The Negatives of Golf

This week’s Thrash Talk dives into some of the things that upset me about golf.

Thrash TalkThe Target World Challenge has come and gone, and the 2006 PGA Tour season doesn’t start for a few more weeks. That being said, I’m taking a break from the usual PGA Tour discussion this week. Instead, I’m going to talk about some of the things that bother me when I go out and play. I’ve selected eight things that really get under my skin when I go play by myself or with friends.

Don’t get me wrong: golf is the greatest game in the world. Over the years, it has become my favorite sport to play and one of my favorite sports to watch on television. However, it doesn’t come without its negatives. The following is a list I’ve selected on my own and doesn’t necessarily express the opinions of anyone else here at The Sand Trap. I’m sure people will agree with some and disagree with others. That’s fine by me.

1. Groups not Letting Singles Play Through
For the most part, I either play by myself or with a friend. I rarely play in a big group, but there are a few exceptions. This is my number one pet peeve in the game of golf. There is nothing worse to me than big groups not letting me play through and move ahead of them. I have dealt with this on a number of occasions in the past year or so, and it really ticks me off.

I guess there are some courses where playing through is a main rule. While I was in college, my home course implemented the rule very well. However, my current home course doesn’t implement it at all. There have been a number of times I’ve had to skip a hole or two just to get in a little golf. I have to go play after work most of the time, and that doesn’t leave me with much time to make up holes I have to skip. It’s very disrespectful to make a single skip holes when it only takes five minutes to let the individual play through.

2. Drinking and Smoking
Beer MugThis one is very controversial as always. There was a topic on “smoking and golf” in The Sand Trap Forum a couple weeks back, and it really made me realize how much I hate to see people smoking on the golf course. First off, I grew up around smoke and really started hating it in high school. Basically, I’m not a fan of any kind of smoking, and that holds true on the golf course as well. I don’t really think it belongs on the golf course, restaurants, homes, etc. I think you get my point on this one.

The other thing that goes hand-in-hand with smoking is the drinking of alcoholic beverages on the golf course. I know a lot of people only have a couple beers and act normal for the most part. However, I have gotten behind “drunk” groups before, and it really ruined my round. Drunk groups are loud and obnoxious. So if you drink on the golf course, at least be courteous enough to do it in small portions and act like you have done it before. I understand that beer sales make green fees cheaper, but I still don’t have to like it.

3. Cheating
I have the right to get mad about this one because I’ve done it in the past myself. When I started playing golf eight years ago, I would hit a second shot and take it if it was better than the original. I would also adjust my lie just about anywhere it landed. I played this way for awhile, but I’ve changed my approach the past couple years. It didn’t do me any good to cheat because I knew in my mind what I really shot or would have shot. It also hurt my integrity a little. Nowadays, I just take it as it lies, take my medicine, and move on. If I hit a 20-yard tee shot, which I’ve unfortunately done a handful of times in 2005, I just move on to the next shot and hope to save par or birdie. Just play the game like it’s supposed to be played, call penalties on yourself, and you will be better off in the end.

I won’t even touch on sandbagging, but suffice to say that problem is probably near the tops of everyone’s list.

4. Cost
The price to play golf is outrageous. My home course is probably pretty cheap compared to most, but it’s still expensive for me. The only time it’s affordable is when I get to play the “twilight” after work, and that’s only possible six months of the year. Even then, I don’t get off work until 6:00. It costs $32 to play on the weekends, and that is a lot of money for a State Farm Insurance employee. It probably wouldn’t hurt to get a membership, but that’s a pretty good chunk of money as well, especially since I won’t play any during the winter months.

5. Cell Phones
Cell PhoneI know this is becoming much more popular these days. I never play golf without seeing someone talking on their cell phone during their round. It’s pretty distracting to hear someone’s cell phone go off during a backswing or an all-important birdie (or bogey) putt. A lot of courses tell people to turn their cell phones off during play, but obviously a large number of people aren’t following that rule very well. If you want to talk on the cellphone, stay home. If you want to play golf, you should do so without the aid of a cell phone. If your wife is expecting, you shouldn’t be on the golf course in the first place.

