Does it ever get boring playing the same format all the time or are you taking it too seriously? This post covers some ways to bring the fun back to golf.
The reason people play golf differs from person to person: it may be for exercise; to be outdoors; to spend time with friends or even for the competitive element. For me, the first three are my main goal: and ultimately having fun. But how do you have fun aside from the social aspect?
I predominately play with the same group of friends. The skill range of the guys varies and their ambitions differ. Most of the time we don’t play too competitively and there are usually some mulligans and feel-good shots that make a “serious” game impossible. We never play for money.
Within this group, we do have an annual tournament where there is a bit more seriousness. And this is fine: I love the competition.
Over the past couple of years, I have been averaging about 80 rounds per year but for me, straight-up going for a score is never too much fun. It adds unnecessary pressure to something that is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. I am, after all, paying for the experience so it should be gratifying.
The table above shows my recorded rounds in 2022. I still think that 32 handicap rounds are possibly too much although I did start the year wanting to play more competitively: this did not happen. The 50 data recorded rounds are games where I could use my GolfPad GPS (can include fourball/better ball). The other 32 would be most likely scrambles or rounds I was playing so badly that I didn’t record anything.
To be fair Stableford does reduce some of the pressure so my inevitable blow-ups don’t matter quite so much but how do you make the game more fun overall?
Scrambles, whatever the format, are not for everyone but I really enjoy them. I even participate in club-hosted events of this format. I never win but I enjoy the format very much. Why?
Normally there are no consequences with your shots. It doesn’t matter what you do as there are others who have the same responsibility are you over the piece. Of course, there is some pressure if you are the lowest handicap but you still have to manage your expectations.
Depending on how we are feeling we normally play one of two formats: pair versus pair or us against the course. While both games have a competitive edge it’s really interesting the strategy involved in both games is. Giving everyone a chance to feel as if they contribute can be difficult but I think that we have played enough together and know the game well enough to again manage expectations.
Tee it forward
There has been a campaign for many years, Tee It Forward, that encourages players to play from tees that suit their game better. There are numerous benefits to choosing a more strategic tee with probably my favorite: you can almost feel like a pro having shorter irons into the greens and are comfortably able to reach many par 5s.
Shorter approach shots should mean more greens hit which should ultimately mean lower scores. I shot my lowest score as an adult from the forward tees – breaking par for the first time.
Many contest that it is too easy from the front tees, but everything is relative: your handicap for the day is adjusted accordingly and you level out against the pros in terms of clubs. A pitching wedge will probably go the same as an 8 or 9 iron for me so, say, 130 meters is not the same for my standard as a player as a pro. I feel this is sometimes forgotten by amateurs.
Randomize the tees
If you consistently play the same course, this is a great way to make things a bit more interesting. At each tee we select a random tee to play from – this adds an edge as you normally don’t what to play from the tips and the strategy from each tee position can be very different.
Change tee based on score
I saw this on YouTube a short while ago and how yet to play it yet, but I am sure that we will try this at least once.
This game can be relative to your own game, but it is probably best played with a handicap in place. You would start from your normal tees, in my case yellow, and give yourself the handicap from those tees.
If you were to make a net birdie on the hole, you would move forward a tee. If you were to make a net bogey the hole you would move back a tee. The finer points of this game need to be agreed upon but if you can maximum move up or down one tee at a time I would imagine that you can spend more of your time not playing from the back tees all the time.
This is a fun one but a little weird because this is basically agreed cheating. Of course, the scores don’t count for anything other than within your group.
How often have you seen a pro overshoot a green by 10 meters and been saved because there is a grandstand? Or they fire a tee shot way off to the right and it hits a spectator and bounces back into play? Or the player is way off line, in deep rough, and a TV camera tower is blocking their line of site?
This game replicates the lucky breaks professional golfers can get during tournament play. The foot wedge is the 15th club in the bag and you are not penalized for carrying too many clubs.
Not much can really be taken from this format, other than it can show you what your scoring potential is when you eliminate bad shots.
The final point in this list may not be for everyone. But here is a little background into part of the reason I included it.
I am an old-school golfer. I played in an age where golf etiquette was pretty strictly adhered to and you were often an outcast if you didn’t behave in a certain way.
I don’t move when others are about to play their shots (when they are nearby) and I certainly do not talk while others are playing – I think this is just plain rude.
I know this can be accidental but if someone is new to the game, or maybe even not so new, they may not know to shut the fuck up when others are playing.
I have really tried to block the noises out but sudden noise, especially, is still pretty difficult to ignore. Over a winter of simulator golf I have gotten a whole lot better at this and to add to this we have music blaring in the background.
I remember the first time I experienced music on the course – I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to concentrate on shots. But to my surprise, I was fine with it. Although you often don’t hear the music unless you are close to the speakers it can be very relaxing or allows you to not think about things too much when you have a wait until your next shot.
I liked it so much that I even bought a clip-on speaker for my bag and listen during my rounds quite frequently. Try it: you’d be surprised.
So there you have it, 4 ways to make golf a bit more fun. What do you think? What would add?