I don’t think this is a minority opinion. Maybe if this piece reaches the boomers I’ll catch some shit for “not understanding the spirit of the game,” but within my generation I feel like I’m finally saying how we’ve all been feeling.
I hate pairing up with randos on the golf course. A lot.
From an industry side, I can see why some asshole manning a tee sheet a long time ago decided to force two loners to play together, but that’s not going to stop me from trying to fight that guy if I catch him in the afterlife. No other industry forces people into sharing the experiences at their establishment like a golf course does. Ever walked into a Chili’s and been told, “I know you mentioned on the phone that this reservation was for your anniversary, but we’re a little busy for you two to sit alone. We’re going to have to pair you up with Todd and John here.” I’d walk right the fuck out. It’s perfectly acceptable to decline an offer to share a cab or an Uber with a stranger, and those are less than an hour. Why am I being forced to share the next four hours with this person I’ve never met just because I didn’t roll up to the tee with more than myself?
Pairing up with randos is too high risk, low reward. Sure I might get somebody cool and we might keep the good times rolling with a beer after the round, maybe even exchange info or something, who knows. But what if we don’t? Last week a woman came in claiming she was going to play with one of our members. She said the reason she was playing was because she had left the halfway house/rehab clinic in California, stopped briefly in Tucson, and then driven straight here with no stops so she could “visit her daddy who almost died,” but the hospital wasn’t taking visitors this early so she had time for golf. What if I get paired up with her instead? You’re telling me I’m supposed to be okay with coming to the course and paying a green fee only to have it shanghaied by this escaped drug addict and the member she’s playing with (who is himself a drug addict)?
Even if you don’t get paired up with an insane person, can you truly enjoy a round of golf with a stranger’s presence looming over your round like some silent specter? I can’t.
I’m a vocal golfer. During a round I weave a tapestry of profanity similar to Bear Bryant or Vince Lombardi motivating their teams through the 4th quarter. I can’t do that if I’m paired up with the local Baptist preacher. Golf is an intimate setting. You’re exposing a lot about yourself to people you don’t know. You’re displaying your anger tendencies, athletic flaws, pretty much everything about you is out in the open for this stranger’s enjoyment/judgment. All except for sexual prowess, but hell they’ll probably be able to infer that if your swing tempo has the rhythm of an improv jazz piece.
Besides being the golf equivalent of a blind date, pairing up with randos sucks because you spend the entire round having the same superficial conversations you have with your Uber driver.
“So what do you do?”
“Okay, so have you been in the area for a while?”
And don’t even get me started on people that seek out the random pairing. This guy doesn’t have a tee time, and “Doesn’t mind being paired up if you have a group to put me with.” Yeah, I’m not the cabin counselor at summer camp. I get that you derive pleasure from harassing strangers for hours at a time, but I’m not going to do that to the other groups that came to play. They came here with a specific experience in mind, and despite your insistence I’m not going to force them to gamble on your version being better than the one they wanted.
It’s time for Pro Shops to stop treating courses like airplane cabins and movie theaters, and more like freeways and toll roads. I can ride Greyhound from Austin to San Antonio, but I won’t. I’ll take SH130 as far as I can, in my own vehicle, because that’s the experience I want. If I spot a hitchhiker along the way and don’t pick him up, no one’s going to shame me for my selfishness or for not respecting the honor of the road. It’s high time we put that same mentality to the golf course..