Friday, March 1, 2013

Golf "Etiquette" - An Important Part Of A Gentlepersons Game

There was a time not so long ago that I may have used Gentlemans in the title, as opposed to Gentlepersons, but then the ladies would have been all over me and not in a good way. The game of golf, did however, originate as a gentlemans sport. Have you ever wondered about where the term golf originated ? When I was in high school, not all that many years ago, my history teacher, who was a really cool guy used to digress in class from time to time. One day we arrived on the subject of golf and he began a dissertation on it. One of the things he explained was the derivative of the word GOLF. Supposedly, it was a term, created by a bunch of gentleman, and I use the term loosely, who at the time would have been considered chauvinistic to say the least and most especially by today's standards. The G stood for GENTLEMAN, O stood for ONLY, L stood for LADIES, and F stood for FORBIDDEN, so together it read, "Gentleman Only Ladies Forbidden". I cannot attest for sure if this was the actual derivation of the word but it moves for an interesting if not controversial topic to say the least. I guess the men of that era were looking for a little alone time with the guys. My personal opinion is that men and women should both have their space but it should be more of a mutual thing and not a mandatory edict.

I may have digressed a bit there myself so back to golf "Etiquette" - What is etiquette, you ask ? Well then I'll tell you. Etiquette is described in the dictionary as "Any Special Code Of Behavior Or Courtesy" and Golf is a game based on special codes of behavior and courtesies where this would especially come into play. One of the first golfing rules of etiquette and a very important one at that is -"To learn to play properly before going out on the golf course". I've been playing golf for about thirty years or so and there are many who venture out on the course without a clue as to how to play, the basic rules of golf and especially devoid of any etiquette required by the game. The tee times on the golf courses of today are set up approximately 8 to 12 minutes apart, depending on how busy the course may be, and whether a local municipal course, a resort course or Country Club, the play is expected to be maintained at a certain pace. Speaking from an experienced golfers point of view, and you will be there one day, it is not fun to wait for your next shot while the group in front of you is taking as many strokes as they can to get the ball near or into the hole. The rule of thumb of about 15 minutes a hole is a good gauge for golfers and you should try your best to keep up with that pace of play. This means that the 18 holes of a regulation golf course would be played in about 4 1/2 hours. When I first learned, and I subsequently taught my significant other to abide by the same courtesies, I was told to take a swing or two and if you are not proficient enough to achieve a certain distance or sometimes miss the ball completely, then be courteous to your fellow players and don't take an inordinate amount of strokes just for the sake of swinging the club. It is not only discourteous to your fellow players, but the improper swing will become engrained into your sub-conscious making it more difficult to correct later. The way to observe etiquette is to pick your ball up, and place it at a spot near the rest of your group, and try again. It is no great accomplishment to attain a total of 20 on a golf hole just for the sake of keeping score. You should repeat this process until you reach the green at which time you would putt to the hole. The same principal would hold true here, if you putt a number of times and can't seem to sink the ball, then pick it up and go on to the next hole. Many of us have been there so it's only a matter of time before you get the hang of it. A couple of suggestions I can make is one, try to play with someone with golf experience, especially for your first few times out and ask them to teach you the rules and etiquette associated with the game. If you have decided to take lessons, (which I would highly recommend) then ask your Instructor to advise you on the basic rules and etiquette of golf. Another suggestion would be to schedule a tee time when the course is not so busy (ask the starter at the golf course, or whoever is taking tee times on any particular day, to suggest a time when there is less play so you feel more relaxed and less pressured with less people around).

Some other Rules of "Etiquette" are as follows : Learning the basic rules of golf before venturing out on a regulation golf course and not breaking 90% of them before finishing the first hole - Standing to the side and out of the view of your fellow golfer and remaining still and quiet while they address and hit their ball( especially while on the "Tee Area") - Repairing your Divot (a ball mark or indentation on the putting green) and one or two others caused by a golf ball landing at that spot on the green - Waiting patiently while the player farthest from the hole hits first and being ready to hit when your turn comes - Not stepping in ones putting line while on the green( while it may seem trite, an indentation caused by the players footprint can throw a putt off line and can become a serious problem , especially if there is a wager on the line NOTE : I'm being facetious but some players can get pretty testy about anything that can affect their putts and score) - Not taking an excessive amount of time looking for a lost ball ( 3 to 5 min. max.) - Conceding a short putt, especially for the beginner so as to keep the pace of play moving( Not Allowed by the USGA Rules of Golf for Professionals in Competitive Play) -Being considerate enough to allow a quick playing group behind you to play through - Not taking more than twice the amount of strokes than noted for Par on any given hole, especially for the beginning golfer - repairing a Fairway Divot( a clump of grass removed in the fairway by the swing of your club)- Not driving your cart on or around the green or tee area - Adhering to the local rules of the golf course - Not marking your score around the green area while another group is waiting to hit up - Having the integrity to write your correct score on the card ( not critical for beginner to keep actual score) - Turning a lost club, by a fellow player, into the pro shop so they can retrieve it after their round - Wearing proper golf attire onto the course because it is after all, A Gentlepersons Game - I think you get the point. There are many more courtesies to be extended to your playing companions and fellow golfers. You will learn them as you gain more experience playing. Observe these simple courtesies and you and your fellow golfers will enjoy the journey all the more.

Happy Golfing !

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