The Etiquetteist: The socially acceptable amount to gloat about your round

January 18, 2019

You should have seen me out there today. I was flushing my tee shots and stiffing my irons but I couldn’t make a putt to save my life. Then on the 16th, you know, that long par-4, I nuke a drive and stuff a 7-iron to six feet, but it’s a downhill slider and I…

Bored yet? You should be.

Because if there’s anything duller than watching bentgrass grow, it’s listening to your friend or colleague relay the details of his or her round.

The tediousness of such storytelling is so extreme that anytime you feel inclined to “treat” your buddies to a play-by-play, proper etiquette suggests that you pause and ask yourself some questions, says veteran CBS announcer and noted raconteur Gary McCord.

“Did you make a hole-in-one or an albatross? Did you do anything at all even remotely out of the ordinary?” McCord says. “If so, then, okay. But otherwise, the unwritten rule is never, ever talk about yourself.”

A golfer celebrates on the green.
You made your first birdie of the year? Great! Now keep it to yourself.

Even in the event of a lightning-strike achievement (like, say, getting struck by lightning, which, properly conveyed, might make a decent story) any retelling of your own exploits should be brief and understated.

“Be humble, because this is a dastardly game, and 99 percent of what happens out there is bad,” McCord says. “That’s another reason no one wants to hear about what you did. It’s macabre. It’s grim. It’s depressing. The vast majority of times, it isn’t happy stuff.”

If you simply can’t resist the urge to share, focus your account on your partner’s play. The more mockery, the better.

“Do it in their presence and be sure to taunt them, make it as demeaning as possible,” McCord says. “Tell everyone how Fairway Louie lost his ball or hit a big duck on 18 that actually killed a duck. That’s entertaining. But anything about you? Absolutely no way.”

The same rule of silence applies beyond the course. Don’t bore your doctor, your barber or bartender. And, above all, don’t bug your spouse.

“Are you kidding?” McCord says. “Don’t even tell them you played golf at all.”