The lovely sport of golf is typically played in groups or against others. The idea of playing golf alone is typically something reserved for individuals just looking to play a round, but their friends know the best games are those played together. Downside to playing alone includes;
- No social interaction
- Less physical benefiting from active engagement
- No heart rate monitor for her
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Cons to playing alone
Fewer tee-time options
Many courses won't book a single until the day of, if at all. This is especially true of online tee-time services. In short, if you're solo, you are S.O.L. on reservations.
You're on the practice green, glancing around at the partner prospects. You notice a mid-50s couple skulling chips, clearly new to the game. Hmmm, not sure why they're laughing at those shanks. Is the guy really standing behind and holding her hips?
Unable to input score into GHIN handicap system
Golf is trying to make the game more accessible and inclusive, which is why the USGA ruled that scores recorded when playing alone are disqualified for your handicap. Oh wait, that's in direct opposition to the sport's welcoming initiative. Something odd about calling yourself a game of integrity, only to turn around and say, "But yeah, you need an observer for your round, because we don't trust you."
No witnesses = no believers
I've had three aces in my life. All have come alone, unless we're counting the grounds crew at Pound Ridge and a lady walking her dog near the 10th tee at Devour Park. True, the only person you need to prove anything to is yourself. Conversely, it's only human to want good shots or scores validated by your peers.
The soul-sucking stare downs
At best, groups look at singles with utter confusion: "What's that? A person playing by themselves? Can you do that?" Often, going solo elicits gazes of disgust, as if we just TP'd someone's front lawn.When out on my own, I try and give groups as much distance as possible. Part of it is to allow some breathing room; no one wants to feel like they're being pressured or rushed on the golf course. Plus, this helps mitigate any confrontation from your "dastardly stunt" of playing golf by yourself.
Stubborn, ignorant etiquette
As a single, you should never expect to play through. That's the rub. Nevertheless, there are times such as a foursome isn't keeping pace of play, or they're the only ones keeping you from an open course -- that a pass is warranted. Alas, many golfers view someone going through as an affront to their manhood. One of the reasons I love golf is it exposes a person's true character and colors.
The upshot: Apparently a lot of us have unresolved vulnerability issues. Along with recalcitrant players, there's the uneducated crew, those that simply are oblivious to the plight of others. How I keep finding myself behind such groups is beyond me, although I'm convinced I must have been an awful person in a previous life and this is my penance.
The nerve-racking shot after getting waved through
You desperately want to prove to them that you're worthy of their generous offer. Instead, you dribble one off the tee, feeling the group glancing at each other in skepticism and you move onward, head drooped in shame.
The dreaded sandwich
If I'm stuck behind a group, I'll throw down a few balls for practice. But if I'm in the middle of foursomes, it's suddenly a crapshoot. I don't want to be breathing down the neck of the group in front of me. On the other end, I don't want the people behind to see me hitting multiple shots and surmise that a single is holding them up. It's a no-win situation, one that I find myself in too often.
Pros to playing alone
While there are cons to playing alone, there are competitive reasons why it can work in your favour.
No.1: Fast Play
Solitary golfers can play fast, because they aren’t forced to waste time watching someone else play.
No.2: Choosing Your Own Rhythm
When playing in a group, the rhythm of your round is at the mercy of your playing partners. If they are constantly whiffing and shanking, it’s difficult to establish a consistent cadence in your own game
No. 3: Practice Opportunities
The fast pace of solo golf — together with the absence of other people — provides the perfect opportunity for on-course practice. If you want to work on a particular shot, you can simply drop some extra balls and swing away.
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No. 4: Real Integrity
When you’re all alone on the golf course, you can theoretically cheat as much as you want. No one will ever know...
No.5: No Temptation to Outdo, Impress or Emulate Partners
Let’s face it; we all love to hit the longest drive or shoot the lowest score in our group. Most golfers carry the macho man gene, which leads them to compete against other players rather than themselves or the course. While this instinct can be a good motivator, it can also lead to some poor decisions and wasted strokes. Playing alone eliminates the desire to outdo, impress or emulate anyone else. You can stick to your own strategy without any temptation to match others. Your scorecard will thank you.
No. 6: Fewer Nerves
We’ve all encountered the dreaded first tee jitters: shaky hands, dry mouth, inability to tee your ball and a million conflicting swing thoughts. If you think back to times of nervousness (or even fear) on the golf course, I’d wager every one of them occurred in the company of people whose approval or acceptance mattered to you. It’s simply human nature.
No. 7: Play Your Way
It’s often awkward when you want to play from a certain set of tees, but a playing partner wants to play from another. Either someone yields and ends up playing from tees that don’t match their ability, or the players use separate tees or chaos ensues as everyone tries to decide who should have the honour.
The same principle applies when you want to ride but your buddy wants to walk, or vice-versa. Either someone caves and opts for a non-preferred mode of transport, or you both stick to your guns and play at wildly different paces for the entire round.
No. 8: Spontaneity
Solo golfers are the masters of the spontaneous round. If you’re happy to play without company, you can head straight to the course whenever the mood strikes. No need to book tee times or work around anyone else’s schedule. Once you’re on the course, you can go wherever your heart takes you. You’d prefer to play the back nine instead of the front? No problem.
There’s a slow group on No. 6?
You can skip ahead to No. 8 without having to seek anyone’s consent. You’re tired after 15 holes? Just walk in. For some, golf will always be a social experience, where playing the game is equal or secondary to forming friendships with playing partners on the course or at the 19th hole. While the social side of golf is a definite draw card, the benefits of playing alone should be considered too.
If you’ve never tried a solo round, get out there and have a go at the next opportunity. You might just discover a new passion. Playing alone is a burden, but it’s also a vast opportunity in the waiting.
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