by Jeff Skinner
Since it is twenty degrees here and we just got our first snowfall the only golf I’ll be playing for awhile is putting in my living room and fantasizing on how good I’ll play next season. This is the time of year when I chose to remember the good rounds I played this past year and selectively block out all those double bogeys, lost balls and “others.” Winter golf in the Northeast is left to the imagination and creativity of the golfer. I always play better in my mind then I ever do on the course but one thing is certain: I always have fun on the course.
The fine golfers at Golf Digest that pose as writers and editors have named their January issue “The Fun Issue” and it hit my mailbox just in time. One article has compiled eighteen, why not, suggestions for making the game more fun. There are some that are worth consideration like inventing your own rules for a playoff after a round ends in a draw. They suggest everything from chipping from a pickup truck to using the old foot wedge to determine a winner. I say why not?
I really loved the suggestion to “Lighten Your Load” as in playing with fewer than 14 clubs. I have tried this during our Three Club Challenge where you play with only three clubs and your putter. It forces you to create new shots and be more imaginative than playing with a full set of fourteen. The bags a lot lighter and so is the mood… it’s fun!
Throw out the scorecard is another wonderful suggestion. It is absolutely amazing what happens when you don’t care about the score. Hitting a fairway is easy, greens are hit in regulation and putts start to fall. Try it… it couldn’t hurt.
I also found the “Go Cross Country” idea intriguing. They suggest trying to invent “new” holes on the course. From the second tee you forget the second green and take a cross-country route to another green that is in the area utilizing the surrounding holes as your “fairway.” That sounds like it might be worth the effort.
My favorite idea is usually looked upon as blasphemy by many golfers…”Move Up a set of Tees.” I admit I have played a hole or two from the reds on occasion to liven up a quick nine or to play two balls on a hole when you are just horsing around. If you can convince your buddies to leave their ego in the car and hit from a shorter set you’ll be thrilled at all the birdie putts you’ll be looking at… and that’s never a bad thing.
In another piece Ron Kaspriske asks “How small would a course to be before a 14 handicapper could break par for 18 holes?” Kaspriske took his challenge to the course when he played the Pine Barrens Course at World Woods Golf club in Brooksville, Florida. I found this one fascinating for a few reasons. I am a 14, like Kaspriske and have played Pine Barrens on a few trips to Florida when my golf buddies and I were able to escape the Northeast winters. It is a great course and not for the faint of heart but we always played from about 6400 yards and I never broke 90. Kaspriske started at the red tees, 5,300 yards and kept moving his teeing ground up until he found a par breaking course that totaled 4,792 on which he shot 70. That had to be fun and the next time I play Pine Barrens I will try to convince my guys to give it a try.
Whether you get the printed version or check it out on the web the January issue of Golf Digest is full of fun stuff for us golfers to use on our next trip to the links, be it tomorrow or in four months like me.