When do you like to arrive at the course before your tee time? And what must you absolutely do before you get your round underway? The Niggle team of Alex Perry, Steve Carroll, James Savage, Mark Townsend and Dan Murphy head to the 19th hole to share their pre-round routines and foibles…
Alex: I always end up arguing with my regular playing partner about this. I like to get there maybe 45 minutes before our tee time, have a bacon roll and a cuppa, get changed in the locker room, five minutes on the putting green and feel properly prepared. He prefers to eat and change at home and be on the tee within three minutes of locking his car.
Steve: I’m usually there an hour before my tee time, all with the intention of acting out Rory McIlroy‘s practice routine. Then I’ll stuff a bacon sandwich down my throat, chew the fat with anyone in the clubhouse and then look up and find my playing partners are already on their way to the first. No wonder I’m terrible at driving off…
Alex: If I’m playing somewhere I’ve never been before, I quite like testing the water with just how welcoming the members and staff are, or if they’re going to lose their mind because I’m wearing trainers in the clubhouse.
Steve: You wore trainers in the Ganton clubhouse the other week, I noticed.
Alex: And yet I still looked smarter than most of the people there.
James: This is where so many golf clubs fail. They are set up for members and not visitors so it can be difficult to know where to go. Do you need a code for the locker room? Things like that. I like the idea of getting there an hour before, having a coffee and a bacon sandwich, using the locker room, soaking in the club’s history but often the reality is you wander around looking but nothing is open, there’s nowhere to get a coffee, the cleaners are the only people in the bar and you end up spending 45 minutes on the putting green building up nervous energy.
Alex: I would suggest you’re getting there too early. But I agree on the whole.
James: 8.30am is the best tee time. If the club sees there is someone playing at that time they should make sure the bar is staffed and the kitchen is ready to make a bacon sandwich.
Alex: I can’t think of a time where I’ve ever had an unpleasant experience with any members. The worst I’ve had was when I popped into my own golf club because I’d left my wallet in the locker room the day before and a member I didn’t know very well had a whinge because I was wearing jeans. I think he was joking. He probably wasn’t.
Steve: I once made the mistake of forgetting to take off a cap in the clubhouse – it was about 75 degrees outside. The captain looked at me, pointed at my head and walked off. The place in question pride themselves as a welcoming club.
Mark: I get changed in the car park as an acid test of how stuffy the club is, spend six minutes trying to make the pro laugh/like me/not hate me, five 40-foot putts, 30 seconds to deliberate over whether it’s too late to have a sit-down toilet visit, some swings with my 5- and 6-irons clamped together and then on to the tee to hit driver whatever the hole is.
Alex: I’ve never understood the practice swings with two clubs clamped together thing.
Alex: I’m convinced someone started it as a joke and it caught on. Or people just saw Tiger or Rory doing it one day and started doing it before their Sunday hack, but no one really knows why and everyone’s too embarrassed to ask.
James: Makes one club feel lighter? Stanley Matthews used to wear weighted shoes so his football boots felt really light.
Alex: A reasonable argument, but I’m not having it.
Dan: For me, five minutes of small talk in the pro shop, 10 minutes of swishing on the range, two-and-a-half minutes of putting on the practice green. Then 20 minutes to get all the stuff I need into the correct pockets.
Alex: Are you actually going to make us do the maths?
Dan: 37 and a half minutes.
Alex: I would have had you down as someone who would get there three hours before, reading every name on every board. I’m with you on the pockets thing. I hate teeing off until I’ve got a handful of wooden tees in my front left pocket and the correct ball marker – a Torquay United pin badge, since you’re asking.
Mark: I like to have a 10p coin as a marker, two pink castle tees, three long white tees and two broken tees in my front right pocket. Just the card and pencil in my back right pocket. Nothing else anywhere. Can’t have anything in either left pocket.
Alex: I keep my tees in my left front pocket because I can feel them when I address the ball and it reminds me to keep my weight on my front foot.
Steve: You think too much…
Alex: Whatever works.
Dan: In the front right trouser pocket, eight to 10 pristine wooden tees, plus two broken ones for par-3s, a ball marker and a pitch mark repairer. Front left, a clean tissue. Back right, glove. Back left, card and pencil. Absolutely no foreign bodies.
James: I’ve got a random crap pocket on my golf bag. Before my tee time I grab half the contents and stuff it in my right pocket. Hopefully I get the right combination of long tees, short tees, ball marker and pitch mark repairer. I usually get a couple of casino chips, a pencil from La Manga and the wrong half of a broken wooden tee.
Alex: Just thinking about that is stressing me out.
Mark: I’d like to put casino markers in my Golf Room 101. You may as well use a brick.
Alex: I think Golf Room 101 is a whole new Niggle debate in itself…
So what kind of golfer are you? One who likes to show up in plenty of time, or one who is happy to be on the tee within minutes of arriving? And what’s in your pockets? Let us know in the comments below, or you can get involved in the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.