With the Masters and its “tradition unlike any other” kicking off this week, the year’s quartet of major golf tournaments are underway. It’s also the unofficially start of golf season for country clubbers, business associates and the general public. Let us get something straight right at the first tee box. No one at Man Crates is a golf pro with a 2 handicap. We’re not here to fix that awkward pause in your backswing. But even though there may be a few more bogeys than birdies on our scorecard, we respect the game and appreciate its social aspect. The first step to playing like a pro is acting like one. Here are some helpful hacks to help hacks like us play the game the right way.
1. Hit the bathroom before you start.
Most courses lead you farther and farther away from the clubhouse as the front nine progresses. And you can’t concentrate on reading the break on your 30-foot putt when your bladder is barking. Will you be surrounded by acres of nature out on the course? Yes. Is it okay duck behind a tree to relieve yourself? Try to display some decorum.
2. Don’t waste time looking for your ball.
If you tend to get your money’s worth on the golf course (i.e. take a high number of strokes), you might slow the pace of play for your group and those behind you. So when your ball lands in the woods, water or deep rough, just drop another one. It’s not the U.S. Open. No one will scoff at you. Always bring more balls than you think you need to be on the safe side. Depending on where you play, you’ll also avoid the course's "living hazards." We’re talking ticks, snakes and alligators. Re-hitting will save time—and it might just save your life.
3. Be someone people want to play with.
Whether you’re with a foursome of friends or a single matched up with strangers, don’t be the squeaky wheel. Play fast. Don’t make players knock in their “gimme” putts. Be ready to hit when it’s your turn. Analyze your putt before it’s your turn. Replace your divots. Laugh at bad golf jokes.
4. Remember: Golf is hard.
According to the National Golf Foundation, the average golf score is 100. That’s 28 strokes over par. So don’t go breaking your clubs when you double-bogey that Par 3. People who don’t keep score are often happier than those who do. If you do fill out your scorecard, just temper your expectations and break that little pencil instead of your expensive sand wedge.
5. Warm up, but don’t get worn out.
Nothing’s worse than shanking one on the first tee when everyone’s watching. Give yourself some practice by arriving early and taking swings at the driving range. Hit about 10 to 15 balls. Any more than that and you might get fatigued.
6. Don’t wear cargo pants.
This one’s pretty simple. You’ll look like a newbie. Buy golf pants. They are stylish, don’t crease and have an appropriate number of pockets. Your game may be ugly, but at least your pants will look good.
7. Watch your step.
One of the most important unwritten rules of golf is that you don’t step in another player’s lie, which is the path the ball will take to the hole. An aforementioned alligator could be heading toward the green. You might have better odds against the gator than a teed-off golfer with a slight footprint impeding his or her putt. While you’re at it, don’t stand directly behind a golfer in their line of sight either. It’s oddly distracting. Also it’s illegal because, technically, you can read their putt and gain an advantage on your own shot.
8. Let people play through.
Nothing’s worse than getting behind a slow group that has no idea how slow they are. You can only kill so much time using the ball washer. Don’t be that group. Wave up smaller groups or speed golfers and let them play the hole and skip ahead of you. PRO-TIP: Wait until you get to a Par 3 hole. It’ll be less of a delay for you and they can thank you face to face.
9. Don’t bogey with your stogie.
A nice cigar can make a relaxing afternoon on the links even better. Problem is, you need both hands to swing a club effectively and it’s unacceptable to turn your golf buddy into your caddy with a “Hey, can you hold this?” That’s where this handy clip for your cart comes in. If you plan on puffing, bring a lighter. Matches are impossible if there's even the slightest breeze.
10. Don’t let hunger throw your game off.
The average round of golf is roughly 4.5 hours. That can easily interfere with the traditional breakfast-lunch-dinner feeding schedule. Fortunately, there’s plenty of room in golf bags for snacks. Be a sport and hook your favorite golfing guy up with tasty sustenance. It’ll also give him something to do while waiting for that painfully slow group up ahead.