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Posting Scores During Inactive Seasons

Inactive Golf SeasonIf you live and play golf in a “seasonal” area of the country, chances are your 2017 golf activity may soon be coming to a close.  Many golf associations in the northern and Midwest parts of the country are now or will soon be observing an inactive season for handicap purposes.  The USGA defines the inactive season as “the period during which scores made in an area are not accepted for handicap purposes determined by the authorized golf association having jurisdiction in a given area.” 

This means your local state or regional golf association likely has the jurisdiction in your area and they are responsible for declaring the duration of any inactive season.  A golf club located within the area covered by an authorized golf association must observe any inactive season established by the golf association (a club or facility may not “opt-out” of this requirement.)

Since course ratings are based on the difficulty of a course played under normal mid-season playing conditions, the change in off-season conditions could affect the ease or difficulty of play, based on those conditions (turf grass is harder, perhaps grass is dormant, no leaves on trees, green speeds are slower, the course is not irrigated regularly, etc.)  This is why based on the variety of off-season conditions, that a golf association will declare an inactive season.

Most northern and Midwest golf associations declare their inactive season anytime from mid-October or November in the fall through mid-March or April in the spring.  If you get a nice day to play in the fall during your facilities inactive season, you may not post your score for handicap purposes.  Check the USGA Handicap Active/Inactive Season Schedule to see if your state participates in an active or inactive season.

Some parts of the country do not observe an inactive season and therefore are active year-round (most sun-belt states and the southern parts of the country.)  The USGA Handicap System Manual states, “Scores made at a golf course in an area observing an active season must be posted for handicap purposes, even if the golf club from which the player receives a handicap index is observing an inactive season.”  This means if a player is a member of a facility in Minnesota and she plays golf in Arizona in February, any scores played in Arizona are acceptable and must be posted at the player’s Minnesota facility.  If the player is a member of a golf facility in Arizona, scores must be posted to the player’s Arizona club. If not a member of an Arizona facility, upon return from the trip to Arizona, the player must post these away scores prior to the next handicap index revision. 

Reminder, if you are in a part of the country where there is an inactive season and you play during that inactive season, take advantage of a nice fall day to play since you won’t be posting your scores for handicap purposes.  If you travel to a year-round posting area, you must post any scores played as away scores when you return home (unless you are a member of a second facility that has a year-round season, you would post your scores at that facility.)

Match Play Strategies

Playing in Match Play - especially on a team - requires a different strategy

Most golfers are used to playing stroke play – where you play your own ball and count your strokes.  An alternative format is Match Play – where you are playing head-to-head with another golfer, rather than playing stroke play against an entire field.  While both formats require the same skills, Match Play offers a unique type of strategy since the Rules are slightly different from stroke play.

The most common differences are the ability to concede putts thereby allowing your opponent to not have to hole out every putt.  Other unique Rules in stoke play have a one or two stroke penalty whereas Match Play the penalty is loss of hole (since the format of play that is scored in a hole-by-hole competition.)

The following are some strategies you may elect to use when playing Match Play against an opponent or you and a partner may use if playing a team Match Play event:

Be first on the tee – the obvious reason of playing first from the tee means you have the honor for having won the previous hole.  Secondly, by playing first, you set the tone for the hole and have a slight advantage – if you hit a booming tee shot, your opponent will feel the pressure to “keep up.”

Get off to a fast start – set the tone for the match by trying to play well right away at the first hole.  If you are successful and win multiple holes early in the match, you may close out your opponent early and not have to play all 18 holes. 

Play your game by maintaining your usual pace of play.  If you like to play quickly, don’t let a slower player bother you and get you out of your comfort zone.  If the opposite is true and you are playing with someone much faster than you like to play, go with your normal routine so you don’t feel rushed (but still be cognizant of keeping pace.)

Play smart and play to your strengths.  During an important match is not the time to try to carry the 40-yard water hazard from 200 yards away.  Know your shot strengths and always think ahead – play the shot to layup short of the hazard, hit the next shot on the green and think two-putts for par or bogey.  If your opponent hits in the water, you now have an advantage by playing smart and knowing the strengths of your game. 

