Golf’s Truths … At Least As I Know Them

To most, golf is still largely thought of an “old man’s game.” Images of pants hiked up well past belly buttons, stodgy cigar filled rooms with off color jokes, and noses turned down to outsiders, fill the minds of many when asked to describe a “golfer.”


On the positive side, the game is changing – S L O W L Y – yes, but indeed changing, as the new energy of a younger generation is beginning to make its impact on equipment, fashion, attitude, rules, and many other areas of the game from all directions.

As for me, I’ve played golf now coming up on 30-years. I’m not as good as I once was (as the song goes), but I’m also better than I was when I started. Traveling and living all around the world during my active duty military days, I’ve seen the sport and game from the eyes and cultures of many peoples and many countries.

From these experiences and perspectives, I’ve found there are core golf “truths” that are common to golf and golfers from all over the world.Globe

The observations below come from my thoughts only. As you’ll see, many are dripping with sarcasm (which is my type of humor and view of the world). I hope you can take many of them as they are intended to be presented … from one man’s perspective and from one man’s experiences.


  • Because WE LOVE golf, golfers forget not everyone else does. Golf is a game, which requires a decent amount of money to play. Initial “start up” costs for a golfer are some of the highest of any game or sport. It’s a difficult game to get into and an ongoing financial investment to keep up with.
  • Golf always fluctuates in popularity and will typically follow economic up and downs. Even at its most recent height in 2003 (where 30.6* million people were playing), golf was still a game played by less than 10 percent of America. Numbers in 2014 showed a decline to 24.7* million and a concerning 1/3 drop in participation from ages 18-25. *National Golf Foundation Statistics
  • Golf is HARD. Hard, because golfers measure themselves against Par with most never having any real chance to beat “Old Man Par.” The average score for the majority of golfers is still somewhere between 90-100 strokes.

  • Golf is filled with rules, many of which are hard to understand, and many of which are hard to learn without experiencing them first hand. Most golfers, even seasoned ones, are unfamiliar with many of the rules and adaptations of the rules are passed down.
  • Mulligans, “breakfast balls”, gimmees, “just give me a double”, and winter rules (all year) are golf oddities seen all over the globe. Everywhere I’ve been and everywhere I’ve played, these types of workarounds are not only used, but are also used by a majority of golfers.

  • Your driving, your short game, and your putting are all critical elements of your golf game. Getting all three of these parts firing on all cylinders, at the same time, is like seeing a unicorn.
  • If you miss a short putt, and rake it back to try again … there is nearly a 100% chance you’ll make it. That’s called “2nd Team All-American.” My second teamer is REALLY good.
  • There is never enough coverage of Tiger Woods in the golf media. In fact, I think if you say his name 3 times, you’ll make birdie.
  • Golf can be a slow game. Especially slow, right after every Major, or right after the PGA visits a town near you. Pros are not the models to follow for playing a faster round of golf.
  • Many new golfers (and many seasoned golfers as well) have never learned the customs and courtesies, which make a round of golf move faster and make our game special.

Flags/Pins on the GreenFlagShadow

It is customary (generally) for the golfer closest to the hole to pull the flag and set it out of the way on the green.

It is customary (generally) for the golfer who holes out first (even a gimmee) to retrieve the flag and place it back in the hole after the final golfer holes out.

Ball MarkersBallMarker

Every golfer should carry a ball marker. However, when thinking of pace-of-play, carrying two markers (or one marker than can be broken into two) is a good idea to assist others in marking a ball and allowing them to put away clubs, etc. while others putt. *This situation happens more than you’d think.

Ready Golf

Playing “ready golf” even onto/around greens is a great time saver. The Rules of Golf say the golfer farthest away from the pin plays first (even if others are off the green). However, most groups and golfers will fall into a pattern of letting everyone get on the green, so the flag can be pulled and will then proceed.

  • Golf is a game of tremendous ego, tremendous internal passion, and tremendous outward expression. No matter where you are in the world; there are club throwers, cursers, jerks, cheaters, sandbaggers … and yes, also great people.

  • Every golfer has a story to tell of a club thrower, a curser, a jerk, a cheater, a sandbagger. Sometimes, we forget to tell the stories of the great people.
  • The internal competitive nature of golf forces us to deal with our expectations, our fallacies and ourselves. Sometimes WE are very hard on ourselves and as the Golfsmith® commercial says, maybe we should, “Go easy on Steve, Steve.”
  • If I had a dollar for every guy who tells me they drive it 300 … well, I’d be rich! Driving a ball 300-yards one time doesn’t mean you do every time. It’s sort of like being able to play the riff on a guitar to Smoke on the Water and telling people you play guitar. *I’m sure I dated myself a bit there, but Google “Smoke on the Water guitar riff” and you’ll see what I mean.

    Image: Happy Gilmore,
    Image: Happy Gilmore,
  • If I had a dollar for every guy who tells me they drive it 300, and has to wait from 280 out on a Par 5, because they “can get there,” well, I’d be even richer.
  • There will always be a guy who feels they can tell you exactly what is wrong with your swing, your putting stroke, and your life (if you let him). This guy is especially “helpful” if he sees a woman on the range or on the course.
  • The first birdie of your golfing career will almost always have occurred with you as the only witness. And your friends will put “birdie” in air quotes as they say, “Sure, sure … you chipped in for birdie.”
  • The mathematical probability of getting your ball picked up by another golfer is directly related to the ratio of the ball’s value. Expressed in different terms; if you have a ProV1 in play, YES, it’s getting picked up … ratio = 100. If you have an old Top Flite, ratio = 50/50.
  • This same mathematical ratio remains constant in the order of play. Put a brand new ProV1 in play and odds of it hitting it OB or in the water are greater by 10x than losing an older ball you found in the woods 3-years ago.
  • When you have to be somewhere at a specific time, that will be when you’re behind the slowest group in the history of golf.
  • The group that jumps in front of you at the turn will always be surprised at your frustration, as you watch them grabbing tees out of their bag, and searching for a ball to tee off with. They will also be surprised that “so many people are out here today.”
  • There will always be a guy, at every course, after his sixth beer, who is more convinced his game is better when he has a few beers in him. This same guy also thinks the cart girl finds him attractive.
  • The group that convinces the starter that “they play fast” so they should go in front of another group, is the same group that will duff their opening drives.
  • Even if you are under par when the group in front waves you through, you can bet on that hole, or the next, here comes a double bogey.
  • The golfers who bitch the most are usually the ones who play the most, spend the least – and expect Augusta conditions year round – but not with their $$$.

FAIRWAYS and GREENSFairwaysGreens

These are just a few of the common “truths” I’ve found during my time playing the great game of golf. I’m sure there are thousands of others, which you as fellow golfers have observed.

PLEASE feel free to share your “golf truths” with us in the comments below in a continuing conversation about the great game of golf!

BIO: Keith Cook has been a writer/contributing editor at since 2013. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter: @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer.