How to Act Like You Know How to Play Golf

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Professional golfers make it look so easy. Just switch on the Masters Tournament this week (April 11–14, on CBS) and you’ll see any number of pros gracefully whale their tee shots, sink breathtaking putts, and handle a club with the effortless grace of Fred Astaire dancing with a coat rack.

But even if you don’t know a putt from an approach shot or an eagle from an albatross, you can still adopt some easy little gestures and act like you’ve been hitting the links all your life. Here, Jason Birnbaum, the director of golf instruction at Manhattan Woods Golf Academy in West Nyack, New York, shares a few simple mannerisms so you can convincingly mimic practiced golfers.

Primp for it

Costuming is everything, even on the golf course. Just knowing the dress code—a crisp, collared golf shirt, tucked into pressed pants—goes a long way toward making you look like a golf native. The hat is key, too, Birnbaum says: “If somebody shows up at the course and they’re wearing a [logo] hat that has nothing to do with golf, that’s kind of a sign they’re not a golfer.”

Pay attention to a few key accessories. If you want to come off like a pro, know where to stash your golf glove when it’s not in use (ICYDK: You take it off after each shot). For a very long time, golfers would simply remove it and stuff it in their pant’s back pocket. Since that spot is now occupied by cell phones, Birnbaum points out that “the huge, popular thing now is to take it off and stuff it between your belt and shorts or pants at [the small of] their back.” Keep an eye on where you keep your sunglasses, too: When seasoned golfers set up for a shot, they often place their shades on the backs of their heads and upside-down. “If you wear them normally, in the front, they will fall off mid-swing,” Birnbaum says.

Prep for it

When you plant a tee, you are not Scooby Doo’s friend Velma groveling on all fours in search of her glasses. You’re not even on your knees. Watch the pros, and you know they just lean over, standing on one leg, and press the tee in with a thumb. Birnbaum says that experienced golfers only ever approach their ball from behind: “They make a straight line between the target, the ball, and themselves and kind of walk up to the ball and aim it,” he says. 

Another subtle habit of golfers is checking which way the wind is blowing. The obvious pantomime would be licking a finger and holding it up—but that’s not the direction to go. Instead, Birnbaum notes that experienced golfers will grab tiny grass clippings, hold up their arm and drop them (think: TV chefs dramatically salting a dish).

Before teeing off, golf insiders will also practice their swing by holding two clubs, not just one, Birnbaum says. “It’s almost like when baseball players use two bats or put a weighted doughnut on the bat, to make it heavier,” he says. “So when you swing for real, it feels much easier and lighter.”

Step on it

Real golfers drip swag—at least when they’re behind the wheel of a golf cart. They casually lean back, Birnbuam says, “and put one foot up on the dashboard.” Sure, the battery-powered vehicle is essentially one step up from a Power Wheels Disney Princess Jeep Ride-On Toy with Sounds and Phrases, but that doesn’t mean you have to drive it like a baby!