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 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

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

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

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 currently featuring another edition of my Golf Pet Peeves series.

Go over to Armchair Golf and refresh your memory of The Golf Channel Guy.

Golf Pet Peeve #9 to come here on the blog later this week.

First off, I love golf course maintenance workers.

Much like cart guys, these fellows are the unsung heroes of the course. They are up at 5 a.m.—cutting grass, raking bunkers, trimming bushes, and repairing the hardly noticeable moose knuckle-sized divots on your greens.

Golf course maintenance workers are a dedicated bunch.

worker

A rare photo of the much-preferred unobtrusive golf course maintenance worker. (Image: CappiT/Flickr)

But there is a breed of maintenance worker unlike any other. If you’ve played golf for any length of time, you’ve had an experience with the Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker. One word describes this man: oblivious.

Usually, you’ll see him puttering down the cart path in the maintenance cart, rapidly approaching as you try to hit your tee shot. Or maybe he’s overagressively raking a bunker as you try to focus on a five-foot putt. Then there’s always the guy who seemingly stalks you for three or four holes, somehow managing to get in your line of sight before every shot.

Things get worse when Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Workers travel together. One of them is annoying, but a group of them together on one hole can be distracting, at best, and unbearable, at worst.

In each group of Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Workers, there’s an alpha-male. He’s the guy telling the inappropriate jokes as you line up your putt. He’s also the guy who speeds past you in the fairway as you go through your pre-shot routine. The golf course is his domain, and no golfer will get in his way.

Avoid the alpha-male at all costs.

Sometimes, Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Workers don’t listen to golfers.

Many years ago, my friend Mike (the same Mike from Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) and I were playing at our home course. After poking our drives on the first hole down the center of the fairway, Mike and I lined up our approaches.

But there was a problem. A group of maintenance workers—soon to be discovered as intrusive—had gathered on the fringe and were digging a hole to work on some irrigation issues.

We waited on them briefly, then gave them a courtesy yell that we were playing up. They waved at us and told us to come through. But they never moved.

I struck my 6 iron well, slightly pulled. And, like a politician runs to a camera, my golf ball barreled through the air directly towards this group of maintenance workers. I yelled “fore!” loudly, frustrated that these guys never moved off the fringe.

My ball struck one of the maintenance workers in the head. He sat down. His head began to bleed. Stitches were later required.

What do you say at this point? They knew we were hitting. We yelled “fore!” They watched us the entire time. But, for some reason, the intrusive maintenance workers never strayed away from the fringe and stood like statues after my boisterous warning.

I never felt to blame for the incident. But, in the weeks to follow, I received quite a few glares from my head-shot victim. He was okay. Eventually, the stitches came off.

So, here’s a fair warning to Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Workers everywhere: Get out of our way and we won’t hit you in the head with our golf ball.

Previous 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