Are You Competitive?

Are you competitive?

Do you consider yourself a competitive person? If you’re an elite athlete, you’re probably a very competitive person by nature. But what about the recreational golfer? Do you need to be competitive in order to enter and enjoy tournaments?

I’ve played in dozens of tournaments like the member/member, member/guest, member/pro, club championship, season-long match play and couples tournaments.

Are they “serious tournaments”? Well, yes and no.

They’re tournaments with a format and rules to follow, and play is governed by the USGA rules of golf. And no, you can’t take a breakfast ball! 😂 Golf is a gentleman’s sport (gentle person really) and relies on the integrity of the players.

matching golf outfits is one of our favorite things about ladies' tournaments

Country Club golf is supposed to be fun. My two home courses Lahontan Golf Club and The Santaluz Club go to great efforts and expense to create fun, beautiful, festive women’s events for their members and their guests. We’ve truly had some of the best experiences of our lives at these tournaments. The food, the flowers, the music… and the wonderful ladies who join are all so much fun!

I think these types of events are “competitive light”. In other words, the rules are followed, but most of the ladies are there to enjoy the festivities, have a few cocktails and play the best rounds they can (without getting up at 5am to warm up for two hours). Most of the ladies take their bad luck and bad shots with a grain of salt and even when they’re no longer in the running for a trophy, they root for their girlfriends.

I find our ladies to be competitive in that they show up to a tournament with hopes of winning a trophy, but aren’t so invested that they are disappointed when things don’t go as well as they would have liked.

They try their best, but don’t beat themselves up. They focus but don’t lose sight of the cocktail hour after the round. They spend more time working on matching outfits than practicing their bunker shots. I call it “competitive light” because it’s fun to bring a trophy home, but even more fun to be with our girlfriends, where we can laugh and enjoy the golf lifestyle that is ohhhh, so good.

The Santaluz Club always serves delicious, healthy food during their ladies tournaments!

What Happened to Resolutions?

Marcela High Five on the Golf Course

So often we start out the new year with resolutions —perhaps to lose weight, save money, or learn a new language. If you’re a golfer you may have had a resolution to lower your handicap.

I had a very specific goal this year to spend my summer working on achieving a more athletic swing. My husband and I spend our summers in Lake Tahoe, so I had exactly nine weeks to work with my coach up there, and I was on a mission.

I knew if I played regularly this summer I could probably get my handicap down, but was that the most important thing to me? What about improving my actual swing – the way it looks, feels and performs consistently for me at any course?

Marcela Teaching

I took action to achieve my goals...

On July 1st I told Chris Tschirhart, my PGA teaching pro at Lahontan GC, that I was very serious about making some changes to my swing. I wanted, no, I needed to have a more athletic swing that would serve me on my golfing journey. After all, I’m a golf rules blogger and there are videos of my clumsy swing all over Instagram.

SCGA FOREher Publication just published my article about my golf resolution for 2019 (and how I did it!)

Read the full article on their website here

Lahontan Golf Club

Can I Share Clubs With My Partner?

Can I share clubs with my partner in a best ball format?

I often have ladies ask me if they can share clubs with their partner in order to save time in a best ball or scramble.

I think 99% of the amateurs out there believe they can borrow a sand wedge in a pinch, since it’s a “partner” or “team” format.

Golf Rules 2019

The answer can be found in Rule 22.5.  Yes, you may share clubs in that scenario, however, the 14 club limit would be the total number of clubs you can both have together. In other words, not 14 for each of you, but 14 for both of you in this case.

And then you would exceed the 14 club limit, which would mean you would incur a penalty, which is a minimum of two strokes in Stroke Play, or deducting a hole in Match Play. (It gets a bit complicated because you must first determine when the player became aware of the breach. See page 39 of the UGSA Rules of Golf book)

So of course, the bottom line is you probably never want to share clubs!

Golf Etiquette

Do you think this means you shouldn’t be courteous and pick up a club you encounter on the course during your round?  Rule 4.1b(1) says it’s okay to put a lost club in your bag, or even accidentally have your partners’s club in your bag, as long as you don’t use it. 

For more details on the rules, head over to

Accidental Double Hit

Accidental Double Hit is No Longer a Penalty!

One of the changes that I’m really happy about is Rule 10.1 – an accidental double hit is no longer a penalty!

