Golf - it is a game that we love, and one that we also love to hate at times. At best, it is an expression of what is good - honesty, integrity, discipline, self-control and conscience (and of course - a low score!). At worst, it is a source of frustration, and an opportunity to display our weaknesses. Physically, mentally and
spiritually, golf presents a constant opportunity to improve one's self. Regardless of our skill levels or our impending score, all of us have the chance to do something good - to conduct ourselves with respect for the game, for the course, for the players around us, and for ourselves. Practicing etiquette not only upholds the great traditions of the game, but it also affords us an opportunity for self-improvement, and to do something positive within this little framework. A simple way to
look at it is this: "have fun, but not at the expense of others", and leave the course in better shape than you found it." Here are some helpful tips and reminders.
1) Always try to respect the day's tee areas. Courses put markers on the tee boxes for reasons, usually as a means of rotation to stimulate healthy grass growth.
2) Always attempt to repair the divots you take on the fairways and tee areas. If the divot is
clean, pick up the clump of grass and replace it. If not, use the mixture provided by many courses - on the tee boxes, and in the carts (if you are driving).
3) Always repair your ball marks on the green. Be sure to have a repair tool in your pocket (although a tee will also do). If
unsure of the correct procedure - ask someone. You can do more harm than good if you dig up the roots! A good rule: Repair your mark and one other - to make up for those that do not know any better, or simple don't care. And pick up your feet - soft spikes or not!
4) Always rake the sand bunkers after you hit out of them. If a rake is not readily available, use your club to smooth the surface.
5) Always be aware of those around you. Your conversations or expressions of joy or disgust can disrupt the concentration of other players - especially in areas with parallel holes, or when the greens and tee boxes are in close proximity.
6) Always be aware of the group in front of and behind you. Do not be a source of SLOW PLAY.
Some tips here:
- Have at least one person spot your tee shot, so that errant shots are easier to find.
- If there is a hole or so open in front of you, and the group behind you is constantly waiting for your group, either let them play through, or speed up your play. If this is the case, do not look for lost balls or badly errant shots…take your drop and play on. You are not on the PGA Tour! If beginners are in your group, have plenty of balls, and let them take
"free drops" instead of constantly looking for lost (or possibly lost) balls.
- Singles and doubles playing on a busy course cannot always expect to play through. If the course is jammed, it may be better to pair up with other singles or doubles - or just take your time and enjoy the day. Certainly, if the course is not overly busy, letting smaller or faster groups play through is the right thing to do.
7) If driving a cart, stay away from the greens, and do not approach tee boxes until the group in front has teed off. Obey the day's rules (ie 90 degrees) and know that if it is "cart path only" - there is probably good reason.
8) Do not allow alcohol to interfere with correct etiquette. The golf course is no place to get drunk! Drink in moderation if at all, or save it for the nineteenth hole!
Respect the game! Be courteous and hopefully it will come back to you in the long run. With the increasing popularity of the game and the influx of new golfers, it is important that we set a good example - and be prepared to offer "polite" reminders when necessary.
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