The art of the post-work round
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.
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.