Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Etiquette Tips by the TPC Network Pros

TPC Scottsdale Champions Course

I don't want to be a negative Ned, or some golf version of Mr. Manners, but golf course etiquette these days is showing some serious slippage.

From cell phones ringing in my backswing to unraked bunkers, untended divots and discarded cigar butts on tee boxes, let's just say things have gotten a bit interesting on the golf course.

Head golf professionals, no doubt, have seen it all. Thus, I've solicited the advice of the head golf pros of the TPC Network, which is comprised of 32 premier daily fee, resort and private golf properties designed specifically to host PGA TOUR events. Among their high-profile courses are TPC Sawgrass, TPC Harding Park, TPC Scottsdale and TPC San Antonio. 

“The old saying tells us it isn’t about winning or losing, but how you play the game. Being a gentleman or lady truly embodies the spirit of our sport, so these tips are meant to help be the best you can be on the links,” says Brian Riddle, head golf professional of TPC Sawgrass.

Here are 10 great etiquette tips:

1. “Play from the tee box where you'll have the best chance for success. Don't be shy or embarrassed.  Playing the ‘tips’ when your ability level isn't suited for them will be frustrating not only to you, but to those around you as well.”
– Rob Nader, TPC San Antonio

2. “There is no need to rush shots – efficient play consists of getting ready to hit every shot without wasting time. Take several clubs to your ball and hit a provisional ball if you feel you need to.”
– Brian Riddle, TPC Sawgrass

3. “Respect your playing partners; talking and playing music at an appropriate volume should be taken into consideration. Ask others in your group if music is welcome. Players should always be aware that it relaxes some and disturbs others. These distractions could not only delay your group but also the play of all other golfers behind you.”
– Michaelyn Bradford, TPC Southwind / Jim Calhoun, TPC Craig Ranch

4. “Silence your cell phone. Nothing is more of a nuisance to a golfer than a ringing phone while in mid-swing.  In some cases calls are unavoidable; if one needs to be answered – or made – do so away from the group.”
– Tom Smith, TPC Harding Park

5. “Allow staff to do their job, including carrying clubs, giving out information, etc. The great majority of people want to do their job well and they take pride in their work. Let them make your time on the course enjoyable.”
– Greg Wolf, TPC Scottsdale

6. “Always be aware of your pace and never be the slowest player in the group. The best way to remedy slow play is to play ‘ready golf’: be prepared to play your shot when it's your turn – whether you're on the tee, fairway or green.”
– Brian Long, TPC Louisiana

7. “Always take care of the course you're playing.  Repair your ball mark and at least one other on the green, replace divots (or fill divots with seed mix if supplied), and rake bunkers after every shot. Care of the course will make the round much more enjoyable for the golfers behind you.  Also, if you have decided to pick up or not play a hole, speed up play by taking it upon yourself to rake bunkers for others playing the hole.”
– Andy Stoterau, TPC Deere Run

8. “Presentation is key on the course. Take pride in your appearance. Arriving with a shirt un-tucked, hat turned backwards or attire meant for jogging is no way to dress on the golf course.  A golfer's attire or appearance leaves a lasting impression – make certain it's a positive one.”
– Chris Weinhold, TPC Twin Cities

9. “Observe the good habits of seasoned golfers. Those that play often will know when it's their turn to play a shot, where to stand when others are hitting, and how to take care of the course throughout the round.  Following their lead and learning from them will form good habits for the less experienced golfer.”
– Mike Messner, TPC Summerlin

10. “Always enter and exit bunkers at the lowest point, never climbing the face of a bunker. Although it’s very temping to jump in, every bunker is shaped in a manner specific to its course; if the sand is dis-positioned it could alter the lay of the course.”
–      David Corrado, TPC Boston

If you like attending PGA TOUR tournaments, I highly suggest you attend one at a TPC course, which are designed to enhance the experience for spectators.

The TPC hosts THE PLAYERS Championship at the PGA TOUR’s flagship property, TPC Sawgrass, (one of my favorite tournaments for spectators). Let's face it, we're not all getting into Augusta National to watch the Masters. This just might be the next best thing. Nothing quite like sitting on the hill left of the number 17 island hole and watching the pros sink or swim while you sip on a frosty brew.
TPC Scottsdale Champions Course

The Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale (arguably the most high-energy event on Tour with its party-like atmosphere), the highest attended tournament on the PGA TOUR. During the current 2013-14 season, 18 PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Tour tournaments will be held at TPC facilities so you've got lots of choices.
TPC Louisiana

For more information, visit www.TPC and follow TPC Network on Twitter @PlayTPC, Instagram @PlayTPC, and Facebook at
TPC San Antonio

Thursday, March 6, 2014

5 DON'TS on International Golf Travel

Do you want to spend thousands of dollars and screw up your dream international golf vacation?

Uh, no, of course not.

Side-stepping some of the most common golf travel mistakes can help you avoid a nightmare.

I've traveled internationally numerous times and I've compiled a list of the some of the worst mistakes. These aren't bad decisions like selecting a shabby hotel (gee, it sure looked good in the brochure), a goat ranch golf course or a restaurant on a first name basis with the health department.

No, these are less obvious mistakes that might seem insignificant, but they can greatly impact the success of your trip.

Believe it or not, the Guru has made everyone of these mistakes, so I speak from experience. To be sure, though, if you make any of these bad choices once, I bet you'll never do it again.

1. Failure to print reservation details--I made this mistake on a trip a few years back and never again. The fact is, your phone, tablet or computer might not work with the local network upon your arrival. Yes, it's a hassle, but print the darn thing out and place it where you can retrieve it easily. Chances are, you won't need it, but, if you do, you'll be so happy you've got a hard copy.

2. Under-budgeting--Let's face it, nowadays everyone has their hand out.  Don't forget about caddie fees, gratuities, Internet fees, hotel service charges, ATM charges...the list goes on and on. Keep track of these fees on a trip and you'll be amazed at the total by the final day. You've also got to budget in ill-advised spending on golf logo gear you may never wear again and worthless souvenirs that looked a lot better on the store shelf than in your home.

3. Cheap luggage choice--I've gone the cheap route with the crappy zippers and tiny plastic wheels and luggage is one of the worst items to try and save a few bucks. Generally, what happens is you need a new piece of luggage before your big trip and you've got money flying out everywhere so you decide to skimp on a bag or golf club travel bag. DON'T.  Purchase lightweight luggage comprised of good, quality exterior material, sturdy zippers and inline skating quality wheels. For a golf clubs travel bag, I prefer Club Glove, but there are some other good ones like Bag Boy, Ogio and Sun Mountain.

4. Choosing bad travel partners--You absolutely need to have the same attitude and love toward the game of golf. If your travel partners want to play 27 to 36 holes a day and you want to go sightseeing and smell the roses along the way, you need to reconsider.  I prefer balance in a trip with golf and lots of time spent in pubs, restaurants and seeing some sights, while others could care less and just want to tee it up sunrise to sunset. Neither approach is necessarily wrong, but you'll have lots of disagreements if you don't fully discuss the itinerary and trip goals before you leave the U.S.

5. Too much activity, not enough down time--Hey, ya gotta get some sleep. Too many people try and play golf all day, party at the pub and sing karaoke all night and stagger to their 8 o'clock tee time. Playing 36 holes with a hangover and jet lag is not really all that enjoyable. Keep in mind, too, that you'll be walking a lot of golf courses outside the U.S., which is more strenuous than riding around in a cart. Pace yourself and build in time to just relax in your room or go to the spa to recharge so you can fully enjoy the great golf courses you've traveled thousands of miles to play and enjoy.