Watch your opponent.  If she changes her pre-shot routine, chances are she is feeling some pressure.  Since match play involves mental toughness, watch for any changes that allow you to have an advantage.

Utilize your partner.  If you are playing in a team event with a partner, take advantage of each other.  If one of you has a bad hole, pick up the ball and move to the next hole.  You may help each other read putts and talk about your strategy.  It may help you feel calmer by having a partner to talk with rather than having very little conversation with an opponent.   

Be cautious conceding putts – one nice element of the match play format is the ability to concede putts.  As a player, go into your match planning to hole every putt.  With that mindset, you will be pleased when your opponent offers a conceded putt.  Be careful when giving your opponent a conceded putt.  If you continually give putts (especially early in the round), the opponent may expect that you will continue to concede putts.  A great strategy is to give a few putts early in the round, then make the opponent hole all putts as the round continues.  A missed putt could make a difference in the outcome of the match so keep that in mind when conceding putts.

By knowing some simple match play strategies and trying them during your next match, you may be able to win your match. 

 

The "Leaf Rule" Myth

If you live in a part of the country where the seasons change, no doubt you’ve heard that fall golf is the best time to play.  The demand on the courses ease up since many golfers don’t play after Labor Day, so it’s easier to get a tee time and pace of play is usually faster.  You may wear a light pull-over and have an opportunity to walk the course.  With the temperatures and leaves falling, it does pose a problem with playing fall golf, since a golf ball can easily get lost in a pile of leaves on the course. 

Many golfers in the fall invoke “The Leaf Rule” even though there is no such approved rule in the Rules of Golf.  In the interest of pace of play, some courses will institute a local rule in the fall allowing the natural accumulation of leaves to be treated as ground under repair.  If you or your partners are positive your ball is lost under the leaves, you may find the nearest point of relief from the spot where the ball last crossed the outermost limit of the leaves and take a drop, without penalty, within one club-length of that point, no closer to the hole (Rule 25-1, Decision 33-8/31).

If you are playing a course that hasn’t allowed such a local rule, those pesky leaves are loose impediments and may be removed without penalty.  Be extremely careful when looking for your ball so that it doesn’t move while you are searching in the leaves.  Under this rule, you can't move your ball when removing leaves or it's a one-stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced.  If you find your ball in leaves piled for removal, you can drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole (Rule 25-1b).

In a bunker, remove as many leaves as needed to see part of the ball.  Do not touch the leaves with your club while making a backswing or you will incur a two-shot penalty in stroke play (Rule 13-4c) or lose the hole in Match Play.

Golf purists feel the “Leaf Rule” is a cop-out to allow golfers to “cheat” with a free drop for hitting a not-so-good shot (that landed in the leaf pile.)  They feel the local rule should only be in effect on holes with piles of leaves – stating that most golfers don’t request the “leaf rule” when their ball is in the fairway or on the green.

Take advantage of the fall weather and get out and play!

Fall Golf: The Best Season of the Year

The word “Fall” often times brings to mind football games, bonfires, caramel apples and falling leaves.  Most golfers also know that the fall is the best time to play golf.  Hopefully you are taking advantage of the fall weather and getting a chance to play some golf.  Other than falling leaves and an occasional frost delay, the fall is a great time to enjoy the beauty of the course.  Here are some hints to help you enjoy golf this fall, even when the temperatures start to drop.

•  Dress in layers – Now more than ever, golf clothing is made for comfort, performance and appearance.  Some are designed to wick moisture away while helping to keep you warm.  Layers are good for cool mornings and allow you to “remove layers” as the temperatures rise during the day.  Make sure the layers still allow you to swing comfortably – no one wants to feel like the “Michelin Man” trying to swing a golf club.

•  Wear a winter cap, headband or ear muffs – Remember while playing in the cooler temperatures, the fashion police don’t care what you look like.  You will be bundled up in layers so it’s important to keep your head warm as well.   

•  Wear winter golf gloves – Many golf glove manufacturers make gloves designed for golf in cool climates and they are sold in pairs – like rain gloves but a bit thicker.  (They are also great for light-weight gloves for driving your car in the winter!)  If you don’t like playing with winter golf gloves, you can at least wear them between shots.  Another alternative is cart mitts that allow you to wear your regular golf glove and simply remove the cart mitts before hitting.

