This past weekend, golf made news again and this time not just on the Golf Channel. Broadcasters were talking about golf on Sportscenter, CNN, Fox, Morning TV, and writers everywhere were typing away, tweeting, and meeting deadlines in the printed press. Why you might ask? Well, it’s Tiger Tiger Woods y’all.
Tiger’s return was a shot in the arm at the end of a tremendous year for golf and had TV execs salivating at the possibilities for more. His return to competition caused a seismic shift in TV ratings all week long. Thursday’s first round of the Hero World Challenge, drew a .86 rating (about 786,000 viewers), which was up 190% from last year’s event. Keep in mind, this was a Thursday, and a golf tournament, and in December. According to NBC/Golf Channel, Thursday’s round was the most-watched fourth-quarter (Oct-Dec) round in Golf Channel history. Rounds 2, 3, and 4 didn’t disappoint either, with ratings up 200% on Friday, 162% / 92% (Golf Channel/NBC) on Saturday, and 126% / 54% (Golf Channel/NBC) on Sunday, respectively.
And don’t think TV execs were the only ones who noticed. Vegas, where everything happens and stays (unless it’s on an iPhone or Instagram), loved Tiger’s return as well. In fact, post tournament betting odds have already hit the streets. With a good start at the Hero World Challenge, some are already predicting what Tiger Woods’ 2017 could look like. Tiger’s over/under for numbers of tournaments, cuts made, withdrawals, and even his odds to win a major in 2017 (21/2) are all there waiting for those who wish to take a chance and put some big bucks down. Particularly interesting are the odds of Tiger ever winning a major again (10/11), which tells me even Vegas is holding out hope for the return of the Tiger of old.
Over this past Thanksgiving weekend, witnesses told police, Kevin Silvay (42) brutally assaulted Michael Plumlee (27) on Indian Creek Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas. The violence stemmed from an argument over slow play after Silvay’s group hit into Plumlee’s group while they were putting on the 16th green. Plumlee reportedly threw the ball off the green as Silvay’s group approached and that’s when the encounter turned violent.
Silvay has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (golf club), which resulted in serious injury to Plumlee including a fractured skull and several broken ribs.
As unnecessary as violence is on a golf course, sadly, this is nothing new to the sport of golf. It’s nothing new to golfers, nothing new to courses, and nothing new at any level of golf from public to private, from lighted par 3s to TPC Sawgrass.
Very fortunately, most problems on golf courses don’t result in violence or assault, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of close calls. In fact, anger on the course exists on many different levels, some harmless, some not. It can start with something as simple as slamming or throwing a club. However, it can also quickly escalate to yelling at others, verbal arguments, hitting into a person or group, and can even turn into something as serious as assault as we unfortunately saw at Indian Creek.
The bad part about this type of anger is that it may not even be your rage you have to deal with. Situations where one person is clearly in the wrong, both in etiquette and in common sense, happen almost daily on golf courses worldwide. Singles jumping all over the course and expecting others to let them play through is just one example. Even though you have nothing to do with the single golfer wanting to finish in record time, you may still have to deal with the single golfer on a personal level, if they get aggressive with hitting a ball into you or make circumstances worse by yelling, cursing, etc.
Since this poor behavior is nothing new on the golf course …
Is there anything golfers can do about it?
Is there anything the golf course can do about it?
Here are a few ideas.
GOLFER – DOs
DO: Call the Pro Shop
This should be the #1 Rule for all golfers, on any course, and in any potentially negative situation involving another golfer.
Most courses will have their pro shop number on the scorecard or it can be quickly obtained through a search on the Internet.
DO: Remember Golf can be Frustrating (for Everyone)
Golf is a tough and challenging game and also one of tremendous ego. Golfers come from different athletic levels, from all backgrounds, all shapes, sizes, and ages. Nonetheless, nearly every golfer expects perfection. When those unrealistic expectations meet real-world results, frustration is sometimes the outcome.
DO: Accept that Pace-of-Play is Relative
Although appropriate pace-of-play is generally accepted to be somewhere between 4 and 4 ½ hours for 18 holes, many factors can affect it. Some of those factors are skill level, weather, course setup, and marshaling. For every golfer that has 5-hours to play 18 holes, there is another golfer who has 3-hours or less. Pace-of-play to both of these golfers will be different and can lead to frustration and negative interactions between golfers. Call the Pro Shop if slow play is a problem. No one expects you to be the marshal, a policeman, or a bouncer. Let the course handle it.
GOLFER – DON’Ts
DON’T: Jump tees or jump sides
Never jump tee boxes or start on the 10th tee (without expressed permission) ahead of other golfers making the turn. This is one of the quickest ways for any golfer to have an unpleasant encounter with other golfers.
DON’T: Hit into other groups or golfers
This is not only dangerous, it’s stupid, and can open golfers up to personal lawsuits if it’s proven they intentionally hit into a group to move them along. The action of purposely hitting into the group ahead can lead to violence quicker than any other action on the golf course.
