Q:__ Whether it's my buddy, my wife or a stranger, I never know how to react when someone hits a really bad shot or misses an easy putt. It's so awkward. What should I say?
A:__ I have a simple rule when it comes to this: Say nothing. There's no need for drama. Act unfazed, and keep playing. There are situations that might warrant a supportive comment—the person caught a particularly bad break, or he or she just made contact for the first time in half a dozen swings. But in most cases, sympathy, jokes, swing tips, false praise or encouragement only underscore the embarrassment and make the player even more uncomfortable over the next shot. Meanwhile, I have to ask, why do you feel awkward when this happens? It's a part of golf, and it happens to all of us—even you. No one should make a big deal out of it, because it's not a big deal.
Q: Every time I walk into our on-course women's restroom, the toilet seat is up because a man used it and didn't bother to put the seat back down. Thoughts on how to fix this?
A:When I play golf, few things infuriate me more than this. I'm not that bothered by men using the restrooms designated for women or vice versa. It can help pace of play. But if you're going there, you'd better make darn sure you leave the place spotless and put that seat down—even if it was up when you walked in. I don't think guys realize what an insult it is to leave the seat up in a ladies' room. It's a serious breach of etiquette. My advice would be to alert management and demand that they post signs in the bathrooms. Can you imagine the embarrassment if the culprit was caught?
Q: My nephew drags his feet so much on the greens that he leaves spike marks even though he wears shoes with soft cleats. We jokingly call him "Shuffles" behind his back. How do I get him to stop without hurting his feelings?
A: Do the golfers behind your group a favor and deal with this right away. Today's golf shoes have traction features that leave wide impressions on the green if you drag your feet. These impressions are more than just a nuisance—they can alter the outcome of a player's putt. And because it's against the rules to fix a spike mark on your line, any "shuffling" remnants need to be repaired before the next group putts. Point this out to your nephew as you leave the first green, and suggest that he quickly fix the ones he has made.
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