•  Use hand warmers – Many camping and sporting goods stores carry the dry-chemical hand warmers.  These are great to have in your pockets to keep your hands warm between shots.  Also change golf balls every few holes, using a ball from your pocket that’s warm – it won’t feel so hard coming off the face of your club. 

•  Walk if possible – As we all know walking on the golf course is great exercise plus the walking helps you stay warm.  Remember just as riding a cart can be “cooler” in summer months when the temps start to drop, that same “breeze” feels like instant air conditioning.  If you do ride a cart, bring a stadium blanket as a seat cover that can double as a warming layer if needed and use the windshield, if provided, to keep the wind off your face.  Some people have gone so far as to use a cart cover for cool weather and use portable propane tanks made specifically for golf carts (they fit right in the cup holders) as heaters.

•  Take one more club – the golf ball tends to travel a shorter distance in cold weather, so take one more club than you would during warmer months. 

•  Swing easy – This goes along with taking one more club (above).  Since you are using one more club, swing easy and make good contact with the ball.  If you swing hard and hit a “stinger” you will feel it in the club shaft and in your hands.  No one wants a “stinger” with cold hands.

•  Plan your winter get-away – as the temperatures start to drop, it’s a great time to plan your winter get-away to a warm climate destination.  Visit EWGA Golf Course Network to visit a facility that welcomes EWGA members (usually at a discount)!

 

 

Common Match Play Terms

Common Match Play Terms for the EWGA CupOver the course of the next month, eight EWGA Cup Regional Qualifiers, presented by Baird Private Wealth Management, will take place.  Teams from each Regional Qualifier will advance to the EWGA Cup Finals at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, FL on October 27-28. As you are getting ready for the Regional Qualifiers, here are some important Match Play Rules to remember as you prepare for competition.

Match Play:  Match Play is a format of play that is scored in a hole-by-hole competition.  The side that holes its ball in fewer strokes than its opponent wins that particular hole.  In a handicap competition, the side with the lowest net score wins the hole.

Winning:  The side that wins the most holes, wins the match.  When a side has won more holes than there are holes remaining, the match has been won.  Therefore a match can be won before all 18 holes have been played.  For example, if you win the first 10 holes, you’ve won the match because there are only 8 holes left to play.

In The EWGA Cup, each winning match is awarded 1 point toward the team total and halved matches are awarded ½ a point.

Format:  Team event comprised of 18 holes of Four-Ball on Day 1 and 18 holes of Singles on Day 2.  100% Handicaps will be used to determine the number of strokes a player gives or receives for a match.

Match Play Terms:   

Status of a Match:  The status of a match is expressed relationally.  Match play scoring does not indicate the number of holes won by a player, but rather how many more holes than his opponent a golfer has won.

Scores:  "Up" indicates that a side is winning by a number of holes and "down" indicates that a side is losing by a number of holes.

If the final score is “1-up” it means the match went the full 18 holes with the winner finishing with one more hole won that the opponent.

If the score is 3 and 2, it means the winner was determined before reaching the 18th hole.  It means the winner was three holes ahead with two holes to play (so the match ended on hole #16).

If the score is “2-up” it means the match went dormie with one hole to play – the leader was 1-up with one hole to play and the leader of the match won the 18 hole to end “2-up.”

If the score is “4 and 2” it means the winner took the match dormie with 3 holes to play, (3 up with 3 holes to play) then won the next hole for a final score of 4 and 2. 

Halved Hole:  A halved hole occurs when opponents score the same on a specific hole.  The opponents are said to have "halved" the hole and the status of the match remains the same.

Dormie:  A match is said to be dormie when a side has won as many holes as the number of holes remaining to be played, i.e. 3 up with 3 to play. The worst the leading team can do at this point is tie (by losing all the remaining holes).

All Square:   A scoring term that indicates a match that is tied.

Conceded Putts:   In match play, conceded putts are allowed.  Your opponent may concede a putt at any time, whether it’s close to the hole or not.  Conceded putts should only be offered, not requested.

