Our golf game heated up this weekend. I’m sure there are plenty of people who “play” golf, but let me give you an idea of how 10-20 handicappers really play golf with some dollars being thrown around and everyone playing by the same set of rules. Our game is not for everyone as the fun factor will decrease as you’ll 100% have a higher score than you’re used to playing. I would even go as far as saying most people wouldn’t want to play under these conditions. I’m curious to hear Bill Schmidt’s take on this.

First and foremost, a congratulations for Adam who carded his first ace on the 6th hole at Ravens Claw. It’s around a 155 yard par 3 and we were battling the rain for the start of the round.. He hit a shot that was a tad bit right of hole, bounced in front, and and started rolling toward the pin behind the hill. We couldn’t see it and Adam said something like, “that might have gone in.” We get up there and my ball was on the green exactly where I thought it should be and there was no other ball in sight. I was about 99% sure it was in and sure enough…

Since Hole-in-One’s happen once every 5-15 years based on our ability, it’s nice to get one under the belt and have the story. Adam graciously got the club house to drive out and bring us 12 beers that we slugged on the back 9.

This takes me to yesterday where we played Bella Vista. Our group of 4 plays a game called Nautilus, which after searching the web I’m pretty sure no one else calls it that, (I found it as 6-6-6 on this website), but it’s where each player plays with a new partner after 6 holes and the lower combined score of each hole wins that hole. We play 5 dollars a match to keep it friendly. Adam and I also play a side bet of $5-$5-$5 on the front, back, and total. So with money involved, we all have to abide by the same set of rules.

Our Rules

The Game of Golf Doesn’t Care About Your Feelings – This is by far the most important, and hardest, rule to understand. Our game is tough and will lead to higher scores which will butt hurt people. Everyone wants to shoot low scores, but that’s not golf. If you want to play right, you put your pride behind you and look to improve your game instead of shaping the game to your inability.

Avoid White Stakes – Being the #1 culprit of white stakes, I know it hurts, real bad, when you the ball outside of the boundary. To be clear on this as Bud has made me aware, white stakes are set to show outside the course boundary. Hitting outside white stakes means you’ve left the course border whereas you’ll see red stakes within the boundary. Note, you can’t hit the ball out of white stakes if you find it behind the line, but are allowed to play outside of red stakes. When the ball is hit outside the white, you must re-hit from where you first hit the shot. There is no advancing the ball. I’d guess 95% of groups don’t play this way. It’s damaging to the scorecard where every shot out of bounds is +2 (the errant shot, and the penalty) and you don’t even get to advance the ball. The game is played to avoid hitting outside the white stakes. Simple as that. This will lead to busted holes and high scorecards.

The Gimme – When money is on the line, there aren’t going to be a lot of gimmes. Adam said a gimme is a putt you make 99 out of 100 times. If I had to guess my make % on a 3 foot putt, I’d guess 80%. Adding a foot length to the putt probably decreases the make % by 15-20%. There are groups who will give 6ft putts without thinking about it. So now you have a scenario which can get ugly. I know from personal experience that I can putt a 10 ft putt 6 ft beyond the hole. No one wants to see a 3 putt from 10 feet. The general rule though is that we never give par putts, and if the person is putting for double bogey or worse, we’ll be generous. The final message of this is that if someone (your teammate can’t give you a putt) gives you the putt, you pick it up. There is no putting it, missing it, and taking the putt. If more groups play like this, handicaps will be higher I guarantee it.

Off the Tee Box – I was guilty of this yesterday so I’ll express where I cheated . We don’t play that you can hit off the tee 5 times with white stakes involved. Our group rule is that if you go white stakes twice, you take the distance. Example from yesterday. I hit a grounder tee shot on 1. We play breakfast ball on 1 which I feel is a nice way to get the round off on the right foot. So I hit a 2nd and hit that one out of bounds white stakes. I should have hit my 3rd shot from the tee to play by the rules and then advanced from that ball if it went out of bounds again hitting 5. I played from where it went out which was cheating. When money is involved, the rules should be standard knowing that they will lead to emotional (and scorecard) pain.

There isn’t much to add than that. It sucks when you’re watching someone blow up the card. I can only speak for me, but I want everyone in our group to play the best they possibly can and as competitive as possible. There aren’t many better feelings in life than playing golf at your highest level.

Props to Bud on a no nonsense 84 yesterday carding only 1 double bogey and Adam for a close matched 85 with a birdie on 18 AND missing 2 four footers on the back carding a 38 back 9.

Even with the quarantine, golf is in full swing and I’m going to be playing as often as possible under the current circumstances. My current handicap is an 18 under our scoring system. I believe I can get sub 14 with better course management and eliminating those god forsaken white stakes shots from my game. Good times ahead.