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Should you al­ways help play­ing com­pan­ions search for their ball?


The key word here is ‘al­ways’, for nearly ev­ery golfer knows that it’s cour­te­ous to help those you’re play­ing with search for their balls when they’ve strayed from the short grass, on the un­writ­ten un­der­stand­ing that they will do like­wise when you’re in trou­ble.

For­tu­nately, I’ve played with rel­a­tively few golfers over the years who have failed to do this. But I do know that on the odd oc­ca­sion that it has hap­pened, it has cer­tainly ran­kled a lit­tle, es­pe­cially when I’ve had a de­cent score go­ing. So how can I pos­si­bly be ar­gu­ing against such good, com­monly ac­cepted prac­tice?

Well, as with most things in life, there has to be a limit, es­pe­cially at a time when ‘pace of play’ is the buzz phrase on the lips of nearly ev­ery­one in golf. I know that if I’m spray­ing it around into the deep stuff on ev­ery other hole, and the hand­i­cap and more has long since been used up, I will say to my play­ing com­pan­ions af­ter a few searches: “Don’t worry about me. You con­cen­trate on your own games – my score’s al­ready long gone.”

I have to ad­mit, I very much hope that they would do like­wise. None of us is play­ing for the crown jew­els af­ter all, and surely the more press­ing re­quire­ment is the con­tin­ued en­joy­ment of most play­ing (and fol­low­ing), rather than an un­rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion that ev­ery­one should con­duct re­peated painstak­ing searches ev­ery time you’re un­able to keep your ball on the straight and nar­row.

Does that make me a bad per­son? I cer­tainly don’t think so, and I hope you would agree that com­mon sense should ap­ply on those more ex­treme days when some­one you’re play­ing with has sim­ply left home with­out a golf game.

“There has to be a limit, es­pe­cially at a time when ‘pace of play’ is a buzz phrase on the lips of ev­ery­one in golf”


I’m not a re­li­gious per­son, but I do agree with the odd line from the bi­ble. One I al­ways try to keep in mind is, “Do unto oth­ers as you would have them do unto you.” That makes good sense to me, and it ap­plies to ev­ery as­pect of life… Even when it comes to the ques­tion of whether you should al­ways look for your play­ing com­pan­ions’ golf balls!

If I’ve lost a ball, I will (al­most al­ways) want to find it and two pairs of eyes are bet­ter than one. I would ex­pect my play­ing com­pan­ions to help me in the search and, as such, I would al­ways en­deav­our to help them.

It’s not an oner­ous task and it will be even less so this year, as max­i­mum search­ing time has been re­duced to three min­utes un­der the new rules. Even if some­one is hav­ing a ter­ri­ble day and shelling ev­ery other drive into the knee-high cab­bage, it doesn’t take much of your time to have a sup­port­ive stomp around search­ing. It may be tire­some, but it’s good for the soul.

And, in terms of pace of play, your as­sis­tance could keep things mov­ing. If the per­son whose ball is lost spends the al­lot­ted time look­ing for it, then you will have to wait any­way. If you go and help, you might find it and play can keep mov­ing; it might even pre­vent the dreaded walk back. As I said, two pairs of eyes are bet­ter than one.

Even if you’re frus­trated at hav­ing to trudge around in the hay for a fifth time in seven holes, you can, and should, do it. Some­times we have to do things in life we don’t want to, and help­ing some­one out is ab­so­lutely the right thing to do. Quite frankly, it’s not much of an ask. You might be tired at the end of the day, but at least you can still feel good about your­self.

“If the per­son whose ball is lost spends the al­lot­ted time look­ing for it, you will have to wait any­way”

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