Emmy Reis

Golf is a singular luxury for me. Living in New England, time slows to a crawl from fall through the spring, when the weather won't permit play. During the off-season, it’s not uncommon for me to head down to the basement and stare longingly at a cobwebbed set of golf clubs, wondering when I’ll be swinging them again on an expanse of green land.

I’ve also got two kids under three, which means time and money are tight. But when the stars align perfectly, there’s nothing better than hitting the links with plenty of beers and buddies. The key, of course, is not taking a single stroke -- or brew -- for granted.

So for those who are equally strapped for time and money, but want to get the most out of their golfing and drinking experience, I invite you to follow the 18 tips below (one for every hole) for properly pairing a round of golf with multiple rounds of beers. Here's the only way to do it:

One: Call your significant other.

It’s funny: if I were to get dressed up in a nice outfit and tell my wife that I'm going out drinking with my friend Clay at 7:30 AM, she’d surely question my judgment. But if I tell my wife I’m playing golf with Clay at 7:30 AM -- no questions asked. To ensure that the day continues without a hitch, use the pre-round to make a call: “I’m here. Just getting on my shoes now...oh look, Clay’s here. Love you. I’ll text you during the round.”

Two: Covertly pack a cooler.

Many golf courses don’t allow coolers on the course, for an obvious reason: they want you to buy their beers. With that said, should you feel inclined, pack a soft cooler that holds six beers. Not only can you use it for stashing away a few libations, but -- because we’re adults now -- a couple of bottles of water, too.
credits:"Mike Mahaffie / Flickr" width:800 align:center

Three: Buy something at the bar.

You may have beers packed, but grab a couple more on the course. I like to start big with a light and refreshing vodka and lemonade...or a gigantic, citrusy double IPA.

Four: Make friends with the drink cart person.

The best courses will employ someone to drive a drinks cart around with a full stash of beer. Flag this person down. Tip well so they’ll continue to seek you out on your round.

Five: Switch to light beer.

You might love high-octane hop-bombs, but those beers simply aren't sustainable over 18 holes. From here on out, stick to light lager or session ales. You won’t lose any beer street cred for playing the long game.

Six: Make it interesting.

Gambling is fun. We like to make our rounds interesting by adding incentives. We like to play ‘closest to the pin’ on the next par three. Loser buys a round at the turn.
credits:"Trysil / Flickr"

Seven: Remember the time of day.

A golf course is like an airport. Drinking is allowed at any time without judgment, but you must practice moderation. So if you’re teeing off in the morning, don’t drink like it’s last call and the world’s about to end. Got an afternoon tee time? Just make sure to get home for dinner.

Eight: Come into the turn empty-handed.

You don’t want to be that foursome coming into the clubhouse with a cart-full of empties. You look like an asshole tossing can after can into the trash, and then sidling up to the bar to load up for the back nine. Finish your beers by eight, and roll into the turn with a clean cart. It’s better for appearances.

Nine: Re-up at the bar.

Don’t be cheap -- buy another round!

credits:"Mike Mozart / Flickr" width:400 align:right

Ten: Hydrate.

Drinking and playing golf in the hot sun can dehydrate you and drain you of energy. You don’t want to be crawling down the 18th fairway because you have no fluids in your body. Plus, being hydrated will make you play better, according to science. And Gatorade commercials.

Eleven: Grab a snack.

Eat something. Grab a hot dog, a bag of pretzels, or a banana, even. You need something other than booze in your stomach -- but keep it simple. I once played in a foursome with a guy who ordered a lobster roll at the turn. [Editor’s note: This is the most New England sentence we’ve ever published.] I think he was asleep by hole 13.

Twelve: Text your spouse.

There was a time when a guy or gal could escape to the sanctuary of the golf course and not have to worry about checking in with his or her spouse. Then cell phones were invented. Text who you need to text at the 12th hole. Use ambiguous language about how far along you are, and always blame the group ahead of you. “We’re almost on 14. Waiting on the group in front of us!” Both technically true.

Thirteen: Don’t be a dick.

Sure, some of golf’s etiquette and attitude seems a bit anachronistic. And sometimes a round costs a pretty penny. But if you misbehave, you risk angering club members who'll be on your heels and a ranger who's constantly lurking along the cart path. So maybe don't swing your driver at a shaken up beer can, okay? ...Actually, that does seem hilarious. And I'm sober.

credits:"Matt Osgood" align:right width:400

Fourteen: Don’t be a dick, part two.

Make sure you’re disposing of cans properly. Don’t leave them on the fairway or toss them into the rough. Likewise, if you have to pee, take more than just a step into the woods, will ya?

Fifteen: Blame the beer (or give it credit).

Some people make golf look easy. Those people are called pro golfers. For most of us, it’s a stupidly difficult sport. Drinking, however, gives you an out. Shank a drive? Blame the beer. Stick one on the green in two? Tell everyone you play your best golf somewhere between beer three and five.

Sixteen: Make plans to head to the 19th hole.

You owe it to yourself and your playing partners for a round of drinks after the final putt has hit the bottom of the cup. In fact, you should probably each buy a round. Low man buys first.

Seventeen: Blame someone else.

Your round might go longer than you'd expected. And this will definitely happen when you consider after-round drinks. If you realize you’re definitely going to be late, make sure you have a scapegoat. Blame Clay. Let’s face it, he’s in his car blaming you.

Eighteen: Get home safe.

And, last, but certainly not least: take a cab or car service home. You want to make sure you get to do it all again, don't you?