Happy talk: Do you go crazy over a birdie, or is that nuts?

Today’s golf dilemma doesn’t involve ball flight or club selection, but it does touch upon course management.

It doesn’t teach us anything about maximizing our strengths or minimizing our mistakes, but it’s all about whether to stay even keel.

It’s simple:

To celebrate or not to celebrate?

Week after week, I watch the pros make birdie after birdie and not even crack a smile. They were joking about it on the CBS telecast today as Dustin Johnson backed up his second-round 60 with a 64 – and never showed a hint of emotion.

I have to admit that I’m affected by this attitude. I think a lot of us are. It just doesn’t seem right to go crazy when you make a birdie.

For one thing, the golf gods are watching. The post-birdie disaster could be one bad shot away. (Negative thinking, but we’ve all been there.)

For another, we have been taught not to raise our voices out there. Act like you’ve made a birdie before, we were told when we first learned how to play our great game. Other players don’t appreciate it when you overdo it. It’s good etiquette to be reserved.

And, besides all that, we want to be like the pros, and they act as if birdie is what they’re supposed to do – because, well, it is.

So, clearly, one birdie isn’t the time to scream at the top of your lungs or even do a little dance. But what about a string of them?

This came up a couple of weeks ago when a friend and I alternated birdie runs in two separate rounds.

On the first day, I birdied three of four holes. I didn’t consider it anything overly dramatic – they came on a short par-5 and two short par-3s. Sure, I was really happy about it, but I didn’t go crazy.

He couldn’t understand it.

“Look happier!” he said.

“But I AM happy!” I responded.

I was. Really. But I’ve never been overly demonstrative on the golf course, and I never will be unless I finally make a hole-in-one after all these years. Then, I think, I should be permitted to let out a whoop.

In our next round, he did me one better – he made four consecutive birdies. Did he lose his mind? Not really. But I did the only logical thing: I got down on my knees and bowed.

He had a good look at birdie on the next hole, too. I’m not sure what I would have done if he had made that one.

So where do you come down on this issue? It might depend on whether you’re playing the golf course or an opponent.

When you play a match, it’s not uncommon for some people to gloat when they make a birdie. It could be worth lunch or much more.

But when you play the golf course and root for your playing partners, you’re simply trying to go as low as you can. And if someone else has a good hole, good for them.

Either way, though, there’s a dilemma here.  

Maybe I’ve got this all wrong. Maybe we need a celebration deliberation. Maybe the way to bring golf to the masses is to throw out everything we’ve been taught and scream so loud after a birdie that the whole course hears us.

But I don’t think so. The whole course doesn’t need to know that I made a birdie.

I’m happy. Really I am.   

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