Fellow-Competitor vs. Opponent:  When playing in stroke play, the people in your group are your “fellow-competitors” while in match play, the golfer you are playing against is your “opponent.”

Loss of Hole:  Many penalties in stroke play are two stroke penalties, however, in match play the penalty is usually loss of hole.

How to Conduct Business Golf on the Course

If you’ve been invited - or have extended an invitation - to play business golf, there are a few key things to keep in mind.  If you are hosting a customer or client, plan to arrive at the golf course at least an hour prior to your scheduled tee time.  If you plan to pay for your guests' green fees, being early allows you to take care of the fees prior to their arrival.  If you are the guest, plan to arrive 45 minutes prior to your tee time. 

Business Golf with a HandshakeMake sure you brush up on your game, the Rules, etiquette and lingo before the round so you feel comfortable playing business golf.  Be conscious of the Pace of Play for your group – if you keep up with the group ahead of you, you shouldn't have to worry too much about the group behind you.

Remember the goal of business golf is to create an opportunity to do business after golf – not a competitive situation in which you should try to beat your guest.  Focus on building a relationship with your guest by asking appropriate professional and sometimes personal questions.  Keep your discussion light and fun.  Wait until the round is complete to discuss business – only engage in business discussion if your guest initiates the conversation.  

If you have played the course prior to your round with your guest, share information regarding yardage, hole layout, hazards and obstacles.  Anything you can do to help your guests and make them feel welcome will help you when it’s time to discuss business.  If you have not played the course, ask if yardage books are available in the golf shop and purchase them for the group.

Avoid talking about business too much and don’t get into a disagreement with your guest.  Do some research beforehand to learn about your customer or client’s golf ability so you'll avoid playing a course or set of tees that are too challenging for everyone to enjoy.  If the client or customer insists on placing a friendly wager, be sure to pay promptly if you lose and be a gracious winner, if you win.

End your round with a handshake and offer to meet your playing partners in the clubhouse for a beverage or meal.  Now that you've impressed your guest with your professionalism and pleasant personality, it's time to approach the business conversation over lunch or dinner.  Be sure to ask your guest for a formal meeting to discuss your goals for business in greater detail.  Exchange business cards and make sure to keep some in your golf bag so they are easily available.  Enjoy your time together and look forward to doing business together.

Prepping for the EWGA Championship Finals

Prepare for EWGA Championship

We are more than half way through the 15 EWGA Semi-Finals, with just a few more to go!  Winners from all flights in all 15 Semi-Finals will advance to the EWGA Championship Finals at Hot Springs Village on October 6-7 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Whether you are gearing up for the EWGA District Semi-Final or the EWGA Championship, here are some important things to keep in mind as your prepare for competition.

