THE PATH TO PROPER GOLF COURSE ETIQUETTE
By Jack Gale
PGA Master Professional
With the tremendous recent influx of golfers to the staid, traditional game of golf, many experienced golfers feel that proper golf etiquette has been lost during this transition period. Golf, for many years, has been learned from father to son or as a caddie. Today many people are beginning the game as an adult without the help of an elder or the chance to learn as a caddie. John Paul, PGA Director of Golf at Burlington Country Club in Vermont, made the statement, “Today many golfers know how to reach the first tee, and then find their way to the eighteenth green, but do not always understand what to do in between”.
“Etiquette Day” tips have been divided into ten categories including being in position on the course during a round; playing ready golf; safety on the course; filling divots, fixing ball marks and raking bunkers; standing still while others play; paying attention to the shots of others; where to place bags and park carts; dress code at the course which you are to play; where to record scores; and finally how to mark your ball if it is in someone’s way. Slow play is a major concern at all courses whether private, public or resort. Many of the “Etiquette Card” tips highlight this touchy subject.
First and foremost is to keep play moving so that your foursome is in position on the course meaning that your group is right behind the players in front of you, not just ahead of the group behind you. New players should be prepared to set a maximum score on each hole early in their golfing career to keep with their friends. Be ready for your next shot by carrying an extra golf ball in your pocket to hit a provisional ball if your first ball may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds. Also be sure to bring a couple of clubs to hit your next shot so you will not have to walk back to your golf cart. When it is time to record scores, leave the green and move to the next tee to do this task.
Safety of yourselves and others on the course is paramount. Be extremely careful when swinging a club with others near you. When hitting a shot from near a tree, rocks or rough, debris may fly after the shot, which may hit you or fellow golfers. Make sure that golfers in front of you are out of the way of your shot before you play. Watch the shots of others in your foursome to assist when looking for the golf balls of others. Be sure to be quiet and to stand still while others are preparing to or playing a shot. When your ball is on the green, be sure to mark its position to keep it out of the way for others. Care of the course includes filling divots with a prepared mix or with your divot, fixing ball marks on greens with a divot repair tool and raking bunkers after playing a shot from the sand. Many courses have dress codes. Call ahead to find out what is allowed at the course. Safe golf attire is slacks or Bermuda length shorts (also skirts for ladies) with a collared golf shirt. Jeans and tee shirts are discouraged at most courses.