As golf season approaches Normal Golfer wants you to be prepared to hit the course, not only with the right equipment but with some general tips on golf etiquette so that you can enjoy your round and not aggravate those golfing around you. I’m not the first to confess that the sport of golf traditionally has the perception that it has too many rules, can be elitist and stuffy at times and has some written and unwritten rules that are unreasonable. I’d say – perhaps, but rules are necessary where competition is involved, cultural rules make any sport including golf unique and yes the sport has come a long way, but draws a clear line at the code of conduct on the course. Are the rules unreasonable?? No more than any other sport, so let’s see how much ground we can cover.
DRESS CODE AND CODE OF CONDUCT
It used to be slacks and or knickers and button-up shirts for men and skirts for women back in the day, but oh how times have changed. Now a simple collared shirt, with khaki shorts or pants cast a net that covers 90% of golf courses around the world. Long pants are still required at some courses, and you can go Frank Nobilo with the button up if need be. I used to be the khaki pants only guy – regardless of how hot it was until I golfed with some pros in a non-competitive event and they were fired up over the opportunity to wear shorts. I realized you could still have respect for the game and wear khaki shorts.
EXCEPTIONS? — Most courses will have a stated dress-code requirement including shoes, socks and shirt type. Public courses may allow you to come as you are which may include ripped jeans and a tank top – but most courses will require at least a t-shirt and pants that are not frayed or ripped. If you don’t know, call the course, look online or ask around, but don’t be the dufus that wants to push this envelope.
PACE OF PLAY
Now that we’ve covered before the round of golf has started, let’s go tee to green. Almost every course wants you to keep an escalated pace of play and says so on their “course rules” sign located usually somewhere near the pro shop or practice green. There are a lot of variables that affect the pace of play so don’t be that person that looks for balls in the woods or riverbeds, or spends 4 minutes lining up your putt. Your place is directly behind the group in front of you, NOT directly in front of the group behind you. And while you can sure learn a lot from the pros watching them on TV, there is absolutely no reason why you should use the same amount of time they do. As long as we can’t hit our shot within 3-5 yards every time with every iron (like the pros), will it really affect your overall score knowing if you have 90 or 95 yards to the pin?
EXCEPTIONS? If there isn’t a group behind you, take your time, look for your ball thoroughly, go two off the tee, putt your lip-out a second time from the same spot, make a driving contest with yourself – do whatever, but ALWAYS let faster golfers play through.
WHO TEES OFF FIRST?
Traditionally, whoever has the lowest score on the previous hole will tee off first on the current hole and it goes in order from there – best score to worse score. That order should hold through the duration of the round.
EXCEPTIONS?? There’s something called “ready” golf – which means everyone golfing in a respective group agrees that they are going to play at a high pace for whatever reason, usually because the group behind them is nipping at their heals. If there is a common agreement, whoever is ready will just tee off first.
WHO HITS FIRST ONCE ALL BALLS HAVE BEEN TEED OFF?
Usually, the shortest drive on any par four or five will go first. Every other player will hang back about 10 yards while the player who hit the shortest drive makes their second shot. Then everyone proceeds towards being in alignment with the next closest ball.
EXCEPTIONS?? If the closest guy can’t find their ball and wants to give an extended look, and everyone is concerned about the pace of play, sometimes it is permissible to wait by your ball. If someone goes way right and everyone else goes way left, it’s typically ok for that lone ranger to get to their ball by themselves, and it’s not necessary for everyone to follow the lone golfer to their ball.
WHO PUTTS FIRST?
The person who has the longest putt is almost always the first to putt, however, if someone is off the green, but closer to the pin, they should go first having not yet been officially on the green.
EXCEPTIONS?? The “ready golf” thing.
MORE ETIQUETTE FROM TEE TO GREEN
Always rake the sand trap with the provided rake, no matter how crappy the sand trap is or how ticked off you are that you hit your ball in the trap or how bad your shot was out of the trap.
EXCEPTIONS? Absolutely No Exceptions
Don’t walk directly in someone’s line on the putting green. This means do not step in the area between your playing partner’s ball and the hole. Spiked golf shoes may leave an imprint on the green that takes 80-120 seconds to return back to normal, and those imprints could affect the path of the ball.
EXCEPTIONS? Not really, but if someone with sneakers does this to you – don’t get too bent out of shape about, because the imprint wouldn’t be significant, and most people wouldn’t do that maliciously.
***The worst thing you can do is talk, move and make noise as your playing partner is addressing their ball. Just be still, don’t talk, and don’t make any other unnecessary noise that could wait until after they’ve hit their ball.