Whether you are playing in a club competition, a corporate golf day or even a round with someone you’ve never met before – there can be a slight sense of trepidation over who you will be playing with.

What traits make up your perfect playing partner? And what sort of player to you hate getting paired with? 

Team members James Savage, Jamie Miles, Tom Lenton, James Tompkinson and NCG reader Ben Ursell give their views.

JS – I always hope to be playing with someone who is fairly relaxed and looking to enjoy themselves out on the course. It’s good to get a bit of banter going right from the start so a decent sense of humour is essential. I don’t enjoy playing with people who give off the impression they don’t want to be there – this can make for a long and painful round. It can be quite difficult playing with better players than myself who get very angry when hitting a bad shot. To break the awkward silence, I usually end up saying something like “hard lines” or “you should be ok from there”. I’d much rather say what I actually thought and have a laugh about it.

The Niggle: How can you make golf easier for beginners?

JM – If I was playing in anything friendly then it is all about having a playing partner who plays quickly and has plenty of funny chat. I’d even allow for some poor etiquette, such as making noise whilst I’m playing or wondering around near the hole when I’m putting. For a competitive game where trophies and my handicap is at stake then I wouldn’t want that same partner. I’d want someone who was trying their nuts off and was a competitive match for myself. I think the different scenario would require this different playing partner to enable me to get the best out of my game. I’d even accept someone who was a bit slower (not ridiculously though) and also someone who didn’t even hardly talk. Having the friendly playing partner in the competitive environment would unsettle me.

The Niggle: Does it take too long to play a round of golf?

TL – Generally I like to play with someone who is a competent golfer – not in terms of ability to score low but who doesn’t take an age over every shot and someone who I don’t have to help look for their ball every hole because they didn’t watch where it went. Friendly encouragement is always welcome from time to time and acknowledgement of a good shot. In terms of chat maybe a little bit about golf and the course but mostly anything but golf on the long fairway walks; football, sport in general, women, life, holidays etc – a general laugh and a joke please.
To be put with a negative playing partner can make your round more challenging as it takes some of your mental energy away from golf JT – The worst thing for me is when you get the impression that your playing partner is judging you when you hit a bad shot. I find it really hard to play when I feel like my partner is silently laughing or judging me every time one flies off the toe. I like someone who doesn’t take their golf too seriously but also has a desire to score well on every hole, and also someone who can laugh about their mistakes because it frees you up on the course. I also don’t mind the odd bit of advice from time to time, especially about course management, but I hate it when you get someone who tries to analyse your swing with every shot you play.

Is a four-hour round acceptable to you?

TL – I am a big fan of not taking it too seriously as JT has mentioned. Once a bad shot is hit, it’s hit and all you can worry about is the next shot. With this happy go lucky hit it and find it attitude I think the majority of golfers would improve their game, score lower and have a much better overall experience on the course.

The Niggle: Do you think golf is too expensive?

BU – Rocking up for your tee-time and finding you’ve been paired with a moody playing partner is so frustrating. So many of us only manage to get out onto the links once a week and to be put with a negative playing partner can make your round more challenging as it takes some of your mental energy away from golf, especially when they’re taking the game far too seriously. Some can be club breakers who don’t speak to you for four hours. My preference is for general chat about sport, current affairs, work and the like without too much self-analysis, self-loathing or hesitation over shots to keep things brisk and enjoyable for all parties and all playing formats.

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