By Nick Duffy, BGGA Senior Coach
We as coaches attend many golf tournaments year round. We encounter different swings and see a variety of golfers. If you were to walk the course week in and week out as we do, you would see one common denominator in low scoring students – how they carry themselves as golfers. This can include many factors like how they dress, mannerisms, timeliness and etiquette.
What clothing brand people wear really doesn’t matter. It’s about if they look like they took the time to match their clothes, if their shirt is not wrinkled and tucked in with a belt. You won’t see many sloppy looking golfers playing well on any tour. It’s a matter of confidence. I’ve known many students over the years that only wear pants (no shorts) because it made them feel more confident. If you start the day on the right foot by looking like Adam Scott or Michelle Wie, it can’t hurt your game. Also, college coaches may be less likely to recruit someone who can’t dress themselves as it could show a lack of confidence.
The mannerisms that lead to a professional look on the golf course would be a calm, determined look. If you look like you don’t care to be there, are fidgety or slamming a club after every swing, your professionalism goes right out the door. There should be no running on the golf course either. You need to keep your heart rate down to maintain control (be prepared to hit then you don’t have to run). Practicing walking like a champion with your shoulders back, head up and eyes on the horizon, keeps you from looking like you are miserable. The best players I’ve been fortunate enough to be around over the years, always looked the same whether playing bad or good. Once again, college coaches may not recruit someone with a bad attitude or someone who always looks intimidated.
It is different for everyone. It’s hard to look too confident rushing to the first tee. I have seen some players who need little to no time to warm-up for a round of golf, but these players are very rare. For most people, 45 minutes to 1.5 hours are the desired amount of time for a proper full game warm-up. You are there to get loose for the day, not for a practice session or to rebuild your golf swing. It’s key is plan your morning back from your tee time based upon the time you need to warm-up, drive to the course and get ready in the morning. This preparation will lower your stress and increase your chances of playing better golf.
Something that drives all coaches’ crazy is poor etiquette in golf tournaments. I could write an entire article on this alone. The main culprits of this are not fixing pitch marks, walking through other players’ lines (actual line and through line), not standing still or making noise while others are hitting, and finally damaging the course. I’ve always looked at taking care of the course as good karma. Try fixing your own pitch mark and at least one other while you’re waiting for others to play. Just think about how annoying it is for someone to walk through your line, it breaks your concentration and will affect your putt. To play good golf you need to be calm enough to not let your heart rate jump, so you should be able to stay calm when it’s not your turn. Watching junior golfers slam their bags or rattle their clubs while someone is hitting is not professional. Damaging the golf course goes without saying as unacceptable and has no place in the game. I always believed if you take care of the course it will take care of you.
If you want to play better golf, be on college coaches’ radar or increase your enjoyment during your rounds of golf, act professionally on the course. It’s not that difficult and requires less energy than being a sloppy golfer.