The dos and don’ts for golfers in the New Year

Attempt to lower your handicap this year. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Attempt to lower your handicap this year. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A very happy New Year golfers. I trust you have managed to play golf to your heart’s content over the long Christmas holiday? Now its back to work, back to the grind, nevertheless, there is much golf to be played yet.

To start your golfing year off on a good note, allow me to list some dos and don’ts for 2018.

Do: Attempt to lower your handicap this year. If you play golf in the mid-20s, try and get to handicap 18 and if you play in that no-mans-land between 13 to 17, where all good golfers go to die, please break the jinx, take some lessons and get to handicap 10. If you play in that 10 to 12 region, this is your year of becoming a single figure golfer! You can do it. Do it now, before your back goes and your knees buckle under the weight of your pot belly!

Don’t be a slow golfer. No one likes to play with or play behind slow golfers. For Pete’s sake, play faster. And there are many tricks to playing faster without rushing. For example, be ready to play as your partners play their shots, don’t just stand there like a zombie, go to your ball, select your club and think through your shot as your wait. On the green, the same drill, get your ball cleaned in time, check out your line as you wait, without interfering with your partners and please don’t mark a ball two inches away from the hole, putt it in and move away. And when necessary, allow faster players to play through, you lose nothing and the whole field gains.

Do: Repair all your divots on the green, indeed go a step further and repair another one or two divots. On the fairways, instruct your caddy to repair all divots you see. Rake your bunkers.

Don’t be an expert on your partners’ golf swing. Occasionally we all have the bad luck of playing with this mid-handicap guy who knows exactly what is wrong with your swing! The fellow offers unsolicited advice at every turn, making the round unbearable. Don’t offer advice, especially not during the round.

Do: Learn the rules of golf. I am not asking that you become a rules guru, leave that to Vincent Wangombe and SK Mwaura. But do take some time to read through the rules, especially those pesky rules related to ‘relief’. Knowledge of the rules allows you to compete fairly. The Rules of Golf booklet is available free of charge at your golf club, courtesy of the Kenya Golf Union and you can download an app on your phone as well. So, no excuses, learn the rules, and if in doubt, play the ball as it lies and as quickly as possible.

Don’t be a danger to other golfers. When you take your practice swing, do so in a safe direction ensuring that all your playing partners and caddies are at a safe distance. Don’t play your ball until the group ahead is safely out of range. Waiting two minutes longer is better than hitting the club chairman on the head with your hard-as-a-rock cheap ball. Although some chairmen deserve a ball on their heads!

Do: tip your caddy. Two things actually with regards to caddies; firstly, pay them immediately after the round. Don’t keep them waiting as you sip a cold Tusker or take a hot shower; they too have a home to go too. Second, no matter how bad your golf is, it’s not the caddie’s fault, so tip your caddy.

Before the Christmas break, I requested golfers to send their caddies some cash, did you do so? If not, it is never too late, do it now. I did my part.

Don’t play with old clubs, old balls or worn out grips. Get new golf balls boss and get your clubs re-gripped. Even if you don’t play any better, I guarantee you will feel better. If you cant play the game, at least look the part.

Make up your own list of do’s and don’ts and make 2018 a better golfing year for yourself and your playing partners.