From a teaching professional to a recreational golfer, here is my advice on how to play with anyone you meet:
1. Dress the part. Ok, so I am woman and speaking to all other women out there, dressing the part if half the fun. For everyone else, if you look like a golfer, you think, act and play like one, too. Most importantly, dressing the part gives you the extra confidence you need for the next four hours.
2. Introduce yourself to your group and start a conversation. I’m not suggesting that you be the golfer that won’t stop talking for the next 4 hours, because everyone finds that annoying. But I am suggesting to ask the basics (where are you from, do you play often, did you see the recent golf tournament?) A quick, simple conversation will make you and your playing partners more comfortable playing with one another.
3. Identify a favorite club in your bag. The most important part of the game is confidence. If you have a favorite club, you can always use it when you are nervous on the golf course. It is the easiest way to get yourself out of a slump, rather than calling your local teaching professional.
4. Keep up. Have you ever heard the term, pace of play? In case you haven’t, let me introduce it to you. Every golf course expects that a group play nine holes in two hours and fifteen minutes for nine holes and double that time for eighteen holes. If you are struggling on a hole, pick up your ball, and take double par (6 on a Par 3, 8 on a Par 4 and 10 on a Par 5). Most seasoned golfers will be impressed with someone who knows when it is time to pick the ball up and move on.
5. Prepare for your shot in advance. Preparation helps to be a faster golfer. Many times when I am playing with amateurs, I see someone leave their cart behind as they walk up to hit their ball 50+ yards in front of them. This is not proper preparation because at the conclusion of the shot, the golfer is required to walk back to get the cart. It is much faster to leave you cart as close to the green and flagstick as possible. Also at the end of each hole, make sure to drive to the next tee box before writing down a score or starting a conversation with your group. This will also help maintain your pace of play.
The next time you are thinking of going out to play as a single at a golf course, don’t be intimidated. Use these tools to gain the confidence you need to play with strangers. Who knows, that stranger may turn into your best friend.