  • Play a practice round, especially if it’s a new course for you.  You will get a feel for any trouble on the course, can check out hazard locations and determine clubs for yardages on the par 3’s.  Be sure to take notes on a spare scorecard – and make sure the notes are in your golf bag on the day of competition.
  • Practice with your driver and putter.  It’s great to have confidence going into a competition and the best way to maintain your confidence is to practice and feel comfortable with your driver and short game.  You are likely to use the driver 12-14 times in a round so feeling good about your tee shot is important.  Likewise, if you two putt every green, you use your putter for 36 (plus or minus) shots of your score.  Confidence in your putter is a must.
  • Plan your arrival time for the day of competition.  Plan to be on the first tee 10-minutes prior to your tee time.   Now work your schedule back from that tee time – allow 30-45 minutes for warm-up, allow 10-15 minutes to check-in, then allow travel time to the course (take traffic into consideration) and finally, allow time to eat prior to leaving for the course.
  • Use warm-up time well.  The warm-up time at the practice facility is just that – to help you warm-up.  This is not the time to try something new with your swing, grip, stance, etc.  Many players will warm-up with four or five clubs and only hit 5-10 balls with each club.  Divide your practice balls into four or five piles – using one pile per club.  Begin with a wedge or your shortest iron to loosen up, then hit some mid or long irons, some hybrids or fairway woods then finish with the driver.  Some golfers like to end the warm-up session hitting the clubs they might use on the first hole (i.e. driver, 7 iron, wedge, etc.)  Be sure to end with a good shot…this will help you take great confidence to the first tee.
  • Short game warm-up.  On the practice putting green, begin by trying to make five to ten 3’ putts.  This will help build your confidence with making 3’ putts once you are on the course.  You may hit a few lag putts (20’ – 30’) to get a feel for the speed on the greens – but remember some practice greens do not putt like the actual greens on the course.  You may also hit some pitch shots and/or bunker shots, if a pitching green is available.  Some courses do not allow golfers to pitch/chip to the practice putting green.
  • Nerves and the pre-shot routine.  It’s natural to be nervous on the first tee or even during the first few holes of a tournament.  Relax by taking deep breaths and concentrating on your pre-shot routine.  Keeping things the same with your swing and pre-shot routine will help calm you down and settle into your round.  Don’t let a pre-shot routine slow your round down – be ready when it’s your turn and play “ready golf” if allowed.
  • Eat well and stay hydrated.  Be sure to start your round properly fueled – eat a good meal (don’t skip breakfast or lunch).  Maintain your blood sugar by eating simple carbs, small snacks like nuts, fruit or other healthful snacks.  Avoid complex carbs and sugar snacks.  A general rule is to drink 16 oz. of water per hour and to begin by drinking water before playing.  Avoid alcohol, soda, sports’ drinks and fruit juices.  
  • Be a good competitor.  Know the rules and conditions of the competition.  Compliment others on good shots, chips and putts.  Be friendly and willing to help look for a lost golf ball, if needed.  Talk and have fun as it will help the entire group relax. 
  • If you are a first time competitor.  You will probably be nervous but relax and enjoy yourself.  Stay focused and try to play your own game.  Concentrate on your round and don’t let the elements of the day bother you.  It’s an opportunity for you to play the game you love in a competitive format.
  • It’s just a game.  Regardless of how you play or what score you shoot, remember it’s just a game.  Like everyone else, you want to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes.  Some days this is easy, other days golf becomes hard work.  While we all want to play our best, remember golf is a game.  Days, weeks and months later, no one will remember your score.  Play golf to have fun and you will continue to love this great game – regardless of the outcome!

Choosing and Using the Right Distance-Measuring Device

Distance-measuring devices can help you play better and faster

Golf is full of technology – not just for equipment and golf balls – but also when it comes to distance-measuring devies. Let's figure out which distance-measuring device is right for you and how you  can use it to your advantage on the golf course. 

According to the Rules of Golf, the use of distance-measuring devices (DMDs) – also known as golf rangefinders – has been allowed for use during a round since 2006 only when an optional Local Rule is introduced by a golf course or the committee in charge of a specific competition.  In 2014, the USGA and R&A allowed the use of conforming DMDs in all USGA amateur qualifying events and championships.  This has made the use and popularity of golf rangefinders more common. 

There are two basic types of golf rangefinders – laser and GPS (using global positioning satellites).  There are many types and brands of rangefinders on the market – from handheld GPS and laser units to watches and even units that clip on a hat, golf bag or belt.  Basic units offer distance readings to the front, middle and back of the green.  More advanced units show the entire hole graphic and allow for exact distances to water hazards, bunkers and other landmarks on the golf course.  Your use of technology and level of details are two things to consider when purchasing or using a rangefinder. 

If you enjoy technology, the features on some GPS units show the hole graphics.  Many units require you to download courses that you plan to play.  These types of rangefinders are great if you play multiple courses or pre-load courses you plan to play on a golf trip.  They often times require a subscription to download the courses, but if you like details and don’t mind downloading and syncing to a computer, these units are extremely helpful when playing.  If technology isn’t something you enjoy, go with a unit that has basic course information pre-loaded and doesn’t require downloading. 

GPS units are great to use when you can’t see the hole or need lay-up distances to specific hazards (something most laser units can’t determine).  Some GPS units have the ability to measure your drive (or other shots) which help you determine how far you hit specific clubs.

