This week’s Zurich Classic presents the players with a different style of golf not commonly seen on the PGA Tour; team golf. What’s interesting about that is for many of us, that’s the only format we play. Whether it is in our weekend Nassau four-ball match or as a group of four in a classic tournament outing, let’s follow the PGA Tour’s lead and talk team golf.
Playing with a partner or partners is a different game. We all know it is a major benefit to have the support in scoring, but it never hurts to have someone on your side when the going gets tough as well. Since we don’t normally get the opportunity of discussing the team concept, here’s a breakdown of how you can be a positive partner.
PGA Coaches believe in a blueprint for success in team golf; there are five great guidelines you can all follow when playing this fun style of play. There are a variety of formats in team golf; better ball, alternate shot, etc. Whether you are in a scramble or a fourball championship, twosome, threesome or foursome these fundamental tenets apply.
1. You are teammates, not coaches and players.
Don’t start giving advice and coaching your partners unless you're asked for assistance. Sounds easy enough, but golf is a sport where advice is less expensive than free. We all realize it is a hard game, adding mental fatigue to your partner by burdening them with your opinions doesn’t simplify the situation for them.
2. Be flexible in your game plan.
In many cases we become way too rigid in our game when playing with others. Take something as simple as the order of play. If it isn’t going well, change it up! Stubborn is not a trait successful golfers share. Show some adaptability or open-mindedness and chances are you won’t get stuck in last.
3. Enjoy your partners, let them enjoy you.
Team golf is an opportunity to play together. Support one another throughout the round. When your partner(s) have a challenging moment, be there for them. When they make a huge putt or stick an approach go, give them a high five. Don’t hold back in being a friend and a partner. Creating a positive vibe will lead to positive results.
4. Don’t change your approach.
This is a classic trap. Your partner is out of the hole and now you have two putts to save par. You change your putting style and awkwardly three putt. Play the best version of your game. Do not modify your approach because the situation suddenly invites change. You see this happen time and time again in the Ryder Cup with great players.
5. Never say sorry!
It’s the simplest concept and the hardest to follow through on. Everyone misses a putt or hits a bad shot. Don’t apologize because the game is hard. If you weren’t trying that would be a different situation, but you ARE TRYING. In trying your best, you shouldn’t have to apologize. Saying "I'm Sorry" forty times in a four-hour round is mentally tiresome. Replace each sorry with a positive statement instead and you’ll be amazed by the new dynamic.
What’s most interesting about these helpful hints, is we can all perform them. None of them involve blasting 300-yard drives or making twenty straight six-foot putts. It’s important to keep that in mind and even more important to share them with your partner(s) prior to playing.