Have you ever had a great time playing golf and one or more of your playing partners did not? Or maybe they’re having fun and you’re not? What’s that all about…shouldn’t we all be able to have fun at the same time? What’s the disconnect? Let’s consider some easy ways to increase the chance of everyone having fun at the same time.
Life Challenges – things happen in life that have nothing to do with golf and yet can affect our golfing time. A sick family member, work pressures, an argument or misunderstanding and more, can make for a rough day. If it is your playing partner – now is the time to be empathetic, be a listening ear if necessary and encourage them to enjoy their time ‘away from it all’. If it is you… let your playing partners know you have had a rough day. Do your best to focus on the moment - enjoy the beauty of the course, tap into the wildlife and your wonderful playing partners. While it may not be easy, try to bring your thoughts to the present moment and the beauty that surrounds you. You just may find your burden lifting and a new found perspective.
Golf game is off! Putts aren’t dropping and the ball is finding every sand bunker and on the course – days like this happen. . . If this is describing your round, now is the time to put things into perspective and monitor your emotions on the course. This is golf after all – you are not conducting brain surgery, closing a mega million-dollar deal that will shelter the homeless and you are probably not headed for the LPGA Tour. Take a reality check, start finding the humor in it all and lighten up. If you are playing with someone who is having an off game understand that some people experience a lot of frustration when their expected skill level just isn’t there. This isn’t the time to offer advice or tips to improve their game unless asked - be empathic, help look for the wayward shots, only comment on the good shots and focus your attention and enjoyment on your game, your surroundings and the other positive things that are occurring.
Slow play. If you like a brisk pace and you find yourself waiting on every hole, it’s time to take a deep breath, kick back and focus on other things. Share some jokes, tell a story, get to know each other better. You have no control over the current situation so figure out ways to not let it ruin your day. If it is your playing partners who seem to be out for a Sunday stroll and are holding up others, perhaps some nicely made suggestions can get everyone moving a little quicker.
Competitive or social golf? It’s up to each individual to determine that for themselves, not their playing partners. Golf can be both competitive and social and it can be done simultaneously by different players in the same foursome. As long as this isn’t a tournament and the round is not going to be posted or used for prizes – does it matter how other golfers choose to play? Rules “experts and enforcers” back away – it can be incredibly intimidating and unenjoyable to social and new golfers to be reminded how they are not abiding by the rules. (This is different from pace of play issues) As long as the other golfers aren’t keeping you from playing how you want to, let everyone play as they want to. This is the time to focus on what makes an enjoyable round of golf for you!
Playing partners are at significantly different skill levels. Better players may get frustrated playing with newer or less skilled golfers while those higher handicap golfers may be intimated by the better players or worried because they are not as good. This can cause stress for everyone, put a damper on an otherwise terrific day and for some, end up being their last round with your Chapter. Golfers of all levels can more easily play together if they acknowledge the situation up front and come up with a strategy to address it ahead of time. Some examples are: agreeing to play ready golf (explain/teach/demonstrate/guide them on what this means), agreeing to be open to etiquette and pace of play tips, newer or higher handicap players playing a scramble format or agreeing to pick up when appropriate - play to double par or double bogie then dropping the ball on the green to take a max of two putts.
Remember that there will be golfers who are better then you and you will be better than others. That doesn’t mean you can’t play together and still have fun. Golf is a terrific way to meet a variety of people – don’t limit yourself and potential opportunities - expand your playing partners to include all levels of golfers.
At the end of the day. . . IT’S JUST GOLF!