YOU KNOW THE GOLFER, the one that swears often, leaves broken tees about the grass, doesn’t replace his divots, parks his cart too close to the greens, doesn’t respect signs requesting not to tread in certain areas, lands his ball close to you when you are in front of him, doesn’t wait his turn to hit, and on and on.
The question I have is how did this person learn to behave this way? To my knowledge, there are no easily accessible classes on golf etiquette. Least anyone sign up for such training. And there is little prerequisite to behave on the course. How many courses would kick out a paying player for breaches in etiquette?
Despite playing for decades, I have not received any formal training on how to conduct myself. Most of what I had learned came from my father and friends, and you can’t always trust other golfers to know any more than you. Much like the ancient Indian tribes, education is passed from one generation to another by word of mouth. And like the telephone game, the information often changes when passed from one to another.
So where does that leave a person with few golfing friends to help guide him? Would you advise a stranger you are matched up with for a day that his behavior is unacceptable or would you simple think that in three hours you never have to see this person again?
Few golfers seek out education and information on a dry subject such as behavior and rules. Yet it’s these actions and behaviors that make golf what it is – a game of ethics, etiquette, and physical and mental challenge.
Here’s an excerpt from my recently published book, The Golf Rules-Etiquette, Enhance Your Golf Etiquette By Watching Others’ Mistakes.
After a quick waggle Nicholas swung, sending the ball on a fast hook and into the stream.
“Damn,” he mumbled as he slammed his driver into the ground. [Anger is no reason to damage any part of the course.] “That’s my mulligan for the day,” he stated as he grabbed another ball from his pocket to re-tee. [Remember, a ‘mulligan’, or re-do or do-over, is not a legal option. Every stroke must be counted.]
“We count every stroke, Mr. Filler,” stated Charles. “That’s the way a gentleman plays.”
“You’re right,” replied Nicholas, who then released a deep breath and took a gentle swing at his replacement ball, landing it in the center of the fairway some twenty yards short of the familiar holly bush. He then reached down and, using his tee, repaired the impression in the ground he made in anger with his club. [Errors in judgment happen, just remember to correct them if you can.]
Think there aren’t a lot of ways to show poor behavior? This book has over 200 references to ways you can better your behavior while enjoying a good golf story.
Here’s another quote from the book, showing how you can show respect to not only those playing but those working.
As Nicholas prepared for his drive a grounds keeper was seen driving down the out of bounds side of the fairway. Nicholas took a step back to wait for him to pass.
“Feel free to swing away, Mr. Filler,” Charles said. “If any of those maintenance workers are on the course during an outing they deserve anything that happens to them.” [Remember, it’s the grounds crew’s job to constantly provide upkeep to the course. It’s to their credit that you can play a well-manicured course. If they are working, give them a moment to finish and clear out of your way. It’s safe and courteous.]
In less than a minute the cart was out of range and the driver waved in gratitude as he drove away.
I spent a great deal of time researching these areas in an attempt to bridge the gap of education and action on the course while making learning fun and entertaining. The product of this effort is The Golf Rules, a series of books that explain stroke play, match play, and golf etiquette in an entertaining and education atmosphere. Learn while laughing in my mantra.
I call upon all golfers to be good citizens of the game, help new players enjoy the sport and be educated in its rich history and traditions, show everyone how to behave well on the course, always show sportsmanship, and enjoy the game.
Richard Todd is the author of The Golf Rules, an entertaining and educational series of books on stroke play, match play, and golf etiquette, as well as Short Stories from the Long Links. He is a lifelong golfer, has been trained on the rules of golf by the USGA and the PGA, has been interviewed on the PGA Tour radio station, and seen in multiple print and electronic media. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and YouTube, and visit www.TheGolfRules.com for more information and to purchase his works.