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Have you ever been genuinely surprised by someone's game?


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As the title states, have you ever been genuinely surprised by someone's game, good or bad, based upon your assumptions after looking at their equipment, their swing, or other? Discuss!

 

Yes, this is an invitation to explore our own pre-judgments, but not accusing anyone of being prejudiced. I also realize that even with the relative anonymity of the internet, many people would be uncomfortable sharing their stories...but I'm curious. What started me on this thought is watching a YouTube video and then seeing a bunch of comments like "no wayyyy is that guy an X handicap with THAT swing!" Made me think how many times I've watched people swing on the range or first tee and made assumptions about their abilities, only to see them post a score that I didn't think would happen. I'm not a trained professional in the golf swing, so it's definitely possible I have no idea what I'm even looking at. Thought maybe this thread would lead to some interesting stories.

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Mine. Some days I'm really good, and some days I really stink!

Our state champion (Andy) joined our club in 2010. His +3 handicap speaks for itself. That first weekend I met him on the range as our pro suggested he play with our group. We have the usual three or

I coached HS girls golf for several years, and regularly encountered guys who were pretty dismissive when we rocked up to courses for league tournaments. On the 8th hole of one event, a straight 260-i

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I got paired with a guy that said he was an over the road truck driver, had long hair down to his back, was wearing jeans and carrying a walmart type golf bag.  This guy was a ringer and knew exactly the image he was trying to convey but he easily broke 80.  Vice versa, the guys that are dressed like they're sponsored and have all the newest clubs usually suck the most.  

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This was 10 years ago. 2 business friends of mine and I played a round at a local course. We were paired with a junior girl who was probably between 12 and 15 yo. 

 

We usually shot 90 to 100-ish. As we were hacking our way around the course, the girl just picked the course apart. She did not talk much. I had no idea what she shot, probably in 70s. 

 

Not only she was the best golfer I've played with at that point, but she's also so young. 

 

Only years later, I realize junior golf is very competitive. 

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I do not assume, much less about people I am not familiar, their game, or based on what's in their bag, etc. 

 

I've played in serious amateur events and big $$$$ money private tournaments, seen some strange people.  Played with some guys that appear like low-rent dogs, yet played lights out for big money and didn't have a penny in their pockets, and won.  Seen a few guys with less than 12 clubs in the bag playing in serious money games and team events, and win or place in the top five.  Even watch a supposed +2 club champion totally collapse during a rd after talking way too much smack.  I do recall one guy that talked smack and had a bag full pretty irons, new woods, and putter, and tournament bag, dressed like he was about to tee it up in a PGA Tour event; only to watch him stub it off the first tee, which can happen.  But then watch him play the full round like a 22 handi and losing self-control... on a relatively easy course, it was sad.  Even watched my wife take a guy with an oversized ego to task playing from the White tees.  Boy was that fun to watch.  At the end, he was loosing it, so I had to remind him to show restraint, or else he wouldn't like the consequences.

 

Nope, I been around long enough to not assume good or bad about others based on superficial input.  Ya never know about people. 

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41 minutes ago, Moonlightgrm said:

Our state champion (Andy) joined our club in 2010. His +3 handicap speaks for itself. That first weekend I met him on the range as our pro suggested he play with our group. We have the usual three or four foursomes of single digit handicappers. We select teams then try to beat each other’s brains out. By the luck of the draw, Andy was on my team. What surprised me was he didn’t hit the ball any farther than I. His accuracy off of the tee was no better than mine. I hadn’t expected this. However, when the round continued, it was obvious that from 100-yards in, he was the best player I’d ever played with. He only hit 12 greens and shot a bogey free, 68. As that season continued, I played numerous rounds with Andy. I cannot recall him EVER 3-putting a green. He was the same guy each time. 260-270 yards off of the tee. Hit ~2/3 of the fairways, hit 12 greens, get it up and down most of the time, and take less than 30-putts. I witnessed one over par round from him that summer. He shot a 1-over par 73 on a day when the greens had been verti-cut. 
Consistency and a dynamite short game make him a two-time state champion. 

