July 10, 2007

Golf Guru

Things every golfer should know

Q: Why do so many courses not allow walking anymore? It's the true way to appreciate golf, and I have yet to find a course that is too tough to walk. I know they say a cart speeds up play, but I don't think it does.

Tim Fulton / Davie, Fla.

A: The purist, elite golfer position is that golf carts are bad, vectors of evil, symbols of everything that is wrong with the world. The Golf Guru, too, prefers to walk. Why do young, able-bodied guys choose to use a cart on a flat, 6,400-yard course on a pleasant day? Their baseball caps are not the only thing that is backward. Particular vitriol and venom should be directed toward any course that has a fascistic, cart-only policy. And yet...I am not a complete cart snob. Some courses on difficult terrain would never have been built if carts did not exist to navigate between playable parcels of land. Sometimes the revenue from carts makes the difference between profit and loss (and, inexorably, closure and sale to a developer, and one more instance of paradise getting paved to put up a parking lot). A cart is an air conditioner on a hot summer's day. Ever played without one in Scottsdale in August? And sometimes, after yet another bungled 7-iron, it's nice to get back behind the wheel. A cart is the one thing on the course that you can actually control.

Q: Every year I set the record for the most rounds played at my club. This past year, I recorded 311 rounds. Any idea of the number of rounds other golf nuts like me play in one year?

Jeff Azpell / Sarasota, Fla.

A: I'm envious. But you're a long way from being America's nuttiest golfer. That would be John Furin, who posted an incredible 638 rounds on the GHIN system in 2006. And he lives in Minnesota!

Q: A good player I had just met said my putting backstroke is too long. Mine works fine, but I didn't want to be rude by not accepting his advice. How do I not embarrass him?

Doug Kim / Montville, N.J.

A: He might have a point: It is better to have a short backstroke and accelerate through the ball than to do the opposite of that. But there are many ways to putt: Some prefer a short, jabbing stroke, others are more effective with a long, loose backstroke and through-stroke. Experiment and figure out what works best for you. As in life, thank the guy for the tip, then stick to your own path.

Send questions (with name and hometown) to guru@golfdigest.com.