Ask StinaDecember 4, 2013

All's Fair In Love And Golf

__Q: I was paired with a prominent member of my club in a tournament and noticed that this person turned in a wrong score. If this happened to you, would you turn that member in?

__ A: In a word, yes. Tattling on a playing partner is always uncomfortable, especially because golfers are disqualified from a tournament when they sign for a lower score than they made. Worse, you're going to have to see this person for years to come. But before alerting the tournament committee, I would first take this person aside and point out the error. That way, the member has a chance to save face by calling a self-imposed penalty. If it's a prominent member, the last thing this person wants is a tarnished reputation. And if it goes unreported? Well, now you know the type of person you're dealing with, and you should definitely tell the committee about the wrong score. Golf is a game of honor, and looking the other way isn't fair to the rest of the field. When you sign up for a tournament, you're responsible for upholding that level of honor.

Q: I'm about to play at a resort that has caddies. My experience with caddies has been awkward, because I'm used to doing everything myself. Any tips to make the round more enjoyable?

A: I get what you're saying. I use caddies so rarely that when I do, I end up inadvertently offending them by raking bunkers and pulling flagsticks when that's their job. You might find it helpful to have a chat with the caddie on the first tee and say that this is a "rare treat." That will clue in the caddie to give you some guidance. During the round, I've learned that slowing down my usually hurried pace lets caddies stay ahead of me and do their job without interference. Eventually I'm able to relax, relinquish control and focus more on my shots.

Q: My preschooler loves hitting balls on the range. How do I know when he's ready for the golf course?

A: It depends on the course you're playing and your child's temperament. Some courses have age restrictions. Others allow kids of any age to go out late in the day. Some children are fairly mature and aware of their surroundings by age 4, and others are wild and carefree. Use common sense and wait until your son can be quiet and stand still on command. Then he can join you for a few holes on a late afternoon and hit a shot here and there from the middle of the fairway. (Tee the ball up for him if you have to.) Don't worry about rules or scoring, just let him have fun and gradually continue to fall in love with the environment.

*To submit your comments or questions, please email stina@golfdigest.com.