DON’T: Be a Jackass
Self-explanatory. Treat others with the same respect and kindness you’d like or expect from them. Say “nice shot”, “nice putt”, etc. It doesn’t make your shot any less and maybe you’ll start to hear the same back.
COURSE – DOs
DO: Encourage and enforce appropriate pace-of-play
The most effective pace-of-play measure on any course is full-time Marshals. Not Marshals who are there simply for free green fees, but full-time dedicated marshals who can keep golfers moving along and appropriately handle any issue on the course.
DO: Keep tee time discipline
Although the financial benefit of pushing one group of golfers off right after the other is understandable, the experience for the individual golfer significantly suffers as a result. Courses should establish appropriate tee time intervals and stick with them. Keep to this discipline even if it means keeping golfers waiting. Intervals of 6-9 minutes are typically the industry standard and can lead to a better experience for all golfers.
DO: Set the course up appropriately for all players
A significant and sometimes overlooked factor in pace-of-play can be course setup. Encourage all golfers to play from the appropriate set of tees to match their skill level. Sometimes something as simple as removing titles from the tees can help (ladies, seniors, etc.). Monitor pin positions and green speeds to ensure proper pace-of-play for all golfers. Tucked pins and fast greens are a great challenge, but will also slow play. For courses temped to offer U.S. Open conditions all year round, tee time intervals should be increased as a result.
COURSE – DONT’s
DON’T: Ignore calls for assistance
Establish golf course procedure and policy that will allow any employee to be able to handle calls for assistance from any golfer on the course. Rule #1 is Call the Pro Shop, so, when a golfer calls the Pro Shop for assistance, all employees should be trained to immediately alert appropriate course or outside personnel to deal with the issue as soon as possible.
DON’T: Overserve alcohol
Just like restaurants and bars, golf courses can also be a place of social interaction. However, just like in those establishments, alcohol can also be the spark to ignite anti-social behavior, which may sometimes lead to violence.
DON’T: Forget golf is a business
Golf courses and their employees deal with nearly every element of society. Nice folks, nasty folks, and everything in between. Don’t let the few bad folks ruin it for everyone else. Sometimes courses allow (or excuse) poor behavior from one or two customers, which would not be tolerated in any other business. Stadiums remove rowdy people, restaurants and bars ban people from their establishments, and golf courses should not be afraid to do the same.
Editor’s Note: Do you have any suggestions for Golfer or Course “Dos or Don’ts” to share? We’d love to hear your opinion. Feel free to comment within the article or @LocalGolfer on our Facebook page or @LocalGolfer on Twitter.
BIO: Keith Cook has been a writer and contributing editor at thelocalgolfer.com since 2013. Follow Keith on Facebook (@KeithCookWriter) or on Twitter: @_KeithCook.
Featured Image: www.playourcourse.com
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The old adage is to win a select shot golf tournament, you need: a good driver, a good iron player, a good putter, and a good cheater.
Select shot tournaments – you know the ones – where everyone hits a shot and then you pick the best shot and so on, until the ball is holed out. These tournaments are a great way to introduce new golfers to the game and a lot of fun for golfers who just love to play occasionally.
These tournaments are also an outstanding way for organizations and charities to quickly raise funds for important causes, such as the Annual Patriot Day Golf Tournament at my home course here in Michigan on Labor Day.
However, the outcomes of these tournaments have also earned the reputation as some of the most suspicious and skeptical in the game. In every one of these tournaments – and I mean every one – of the hundreds I’ve played in, there have always been whispers of cheating, the “no way” assertions when low scores come in, and sometimes (especially after alcohol is introduced) even outright accusations of cheating.
DO PEOPLE ACTUALLY CHEAT?
But, the real question is, do people actually cheat?
There will be a lot of “YES” answers to this question, but I’m thinking the answer, almost all the time, is a resounding “No”.
Believing everyone is honest in life (even golfers), I still have to admit I find myself having doubts at times when it comes to select shot tournaments. I wonder why myself and other golfers are so quickly pulled to the conclusion that everyone else does?
Is it because those golfers aren’t as good as us? Is it because no one can shoot that low, putt that good, or drive that far? In all these years, I haven’t found the real answer, but MOST importantly, I’ve also never found anyone who had actually cheated. The “everyone cheats” facts just aren’t there in my opinion, so maybe it’s simply the type of format itself that leads to all the suspicion.
Keeping in mind most select shot tournaments are for fund raising or charity, they are also very unique in trying to raise additional money through golf additions. We’ve all seen it … string, mulligans, foot wedges, throws, front tees, special clubs, long drives, closest to the pins, etc. These oddities are part of what makes these events special, but it also makes scoring hard to predict.
Because of this, select shot scores can vary widely, which is why I believe the acceptance of cheating has taken hold. Personally, I’ve seen 18-hole winning scores from the upper 40s all the way to the lower 60s. That’s quite a spread and is affected greatly by how the tournament is organized.
