By bkuehn1952 on 5/2/11
Brian "bkuehn1952" Kuehn has submitted so many columns, we've darn near lost count. We're even thinking about giving him an official title as contributing writer. Enjoy Brian's latest submission.

It has been a while since I have been part of a regular golf group. As such, I frequently find myself a single golfer. Being a single in a foursome world can be inconvenient at times. Still, flying solo generally works for me.

The fact that one does not need a partner or team to play golf was one of the things that attracted me to the game. Unlike tennis, you don’t need someone down the fairway to hit the ball back to you. Also, you don’t need a player of like ability in order to make playing with others enjoyable.

While I enjoy the midweek round playing by myself, I appreciate courses that work at making larger groups from smaller ones when things are even moderately busy. It can get fairly tiresome when your threesome or foursome is pushed throughout the round by a succession of singles and twosomes. You want to let them through but doing so every hole starts to become a bother. If the starter did a better job, the course would have several well-separated groups of 3 or 4 golfers rather than 5 singles, 3 twosomes and your foursome. At the same time, going out as a single and getting trapped between a gaggle of foursomes is equally difficult. I’d rather wait on the first tee for an incomplete group than venture out as a single on a full course.

Municipal courses are better at filling out groups than other public play venues. I certainly have not done a study and my conclusion is based on purely personal experience. Still, when I think of my recent experiences, unless a course is busy, privately owned public-play courses seem to go out of their way to not combine groups; it is not uncommon to have a course filled with twosomes. On the other hand, most of the muni’s I play consistently pair-up smaller groups and individuals.

The internet has opened up more possibilities for single golfers. If you are not too concerned about playing with strangers, it can be fairly easy to insert oneself into a twosome’s online tee-time. GolfNow and many courses’ tee-time systems allow one to select a tee-time that is only partially filled.

I know some people reading this are grinding their teeth. Yes, I am one of those guys that busts up your nice round with one or two of your friends. I understand you did not select me to join your group but a solution is readily available; put together a group of 4. If you show up at a public course with less than 4, you need to be ready to have golfers like me join you. Besides, there is a pretty good chance you will find me to be an okay guy.

While there is no accepted single golfer etiquette that I know of, I have a few personal guidelines:
  • Get the names right. If you are bad with names like me, jot down the names on your score card with a little note like “LSU hat”.

  • Generally play the same tees as the people you join. The exception would be when people play from a set of tees that is clearly beyond your ability (e.g. the 7,400+ yard “Ebony” tees) or just too unchallenging (e.g. the 4,900 yard “Gold”). While occasionally I would prefer a different set than the one selected by the group, it is easier to just play from the same place with everyone else.

  • Wait a bit before complimenting someone on a shot. Once you get a handle on the type of game they play, it becomes easier to recognize a good shot from an average one. Effusively complimenting someone on what they consider a barely adequate effort is pretty much telling them you think their game sucks. Wait until they actually hit a good shot.

  • Whenever possible walk so as to not force someone to share a cart with you. For me, cart-only courses are reserved for days when I have put together my own group. If carts must be used, try to join a twosome whenever possible.

  • Don’t get overly familiar with the group until they “invite you in.” I typically don’t engage in a lot of conversation until someone in the group initiates it. Most people are naturally friendly. On those rare occasions where everyone is taciturn, I just play my ball and keep to myself. In the end, they have to let me play golf but no one is required to talk to me.
. . .

I am sure my fellow Oobers have some opinions on this subject. Let’s hear from you!

This was written by Brian Kuehn, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

photo source

[ comments ]
mjaber says:
In my experience, I have found that some courses simply have "friendlier" players than others. The local executive Par3 is great for friendly, relaxed rounds. Another course is great during the week if you just want to get out by yourself. A number of factors go into where I decide to play on a particular day: The skill level of the friends (if any) coming with me, time, group size, day of the week, etc.

If I'm off by myself, it will depend mostly on my mood. I have 4 courses that I have played both by myself, and getting grouped with others, and enjoyed in both cases, and I have gotten a pretty good feel for the times/days that I have a better chance of playing the round solo vs. getting grouped.
dottomm says:
I play as a single more often than not, and have never had a really bad experience with a unfamiliar group of golfers. Mostly, everyone is either fairly amiable to flat-out enjoyable.

I have started to see a difference in my score depending on the type of people I'm golfing with. My best rounds have been with absolute strangers. The three-some of retired drunks in t-shirts, to a father a two-sons celebrating the old mans birthday. Lots of light conversation. Easy going. Lots of laughs. Swing easy. Score easy. When I golf with my golf buddies, I think it becomes to competitive, or too many beers.

Playing a lot with strangers has helped my confidence quite a bit. Even though I'm a a high handicapper, a majority of the strangers I'm paired with aren't a lot better than me. Sure. Some can hit it 3x farther, but I'm finding that a lot of the time, by the end of the hole we end up with the same score.

