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Play a round with a buddy using only one, two or at the most three clubs. Its’s fun. You’d be surprised how you can invent and create shots when you don’t have a full bag. A few years ago, I played an “emergency” nine holes with friends all using just one club. I had shot a 36 on that nine earlier; I shot 39 using one club! That was fun.
Go out of town, or out of the country, on a “buddies trip” and play legendary golf courses. Forget about the time or money. You only go around once (I think). Buddies golf trips are fun. I used to do a buddies trip every summer called “Doc’s Clambake,” in reminiscence of Bing Crosby’s Pro-am tournament he started in the late 1930’s.
One year I gave each of my guests actual Jim Beam decanters (not replicas) from Bing’s outings in the 1970s. Unlike at Bing’s parties, there were no aspiring starlets at my clambake.
To have real fun you need to play with a kid. You have no idea how young it will make you feel teeing it up with a young wannabe golfer who really enjoys just being out playing golf, when his friends are at home playing with their Xboxes. Golf is the great equalizer among generations. You get to know each other.
Play a pro-am. If your club pro hasn’t asked you yet, go ask him. Make sure you have a valid USGA handicap. The pro-ams put on by the Sun Country Section of the PGA are legitimate golf tournaments, well run and a lot of fun. Sure, you feel the pressure to do well, but so what. You get an emotional sense for what those pros go through.
Play a one-person scramble against a friend, with your opponent picking which of your two shots you will play. Better hit ‘em both good. He better hit both good also. It’s fun.
Golf can be too serious these days. I like a match that includes two “do-overs” per nine. Call them Mulligans or Shapiros or whatever, but it makes things less serious among friends. Traditionalists might object, but do-overs get you away from the business of giving and taking (adjusting) strokes, especially when nobody’s handicap is believable, which is the mostly the case.
If you’re with a small group that likes to wager, try putting up drinks for most greens-in-regulation, most fairways hit, fewest putts, fewest three-putts, longest putt made, longest fairway drive and maybe include “polies” (a putt for par or better longer than the length of the flagstick), barkies (a par off a tree), “greenies” (closest to the pin on a pat 3) and “sandies” (a par out of a bunker or penalty area). Don’t get involved playing for drink shots on the golf course.
It’s fun to play a game where players select each other’s clubs for each shot (except putting). For example, if you have a 90-yard shot to the green, and your opponent tells you to hit a 7 iron, you had better dial in your imagination and create a shot with some finesse. But maybe you’ll get him back with his next shot from a greenside bunker when you select a 7 iron.
Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed sports psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.