If you enjoy playing fast and want just basic information, you may prefer laser rangefinders – where you just “point and shoot” to get the yardage.   One advantage laser rangefinders have over GPS units is they typically don’t require charging after every two or three rounds.  Laser rangefinders are very accurate but require a steady hand to hold when looking for the yardage.  They are easier to use since they don’t require downloading a course and purchasing a subscription service.

Many golfers prefer to download various rangefinder apps for use on smartphones.  These provide a great solution to buying a separate golf rangefinder, however, are known to accelerate the battery use on the phone, plus require buying the app to download,  then sometimes not all courses are available.

Regardless of which type of rangefinder you select, take advantage of the technology to help you determine accurate distances.  You will find it helps with pace of play (you won’t be walking around looking for distances on sprinkler-heads) and you will save a few strokes on your score.

 

 

How to Really Get Better at Golf

A participant tees off during the 2016 EWGA Cup

For every golf lesson you take, you and your instructor should ask each other what you want the outcome of the lesson to be.  Unsurprisingly, you'll find that the response is usually one of these three answers:

  1. Hit the ball further
  2. Hit the ball straighter, or;
  3. Lower your score

But when is the last time that you really looked at your game and determined how to accomplish any of the above?

Laird Small, PGA Professional and Director of the Pebble Beach Golf Academy shares a few tips on how golfers can improve their scores by reviewing seven key areas of their game.

  1. Start with the Little Victories:  Many of us have a target score in mind that we’d like to shoot.  Is it breaking 100?  Breaking 90?  Shooting a specific score in relationship to par?  Shooting one’s age?  Rather than putting all the focus on a score, try for a simpler goal.  Maybe it’s getting out of the bunker in one shot or hitting a drive around a corner on a dogleg hole.  These “little victories” will help you want to get better and practice.
     
  2. Take Inventory of Your Game:  If you keep track of your stats, like putts or fairways hit or greens in regulation, it provides a pretty accurate report to help you learn where you are wasting shots.  Most golfers know they waste shots in their short game.  Practice bunker shots, chipping and pitching so when you miss hitting a green, you have confidence to chip or pitch within one-putt range.  Likewise, if you notice more than 36 putts in an 18 hole round, it’s time to practice putting so you can avoid multiple three-putt greens.
     
  3. Short Game Practice:  More than half of all shots occur within 50-yards of the green.  The quickest way to see scores improve is to spend time practicing your short game shots of chipping, pitching and hitting from the bunker.  Some great drills include:
    • Target Drill – Place a bucket or umbrella (upside down) on the green and practice pitching balls into the target from various distances.  This helps you develop your swing length to the landing area and helps with distance control.|
       
    • Tee Drill – Place four tees in a square on the putting green about six to eight feet from the edge of the green and hit chip shots to the square box.  Again, this helps with distance control by using different clubs for the chip shot to see the carry vs. roll distance.
       
  4. Full Swing Practice:  Many golfers make the mistake of going to the practice range and hitting the driver, shot after shot.  If you think that you are likely using this club for 14 or fewer tee shots, it makes sense to practice your time at the range with the clubs you hit on a regular basis.  Practice with fairway woods, hybrids or mid and short irons.  Some full swing drills are:
    • Alignment Drill – Use an alignment stick or golf club to check your set-up including feet, hips and shoulders.  Use two sticks or clubs – one for your feet and the other for your club path.  This helps you visualize the path for the clubhead.
       
    • Random Club Practice – Rather than hitting the same club ball after ball, practice “playing” your course from the range…hit a driver, then a hybrid or mid iron, then a wedge – hitting your clubs in the order you might use for the first hole on your course.  Do this for nine or 18 holes, including your pre-shot routine, rather than hitting ball after ball with the same club.
       
  5. Stretching:  Stretching your body and muscles will help your golf swing and prevent soreness after golf.  Some people have physical limitations that prevent them from making a full turn or full swing, but loosening up before playing will help your body.  Starting at your head and working to your feet stretch prior to playing with these exercises:
    • Neck circles – rotate your head clockwise five times and then rotate counter-clockwise five times.
       
    • Arm circles – rotate your arms in forward circles ten times then rotate in backward circles ten times.
       
