As February is slowly coming to a close in New England all I can think about is how much I want warm weather. Don’t get me wrong, I love snow, Christmas, hockey season and the whole bit but, I want to drive with my windows down. One true sign of summer for men is golf and softball (next week’s guide!). Golf doesn’t get much respect from people who have never tried it before and frankly, I don’t think that’s fair. Non-Tournament play needs to be done correctly in order to have a good time out on the links. So, if you’ve never played before, take a listen and get involved and if you already play, this is a good refresher. So grab a 30 pack and get ready for some laughs with friends!
Beer: It is completely necessary to pack a cooler for your golf bag with some loud mouth soup. Golf is the only outdoor game where you can get more hydrated and gain skill through a cold foamy beverage. If tequila can get you to talk to a group of good looking women then a 12 pack can certainly help your chances at a birdie on that 1-handicap dog leg par-5 on the back nine. Calculate the average alcohol intake of you and your friends and make your pregame purchase based on this natural deduction. Bringing enough beer is essential because the last thing you want to be doing is searching for the beer cart because your cooler is dry. However, purchasing a beverage from the beer cart because the cart girl is cute, winked at you, or you “got a vibe from her” is never a problem.
Attire: Attire is always important. Above all, you need to dress as normal as humanly possible while you’re out there. Unless you already dress like an imbecile, leave the Greg Norman hat, the goofy pants and the loud shirt for your Halloween costume. There’s other ways to have fun.
4-Some: Having the right number of guys in your group is a very underrated element to having a solid 19 holes of golf (yes, I said 19). Having two carts of two is perfect. There are far more opportunities for hilarity than one cart of golf or having a cart of two and a cart of one. Plus with four, the 19th hole (clubhouse bar for you rookies) there are more rounds of beer and more laughs to be had. I will get to people in and out of your 4-some in a bit. Just assume for the time being that you have the best possible group available to you.
Wagers: Making a wager or two is always a good idea. You can bet money, tokens to the 19th hole, your watch, or if you’re really trying to dig yourself out of previous bets, an unborn child will suffice. You can play match-play, best score per cart, skins, long drive, long putts, chip ins, or bet on the group who’s on the green behind you while you wait to tee off on the next hole. It’s ok to treat other groups on the course as if they were race horses. When the pony guy on the green behind you sinks a 30 foot put you better tender your winning’s toward buying that gentleman a beer or two. If you are going to be this wild on the wagers it’s best to bring a notebook so you can keep track of who owes who.
Old Golf Balls: Be sure to bring plenty of golf balls that you won’t mind sacrificing to nature the golf gods. You never want to be the guy who shows up with three sleeves of Pro-V 1′s and ends up bumming balls off of people. When most people are drinking during golf their game improves however, if too much alcohol is consumed their game will get sloppy. There’s a fine line here. In this case there will be plenty of duffs, slices, hooks, and curses to send the ball into the drink or deep into Ferngully. Didn’t see the Ferngully reference coming did you? When you are this low on golf balls grab as many as you can while you are in the woods so you can have more fuel for slicing into other portions of the hundred acre wood. If you are having a decent day and are looking for your ball or someone else’s ball still be sure to pick up those strays and toss them to your friend who couldn’t hit the ball into water while standing on the poop deck of a boat. It’s actually killing three birds with one stone. Your friend doesn’t have to borrow any of your good balls/reserves, you look like a Saint for hooking him up and also it’s a fun and subtle way to insult your friend.
Blinders: If there are two things that you need to have a fun day with your buddies on the links it’s your metaphorical blinders and your short term memory. You need to be prepared to be made fun of for something you just did (or didn’t do) and/or something that you did (or didn’t do) ten years ago. This is what golf is all about. Get the ball in the hole and bond with your friends by poking fun at them and most importantly, yourself.
Etiquette: (pronounced [,eti'ket]) is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. I found this on Wikipedia so there is a chance this is not true. This is something that should never be over-looked. You want to stay away from actions that could be deemed as humor at a UMass frat house. Vulgar verbals among your group that can only be heard by your group are entirely acceptable. As long as you leave it between your group, anything goes. Just appear acceptable and cultured to those around you. However, the “Dick-Out” rule that requires you to play your second shot with your pants at your ankles (not undergarments, this isn’t prison) applies if you fail to reach the Ladies Tee’s with your first shot from the Tee Box. If there is a secluded area and no one but your group is around all bets are off, you MUST perform the Dick-Out. Get your blinders (see above) ready if you have trouble making it past where the ladies swing the big stick.
