Stanley: I was playing with a colleague when he developed a case of the shanks. I was torn: Suggest a tip, or zip my lip? — Matt Tucker, Muncie, Ind.
Never offer an unsolicited swing fix, unless you're a Harmon (Butch, Craig or Bill). Your heart's in the right place, but your swing medicine may taste bitter to someone who's still fuming from his last hosel rocket. He may just tell you to go fix yourself. Try some empathy instead. Say, "I feel your pain. I had the shanks once, but my teacher's tip did the trick." He'll either ask you to share, or work things out his own way. (Oh, and another Harmon — Angie — can give me a lesson anytime.)
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Mr. Stan: On the first tee the guy I was paired with said, "I'm a drunk, and I'm here to drink." He didn't disappoint. How do you handle playing with a lush? — Frank Hunyady, via e-mail
It depends. If he's a happy boozer, enjoy his hiccuping company as best you can, and forget about playing him in a match (he won't remember the rules, let alone follow them). But if he's more like my uncle Buddy — angry and disruptive when buzzed — call the pro shop and get him booted. The only bender you should have to watch on the course is your power fade.
Hey, Starter Man: My dad has a pace-of-play problem: He's too fast! I'm still putting while he's teeing up his next ball. How do I get him to slow down so I can enjoy a relaxing day with him? — Adam Baum, via e-mail
A while a brisk pace is a virtue, too much of any good thing (fast play, Game of Thrones, double-fudge chunk ice cream) is bad news. To help slow Dad down, get him more involved in your game. Ask him for swing and green-reading advice. Get him to tend the flag. He'll feel flattered, and his added attentiveness will make him hit the brakes.
Make Stan's day and email your quandaries to him at [email protected].