Short Par 4 Etiquette
By Kickntrue on 5/22/09
I had an on-course experience last night that left me confused, upset and feeling terrible. I'd be interested to know what you guys think.
I was playing a short course- 9 holes, 2400 yards. It had seven par 4's and 2 par 3's. Of the seven par 4's, six are between 260-300 yards. As you can imagine the course gets quite crowded as groups pile up on the short holes.
The long and short of the story is that I ended up hitting into the group in front of me, not once, but twice. They were on the green and I was on the tee box. For control and accuracy I used a 5 iron off the tee most of the day, but towards the end of the round I wanted to hit a driver because 1) I was frustrated that I was hitting it bad, and 2) Who doesn't want to get close to a par 4 in one?
Both were on "longer" holes, but still under 300 yard par 4s. I don't drive the ball 300 yards. I CAN, but I don't. By some sort of freakshow- I ended up hitting two of the best drives of my life, just absolutely crushed. The first one ended up FLYING the green where a group was putting. Because a mix of not knowing the course and the fact that I lost the ball in the sun a bit- I didn't yell anything. They weren't too happy with me- and expressed their frustration when I walked up to the green- apologizing profusely. I've been golfing- I understood. I just hit a hard white sphere right at them from 300 yards away. At the same time... I couldn't believe how well I hit the club (it was a new driver I was hitting for the first time for a review; Titleist 909, D2).
They forgave me for the most part and we moved on. Then comes the bad part- a couple holes later.. the hole is a little longer.. and I end up doing the same thing again. It was unreal- literally two of the best drives of my life at the most inopportune times. This time- they turned- and were ULTRA PISSED (Understandably). I did at least yell "FORE" this time but they were waiving their clubs at me- basically daring me to come up to the green and have it out with them. I did what any pacifist who's never been in a real fight would do (who is also a wuss), I ran to my car and drove away. ... Seriously, like the most pathetic thing ever. I know a real man would've gone to them again and just ate their anger, but I really didn't want to face a beatdown, and I kind of used my excuse that I couldn't hit the ball that far when I hit into them 3 holes earlier.
So there.. I'm a complete wuss- and acted in the most unmanly way possible.
It still doesn't resolve what I should've done though. I could hit 100 drives and never hit it as far as I did those two drives again. I have decent distance off the tee- but not THAT big. I was 10x more likely to shank the ball or pop it up. My normal shot would've still left me 40 or 50 yards short of the green. Should I really wait for the green to clear to hit my tee shot? Since I know the outcome of those two shots, I know I should've waited on those, but in general, what do you do with a 300ish yard hole? Nothing is worse than slowing down the course because some group thinks they can drive the green only to see them top roll it 120 yards. We've ALL seen that- and it sucks. It just clogs up the course for everyone trying to play at a nice crisp pace.
I ended up not getting to enjoy two of the best shots of my life- with a new club, and lost sleep over it as well, all while losing man points. I know some of what I did was wrong, but I'm still not totally convinced teeing off the was the wrong move.
Any advice for the future?
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Apparently there's some force at work in that situation. If you wait, everyone rolls their eyes and calls you names. I hit my three wood 260 yards between two guys putting on a par 5, I've never hit it that far before or since.
I agree w/ merlin, I normally hit my 3 wood 210 but by some strange miracle I hit it 250 and rolled onto a par 5 green where guys were putting yesterday... Of course that was the beginning of the downfall of the round since Accidentally hitting into them got into my head a bit...
Does this mean we're all sadists who subconsciously want to hit everyone in front of us for playing too slow?
Hindsightis 20/20, but I'd say that you NEVER hit a ball when people are in the range of your longest EVER shot with the club in your hand. Meaning if you've bounced one of a cart path or sprinkler and it's gone 360, then you wait for anyone currently at 360 to move on. Also, if you are playing a short course, you shouldn't even take the driver out of the bag. Use your irons, regardless of how you are hitting them.
I wouldn't beat yourself up about it though. we all do this kind of stuff eventually. I blasted a drive that faded a bit to much (some may call it a slice) into a group once. Guy took it right in the leg. I felt horrible. Unfortunately, that stuff happens, especially on courses that reward risky behavior.
Safety first. I'd sooner look like a fool for topping a drive 75 yards then be the one responsible for nailing someone in the head from 300+ yards out.
Nobody got hurt, so don't lose too much sleep over it. My suggestion (which I have done in the past), is to chalk it up to playing on a small course and hit with a club you know you can't reach the green. Think of it this way, you can practice those all-important approach shot with the wedge from 50-60 yards.
