I have been a PGA golf Pro for 30 plus years. I've played thousands of golf courses, some spectacular, some not so. I've played with great golfers and bad golfers. I love the game and think it's a great leveller. We are all equal out there (some more equal than others). Golf brings out the best and worst in everyone. You can learn a lot about someone from they way they handle a bad shot on the course.
I would like to share my thoughts on golf and all that goes with the game, the good the bad and the ugly.
1) Can we all improve?
2) Slow play
3) Golf equipment. What do we really need?
1) Can we all improve?As a golf professional I see hundreds of golfers every week tee the ball up on the first tee hoping that today will be their day. Well do you know what it rarely is! I can't improve every golfer out there, some of are either past help or just can't be told. For the majority though just a few simple thoughts and movements could save the average golfer a few shots each round.
To move your game forward though, you must first come to terms with what you honestly feel you can achieve. It's no good trying to break par when you have never shot in the 70's. Don't think you can carry that bunker on the third hole when you've never even reached it with the wind behind you! Your targets and goals in golf must be attainable. If they are out of reach you will nearly always fail. If this is the case you will pretty much never enjoy your golf and more importantly never reach your full potential. Imagine teaching someone to do anything. If they never achieved anything you asked of them, how would they feel? Give them a target. OK, make it a challenge, even make it hard, but it must be attainable. The same goes for you. Stand on the practice ground or the first tee and be realistic:
Have you played more than normal this week?
Have you been on the practice putting green?
Did you practice your bunker play, like you said you would after leaving the ball in the bunker on the 18th last week?
Did you loosen up this week before playing and hit a basket of balls before hand?
Answer a resounding 'NO' to these four questions, then why on earth should today be any different from any other day. If you can say 'YES' to any of these questions then at least you may have a chance of 'raising the bar' and improving. So now you are realistic about what you expect, hey, you may even feel good about yourself. What's more you might even enjoy it!
If you start to enjoy your golf because you actually achieve your goal, you then have a great chance with some help, either from your local pro or from a DVD of improving. Remember, a golf pro is wasting his or her time giving sound advice about the swing when the student goes bananas when his first shot of the day doesn't knock the flagstick out of the ground!
2) Slow Play
We've all been there, hanging around shot after shot for the game in front to get a move on! "I can't believe how slow he is!" "Why don't they let us through!" It's the same old story every week, golfers across the country moaning and groaning about other golfers being slow. Yet when questioned, these other golfers will pass the blame again, onto someone else. "It wasn't us it was those ladies in front" "I tried to get him to hurry up but he had a good round going and I didn't want to spoil it".
For years then slow play been a major problem. On public and proprietary run courses, staff have little power over the golfers. Signs indicating "You should have reached this point 2 hours after your tee time", make little difference. Road signs don't always stop motorists from speeding or parking on yellow lines! Even though it costs you a small fortune! So why should you play golf faster when your not even to blame! In times when businesses are struggling the last thing staff want to do is to remove a golfer for being slow. Chances are you'll never see him or her again. Likely as not they won't have seen themselves at being at fault anyway. "Didn't like that officious golf pro. Never going back there. The course was rubbish anyway, I won't miss it". How many times does a Pro shop get a call from the course, "can you get that society to speed up, they're 4 holes behind!" "Get out here and tell Reg to call me through". In these cases, most of the time the damage has already been done, the 5 hour round is already 'on the cards'. When the assistant does finally get on the course (after locking the shop and hoping he doesn't miss a sale before his boss gets back!) he more than likely finds the society isn't actually 4 holes behind, and Reg is actually 2 holes ahead! So after a couple of discreet words, (which fall on deaf ears) everyone goes back to playing exactly as before.
At a private club, things can be slightly different, a member being renowned for slow play always has the threat of being pulled up in front of the committee! Whether or not this ever happens at least the club's slowest golfer is aware he's being watched and may decide to do something about it. Which brings me to the first step in solving the age old problem of slow play.
If you have a drink problem and decide to attend Alcoholics anonymous, you have taken a massive step in solving your problem. On your fist visit you stand up and say, "my name is Eric and I am an alcoholic". Why do people do this? So that the others know your name? No, of course not. It's so that you take another step forwards in coming to terms and hopefully curing your problem. Unless you admit you have a problem, you won't cure it! Do you see where this is going now? Golfers never admit they are slow, it's always someone else! so why on earth should they speed up.
If we are to speed up play, on a public, proprietary or private golf course, we have to get golfers to admit that they, personally, are the offenders! Now that's a tough one! I hatched a plan once at a club I was working at to try and get golfers to admit their slow play issues. I asked every golfer that had 'called a group through' to give me their name and they would be entered into a free draw for a pair of golf shoes that month. (I did ask for a countersignature from the group that had been called through). At the end of the month I eagerly opened the box and poured out all the entries onto the table......One piece of paper fluttered it's way onto the floor. Either no one could be bothered to fill in the form, no one actually gets 'called through' any more, or no one wanted to admit they called someone through! One thing was clear though. Golfers won't admit they're slow!
Devise a way of getting golfers to hold their hands up say "I'm slow", then you may find them actually doing something about it. All the signs, course rangers and '2 shot' penalties will never cure the problem. They may irritate a few golfers along the way and give temporary relief, but we need a long term permanent cure.
Find a way for golfers to start the monthly medal, "My name is Bob, and I'm a slow golfer". You may then, have the secret to life!!
(apologies to anyone called Bob, who isn't actually slow!). This can't be that hard to do, after all golfers are surely amongst the most principled of all sportsmen.