More than a few Golfers have written to me asking if I could write an article on “how to keep my poise and play golf with very slow Golfers”. This seems to be an issue that affects a lot of Golfers and your ability to keep your rhythm going on the golf course.
Let me start by telling you a story about my golf game the other day. Unfortunately, I don’t play as much golf as you probably think I do. So when I do have a chance to play – it’s a special treat. Then add the fact that I was going to meet an old friend I hadn’t seen in over a year and that I was also playing at my all-time favorite golf course … well, you can then understand my disappointment being paired up with Mr. Coors Light.
It’s difficult playing with someone that gets on your nerves regardless of whether they’re very slow or are constantly talking when you’re getting ready to play a shot or opening beers at 8:30 am (and continuing to do so every other hole for 36 holes) – or in my case last week with Mr. Coors Light: having him accomplish all of the above.
Needless to say – it’s very difficult to concentrate on your PLAN with all of this going on around you.
When you have a slow Golfer in your group; the toughest task for many Golfers is that you always end up being the last person to finish putting on the green. And because of the slow Golfer – there’s always a group in the middle of the fairway waiting for you to putt whilst they have their legs crossed, leaning on the club they want to hit and staring at you to hurry-up as they mumble to each other about how slow you are.
It gets to the point of you wanting to look back at that group so that you can scream – “It’s not me. It’s him! He’s driving me crazy!!!”
Though with you being the last Golfer and feeling as though the weight of the world is on you to hurry up and putt fast so that you can get off the green in the next two seconds … well, let’s just say that you miss a lot of 5 to 10 footers that you should’ve made. Which means you have a lot of potential Pars that become Bogey’s and a lot of Bogey’s that become dreaded Double Bogey’s.
How do you overcome this?
It may not be easy to do, but the first step is to tell that person and let it be known early in the round. This happened the other day in the two rounds my friend and I were paired with Mr. Coors Light. We started off with a good pace and were right on the group in front of us all the way through the 7th hole. Then we started to fall behind.
As I started to notice the group behind us beginning to wait for us in the fairway, I said I needed to do two things: One, watch my Pace of Play. I might’ve been starting to slow down to the speed of Mr. Coors Light. Two, I needed to speak with him after we get off the green.
Now, this isn’t always an easy thing to do, especially when you have a guy on his 4th beer at 10:15 am. Though, I needed to do it or it would’ve affected not just my game, but my friend’s game, the Golfers behind us, the Golfers behind them and the Golfers the rest of the day as the pace for the entire course would’ve been slowed because of our group. Besides, do you think the Ranger on the golf course that day would’ve done anything? He didn’t even notice us being two holes behind the group in front of us as he was so absorbed driving slowly down the cart path peering into the bushes looking for lost golf balls.
Which brings me to a point – why do so many Rangers drive around with golf ball retrievers? What do they need them for besides to snag golf balls that they load up in a plastic bag in their golf cart that each day gets emptied into their personal golf bag?
But going back to the Golfer in my group enjoying his Rocky Mountain Refreshment; I just said – ‘Mr. Coors Light, we’re falling behind the group in front of us and the group behind us is often waiting on us. I’m going to do my part to speed up my play – will you do the same?’
Ask me if that worked. Of course it worked! His response and the response I receive just about every time is – ‘Oh, I didn’t realize we were playing slow. I’ll step up my pace. Thank you.’ Most Golfers don’t really understand they’re slow until you tell them. And nobody wants to be known as a slow Golfer – so people will actually appreciate you for not allowing them to get that reputation.
On-the-other-hand, often times the toughest Golfers to play with are the “Ball Hawks”. You know who I’m speaking about – they’re the ones that can’t stand to lose a golf ball. They search forever for their golf ball in the trees or the water. And when you do muster up the courage to say – ‘I think that’s gone. Why don’t you just drop one?’ They often come up with the one rule they know in the rule book – “Well the rule book says I can search for 5 minutes!”
And with this Golfer, having by the 15th hole having lost 7 golf balls – you’ve spent 35 minutes of your round looking for golf balls that were never found. No wonder golf can take 5 hours to play!
What do I do in that situation? I bring extra golf balls. Not Pro V1’s of course. Though, whenever I help a Golfer find a golf ball, I always seem to find at least one other golf ball … ‘what were you hitting?’ “I’m hitting a Pinnacle Gold” ‘That’s too bad, this is a Top Flite’.
So where does that found golf ball go? Either to that Golfer or into my golf bag (not for me to hit – it’s for future use so I can give to a slower Golfer that loses their golf ball). For example: Once a Golfer goes into the trees to look for their golf ball, I always help them look. After one minute of searching – I might say: ‘I think that one’s gone. Here hit this one. I believe you could drop it right here.’
Trust me; a “Ball Hawk” is going to walk over to the golf ball you just dropped on the ground – they can’t help it! Don’t cheat for them and give them a preferential lie, but don’t put it in a spot where they would rather keep looking for their golf ball in hopes of an easier shot than you gave them. And please, make it an attractive enough of a golf ball for them to call off their golf ball search.
‘What did you hit – a Maxfli? Yeah, I think it’s gone. Here hit this Top Flite xl2000 – have you ever hit one of these – it’s a pretty good golf ball.’ And before they can say a word, drop it onto a good lie which gives them an opening to the fairway. And then say – ‘You actually have a shot here.’
Ask me if that works. Of course it works! The answer just about every time, after they see where you dropped the golf ball is – “Yeah, you’re right, that golf ball’s gone. Here keep that one; I’ll hit one of the golf balls I found.” Because of course they found 4 golf balls in their search, didn’t find theirs, but would’ve kept looking because I believe they like the enjoyment of finding as many golf balls as they can.
Now, if they don’t get the hint or they feel obligated to continue searching – then you have to become more direct: ‘Coors Light, you’re not going to find that one. It’s in there pretty good. C’mon, we need to keep our pace of play moving. Besides, if you do find that ball – you won’t have a shot anyway. Use this one and make a good shot.’
Nothing of what I’m saying to do is a bad thing. It’s good for everybody involved – including the Golfer that’s loosing a lot of golf balls. Have you ever noticed that the longer a Golfer looks for a golf ball without finding it – the more frustrated they become. And of course the more frustrated they become – the worse they play. So by you helping them to find a golf ball sooner – they’ll actually have more enjoyment on the golf course and eventually play better.
Playing with slow Golfers and playing your best Golf is tough, if not impossible. Though often times, the slow Golfer doesn’t realize that they’re a slow Golfer and they just need some gentle reminding.
The Monkey is the Golfer that constantly lets another Golfer influence their play on the golf course
The Player is prepared with a PLAN to play with anyone
Go ahead, be a Player!
Marc Solomon – Your Instructor For Life