Unless you play golf alone, the sport is largely a social experience. It takes all kinds to chase the little white ball, so it’s important to pick your playing partners wisely, or learn to get along with their eccentricities.
But sometimes you can’t choose your playing partners. If you don’t have a foursome, the starter may fill it out for you. If you’re in a tournament, you live with the draw.
To help, here’s a list of a few common personality types of players and advice on how to handle them if they are put in your group:
· The “I Never Play This Bad” Golfer: Avoid this player at almost any cost. He fully expects to shoot 80, but rarely breaks 100. Always great on the driving range, but awful once the round starts. Has the answer to why he hit a bad shot immediately after striking the ball but never knows in advance. This player is never pleasant to be around, always griping and complaining. Must have had a great round sometime in his life and came to believe it was typical. Stay quiet, politely nod at his comments and move on. Bring earbuds and listen to music. Tell him “Nice 7” with a straight face and he’ll stop talking to you.
· The Slow Golfer: This type in no hurry. He wants to enjoy his time outside his cubicle and away from the honey-do list. He’s never ready to hit when it’s his turn. He takes 10 practice swings before he shoots. He reads his putts from every possible angle. He tells jokes when he should be getting ready to hit. Start playing “ready golf” – hit and get in the cart. He’ll get the message. Or point to him when the group behind you pulls up while you’re still on the tee.
· The Fast Golfer: Especially frustrating when in the same group as The Slow Golfer, The Fast Golfer cares more about his pace of play than his score. He’ll give you a time update on every hole. Tries to speed everybody up by starting to walk toward his ball during your practice swing. He seems oblivious to the fact that his hectic pace won’t make the group in front of you any faster. Try to get him involved in a wager of some kind. That’s a sure way to slow a golfer down.
· The “Wanna Bet?” Golfer: He’s either a good player looking for a payday or a bad player trying to take his mind off his game. He’s happy shooting 127 if he wins a $2 Nassau and can needle you the entire round. Don’t bet with someone you don’t know – too many bad outcomes. Beating with a bad golfer is tempting but not worth the risk or reward. He’s distracting and your game suffers. Tell him no firmly. If that doesn’t do it, offer him high stakes and no handicap. Tell him to put his money where his mouth is or shut up. He’ll usually shut up, but rarely settles up.
· The Rules Stickler Golfer: A real pain in the butt. You pick up a tap in and he announces “bogey” instead of par and tells you there are no gimmes on the PGA Tour – and there are no wagers at stake. He tells you your score after every hole and makes you name each shot if he thinks you’re wrong. He checks your ball to make sure it’s not teed in front of the blocks on every tee. He points out if you hit out of turn. If possible, catch him in any rules violation and expose him. Or just tell him you’re there to have fun, not to play on the PGA Tour.
· The “Just Glad to be Here” Golfer: Probably the best option, this guy smiles when he hits it in the woods. Nothing ruins his mood. A missed 2-footer for birdie doesn’t prompt any cussing. Problem is, he’s also happy after you hit a bad shot, and that’s infuriating. You hit a ball in the lake and he continues as if nothing happened, quickly resuming his conversation about last night’s TV show. He means well, and he’s right. Big picture, it really doesn’t matter whether you shoot 82 or 86. Tell him you’re trying to improve your scoring and you want to give it your best effort. Don’t get mad, but let him know you’re trying to shoot the lowest score possible. He’s a good guy. He’ll get the picture and remain pleasant.