(inspired by Golf Digest, Dec. 2011. Thanks!)
Golf Digest once ran a wonderful article, «The 18 most annoying golf partners». The article introduced us to characters like The Unsolicited Swing Advice Guy, The Cheat, The Yardage Book Guy, and 15 more arc types we’ve all come across on the golf course.
What makes an article like Golf Digest’s fun is the fact that we, the readers, recognize the situations, and that they create images and memories in our heads.
However, to me it also brought memories of a situation where I unintentionally ended up probably being an annoying guy.
It happened many years ago, and started with an invitation to a Callaway media event in Orlando, Florida. It was an annual event that I had attended several times before. So I only skimmed through that year’s invitation before accepting, noting that the registration was at 7.30AM. However, as I learned when arriving 7.27-ish, it was the shotgun start that was set at 7.30.
I felt very stupid, seeing a great number of packed golf carts lined up, ready to take us out on the course. I spotted Callaway’s European PR-manager, ran over to her and was told I shouldn’t bother looking for my cart.
— Just jump in were there is a vacant seat, you’re not the only one running late, she told me.
I jumped on to an empty cart, pushed the accelerator and joined the rest of the carts single filing out on to the course. I met up with the two other guys in my group, teeing off from hole 8. We played on, and standing on the tee at the par 5 11th, I noticed a cart tailgating us. I recognized one of the Callaway directors as the driver, with a guy about my age sitting next to him.
There was one golf bag on the cart, so I figured that our fourth player, like me, had been running late, and was brought out to join us. We all introduced ourselves, but I had a problem picking up the guys name. However, I thought I heard him say Ollie.
I found it a bit strange that our new guy didn’t make any move to get his bag on to my cart. I figured that the Callaway guy and this new guy – probably an editor of importance – had business to talk about.
I started chatting with our new team member on the tee as we waited for the group ahead to clear so that we could get on with our drives.
— Do you play a lot of golf, I asked him casually.
He didn’t really reply, but made a sound indicating that he did.
I then started to explain the format we were playing that day, a fourball betterball alliance kind of game. He didn’t seem very interested, which I found strange. Also I noticed he was a bit uneasy about chatting. So, I started asking him specific questions like where he was from, kids and family, how long he had played golf and so on.
The more I asked, the less conversational he became. Was he annoyed with me? I couldn’t understand why. I was just trying to be nice and including. Ollie teed up and hit. Wow! It was a super drive down the middle of the fairway. When he was on in two on the par 5 after his next shot, it should probably have struck a note.
But I was so fixed on him being a late arrival, like me, that my brain never followed other lines of thoughts. However, I was somewhat impressed with his game. Not many of my media room colleagues can play like that.
Ollie continued playing great, and I was politely cheering him on and complimenting him on his shots. He played the par 4 12th just as nicely as he had the par 5 11th, and after having holed out for his second consecutive birdie, the cart with Ollie and the Callaway director took off and left us, driving ahead towards the group in front.
— So, did he say something interesting, my golf partner Tobias Bergman, the Editor in chief of the Swedish golf magazine, asked me after having noticed how much Ollie and I had talked (read: how much I had talked).
Interesting? Why interesting, I wondered.
As it turned out, our fourth guy was Olin Browne, a three times winner on the PGA Tour. His last win had come just a few months before this golf day took place.
The ones that had turned up in time for the event had been informed that Callaway staff player Olin Browne would play two holes with each group that day.
Mr Browne, of course, knew nothing about me arriving late and therefore missing out on the tournament director’s briefing. He must have thought I was trying to be a smart guy showing off by pretending ignorance.
The moral of the story is that even though your intentions are the best, people around you might find you annoying.
Especially if not knowing that you behave the way you do just because you don’t know the whole picture …
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