May 5, 2009

NiceBallz Wife Takes Up Golf...Some Free Advice

I always enjoy playing golf with my wife, even if her official handicap is somewhere around 30.

She hits a lot of good shots, mind you, but she's probably played less than 30 official rounds in her life. Like it is for all beginners, Mrs. B's game is a feast or famine thing and she hasn't developed a "touch" that your average 3-4 round per week golfer develops. That would be me, by the way. We live in a golf neighborhood and this time of year, if the weather's nice and I am not working you can probably find me somewhere on holes 1-18 in my neighborhood.

Anyhow, Niceballz asks:
We've purchased the clubs (a basic starter set for now) some shoes and I'm getting a lesson booked with my fav teaching pro.

But I'm worried. I am not the guy to coach her up for a variety of reasons, so this is a NiceBallz S.O.S. to the female golfing community: <"How can I avoid effing this up?"

Good question.

My advice to anyone whose wife is starting up with golf is to get her some clubs that are geared towards beginners, and women's clubs at that. Don't give her that old set you replaced a couple of seasons ago, men's clubs are usually longer, the shafts are geared to faster swing speeds and they just aren't suited to someone starting off. Break out the checkbook or the Visa card and spring for some clubs she can call her own. That immediately gives her some "ownership" of her golf game.

Next, get her a teacher. Good habits taught from the beginning mean a better game in the long run. And an objective teacher won't get frustrated, and she won't either. She and her teacher won't have that "marriage dynamic" enter into their golf learning relationship. Besides, you're probably not a teacher anyway.

After that, encourage her to play with other women. It's a lot more fun for her to play with players that are a closer match to her physical skills as opposed to you and the fellows out of your Sunday foursome. It's no fun for anyone to be the fifth wheel -- the person whose game is nowhere close to the rest of the group who always seems to be furthest from hole (at least at first.) Think of it this way: suppose you were hooked up with three Nationwide Tour players who played from the tips, while you played from your normal white markers. Their drives were beyond yours on the fly and their approach shots always inside yours. They might be quiet and respectful of you and your game, but their silence might crawl inside your head after several holes. It's probably close to that for someone's wife to play with their husbands and his buddies if she's a beginner.

Hopefully, your town has a chapter of the EWGA, the Executive Women's Golf Association. Their mission statement is to the point and a great one: "The EWGA's (Executive Women's Golf Association) mission is connecting women to learn, play and enjoy golf for business and for fun." I've known and played with several ladies in that group and I can vouch that they are all supportive of each other, and that a beginner is more than welcome. Plus it's a great place for your wife to start making her own golf buddies, which is something that will help her stay interested in playing the game for the long haul.

Try to remember that a lot of women see golf courses as a big good ole boys club where they may not be welcome. This is true even where the course goes out of its way to encourage women golfers. That's the unfortunate history of a lot of clubs and the American version of the game generally and to this day a lot of grumpy old men grouse when they get behind a foursome of women. I've seen it at my club and the funniest part was when the starter lit them up like a Christmas tree, telling those guys in no uncertain terms that the group in front of them was just as welcome as they were. Funny thing is, study after study has shown than women generally play as fast or faster than men and that they tend to follow the rules more closely besides. So shut the hell grumpy old dude and tend to your own ball.

Lastly, and this is some valuable free advice: never, ever, ever try to be your wife's teacher on the course. Do NOT offer a stream of free advice. In fact, don't offer any advice at all unless you are asked to do so. I've seen too many couples give each other icy stares when the husband decides he's his wife's personal Hank Haney.

Me, I just tell the Mrs. to whack it down the fairway from the tee when it's her turn on the tee. I always try to be encouraging. If she hits a bad shot and we're alone and the course not crowded, I might tell her to hit another one...if she wants to. If she hits a great shot, I'll give her a big smile, compliment her and offer up a clenched fist for a bone crack. She knows she hit it like a hot knife through butter, and letting your wife know that you know it too is the best encouragement of all.

Keep in mind that golf is supposed to be fun, and if a beginner doesn't see it that way, you'll probably have her clubs for sale at a Garage Sale a few years from now. If you help make it fun, then you've found the best golf buddy of them all. And she'll probably be a lot more understanding when you roll back into the house with a new driver that you hit really well at the pro shop.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! If I didn't know better CB...I'd think you were a woman (meant as a total compliment).

    Your advice is very similar to the women who I solicited opinions from and that just shows you've lived some real world experience here.

    I appreciate it and nicely written. First lesson is next week (fingers crossed).



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