whoever you’re playing with, and to help keep the priorities straight while you’re out there. See you on the tee..