    • Shoulder stretch – cross your right arm across your chest and use your left arm to stretch the right shoulder for 10 seconds.  Then cross your left arm across your chest and use your right arm to stretch for 10 seconds.
       
    • Toe touching – bending at the waist, lean over and touch your toes or stretch your back by reaching for the ground while counting to 10.
       
  6. Fuel Your Body:  Be sure to eat and drink properly before, during and after your round.  Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.  Eat healthful snacks like fruit, nuts, granola bars, etc. to help you stay focused and maintain good blood levels during your round.
     
  7. Survey Your Equipment:  We have discussed in the past being fit for equipment and having the proper set composition in your bag.  Most golfers have replaced harder to hit long irons for hybrids and carry more than one wedge.  Check your grips on your clubs as well – most people replace at the beginning of the season, but forget to replace midway through the season.  Make sure you keep your clubs clean so the groves can perform the way they are intended to and find a favorite golf ball.  Don’t be afraid to pay a bit more for a golf ball with a higher spin rate as it will be a little softer, spin more and will stop a bit faster on the greens. 

So what are you waiting for? Go and incorporate a few of these drills and stretches into your practice and let us know how you improve and lower your score!

Staying Safe During Summer Storms

Lightning is a major risk on the golf course.

Summer weather conditions are often perfect for quick thunderstorms to develop.  The National Lightning Safety Institute offers the following information:

"Lightning is arbitrary, random and unpredictable.  Five percent of annual United States lightning deaths and injuries happen on golf courses.  Everyone associated with the game should participate in lightning safety."

The United States Golf Association (USGA) makes available warning posters and stickers to inform players about lightning safety tips.  As a golfer, you should know that the USGA Rules of Golf (Rule 6-8) allow players to discontinue play if they believe there is a danger from lightning. No other sport has any regulations related to lightning.

A good rule for everyone is:  "If you can see it (lightning), flee it; if you can hear it (thunder), clear it."  I have also heard people say, “If you hear thunder, you will soon see lightning.”  There was a friend of an EWGA staff member who was struck and killed by lightning a few years ago – on a sunny day on the golf course – so it isn’t anything to mess with.  There is no round of golf so important to risk your life.

Some guidelines from the Golf Course Superintendents Association (GCSA) include:

  • Seek shelter at the first sign of a thunderstorm.  If the course's warning system sounds, head for cover.
  • If possible, get off the golf course or go to a designated lightning shelter (Note:  open-sided buildings do not provide protection from lightning even if they have a lightning rod).
  • Do not stand under a lone tree.  This is where most people are injured or killed.
  • Stay away from water.
  • Stay away from your golf clubs.
  • If your shoes have metal spikes, take them off.
  • Move away from your golf cart.

If you find yourself stranded in the open, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. (Note:  If you feel a tingling sensation and the hair on your arms stands up, squat in a baseball catcher's position, balancing on the balls of your feet, feet together, arms in front of your knees.  If in a group, members of the group should keep at least 15 feet apart).

Follow the above advice to avoid the storms and play your way through a safe, fun and golf-filled summer.

 

Fun Formats for Summer Holiday Golf

Playing golf with friends and family is a great way to spend a long summer holiday weekend

Most golfers are lucky to take advantage of a few long weekends or a few days off that around summe holidays, including Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.  Many facilities during the summer offer activities with patriotic themes such as a Red, White and Blue tournament or a Flag tournament. 

Red, White and Blue Tournament:  Courses in the past have used three traditional colors to differentiate the teeing grounds – red tees for the forward area, white tees for the middle area and blue tees for the back teeing ground.  (If a course doesn’t use these tee colors, you can refer to the event as Forward, Middle and Back Tournament.)  

Here’s the format if you play in a Red, White and Blue Tournament.

  • All players start from the middle tees
  • If you par a hole, you start the next hole from the middle tees
  • If you bogey a hole, you start the next hole from the forward tees
  • If you birdie a hole, you start the next hole from the back tees

Typically this event is handicapped so golfers are using net scores to determine which teeing ground to begin play on each hole.  Tournament organizers could also determine which tees to use based on handicaps or average scores – having single digit handicappers use the back tees, bogey golfers using the middle tees and double bogey golfers using the forward tees.  