Select shot tournaments many times will also put the winners on the wrong side of the “you cheated” bandwagon. I’ve finished on winning teams where you can feel the burning hatred of the crowd when you post a low score. The unbelievable 51 on a par 72, the 58 without string. Anyone who’s played in a lot of these events knows exactly what I’m talking about and it’s tough on either side of that accusation.
You find yourself knowing you didn’t cheat, but it doesn’t matter. You know the real truth is your team’s putting got hot, or you stiffed a ton of irons, or chipped in for an eagle. You’re proud, but only for a minute, because you know your integrity and honesty are being questioned – even if silently.
Nonetheless, even after managing your way through all of that, the very next tournament, you’ll still find yourself overhearing the group who finished in the money (just ahead of you) talking about how this is only the second time they’ve played golf this season … and you walk away – disappointingly suspicious.
So, if the select shot format is so fraught with suspicion, why play? Well, it’s fun! It’s a different way to play golf … flat out, aggressive, and with little consequence to your game or your ego. In fact, it can be an ego boost if you’re the one hitting good shots or sinking that crucial putt.
So instead of carrying the burden of suspicion forward any longer, I decided to share some perspectives and a few stories of select shot tournaments to hopefully help in gaining back the trust and acceptance this format needs.
Understand that because of the format, scores can and will be low. If string, mulligans, etc. are involved, scores will likely be low – REALLY low.
Accept that teams can get hot. If a team putts well – maybe even gets en fuego with the putter – their final score will probably be lower than even they would have predicted.
Three-person teams have a significant advantage if “cycling a shot” is allowed. It’s essentially like getting a mulligan every 4th shot. These three-person teams will win many tournaments and will absolutely draw the anger of many who don’t understand the extreme advantage of cycling a shot. *Many organizers no longer allow teams to cycle a shot because of the known advantage.
Enjoy the tournament, congratulate the winners, and if suspicion arises, tamp it down. Remember, you didn’t cheat, so trust that they didn’t either – it was just their day.
Don’t forget that most select shot tournaments are for charity or fund raising, so even if you’re not the winner, your money went towards a great cause.
If you’re the winner … first, CONGRATULATIONS … second, try to enjoy the victory and don’t go silent. If anyone accuses you or questions your score, try not to get defensive and share with them how well you played. Most golfers want to believe you, but some will need to be convinced more than others.
No matter how much we’ll try not to, we’ll all probably still be guilty of being somewhat on guard and suspicious when we play in these events. They’ll always be “that team” in our minds that had no way to shoot the score they did without cheating. The world’s not perfect, but hopefully when we do have those thoughts, we can fall back on the fact that since we didn’t cheat, they didn’t either, and we can congratulate them on their success.
LESSON LEARNED: Living and playing golf in San Antonio – an awesome golf city by the way – I played in a number of select shot events. Playing in one event, my team got beat by a team sponsored by a local bar. To be fair, these guys didn’t look like they could do much of anything in golf and they would always come in with ridiculously low scores. After a particularly hot day and perhaps a few beverages, one of my teammates directly accused the other team of cheating. I knew one of the local guys and he didn’t take too kindly to the accusation (and maybe had had a few beverages himself). After breaking up their UFC press conference, we all parted ways.
The next day, I saw the local guy at the gym (he ran the gym) and he let me know he was still upset at being accused of cheating. I told him the other guy was a good guy, but we just didn’t get how their scores could be so low. So, he invited me to come out and play with them in their next outing since their normal fourth player was moving away.
The first tournament with them answered all my questions. Not overly awesome at anything, but they were great at everything – especially putting. We came in during our first tournament (string, mulligans, front tees) at 48 (yes, -24). The looks that came our way, the “no way”, “BS”, and other colorful whispers were there and quite honestly, bothered me.
I knew we didn’t cheat, but it didn’t matter and it soured the victory. I’ve done my best since then, to not sour anyone else’s.
HONESTY PAYS: Playing in a very recent select shot tournament, our team was absolutely on fire. We had some advantages with our two older guys getting to hit from the Gold Tees – well, because they’re old – and I mean old – like Moses old.
Anyway, we were taking advantage of their drives, sinking putts from off the green, knocking fairway shots to tap-in range; it was quite a display of golf. However, as we began to get lower and lower into the red numbers, one of the guys became concerned about all the crap we’d have to endure in the clubhouse with a score this low.
However, just as his remorse was overtaking him, he perked up and said, “I’m glad we’re playing with Larry today, because everyone will know if he’s on our team, we didn’t cheat.” It was such a matter of fact statement, that it took me off guard and was one of the highest compliments you could pay to anyone … and it also proved to be true. There were initial whispers and suspicions when we turned in our score, but after seeing Larry’s name on the board with ours, it was just congratulations.
We should all hope to live our lives in a way to have something like that said about us one day.
BIO: Keith Cook has been a writer/contributing editor at localgolfer.com since 2013. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter: @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer.