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Opinion & Analysis

The art of the post-work round

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For most of us, golf is not a job. Maybe we wish it was, or dream it was, but for many of us golf will never pay the bills. This is unfortunate of course because bills need to be paid, kids need to go to school, food needs to be put on the table.

For most, the sport represents an outlet from all of that, or maybe just a way to spend time with your friends, or maybe a way to fit some competition into your life which has become difficult as you get older (you try joining a rec basketball league and avoid getting stabbed over a no-foul call). Or it’s possible golf is for you, as it is for many, simply an obsession. And that means you need to fit in as much golf as humanly possible, which of course leads us to the art of the post work round.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. You have responsibilities at home, clingy friends and coworkers who want to drink beer with you after work. The there’s traffic to fight, and of course the sun slowly rotating away and taking away precious daylight with it (stupid solar system!). So fitting in a genuine post work round can be difficult, but take it from someone pretty good at it — it’s far from impossible. Just follow a few easy guidelines.

**** note 1: this applies mostly to people who live in areas that have defined golf seasons, like the northeast, where you have a limited number of days where you can actually play golf, hence the need to fit in as much as possible. If you live in an area where you can play year round golf, please refer to note 2:

**** note 2: I hate you

OK, so where were we? Ah yes, the guidelines:

Pick an active partner

Golf partner? Ummm, no. Pick an active life partner. In fact, pick a partner in general, because if you don’t you probably ARE going to spend most of your post work time drinking beer with coworkers at popular establishments. Great for meeting women, bad for your golf game. But that’s another article. Having a wife or girlfriend with her own agenda is a great thing. They tend to do things like bikram yoga (no idea what that is) or have dinners at vegan restaurants (ditto) or go with their friends to see movies starring guys named Ryan, be it Gosling or Reynolds (sidenote, if you are going to get dragged to this Gosling is much better. Have you seen “Drive” or “The Ides of March”? Quality flicks, but I digress). Anyway, the point is this: If you want to play golf after work, you need a free night to do this on. There are only so many passes you can get from the missus, so pick one who is active too. Just ummm, don’t play golf with her. Because….

Night rounds work better solo

You’ve got maybe two and a half hours to sneak in a round after work. You know what makes that difficult? Playing partners. They gab, they lose balls, they line up putts, they are witnesses to what you shot so you can’t post a 72 even if you shot a … wait, forget I said that last thing. Anyway, you have to be on a mission to get this done, and a dilly dallying friend isn’t the way to do it. The courses are mostly empty at this hour anyway, and I don’t know about you but after a long day at work there is something peaceful about a solo round at sunset. There’s plenty of time for camaraderie on the weekend.

Plan ahead 

Every minute counts, so planning is essential. This encompasses everything about the round including travel. Know alternate routes to the course if there is traffic — there are always back roads that are less used during rush hour. Keep your golf bag on you rather then leaving it at the course. There’s nothing worse then seeing that foursome go out in front of you while your waiting at the bag drop for your gear. Keep a spare set of spikes in the trunk so you don’t need to go to your locker. Wear a pair of pants to work that you can wear on the course after (unless your work requires a full blown suit and tie, this should be possible) because it takes only a few seconds to change a shirt, but pants are more difficult. Also, nothing worse then people walking by your car while you are inside not wearing pants, because getting a round in isn’t worth a public lewdness conviction. If you plan this right you can park your car and be on the first tee in minutes.

Know your courses layout

We all know the feeling, you are rolling along through 5 or 6 holes and then, of course, the late night group of foursomes. Look, I’ve got nothing against late night foursomes, they have a right to play the course just like you do. They do seem very intent on finishing the round EXACTLY at sundown though, ensuring that no group behind them can finish theirs. Playing through will do you no good as you’ll just run into a couple more groups, and in one of those groups there is bound to be the stickler that simply will not allow anyone to play through and believes singles have no business on a golf course. Not here to debate that, only to point out that you are better off knowing where you can cut through and skip a few holes.

Getting back to seeing an open course while also not impeding their play: Every course winds and turns in some way that there are good cutoff points, alleyways and drainage pipes that you can crawl through like Andy Dufresne and woods that you can backpack through to find either the eighth tee box or possibly the Blair Witch. Simply, know your course and know where you can cut some corners. Playing 15 holes is a lot better then playing 9 holes.

Play ready golf (and ummm, you should always be ready)

This starts on the first tee, which apart from your girlfriend telling you she feels sick in the morning is the most stressful moment in your life. Nothing worse then getting ready to tee off on the first tee, maybe getting in a quick stretch and a few practice swings, and then seeing Slow-Play Mcgee walking up to the first tee. You pretend you don’t see him, you realize it’s time to get your butt in gear and get ready to tee off, only to hear:

“Hey! want to play together?”

Your heart sinks faster then it did when your girlfriend told you it was a Ryan Gosling movie and it turned out to be a Reynolds one. Getting off the first tee requires almost ninja like talent. You need to get from your car to the tee box without being spotted. Wait for the opportune moment, or simply stuff your golf bag with flash or smoke grenades. If you choose the latter, you might freak out some people, but hey at least they won’t ask you to play with them. So there’s that.

Getting off the first tee is important because at that point you are on your own and you can play fast. If you want to get in a full round I suggest taking minimal practice swings and not going all spider-man on every putt. You’ll probably notice that this won’t even affect your scores that much, and even if it does, who cares! No one is watching!

You totally made that putt on No. 7 right? Yup. And that ball wasn’t in the water on No. 12. It was like, pretty much on the fairway in a good lie. How did it end up there? Lucky bounce I suppose! Oh well that is golf, try and tell me that that isn’t golf.

Be a post-9 detective

An underrated part of maximizing your ability to play night golf? When you finish 9 holes, where do you go? Did people tee off after you? Are people ahead of you? Better size up the situation bub, because time’s a wasting big guy. It’s always nice to play a variety of holes so my philosophy is always to continue playing the course in order if you haven’t seen too many people out there. But if you’ve always seen that group in the distance, it may be worth it to head back to the first tee. If it’s about  7 or 8 p.m. by now, chances are people haven’t teed off on the first in a while.  More unimpeded golf is in your future.

You know how to get to Carnegie Hall don’t you? Practice, Practice, Practice

Sometimes things just don’t work out for you. The course is packed, there was traffic and you are waiting on every tee box. Sometimes it’s just best to throw in the towel and realize you are not going to get a full 18 holes in. That doesn’t mean though that you can’t get something out of this, and once you’ve realized that 18 is out of the question, suddenly being on the back of the bus is pretty key. In fact now it’s actually better to be the last group on the course and might even be worth letting that twosome behind you play through. That way while you are waiting there is a huge practice facility at your disposal: bunkers, greens, actual rough to chip out of, etc. Don’t go to 100 yds and start taking divots you fool! But practicing around the green doesn’t hurt the course and gives you the chance to work on your short game. Then when you get home at least you can feel like you accomplished something.

Lastly, don’t quit your day job

I understand you’d rather be playing golf then working. But you know what isn’t great? Having all day every day to play golf because you don’t have a job. Always remember to respect the workplace, don’t duck out early unless you have very understanding coworkers and you are going to make up the time, or at least have all your work done. Pick days to play where you don’t have meetings or assignments due. Don’t let golf affect your day job, because when it’s all said and done, you gotta remember what is important. And of course, if you have any option what-so-ever, try and work for a boss who is also a golfer. We call that the jackpot.

Now that you know this, go out and play 90 rounds this year my friends! See you at the course. Actually, you won’t see me. Because I am a ninja.

Click here for more discussion in the “Golf Talk” forum. 

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Jeff Singer was born and still resides in Montreal, Canada. Though it is a passion for him today, he wasn't a golfer until fairly recently in life. In his younger years Jeff played collegiate basketball and football and grew up hoping to play the latter professionally. Upon joining the workforce, Jeff picked up golf and currently plays at a private course in the Montreal area while working in marketing. He has been a member of GolfWRX since 2008

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. blopar

    Dec 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I belong to a private club in Cleveland, OH. Best nite to play after work: Monday. Course is closed, maintenance, private outings and caddie golf pretty much over well before 5-6 PM——and then the course is yours!!

    And really, 2 or even 3 guys walking, playing ready golf, can get around almost as fast as one.

    When I play alone: white ball vs.yellow ball compete for the current US Open title!

  2. Courtoni20

    Dec 4, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Freaking hilarious, very entertaining article!

  3. Will

    Dec 3, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Great article and I fall under note #2. Such is life but wanted to say that I enjoyed the article and the fact that you bring up the point about using the course as the practice grounds. We have a Troon course with 3 nines right across the street from work and some days it is packed. For those, I drop a couple of balls, play them both, and take the lower score. It keeps it both fun and challenging. Ryan Reynolds was pretty good in The Proposal and Van Wilder.

  4. luke keefner

    Dec 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I have about given up on golf after work, golf leagues are populated with some of the worst golfslugs I have ever witnessed. I live in upstate NY so I lose about 3 months to old man winter. I actually enjoy playing in crappy weather because the courses are much less crowded. I much prefer getting to the course by 6am in the summer and getting in 9 holes in an hour and 15 minutes, then going to work. Evenings on weekends are a good bet too. You can get in some great on course practice at that time because there is rarely anyone behind you.

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Opinion & Analysis

Let’s Retire Old Man Par: A Modest Proposal

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In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical essay entitled “A modest proposal,” in which he suggested that the Irish eat their own children. As might be expected, the piece drew a great deal of discussion and controversy. He was of course not serious, but simply attempting to make a point. As you will read this piece contains “A Modest Proposal” as well, but it is not intended to be satirical. I am for the record dead serious.

The golf industry is wringing its hands, trying to find a way to bring new players into the game, while at the same time keeping those that are in the game from leaving. They have initiated any number of programs designed for this purpose. How successful have they been? I would venture that they have barely moved the needle.

Barriers to the game

What we do know is that today there are three major barriers that confront the industry. They are first, the time required to play the game; second the costs associated with playing the game; and third the difficulty of the game.

There are among those adults that start the game, three distinct different groups:

  1. Those who would like to start playing golf but for any number of reasons decided not to take up the game.
  2. Those who once played more frequently but have reduced the number of rounds that they play.
  3. Those who started to play the game but then after a short period decided to leave it.

Those who leave the game

Those in the golf industry, the hand-wringers, have developed any number of programs to bring new players to the game. I would ask the question, “What is the point, when almost an equal number of players that start playing the game each year, decide to give it up within a span of a few months.

Does it make any sense to continue to put water into a bucket when there is a hole in the bottom? Of course not, but that is effectively what is being done. The first question to be ask, why do these new players quit the playing after a short time? In my opinion, the number No. 1 reason is the method of scoring being used.

Were an exit poll to be conducted asking these people why they quit playing, I seriously doubt they would answer truthfully. Who would want to admit that they were discouraged by their inability to succeed at any endeavor? The two answers that would be given the most often would be 1) that golf is too expensive to play; or 2) that they simply didn’t have time.  In this case both answers serve to preserve the individual’s dignity. And who could blame them?

The concept of par

Why did these individuals find the game difficult? The short answer is that while golf is a hard game to learn, there  is a more compelling reason.  I would venture, that the underlying reason they quit the game is that it ceased to be fun because of how they viewed their performance. And for one central reason… the concept of par. The idea that an amateur golfer, especially a beginner, should measure their level of success against an imaginary set of numbers that represents what an expert player would score on each hole is on the surface ridiculous.

You might imagine a beginning player scoring an eight on a par-four hole after hitting six good shots and then two putting for an eight. In the context of their ability, they should be ecstatic — but of course they are not (because as their playing partner reminds them) they were four-over par on that hole. The time has come for Old Man Par to retire. And retire permanently. He is killing the game.

Perceived failure

In another scenario, the beginning player scores sixty for nine holes, which is an excellent score given the short amount of time they might have spent playing the game. And yet their nine-hole score was 24-over par. How would that make you feel? Would you be encouraged or discouraged? You might imagine yourself back in school and regardless of the amount of work that you put into a given class you always receive an “F.” At some point, would you give up?

Why should every golfer be judged by the same standard when there is such inequality in their ability? The equivalent would be placing a high school freshman in a graduate-level college course, expecting that they could perform at the same level as the other graduate students. The disparity in knowledge, based on age and experience, is precisely the reason why there are different grades in school. The same disparity exists among golfers. In this case, the difference being the ability to perform on the golf course as opposed to the classroom.

What about the second group of players that now plays less than they did in the past? Could it be that they are no longer having fun playing the game?And then there is the third group, those that consider playing the game but abandon it for another sport. Could it be that they are intimidated by the scoring system, knowing that as a beginner par is an absolute impossibility?

Old man par 

The legendary Bobby Jones was the first to coin, perhaps with the help of his friend O.B. Keillor, the phrase “Old Man Par.” Jones was, of course, the greatest amateur to have ever played the game. He won the Grand Slam in 1930, retiring then at the age of 28.

The time has come to retire “Old Man Par” and devise a new system for measuring a golfer’s progress in the game. I know that those in the USGA. would reject the concept immediately for fear of, and here is a $10 word used primarily by attorneys, “bifurcate” the game. What that word essentially means in this context in having more than one standard. The USGA is responsible for preserving the nature of the game, but at the same time it should be equally concerned with preserving the future of the game.

Personal par

What I would suggest is a system based on the principle of what might be termed “personal par.” This was essentially the system that was used to groom a young Tiger Woods. As a young child, he was not capable of reaching the longer holes in regulation, making par a virtual impossibility. Consequently, his coach wisely devised a system in which par was adjusted upward based on his ability at a given point in time. This served to keep the young child feeling good about his performance and subsequent progress.

This is the type of system that needs to be devised for the health of the game. The system would begin at a nine-hole level using a par of thirty-six as a basis. The actual numbers are not as important as the basic concept. There would be within the nine-hole and the eighteen-hole groups five different levels as follows with assigned par for each hole and eighteen holes roughly equal with the player’s ability.

As players improved, they would graduate from one level to another based on their total score. The handicap system would work in similar fashion as it does now with a single modification. The strokes give from one player to another would depend on the level in which they fall and the par assigned to that level.

