The Fun Issue

Make Golf More Fun

Continued (page 2 of 5)

A new gambling game is my favorite way to liven things up. Here's a great one: The Walk. I have no idea why it's named this, but here's the game: If you think someone is going to three-putt, you tell him he has "walked" before he putts. If he three-jacks, he owes you $5. If he two-putts, he gets $2. If he makes it, he gets $20. Set the bet at any amount you want. What makes it fun is that anyone in the group can walk a player--even your partner, which is hilarious. In my regular foursome, nothing elicits more hooting and hollering than a "parade," which is when all three guys walk the putter. --E. Michael Johnson

Golf becomes more fun for me when I show a little improvement. It doesn't have to be a lot. Just a stroke or two better than my usual score, and I'm happy. So when I get the golf blahs, I spend $60 on a lesson from Don, the pro at my club. He's not a super-technical guy, and I've never seen him near a video camera. He'll watch me hit a few balls, talk about my swing a bit ("Get your belt buckle turned at the target--like that!"), watch me hit a few more, and we're done. It's basic stuff--but it always lifts my golf mood. Last summer I went to Don in the midst of a slump that had me shooting five or six strokes worse than my average. Within a month, I was playing well enough to qualify for the club championship. (OK, so I got knocked out in the first round, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted.) --Peter Finch

When i joined a golf club last spring, I was ecstatic about taking up the game again after several years away from it. But within just a few weeks, the monotony of stroke play began to wear on me. I wasn't improving as fast as I'd hoped, and the holes became a blur of bogey, double bogey, a par ("whooo!"), triple bogey. Luckily the 18-hole women's group at my new club reached out to me. Their inclusion, encouragement, humor and, most important, their many different formats, put the fun back into golf for me. We played Two-Ball, Four-Ball, Sixes, Team Match Play, Stableford, the Callaway System (who knew?) and countless others. The Pinehurst/Chapman format was my favorite. You and your teammate switch balls after the tee shot, pick the better ball after your second shots, and play alternate shot until that ball is holed.

I love the way you become a team after that first shot, strategizing together, helping recover from your partner's bad shot, or being the hero. The truth is, I enjoyed them all. Each format emphasized a different goal or aspect of the game, introduced me to new and different playing partners, and not least, offered escape from golf's inevitable subtext: The Imperfect Self. --Susan Reed

When a course is empty, maybe on a rainy day or late in the evening, try playing cross-country golf: going from the tee of one hole to the green of another hole. When I was a kid, on caddie nights at Vermont's Ekwanok Country Club, one of my favorites was to play from the seventh tee to the 12th green. There were lots of ways to navigate the roughly 700 yards, but anyone who could reach the green in four shots was a player. In cross-country golf, you'll sharpen your recovery skills as you shape shots over trees and come into greens from odd angles. But the real fun is in creating new holes. It takes some experience to begin accurately predicting par 7s and par 8s. Once you get the hang of it, it's like finding a new course in the one you already know so well. --Max Adler

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