Golfing Pet Peeves


I like old men. I’ve known many of them. I hope to be an old man one day.

But there’s something about golf courses, particularly country clubs, that turn old men into grumpy and irritable curmudgeons.  Yeah, I just threw down “curmudgeon” on a golf blog.

The Grumpy Old Man hates you. (Image: MissLPS/Flickr)

Surely you’ve seen The Grumpy Old Man on your local course. He usually travels in packs—a foursome with other grumpy old men—and plays early in the morning.

He uses colored balls and normally has a long towel hanging out of his back pocket. Children speak in hushed whispers when he shuffles past them.

The only time you’ve seen him smile was after he scolded your eight-year-old son for running in the parking lot. If you’re a member of a country club, your least favorite grumpy old man probably has a member number somewhere between 1 and 50.

But if there’s one thing you need to know about The Grumpy Old Man, it’s this: He hates you. He really, really hates you. But don’t feel bad; The Grumpy Old Man hates everyone other than the three grumpy old men in his foursome.

You see, he remembers when only 100 people played his course. He was playing golf on your course when Old Tom Morris was traversing across St. Andrews and goats kept the grass short. To him, you are an outsider who has infected his club with Miller Lites and loud children.

If you dare encroach upon The Grumpy Old Man’s regular foursome, don’t expect to get waved through. He will slow down just to spite you. Sure, he always walks slowly. But if you hit a ball within 50 yards of his group, he will show you how slowly he really can walk. You just watch.

The Grumpy Old Man is also a lousy tipper. Having worked as a cart guy at the course at which I used to play, take it from me. The Grumpy Old man doesn’t tip at all—even if you make his clubs so shiny that he can see his own grizzled reflection in them.

If you complain about The Grumpy Old Man, don’t expect your club pro or general manager to do anything. He hates them, too.

But, after all, he’s member number 7—and in the world of country clubs and golfing establishments, that’s akin to being a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Are you going to tell Alexander Hamilton to take a hike?

So I leave you with this fair warning, fellow golfers: Heed these lessons from The Grumpy Old Man lest you become a grumpy old man yourself.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#15: The Overzealous Rules Enforcer

#14: The Drive-By Honker

#13: The Golf Ball Finder Guy

#12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

This pet peeve is about me.

I’ll admit it. I’m an overzealous rules enforcer. Heck, I even wrote a reoccurring column about golf rules on this blog a couple of years ago.

If you carry one of these in your bag, you, too, might be an overzealous rules enforcer.

For whatever reason, golf is a sport where no one bothers to follow—or even understand—the rules. I’ve met people who have been playing golf for 10 years and still don’t know what a red stake signifies.

How is that possible? To me, that’s like saying, “What is that mound of dirt in the middle of a baseball field?” How can you not know that?

Granted, there are a ton of rules in golf—a lot of them are very specific and detailed. But you’ve got to know the basics.

I’m all about fairness, you see. If we’re playing in a game or a tournament and I’m re-teeing after hitting a ball out of bounds, you better know I’m going to make sure you re-tee as well. Don’t try and drop a ball outside the white stakes. That’s not a hazard.

If I’m spotting you 5 shots (or vice versa), you can bet I will make sure you aren’t using your hand wedge in the fairway.

If you’re talking smack about beating me by a shot but dropped your ball 50 yards ahead of where it went into a water hazard, well…I’m going to call you out on that too.

I’ve been called a rules nazi, but I believe there’s a place for it.

Look, if you’re just out having a good time with some friends or family, there’s no money on the line, nothing at stake, not even bragging rights—then I can understand bending the rules a touch.

But remember to put an asterisk by your score, because if you shot an 82 with 2 mulligans, then you really didn’t shoot an 82. Would you say you scored a touchdown if you were tackled at the 5 yard line? Just sayin’. I’ve known groups of guys who go on incredible golf trips, organize these ridiculous 3 day tournaments, and then look the other way while a bunch of goobers cheat through the whole tournament and take home a few thousand bucks. Really?

When I’m playing on a busy course, I’ll usually give my playing partners anything inside 2 feet—just to help with pace of play. I think that’s fair and reasonable. But if there’s anything on the line—including bragging rights—I might not be so giving.

It’s all about the situation. The more serious the situation gets, the more strictly I will enforce the rules.

If that makes me an overzealous rules enforcer, then guilty as charged.

I am golf pet peeve #15.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#14: The Drive-By Honker

#13: The Golf Ball Finder Guy

#12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

This guy has the classic drive-by honker profile. (Image: seanranier/Flickr)

You know him. You’ve heard him. Perhaps you’ve even seen him rocket past the “road hole” on your golf course—the ghetto horn on his dilapidated truck dissipating as he speeds away with laughter and Toby Keith tunes bellowing from inside his open-aired cab.

He’s The Drive-By Honker. And, his sole purpose in life is to blow his horn in the middle of your backswing. That’s why he’s here. That’s why he exists.

Almost every golf course in America has some sort of road hole. At Cartersville Country Club—my course of choice in my formative years of golfing—holes 6, 7, and 8 ran parallel to a well-traveled road.

