It doesn’t matter if you’ve perfected your short game or you can drive to great distances – if you don’t follow proper course conduct you won’t get very far in golf. We’ve laid out the fundamentals of good golf behaviour according to R&A and USGA rules, to school beginners, refresh vets and provide guidance to any aggressive ex-hockey players suddenly turned pro.
Taking Care of the Course
Tend to the turf as you play. Repair divots and depressions, rake the bunkers and place the flag out of stroke’s way during putting. Basically, treat the course as you would your own backyard, unless, of course, your backyard serves as a venue for monster truck rallies or bull fighting. Keeping bags and golf carts out of the way is key – golf bags don’t belong on the greens, and neither do carts, no matter how much you want sit on either as you wait for your turn to play
Courtesy for Others
Besides the threat of occasional visits from the course marshal, a golfer’s own sense of common courtesy is the only thing that’ll keep a game from dissolving into total anarchy. Anarchy of the golf degree, that is, where players exchange a few curt words and business deals are pushed back a few days.
Mind the following manners to make the game fair as well as fun. Take turns appropriately. Decide who tees off first with a coin toss (or tee spin, staring contest, thumb war, whatever works). For putting, the player whose ball is furthest from the pin gets the first go. For every tee thereafter, the “honour,” or first swing goes to the winner of the previous hole
Don’t distract your opponents. This means not only refraining from yelling “Jinx!” while someone else is swinging, but keeping completely mum. Listen to the tranquil sound of your own breathing while standing completely still, out of the way from a player’s peripheral vision. Never walk between a player’s ball and a hole, as your steps may cause rolling. Stay close to the greens until all players have sunk their balls. Sound like a lot to remember? Just make like a deer in headlights when someone else is swinging, and you’re golden.
Keep good timing. There’s no excuse for dawdling, even if you’re duffing things up good. Travel between tees swiftly, mark scores at the following tee instead of the green, and take no more than one practice swing (if any). Invite the group behind you to go ahead if they’re playing faster, or if one of your group members loses a ball
Simply put, avoid swinging anywhere there are people. If by mistake you fire off a shot towards an area where said people may be, shout “fore” – loudly. Doing this not only provides others with a warning, it gives you one of the few chances during the game to holler to your heart’s content.
While dress codes differ per course, general dud decorum is to wear a collared shirt, otherwise known as, well, a golf shirt (you can’t go wrong here) and pants of the khaki, plaid, or non-jeans variety. Shorts are sometimes allowed, and belts are almost always a must. Women need not wear sleeves as long as they have a collar, but skirts should be no higher than 5 inches above the knee. Most styles of footwear are permitted, but dare to wear shoes with metal spikes and you’ll be pulled off the greens with management’s shepherd’s hook.
This completes your crash course in golf etiquette, which you’ve graduated from with flying colours if you’ve read until here. Now, go forth, and golf like the upstanding gentleman or lady you know how to be!
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By Jackelyn Crawford