For some reason, I had a really hard time finding a topic for this week’s column. I had a few ideas that just didn’t pan out, and by Thursday night I was stuck on “blank.”
So I asked my cousin Nicholas who’s in town staying with us for the Fourth and he threw out the idea of how to handle playing with a rude golfer.
To start, I think it’s important to recognize what exactly you’re playing “in” before you get too upset about someone being “rude.” Yes, I know “golf is golf” and the game should always be respected, but I think the etiquette expectation level varies between a bachelor party/stag outing and a tournament round at the country club.
The “environment” question is important because while “rude” golfers with poor etiquette can be annoying to deal with, so is “that guy” who complains in a fun scramble about the noise that bothered him in his backswing from three fairways over.
With that said, lets tackle the issue of how to handle a rude golfer during a regular round of golf.
The first thing I do in this situation is try to figure out what kind of rudeness we’re dealing with. In my mind, there are three different levels of offenders.
Level 1: the newbies.
This game of ours has a lot of little idiosyncrasies that just need to be learned through experience. Most of the times I’ve encountered “rude” golfers, “lack of knowledge” was the culprit.
People don’t inherently want to be rude; they just need to learn “the right” way to do it. I find educating is a good first step.
Be clear. Explain what they did wrong. Why it matters. And how to do it right.
Sometimes I feel weird saying something, almost like I’m scolding the person. But 99 percent of the time they’ll say thanks for explaining it and the problem will be solved.
Level 2: the “Oh, that’s just ...”
These guys (or girls) know the right way to do things, but every once in a while do something wrong. Yes, it can be annoying. But as long as it’s not intentional, I’ll remind myself that “I’m still out on the golf course, and it’s not worth getting upset about.”
I know that’s often “easier said than done,” but it’s probably the best option for your score and your friendship.
But then there’s Level 3: the intentionals.
These are the guys that drive me crazy. They know the rules. They know the etiquette.
And they know exactly how much their lack of both drives us crazy.
If I’m stuck playing with someone like this, I have two goals:
Even if I don’t end up beating them on the scorecard, I’ll never give them the satisfaction of knowing they affected my game. And then I’ll do my best to not play with them again in the future.
So there you have it. My three levels of “rude” golfers and how to deal with them.
Lastly, I’ve been thinking of all the “things” people can do to be rude on the golf course. From experience, I know we can all get annoyed by different things. Here are just some of the things I’ve seen people get annoyed with.
Walk in the line. Stand too close. Stand directly behind. Park the cart wrong. Talking. (Obviously). Mark the ball wrong on the green. Walks before hit. Always 100 yards ahead in the fairway. Drop the pin in the backswing. Tee jigglers. Always says the wrong score. Never says “nice shot.” Always says “nice shot” (even when they’re clearly not). Hits out of order. SLOW PLAY. Won’t turn ringer on silent. Always on the phone. Always marks/will never tap in (even when the ball is two inches from the cup). Never gets the pin. The “through line.” Never ready when it’s their turn.
And I’m sure a lot more I’m forgetting.
But I will say, as bad as the “three levels” and all of the annoying things from above are, there’s still one group of golfers worse than them all: cheaters.
Jonah Karzmer is a former golf professional who writes a golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time he sells commercial insurance for The Karzmer Insurance Agency and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at email@example.com.