There are many unwritten rules in golf that are lumped into the term of etiquette. This seems to be a catchall term that enhances the golfing experience. If followed properly, great fun can be had on the links; if ignored, the four hours of bliss feel like torture! This might seem over the top, but I assure you it is not. I often wonder how some players learned the concept of etiquette because on the surface they seem to understand the concept, but as the day progresses it is obvious that their time on the links is all about them and them only.
As an experienced golfer, I let golf etiquette guide my play. This idea of proper etiquette is not about swing mechanics, but how I conduct myself while playing. It is how I treat other players and the golf course that truly demonstrates if I understand the concept of acting properly on the links.
There are many different aspects of such as a post on did on where to stand while on the green; fixing ball marks; playing ready golf; or making noise during another players swing routine. I could go on and on because the list is actually quite extensive. These rules (guidelines) are designed to help our playing partners enjoy their game without impeding on our game. Every sport has them; golf just seems to a few more than most.
If you could teach one aspect of golf etiquette to a beginner, which rule would you choose? I ask this for two reasons, first I believe it is the responsibility of the experienced players to guide beginners on how to proper conduct themselves on the golf course and secondly, this type of knowledge is gained by openly displaying these rules while playing. The question I ask is a tough one for most and they will pick their pet peeve as the one etiquette rule that must be taught. However, I have a different direction that is more general that encompasses a whole system approach to golf etiquette. And it really is quite simple.
I believe we need to teach RESPECT to new players entering golf. I am not suggesting that all beginners do not have a concept of respect, on the contrary. Golf’s rules of etiquette are all about respect of your fellow golfer and the golf course. There is no rule that I can think of that does not fall into the category of respect. Hence, I think that as we introduce beginners (and other players as well) we approach to concept of golf etiquette from the direction of respect to our playing partners. Treat them as we would want to be treated; treat the course as if we own it; be aware of what is happening around us and make our 3 foot space better than when we found it.
My approach may not be novel, but I find that many experienced players are reluctant to gently guide newbies to the sport on how to conduct themselves. I am not suggesting that we constantly pick at our playing partners, but one or two suggestions during the 18 holes are not unreasonable. By opening player’s minds to concept of respect, they will easily pick up on the concept of things that are acceptable and some that are not.
Personally, I use a polite conversation to address etiquette issues. I find that this approach is not intrusive, nor puts anyone on the defensive. It is a casual way of introducing ideas that hopefully will stick in their minds for future rounds. On a side note, talking about golf etiquette is not designed to make all players play the way I think golf should be played, but deals with general concepts that helps everyone have an enjoyable time on the links. It is about the overall aspects of golf, which respecting our playing partners is a big part. In case you are wondering, from time to time I am reminded by my playing partners if I need to improve my etiquette. I do not take offensive because I am usually thinking of something else and zoned out for a moment. That kindly reminder helps bring me back to the moment and I usually start enjoying my round more.
Golf etiquette is important. I believe that teaching respect as one of the root concepts is a great approach. Learning this idea when starting golf will provide many years of fun and enjoyment to everyone, including yourself, in your group. Do you have one rule of etiquette you thing is most important to teach beginners? If so, what is it?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!