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Having the Course to Myself

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Growing up, I hung out with the same group of friends pretty much every day. While we were pretty active with boating, fishing, football, basketball, tennis, etc., none of us were involved with golf, which kind of sucks. 

Throughout the last four years, my son has been about the only person who I’ve played golf with on numerous occasions. With his calm demeanor, you couldn’t ask for a better playing partner. Those rounds have been the most enjoyable and memorable. Just last month, he accepted a job downstate and will be moving 4 hours away. I’m very happy for him, of course, because this is what he went to school for. And we’ve already looked up courses in the Farmington Hills area and it appears he’ll have plenty of them close to his new home.

The fact remains that I will be playing almost all of my golf now as a single.

I don’t make friends as easily as I used to. My lifestyle and available free time  - in addition to my sometimes abrasive personality - don’t allow for the burden that friendships can bring. And the thought of seeking out playing partners just seems, well, kind of weird.

There are golf leagues I could join, but that brings back memories of playing in municipal softball leagues with a bunch of 20 and 30 year old bros who take a sport normally played by high school girls, way too seriously (that’s not meant as an insult to high school girls - their version of the game is much tougher). From what I understand about some of the golf leagues, the ends of winning justify the means of cheating. If there’s any truth to that, it doesn’t seem like a lot of fun.

For the most part, the random joining up with others has been a positive experience. There has been the occasional a-hole, but most people are pretty cool to spend a couple hours with. The nice thing about playing golf with others is that I tend to keep my emotions in check and I sometimes play a little better golf. I also get to see that I’m not the only one who hits tee shots into the woods, misses short approach shots, and has trouble getting out of the sand. On the rare occasions when I’ve played with skilled players, watching that level of golf has served both as entertainment and as a level to strive for. The older players I’ve joined up with have a certain pragmatic approach to the game that many of us can learn from. I can see how playing in a foursome every Sunday morning with folks I get along with would be enjoyable, even if not entirely necessary.

Golf is different things to different people. It can be competitive, relaxing, challenging, a good way to spend time with friends, or all of the above. 

For me, it’s a good way to get away from the daily BS of the workplace, the “drama” of family (in-laws anyway) and to avoid what sometimes seems too much like effort to get along with others. It also serves as barometer that what I work on in the way of practicing is beneficial. As I’ve posted many times, the feeling that a perfectly struck approach shot brings is a high that keeps me coming back. And even when my game is in the toilet (which is often), a 4 mile walk on a beautiful course on a beautiful morning with no one else in sight is not the worst way to spend time.

So does playing with others make the game more enjoyable? Often times it does. Do I need the company of others to enjoy golf? Not at all.

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I agree with you; playing with 1-3 strangers is fine but I also enjoy playing an empty course as a single.  This time of year is great for me as the courses in SE Michigan are largely empty. There are times I literally have the course to myself.

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My best rounds are when it feels like I'm the only person on the course.  Take my time, hit extra shots (or not, whatever I feel like).  Discuss shots with my favorite advisor (me).  Look for golf balls in the woods.  Watch the deer and eagles.  Take pics if any layout is particularly compelling.  etc etc etc.  totally relaxed and peaceful.  Absolutely my favorite way to golf.

Golfing alone but in less isolation - close enough

Golfing with some certain friends - second best

Golfing with new strangers mostly - close to second

Golfing with other friends - not so much

Golfing with "those guys" I just met - not at all


the order of preference is clearly the scale of least pressure down through to increasing annoyance/irritation

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6 hours ago, bkuehn1952 said:

I agree with you; playing with 1-3 strangers is fine but I also enjoy playing an empty course as a single.  This time of year is great for me as the courses in SE Michigan are largely empty. There are times I literally have the course to myself.

Do you have regulars partners you play with @bkuehn1952? If so, do they prefer not to play when it gets a bit colder? I envy those of you downstate because it seems as though your season is at least a few weeks longer.

I can handle the cold for the most part, but the majority of courses close early up here even when there isn't snow.

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Yes, it seems like most of my golf buddies choose to golf hibernate early.  My play continues until there is snow on the ground and/or the greens/fairways are rock hard.  Some courses will close about 11/1.  Most are done by the end of November or when the first snow stays on the ground.  A few remain "open" year round, which means if one is crazy enough to pay $15, one can walk the course and whack at golf balls.  My last round of 2014 was 12/28/2014.  Typically we have snow on the ground some time soon after Thanksgiving so playing into late December is not common. 

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Playing with random pair has been fun for me and my wife but we'd rather play alone. 

In two years of playing in the same golf course/club, we made two golf buddies whom we play together occasionally. 

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