Golf's social subtleties

What follows are a number of tips dealing with subtleties of social golf not typically covered in primers. Sometimes even your best friends won't tell you.

Cellular phones
One golfer's convenience is another golfer's nuisance. Basic courtesy insists that the interruptions be kept as brief as possible. You wouldn't sit on the telephone at home while entertaining guests, now would you? Call them back at the turn if you must. An emergency situation, of course, allows for some leeway, and their value in sneaking out of the office is certainly a plus. But their use really should be limited; never in tournaments and sparingly among friends. No one wants to be reminded of pressing business elsewhere, especially on their back swing! One might apply the humorous touch - the imposition of a penalty of a Mulligan or a stroke whenever the infernal device sounds off at inopportune moments.

What did you get?
We know that there is golf and then there is tournament golf, and that they are not the same. In the absence of a prize, a competition or a bet, an incorrect score must ultimately rest on the conscience of the sloppy mathematician, not yours. Who cares?

During a recreational round the score is for all intents immaterial. You might ask the question this way: What do you want (for score on the hole)? Doesn't it sound nicer than: What did you have (a three or a six)? And, nowhere is it written that you must keep score anyway. Like a rally in tennis, it might be more pleasant just to enjoy the satisfaction of hitting a good shot now and then.

A tournament, of course, is another matter. Then you owe it to the rest of the field to be unfailingly accurate. When someone appears to have trouble remembering their score, approach it as if it's an honest mistake.

Are you in?
It's the principle of the bet that's at issue, not the amount. If you'd rather not wager, a suitable excuse is that you are working on your game, thanks but no thanks. If you are in the game, however, you are obligated to pay up. Would you want to do business with someone who doesn't pay his or her debts?

Every golfer has sworn heavenwards: "Jeez, what am I doing wrong?" An answer is not required. It is not an invitation, or even a plea. It is rhetorical, the golfer a kettle blowing off steam. Better players especially must resist the temptation to share their worldliness. If someone does offer to help - and you are inclined to hear them out - the cure is best administered on the driving range. Playing partners should not be burdened with on-course instruction. After the round you will be able to devote your mentor your full attention.



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