A piece of etiquette that is always acceptable to use during non-match play rounds is the use of the Foot Wedge. Listen, none of us are going to be on the pro tour any time soon and chances are we aren’t playing on a magnificent and well maintained golf course like Augusta National Golf Club where the Master’s is held every year. So, chances are that there will be an exposed root or an area without grass in the middle of the fairway. Get the opinion of your counterparts before using the Foot Wedge. Unless your friends suck they will agree to the use of a Foot Wedge (which does not show up on your score card) and rely on you hitting a duffer to beat you rather than some bad luck on where the ball landed. A Foot Wedge can also not be used to get out of a hazard (water, woods, sand, etc) without penalty. However, it can be used to move away from a tree if it is directly in your swing plane but don’t get too liberal with this luxury.
Lastly, claiming you found your ball in the woods when you did not is a cardinal sin. Secretly dropping a ball out of your pocket when no one is looking and exclaiming “found it!” does not make you a man. Using a ball you are walking by and claiming it your own also makes you a horrible person. Just be a man, sac up, and take the penalty stroke. If all parties involved deem that your golf ball should be findable but the ranger or the group behind you is on top of you, it is ok to drop a ball where everyone thinks it may have landed and move on. Don’t be the group that looks for a ball for 20 minutes and holds up everyone behind you. At that point, you become “that group” and it is important to stay away from being labeled as such.
“Want to learn a way to prevent a slice like that?”
“Sure I’d love to hear this because I’m pretty sure I am on pace for an 85 and you are looking at seeing a 110 when all is said and done. Please, give me your insight that has improved your game so much!”
It is imperative that you avoid having this guy in your group at all costs. Not only does this guy slow down your game, chances are is that he is also annoying. Nothing is worse than a person bugging you all day who also sucks at golf. If you are caught in the golf cart with this person all day, bring ear plugs…or more beer to tune him out.
2. The second guy you want to avoid is the serious guy. The guy that thinks he is low 80′s material when in all actuality he is mid-90′s. This is the guy that is cursing after every swing, yelling at friends with unnecessary anger for whispering while lining up a putt, or the guy that has never allowed use of the foot wedge. This guy, in your group or not, can always be found out on the links and he is a man you do not want to associate with…mostly because he is a sucky person on the course. He may be fun and friendly outside of the links but, avoid him at all costs. You will learn A LOT about people when they have a golf club in their hand. Steer clear of this goober.
3. The last guy you want to avoid is the ranger with nothing better to do. This is either the ranger that wants to get someone in trouble because he’s old and bitter or the guy that constantly tells you stories about his heyday. To avoid this guy, use your golf etiquette (see above) and or/pray to God the over-friendly ranger doesn’t find you. That’s your only hope. The over-friendly ranger isn’t an awful person but, you don’t want him ruining the fun on your man-date with you and your buddies.
“What Happens On The Course, Stays On The Course”: I know this is cliché but it always rings true when implemented. The golf course is a sanctuary when you are with your friends as it is just a downgraded version of Vegas. It is extremely imperative that you leave anything said and done on the golf course. Most of the things done on the course are irrelevant to anyone who was not there but, it’s the words that are spoken that could get people in trouble. Respect the Man Code and do NOT disrespect this in any way shape or form. If you do violate this you will not only be exiled from the golf group but there is a chance you lose your group of friends. It is also quite possible to have your man card confiscated if it is not already in the trousers pocket that your significant other wears in your relationship.
In conclusion, the above guidelines should be noted by both veterans and rookies alike. Learn to leave the seriousness of life in the parking lot and have a good time with your buddies. The golf course is a way to escape every day life, get some fresh air, and enjoy the friends you are with. If at any point in time you have violated any of these guidelines please do yourself and the rest of the golfing community a favor and either quit or scroll back to the top and figure out where you need assistance. If there is something not mentioned that you wish to question you may leave it in the comment section below.
Keep your head down and may your drawers stay above your ankles at all times out there this summer.