The chances are that if you are a golf fanatic, there has been a time in your life when you have had the opportunity to play a world-class golf course, but you have not been lucky enough to have any of your normal golf crew with you.
You may have gone on a golf trip solo, or like me, managed to convince your new wife to somehow enjoy a honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico that happened to offer free golf at two PGA quality courses.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, you will face a few key questions that may need some creative answers…
- Should you play the course at all?
YES. This is an easy one. If you get the chance to play a bucket list course, you should do it. Playing golf with friends is always going to be more enjoyable than playing a course alone or with strangers, but let’s be honest, golf is always better than no golf.
- Should I choose to play as a single if I can?
NO, if you can avoid it. On the Mexico trip mentioned above, for some unknown reason, both days I ventured to the golf course, I was the only person booked to play for hours, so I played alone. I’m not against solo golf back home when I am working on my game, but as a general rule, golf is a game to be enjoyed with others, even if they are strangers. This is a personal preference naturally, but I always aim to play with someone for several reasons.
Unless you are very good at wasting time, rounds played solo are typically either too fast or way too slow. Suppose a course is busy, good luck. Be prepared for many downtimes doing nothing and most probably a complete lack of rhythm in your golf game. If a course is quiet, you may also find yourself playing too fast. And if you happen to be on a bucket list course, do you really want the experience to be over in 2 hours?
Plus, call me crazy, but I’m convinced if I ever am going to have a hole in one, it will be on a day that I’m playing alone! I want someone to enjoy that moment with me and ideally prove my story is true later on at the bar.
- What are the rules of getting grouped with strangers ?
Don’t worry. There are no hard and fast rules, but there may be a few things you want to consider to make the most of your day and those you are playing with.
- If there is any flexibility in the courses booking schedules ask if you can be booked with other singles. You will have more in common with your playing partners from the get go.
- If you are grouped with a pair, or even a triple, don’t be surprised if you are not greeted with love and affection from the get go. Chances are your new playing partners may have been hoping to sneak out alone. But fear not, golfers are normally an adaptive bunch and most will respect that everyone is out for a great day.
- It is a good idea to chat to your new golf friends about what format they have planned for the day; What tees they are playing ? Do they have any special house rules they may be playing ? Are they having a competitive match ? It’s never a bad idea to try blend in with how the rest of the group is playing, as long as it does not wreck your experience.
- Play it safe regarding what info you share with your new friends. Normally friendly trash talk, or even helpful hints that may go down well with your normal playing partners, may not be appreciated by your new partners
- Also there should be no pressure from anyone to play a match for any gambling stakes, even if you normally play for something.
- How do I make sure I have the best day I can have?
This is a critical question to ask. You have the opportunity to play an amazing course. Please don’t waste it, regardless of whether you end up having to play alone or with strangers. This could be a once in a lifetime experience, so make sure you don’t cut corners –
- Don’t be rushed to jump off the 1st tee early if a single slot opens up. Some starters may push for this but you want to make sure you still get yourself a good warm up and make the most of a day.
- Don’t hesitate to play the tees you really want to play even if the rest of the group is doing something different.
- If you have a bad shot and want to play again go for it. You may be playing a world famous hole for the only time in your life. Have a 2nd attempt to create some memories.
- Be respectful of others, but ensure everyone is being respectful of you too. You have paid your money and deserve a great day too.