101 Golf Secrets
Golf Secrets 31 - 33: Playing the Game
31 -- HOW TO GET A HANDICAP
BY Sue Sawyer
A handicap puts you on equal footing with other players. It reflects your potential and allows you to track your progress. If you'd like to play in local, state or national tournaments or plan on playing the Old Course at St. Andrews, you'll need a handicap card.
First, consider joining a league at your local golf club. Usually the club will belong to an approved handicapping system and include the cost in your membership fee. If you're not into leagues, try enrolling in an online handicapping system like the one you'll find at golfdigest.com/handicap. Typically, these handicaps are not sanctioned but will give you a sense of what your handicap would be. Another alternative is to purchase a software program that mirrors the USGA handicap formula. ScoreKeeper, one of the better ones, is available for about $30 at scorekeeper.com. Or, for the computer savvy, you can get the formula from the USGA Handicap System manual (usga.org) and create your own worksheet.
32 -- HOW TO SHOOT A 59
BY ANNIKA SORENSTAM
The key to shooting 59, as I did in the 2001 Standard Register Ping tournament, is not to think about hitting 59 shots, but rather to think about hitting one shot—the shot you have right now. I'm a believer in the Vision54 philosophy, which says you shouldn't limit yourself, and your goal on the course is to birdie every hole—that would be a 54 on a par-72 course. That day at Moon Valley, I started with eight consecutive birdies, and I got so nervous I let my mind drift to shooting a 54, resulting in a par. But I immediately got my focus back and made four more birdies in a row. The way to achieve big things is to concentrate on the small things. First, how do you shoot a 54? Hit one fairway. Hit one green. Make one putt. Do that 18 times and you have achieved golf perfection. When I shot my 59, I made pars on four of the last five holes I played. It is still the only 59 in an LPGA event, but it could have been lower. I remember being nervous the first time I broke 100. And I was nervous the first time I broke 90, 80 and 70. I was also nervous the first time I broke 60. I won't be the next time. The key to shooting 59? Go out thinking it's possible to shoot 54!
33 -- HOW TO PLAY WITH YOUR BOSS
BY Guy Yocom
The boss wields a mighty hammer indeed. Not only does he have the capacity to make your 60-hour workweek one long, agonizing scream, there is the outside chance he might do so based purely on the way you behave with him on the golf course. So let's review the techniques that have kept me employed and—dare I say it?—even into the Great Man's pocket for 20-plus years.
Should you suck up in terms of conceding putts, offering "do-overs" and giving extra handicap strokes? That's a bad policy. The best bosses despise overt brown-nosing, and nowhere is sycophantic behavior as ugly or obvious as on the golf course. I've never forgotten the time a new employee tried to snuggle up to our boss by teeing off with the intention of letting him win. After the newcomer conceded a four-foot putt for a winning par on the first hole, my boss said, "It's early. Let's play automatic 1-down presses." The freshman employee agreed, and my boss then took his already formidable game to another level. By the time we reached the turn the new guy was trying his hardest, but my boss hammered him so badly that when we finished it took 20 minutes to figure out what he owed. When we got to the parking lot the guy bummed $50 from me to get him through the weekend.
If the boss is your opponent (the most dicey territory, for sure), put yourself in his spot and envision his idea of the perfect adversary. Then transform yourself into a reasonable facsimile of that person. My boss likes hard-fought matches, a brisk pace of play, spare but good conversation with a needle thrown in here and there, medium-range betting action and a lunch-then-gone post-game program. With that in mind I shelve the blithe, who-cares sort of game I play these days. I drag my game face out of storage and go at him hammer and tongs. So be flexible. If my boss had slicked-back hair, an inflated ego and deflated handicap, I could envision worse crimes than playing an offshoot of customer golf and letting him prevail, preferably by a 1-up margin, cursing animatedly under my breath as I allowed my three-footer for a halve to slip by the cavity on 18. When he recounted the match to the staff on Monday morning, I'd add at the finish, "It should be illegal for a man to hit a 2-iron like that," walk reverentially into my office, and close the door.
Now, what if the boss is your partner? The proper route is to defer to him the way you would a dinner guest. Make him comfortable. But know where to draw the line. Don't trot after his divots and retrieve them like some adoring labrador. Don't get his ball out of the cup for him or exclaim, "You got screwed!" after he whiffs a chip shot.