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GOLF DOCTOR

Following proper etiquette is courteous and leads to faster rounds

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It’s time to revisit some do’s and don’ts about golfing etiquette. Unlike sports such as hockey and mud wrestling, golf has long been thought to be a genteel game, rich in tradition and replete with myriad practices falling under the umbrella of sporting manners.

Arnold Palmer had this to say about manners: “From the time I first stepped on a golf course, my father made sure that I observed golf etiquette.  What that meant to me then, and what it means now, is being considerate of other golfers, taking care of the course, playing quickly, and controlling my temper.”

Arnold, Gary, and Jack have long been the poster icons for golf manners.

For some who are new to the game, and some who simply have not had anyone explain golfing things to them, golfers are expected to adhere to a rather universal set of customs and behaviors – in other words, they practice good golf etiquette.

Golf is a game that relies on the integrity of each player to show respect for other players to not only abide by the rules of the game but to play fair and be considerate to fellow golfers.  According to official USGA dictum: “All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game.”

So let’s take a look at some of the specific USGA guidelines.

  • First, be on time and ready to play so you don’t inconvenience others.
  • Next, dress neatly and appropriately in normal golf attire and accordance with local dress codes. (Note, this has changed some in recent years, and is far more relaxed that in years past.)
  • Choose the correct teeing ground that best matches your ability; that means “tee it forward.”
  • Play “ready golf” wherever possible, meaning that the player who is ready to hit should step up and play without delay.
  • Stay silent while other players are hitting their shots or putting. Wherever you stand, strive to be as unobtrusive as possible when others are hitting.
  • Wait until the group up ahead is out of range of your best shot. Hitting into the group ahead is the most common source of antagonism (and fights) on the golf course.
  • Walk or ride briskly between shots, and be ready to play when it’s your turn.
  • Respect the golf course by replacing or sanding divots and raking bunkers. It’s a courtesy to leave the course in better condition than you found it. Carry a small ball mark repair tool with you and be sure to repair your ball’s pitch mark on the putting green.
  • Avoid stepping on the line that other players are putting on. Replace the flagstick into the hole with great care so as not to disturb the cup edge. If there is a chance of an out-of-bounds shot or a lost ball, hit a provisional ball.
  • Throwing and slamming of clubs, temper tantrums and rude, obnoxious behavior are never acceptable.
  • Keep your motorized golf cart well out of the way and behind players, while safely away from greens, thereby minimizing damage to the turf.
  • Treat others with respect; behavior should always be as a gentleman or a lady.

Regarding pace of play, the main thing I notice on busy days at local golf courses is that slow groups seem oblivious to others trying to keep a reasonable pace. Some folks don’t realize if you take slightly over 100 strokes a round (most common), and take and extra 30 seconds for each one, you will add nearly an hour to finish your game.