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Getting in the mood to thrive

Is it okay to lose your temper on the golf course? Most would say the answer is an emphatic “NO”. To master golf, you must first master yourself and that includes your temper.

 Well, so is it acceptable to lose it on the greens? If you listen to the talking heads, especially in this PC society of ours where everyone seems to look for reasons to get offended, the answer is “no.” However, if you’ve ever met me you will know I’m NOT “PC” nor will I ever be. I am the kind of person who not only calls something as it is, but will happily tell you where to stick it.

The pundits will tell you that the greatest players never lost their temper, but conveniently forget that Bobby Jones was a notorious club thrower as was Tommy Bolt, who even advised people which club and direction to throw for the best results.

Jack Nicklaus wasn’t much of a club thrower, but we all knew when he was angry because the back of his neck got beet red. Arnold Palmer also wasn’t a club thrower, but you knew when he was pissed out there. He’d hitch up his pants and bear down harder.

Tiger Woods also drove the crews in the TV truck crazy because they would have to “bleep” his curses.

Lefty Stackhouse, who seems to be more myth than substance, was actually a real golfer who would hit a bad shot then bash his head against trees until the bark was flying. I would have paid money to see that.

With this in mind, I’m going to surprise you and say it’s alright to lose your temper, provided it is done so in the right circumstances and in the right way.



Firstly, a player should NEVER get angry with a caddie – period.

The caddie is there to give sound advice, but you can accept it or not. Many players blindly follow the caddie’s advice, with disastrous consequences. Face it there are great, moderate and caddies who are lucky not to trip over their feet or step on your ball.

Secondly, nobody put a gun to your head and told you to slice a ball into the trees, dunk it into the lake or slash one wildly out of bounds. Look yourself in the mirror and you will see the culprit.

However, in my opinion the biggest reason tempers flare on the golf course is slow play.

In Vietnam, some players seem to think that letting a faster group pass is a loss of face and you almost always refuse to do it. Yes, these are the same clowns who cut you off in traffic or in the store checkout line. They have no etiquette.
Sorry, they might “play golf”, but are not “real golfers.”

Real golfers understand etiquette. They play by the rules. They let faster groups through. They have a good time, but they do not inconvenience others. They do not scream into their cell phones or take their shoes off in the restaurant and put their bare feet on the chairs or tables.

They have manners and expect others to have them as well.

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When a fast group encounters a slower group, they should ask at the drink stand to pass. If they say “no”, wait until you see a marshal and ask for help. With cell phones, many clubs publish the number of the Director of Golf or Golf Operations Department. Don’t be afraid to call.

The club will almost always try to fix the situation.

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should players hit into a slower group to try and make them go faster. This could end up with someone seriously injured, or some really hard feelings afterwards. So it’s better to let the club employees handle it.

If a group is nice enough to let you “play through” there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
In many cases in Vietnam, players opt for the wrong way and take their sweet time playing the hole. They line up putts from inside a foot, they stand on the green paying the bet and they always seem to forget the other group did them a favor.

And this is why nobody likes to let a faster group through.

When a group lets you pass, play the hole as fast as you can. Don’t dawdle. Get on the green, get it close to the hole, get off the green and don’t forget to wave back to the group who let you pass to say “thank you.”

Remember to master golf, you first must master yourself and that includes your temper.

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