He Said

How to Become a Guilt-Free Golfer

A veteran golfer shares insight about how to have a happy wife and a happy life…and still golf.

You want to make a tee time for Saturday, but you stand frozen with the phone in your hand dreading your wife’s reaction to the news…again. Worse yet, you’ve already made the tee time and you’re trying to figure out how to break the news. Either way, you’re in for the cold shoulder at best, and at worst a full-blown argument. It won’t stop you from golfing, but you’ll carry that guilt like an extra bag.

So how do you become a guilt-free golfer?

1. Ask First

I know it sounds demeaning, but it really is the right thing to do. Marriage is a partnership, after all—you wouldn’t make business decisions without consulting your partner, and the same applies here. Check in with your wife to see what her schedule is like. Consulting her shows that you respect her, and that goes a long way when you’re angling for a day on the course while she takes care of hearth and home.

2. Take on Dinner

Whether you pick up her favorite take out on the way home, take her out, or cook it yourself, this will make you a hero and erase most, if not all, of the guilt associated with your perceived betrayal.

3. Skip the 19th Hole

I understand that nothing sounds better than a cold drink with the guys after a long day on the course, but believe me, now is not the time. Bachelors can get away with this, but married men can’t. That’s the simple truth—deal with it. Escaping for the whole day to golf is a gift, don’t add insult to injury by hanging out in the clubhouse.

4. Take an Interest

Why do you like to golf? Because it allows you hours of freedom to do the thing you love without worrying about the daily grind? Sounds great. You’re wife would probably enjoy that, too. Well, maybe not golf, but something that captures her interest and fulfills her need to create, learn, or make a difference. Encourage her to take a new hobby, and then—this is the important part—pay attention. Ask questions, help her get started, check in on how things are going. A wife with a hobby is much less likely to deny her husband his time on the course.

5. Don’t Drop the Ball

Life comes with responsibilities. Add the blessing of a wife and kids, and it you get a little more complicated still. So here’s the deal: if you’re going to golf, make sure you take care of your job as a husband and father first. Everybody is busy, everybody works all week, and everybody wants to play and rest on the weekend. If you help around the house, play with and help discipline the kids, and are really “present and engaged” when you’re home, then she will gladly give you the time you need and want to play.

“I’ve loved it. But I have a wife and two children.”

Joe Mantegna