124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

All's Fair In Love And Golf

By Stina Sternberg Illustrations by John Ritter
February 26, 2009

Q: How do I tactfully tell my girlfriend she plays too slowly? She's new to the game and has a nice swing but takes five minutes to hit eachshot. I don't want to offend her, but it's maddening.

A: Unless you're looking for a one-way ticket to Splitsville, never admonish your girlfriend for anything she does (or doesn't do) on the golf course. Instead, try broaching the subject from a different direction.

Slow golfers (particularly beginners) usually don't realize that they would score a lot better if they picked up the pace. In an ideal world, the USGA would institute rules that limit practice swings to one per shot, putt-alignment time to 20 seconds and post-miss moping to 10 seconds. Even though no such rules exist, you can still suggest to your girlfriend that the two of you try playing by those guidelines just as an experiment. Bring it up before your next round, and make it a game. I guarantee that she will cut several strokes from her score and, consequently, love playing faster.

Q: Why do men get out of the cart and walk onto the forward tee box to watch me tee off? It's really distracting and makes me nervous. Is there a way to tell them to stop?

A: I'm not a fan of this misguided chivalry, either. It's courtesy that actually slows play and results in poor shots. If I'm paired with men who join me on my tee box, the next time I usually stop them before they do and say, "No need to get out, I'll just be a second." If they insist, I make some joke about my keen peripheral vision and tell them in a nice way that I prefer having no distractions. The key is to laugh it off while being firm.

Q: My wife surprised me with a super-expensive driver for Christmas. I can't get it off the ground to save my life. How do I trade it in without upsetting her?

A: Option one: Be honest with your wife, and tell her that although you appreciate all the work she put into getting you a new driver, the one she chose doesn't suit your game, so you'll be trading it in for one that does. If she has a reasonable bone in her body, she'll understand that playing with a driver not fit to your specs is like wearing a pair of Manolos that are two sizes too small: It might make a few people jealous, but it's just plain painful. Option two: If you want her to remain blissfully ignorant, you can stay mum but trade your Christmas present in for the same make and model, only in the ideal shaft, loft and length for you. If it were me, I'd go with option one.

To submit your comments or questions, e-mail Stina at stina@golfdigest.com