6. Slow Play Within My Group
This is a little different than the first one listed above. This is one of the things that really bugs me, but it may not bug anyone else. I am a really fast player. On the other hand, my best friend is a really slow player, a là Sergio Garcia from 2002-2003. He has an over-abundance of waggles, and it really gets under my skin. I don’t mind golfers taking a lot of time getting the right clubs and right distances because that’s a huge part of the game. I just can’t stand it when golfers address the ball and take another 20 seconds waggling. This is something minor, but it bothers me nonetheless.

7. Lack of Course Maintenance
I have to take one more negative shot at the golf course before I’m finished. This goes hand-in-hand with the price of golf in some regards. When I pay my hard-earned money to play golf, I would appreciate it if the course was in good shape. I understand the courses in Oklahoma are pretty rough right now, but they should be perfect in the spring and summer months.

The 12th hole at my home course has been chopped to hell all year, and it really gets annoying. There are only a few spots of green on the putting surface, and it makes for some interesting putting once I finally get there. Also, The Sand Trap staff played Anderson Creek Golf Club at the Newport Cup in October, and the fairways looked awful. Things like that should be taken care of better. Casual golfers work hard all week at their respective jobs, and there is no reason the golf course employees can’t do the same.

8. People Who don’t Respect the Game
This is last on the list, but certainly not the least. Some of the negatives listed previously could fall under this heading, I suppose, but as a catch-all it deserves to stand alone.

People who attempt to play golf and fail to respect the game really piss me off. For example, my boss and I played a round during the summer, and as we walked up to the 12th green, we noticed the two guys in front of us had stuck the flag right in the middle of the green (not in the cup). Lucky for them, we didn’t see them again after that. They might have received a beating for their actions.

That is just one example of people not respecting the game of golf. Other things include not fixing ball marks on the greens, walking in people’s lines (though this doesn’t bother me too much), and driving all over fairways when it’s not allowed. Some of these things are unspoken rules, but they should be followed. If you can’t follow the course rules, don’t waste your time or my time attempting to play golf.

The Final Say
That’s enough ranting for one week. I’ve been thinking of these things for awhile, and this seemed like a good week to speak out about them. I know there will be some of you that won’t like some of these things, but that’s ok. A lot of golfers, including some of my friends, enjoy drinking on the golf course. I don’t do it, but I will still play with them as long as they keep it in moderation.

Golf is a sport of integrity. It always has been, and I hope it always will be. People shouldn’t have to do these things to enjoy themselves on the golf course. The object of the game is to play fair and get the ball in the hole. All that extracurricular activity isn’t necessary. I hope I don’t look back five years from now and realize things have gotten even worse. Until then, I have to keep on plugging away and dealing with these things to the best of my ability. It’s tough for me not to hit certain people with a golf club when I’m on the course, but that’s an anger management problem perhaps.

That’s all I have to say this week. It’s your turn to speak out on the topic. Do you have any pet peeves on the golf course? Are any of my things over the top? Finally, do you see the integrity of the game improving or getting worse in the next ten years? If you have anything to add, please feel free to comment below or discuss it in our forum. Thanks for reading Thrash Talk this week and have a happy holiday!

16 thoughts on “The Negatives of Golf”

  1. Great column, great list. I expect some good discussion out of this. I hope I can comment without taking too much bandwidth:

    One of my pet peeves is traveling to play a different course only to find they’ve aerated the greens or worse, have a few temporary greens. It should only be common courtesy to tell you that on the phone when you book a time.

    Your #1. THE BIGGEST BUMMER forme in this topic is hot dog bad boys with their hats on backwards that want to play from the back tees and probably can’t play to a 20 hdcp.The course I started playing at was public with a twighlight discount. It got crowded and slow in the summer. In response to my griping about the pace of play the pro asked how many greens I hit from 200 yds plus. To my response of, “Not many” he suggested that instead of waiting for the green to clear I practice laying up to a favorite distance and see how often I get up and down. Not only did it tend to meter out the gave and the frustration; my handicap went from 17 to 14 in weeks and I learned a valuable lesson for match play.

    #2 – yup! Smoking on the course is ugly and many more smokers throw butts anywhere rather than a litter box. Simply, THEY SUCK!

