IT WASN’T JUST the delightful experience of watching San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chuck Nevius make a hole-in-one on the fourth hole at gorgeous Monarch Bay yesterday. Playing with my former work pals — three guys in my group, three guys and a woman in the group in front of us — after weeks of playing recreational golf mostly with women reminded me of what I like better about playing golf with men.
I hate to generalize about playing golf with men. Because I know I hate it when men generalize about women playing too slowly and talking too much on the golf course. And maybe this particular group of guys — whom I wrote about in “Confessions of a Golf Slut” — is an exception. But some days I go out to the course as a single and am paired with men I do not know, and I go away happy. So, at the risk of alienating women GottaGoGolfers, here we go.
MEN DO NOT APOLOGIZE WHEN THEIR GAMES GO SOUTH
One of the players yesterday started very badly. He joked that this was good because what he really wanted to work on was his attitude. So he remained good company until and after his game brought pars and birdies instead of “others.” Most women I know would have been embarrassed and flustered.
THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP (also known as “gimme” range) SEEMS TO BE WIDER PLAYING GOLF WITH MEN
With no money on the line, do we need to stand over a three-foot putt and knock it into the hole? These guys didn’t need me or anyone else to say, “That’s good,” and we were moving on to the next hole.
MEN SEEM TO KNOW WHEN TO HUSH
While I think men are as talkative as women, they seem better at stopping when another player is about to hit or putt. I don’t think it’s a matter of manners, but an instinct developed over the course of years playing other sports. As more girls participate in organized sports, I expect this to equalize.
WOMEN ARE MUCH TOUGHER RULES ARBITERS
A few times yesterday I half-jokingly offered rulings — winter rules on fairways frayed by the drought, for instance, and “you’re going to have to make that putt, no gimme birdies.” Nobody else did — at least they laughed, though. For some reason, most women golfers I know have trouble shifting into recreational golf mode and relaxing on the rules. When I play social golf with women I don’t know well, I feel more pressure to play by USGA rules than I do playing golf with men. With men, I feel more pressure to keep up, which I embrace. It’s more fun to play in four hours than it is to play by USGA rules.
ON THE OTHER HAND…
There is always the inevitable tree-as-urinal phenomenon with men. Also, it is fun to have companions at the same golfing level, which is what I enjoy most about playing with other women. I have had lots of great, memorable days playing with women. But I think in a perfect world I would play golf once a week with women and once a week with men. In a really perfect world I would add one more round and play with mixed company.
OK, so now I will yield the floor to comments — men, women, anonymous. Please be kind.