I used to think that I would play better when I played alone. Less distractions, more focus. But, I realized that without playing partners, the game is really a completely different one. So the better score would really be a score of a different game. I mean, how many tournaments group players one per hole? This isn't to say that playing alone doesn't have its place. I think it's a perfect opportunity to practice shots, discs, take 2-3 putts, etc. But when playing alone, I have decided that there really is no score, at least not relative to any other round with fellow golfers present -- apples and oranges.
The influence of the social dynamic on performance is complex and fascinating. We have all been part of a group that has undeniable mojo, ace runs everywhere, putts falling, laughs, flow etc. And on the other hand, we have been a part of a group where the elements clash -- too much talking, etiquette totally disregarded, poor play. And of course, there is no right way to play; people can do what they want ( to an extent ), but personally speaking my best scores come when the game is the primary source of energy. Concentration comes and goes as players need it to, and there is a respect for the inidividual styles at hand.
My goal is to play well no matter who I am playing with. There is only a distraction if I let there be one. At the same time, I do believe that it is the responsibility of each player to inform players of their needs, and recently, I have been working on this. For example, if players are talking while someone is teeing off, I'll point or gesture to the tee. If I am on the tee, I will not drive until everyone is quiet. When it matters, when it effects your game, why not let others know? Is that disrepectful?
There's a fine line between having fun and just smiling along with everyone while inside you are really being put off by social dynamics. I don't know. It's tough to say. But I will say, that as I play the game more, I come to see that each golfer has his own process, and that this process is directly linked to their success on the course. I come to the course ready to respect each golfer's process and I would hope for the same from others.