COMMENT: Playing golf with a reputation

One of my playing partners had a reputation that preceded himself. But was it a good or bad one?

This article originally appeared in Inside Golf where Michael Green writes a monthly column. There is also a nice article in the September issue above on page 26 too.

It had been some time since I’d played golf with someone with a reputation. But in this particular case, I wasn’t sure what the golfer’s reputation was.

On a recent wintery, mid-week afternoon, things had fallen into place to allow me the opportunity to sneak out for 18 holes. It’s rare the planets align for me to do this and despite the threatening storm, the opportunity was too good to pass up.

Spontaneous decisions such as this one aren’t always great for potential playing partners at such short notice, so I began the round on my own.

Slightly disappointed to not be sharing the round with anyone else, playing on your own does offer up the tantalising prospect of scooting around 18 holes in three hours or less – with perhaps a little less concentration than you would normally apply when playing with other golfers.

No sooner had I rattled off two opening double-bogeys than the spectre of a slow foursome appeared in front of me. To be fair, this foursome wasn’t particularly slow but all foursomes seem slow when you’re playing in a group of one.

After a few holes of waiting, a group of two soon caught me and rather than awkwardly playing shots in front of these strangers it was obvious we should form a group of three. Pleasantries were exchanged and while one of my new playing partners teed off on the next hole, the other whispered into my ear.

“You may not have played with anyone like him before”, he said. “Not many people want to play with him – but I think he’s ok so I do. You’ll soon see what I mean”.

And that was it.

It was now my turn to hit the golf ball but it was hard not to wonder what he meant. Was this bloke going to shout in the middle of my backswing? Was he going to start snapping golf clubs over his knee, or worse still, reveal the plotline to the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie?

This golfer obviously had some sort of reputation. Usually this means the golfer is either a slow player or an angry one. Both types make for an offensive playing partner and one that is avoided by fellow golfers.

After a few holes on edge, I realised this golfer was neither slow or angry – but someone that simply played golf as if he was playing on his own.

Apart from standing by and watching everyone’s tee shot, this guy would then go hit his ball, put the club back in his bag, walk towards his next shot and play again. All without the slightest regard for us playing partners and with no regard for playing in turn.

It felt like I was back playing on my own, waiting for the group in front of me – except now I was waiting on my own playing partner to clear the way.

Strangely though, I didn’t mind so much. This bloke was fast. One of the fastest golfers I’d ever played alongside. Several times he’d putted out before my ball had touched the green and waited patiently at the tee for us to finish the last hole before teeing off on the next one.

The way this bloke played golf comes across as rude to other golfers. But maybe it was because I was forewarned, or maybe it was because he played quickly but it seemed ok to me.

Maybe this was the way more people should be playing golf. We would all be getting around the golf course much faster – just at the expense of etiquette, common courtesy and fun.

If you don’t mind the idea of playing on your own each week, maybe this is the type of golf for you. I guarantee you’ll play a lot more rounds in three hours or less.

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