Courses & TravelJune 4, 2015

How to get on the good side of a public course starter

Being a starter for two summers at Putnam County Golf Course in Mahopac, N.Y., was an exciting job. I'm sure we can all agree that getting paid to spend your time at the place you usually pay to play is a welcome change. Yet as much as I enjoyed it, there were always some golfers who made my job harder. So I'm here to give you tips on how to get on the good side of your starter. Follow these and maybe he will let you go out for an extra few holes. Related: America's 100 Greatest Public Courses 1. Arrive prior to your tee time If you make a tee time for, let's say, 12:05 p.m., it means that you are on the tee at 12:05 p.m. Too often, I've had foursomes arrive at 12:05 and tell me that they are right on time. Once they get to the tee after, you know, paying, setting up on a cart, and buying beers for the round, it is about 12:10. Then I have to explain to the next foursome that we are now backed up because the previous group showed up late, even though they thought they were on time. 2.  Don't ask to go off the back nine on a crowded day If you ask me how the course is moving today, and I reply with something like "The tee sheet is packed and just about every hole is being used," this does not mean that the tenth hole has miraculously opened up just for you. Golfers will often try to tip me a few dollars to go off on 10 quick before the foursome currently on 9 finishes up. After a few unsuccessful gos at this, I've learned that it is not worth the grief that you will receive from that group on 9. Just play from the first tee like everyone else, and don't badger your starter with such requests. [#image: /photos/55ad7dabb01eefe207f7233e]|||angry-starter-560.jpg|||

Note: This is NOT the author.

3. Don't stop for lunch after the front 9 Keep in mind that on a crowded Saturday or Sunday, there are groups making the turn every eight or nine minutes. If I see a group make the turn and disappear into the clubhouse for ten minutes, it is safe to assume that they are enjoying lunch mid-round. The only problem with this is that by the time they are ready to play the back 9, there will be a group competing with them to play on hole 10. After it takes those two groups an additional 10 or 15 minutes to get through the hole, everyone on the front 9 -- and those waiting to tee off -- are now backed up. For the sake of your starter and those playing behind you, get as much grub in you as possible before your round, or just tell your feedbag to wait it out. Related: Another reason to love Bandon Dunes: its pace of play

4.  You may not always play as just a twosome On a dismal, deserted weekday, I would send singles and twosomes out all the time because there are massive gaps between groups on the course. But on the weekends, this is never the case. I'll never forget the Saturday morning that I was strapping a young couple's golf bags onto a cart when I asked them what their tee time was. When I informed the gentleman that they would be playing with another couple, he proceeded to take my hands from the cart, unstrap their clubs, walk away, and pull out in their car. Yep, it happened just like that. And then I had to send out just a twosome who complained about how slow the play was. Well, when you're a twosome with foursomes all around you, that will happen. Keep this in mind next time you play on the weekend at a public course, and maybe you will make a couple of new friends. 5. No individual carts allowed in a foursome__ This doesn't deserve much explanation. There are two seats in every golf cart for a reason. I've been asked constantly for golfers to have their own individual carts, and it becomes frustrating. Even though I understand why you would want your own cart, realize that we only have so many. Even if you are an individual and forced to sit with a stranger in a foursome, try to make a friend.6. Drive the cart only where you are supposed to Though the drainage systems at PCGC have greatly improved since the day I got there, the first summer was really tough. After a decent rainstorm, puddles and muddy areas were rampant, and the course would remain cart path only for quite a few days. However, regardless of how many signs the club puts out or how many times you tell golfers, someone will always ruin the fun and get a cart stuck in the mud. I've had tee times pushed back up to half an hour because of such a situation. So, for your starter, just take the few extra steps to your ball when it's a little wet on the ground.7. Don't look at the tee sheet __I'm not sure how tee sheets work at other public courses, but at PCGC, it's really basic. We have a clipboard with printed pages of the times and names of the people playing. For our more frequent golfers, they know where this clipboard is in our outdoor cabana, and will glance over it while I'm strapping bags onto golf carts. The question I always have when I see someone doing this is, "Is it going to make you get out there any sooner?" Maybe it's just a pet peeve of mine, but I take offense when golfers do this. It's as if they don't believe the tee time that I told them, or that the course is actually packed today. There's no reason for your starter to be lying to you -- especially if they want a nice tip. Related: The Starter: Carl Bubeck

8. Don't take extra shots off the first tee Believe me when I say that I wish I could take extra shots off the first tee just like everyone else does. However, on a crowded Saturday or Sunday, taking that second or third tee shot is slowly backing up the rest of the tee times. Plus, aside from the 10th hole, it's the only hole I can see you teeing off from. If you want to take extra shots, do it from any of the other holes where I can't blatantly blame you for backing up the course. 9. Don't let Groupon tell you that a Sunday at 10 a.m. is a good time to try golf for the first time I know this sounds insane, but just bear with me. Last summer, on one of the warmer and clearer Sundays of the season, the course was booming with golfers. Enter four individuals who present me with a Groupon for their 10 a.m. tee time. The only thing is that none of them had clubs. After returning from the clubhouse with four rental sets, the foursome gets in their carts and drive down to the first tee. I watch as the first gentleman takes five baseball-like hacks at the ball, none of which make contact. As I'm going down to the tee to ask if there is any problem, they tell me that none of them have ever played golf before, but thought this Groupon deal would be a good way to start. Sigh. After they played the first hole for about a half hour, the tour pro proceeded to remove them from the course and offer them lessons in exchange for their round.  They got free lessons, but I got a tee sheet backed up a half hour.

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