For many golfers, screeching to a halt in the parking lot 45 seconds before tee time is the norm - however, they also seem to be the first ones to need to borrow something on the 2nd tee box - a glove, some tees, a towel....you know their ilk. For other golfers, being prepared on the first tee is super important to an enjoyable round - call them obsessed,anal retentive, whatever.... I call them "ready"...
The next time you head out to play, give this little list some thought - It may help you get into the right frame of mind. I like to think of it as a list of "Lucky 13" items for a more enjoyable round...
1. Clean Clubs: Clean clubs are a must. Not only do they look good, they perform better. A good mechanic always takes care of his tools, so why shouldn’t you ? (Hint – A good wiping at the end of your round, making sure that the grooves are all clean and free of dirt , and you are ready to go the next time you play.)
2. Laser Range Finder: Mine is a Callaway, but there are a number of good brands. I've also got a Sky Caddie, but I find that I use the rangefinder more often. Knowing the distance to not only the pin, but also the front and rear of hazards, doglegs, etc is a real plus. I also think it helps speed play, because you aren't chasing down sprinkler heads. If you don't have one in the bag,give one a try...
3. Divot Tool and Ball Marker: I’m a Titleist guy in most things golf (Irons, Wedges, Putter, Bag, and sometimes Balls),and my Divot Tool is no exception - I use a Cameron divot tool. However, brand is unimportant – using one is. One of my first posts preaches the religion of “Fixing your Divots”, so if you are not convinced that this is important, please read what I had to say. Ball markers are a matter of preference, but I go for a 5 pound coin I picked up in Scotland – it helps ensure I never confuse my mark with someone else’s.
4. Properly Marked Balls: I am partial to a bright (read Lime) green Sharpie, and I mark mine with two dots below the label, and a line around the perimeter for use as an alignment aid. I highly recommend the “line”, as well as using a distinctive color. I almost witnessed a fistfight in a tournament over a Pro V1 with a red dot - two guys swore the same ball was theirs.
5. Sunglasses - After trying a couple of brands (Maui Jim, Nike, Smith, etc), I like Oakley the best. They make a golf specific lens that is sort of “rose” colored (I know, rose colored glasses, huh ????), which are sweet. Even if you take them off to read putts or hit your shots, your eyes will thank you for wearing them the rest of the time.
6. Towels – I carry two towels, one that I keep damp to clean my clubs, and a synthetic, quick drying towel that I use to keep my face and hands dry.
7. 2 Water Bottles – I’m a cyclist when I am not playing golf, so I keep two bike water bottles with me – one filled with plain water, and one filled with Cytomax – a great sports recovery drink with a lot less sugar than Gatorade or Powerade. (Summertime tip – freeze the Cytomax overnight, and by the time you make the turn, it will be nice and slushy…mmmm)
8. Nature Valley Honey and Oat Granola Bars – Heaven in a green foil wrapper…you can eat these around the clock - tasty, nutritious, and available at every convenience store in America.
9. First Aid Kit – Advil, band-aids, athletic tape, chapstick,sunscreen, and some Amino-Vital (just in case I forget the Cytomax….).
10. Clean Golf Shoes – I’m a firm believer in looking my best on the golf course. Just like off the course, having clean, nice looking shoes is a big step toward looking right (just ask Golf Girl). (Hint – At the end of your round, wipe your shoes clean with a damp towel before putting them in your trunk – they are easier to clean before the dirt and grass dry on them – and next time you go out, they are already cleaned up !) P.S. - match the belt to the shoes – just like in the real world.
11. Ample Supply of (White) Tees – The Pro shop at the club where I play dispenses the little buggers like Budweiser at a NASCAR race (i.e. free of charge), and I make sure to grab a handful every time I play.
12. 30 Minutes to Warm Up – Trust me - if you take at least 30 minutes to warm up, you will enjoy your round more. Whether you hit balls, chip, putt, or only stretch out - your round will be more fun and you are less likely to injure yourself. Stretch it to 45 minutes, which lets you putt, chip, and hit 20-25 balls with a variety of clubs - and get mentally ready to play.
13. A Sense of Humor - After reading the list above, you may think that someone who prepares like this takes themselves a bit too seriously – and that’s why the last item is a real must have. As much as you want to play well every time, always remember that we are amateurs who are supposed to be having fun...PLAYING. Being able to laugh at yourself when you flub a shot – priceless. Throwing a club or a bunch of F bombs – uh, maybe I’ll find another group…
So what are your “must haves” before hitting the first shot of the day ?