Guide to The Non-Playing Expert and Other Golf Characters
As if assigned by nature, it just so happens that every golf club in the world has one member who knows it all and has done it all. These are usually perfectly honorable folks whose only abnormality is a high balata count in their blood.
They love golf, whether it be talking about it, dreaming about it, watching it on TV or flipping through a golf magazine. Golf is everything to them. They wear golf attire to the shopping mall, they browse though pro shops to kill time and they re-grip clubs just for the fun of it. Some even go so far as to volunteer their time marshaling amateur and juniors tournaments. They live golf, eat golf and breathe golf. However, odd as it may seem, they never seem to actually play golf. These are the so-called Non-Playing Experts, most of whom stand out more clearly than a new gray hair.
You are best advised to make the acquaintance of your nearest Non-Playing Expert. NPEs can come in handy and are always there when you need them. They love to settle bets, offer advice and a lend helping hand. NPEs are incalculable resources and darn loyal friends. The nuggets of golf wisdom and lore you'll learn from your NPEs will more than pacify your persistent desire to challenge one of them to a friendly match. They are golfdom's equivalent to embarrassing family relations. You will often have no choice but to dutifully indulge them. Be polite. Hide your disdain. Obnoxious golfers are usually -- and thankfully -- confined to the following categories.
This type of player is typically so obvious in his cheating ways that it is also obvious he doesn't even realize he is doing it. Or perhaps he is utterly devoid of pride. In either case he is better avoided than befriended.
The Rules Expert.
This golfer is impressive but tiresome. You can learn a lot from her in a single round, in fact, you can learn enough for the entire season. However, the average human brain cannot process more than one round worth of golf rules, so don't let the Rules Expert corner you too long.
Some folks never learn to control their emotions or their mouths. The golfer who can't restrain himself is a menace to the game. Do your best to be kind to him or he'll likely bitch and moan about you to your impressionable colleagues.
This golfer is fun to be around but is liable to punctuate your round with bursts of elation and despair. If you've got a good game going, the Go-for-Broker can be bothersome because she has a knack for converting your attention away from your own game toward hers.
The Golf Consumer.
The golfer who loves to shop for all the latest golf gadgets is marvelous to observe at a distance; it's when he gets closer you must fear. He's dying to show you his aerodynamically-designed wind-resistant driver or his crazy new over-sized putter. Avoid him unless you are interested in trying out one of his novelties. He loves to lend them out just to affirm his decision to acquire them.
The Non-Instructive Instructor.
Every golfing clique has a player who can't restrain herself when it comes to offering golf advice. She's read the current articles, seen the latest golf tips on TV and knows the newest theory on technique, yet she doesn't apply these lessons to her own game. Always listen to the Non-Instructive Instructor's suggestions but promptly dispose of them when they don't make sense.
The Practice Swinger.
No golfer alive has escaped the misery of playing with a golfer who takes endless practice swings before each shot. The Practice Swinger is also likely to pause for a century before beginning his actual stroke. He is impervious to correction. If you are stuck in a foursome with a slow-ass player, call your next appointment in advance to apologize for your tardiness.
We all know golfers who, rather than face the prospect of missing a short but tricky putt, will quickly knock it away from the hole without the customary permission ("It's good.") to do so. There is nothing you can do to prevent this unsightly habit except to insist before commencing the round that "nothing is good." The Gimmie-Taker will hate you but you'll have the satisfaction of lightening her purse in return.
The only thing worse than playing behind a group containing a First-Timer is playing with such a creature yourself. It is the closest thing to medieval torture. No serious golfer can stand the pain. If you are forced to dither under such a circumstance feel free to pass the time playing a second or third ball.
The best thing you can do about NPEs and other obnoxious golf characters is to be where they aren't. If you cannot avoid dealing with them, look on the bright side. You might just have a perfect opportunity to tell them exactly why they drive you bonkers. That's at least as satisfying as a tweeter on a long par-4! excerpted by permission from BIRDIES IN THE BOARDROOM: "Golfing Your Way Up the Corporate Ladder" by Joey West ($8 from JSA Publications; ISBN 0-929957-09-1). Available in most bookstores or by calling toll free 1-800-507-BOOK.