If you accidentally double hit your ball (which can happen sometimes when when you’re in a rough or when you’re in a bunker) there is no longer a penalty.  And it can happen anywhere on the course. Just play it as it lies and go on with your round! Pretty cool, huh?

The Nitty Gritty:

Rule 10.1a (USGA)

If the player’s club accidentally hits the ball more than once, there has been only one stroke and there is no penalty.

Check out USGA’s site for exceptions and further details, but we can breathe a sigh of relief here. 

Using a Club to Take Your Stance

Using a Club To Take Your Stance

Another big change in 2019 is that using a club to take your stance will earn you a penalty.

According to rule 10.2b you may not take your stance for a stroke using any object that was set down to help you line up or show you the line of play.

This is true anywhere on the course, including the putting green. Watch this video to learn more.

And you can’t place it there, line up and then remove it – you’ll still incur the General Penalty which is two strokes in Stroke Play and loss of hole in Match Play.

Take a look at page 86 of the new 2019 Rules of Golf Book, it’s Rule 10.2b (3)

So many of the new rules were designed to help speed up pace-of-play, which we are all really excited about. Read more about the USGA 2019 Rules and Interpretations.

Leaving The Flagstick In The Hole

Leaving The Flagstick In The Hole

You’ve probably heard that in 2019 you may leave the flagstick in the hole while you’re putting. However, did you know that you could incur a penalty in a couple of scenarios?

Rule 13 The Flagstick Be Decisive About the Flagstick Position

Since leaving the flagstick in is all new to us in 2019, it’s important to be decisive about the flagstick position. Be sure to communicate your preference clearly because after you have made a stroke with the flag left in the hole, you cannot ask someone to deliberately move it so that you’ll avoid it. 

In other words, you cannot change your mind after you’ve made the stroke.  If you do, you will incur the general penalty.


“The player must not try to gain an advantage by deliberately moving the flagstick to a position other than centered in the hole.

If the player does so and the ball in motion hits the flagstick, he or she gets the general penalty.”


“When the player has left the flagstick in the hole and has not authorized anyone to attend the flagstick another player must not deliberately move or remove the flagstick to affect where the player’s ball in motion might come to rest.

If another player or his or her caddie does so before or during the stroke and the player makes the stroke without being aware of this, or does so while the player’s ball is in motion after the stroke, that other player gets the General Penalty.”

The General Penalty is two strokes in Stroke Play and loss of hole in Match Play.

You must decide this before making the stroke by either having the flagstick removed from the hole before playing your ball, or authorizing someone to attend the flagstick.

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How To Tend The Flagstick On The Green

How to tend the flagstick on the green

How To Tend The Flagstick On The Green

I’m all about golf etiquette and especially pace-of-play, so knowing where you should stand,  what you should say, and how to tend the flagstick on the green is important!

We’ve played with people who don’t pay attention and walk away without even considering where everyone lies on the green. You’ll need to think about where each player’s ball is on the green (so you don’t walk on their line), and who is furthest away (which means they will putt first) and may need you to attend the flag for them.

Yes, the rules will change in 2019 and there will no longer be a penalty when your ball hits the flagstick, but that doesn’t mean every player is going to want it left in the hole.

Remember, pace-of-play is the single most important part of golf (right after the cute outfits) so when you are not keeping up with the players ahead of you and/or the foursome behind you is breathing down your neck, picking up! 

How To Tend The Flagstick On The Green

Watch my buddy David Blake, rules official, explain how to tend the flagstick. 

You may think this is too basic and remedial, but seriously guys, knowing how to tend the flagstick is important! No one wants stress or confusion when they’re about to sink a long putt for birdie!

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Are You A Sandbagger?

Are you a sandbagger?

Are You A Sandbagger?

We all joke about being sandbaggers, but how do you know if you are a sandbagger?

What Is Sandbagging?

Sandbagging is when you intentionally play below your potential so that you increase your handicap to make it easier for you to win in the future. You’ve seen it before, golfers who just swat at their putt when they are about to make a birdie because they don’t want to have a super-low score.

Playing By The Rules

Golf is a game of rules, a “gentleman’s sport” so-to-speak (but I prefer gentle-person). In addition to needing to play by the rules of golf, if we are going to play in any tournaments, guest days or gamble while playing, we must be sure to keep an accurate golf index, which enables us to calculate our course handicap.

Watch this video to discover if you or someone you play with is a sandbagger, and what you can do about it!

See details on Equitable Stroke Control and the maximum you can post on any given golf hole.