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Get into the Tourney

Invited to a corporate golf outing but not a golfer? Don’t panic, learn how to putt, along with a couple of other things, and you’ll be fine. 

If you don’t golf, the corporate golf outing, where business is done and careers are sometimes decided, is terrifying.  How do you survive it?  How to you become a team player?  How do you make it to the 19th hole with your confidence and pride intact?

“The real first step is not to panic,” says Kyle Kunash, golf pro at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Wisconsin. “Everyone was a first-time golfer at some point and there are plenty of ways to familiarize yourself with the sport and its terminology beforehand.  And the fact is, most golfers are not really that good, less than ten per cent of all golfers in America ever break a score of 100. And even more important, maybe the most important thing, is that a six-foot putt (which anyone can do if they practice at home a bit) is just as important as that 300-yard drive. The moment of glory is on the green (where the golf hole and flag is) not on the tee.”

In a corporate outing nearly all tournaments are scrambles. This is not an egg dish before the game. It simply means everyone hits and then the team picks the best shot and all players play the next shot from there, the team will repeat this process until they finish the hole. This format is great because it takes the pressure off the novice/first time golfers. More times than not, someone will hit a good enough shot to get to the next shot.  

Familiarize yourself with the basic golf lingo, such as birdie, par, bogey, 90-degree rule and green. Also, sometimes silence is golden. Don’t say anything until the ball stops. Things happen when the ball is still moving. Sometimes not good things. Refresh yourself with these pointers and you’ll be ready for tourneys in no time.

Learn to putt: Great putts win holes. It is a putting stroke not a putting hit. Get a putter and a few golf balls and putt across your living room into an empty cup or aim for the leg of a chair/couch across the carpet and floor for 30 minutes a day. Or in the basement. It’s all about letting your mind compute the speed, distance and how the ball will roll on the green. Sink one, two or three putts…they will be buying you a beer at the 19th hole. 

No clubs, no problem: Borrow clubs from a friend, or call the golf course ahead to reserve a rental set. The rental set, more times than not, will be easier to hit with than borrowed clubs.

What to wear: Collared shirt and any type of pants/shorts are great. Most importantly: no metal spikes and no denim.  

Golf carts: These are not go-carts. Drive slowly, don’t make sharp turns, keep your arms and legs inside, never go up and down wet or damp hills.

Golf etiquette: Golf is a social game, mostly a quiet game and showing respect is key. Here are the basic rules:  

  • Don’t talk when people are getting ready or hitting a shot.
  • Don’t stand in front of people hitting. Stand still and to the side when they are hitting a shot (so they can focus on the ball and the hole).  
  • Don’t walk in people’s “line” on the green. In other words, don’t step on the grass where the ball will roll from their putter to the hole—it can leave an imprint and ruin their putt.

Show the golf course respect: Pick up and throw out any trash. Repair divots or ball marks on the green. Rake sand traps to get rid of foot prints.

Have fun: Golf outings and scrambles are social, fun and most people have no belief they have a shot at winning. It’s a team effort where everyone at some point will help the team with a putt, getting close to the hole or out of sand traps. Don’t be afraid to ask golfers with you for help, or tips. Golfers love to talk about golf.  It’s a game of passion.

And if all else fails, make sure everyone has a beer, something to eat or a joke to laugh about. As they say, any day on the golf course is better than a day in the office.

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