My apologies for another golf related post, but there isn’t much else to do socially.

My golf handicap index is currently 15.7. I’d assume 95% of golfers don’t keep an index. A handicap is a grade of how good you are at golf. Simple as that. In order for the handicap system to work, everyone should be playing the same game. In reality, this is not the case.

Take that putt. It opens up over there. We’ll find it. These are all common phrases that affect a handicap and are used daily. My handicap is a token of hard work and I treat it as such. When I played in a league last Tuesday I played against 2 20 handicaps which would be a difference of about 5 strokes over 18 compared to me. I won the 9 by 13 strokes. How could that be if I was only supposed to win by 2.5? We play by different rules.

What’s the benefit of playing by varying sets of rules? Clearly, to feel better about yourself. People want to be able to brag to their friends that they shot an 89 instead of 103. Which brings me to why I created this post. I play a lot of golf with Adam and we are competitive. Sometimes I get the best of him and sometimes he’ll beat me (which he’s been doing). On Saturday he had a 38 front and was looking to break 80 for the course. On hole 12 he hit a ball that went over the green. He drove up to the area, saw it was white stakes, and went back to re-hit his shot. This was a moment of pride for him and a level of respect earned from me.

This will take us back to many years ago when Adam broke 80 and didn’t re-hit from white stakes earlier in the round. I was the jerk who pointed it out after the round and it bothered Adam. Did I point it out because I was jealous or did I point it out because I was right? Should I have shut my trap and not said a word and let Adam break 80? Most people would have and it’s the reason some people won’t like me. Yet, I think what happened on Saturday creates a stronger bond between the people who respect the game.

Not everyone is going to play this game the same way. I frankly don’t care if you don’t want to play by the rules of golf. People are entitled to do whatever they want and score whichever way they want on the course to boost their egos. I learned from that one round that it’s better to just shut up because people will take it to heart.

I totally get that this is a serious stance and I sound like a stick in the mud on the golf course. I hope that’s not what comes across because I genuinely enjoy the game and I hope all the people I play with enjoy it as much as I do. The main takeaway from this post is that you do you. We’re all on the course to have fun and that’s what I intend to do. It’s not my job to police golf. It’s on the golfer and I won’t think any less of you. However, when we come on the course and I have a handicap and we’re playing for money, you’d be better off if you play by the rules or I’m going to have an advantage.

*I’m adding this paragraph after I have already written the post because there are two trains of thought behind what I’m writing that are more the psychology that I’m not an expert in, but have an opinion. It’s painful to be bad. The human psyche can be negatively affected by feeling inadequate. So you can ask the keynote question here, what’s the difference between putting a 6 vs an 8 on the scorecard? It’s only a game and you want to feel good so why not make yourself feel good? It’s a simple question to answer really and a line that can be drawn about your human existence. If you’re willing to draw these lines with golf, in how many aspect of life are you also drawing this line? Are they negatively effecting your being? By not relenting on these minor infractions, you are gripping onto the essence of existence. The line of being the absolute best individual you can be by playing the game under its code. This is not a code that has exact rules. The rules are unwritten and in your 80 years of life, you make them up as you go. Yet, playing by the rules is what separates the qualities of people. Once again, you won’t like me because of this. I’m sorry that has to be the case, but the truth is the truth and truth hurts.