The worst spot on the course, however, was the 8th tee box—which was perched up above the road, making golfers sitting ducks for approaching cars. Drive-by honkers had a field day with golfers on this hole. They hated us. We hated them.

The key to overcoming drive-by honkers is to act like they don’t exist. They want nothing more than to see you flick them off or furiously wave your arms as they pass by. At that point, they’ve won.

As a golfer, you’ve got to know your enemy. With The Drive-By Honker, you’ve got to know what you are looking for before he blows his horn of distraction.

Here is what you are looking for. If I worked for the FBI or Homeland Security, I would profile this fellow like so. Drive-By Honkers…

  • Drive trucks—and said truck is usually at least fifteen years old. There’s nothing wrong with old trucks, but they tend to be this guy’s mode of transportation.
  • Are white males aged 16-26.
  • Travel in pairs. He always has a friend—a willing accomplice, a Beavis to his Butthead.
  • Listen to crappy music. Don’t be surprised if you hear a little Nickelback or Blink 182 pumping from his crappy speakers.
  • Think Vin Diesel movies are wicked good.
  • Prefer “woo-hoo!” “yeahhhhh!” and the always-creative-and-contextually-appropriate “fooooore!” as alternate methods of distraction, when the horn on their truck is broken.

One other bonus tip about The Drive-By Honker. Using the above clues, we can surmise that most drive-by honkers are also ex-high school football players—mid twenties—who love to pop out old game tapes whenever two or more people are gathered at their apartment.

So as long as we have golf courses, we will have drive-by honkers. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we’ve got to learn to live with them. The good news is this—if you’re on the road hole at your home course and you hear the nauseatingly bland tunes of Nickelback rapidly approaching, you’ll know The Drive-By Honker isn’t far away. Prepare.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#13: The Golf Ball Finder Guy

#12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

If you see one of these devices, run!

What is it called?

You’ve seen it: the long skinny rod with the three-pronged or circular attachment on the end. It sticks out of some golfers’ golf bags like an awkward 13-year-old at a middle school dance.

I call this device the “golf ball picker upper,” but it could probably be better known as the “six hour round of golf detector.”

When you see one of these strange machinations in a playing partner’s bag, then you only need to do one thing: run! Run like the wind. Run like Usain Bolt being chased by a cheetah. Run.

The man who owns this device is the Golf Ball Finder Guy—and he has one mission on the golf course: finding golf balls. Whether it’s a beaten up and bruised Titleist Balata, circa 1995, a brand new Pro V1, or a Top Flite XL with the Dingleberry Family Reunion logo on its side, the Golf Ball Finder Guy loves to search for golf balls.

Behind a tree? He’ll find it. Plugged into a muddy bank? He’ll find it. In a yard? He’ll find it. In a groundhog’s hole? He’ll find it. In fact, the only ball the Golf Ball Finder Guy doesn’t care about is the one he is currently playing. He treats every lost golf ball as if he is an archeologist digging for a Mayan relic.

Pace of play? Score? Camaraderie? All of these things are nuisances to the Golf Ball Finder Guy. You’re on the green, waiting. He’s somewhere in the shrubs adjacent to the fairway, giddy about finding the Titleist DT 90 with the AT&T logo.

He will ruin your score, your patience, and your reputation—once everyone at your course or club realizes you were in the group that played a six hour round and had the crazy guy who was always in the woods.

So, next time you see this guy on the first tee—just run. Don’t wait around. Don’t ask questions. Don’t hesitate.

Run and never look back.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

Right off the club, you know it’s going to be a bad shot.

The ball starts left, continues hooking left, and disappears into the thick woods 15 yards left of the fairway. You’re frustrated, maybe even a little pissed. This hook has been driving you crazy.

Wannabe Golf Instructors take headshots of themselves. (Image: unfoo/Flickr)

As you reach down to pick up your tee, you hear a voice behind you: “Know what you did wrong there, don’t you? Your stance is too narrow, and you’re not keeping your head down. And that grip of yours. Look at that grip.”

Huh? Yes, welcome to Golf Pet Peeve #12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor.

I think there’s two unwritten rules in golf instruction: First, never give unsolicited advice. Second, never EVER give unsolicited advice to a better golfer.

But the Wannabe Golf Instructor scoffs at such unwritten rules. The Wannabe Golf Instructor knows just enough about golf to make him dangerous.

His own golf swing has more flaws than Tim Tebow’s throwing motion, but he watches The Golf Channel religiously, making him the self-appointed mouthpiece of all things related to golf  swing instruction. He’s a close relative to the The Golf Channel Guy.

He has a library of Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, and David Leadbetter instructional videos. His swing is mechanical and slow. His scores suck. He putts like a bull in a china store. And, yeah, that probably doesn’t make much sense.

The Wannabe Golf Instructor has zero self-awareness. None. The Wannabe Golf Instructor offers unsolicited golf instruction at every opportunity. Even though he averages a 98, he will freely offers poor advice to a 10 handicap on the driving range. He will sit in the bar and analyze Ernie Els’ shoulder turn and Justin Leonard’s putting stroke.