 

I dont understand why more am's here aren't chipping in the backyard and putting on a mat in their living rooms till their arms fall off. I know its so much less enjoyable than watching a well struck 5 iron at the range but...

 

When I can get near the green, in my mind I'm confident I can get it up and down. At minimum, half of my pars are like this.

 

 

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A few times.  Some times you get paired with someone that just stuns you with beautiful swing and low scores and other times you're paired with someone who is just awful.  The worst is when you are paired with someone who is just so much better than you are, even after you've worked hard on your swing and are playing better, and they pound the ball beyond yours and have that ball flight that's just incredible to watch. 

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If I'm wearing one of my old polo shirts I don't prejudge anyone's game based on any of their physical or other characteristics or ideas and assume that all their potential will be revealed and at the same time fulfilled as we enjoy the wonder of a round of golf and it's wonderful . . . . until I pop off after missing a short putt.

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Yes, In both directions. A few come to mind. But most of those experiences happened years ago and one learns through experience not to assume anything based on appearance and to worry about your own game. I have played with guys in matches who looked the part. Had the clubs, gear and clothes but no game. (The matches are no handicap/scratch.) And then the opposite. I recall one guy with missing teeth, bad clothes, and his driver had tape on the ferrule. But he was really good (at least +2)  his partner was a legend. So - lesson learned - buckle up and play hard no matter what!

 

I have an interesting story from another sport - basketball. In my early 30's in played in a B league with a very unusual team - a rogues gallery of teammates. Our leader was a former pro boxer and we had a former NFL linebacker, a former big ten receiver, my brother and I, a bar owner, and a couple of former D-1 college players who were also playing on other A league (traveling) teams. The last few played with us to stay in shape and stay sharp for their top A league teams. Our best player was a 6' white dude who played on a NCAA championship team in the late 1970's. He was about 38 years old when we played together. He was in phenomenal shape - ran 7 miles per day - and played hoop 4 nights per week. He also held down a good corporate job and family. In HS, I played with 2 guys who were all state and could really shoot, but this guy was like Steph Curry. He hit an unreal high percentage from 3 in our league although the line was top of the key) and averaged 45 points a game in a running-time league. (Only the last 2 minutes of each half would the clock stop.) Now, we did tell him to shoot all the time. We didn't care - it was fun to watch him light it up. He could shoot from standing, off the dribble, stop and pop, or finish at the rim. And he did not get tired and start missing in the second half. Although he sweated like MJ. It would pour off of him and you would think, OK he's tired now. Nope. He was just getting warmed up. He just loved it. 

 

Anyway, we win the tip at the start of a game and Rosie goes in for a layup and scores and the ref calls a ticky-tack foul on the this good player on the other team (early 20's, in great shape). Rosie is bouncing the ball at the free throw and the kid says, "that's all you're getting tonight, old man." Rosie just smiles, and I said, "you shouldn't have said that!" Rosie lit the poor kid up for 55 points. Nuff said! 

 

I take what I can from that experience. He was amazing to play ball with him and he was so good at an older age. I try to take that into golf. Stay in shape and stay competitive. We played some golf together as well. 

 

RIP 

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Played with a +4 who hit the ball generally terrible with the long clubs. Drop kick on 90% of driver/3 wood/2 iron. Managed to smother it left off the tee when there was trouble right and block it when there was trouble left. Was very good on full swing wedges and putted lights out. 

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I was surprised by my Uncle the first time I played with him. My Uncle lived in AK and so never really got to golf much, just maybe on vacation and when he was in the L48 for work. My Dad kept telling me that I should play with my Uncle the next time he is in town "He was really good in High School" is what he kept telling me.

 

So Uncle is visiting and we go out to play. I am probably at my peak, just out of college playing all the time, young, flexible all the things I am not now. He was in in 60s, roly-poly and playing golf once or twice a year.

