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Every New Year comes with new resolutions. For us golfers, this is the time we always undertake to learn to smoke the driver and find an extra 15m off the tee, to find the perfect putter and to perfect our pin-seeking iron shots. But what about being the perfect playing partner?

I read an entertaining article that suggested if we hackers simply change our attitude and conduct on the course, it will go far in making a round more enjoyable for everyone in the game.

So, after 25 years of working in the competitive golf arena, I have to say that the first rule is no more post-round postmortems! There is nothing more irritating or boring than golfers who recount every hole they played after a round. “On the second hole I drove it left in the bush. We spent five minutes searching everywhere but I had to head back to the tee. Then my second drive ...”

Save your blow-by-blow talk for your diary, please. Give us the condensed highlights and maybe share one hilarious bad thing that happened, so we can buy you a beer, commiserate quickly and move on to more entertaining topics.

Let’s face it, everyone — professionals, amateurs and hackers — has a bad round. Or two, or three. But please don’t come at us with “I haven’t played in months”. Or the “I’m using rentals” or “I didn’t have a chance to hit some balls before we teed off” excuses. 

Rule no 2: Excuses are banned. Just own that you had a bad 18 and stop justifying it with feeble excuses. We don’t want to hear it. To borrow from Ben Franklin and — someone who is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.

Just like bad rounds, everyone hits bad shots. Sometimes the odd one; sometimes a whole string of them. Don’t be one of the cry babies who screams or sulks about them.

Rule no 3: No moping. No griping. It happened. Build a bridge and get over it for the sake of your playing partners ... don’t be surprised if you get much more support and sympathy for taking it on the chin.

Now here is one that really makes my skin crawl. It’s just as bad as someone sitting on a couch in SA, shouting at Rafa Nadal competing in the French Open. He is never going to hear you.

Rule no 4: Stop talking to your partner’s ball. I hate it when someone talks to my ball. What is up with that? It’s a ball. It’s never going to listen. Many people become irked, especially the very superstitious ones. So here is a free tip: you are only in control of one thing — your own game — so stick to your ball or zip it.

You’ve heard the expression, “Ready Golf” but you don’t quite know what it means? Rule no 5: Play Ready Golf. Just because you forked out good money for the round, does not mean you can hold up play and move at a snail’s pace. Don’t sit in your cart and chat on your phone while your partners are playing their shots. Don’t hang around your bag or gossip with a mate when it’s your turn to play. Get yourself to your ball, study the yardage, select a club and hit your shot when it’s your turn ... then you can yak all you like while you walk to your next shot. And repeat the above.

If your name isn’t Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter, Hank Haney or Pete Cowen, why are you dishing out swing tips? You’re no teacher, so stop impersonating one.

Rule no 6: Stop with the unsolicited advice. I know you would love to tell your partner he is swinging it way too fast, but you don’t. Because you’re a good partner. And if he inquires, the appropriate response is “you are swinging it a little quick”. That’s it; no further analysis. Become an expert at biting your tongue about your game.

Rule no 7: Leave the course in a better condition than you found it. Fix your ball mark. And one other. Rake those extra footprints in the bunker. Throw some sand in the divot you just stepped on. This is one of golf’s golden rules, so please comply. You know the drill — just do it. And don’t be surprised if you feel better for it.

Oh, and another of my pet hates. The Scrooge. Rule no 8: Up your tipping game. The valet in the locker room. The caddie at the bag drop. The kind gentleman that carries your bag for 18 holes, giving you perfect lines every time. The drinks cart. Yes, it all adds up, but would it kill you to add a few extra bucks to the bills? Show a little respect and kindness because karma is real. Every kind act is rewarded. Every disrespectful action, too.

Rule no 9: Remember, golf is supposed to be fun. If you are a joke-teller that’s a plus. Because often our golf games are a joke and it will serve you well to chill out and focus on the fun times.

Popular golf writer Dean Knuth once told this story: “My brother and I were playing modified alternate shot in a member-guest competition. For the first seven holes, I’d hit the green, but he’d push the first putt four feet past. On the eighth hole, I made a hole in one. Seriously. “Does this mean you’ll talk to me now?” he asked me. “It means I don’t have a blinking four-footer,” I replied.

For me, that story summarises golf. Take the good with the bad, try to be the best playing partner you can be, and always remember to have a laugh or two.

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