Golf is a sport that that places a high value on etiquette, and while many of these “rules” of etiquette are not part of golf’s formal rules, golfers are expected to follow them. The many rules of golf etiquette are all about making golf safer and more enjoyable for the players and to minimise damage to the course. There are enough rules of golf etiquette to make your head spin, and it can be difficult to know what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
To make it a little bit easier, here are the seven deadly sins of golf etiquette that you should avoid at all costs.
A typical round of golf should take you no longer than four hours. If your rounds are lingering on and on and you find yourself playing for half the day, you may be guilty of slow play. Nobody wants to be stuck behind the slow group who’s holding up the rest of the golfers, so don’t be that player. It’s considered one of the most reprehensible golf sins. Luckily, there’s a few strategies you can use to avoid slow play.
Once the group ahead of you is clear, go ahead and play as soon as it’s safe to do so. And if you’re playing slowly, allow the group behind you to play through. It’s the right thing to do and will keep things moving on the course.
Play ready golf – as it sounds, ready golf means being ready once it is your turn to play. When it comes to putting, read your putt before it’s your turn, so that you’ll save some time once you’re up to putt. You can do many tasks – such as taking practice swings, lining up a putt or calculating yardage – while another player is having their turn. Don’t take too much time over your practice swings either – you should be able to fit them into a reasonable time frame without wasting too much time.
And while it’s great to catch up with friends out on the course, don’t let your conversation come at the expense of timely play. Rather than telling long-winded stories as your partner is about to putt, connect with your partners as you walk around the course.
And don’t spend too much time looking for a lost ball either. A recent rule change has reduced the time you can use to search for a lost ball from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
Driving your golf buggy unsafely
Golf buggies are a great way to get around the course, but they need to be driven safely and courteously.
Be aware of signage around the course and always obey rules. Don’t drive in areas that are unsuitable for buggies, and make sure you park your buggy out of the way of oncoming groups. Don’t pull up too close to other players, especially those about to play a shot, and distract them. Pay attention when you’re driving and make sure you and your passengers’ hands and feet stay inside the buggy. And avoid alcohol when you’re driving one. Your aim should be to leave no trace that your golf buggy was on the course, so avoid wet and damaged areas so that you don’t create more damage. And never drive your buggy on the soft surface of the green.
In short, don’t be careless when driving your golf buggy, and always be aware of what and who is around you.
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Not knowing the rules
The rules of golf can be lengthy and complex, and very few people are going to be experts on every rule in every situation. However, all players should have a basic knowledge of the rules. This helps avoid slow play as players struggle to figure out what happens in a certain situation, and can sometimes give you an advantage. If you lack sufficient knowledge of the rules of the game, your score can be derailed by penalty shots after you’ve unintentionally bent or broken the rules. It’s much more beneficial to have a solid understanding of the rules, and you’ll end up playing a much better round. And you’ll avoid arguments over what’s right and wrong.
As well as knowing the rules, make sure you have a copy of the official rules of golf in your bag to refer to in those tricky situations that leave you and your partners scratching your heads.
Failing to repair your divots and maintain the course
Maintaining golf courses takes a lot of work and preparation, and it’s up to all golfers to do their bit to keep the course looking good and playing well. You need to repair your ball marks, replace divots with the supplied sand mixture and rake the bunkers.
Replacing any divots you remove is one of the cornerstones of good golf etiquette, as no-one wants to play on a course riddled with holes. Use the provided bucket of sand to fill in your divot, and if you see any other divots that haven’t been repaired, it’s a good idea to fix them too.
As well, repair any ball marks your ball makes when striking the green, as this helps maintain a smooth surface that won’t knock putts offline. Use a ball mark repair tool to maintain flat and playable greens.
Enter the bunker from the low sides to prevent damage to the bunker. Once you’ve hit your sand shot, make sure you rake the bunker backward to the fairway. Always leave the rake outside the bunker for the next player.
While carting your phone around the course gives you an opportunity to play a round and conduct business at the same time, don’t abuse it. Your mobile phone should be left on silent while you’re playing your round, to avoid disturbing other players. Show respect to others around you at all times. If you really have to check your email or make a call, hit your shot first and then remove yourself from the action a short distance so you don’t distract your fellow players.
Feeling frustrated is common on the golf course, but don’t let it get the better of you. Outbursts of temper should be avoided and profanity or damage to course property are completely unacceptable.
While it may be hot, there’s no place on the golf course for singlets, thongs, jeans or leggings. While dress codes for golf have become more relaxed in recent times, there are still standards that should be maintained. Most golf clubs have a dress code that should be adhered to, as they tend to see the players as a reflection of their club. Some clubs are more relaxed than others, so it’s wise to find out the dress code before you play – and stick to it.
Failing to lend a hand
Help out your fellow players whenever you can – especially when it comes to finding lost balls. Many hands make light work, and you’ll usually be able to find a lost ball quicker if you have more people looking for it. This keeps up the pace of play and prevents your round from getting slow and bogged down. Watch your partner’s shots too so that they don’t turn into lost balls. Carry extra tees, balls and ball markers in your bag in case someone needs one.
Pay attention to those around you and look for ways to help. Golf is a genteel sport, and is about strength of character and mind. The enjoyment of the game will be increased by not committing these etiquette sins – and will earn you a lot of respect too. Remember, it’s all about how you play the game!