October 8, 2007

The Golf Guru

Things every golfer should know

__Q: I play with a guy who constantly gives unsolicited golf tips. He's not even the best golfer in our foursome. How can I get him to stop?

-- Name Withheld / Los Angeles__

__A:__Ah, yes, the self-anointed teaching pro, one of the most irritating subspecies known to golf. Others are the change-rattler, the I'm-so-important cell-phone bore and the self-commentator. You've never played with a self-commentator? The guy who feels compelled to give you an assessment of how he did after each of his shots, how he thought about going with a hard 8 but went with an easy 7, but the wind changed, and he got an unlucky bounce, and it wasn't a great lie, and ... No? Well, you're lucky. If only golf bags came with a detachable "Quiet Please" sign, like the ones they hold up at the British Open--as soon as the noise pollution started, you could whip it out and wave it in the perpetrator's face.

So how to deal with the advice guy? His tips are about as welcome as confetti at a funeral. It's important to understand his motivation for spouting unwanted golf advice. Either he genuinely wants to help you, or, more likely, part of his identity, self-esteem, ego, mojo comes from the belief that he knows a lot about golf, and certainly more than the rest of the foursome. Dispensing golf tips reinforces that belief. He's delusional. In his mind, it is he who should be teaching Tiger. It doesn't make him a bad guy, but he needs to be put straight. Tell him you appreciate his interest, but you'd really be a lot happier if he would kindly butt out.

When you want his advice, let him know that you'll be sure to ask for it. Ask him this: Would he take marriage counseling from Liz Taylor, or buy a Woody Allen bodybuilding video, or attend the Lindsay Lohan driving school?

__Q: What's the best way to clean my white FootJoy Classic saddle shoes? I've heard that white shoe paint just makes a mess of them. I've grown up cleaning and polishing my dress shoes, but none of them was white. I missed the '70s.

-- Eric Batsford / Sorrento, Fla.__

A: Regular readers will know The Golf Guru's feelings about white golf shoes. No matter. There are all kinds of expensive products on the market, but I have found the best way to clean golf shoes is with warm water, a little soap and a towel. This also works for body parts, incidentally. When they are dry--the shoes, not the body parts--give them the once-over with a little neutral shoe polish. I applaud your commitment to cleanliness. Everyone knows that, just as a clean car runs better than a dirty one, a golfer with clean shoes holes a lot more putts.

Ask The Golf Guru: Send him your question and he may answer it in an upcoming column.