A guy I know asked me if I wanted to join his regular Friday foursome because one of the guys couldn’t make it. I said, “sure” (of course having checked with my wife). At this point last Summer I had played all of two rounds, one of which was a scramble. I hadn’t swung a club in a month. So, before I went out and embarrassed myself, I wanted to know exactly how badly I would embarrass myself. I’m a solid 90’s golfer. If I really get it going, I can shoot 88. My best two rounds ever were an 85 at Bear Creek and an 82 at some course in West Baltimore, which I should be able to remember the name, but I can’t. I do remember the course being not that hard, and I played out of my butt.
Anyway, this guy tells me that he shoots about 82-84. My first thought was “great, I’m going to be the worst guy in the group.” But actually, that doesn’t really bother me. I’ve often played with guys better than me. It’s not uncommon for me to be “getting strokes.” So anyway, when the guy asked me what I shoot, I told him that I would be happy to shoot 92 or 93, and that was the truth.
Now when I play golf, I play by the rules of golf. I don’t roll my ball in the fairway. I putt out on every hole. I imagine that I’m in my own little PGA event and I want to see what my score really is. The next time I see Tiger roll his ball out of a divot in the fairway then I will start rolling my ball too. The next time Mickelson picks up a putt because it’s inside the leather, then I will too. But until then, I will play by the rules, and when I tell someone that I shot 88, it will be an 88.
So the round goes, and I play a nice 54-44 to a 98. That’s not the story. The story is that the guy who I was playing with who shoots 82-84, didn’t. Well, his scorecard might have said 82-84, but he didn’t shoot it. J.K. Rowlings doesn’t write fiction as well as this guy did. He was picking up putts, ignoring white stakes, and using a mulligan on each side. The only way this guy would shoot 82 is if he stopped after 16 holes.
I’m not golf historian, but let me give you a brief history on mulligans. They are to be used on the first tee box, in the event that the player didn’t have enough time to go to the driving range. They are not to be used on #14 when you’re ball goes into the pond. This guy contemplated using his mulligans like NFL coaches think about using their replay challenges. It was comical.
Look, I’m not telling anyone how to play their round, and how to enjoy the sport, but I’ve never understood why guys feel it necessary to lie about their golf scores to make themselves feel like more of a man. Just play the round like it was meant to be played and tell people what you shot. No one is going to think less of you if you don’t play well. The other thing is, that if you tell someone that you shoot 82 and then go out and play in some event where you have to follow the rules and throw up a 94, you are going to look like an idiot.
I’ve never had a good golfer not play a round with me because I’m going to shoot in the 90’s. Drew Forrester would play a round with me and have no problems even though he would beat me by 20 strokes. Do you know why? I understand the etiquette of the game. I don’t walk in people’s putt lines. I don’t leave the cart 100 yards back, and I don’t spend 15 minutes looking for my ball and hold up the whole group.
Like I said, you do what you want to do, but I can promise you this. Good golfers will make more fun of you behind your back if you say that you shoot 80 but can’t then they will if you admit that you shoot 90. Does it really do your ego any good to have guys across the clubhouse laughing saying that “he cheats and he sucks?” It certainly won’t do your wallet any good when you play them in a match.