The personal par handicap system would not be as exacting as it is presently used, but it would be sufficient to allow players to be reasonable competitive without any significant sacrifice. There would then be two scoring systems then, allowing players to choose which one they wanted to use. Or a recommendation might be given that until they reach a given scoring threshold that they use the personal par scoring system.

There would, of course, be the usual concern with something new being injected into the system, but the proposed change would be no greater than when the system of equitable scoring was introduced or when courses were first assigned a course rating number.

A few years ago, when life-long teacher and educator Dr. Gary Wiren was inducted into the Golf Teacher’s Hall of Fame, he wanted to pass along a single piece of advice to those teachers in the room. “Gentleman,” he started and then paused for emphasis. “We must find a way to make the game more fun for our students.”

I’m in full agreement with Dr. Wiren. The question is, “What is the best way to accomplish that goal?” I believe that that the first step in that direction is to change the scoring system so that golfers experience more satisfaction and accomplishment. That is what makes learning fun.

And so, I would have you consider “The Modest Proposal” that I have put forward. And rather than attempting to find reasons why a revised scoring system couldn’t never work, for the benefit of the game, look for the same number of reason why it could work. The time has come for Old Man Par, as we know him, to retire. He has served us well, but he has become an anarchism. He is as obsolete as the horse and buggy. Let’s hand him his gold watch and let him enjoy his golden years in peace.

And at the same time, let’s welcome the “new kid on the block” who will pave the way for the next generation of golfers pioneering a scoring system that promises to make the game more “fun.”

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TG2: What’s the most annoying breach of golf etiquette?

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What’s the one breach of golf etiquette that gets under your skin more than anything else? Equipment expert Brian Knudson and GolfWRX Editor Andrew Tursky discuss what drives them crazy. Also, Knudson talks about his first round with new irons and a new shaft in his driver.

Follow @tg2wrx on Instagram to enter the Bettinardi inovai 5.0 center-shaft putter giveaway.

Listen to the full podcast below on SoundCloud, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

“I Love You, Tiger!” At Big Cedar lodge, an outpouring of affection for Tiger Woods

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What a difference a year makes.

About one year ago, Tiger Woods was in Branson, Missouri at Big Cedar Lodge to announce that he was designing a golf course there; Payne’s Valley, his first public course. That day was attended by hundreds of national and local media, the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri and Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops owner and the visionary behind the amazing golf complex that has been established at Big Cedar Lodge.

That day, Woods had not played competitive golf for awhile, and he was recovering from multiple surgeries. Woods took a couple of ceremonial swings, the last of which clearly left him in physical distress. Days later, he was in surgery again and his playing career looked to be all but over. The situation became worse when Woods was arrested for driving under the influence, found with multiple substances in his system. It seemed as though the sad mug shots from that arrest might be as prominent in his legacy as the smiles and fist-pumps that accompanied his 79 wins and 14 major championships.

Fast forward to yesterday, where Woods was back in Missouri to do a Junior Clinic at Big Cedar. An estimated crowd of over 7,000 kids and parents showed up on a school day to catch a glimpse of Woods. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with sky divers, stunt planes making flyovers and rock music blaring from giant speakers. When Woods finally arrived, the reaction was electric. Mothers and their kids were chanting. “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” at the top of their lungs. Photographers battled soccer moms for position to get a picture of his swing. Some of the kids were as young as 6-years-old, which means that they had probably not seen Woods hit a meaningful shot in their life. At one point, when Woods was hitting shots and explaining how to execute them, a woman shouted, “I love you, Tiger!” Not to be out done, a woman on the other side of the crowd, who was their with her husband and kids, shouted “I love you more, Tiger!” Maybe the only people with more affection for Woods would be the people in the golf business. A senior marketing official in the golf industry leaned over at one point in the event and said, “God, we could use just one more from him.”

Woods swing looks completely rehabilitated. He was hitting shots of every shape and trajectory on-demand, and the driver was sending balls well past the end of the makeshift driving range set up for the event. But even more remarkable was the evidence of the recovery of his reputation. Surely there are still women out there that revile Woods for the revelations of infidelity, and no doubt there are those that still reject Woods for his legal and personal struggles. But none of them were in Missouri yesterday. Mothers and children shrieking his name confirmed what we already knew: Tiger Woods is the single most compelling person in American sports, and he belongs to golf.

Unlike a year ago, Woods is swinging well, and seems as healthy and happy as he as ever been as a pro. Add to that the unprecedented outpouring of love from crowds that once produced a combination of awe and respect, but never love. Fowler, McIlroy, Spieth and the rest may get their share of wins and Tweets, but if the game is to really grow it will be on the broad, fragile back of Tiger Woods. It’s amazing to think what can happen in one short year.

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