Flag Tournament:  Another popular golf format associated with patriotic summer holidays is a Flag Tournament.  In this event, each person has an allotted number of strokes, then plays golf until his/her strokes run out.  Then you stick a flag in the ground where your final shot is played.  (For Fourth of July events, each player is given a small US Flag with their name on it.)  Typically the fairways and greens on holes 15 through 18 are decorated with small US Flags and adds some fun to a Fourth of July golf course event.

Usually the allotted number of strokes is determined by adding your course handicap to the course par.    So if your handicap is 13 and the par is 72, you would put a flag in the ground where you played your 85 shot from that day.  The golfer who has his/her flag the farthest is the winner.  This format is also called “Last Person Standing” or “Tombstone.”  (You can use this same format called “The Tombstone Open” for a Halloween theme.)

Use these suggested formats to spice up your weekly game with friends or family. Regardless, use this time to recharge the batteries and connect with the people you care about while playing a round of golf.

 

Golf (and Push) Cart Etiquette

Golf carts have their own nuance when it comes to etiquette

Golf carts are a primary source of revenue for golf courses, so in most instances when you play in a tournament you will be riding in a golf cart.  It’s important that you are aware of golf cart rules and etiquette.  When you check-in with the golf course staff, they will let you know the basic rules and safely of cart operation.  They are designed for golfer safety as well as to protect the golf course turf (teeing ground, fairway and greens). 

If you are a new golfer, you may feel more comfortable having a more experienced golfer drive the cart.  The first and MOST IMPORTANT thing to check before driving a cart is to make sure your golf bag is fastened securely to the cart.  You don’t want it to fall off – and risk being embarrassed. 

When taking a golf cart, the golf staff will let you know if it is “Cart Path Only” (no carts allowed on the course at any time - mainly due to wet fairway conditions).  If the conditions require “Cart Path Only,” take several clubs (plus an extra ball in case yours is lost or not playable) to save time from walking back and forth across the fairway and slowing down play.  If the course specifies “90 Degrees” (drive your cart along the cart path to the spot of your ball and then make a 90 degree turn onto the course and drive to your ball). 

You want to operate a cart with safety in mind.  Limit the use to two passengers - don’t try to fit three people in the seat or let someone stand on the back by the golf clubs.  Resist the urge to hang legs and feet outside the cart – some golfers have suffered broken ankles and legs from hanging legs and feet outside the cart.  Operate the cart safely by observing signs directing you to stay on the cart paths or away from protected nature areas. 

The general rule is to keep 30 yards away from greens, approaches and collars.  Many courses will have ropes or signs showing when carts are required to return to paths.  Additionally, most courses will ask you to stay on the cart path on par 3 holes.  You want to use caution when going up or down hills and avoid sharp turns where the tires could damage the turf.  Avoid water puddles, water hazards and of course bunkers.  Making sharp turns, coming to an abrupt stop or driving too fast can also damage the turf.  Cart use could change during the day, depending on weather conditions and may be restricted following a heavy rain.

Many newer carts offer USB outlets to charge a rangefinder or phone.  Resist the urge to look at your phone while driving a golf cart – the same “rules of the road” apply to operating a golf cart.

It’s good cart etiquette to park the cart at the rear of the green or wherever allows you the shortest exit when done putting.  Avoid the urge to park with two wheels off the cart path – many people leave two wheels on the path and pull off partially into the grass.  A good analogy is – would you park your car in a driveway with two wheels in the driveway and two wheels in your yard?  Then don’t do that on the golf course – if another cart approaches (maintenance, ranger or beverage cart) they can pull around your cart.

If using a push cart, the same rules apply, but of course, don’t walk with your cart across the green.  (Some courses with sand greens will allow push carts to be taken across the green, but generally you should not do this, unless told by golf course staff that it’s allowed.)  Some facilities also ask that push carts not get used on the turf between a bunker and green – on the collar and approaches.  You also want to leave a push cart at the rear of the green as a courtesy to the group behind you as well as to allow for a quick exit.  

Following these established guidelines for golf cart and push cart use will add to your enjoyment on the golf course.