Well okay, 'hate' is a little strong. I haven't known too many golf pros who despise the people that put bread on their table [decided to backtrack a little now that we've got everyones' attention, have we? Ed]. Good business sense dictates that a certain level of appreciation for your customers is healthy.
I have, however, heard numerous golf pros express their displeasure at some of the more 'idiotic', 'half-witted', and 'asinine' habits of some members belonging to the golfing public. And no, it's not like the local golf pros are likely to throw you out of their shop for blurting out uneducated comments about the game... but it is entirely possible that behind closed doors they might be snickering at your expense.
So here are 10 reasons why the golf pro hates you - even though it's more likely he/she will just smirk about your misdemeanors and gladly welcome you back into the fold on the redemption of your crime:
1. You consistently show up late for your tee times.
Showing up late for your mother-in-law's birthday party is one thing. Being tardy at the golf course is entirely different - the negative fall-out is likely to be far more reaching. Most people don't realise that every tee time for the rest of day is affected by your 'My-cat-got-run-over-by-a-car-so-I-couldn't-get-here-in-time' approach to playing the game. Scrambling to get back on time, a poor pace of play, and ultimately, lost revenue due to unhappy golfers are the results of you consistently showing up late for your starting time.
2. Without being able to hit the ball out of your own shadow, you place yourself in the 'I'm one of the best golf teachers on the planet, so listen to my advice' category.
Contrary to popular belief, 'keep your head down' and 'keep your left arm straight' are two of the most pathetically useless things you can say to a playing partner who is struggling. In fact, by blurting out these two 'tips', you immediately put yourself in the 'I really know nothing about teaching golf but here's my two cents worth anyway' category. What is the right thing to say, you ask?
Good question. It varies. Unfortunately, unless your eye is trained, you'll likely have no idea - leave it to your local golf pro, who does [does what, have no idea? Ed].
3. Your favorite club in your bag is your ball retriever.
Despite the fact that you could hit a marshmallow further than that ball that's been sitting at the bottom of a slime-infested pond for two-years, you'd sacrifice your polyester pants and hard-collared golf shirt any day to retrieve those name brand x-outs. And of course, you have no remorse at seeing five foursomes line up on the tee behind you. Need I say more?
4. You pretend that you're Michael Schumacher, your powercart is a Ferrari Formula 1 racer, and the area around the fifth green is the Daytona Speedway.
Road rash, checkered flags, and high-speed pile-ups are not supposed to be part of playing golf. Unfortunately, with what many people deem to be the obligatory six-pack necessary for swing lubrication, accidents involving the way-more-expensive-than-you-think power carts are more apt to happen. Interestingly, new powercarts run between $7,000-$9,000 each - for a good prosthetic leg, add a few zeros. Golf pros prefer to see their equipment, as well as your skeletal structure, remain intact throughout the round.
5. You'd rather stand by your 'I'd-make-a-good-axe-murderer'-like golf swing and suffer through dislocated elbows, property damage, and 120-plus scores than dish out a few dollars for a golf lesson or two.
I'm not sure what it is about breaking windows and scattering foursomes on adjacent holes that has such widespread appeal. Contrary to what some people may bellow at you on the course ('Hey buddy, I didn't wear a helmet today See if you can keep one on the planet!'), there is hope for you. However, in order to decrease the chance of personal injury or expensive lawsuits it's necessary to get proactive about changing your anarchistic 'move'. The golf pro respects those who seek professional help.
6. You take 16 practice swings on the first tee.
Granted, most golf courses use tee time intervals that are much too short, packing the golf courses and making them excellent environments for the next Survivor series. However, it cannot be understated that getting off the first tee before rigor mortis sets in with your playing partners (and every single tee time behind you gets backed up) should be every golfer's responsibility.
7. When calling to book your tee time you expect the golf pro to get you your favorite starting time within 3 or 4 milliseconds.
Frequent conversation in pro shop:
Guy on phone: 'What do you have around 10 on Tuesday?'
Golf pro: 'How about 10:02?'
Guy on phone: 'Do you have anything closer to 10?'
Golf Pro: 'Ya, as a matter of fact I've got 10:01 at the Give-Your-Head-A-Shake Country Club down the road, nimrod.'
8. You refuse to play anything but the championship tees.
The course features six forced carries from the back tees that you couldn't handle even if you used helium filled golf balls. The yardage from the back tees totals 8,000 yards. A sign on the first hole's championship tee reads: ''Only Stupid People Play From These Tee Markers.' But even still, you grab your rusty niblicks and mosey over to the Tiger tees for a good ol' fashioned beating ' not to mention a torturous seven-hour round.
9. It's always somebody else's fault.
Yes, we know, that little pimple-faced kid at McDonald's forgot to take the pickle out of your cheeseburger, thus throwing off your equilibrium, and your putting stroke. Excuses work well for four-year olds when they forget that they invented toilets for what they just did in their pants - but that's about it. Of course, golf pros can just as easily commit this crime.
10. You never practice! (properly)
Contrary to what the herd at the local driving range thinks, lunging at golf balls for an hour a day isn't going to do it. Also, if you've invested some time and money into golf lessons, you should consummate that investment by actually practicing the skills you're learning. Think about it, if you started playing the piano do you think you could just sit down and play a Mozart concerto without sacrificing months to rehearse the piece with a qualified teacher? You'd sound like a monkey banging on the keys. It's no different in golf - you've got to have a plan and put some quality time into it.
Hate is a fairly strong word. And granted, unless you walk into the pro shop and pee on the carpet, the golf pro won't likely go so far as to hate you. Now get out to the golf course and allow some extra time in case you run over your cat. And for heaven's sake, stop saying 'keep your head down' to every axe-murderer you meet.
Andrew Penner is a golf pro [with very few pupils]in Calgary, Canada.
|| 19 - MARCH 2002