Your golf questions answered!

Am I required to tip at a golf course?
- James C., Eldon
Tipping as in a gratuity is sometimes expected depending on the type of course you are playing. Like in all gratuity situations the quality of service determines the amount to tip.  The better the service the better the gratuity. The price to play a course also can dictate the appropriate amount, the higher the green fee the more customary it is to tip the staff. Many courses such as municipal or daily fee courses do not require or expect employees to be tipped. If a course does not have a strict dress code, you probably won’t have to tip. If you are playing a course for the first time you may call ahead and inquire about the gratuity policy.

Take a look at this guide featuring individuals you may or may not see at a facility and gratuity guidelines.
Valet Parking: $3
Bag Drop: $2 to $3 per bag
Starter: Typically no gratuity unless you don’t have a tee time and he or she works your group in on a busy day
Cart Return: $2 to $3 per bag and more if they clean your clubs
Caddies: 50 percent of the caddy fee is customary and more if the caddie provided an excellent experience.
Forcaddies: $50 to $100 total for the foursome
Snack Bar: Look for a tip jar and leave a buck or some change. Full service restaurant, tip as usual
Beverage Cart:    $1 tip on every $3 purchased

What do the numbers on the “handicap” row of the scorecard represent?
- Clint P., Laurie

The handicap row is a ranking of the holes on the course in order of difficulty with 1 being the most difficult. The hole ranked 1 on the handicap line is the hole where a golfer is most likely to need a stroke in competition against a better player. This allows players of all abilities to compete either in match or stroke play. In stroke play if your handicap was 18 you would deduct 1 stroke per hole to record your net score for the day. If your handicap was 22 you would deduct 2 strokes on the 4 hardest handicap holes and 1 on all the rest. The same rules apply if you were playing match play against another player, but in this case if one player is a 9 handicap and the other is an 18, the 9 handicap golfer would get zero strokes or play as a scratch golfer. The 18 handicap golfer would get 9 strokes (18-9) and would get to deduct 1 stroke on each of the 9 hardest handicap holes. You may also see two numbers on the handicap row.  The first number is designated the men’s handicap and the other is the ladies’ handicap for that particular hole.

I am 64 years old and have been playing for two years. What clubs should I be carrying in my bag? I am about a 22 handicap?  
- Bob C., Eugene    

The amount and types of clubs will vary for each person. I personally suggest carrying a larger variety of wedges. Typically, golfers have a wider gap in distances with the shorter irons. You may have a 10-or 15-yard gap between your Pitching Wedge and 9 iron and 9 iron to 8 Iron, and only a 3-or 4-yard gap between your 4 iron and hybrid. I would do a gap or distance fitting on yourself. See where you have the largest distance gaps between two or more clubs and try and fill these areas. It may be you need to carry three or four wedges or add another hybrid. If you are hitting two clubs a similar distance there is no reason to carry both in your bag. Replace it with something you can better use more often.

Paul Leahy is a PGA Golf Professional and the Director of Golf at The Oaks at Tan-Tar-A Resort.