The Transition to a ‘Real’ Golf Course
As a new golfer, I spent my first summer playing the game with single digit golfers. In fact I won quite a few bets in the process. No, it wasn’t for winning the match, but each time the guys forgot to stop at my tee box in their haste to get to their ball, I earned a glass of chardonnay in the clubhouse – Play Your Own Way Rule #13.
The transition from the practice range to the golf course can be an unexpected setback. We tend to forget that the perfectly straight drive on the range was actually one in a bucket of many attempts. The rules of golf take over on the course, and it’s the first shot that always counts. Here’s the catch, if you’re forced to follow the rules of golf it could take 350 shots to finish a round! That won’t be fun for you or your playing partners. The good news is you don’t have to follow every rule if you’re playing for recreation. In fact, if you’re versed in the etiquette and keep up a good pace of play, you’ll be surprised at the invitations to come back to play.
I have to admit the first time I stepped on a course it was quite a humbling experience. I put my skills and knowledge to the test with the new man in my life. After hitting buckets of balls all summer long he pronounced me ready for the first tee.
Scorecard and pencil – check. Here we go! The first surprise was my whiff on the first tee. Wait a minute, the driver was my best club in the bag. My second swing was more like it. A 180 yard drive with 160 more to go. Seven shots later the ball is safely in the hole. Give me an 8. Actually, 9 if you count that first miss, but is anyone really watching me? 17 more holes to go – I can do this.
As you might guess by the time I hit the 5th hole I was more than halfway to 100. I quickly realized this was going to be a painful day if I counted every shot. My first instinct was to call it quits and head back to the clubhouse , but with a lot of encouragement (and a bag of Peanut M&M’s) I decided to rethink the rest of this round.
First things first. Ditch the scorecard that was mocking me. Next I made it easy on myself and decided to place my ball ahead of the other players so it wasn’t always my turn. By hole 9, I traded my sand wedge for a foot wedge and hit my ball from the fairway. I made it even easier to get the ball airborne by placing my ball on a short tee. By the time we hit the 16th green I was giving myself 5 foot putts to save myself the frustration. When we finally made it to 18, there I was high fiving to celebrate a round well done.
That was the start of my Play Your Own Way rules for learning golfers. Choose from my list or create your own and enjoy.
Play Your Own Way Tips
- Still can’t see the flag from forward tees? Create your own tee box and start at the 150 yard marker.
- Does it seem like it’s always your turn? (the player furthest from the hole goes next) Move your ball ahead of the other players and earn yourself a time out.
- Having trouble getting your fairway shots airborne? Put your ball on a short tee, and give yourself a better chance.
- Hot, tired and out of steam? Sit out a hole and help out your group. Look for last balls, pull the flag, located the yardage markers or flag down the beverage cart!. Better yet, walk the hole and burn some extra calories.
- Land in the sand? Toss the ball onto the fairway and save yourself some frustration. Don’t forget to rake up your tracks.
- Is there a bunker (creek, ravine, pond, anything scary) between your ball and the hole? Move your ball on the safe side of the obstacle and play your shot from there.
- Just missed the green and deep in the rough? If you missed the lesson on chipping pick up the ball and toss it towards the hole.
- Pick up the ball after double par. You’ve had enough fun on that hole.
- One foot from the hole and your teammates say ‘that’s good’? Take your putt anyway and hear the ball land in the cup. You earned it!