5 Worst Things You Can do on the Golf Course
Golf etiquette is non-judgmental. It applies to anyone who steps foot on the golf course, whether it is your first time or you’ve played weekly for years. While there are set rules of common courtesy, or etiquette, in golf, it never fails that you will run across someone not following them.
If you are new to golf, here is your introductions to the unwritten rules of the game; the 5 worst things you can do on a golf course.
Remember these rules, follow them, and make sure the others with you are doing the same.
If you are a veteran, this can serve as a refresher. As you read about these etiquette blunders, take an honest inventory and see if there are areas that you can improve on. Don’t be in denial, just do a self-critique. We all tend to get a little complacent and forget about what brought us to where we are now.
These 5 Worst Things You Can Do on a Golf Course are not any particular order. They all are of equal importance and will save you lots of embarrassment and glares on the links.
Mend Your Mutilations
Just as inevitable that you will run across a joker not following the golf etiquette rules, you, yourself, will cause some damage while completing your round of golf. To go 75-100 shots without leaving a mark is impossible. As the old adage goes, “leave it better than you found it.” Remember, others enjoying the game will be following behind you and it is their right to expect conditions to be as good as you had them.
While the size of your “sod dislocation” may seem miniscule in comparison to the vast acreage of green grass surrounding you, odds are, someone will find themselves where you were. Make the small effort to make sure the playing conditions are the same as they were when you found them.
Fairway Divots – When creating a divot through your swing, simply replace the chuck of sod back into its spot and step on it to set it into place. If you are too lazy to do this, the next player will
come by and find his/her ball in the indented slice of mud you left behind, and face an unnecessary obstacle on their subsequent shot.
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Ball Marks on the Green – As Newton’s First Law of Motion describes, …”an object in motion tends to stay in motion until acted upon by an external force,” your golf ball will land on the green which enough force to cause some damage to the green. Take a moment and repair that divot for the next player coming through, so s/he doesn’t have to survive the obstacle you created. Leave the green as smooth as possible. You can see how to properly repair a divot on the green in the video below:
Sand Traps (Bunkers) – While the bunker may be the only sand you will see this weekend; it is not your playground. In fact, despite how relaxing it appears to be, it is recommended you
don’t visit it during your round of golf. If you happen to drop your drive on the beach, make sure you leave no trace that you were there. Every bunker is supplied with a rake… use it. Smooth out the sand, removing any ball marks, club marks, and footprints. If you don’t, the next player gets to deal with the uneven mess you left behind, making a difficult shot even harder.
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Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Of the five worst things to do on the golf course, there is one that will leave you golfing alone in the future, or banished from the course for good. It is being loud, rude, and obnoxious. Most people want to go to the course and experience calm, serenity, and escape. It is not a sports bar or a football game, so leave your hollering at home.
In addition to avoiding being the chaos causer, do everyone a favor and don’t be a distraction. Here are a couple tips to stay on your cohort’s good side:
Be invincible: When a golfer is preparing to hit and is addressing his/her ball, any distractions become exponentially disturbing. A good rule of thumb for when another player is hitting is this: Stand still. Shut up. Watch.
Stand out of sight, but not directly behind the player. Make sure you are not standing close enough where they can sense your presence. A good rule of thumb here is to stay out of the tee box until it is your turn to tee off.
Be Unheard: As mentioned above, even the slightest noise, including tees rattling, balls shuffling, or clubs cracking, is distracting to other players. Shuffling around though your bag for a non-broken tee, your lucky golf ball, or picking your next club is unacceptable. Checking your cell phone is also inappropriate. Be patient and a good partner.
Not to mention, talking, even whispering, is a violation of the golf code of etiquette. Regardless of how often this is preached and addressed, some people cannot contain their talking to an appropriate time. Don’t be him.
If you are in a golf cart, stop all movement and wait until the player has completed their swing before venturing on to the next stop. The brake is on the left!
On the Green
As the hole nears completion, whether you are trying to birdie the hole, or save double par, don’t throw golf etiquette out. The worst thing you can do on a golf course often happen on the green.
As players converge into one small area, all the things left unsaid have a tendency to begin being revealed. Again, do not talk or make noise while others are putting. Do not be a distraction as they finish out their hole.
Don’t Walk the Line: Be cognizant and respectful of others next play. Do not walk across another player’s line to the cup. Go around them if you must or walk around the back side of the pin. Walking across someone’s line of play disturbs the course and increases the likelihood of affecting their shot line. And it’s rude.
Don’t Crowd: Give them space and don’t hover over them. Take a step or two back so that you are completely out of their way. This can be very important on a sunny day, when you may cast a shadow across the target line of a player. Shadows tend to interfere by being a simple distraction.
Don’t Forget the Flag: There is flag etiquette on who is responsible for removing the flag once all players have reached the green. Typically, the player who is closest to the hole is responsible for tending the flag and setting it out of play.
Don’t Cut in Line: If you are not the furthest from the pin, don’t be in such a hurry. Be patient and allow those who are further from the hole to proceed first. Etiquette suggests that the player furthest from the hole has honors, or hits first.
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Here are several suggestions to help you avoid doing one of the 5 worst things you can do on a golf course. First off, be ready to hit when it is your turn. Have yourself at your ball, have your equipment ready, and be prepared to complete your shot.
Nothing is worse than three or more people waiting while someone takes a three-minute practice swing session, followed by moving a pine cone, and then following it up with a few more practice swings. If you must do this, do it when others are not waiting for you to proceed.
Other lollygagging activities you must avoid: cell phone use; extended seeking of a lost ball; and the beer cart!
Remember, typically, it is your shot when you are furthest away from the hole. No one wants to advance towards their ball down course when you will be driving your ball directly at them. Hit your ball already! Help maintain a good pace of play.
Much like the fast lane of a freeway, don’t be the guy clogging up the flow of traffic. On the golf course, there will be varying degrees of skill level. In addition, there will be groups of players together, anywhere from one to four.
New golfers and groups are four tend to play substantially slower than the other combinations. If you are finding yourself being tailed by the same group, causing them to wait for you, allow them to play through.
Allowing others to play through at the next tee box is not only respectable, it is often a course rule in many locations. Quick moving groups should be allowed to play on ahead of you. As Shane Ryan said in his article, 10 Sensible Rules for Golfing with Others, “Don’t be a douche and make them wait behind you.”
In the end, these 5 worst things that you can do on a golf course can be avoiding by simply following what your parents likely told you when you were a child:
- “Clean up your mess!”
- “Stay out of the way
- “Be quiet!”
- “Quit screwing around.”
- “Hurry Up! We are going to be late.”
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Make sure to check out Golfloid’s Guide to Golf Etiquette in 2016.