As Baby Boomers retire, relocate, and re-establish connections, sometimes it becomes difficult to find new golfers. Breaking into established groups at a new club or course can be challenging. Therefore, before you walk up to a group of strangers and ask if you can join them, think of one other option: How About Your Wife?
I was first introduced to couples league golf when I was stationed at Selfridge Air Base, just north of Detroit. My (now) wife was staying with me my last summer there. Selfridge has a nice golf course on base- not too difficult or too long, and we stumbled across a couples league and thought we would give it a try.
It was nine holes on a Thursday afternoon once a month (if memory serves). We arrived for our first event, and were overwhelmed at the participation! About 50 or so golfers, 25 couples, were anxiously awaiting to find out which hole they were starting on, and with whom they would be paired! I was impressed.
We were warmly welcomed, were paired with the Smiths and became immediate friends (and still stay in touch). That format was best-ball, so for the most part, but not always, the guys were posting the scores. But it didn’t matter, because we were having a lot of fun.
That always stuck with me- how much fun it was and how well everyone seemed to genuinely like playing together.
Currently we are (trial) members of the Cabarrus Country Club. If they haven’t booted us out by now, my guess is we are ok.
One of the reasons we looked to join was the active LGA (Ladies Golf Association) and particularly the Couples Outings they have on a weekly basis. So far, we have played in two- a nine-hole event on Friday afternoon, and an 18-hole event this past Sunday. Both were scramble/captain’s choice formats, so there was no real pressure on how well anyone played. I also like the fact that there are two divisions– competitive, which is pretty much golf by the rules– and non-competitive, which allows throws out of the bunker, teeing off from whichever tees are appropriate, and whatever else it takes to keep it “fun.”
Just as at Selfridge, the atmosphere and fun factor is paramount. Both couples we have been paired with have been friendly and sociable, with the competitive drive being well down the priority list.
This section is mostly me talking to myself. I’m a self-described amateur golf coach. I know the basics, and have helped several beginner golfers with their games. I know enough to be helpful and usually can suggest the right thought, or make a helpful tweak.
[As a sidebar example: We went to the course on Saturday afternoon for about an hour and worked on bunker technique. Alice, like most beginners, was not doing well getting out of the bunker. After some swing thoughts and practice, she hit about four in a row out. On Sunday, she was in four bunkers and got out of all of them. I was as proud of her as she was proud of her]
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Being that amateur coach has a place. In the middle of a round, even if it’s fun, is not the place. I have to continuously monitor my “comments” and try to not be too “coachy.” At the same time, she knows enough about my game to be helpful, and I often ask her to remind me to “chase the ball down the line” with my follow-through, or simply “keep my head down” as I strike the ball.
The most important rule is to treat your partner as you would any other person you are paired with in a tournament. If you see something obvious, you mention it; otherwise, silence is usually golden.
If your wife plays golf, or has hinted at wanting to play golf, there is no better time than now to encourage it. Playing in couples leagues is fun. We have hit home runs in the two we’ve participated in, and from comments I’ve seen on Twitter and elsewhere, couples leagues are enjoyed by many golfers of all ages.
It’s easy to call someone and say, “Hey, I’ve got time for 9 this afternoon, wanna play?” Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. And by the time you make the seventh phone call, you’re out of time to make it happen.
On the other hand, you have a golf partner sitting there on the sofa next to you. Golf is a lifelong game, so play it for life, and when you can, play it with your partner!
Thanks for reading, and Enjoy Shooting Your Age!