The first offense was forgivable. If someone hit the drive of their life into my group I may be a bit miffed until he apologized and explained that he just really got a piece of it. The second time around, well, sorry but no excuse for you there. You already knew you COULD hit it that far. The second offense I would have been sending your ball back in your direction! Probably a good thing you left the course.
Oh, and instead of worrying about your manhood and losing sleep, just think about how much sleep you would lose if you had hit someone in the head from 300 yards and seriously injured or even killed them.
I once hit a groups cart parked by the green from 324 after getting a cart path bounce - my previous best on the hole was 250. I knew they were pissed when they got on the next 150 yard par 3 and I started hearing driver pings and balls whizzing over my head.
For future reference....BE PATIENT. Here is what we do. even if Us longer hitters have honors on the Tee, we let our wifes hit first or in the case of "mens night" we let those that can not hit the green go first. Usally by this time the green has cleared and us longer hitters can go ahead and hit.
I have pretty much NEVER hit a good shot when I have to wait a long period of time for the green to clear
on a short par 4 like this, if you've got to wait for the green to clear you may be sitting on the teebox (even after the other 3 in your 4some hit) for 5-7 minutes and on a small executive course like this you're likely to get at least one group catching up to you(possibly even 2) and sitting around complaining about why you're slowing down play.
most of us have trouble hitting greens, and a green is way bigger than a person
it's a lose/lose situation, and the proper play is to assume you'll hit your normal shot. part of being on a course is understanding that sometimes golfers behind you will make an error in judging distance, or hit the shot of their life.
if the group honestly thinks that you're TRYING to hit into them after you've already appologized for it happening once, they're huge A-holes.
I about hit this group on nearly same hole front and back 9 on a scramble tournament. But they were actually ok with both shots because I almost holed out both of them. The first was pin high with about a 4 footer and the second hit the flag when they were chipping on from the back of the green while one of them was walking up to tend the flag.
It's probably best that you ran, because you deserved to be slapped around. It's easy to rationalize the first time, but twice in four holes is inexcusable. Besides, you bought that new driver hoping it would help you hit it better, right?
I think it is always to be better safe than sorry. Many a times I have waited to hit when a group is in front of me even though under normal circumstances I couldn't reach them. But if I get a good hit its possible. I think especially after the first time you should have waited.
On a short par 4 who cares if you hit it on the green 300 yards away the chances of it hitting the green or even them is slim. You want play to speed up so who cares I do it all the time when I play and everyone says its ok and we move on
If you would have done it a third time....I hit into a group of older gals a few years ago. They were putting and I was 250ish out...spanked a 5 wood right up the gut of the green and over the back. After that tongue lashing, I give a lot more room for error.
Well I have only been hit on once and it was the same type of "shot of a lifetime" explainations. I had no problem, no one was hurt, and we played on. You were good on the first one, the second one you knew you were capable of hitting it that far. If it was me I would have waited.
I"ve been hit by a lot of golf balls. a lot. Some people yelled, others they didn't and still others they said they "yelled" but whispered in reality. I didn't get mad at any of them. It's not a big deal if it's not intentional -- at least in my world anyway. It's cool that you hit the shot of your life on the one green, but that in itself should tell you that it's at least POSSIBLE to hit the ball that far. On the 2nd hole you should have waited. It's much easier to joke or shed off the feeling of stupidity when you roll one waiting for the green to clear. It's a whole different story to hit into the group in front of you for the 2nd time in less than 9 holes.
I've been hit into and hit into a group before. If there's no apology before I clear the next tee box I will assume the people are asses and may slow my play a little. If it happens a second time, their ball is getting stepped on or driven over (on the green it's getting rolled off the back). Third time it gets airmailed back to them.
If you're playing a short course like that, definitely don't take the driver out and try to get it in one. The purpose of a short course like that is to work on rest of the clubs other than the driver. So take out the irons and play lay up games and improve on short games as well.
Bryan K says:
Just want to point out that I learned a bit from this post today. I had one of those "hits of a lifetime" on a 420 yard par four. I figured I'd be okay shooting when they were about 300 yards out. I yelled "fore", the ball caught a breeze, and it ended about 30 yards to their left about 300 yards off the tee box....by far the longest drive of my life. Two holes later, I encountered the same situation. Sure enough, with the wind at my back, I put it about 20 yards further. I waited the second time, much to the chagrin of the players piling up behind me. I think I heard one of the kids go "whoah", but that might have just been me.
