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GolfStash Blog. Written by Golf Professional Alex Ward.

Learn From Your Golf Partners

What can you learn from the people you play with?Well, that all depends on how you perceive your playing partners, whether chosen or not. I have often heard how men do not want to play with women and vice versa, which always surprises me, not only as a professional but as a golfer. The strangest and often most common is the reluctance of people to play with players with higher handicaps because they will slow down the game or lower handicapped players may feel they will be unable to concentrate. I would like to disagree with this.

    Golf is the only sport that allows everyone to compete against each other, regardless of age, gender, or handicap. It is the only sport where an amateur golfer can compete against a professional and have a chance of winning. This uniqueness of golf should not be lost because some people refuse to play with others. 

One of the things that I always remember being told when I was a junior golfer, looking to reduce my handicap and learn as much as I could about the game, was this: “ Everyone had to start somewhere”. To this day I still believe this ethos, as you can all recall and remember the first time you went on the golf course. Very few if any, arrive on the golf course and immediately receive a handicap of 8 or less, yet there are many single figure golfers that will not play with high handicappers purely because of handicap. This I believe is a shame, because even though my level of golf is “better” or “higher” than the majority of players I play with, I have never failed to learn something from each and every one of them. Whether I have learned another way of approaching a shot that I may not have thought of, or whether I have learned a better way of playing a hole, one that I would never have dreamed up without playing with a certain person. 

    It is apparent to me that golf is becoming a sport, in which men and women are competing at a higher level than in previous decades, and this is at the amateur level, yet there are still those “grumpy old gits” or “miserable marys” arriving at golf courses throughout the world refusing to play with each other based on gender, handicap or nationality. 
    I would urge everyone to take a slightly different view on your fellow golfer and look for the positive things you could glean from them. 

Men certainly can learn a huge amount from women, especially on the strategic side of the game, very few women regularly lose balls, with the exception of having to carry water. 

Golfers putting

Men, with the same handicap, will generally lose more golf balls in a single round because they try to “overpower” the golf course, instead of playing it within their ability level, as women do. Women can learn from men as well, they can learn how sometimes taking a risk is beneficial, in the right circumstance, or how maybe choosing a different line from the tee could reduce the distance they have for their second shots.  

    The most annoying aspect of “picky” golfers is their not wanting to play with juniors, regardless of handicap.

Please remember that juniors are the future of the game, and as long as they behave on the golf course and adhere to the rules of golf then they can be an absolute joy to play with. Older golfers can “marvel” in the apparent ease they have of hitting the golf ball, and if the junior is fairly new to the game their ability to just move on from one shot to another, with very little worry. On the flip side of the coin for those “grumpy old gits” is they can teach the juniors the rules, etiquette, and traditions of the famous game.   Next time you go out on the course be aware of how you react to being paired up or having to play with someone in your society that you have only spoken to in society functions, or a fleeting hello when you arrive on the golf course. Your reaction to who you are playing with can have a positive or negative effect on the way that YOU play, given your opponent an advantage before you even hit your first shot. Instead of worrying about the player you are playing with, be concerned and aware of what you are doing, after all, the only person hitting your shots and controlling your game is you!! (Or perhaps an over efficient marshal!!)  

If you can always accept that everyone, including you, had to start somewhere, then maybe you can avoid the awkward silence as you walk down the fairway, or the little voice in your head telling you “this guy is ruining my game, how can I concentrate playing with someone that hasn´t got a clue”. The choice you have is simple, continue to be “angry”, “upset”, “distressed” or “annoyed” resulting in you playing below par (excuse the pun) or the choice that you accept and become aware of how you can learn from the people you play with and how you can help them to enjoy this game for a lifetime even more because of your input.