To play in, or not to play in?
I went to Highland Meadows yesterday to crank out a quick 9 holes. As is usually the case, it was pretty empty of golfers. That, combined with the fact that my first shot off the tee went in the drink, I decided to make this a practice round. I took some extra balls, and started experimenting with landing targets and club selection. That makes me sound like I know what I am doing, which is not the case. It's a good way to really feel familiar with a course. And I'm lucky that it's empty enough that you can do that, and its the type of course that rewards good ball placement throughout a hole, not just the approach shot.
After a few holes, I noticed a guy about my age, playing with his son riding along in the cart who looked like he was in that 7-10 year old range. They were a few holes back. Slowly, they started to catch up. When I got to the 9th tee box, he was getting to the green on 8.
So I cranked a nice long drive (long for me) off the tee (for Erik's benefit - it was the left side - clear of the trouble, but with that blind second shot). I hit my ball, which catches the green-side bunker (of course). Before I take off to my second shot, I look back to see if I should hustle so this guy can tee up. I guess not, because as soon as I turn around, he's hitting his shot. It flies about 10 yards past me, about 3 yards to the right. Anybody still reading this post who doesn't play, can probably guess that that's not cool.
I push my cart over to the left of the path, to let him play through, and I'm not even looking at the guy - I don't want to see him. He pulls up and and apologies.
"Hey man, I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean to--"
I respond, "okay. Just play though." I don't want to look at this guy any more than I have to.
"Okay. But it's. You're not. I feel like..." He has this desperate look in his eye.
"Please just play through."
It took a few more volleys before he played his ball. He thanked me and I called after for him to have a good one. I was pretty annoyed though. I don't like making people wait behind me, and I would have asked him to play through if he had been waiting during the round. but it just wasn't the case. This was the first hole where the guy had to wait at all, and he played into me. Playing in to somebody is lame. It happens once in a while, if you have a blind first shot, but I was in view the whole time. It's every golfer's responsibility to know how far he hit his driver until optimal circumstances. I usually hit the ball between 200 and 240 yards, but last weekend I hit a near 300 yard drive. If you think you could possibly hit a ball on the screws and even get it close to the group in front of you - you just wait.
It's at my own risk that I play, but its also at my discretion how I react to the play of others. If I had hooked my tee shot on the third hole into somebody's living room window (my worst fear) - they have the right to be cool about it, or to get really pissed and berate me. Same with playing in to someone. I was very cordial with this guy, but I was clearly not pleased. He had this edge in his tone and look in his eye, like I was supposed to "be cool" about it - maybe because his son was there. That's what really annoyed me: an expectation that I would be jovial and dismissive about the event. Maybe on another day, I would have.
Don't apologize until you get the type of pardon you are looking for, and don't passively make faces like I'm overreacting. I never raised my voice, never made any aggressive postures or gestures, or used bad language. Trust me, buddy, I'm a Henne - we hold the patent on overreacting. Just submit your apology, leave it to me how to receive that apology, and go hit your goddamned ball.