Golf for guys who don’t golf

Most Guys avoid golf for one of two reasons: They’ve either never tried it, or they’ve found that their complete lack of skill and knowledge results in equal parts humiliation and frustration. Unfortunately, there’s one inescapable fact: You can’t avoid the game forever. At some point, you will be forced into an uncomfortable play-or-die round with your boss, client, or future father-in-law (hopefully, not all at once). But don’t worry. All seasoned players share one thing when it comes to playing with newbies: They don’t care how bad you are, just so long as you keep the game moving and don’t add strokes to their score. Here’s all you need to know to play golf with a pro–without losing your job, your sale, or your girl in the process.

DON’T Stand behind the ball and watch someone swing, even if you’re far enough away to avoid getting whacked with the club. Nothing maddens serious players more than being able to see you out of the corner of their eye, and the only place you can stand and be seen is directly behind the ball (or in front of it, in which case you’re not a distraction, just a fool). Your best bet: Stand at least five yards away on the side of the ball opposite the player. And don’t talk or make any other purposeful noises–for instance, unzipping your bag or burping–while someone is preparing to swing.

DO Watch the entire flight and roll of your ball and “mark” it against something on the landscape so you know where it is. It’s amazing how often beginners get so caught up in the histrionics of their frustration that they lose track of the moving ball. Amazing meaning every time! Nothing is more of a drag on your fellow players than to have to help you look for a lost ball on every hole.

DON’T Walk between anyone’s ball and the hole when you’re on the green. The truth is that this really doesn’t make a bit of difference in the outcome of someone’s putt–particularly since metal cleats went the way of the mullet–but most guys think it does. And when it comes to etiquette, perception is all that matters.