Cigars on the golf course? Advice for smoke lovers and haters

Image of woman smoking cigarDEAR GGG: Sometimes when my pal and I go out to play, we are paired with two men smoking cigars on the golf course. Lately, we’ve noticed even the occasional woman cigar smoker. And we just hate cigar smoke — it actually makes me sick to my stomach. What can we say that won’t alienate, embarrass or put us at war with our playing companions?

A: At GottaGoGolf, we’ve had success saying lightly, “Could you be careful with that on the course? I tend to throw up over a good dose of cigar smoke.” Or sometimes we’ll just ask for the cigar not to be smoked on the putting green, where an unavoidable cloud can form.

But in 2011 we went to our friend Vic Williams, now editor of Golf Tips Magazine, for his advice about cigars on the golf course. We think it’s something to be shared with smoker and non smoker alike:

OK, right up front I’ll admit it: I’m a one-stick-a-nine guy.

That doesn’t mean I hit a wedge on every shot or chew one piece of gum until it’s as flavorless as a Tiger Woods press conference response. What it means is this: I like to make my occasional golf course cigar last a good nine holes. After all, I paid good money for it, and since I can’t count on keeping any given golf ball around for that long, it only seems fair that I puff on my stogie with careful purpose and savor every inhale-free draught until I’m down to the label and beyond, at which point I will distinguish and dispose with quick dispatch.

That is, until lighting up another on the back nine, where, depending on my score, I may need to lean
on the cigar’s tendency to put me into a far more relaxed state of being. In other words, it’s better
to puff with a smile than get pissed and lose sight of par for the foreseeable future.

Better for me, that is.

And, as a sometimes self-absorbed guy, I sometimes assume that it’s OK for everyone else in my group, too. Surely the twosome or threesome I’m placed with — men or women, young or seasoned, serious or casually minded — is cool with my little innocuous semi-habit. And if they’ve got the slightest issue with it, well, the fairway is wide enough to accommodate us all. Right?

Maybe not, and the question posed here causes me to take pause. Perhaps I should ask for clearance before I break out the cutter and torch and go to town on that Dominican beauty. Looking back over the summer just ended and all the rounds I crammed in between work and family obligations, I don’t think I asked once for such clearance.

Maybe that’s because I was playing with guys, including my 25-year-old son, recently home from an Army stint in Afghanistan, who himself loves a good golf cigar (actually, he’s now taken up the pipe), and longtime buddies who knew going in that I have a penchant to puff. When I did tee it up with a woman, I was in the clear because her husband indulged in the leaf, too.

Looking farther back, I have lit up in the presence of female golfers, with no resistance. Perhaps they
were OK with it, perhaps not, but I’d rather know up front, so I’ll ask. Makes sense and it’s no injury to my ego. Truly.

Nor would I have a problem with being asked to refrain from smoking. If a gal (or guy, for that matter) is my cartmate, I’d expect it. Not that I can’t conceive of a scenario in which certain not-so gentlemen would just reply “tough luck” and fire up anyway — it’s their day away from the office, too — but to be honest, I would not want to play with that sort.

There’s always a clever middle ground: Fire up, take a few puffs, then let the stogie go dormant. It’s still there doing its diversionary magic without polluting other folks’ space.

I’m all about keeping the peace and enjoying four hours together on a slab of manicured majesty. But
since dudes can be dense and I’m a dude, perhaps it’s best for smoke-averse folks of both genders to
ask the question before a glowing cigar-end turns into a raging inferno.

And a “question” doesn’t need to be forceful or pleading to make a point. A simple “would you mind” entrée will suffice for any guy with a clue. Which, I hope, is most of us.

Either way, I can save that stick for another nine.

An excerpt of this post appeared in the October 2011 issue of GottaGoGolf Magazine.

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