Of course this is probably due to the fact I play a lot of munis and not fancy membership tracks.
Muscle-OchO says:
Dottomm, I have to agree 100% It is more often than not that I shoot my best when I am with strangers, only to rejoin my league group and have them wonder outload how I could have ever shot such a score when they were not there to verify.
I have a normal group that I play leagues with however my schedule allows me to hit the links on a weekday afternoon and I sometimes end up getting paired with strangers. I have no issues with that whatsoever.... My buddies say they could never go alone and possibly get paired up and I find that crazy. However I have also been known to go hit a movie solo, go to dinner solo and whatnot.... I think a lot of it depends on your dexterity and how open you are to experiences that take you out of your "norm"

Kinda got off topic but good post Dottomm! I get it!
Banker85 says:
I too know where i can go to play solo and where i can go to get grouped. I usually will go solo but if i a am asked to join a group i have no problem with that either. I am not good with names so i write them down on my score card so i wont forget. YA i hate when courses are loaded with singles and 2-somes and no1 pairs up. I will always ask hey mind if i play with you since we arent going anywhere and pretty much always get a yes answer. Playing with strangers keeps you honest too since most people wont cheat in front of someone they dont know. I love when my and my father in law get paired up with strangers. He is a confident SOB but when he is hitting in front of strangers he gets knocked off his pedastal pretty quick and i love it. I enjoy golfing alone but after awhile you long for someone to be around when you hit that amazing shot! I have had too many wonderful struck shots be seen be me and some squirrels...
dartboss04 says:
i have a fair amount of different friends who play golf so i'll usually try to go out with at least one person i know, but no one wants to play as much as me, so i end up going alone...which is fine...just last week, i played a quick 9 twice before was very peaceful out there...although as Banker said, no one was out there to see me chip in for birdie...

i think cost is another issue i have...i don't mind paying high greens fees a couple times of year if the course is worth goal this year is to have played the top 5 courses you CAN play in CT...i think i may have some trouble getting playing partners to head down to Great River ($140...approx $100 through ezlinks) and Fox Hopyard ($100+)...$50 seems to be the ideal price point...
dartboss04 says:
@bkuehn1952 i just booked a threesome on ezlinks for next saturday...hopefully you're not in the CT area to bust that up...
srogers13 says:
The facility (three courses) I play at regularly gets a lot of tourists, so I get paired up with them a lot. Sometimes I get a group who are snobbish, but that is really the exception to the rule. I do make my tee times the next week, and I usually try to get myself paired up with a threesome instead of a twosome, in case another twosome is trying to make a tee time. One thing I have found though, especially on the links course that has a lot of blind shots, they appreciate having someone that can help guide them on where to hit shots.
bkuehn1952 says:
@dartboss04 - it might be worth driving out there just to say I played with an Oob GOW. ;)
Kurt the Knife says:
My advice regarding the walk or ride match up:
Try to guage the apparent health potential of your partner before u speak up.
Starter advises me and this other fella checking in to pair up. Walk or riding? to which I tell him I love walking. Fella #2 says..."yeah...sure....walk."
Then I notice he's a bit older n me n looking a little plump and limp. I immediately offered the cart option but I made a pretty messy social situation right there.
I guess the poor guy wanted to keep his pride and forge ahead. I thot I might need an ambulance on the 12th tee. Its there where I got his cardiac hx and started keeping a close eye on him, at a much reduced pace.
Clint24 says:
"Unlike tennis, you don’t need someone down the fairway to hit the ball back to you"

I don't know if I'd like to try that...
legitimatebeef says:
Nice post BK. I can relate. I've stopped playing with everyone I know. It just wasn't working out. I am a lone wolf out there nowadays, only me to entertain myself with some hopefully good play. When you play a muni all the time you are not likely to meet anyone who is better than you, and when you play in Brooklyn, people tend to be kind of charmless and grating, so... It's fine, I have fun trying play good golf no matter who I'm stuck with Completely solo on those rare occasions is pretty cool too although sometimes after the sun has set its getting dark and I'm still out on the course all alone it gets a little lonesome.
DougE says:
I play as a single often, late afternoons after work. If I catch up to a group of 3 or 4, as long as there is no one behind me, I slow down. I take ALL the time I need to size up every shot. I look at my putts from all angles. If I'm not playing a formal round, I'll make chips from around the green with different clubs to see which works best. I compile lots of information for future rounds. I try to really pick up on all the nuances of each hole, something there is never enough time to do when you are being rushed. After I hole out, I'll putt 4 or 5 more balls from different areas of the green. If the group in front is still on the next tee, I'll continue to practice around the green. It is a fantastic time to get lots of practice. One thing I WON'T DO is make the group in front of me feel rushed. I WILL NOT stand in the fairway with hand on hip glaring at them. Nor will I drive or walk up to the next tee while they are still there. I hate it when I feel rushed. I refuse to do it to others.
cph2133 says:
I often play by myself because, as a teacher, I have a lot of time off in the summer and my friends do not (poor SOB's).

I usually try to get off right before the afternoon leagues (2:30) or after the leagues at 6. I don't mind being paired up, but rarely am. I'm not really good, but most of the people at the courses I'm playing at aren't interested in playing with someone else, because they're usually worse than I am.
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