Taking on the Big Show

When you are starting anything in your seventies, there are so many voices of intimidation. Medical people say your bones are brittle, so don’t risk falling. Younger people all seem stronger, and have more energy and flexibility, and move so much faster. In golf specifically, good golfers hitting 300 yard drives all day can be very intimidating.  If you have been working on your golf strokes, and perhaps playing on short nine-hole courses quite happily, you may not want to subject yourself to an 18 hole course. It is the intimidating Big Show. Beginning golf in your seventies, you may think the Big Show – the four to five miles of an 18 hole course – is beyond you.

Don’t sell yourself short…

Remember that if you pay your money and like to hit the ball toward the hole, you deserve to be on the golf course as much as anyone. Much more than any collection of skills, your attention to the flow of the game and your courtesy toward other players will make you accepted by other golfers. Maybe you never hit a ball more than 70 or 80 yards. You can still play on the same course with “scratch” golfers – who always score in the low 70s. If you work at making good contact on the ball, with cheap but effective methods I’ll describe in further posts, you can begin to feel more comfortable on the large course. And surprisingly, if you work very hard at controlling your time, you can be acceptable by golfers on almost any course.

Try to think of your every move on the course as something that either adds to, or subtracts from, the time the people in the group behind you must wait. You may be fortunate enough to have a tee time with no group directly behind you or ahead of you. However, let us assume the schedule is tight (- some courses recommend only 13-15 minutes per hole). So here are some positive habits you can build, even with your first time on the 18-hole Big Show. The essence, for any player on the course, is to keep the game moving. If players behind you continually see a novice or a senior out on the fairway, fretting about which club to use, or otherwise dawdling about instead of moving to their next shot, your presence will not be popular. Here are some ways NOT to be that fairway obstacle:

  1. Always be ready with your next club. As you are going to your next shot, decide what club you will use so you can pull it from the bag immediately and decisively to be ready for your turn to hit.
  2. When it is your turn, take just enough time to set up quickly, and then calmly concentrate on your shot.
  3. New Golf rules say you only have 3 minutes to look for a ball. Respect that.
  4. Try to adjust your game to whomever you are partnering with. If you hit only 70-80 yards at the longest, offer to hit first so you are ready to start most quickly toward your shorter ball. This is also useful  when you know you won’t hit is as far as the players on the fairway are (and so represent no danger to them).
  5. Continuously move your bag or cart along with you whenever you have hit, so you don’t have to double back for your next club. If you are near the green, take both a short club and your putter.
  6. Before you putt, try to leave your bag (or cart) at the furthest point toward the next tee. Then you will not have to double back for your clubs.

As awkward as I am learning golf in my seventies, these are a few kinds of golf etiquette which are the most important things I have learned about playing with other golfers. I have had times when I was inadvertently paired with experienced players who made incredible shots. Gosh! 200 yard approach shots they dropped right on the green.

Talk about intimidating. And yet I watched as they practiced everything I mentioned above. They do these so naturally it is easy for you to follow and learn. I may just have been lucky, but every time I was miss-paired in this way, they respected the fact this old man was diligent with his game and with their time and they complimented me on me on good shots. From my good fortune, I hope that you will try the Big Show sooner than later. You may even find some Big Hearts out there!

Copyright 2020 — David Hon


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