All's Fair In Love And Golf
__Q: My buddy has a new driver that I asked to try on a few holes, and he got all weird about it. Is this some kind of no-no?
__ A: Let's first address the most obvious problem with your situation: Rule 4-4a states, in part, that you can't borrow a club another player on the course is using. The penalty depends on the format for your round and when the breach was discovered. But even if you don't mind breaking the rules, it's tacky. If your friend shows off his new driver on the range and offers to let you try it, hit a couple shots with it there. But only if he offers. To consider your buddy's new prized possession your go-to club during a round--especially if you do it for more than one round--is like telling him: "You spent $300 on new technology so I don't have to." It makes you a mooch. Plus, it takes only one poor swing to put a nice idiot mark on the crown of one of today's new thin-walled drivers. You wouldn't want that on your conscience, would you? If you're interested in trying the latest clubs, visit a store and ask to hit some demos--that's the only way to find the model and specs that work best for you.
Q: How bad is it for me to take a cart when my friends want to walk?
A: It's not bad. It's lonely. You'll miss a lot of the conversations and camaraderie if you're the only one riding. You'll also get less exercise, and it might cost you a couple of strokes. (I'm a believer that golfers score better when they walk.) But if you have a legitimate reason for riding (an injury or health condition), your group will understand. Just make it clear before the round that you're riding--and why--and let them know you're perfectly fine if they still want to walk. And make sure to keep up with their pace during the round, especially if you're at a cartpath-only course.
Q: Are women amateurs allowed to play in men's tournaments like the U.S. Amateur? And if a woman won the Amateur, would she receive an invitation to play in the Masters like the men do?
A: Women are allowed to play their way into men's amateur tournaments under the same circumstances--and yardage--as the guys. Michelle Wie famously tried to qualify for the Masters via the men's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. To date, no woman has come close to winning a big men's event. But if one did win, my bet is that Augusta National would happily send her an invitation to play.
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