Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why You Should Never Gamble Against a Stranger

Unlike most any sports, nobody can ever figure out ones ability to play this game by looking at a person. It's impossible, just think if you saw Duffy Waldorf or Craig Parry walking up to shake your hand on the first tee. The words "simpleton" would probably stroll out of your mouth as you said your name and rolled your eyes at having been paired with another hack.

But that is the crazy thing. Nobody can judge ability. It isn't like basketball, where you can see a guy 6-foot-7 walk in the gym and imagine he is going to be good at some level (Hell, Shawn Bradley played in the NBA and had the hand-eye coordination of Helen Keller). If a 6-foot-3, completely cut up guy steps foot on the gridiron, he is probably going to be better than you. Golf ... all cover judging is out the window.

This is why you should never gamble against a guy in golf that you don't know (or have never heard of). It is a bad idea. A very, very bad idea for a number of reasons.

First, the person that suggests the wager is usually confident enough in his own game to toss out such an idea. He isn't bringing this up because he thinks he's going to lose. Nobody likes to lose to strangers. It's like when people crash a college party and insist they're next on beer pong, and you're the host. "Who the f--- are these guys," you wonder, and your only goal of the night has just become making them look foolish before you kick them out.

Second, it takes the fun out of the round. If you're out recreationally, you probably aren't used to gambling on the course. So, when Johnny Stranger is asking you to clean up that three-footer, you probably are going to be as nervous as you've ever been on the course, and the fun level just went down (especially when you miss the short putt).

Third, who knows the character of your playing companion. He might drag you along for a few holes, giving you hope and a chance before he actually starts playing. He might sandbag. He might let you win. He might be baiting you the entire time. No matter if he carries a 1-iron and has squinty eyes, the stranger could have game for days and just be finding other ways to convince you to give him money. Remember, when smart men step on golf courses, the 'ol IQ drops about 70 points, and this is no different. You could think a lot of things, including, "Man, I could really beat this guy," before he asks to up the bet on the back side and puts together a nice little 33.

My suggestions for gambling with a stranger, if you must.

-- Make the cheddar under $20 total (like a $5 Nassau), or drinks after. Those are simple enough and if the drinks are included, at least gives you the chance to chum up to the guy in hopes that he enjoyable enough for a post-round brewski.

-- If you don't feel comfortable doing it, declining the bet is far from demoralizing. Nobody is going to dog your manhood if you don't want to bet, and if this guy gets his rocks off by taking money from inferior talent, he'll have to wait another day.

-- If you know you are going to fold under pressure, avoid the handshake. Just don't do it. You're there to have some fun.

-- Fudge your handicap. He is. You should too.


Vince Spence said...


First, you ask his handicap. Cut that in half. Double yours.

His eight becomes a four. My ten becomes a twenty.

Then start negotiating like a maniac...

The twenties start flowing your way.

Mike said...

Got burned, did you?