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Ask Stan the Starter: Solving your stickiest golf dilemmas

Stan the Starter
Stan the Starter.

KICKING BUTTS

Dear Stan: I'm a smoker—trying to quit!—and I like to flick my spent cigs into bunkers. This annoys my playing partners, who call it littering. How should I get rid of the butts? — Dan M., Scranton, Penn.

I was a Pall Mall man for 30 years. I made that last drag part of my pre-shot routine, just like Arnie used to. But the King always flicked his cigs off to the side, never on greens or in fairways and bunkers. Be good to your golf course, I always say. Turn an empty water bottle into an ashtray. Another option: e-cigarettes. While I can't speak to the health factor, if you must smoke when you play, there's no butts about'em.

FAIRWAYS AND GREENBACKS

Stanley: I play a lot of courses that offer caddies. Some of them require that you tip in advance in the pro shop, along with the caddie fee. That makes it awkward after the round, plus I don't want to tip before I find out if the looper's any good. How should I handle this? — Barry B., Orlando, Fla.

I don't like the prepaid gratuity. There's pleasure in doling out cash to a hardworking caddie. When you're paying for your round, tell the pro-shop worker that you'd like to personally tip your bag man (or woman) based on performance. Insist (politely), if need be. Then ask a pro or the caddie master what a fair gratuity is for a job well done. And if your looper is super, hand out an extra twenty or two.

PLAYING THROUGH PAIN

Stan the Man! I like playing solo, and I often get stuck behind foursomes who don't wave me through. Aren't they supposed to give me the green light? — Jerry Gates, Simsbury, Conn.

Sure, it would be nice if every foursome waved singles through (assuming there's a gap in front of them), but when it comes to right of way, the foursome is king, and you're a court jester. If you want to play through, don't act entitled: no impatient body language or shouting, which will likely backfire. Instead, make your presence known in a less assertive way. On the tee box, pull up behind their carts and offer a simple hello. If you don't get the wave, try a self-effacing joke: "Guys, do you mind if I sneak in front of you? I promise to make some friends the next time I play." You've given them the choice of waving through a friendly guy or feeling rushed all round long. Guess which one they'll choose?

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