The do's and don'ts of skipping ahead on the golf course
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I'm sure there are worse things to happen to you on a golf course than encountering "the Wall," but at the moment I'm drawing a blank. For those unaware of "the Wall," it's that painfully slow group ahead impeding your round. It's usually not intentional, yet the sight—and subsequent stoppage—of "the Wall" is an emotional dagger, on par with your family dog dying in front of your eyes moments after your wife leaves you for the tennis instructor. (Slight exaggeration.) This is especially true, and frustrating, when you feel like the course is wide open past this foursome of doom, one which seems oblivious to your plight.
But fear not; "the Wall" can be navigated. You just need to know the intricacies of tip-toeing past its wrath. Here are the do's and don'ts of skipping ahead.
DO: See the Promised Land
If you're going to fly forward, it better not be on a whim. You should have visual evidence that the coast is clear on the upcoming holes. The last thing you want to do is make a jump, only to be stuck behind another group. Not only is your round still obstructed, you now have some explaining to do to the four angry golfers you just passed that are coming up the rear.
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DON’T: Be afraid to turn down a group’s offer to join them
Sincerely thank them, but remember: you're making this leap because the round is moving at a glacial pace. Adding another player—you—to the mix isn't going to fix that matter. Be gracious and thankful, keep your head down and BAM, off you go.
DO: Jump one hole ahead
Yes, this means your round will be shortened (more on this in a moment), but this outweighs the time lost by continuing to be stuck behind "the Wall." In order to circumvent any confrontation, leave room between the group you just jumped and your new beginning.
DON’T: Plan on going back to the skipped holes
There's always the chance you can return to the holes bypassed, simply by telling the starter or clubhouse that you left a wedge out on the course and you know exactly where it's at. But it's not a given that they'll let you back out. Moreover, there's a chance the holes in question will be log-jammed with traffic. If you really feel cheated, spend that saved time on the range or putting green.
DON’T: Ask the ranger if it’s okay
As I've stated in these parts before, it's easier to ask forgiveness than to receive permission.
You want to be inconspicuous when skipping around; drawing attention to your act is not the way to go. Truthfully, most rangers don't know what's going on; if they did, issues like "the Wall" wouldn't exist. They are mainly there so they can get free golf the rest of the week, which is why most starters never leave the cart and spend most of their "work" making small-talk with their buddies on the course. If you pass a ranger, merely smile, tip your cap, and continue to go forward.
DO: Be in a cart
Ninety-nine percent of the time, we advocate walking over riding. HOWEVER, if you're trying to jump, you're going to need a set of wheels. A group will notice, but likely shrug off, a cart driving by. What they won't lose sight of is a golfer with a bag walking toward, then slowly past, their group. This allows more time for them to get insulted, and chances are they DO have a cart, one which they have no problem hopping in to address your behavior. Sorry Charlie, but if you're walking, your fate has been sealed.
DON’T: Make a habit out of it
Avid golfers face this dilemma once or twice a summer. If "the Wall" is a recurring theme, it's time to look internally for answers. Change the usual venue or tee time, and instead of going solo, start playing with others. For skipping ahead is a necessary reaction, it should never become your new reality.