Keep Your Head Down

PGAProfessionalLogoThe most common unsolicited remark a golfer hears from a playing partner when a shot goes awry. Doesn’t matter if it was popped up, skulled, foozled, or socketed, the advice is usually the same. Depending on the chutzpah level of the person rendering the remark it could also be you are lunging, swaying, coming over the top, or the over-rotation of your hips is affecting your club head speed (if the Traveler’s dog happens to be in your group). My thought when I witness these retorts is “Do you have your name embroidered on your bag or do you have a PGA teaching certification I don’t know about”?

Why a 20-handicap guy who breaks 90 twice a year feels it is his obligation to try to instruct a fellow player on the error of their ways is beyond me. The worst iteration of this helicopter partnering is when it involves a husband or father. There is some familial
obligation being implemented here to direct their helpless wife or inexperienced child through the trials and tribulations of discovering a competent golf game.

The problem with all of this is three-fold.

A. The guy giving the corrective directions is not objective, the weight of the personal relationship blinds him to the real athletic aptitude of their relative.

B. The guy barely can hit it consistently out of his own shadow so his advice is like the
blind leading the blind out of a burning building.

C. Who asked.

It is really no better if these kind of “suggestions” come from a single digit advisor. There is a reason there are so few good certified teaching pros, it takes a gift for full speed diagnosis, lots of fundamental knowledge, and an ability to communicate. Just having a low handicap does not mean you have any of those.

I have been playing golf for going on 55 years and have enjoyed the golfing company of my wife and/or son for a good half of that. When my wife asks me on a particular shot what club to hit my response is “you are 120 to the center of the green, slightly uphill”. If my son asks me what was wrong with the swing that just rendered the snapping turtle ball flight that has his Titleist now residing in the knee-high stuff on the left my answer is “so what did the pro tell you the last time you were together?” Truth is golf is a game of self direction and self discovery it needs no tour guides unless they are professionally trained and being paid for their services.

My idea has been that couples and father/son tournaments should have a stipulation that you must have someone of no relation as your partner. It would remove the urge for frivolous on course correction, be more fun for your partner, and give your team a much better chance to win sweeps.

This tirade extends to all kinds of advice given on the course. How many times did a person in your group standing above the cup on a steep green ask you whether it is fast or not? Your answer is “like a greased duck on a slip-n-slide”. The result is they leave it hanging half way to the cup with a four-putt now hovering in the balance. Or they are 130 to clear the pond in front of the green and want to know if they should lay up. No matter what you say they manage rinse the next one botching the aggressive or conservative advice rendered.

Best answer to these kinds of rhetorical inquiries is “you’re holding the club, go with your gut” it usually leads to an acceptable result.

It is my hope that when the USGA finishes the Pace of Play/While We’re Young advocacy campaign they will tackle this one. My suggestion is Charles Barkley as the spokesperson of the Zip-It…No more golf disinformation please.

In the meantime, if you hear “Keep your head down” in your group politely respond with
“Keep it to yourself”. It should help your game the rest of the day.

June, 2014

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