On my home course 12 is the longest par4. Once I landed the green in 2 and every since if the group ahead of me is on the green I will wait even tho I haven't done it since. Just the fact that I know I've done it once.
I got some advice a long time ago that stays with me to this day... Never put yourself in a position to feel badly about a great shot. It applies to this situation, and to a lot of others out there! :)
raj kamruddin says:
After the first time, I would have held off until they were done on the green. Even so, I would not have left the course. I would have explained that you never hit that far, and maybe offered to buy them a drink at the clubhouse.
I agree with most posts. On that second hole, if a group rolls up behind you and sees you waiting, you have the perfect alibi: "I probably won't hit them, but I airmailed them two holes back, so I'm waiting." As long as you move it along after your drive regardless of where it goes, no one should be upset.
But, I probably more agree with the people who argue that if you can hit 250+ yard drives, a fairly short executive course isn't necessarily the right place to be doing so.
Heres the thing most people are missing here. You are on the tee thinking there is no way you're gonna reach that green off the drive. Here's where your subconscious kicks in. You relax more and dont force it, instead using good swing mechanics with a relaxed body, no tension, and you let the club do the work. Next time you're on a longer par 4 or par 5, use that same "never get there" mentality and see how well you drive the ball then.
I know this story is from a few days ago, so this comment may never be seen. But part of me blames the group in front. When you're on a short course like that, you've gotta know that the green is drivable from the tee. So shouldn't they, once they've all gotten on the green, motion for your group to hit while they stand and watch around the green? Then once you've hit your tee balls, they can finish on the green while you walk out to your tee shots. I know that this conduct is encouraged for long par 3's at many courses, and I'm positive I've seen the pros do this on reachable par 4's. I think this should be the norm at a course like that...it keeps up pace of play and keeps tempers at a minimum.
I was in a similar situation the other day. we were on a 310 par four putting and the group on the tee box hit and one of the guys put the ball about 3 feet from me and he came up and apoligized saying that he can never hit a drive that far and we were kind off and ass to him and said since he was win such a hurry that they should play through, and on the tee he hit about 150 yards dead right, and guess who felt like a total rude ass then, yep me. sometimes that is wjust going to happen on a short course / hole.
Anyone who would actually try to fight someone on a golf course is an idiot. No one likes to get hit up on, but it happens. Tell the ranger and have them removed from the course. I can promise you that if you get into a fight on a course, you will never play there again, so who wins in the long run?
I've had two such incidents. The first occurred while playing with my wife. We were in a foursome playing behind a very slow 4some -- must have been a 5.5 hr round. We were 250 yds from the green with my wife furthest from the hole. I told her there's no way she can reach the green with her 5 wood, which normally goes 200 yds. So she spanks it, flies 220 yds, bounces on the cart path and rolls into the group on the green. We were, of course, very apologetic but the group in front of us did move a little faster thereafter.
2nd incident. Was playing a quick 9 at an executive course while waiting for my daughter's soccer practice to finish. Caught up with a twosome on the 8th hole, playing that & the 9th with them. The 9th is a narrow 285 yd par 4, slight dogleg right with trees all along the right side and trees on most of the left as well. There was a woman on the green. My two playing partners hit first, one going into the trees on the right and the other landing in the left rough. My normal drive is about 250-260, so I teed it up and let loose. My ball skimmed along the trees on the right and bounced up onto the right/front portion of the green. I waved to the woman to indicate that I was sorry but she promptly walked off the green. I told my two playing partners that I pretty much hit the best drive of my life and then for the heck of it hit another ball -- which promptly flew straight as an arrow toward the green and landed in the back/right portion of the green. I missed both eagle putts but two putted both for birdies.
Hole yardages aren't often marked correctly. There is also wind, cart path, and other items to take into account. You can't know what might happen, never mind shanks and crazy bounces that endager players to your left and right.
Even the excuse of hitting the drive of your life isn't defensible because of any number of factors.
Most people are most often in the position of hitting into opposing fairways/ tee boxes. You need to apologize and get to your business. Golf is a game with flying objects and nobody can pretend that it isn't anymore than going to a baseball game.
I wish more people would pay attention to who's in front and behing you. Some people walk off the back of greens and others back in front. Accidents happen - god knows this game - but irresponsibility needs to be dealtwith. Good pace prevents conflicts! You mess with someone's golf expect a little torment.
And your point is?
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