Late at night, when normal human beings are sleeping, one writer spends literal hours on Reddit Golf, a treasure trove of humor, whining, equipment scores, outright lies and occasionally some great advice. It also led him, once upon a time, to Bucket Hat Guy. Each Friday, he will bring the site’s best content to you, so that you can live a normal life.

I have many flaws as a human being, but in general, one compliment I can pay myself is that I’m a good competitor. I don’t mean that I’m good at the game itself—I’m definitely not—but that I’ve got the right attitude toward opponents and teammates. I love competing, but I can handle losing, and unless someone is an absolute jerk, the vibes are usually good. I get mad at myself, constantly, and it’s one of my worst traits as a human being, but with friends or even strangers, I’m a pretty good one to win or lose against. With golf partners, I look for the same traits—people who love to compete, and take it seriously in the moment, but who are never dicks to anyone but themselves.

But what happens when things get too hot on the course, and the people that are supposed to be your friends are going too hard at each other, and creating an environment that is borderline unfriendly and definitely not fun? That’s the question posed this week on Reddit by user Mdizzle29, who paints the following bleak picture of how things have deteriorated in his regular game:

I have a few friends who are pretty good at golf, but I’ve gotten a ton of lessons and now we’re fairly even.

This has created a competitive rivalry that has gone into screaming matches, accusations of cheating etc etc. There is money on the outcome as well.

Back when i sucked at golf, they were more supportive. But now that I go toe to toe they get really chippy.

I only seem them every once in a while and the threads are too deep after many years to just bail.

Any tips for “turning down the temperature” and making it fun to play with each other again? I’d like to re-frame this relationship. I have other friends I play with and we have a blast and a lot of laughs and are generally supportive. Which is a lot more fun.

Any tips?

Well, the glib answer here is, “find new friends,” and plenty of people took that tack with poor Mdizzle. But sometimes in life, the ties are too deep to just write off an entire friend group, or at least until things get so toxic that it’s intolerable. So let’s take his question at face value—how do you take a progressively rotten dynamic and fix it, but without abandoning everyone?

Here are a few choice responses:

_RandomB_: Quit playing for money, it’s pretty simple. I’ve seen guys get into it like that over a one dollar skin, it’s just stupid. You’re golfing with the wrong people, if you have fun golfing with other folks, golf with them instead.

0_SomethingStupid: when it starts to become unfun … tell them straight up.

stupid_mans_idiot: How direct communication is this far down the list is beyond me. “Guys we got to find a way to have more fun out there or we’re gonna need to find a different hobby”

YourStolenCharizard: Yeah, I would either tell them straight up that it sucks playing with them when they’re like this and: 1. They check their s***, realize they’re acting like a*******s and change (best outcome), 2. Stop playing for money (least likely but worth a try), 3. Stop playing with them. Life is too short to not enjoy every time you get to tee it up, especially with friends.

Cartman68: Golf is supposed to be fun. None of you golfs for a living. Don’t play for money, play for fun.

etakmit: You’re all adults right? “Hey guys I don’t think I can play with you if we’re playing for money. You all turn into assholes and I don’t enjoy the round of golf with you. Can we stop the money games and just have a good time?” If they don’t take that well – play with your friends who aren’t assholes.

Otherwise-Present-54: Play like the 6-6-6 game or something so everyone is on the same team at some point in the round. Maybe being teammates some of the time will get the chippyness redirected and at some point with everyone they will be rooting for you. + you still play your own ball and keep your own score.

These are all good, fair points from the Redditors, but there’s another problem here, which is that his friends don’t seem to be happy for him now that he’s improving. This is far too common in amateur sports, and one comment relayed what I consider a pretty sad story.

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FastZX14: I have a buddy that introduced me to golf about 10 years ago. He was my regular playing partner for years. The first few years he was always better than me…he was always a fun guy to play with. Never got too hot or cold. After 4-5 years I got better and it was fairly even. This is when things changed with his attitude. He still expected to beat me and when he didn’t he would pout and be unpleasant to be around. This was around the time I started to take the game more seriously. I started going to the range, grinding my short game, putting, etc. I QUICKLY got to where I was much better than him and he could not hang. He also does not practice at all. His attitude got even worse. He would be so mad by the third or fourth hole that he was not fun to be around. I think the fact that he use to be way better than me and now couldn’t hang hurt his ego pretty bad…long story short. I stopped playing with him and found another group that is much more pleasant. He now only plays 2-3 times a year.

That’s an extreme example, but it hits at the main issue here—this is about the friends. I thought this next comment was maybe the most insightful of the entire thread.

Putting Philosopher: Your friends aren’t overly competitive, they’re jackasses. If they were actually competitive they would enjoy being out there competing. If they were competitive, they would be glad you got better and that it takes them playing well to beat you now. If they were competitive, they would respect the competition and accept that losing is a part of that. If they were competitive, they would be pissed off AT THEMSELVES that they lost, laugh, talk s***, and plot their revenge for next time. If they were competitive, they would channel their baby rage into the golf and it wouldn’t spill over and turn into a ***** fest. Not competitive. Soft.

And this cements the point:

JumpmanJackson: I’m all for a competitive money match with some chirping back and forth, but if it’s constant every time you guys play then I’d simply start playing with the other crew more and these guys less. You can try to convince them not to play for money but I have a feeling that won’t go over well.

It is extreme to just say, “dump your friends,” and it’s definitely worth communicating before that drastic step, but I can’t help but think that this might be how it ends. In college, my friend group fell into this same rough pattern, where competition turned us unfriendly toward one another within the context of the competition, and it resulted in plenty of residual bitterness afterward. I wasn’t smart enough to eject back then, but it did inform how I picked friends forever after. A few commenters brought out this cliche, but though it’s the easy answer, it’s also true: life really is too short.

Of course, there is another novel solution we haven’t yet covered, and I want to end with that. If you don’t want to resolve this thing with communication or a total opt-out, why not try…copious amounts of alcohol?

Sea_Antelope441: A beer a hole, shotgun one at the turn. Or a little flask. Should take the heat off

This seems like either the world’s best idea, or a truly, truly terrible one. Only one way to find out!

Previously:To hell with the clock change!Is everyone lying about how good they are?What do you do when your spouse doesn’t like you playing golf?Don’t be the range police!Never pick up a stranger’s ball

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