 

I had a set of 1980s Wilson 1200 golf clubs collecting dust in the barn and rather than rent current clubs he used these. -  He kicked my butt, by at least 2 strokes a side. 

 

He popped out every drive to 200 yards and could maybe get that old 5 wood to go 170, but around the greens his creativity and confidence was bewildering to me. He read the ground as well as I have seen. He would hit 3i bump and runs from 50 yards, was short sided and rolled a 5 wood along the ground and up the hill, and basically played around the green by gathering far more information than I had ever considered. Considering that was probably his first round in 6 months, yeah I was surprised. He never said "Oh I haven't played in a while I might be rusty." We didn't go to the range, he just teed up, wiggled a tiny head driver and commenced to beating me.  I guess some people are just good at Golf.

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Quite a few times

 

Favorite was a guy in his 70’s off the whites in Myrtle.   He shot somewhere around 72 with little effort

 

Straight all day, around or on in reg, up and down show

 

He was skinny, leather sun skin and had old sticks, I missed the normal tells

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16 hours ago, Sean2 said:

Played golf with a young fellow who picked up the game three years ago. He was a 3HI and a legit 300+ yard hitter. Self-taught too. Fun to watch. 

Ohh stop @Sean2, you're embarrassing me!!!  🙃

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There's only been two people I've ever played with that their game did not fit the preconceived notion I had based on their appearance.

 

One was a guy that caught up to my uncle and I at an old muni in Houston that got shut down years ago (Brock Park for anyone familiar). Course was a fun layout, but generally not in good shape, and was in the middle of the ghetto by a dump. The guy that caught us was probably early 20s, hispanic, wearing baggy jeans (easily 4-5 sizes too big, barely held up by a belt) and an old dirty looking t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off. He had an old tattered and torn bag with a mix of random clubs. He caught us on #3 and played the rest of the round with us. If memory serves me, he did not miss a single fairway the entire time, missed only a couple of greens, and I think was 3-4 under by the time we finished. Super nice guy, with game to spare, but not at all what you would expect given how he presented himself on the course.

 

Second was an older guy that used to play in one of my regular groups. I'd guess he was early 60s at the time, long hair hippie type (enjoyed a bit of the lettuce while he played). He always walked, and had an old beat up bag that looks like it's been tossed around for the last 30-40 years, an old worn out set of some kind of blades, and a couple of random woods. He was a legit scratch golfer. The people in our group liked him, but everyone else at the club couldnt stand him. I was neither here nor there about him, but never did understand the disdain for him. He was fairly anti-social, and never stayed in the clubhouse any longer than it took to settle up on bets, but otherwise he was a nice enough guy.

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Funny the OP posted this. I was that guy this weekend.  My friend and I were paired with two others. On the first hole at Kiawah’s Ocean course, I bomb a drive 20 yards past anyone else right down the middle (I’ve been driving it well lately). Then, after everyone else plays, I hit a towering baby draw 9 iron tight to a back right pin. Well, it got a lot worse from there the rest of the day (that course does it to you). Anyway, after the round, one of the guys we got paired up with said “I thought after that drive and that towering draw on the 1st hole that we had a ringer on our hands..”. Lol, not so much. I just said “I have my moments”. 

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I played NAIA college golf so a few teams were good in the 1-5 slot, most teams had at least 1 very good player and half the teams in our conference had at least 1 guy shooting 85. My freshman year I played #3 on a team that won our conference title, and was paired with the 3 from other schools every time we played. One guy in particular never broke 80 all year. He wasn’t terrible, but he was not good. He was also a terrific guy and I enjoyed getting paired with him frequently. Spring season ends, In the Fall we played mostly low level D1 or D2 tournaments in our area so we never saw this school until Spring of my Sophomore year when I was playing #1. First tournament I’m paired with him and surprised he was also playing 1. Well he lit it up all spring, transferred to a D1 school for his last 2 years and has won his state am a few times. Total transformation that I have not seen in such a short time surprised the heck out of me. Less than a year from shooting 84 to averaging 72ish was remarkable, every piece of his game was polished that spring - sharp wedge game, good ball hitter, good putter. I don’t know how he did it. 

