I would have loved to meet the person who decided the best way to spend an otherwise beautiful day is to take a long stick that you need to swing in perfect unison with your body, in order to connect just right with this little ball just slightly bigger than a marble, so that it will go 200-250 yards straight through a narrow gap lined with trees, sand and water, to land on a patch of grass the size of a postage stamp and ultimately in a hole that is just barely bigger than the ball. I am convinced it is a conspiracy by the beer companies so you can justify an excuse for having a “bad round”. Despite the fact that there are a lot of people who claim they play golf but only a very small percentage who can do it without it being a total humiliation, golf outings and leagues have become a popular way of creating social culture and currency in the corporate world. So, how can a novice golfer participate without it being a catastrophic blow to one’s ego and personal brand equity?
If it is a formal outing, suggest a “Best-Ball Scramble” format which allows for a broader range of skill to play together harmoniously as you can pick the best shot of the group from which to play your next one. Make sure you pick a 4-some who just wants to have fun and not the 1-2 teams who will still be ultra-competitive in this format. You could also suggest one of the new golfing centers like Top Golf that gamify the driving range.
If the outing ends up being a more traditional format where you play your own ball, employ “Anne’s Rules of Golf”. You can also use these rules for casual outings with friends and family because the only way to get better at the sport is to actually play on a course. You can be a driving range pro, but that won’t translate to the course where you need to navigate water, trees, sand, rough, and undulating topography. “Anne’s Rules of Golf” will only work, however, if you don’t let others who feel the outing should be treated like the US Open intimidate you. These rules are designed to help you keep up with the pace of play and be respectful of the other golfers’ shots so you can enjoy the game on your own terms without impacting other’s enjoyment as well. So, here we go:
“Anne’s Rules of Golf” for Novice Golfers:
- You only need to play with 4 clubs: 3 wood to tee off, 5 iron for any fairway shot, 9 iron for approach/pitch/sand shots, and putter for putting. Forget the rest as you aren’t good enough (yet) that the differences matter. As you improve, you can start adding clubs to your bag.
- It should take you less than 60 seconds to approach your ball, take a practice swing and then take your shot. This means you should have already selected your club (see above) and are ready to go when it is your turn. Multiple practice swings are not likely to improve your shot. Instead, they will just tire you out and frustrate the other golfers when your ball only goes about 10 yards. Also, tee off from the most forward tees to increase the chances of being able to play your next shot.
- If your tee or fairway shot lands significantly behind everyone else’s or you have a bad lie, pick your ball up and play from someone else’s ball who is in better position.
- If you land in woods or thick rough and don’t have a clear shot, pick up your ball and move it to a playable position. It is not worth playing ping-pong in the woods just to get a ball in the face.
- If you land in the sand, try one shot. If it doesn’t get you out, pick-up your ball and throw it to a playable position. This is the same for an approach shot right outside the green. Try one shot, but if it doesn’t land on the green, get your ball and toss it onto the green.
- If you land in the water, drop on the other side of the water closer to the hole. It isn’t worth losing an entire sleeve of balls.
- If you can’t find your ball, look for 60 seconds and move on. While you are still learning, don’t invest in expensive balls.
- It is okay to tee-up your ball by picking up your ball, twisting the grass underneath it and gently placing your ball on your organically made tee.
- You only get 3 puts. If the ball doesn’t look like it is going to go in on the third shot, guide it in there so you can hear the satisfying clank.
- Don’t keep score. Your objective is to get course experience and have fun. There is no reason to count strokes. If you feel yourself getting really frustrated, take a couple holes off. A beer helps too.
If it all still seems a little daunting, just remember these inspirational words from Jimmy DeMaret: “Golf and Sex are the only things you can enjoy without being good at them.”
Some tips that will keep you in good graces with other golfers:
- Don’t walk across someone’s putting line.
- Generally, the person furthest out from the hole shoots/putts first.
- The pin doesn’t generally get pulled until all the golfers are on the green.
- Be aware of where everyone is on the golf course so you don’t inadvertently park your cart or yourself in front of someone’s shot.
- Be aware of the golf cart rules dictated by the course.
- Watch people’s shots so you can give them guidance on where their shot landed.
Anne’s Note: As always, I hyperlink to brands I love so I can share the love with you.