July 1st, 2011 by Kristofer Anderson
Last weekend a friend talked me into playing a Sunday round of golf with two of his co-workers. After asking if they were tolerable human beings I agreed. I actually enjoy playing with beginners more than professionals in casual rounds because they are there for simple enjoyment, not to critique every swing. Watching our playing companions on the range we knew that it would be a long day. I will refer to them as Player C and Player D for the sake of anonymity, and because neither will ever be an A or B player. On the first tee Player C struck out swinging, with practice swings between each whiff. Player D hit two tee shots on the first tee, one ended up in a bush some five yards to the right of the tee, and the other traveled around 9.5″. Ten minutes after we got to the tee, they were still swinging. Luckily the group behind us did not show so we had some bonus time to work with, but I knew this was not going to work.
By the time we hit the turn both C and D were not having much fun. Player C had asked me to keep score and I did my best, he was somewhere around a 65 on the front nine. On 10 tee I asked them both to try to play two holes without taking a single practice swing or take more than 5 seconds to line up a shot. I will admit that my advice was a self serving motive, I just wanted to keep up with the group in front of us. They reluctantly agreed and proceeded to put both tee shots in the fairway about 175 yards off the tee. On the entire front nine I did not see a shot travel over 120 yards except one that D put down the road.
On the back nine Player C shot a legitimate 54, and we shaved 30 minutes of our front side time. Player D wasn’t keeping score but he spent more time in the grass than the desert on the back and was clearly having more fun. All of this from eliminating practice swings and reducing over-thinking.
I equate golf to a game of chess. I am horrible at chess and it does not matter if I think about my next move for a second or an hour, if my opponent is out of diapers I am going to lose the game. Beginning golfers are very similar, they see professionals calculating every variable prior to hitting their shot. They are so good that every little factor can have an impact on the shot. Average golfers don’t gain a single thing from doing this. Their swings are not consistent enough to make necessary adjustments and they just end up frustrated.
If you are a beginner, or find yourself with one during your next round, politely suggest they try speeding up play and explain the benefits. It will help to make golf more enjoyable and less stressful.