As I dive deeper into golf life, I’ve come to realize that there’s a component to the sport that may very well be as important to the success of your game as your clubs.
Your playing partners can not only make or break a round, they can positively – or negatively – impact your entire view of the game. I’m realizing, as I play more places and with more folks, there are all kinds of players out there; most worth finding a way to play with no matter what, and a few here and there that you may *clears throat* be super busy any time they ask you to play.
Here’s my take, so far, on playing partners, their point of view and how they impact my play.
The Experienced Player S/O: One of the reasons I was happy to finally embrace golf in my life is that my husband of 40 years (my significant other) has long loved the sport. We play together often, and (thanks much to our experience as mixed doubles tennis partners) usually meld quite well out there.
But there are things spouses should, for the most part, avoid. First and most of all: Unsolicited tips and mini lessons. Unless your spouse asks you for these, avoid them – and don’t take offense. When my husband was learning to ski, I was a ski instructor. But after one morning out there trying to teach him, we opted to pay a stranger instead. This, for us, removes judgment and lightens the time we spend in the sports we love.
That said, it is nice to have a spouse who knows the sport and can help you follow the rules, find the tee boxes and of course, grab your iced tea from the beverage cart.
The group of passionate golfer friends: I really hit it lucky when I met my golf friends Larry, Carl, Kevin, Olivia, Dan and a few others. They are all seasoned, amazing and dedicated golfers. And when I play with them? It’s all about support.
They remind me to be happy and not rush (rushing is one of my biggest habits I need to break). They cheer when I have personal victories. On a round last winter, one of my super-talented golf friends started to give me tips on my grip. As I readied to tee off, I heard another one of them whisper, “Don’t do that to her out here. Let’s just support her and she can get those tips on the driving range.” That’s a good group to play with. Find those people and pay for their drinks so they always want you back.
The long-time player you trust: While I don’t usually seek tips while on course with friends, with my mother, it’s another story. She’s not only played most of her life (still hitting the ball at almost 90), but she knows me, my temperament and how I like to be helped (and when I don’t want to be helped). I’ve given her the green light to give me tips, and she does. I’ll do the same with my son-in-law, a scratch golfer and a high school teacher and coach. One way to know someone great would be the right person to allow to give you guidance? They’d never do it if you did not ask.
The PGA Player: OK, not everyone is lucky enough to land a spot in a PGA pro am, but if you can, do. My time at my first PGA event is what propelled me to commit to golf, and I’ll be at another this November. If that’s too hard for you to make happen, no worries: look for other events where you can hit with, play with or just get some facetime with area top players. Mass Golf (https://www.massgolf.org) holds special events for members (and if you golf in Massachusetts, you want to join) like their Ladies Intro to Golf Day each year where you get face-to-face help and even take some swings with some great pros. Check them out for ways to get great pro help and inspiration.
You can also book an on-course playing lesson with a local pro. Taking those lessons off the range and onto the course really levels you up.
The League Friends: This is my top goal for next season: Find a league with a spot for me and play regularly. I’m hoping to make friends, up my play level and maybe even win some little contests time to time. Golf is so popular now it can be hard to find a league taking someone new (if you are not a private club member). I see them out there, those ladies leagues. And I’m hoping to discover if it is as fun as it looks.
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