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

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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

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

Sometimes, golf etiquette seems so obvious that I wonder how people miss it in the first place.

Such is the case with cell phones on the golf course.

cell phone guy

When Cell Phone Guy isn't looking, throw his phone in the lake. (Image: Explosion 5000/Flickr)

In my opinion, cell phones are welcome on the course—with a few seemingly obvious stipulations: only use them in between shots, preferably whilst driving the cart, and never within 100 yards of your fellow player. Yes, 100 yards.

This past summer, I was playing in a tournament at my local course. One of my playing partners answered a call, on the tee box,  as I was stepping up to my shot on a 205 yard par 3.

Not only was his phone on, it was also turned up, it rang three times to the tune of some god awful 80s pop song, he answered the call, and proceeded to talk, rather boisterously, while I attempted to prepare for my shot.

I waited on him for another minute to finish the call. In a tournament. Seriously. This guy wasn’t even a new player; he was a solid golfer. Isn’t this basic golf etiquette 101?

Cell Phone Guy needs to realize this: Most people go to the golf course to get away for a few hours from the distractions and stresses of life. A round of golf is a mini-vacation of sorts. The golf course is a resort, a bastion of peacefulness and solitude, though only temporary.

The last thing in the world we (and by “we” I mean golfers everywhere) want to hear is a playing partner “whispering” on his phone about his girlfriend issues, his crappy stocks, or the milk and bread run his wife wants him to make after the round. Please, spare us.

If  your life is so hectic that you can’t place that cell phone on silent, that you can’t return that call in three minutes when your fellow golfers have already played their shots, then maybe golf isn’t your game, my friend.

Give bocce ball or lawn darts a try. They take much less time and obnoxiously loud phone calls are welcome.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves

#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

Armchair Golf is picking up my golf pet peeves series. Pretty cool.

Of course, all of the new ones will appear here first. But Armchair Golf will be publishing some of the older ones I have already published here. The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer was published yesterday.

I’ll be posting Golf Pet Peeve #8 here at Game Under Repair sometime in the next week.

Here’s a quick rundown of past golf pet peeves:

#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