As we sat in the bar after the last club competition of 2014 my playing partner looked me in the eyes and asked in a forthrightly tone  ‘So Gary, what’s your golfing goal for 2015?’.

Without much hesitation I replied ‘To stay a single figure golfer’.

We spent a little time discussing other potential goals or objectives that as fairly competitive individuals we thought might be worthy of making our 2015 list – to win a ‘major’ and get the name on a board (again); to finish in the top 50, 25, 10 of the club ‘order of merit’  or to be in the top quartile of the most improved golfer list. The pro’s and con’s of each were debated and eventually I settled back to where I started – to stay as a single figure golfer.

My handicap has yo-yoed over the last few years between a low of 6.7 – tough to maintain with all my other life and business commitments - and a high of 10.6 - tough to stomach simply as a matter of pride.  I’ve decided that a handicap of 8 is the least stressful handicap to hold - especially at competition check-in where a seven eighths comp is 7 and a three quarter comp is 6 – easy maths when filling out your scorecard.

We discussed ‘goals’ for the less competitive golfer, the social golfer, the golfer for whom the game might simply be about about fun or exercise than competition. What ‘goals’ could they have which might be less focussed on outcomes or results?  When my copy of Golf Monthly dropped through the letterbox an article by Fergus Bisset entitled ‘What makes a great playing partner’ stimulated the thought that all golfers could have that goal – to be recognised as a great playing partner. It’s more about behaviour than ability and when you analyse it, the three fundamentals of etiquette – show consideration for others, take care of the course and play at a good pace – are all encapsulated in it in one way or another.

I do know of one particular golfer - probably more if I really think about it - who has no intention of playing at a good pace, in fact he will deliberately slow down if asked to speed up and  in doing so shows no consideration for his playing partners or the groups behind. There’s a race to get your name of the sheet ahead of him or resign yourself to a slower round if behind him. His playing partners are exasperated by his behaviour but struggle to get their feelings across to him. In match play he’s a name that you don’t relish your name being drawn against, yet off the course he's a very sociable kind of guy. Fortunately there are many more others who once you know you will be in their company you know you're in for a very pleasant and enjoyable game of golf.

If every golfer were to have the goal of being respected and appreciated as 'a great playing partner' then the game of golf for all would probably be in a better place.

One to think about perhaps?

Happy New Year

Gary Butler


PS Talking of Golf Monthly - I’m pleased to announce that Jezz Ellwood will be the first guest to write a blog for ETIQUS. Jezz has been a key contributor to Golf Monthly and has interviewed many of the good and the great in the game. Look out for his first blog ‘What makes Jezz tick?’ in mid January.