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House Rules

The golfers argument explained.

I was playing a round golf a few weeks ago and things got a little testy toward the end. One guy (let's call him "Player A") didn't want to pay the other guy ("Player B") his due, when he lost.

As most competitive rounds do, we started our casual round with a simple and easy competition and wager. For most of the round, things were fun, competitive and easy going. Player A was going along with the flow, making jokes, and being a casual golfer. Until the end of hole #15.

After we finished the hole, Player A recalculated the scores and realized that he was in contention to win. And that is when things changed. He went from John Daly to Tiger Woods. He went from making "that's what said she jokes" to not responding to simple questions.

I can't blame him completely. We all have been there before. You start the round with the intention of playing casually and having a good time, then something happens and now each stroke matters. For me, it happens when I realize that I am playing better than expected, or because the trash talker of the group crosses a line and now I want to win to shut them up. Either way the competitive nature kicks into high gear.

If you are like me then the competition is one of the things that you enjoy about a round of golf. There are so many different games that you can play. in fact, here is a simple list by the PGA of the top 9 games to play on the course.

For most beginners, playing a games, such as BINGO, BANGO, BONGO, or Las Vegas can be fun, exciting, and competitive. However for more experienced golfers, adding a wager to the game is exciting enough. Just image playing for $100 for the lost score on the FRONT, $100 for lowest score on the BACK and $100 for lowest score overall? If I was ever in that match, I won't speak to anyone before, during or after...HAHA.

My group of friends like to play games such as

  • Skins/Dots/Points (its all the same thing, who has the lowest score of each hole),

  • Sandies (can you make par out of the sand?),

  • Birdies (All birdies pay $1),

  • Greenies (closets to the PIN on par3s. Must make the Par for it to count), and if you feeling lucky

  • FRONT/BACK/OVERALL (normally $5 per)

It doesn't have to be large amounts either. I know a group that plays a combination of these games for $0.50cent. For some, the money won or lost is irrelevant. [I should be prudent here and say that you should never enter a wager, join in, play a game unless you are comfortable with its potential outcomes. PEER PRESSURE is real, even as Adults.] Of course, that depends on your financial position and perspective. The most important thing that we compete for is BRAGGING RIGHTS, and they are worth more than money sometimes.

For me, the key to it all is to make sure that everyone is in agreement with the rules before you start. And that was the error from the round last week. We started the round assuming that we knew what the rules that each of us were going to follow. I am not talking about the USGA's rules of the game. I am talking about the HOUSE RULES. Those friendly rules that the group has come up with to make the game fun and/or competitive.

Some of our common "HOUSE RULES" are:

  • Breakfast ball - Two shot off the first tee,

  • Free relief from roots and rocks,

  • Stroke and Distance - this one is tricky. If a player loses their ball or hits out-of-bounds, instead of driving back and hitting another shot, they can take drop with a 2-stroke penalty,

  • Double Par max score, except for #18

  • Roll-out of divots (free relief),

  • Lift clean and place in wet conditions, and

  • Gimme putts need two to confirm.

Most of our rules were derived from us trying to manage pace of play but others were because we have repeat offenders and that we needed to put on notice. And we take it VERY seriously. For instance, in our game, if you miss the putt, no matter how close it is, it is not a gimmie until two people agree. If not, you better mark it or finish it.

The rules are meant to create a fair, competitive and fun atmosphere. Even though, there are times with acknowledging the rule can be rude or disrespectful. No one likes to be "called out" for making a mistake whether accidentally or intentionally. Those are the situations that can turn a fun round of golf into an uncomfortable environment, a shouting match, and even a fight.

In the round that I mentioned before, Player A didn't want to pay Player B because on hole number #16 Player B adjusted his ball while it was on the fringe on the green. The ball was not on the putting surface. There were no hazards in which he needed relief. He just knelt down and aligned his ball before the shot.

Now there were a number of ways of handling the situation. None of which would have been pleasant. How do you say, "you just violated a rule, I'm going to charge you one penalty stroke without someone getting upset? There is no easy way to say it or receive it. The error with how Player A handled the situation was that he waited until the end of the round to acknowledge it. You have to call out those violations/mistakes/whatever at the time it occurs. In my group, once we walk off the green and drive away, that score is accepted.

Eventually, Player A paid his due to Player B but they both agreed that going forward they will set up on the HOUSE RULES on the first tee and that if you didn't call it out at the time it occurs, then you can't bring it up later.

Has that ever happened to you before?

What are some House rules that your group plays?

Add a comment tell me below

1 Comment

Jan 18, 2023

Def need to establish the rules upfront.

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