You’ll nod your head and act like your listening. That is, until he tells breaks down your swing after that nasty hook on the 4th hole. Then, you might just have to tell The Wannabe Golf Instructor to shut up. Good luck with that.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

I have a theory about golf simulators. They are solely designed to sell golf clubs. They make the average Joe Golfer think he’s pounding the ball about 20 yards farther. Clubs sold.

For this golf pet peeve, I’ll take you back to the early days of my blog when I wrote about my experience with a golf simulator at a local golf store. Wanna hear it? Hear it go.

So I’m in the market for a driver.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to demo the Nike Sumo. I pretty much don’t buy anything Nike, so this was quite a compromise—one of which I feel quite convicted about now. But that’s neither here nor there.

These machines lie. (Image: seikatsu/Flickr)

Anyway, so I’m on my lunch break at this Pro Golf store, and I decide to hit a few balls in their indoor golf simulator/video screen/driving range/ thing.

You’ve got understand my frame of reference here: when I quit playing golf ( and I know this is beginning to become a theme on the blog…”back when I was a young man…”) the Pro Golfs of the world had the little side room with the green net. You hit the ball and basically judged by feel how well you hit it.

So now, they’ve got these massive simulators. You swing, the ball flies into a screen, the projector then displays your ball flying through the “air”.

The device tells you how far the ball went, your trajectory, swing speed, ball speed, whether the ball had a hook, slice, fade, or draw. It stores each shot so you can see how your shot patterns develop throughout the session.

Well, here’s my opinion of these fancy little contraptions: crap. Crap, crap, crap. Let me explain. My second shot with said Nike driver was a nice heel job. With my ancient Great Big Bertha, it’s the type of shot that would probably be a low fade, 230 yards out in the fairway. I really mishit the ball.

But with this Pro Golf “simulator” I’m like Ernie Els hitting some kind of power draw 325 yards down the middle of the fairway. The pattern continued. When I hit the ball solid, it estimated my drives anywhere from 280-290; my misses were in the 270 range.

So I take the club out to an actual driving range. I hit the Nike, then my Bertha (which averages 255ish). Zero difference. The Nike actually ballooned on me a good bit, causing me to actually hit the Bertha further in many instances.

It was a stiff shaft, so that wasn’t the issue. Needless to say, I was thoroughly unimpressed. Thankfully, I made the wise decision of taking the club out on the range and not trusting those God-awful simulators.

I’m sure if you bought one for yourself, you could calibrate it to be accurate. But no doubt the issue is this: the golf stores are going to fix the devices so they estimate a good 20-30 yards farther.

Joe Hacker comes in, swings the hot new club, and he’s amazed by how much farther he hits the ball. He’s got “golf club fever” now, and he makes the buy. It’s a screw job on the store’s part.

When I asked the salesman if the simulators were accurate, he responded, “Dead on.” Right. I should have known something was up when I was hitting 190-yard six irons. But it took the experience with the driver for me to figure this out.

Don’t trust these machines. The grass and the air at your local driving range is much more honest.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

The frustrations of playing with Pre-Shot Routine Guy can be summarized in one sentence: Will you just hit the freaking shot?

It’s not that Pre-Shot Routine Guy has a pre-shot routine. Most decent golfers have one. The problem with Pre-Shot Routine Guy is that he worships the pre-shot routine—so much so that the pre-shot routine takes precedent over the shot itself. And his scores will testify to this fact.

Sergio Garcia, the king of the pre-shot routine, has earned six waggles. Read the pre-shot routine guidelines below. (Image: almadenmike/Flickr)

Pre-Shot Routine Guy, much like Golf Channel Guy, is worried about his image. He’s watched Tiger, Phil, and Sergio stand behind their golf ball and intently gaze down the fairway with a focused squint.

He’s watched them slowly walk up to the ball, eyes still focused on a tree 300 yards away. He’s watched them plant the left foot, then the right foot, before tilting their head downwards, eyes back on the ball. He’s watched them waggle the club confidently while they continue to alternate their focus between target, ball, target, ball. Pre-Shot Routine Guy knows the drill.

When he swings, though, it all goes south. But that doesn’t stop him from consistently taking 60 seconds to hit every single shot, making his playing partners scorn the pro shop for ever pairing them with this golfing nightmare.

In an effort to help out Pre-Shot Routine Guys, and to speed up pace of play on courses across the world, I developed these pre-shot routine guidelines about 10 minutes ago. You see, here at Game Under Repair, we’re not just about identifying problems. We offer solutions.

Basically, the lower your handicap, the more waggles you earn during your pre-shot routine. The guidelines are as follows:

No handicap: One waggle. Use it wisely.

Over 30: Two fast-paced waggles.

20-30: Three fast-paced waggles.

10-20: Four medium-paced waggles. Don’t get cocky.

5-10: Five waggles. Only use them all if you must.

0-5: Five waggles. Do you really need more?

Scratch: Six waggles. With six waggles, you better hit it like Sergio.

Bottom line: You’ve got to earn your waggle. If you consistently shoot in the mid-80s, then feel free to get your waggle on—four waggles per shot. But a 135? One waggle, my friend. One waggle.

Welcome to the pre-shot routine hierarchy. You’ve got to earn your keep here.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

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