    #3 Walking up to a shot of 155 to the flag I used to have a club in mind and adjust the lie as needed, so did my friends. Once I realized that finding your ball in a divot or thick lie determined the shot, the game became more fun. It taught me the first battle is with myself.

    #4,7,8 Local organizations or newsletters should rate and publish how green fees stack up with conditions. Also, volunteer marshalling on muni courses should be encouraged. I’d have no problem with people who trash a course, ignore divots, drive carts thorough repair areas or soft spots – OR HIT INTO ANOTHER GROUP being asked to leave. It would do them good.

    #5 Check cell phones at the door. If you can’t be away from it long enough to play, you should have stayed at work.

    #6 I’ve learned who plays so slow in my club that it bothers me and I avoid them. However, learning to deal with it by changing my routine has helped a lot with match play where slow players used to unnerve me before the turn. I find extra divots to replace, ball marks to fix, bunkers to rake or just survey the green from every angle. I clean every ball in bag or get a drink of water …what ever takes more time than I normally use.

  2. Good article Cody. You hit the nail on the head!

    Smoking on the course really irks me too, especially when I see butts lying all over the tee box.

    And cell phones are a distraction that always seem to go off right in the middle of my backswing!

    Lack of etiquette seems to be all too common.


  3. I have to disagree with your cell phone comment. I am a physician and could never play with out being in contact via my cell phone. All cell phones have a silent vibration feature. I have never had a complaint and I am very discrete about talking around players playing. You need to be a little more tolerent to others situations instead of jumping on the no cell phone bandwagon

  4. Ian, thanks for reading the article!

    Now to your comment. I have always been against cell phones on the golf course, so I don’t think I’m jumping on any bandwagon. In every situation, there are exceptions. I still don’t see a need for cell phones on the golf course, and I’m standing by that opinion.

    I’m glad you enjoy playing the game of golf, but there are a lot more people abusing the use of cell phones on the golf course than are abiding by the rules like in your situation. That was my main point.

  5. Cell phones on the golf course. Hmm.
    Unless, by answering your cell phone on the golf course, you can a) Save a life, b)Stop a war, c)Start a war, d)Order decent chinese take-out, turn the damn thing off!
    You are not that important that you can’t be out of contact with the world for 2 hours at a time. I once threw a better-ball partners’ phone into a nearby lake during a tournament round. I warned him the day before in our practice round that during the tournament I wasn’t going to tolerate that nonsense. Sure as hell on the 12th fairway his phone rings and I answered it, told the client on the other end he would be called back tomorrow and threw the phone into the pond fronting the 12th green. “There”, I said “I told you yesterday about that.” He hsn’t done it since and this was 10 years ago. Some don’t learn as quickly, I guess.
    Oh, for those who play from the back tees…you better be good and quick or you’ll have my tee shot to deal with. MOVE! 4 hours for 18 holes is a LOOOOONG time.
    Golf is like this: Hit it, Find it, Hit it again and don’t touch it until you take it from the hole. Period. Simple game, Really. Now move along, little doggie!

  6. I think Ian hit it on the nose. One CAN smoke, drink and use a cell phone in a way, that most sensitive and over-reacting people won’t have a reason to complain. I’m tired of the typical american attitude of controling everybody else, from religion through social issues, politics and now in golf. Live and let live dammit, why is everybody has to be uniform with YOUR point of view? If it doesn’t offend you in anyway – don’t go protesting on the streets “BAN SMOKING ON THE COURSE!”. Talk to the one person that does drop cigarette butts on the green.
    Is that really such a hard concept to grasp???

  7. I carry my cell phone on the course. I don’t call anyone, but if there’s an emergency at home or something, my wife needs a way to get ahold of me quickly.

    If anyone else calls, I tell them I’m playing golf and get off the phone quickly or I send them right to voicemail.

  8. Just out of curiousity …how did doctors, people with families, real estate agents and chinese take out fanatics play golf before cell phones?

  9. I have to admit, I’m with Rafcin… as long as someone’s use of a cell phone, or their smoking or drinking is done discretely and considerately (no butts left on course, phone is left on vibrate, drinking doesn’t lead to drunkedness), and is not done during tournament play, I don’t mind… although I don’t drink or smoke or take calls on the course myself….

