One of the guys in my foursome made a hole-in-one on the fourth hole at gorgeous Monarch Bay during a round with my former work buddies. But that’s not why I realized -- after weeks of playing recreational golf mostly with women – that there are things I like better about playing with guys.
I hate to generalize about things like this. Because I know I hate it when men generalize about women playing too slowly and talking too much on the golf course. And maybe this particular group of guys -- whom I wrote about in my book "Confessions of a Golf Slut" -- is an exception. But some days I go out to the course as a single and am paired with men I do not know, and I go away happy.
So, at the risk of alienating women, here we go:
• Men do not apologize when their games go south. One of the players in this foursome started very badly. He joked that this was good because what he really wanted to work on was his attitude. So he remained good company until and after his game brought pars and birdies instead of "others." Most women I know would have been embarrassed and flustered.
• The circle of friendship (also known as "gimme" range) seems to be wider with men. With no money on the line, do we need to stand over a three-foot putt and knock it into the hole? These guys didn't need me or anyone else to say, "That's good," and we were moving on to the next hole.
• While I think men are as talkative as women, they seem better at stopping when another player is about to hit or putt. I don't think it's a matter of manners, but an instinct developed over the course of years playing other sports. As more girls participate in organized sports, I expect this to equalize.
• Women are much tougher rules arbiters. A few times during this round I half-jokingly offered rulings -- winter rules on fairways frayed by the drought, for instance, and "you're going to have to make that putt, no gimme birdies." Nobody else did -- at least they laughed, though. For some reason, most women golfers I know have trouble shifting into recreational golf mode and relaxing on the rules. When I play social golf with women I don't know well, I feel more pressure to play by USGA rules. I don't feel that way with men. With men, I feel more pressure to keep up, which I embrace. It's more fun to play in four hours than to play by USGA rules.
On the other hand, there is always the inevitable tree-as-urinal phenomenon with men. Also, it is fun to have companions at the same golfing level, which is what I enjoy most about playing with other women. I have had lots of great, memorable days playing with women. But I think in a perfect world I would play golf once a week with women and once a week with men. In a really perfect world I would add one more round and play with mixed company.