The Do’s and Don’ts of getting put on the clock.

BIt was Monday after Fourth of July weekend, and I was on my way to Montammy Golf Club in Alpine, N.J., for a U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier. Fortunately, a series of impressively mature decisions over the weekend led to me not being hungover. Win. Unfortunately, I had to wake up early enough to beat the traffic. I hit snooze, and thus didn’t have time to make coffee. Big loss.

I went through all the motions of warming up, tried not to cry when I hit putts on a practice green that was lightning fast and tried to channel my inner Lexi Thompson off the first tee.

All was going as it should: Pins were impossible to get to and misses of a few yards turned pars into a distant dream. Annoying, but expected. The first six holes were pretty slow, and my group waited on just about every shot. But things opened up after that. Then we made the turn.

We handed in our scores for the first nine so my co-workers could check live-scoring to see how I was doing in a real golf event. (Not well. But thanks for cheering, guys.) An official came up to our group and told us that we were nine minutes behind the group in front of us, 18 minutes off pace, and were being put on the clock. As if the day wasn’t hard enough. They’d start timing us, and if we fell off pace, stroke penalties to the whole group would be divvied out.

OK, this one was my bad. When we were put on the clock I could see my two playing partners tense up immediately. Yeah, it is a big deal — no one wants an unnecessary penalty. But stressing about it isn’t going to help your play at all. And if you start hitting bad shots, you’re only going to get slower. So, to lighten the mood, I said to my playing partners, “Maybe they’ll credit us all the time we spent waiting on the first six holes, then we’ll be on pace.” The official heard me. And didn’t laugh. Whoops.

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