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I posted this story a couple of times before but essentially the short version is:

 

I was playing at a public course a few years back as a threesome, and a guy caught up to us on the 3-4th hole. He was overweight, wearing sandals and cargo shorts, carrying his clubs in his hand (4-5 of them) and had a huge beard. He was like a combo of some sort of mountain man + the dude from the big lebowski. He asked if he could join us rather than play through, which i thought was weird for a public course

 

Anyway, he went on to shoot somewhere in the neighborhood of even par, playing with 5 clubs in sandals 

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On 1/27/2021 at 3:16 PM, pktaske said:

 

I dont understand why more am's here aren't chipping in the backyard and putting on a mat in their living rooms till their arms fall off. I know its so much less enjoyable than watching a well struck 5 iron at the range but...

 

When I can get near the green, in my mind I'm confident I can get it up and down. At minimum, half of my pars are like this.

 

 

Because most ams can't drive it 270, while hitting 66% of fairways (assuming 0 OB, into hazards), and hit 12 GIRs. Those are pro level stats 

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20 minutes ago, MtlJeff said:

I posted this story a couple of times before but essentially the short version is:

 

I was playing at a public course a few years back as a threesome, and a guy caught up to us on the 3-4th hole. He was overweight, wearing sandals and cargo shorts, carrying his clubs in his hand (4-5 of them) and had a huge beard. He was like a combo of some sort of mountain man + the dude from the big lebowski. He asked if he could join us rather than play through, which i thought was weird for a public course

 

Anyway, he went on to shoot somewhere in the neighborhood of even par, playing with 5 clubs in sandals 

I've only encountered one person carry their clubs in hand before. It was a woman, playing with her 2 kids and husband. In one hand she carried her clubs, in the other her huge purse. Each time she hit, she'd have to lay everything down and then pick it al back up. This occurred ~8 times per hole for the first 2 holes given she could hardly hit it out of her shadow. After the first two holes took 45 minutes, luckily they got lost on their way to the 3rd, so they were just getting to that tee box as we were. We promptly asked if we could play through. The entire family looked bewildered this was occurring, completely oblivious, but obliged. The next 16 holes were much quicker.

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There's a guy at my club who's a social worker who is off about 6. When you see him play the first few holes you wonder how he can be lower than a 20.

 

Then he steps into the first available toilet (on 4 or 13 depending which 9 you are playing) and hotboxes and plays below his handicap from there. First time I played with him I was wondering what was taking him so long until I saw the cloud when he opened the door.

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4 hours ago, Krt22 said:

Because most ams can't drive it 270, while hitting 66% of fairways (assuming 0 OB, into hazards), and hit 12 GIRs. Those are pro level stats 

I think you've missed my point entirely. What you've stated above is exactly why us amateurs need to focus on getting up and down. Its something we can dedicate large amounts of time to doing around the house and it's the two most physically easy strokes in golf to master for most.

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4 minutes ago, pktaske said:

I think you've missed my point entirely. What you've stated above is exactly why us amateurs need to focus on getting up and down. Its something we can dedicate large amounts of time to doing around the house and it's the two most physically easy strokes in golf to master for most.

No I didn’t. Spending hours on short game to get up and down for double after you blast one OB isn’t time well spent. 
 

 

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On 1/28/2021 at 11:44 PM, Krt22 said:

No I didn’t. Spending hours on short game to get up and down for double after you blast one OB isn’t time...
 

 

 

Minimize damage off the tee and maximize through practice and repetition your short game. I would argue this is the best route to taking strokes off your game.

 

The hole always ends on the green so you will always collect on the ability to pitch, chip and putt well. 

 

If you're OB 3,4,5, etc times a round, then we are talking about an entirely different kind of golfer. But even given that, I'd bet serious money that you could get most guys like that in more fairways just by giving up a few yards off the tee.

 

 

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