    Uptight golfers are more of a turnoff to me than golfers who drink, smoke, or talk!

    I’m totally with you though on being considerate by letting faster or smaller groups play through! I just posted an experience I had with this last weekend at

    In general, be considerate… and tolerant.

  10. p.s. however, I didn’t appreciate Rafcin’s remark about the “typical american attitude of controling everybody else”… Yeah, that was a constructive comment!

  11. Hey Richard, I didn’t know “Post Yer Thoughts” means it has to be constructive 😉 I’m glad that we agree on most of my statement !

  12. Rafcin.. your right, it doesn’t say to “Post Just Yer Constructive Thoughts”… Just don’t assume that all Americans are controlling Republican Fundamental Christian Bush lovers – not that you said exactly that… However, I am most of those things, but have never voted for Bush 😉

  13. Just ran across this while surfing, and it is an interesting topic.

    The writer’s thought about smoking expressed his own distaste for smoking in general, done on the golf course or not. That’s his right, but hasn’t got a lot to do with golf. He hates smoking, okay. But there isn’t anything specific to smoking itself and golf – how it affects his enjoyment of the game -that is mentioned in his rant. As long as the butts aren’t left on the course and no smoke is blown in anyone’s face, to me it is a non-issue.

    Cell phones are just wrong on a golf course. I have had a playing partner tell me in advance that he had to leave his phone on because he was expecting an important call, but would turn it off after he received it. That perhaps can be tolerated. But folks who leave them on and take all calls, whether necessary or not, aren’t folks I will play with for long.

    Drinking, I adhere to the moderation rule. Some outings are just as much about the social aspect of the game as anything else – which can involve hoisting a beer or two. But, I have seen golfers get so stinky on the course that they impacted my enjoyment of the game. I don’t play with guys who get snockered.

    Playing through? It is a double-edged sword on a busy course. If playing on a weekend when it is hole-to-hole, nothing is more obnoxious than a single or double playing behind your foursome who drives up on your tee-box scowling. If we let them play through, where are they going to go? We’re having to wait on every shot. If we let him play through, and everyone in front of us let’s him play through, everyone on the course ends up taking more time to finish their round. Usually I will say something like, “We’d let you play through, but everyone’s having to wait.” That usually does it.

    OTH, if the green ahead of you is open while you’re on the tee box on a Par 4 and you’ve got folks backed up behind you, it’s just plain rude not to let them play through. That ticks me off when it happens to me, and I am more than happy to let folks play through if I find myself in a slow group.

    On cheating, like the writer, when I first began to play golf I wasn’t a stickler for the rules by any means. I think the longer we all play, the more we get “it” and understand that playing outside the rules is only cheating yourself. I’ve found that if on the first tee box, you lay down some rules like “Two of the first tee, one mulligan for the round,inside the leather on putts,” the guys in your group will pretty much adhere to that.

    We probably all have had a friend who doesn’t ever adhere to the rules, will use the “foot wedge,” mysteriously “find” his ball at the edge of a hazard, take more than one tee shot on occasion and not count it, somehow “forget” to count strokes, and be very generous to himself on “gimmie” putts without asking anyone if the putt is “good.” Oddly enough, that is the exactly the person who is most interested in comparing scores. You’ve got two choices; Don’t play with that guy any more or learn to put up with it. It is very frustrating to play with someone who cheats while you play the game the way it should be played, then listen to him talk about how he “beat you.”

    One thing the writer did not mention related to letting folks play through is the group that hits up on you. I’ve done it myself, but always unintentionally. Now I try and make sure that if I have a blind shot, I do a little recon and make sure I’m not hitting into anyone. Even if done unintentionally, there are few things that are worse on a golf course. Not only is it rude, but it can actually be dangerous. When it happens to me, it makes me so mad it takes a couple of holes to cool down. It can ruin a round.

  14. i thiught singles had NO status on the golf course and that golf wasnt for hermits. let a twosome through every time i can but i do have a problem with singles and jumping ahead as a matter of fact

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