1. Keep The Game Moving
Don’t assume it’s the size of the group or the other players who are slowing your group down. Evaluate your pace of play, do it often and honestly. If you keep finding the others waiting for you, you’re a slow player. Golf course Kelowna told us: “A foursome or even bigger groups should be able to complete a round in four hours, so encourage the others to keep just far enough behind the group in front throughout the round.”
Practise “ready golf” (hit when ready, rather than waiting on everyone else’s movements). Around the greens and tees, be in place with a club selected and mentally prepared to play when it’s your turn. Every golfer has been frustrated by a slow group ahead taking forever to clear a green.
Don’t search for lost balls for longer than necessary and for an absolute maximum of five minutes.
2. Control Your Temper
In a junior final match, I won in the end, but I’d missed a short putt and thrown my putter high over the gallery. In the car on the way home, there were no congratulations from my dad, just an uneasy silence. Eventually, he said: “If I ever see you throw a club again, you’ll never play in another golf tournament.” That woke me up and stayed with me, and I’ve never thrown a club since.
Abusing equipment, profanities, and sulking just make an uneasy atmosphere for everyone. Golf has frustration built in for every player, not just you. Observe how others deal with it. They may regard you as a weak opponent, so vent it when other people are unaware, perhaps by hitting your next tee shot harder, for better or worse.
3. Respect Other People’s Time
Your golfing partners and opponents may have cleared a space for your golf date, so respect their effort and time and make it, even if you’d rather clear out the garage or move it back a day.
Help the club and everyone who plays and works there by turning up in good time for your tee times, lessons and social occasions.
4. Repair The Ground You Play On
The two-pronged pitch mark tool is the first thing into my pocket. You may prefer a penknife or long tee, but make sure you have it ready. It’s part of the reward for a good shot onto the green. Replace divots out of the course to help them recover, and use seed mix to refill any big gouges you make on the tee.
Rake bunkers like you mean it. Don’t be the guy who hits a bad bunker shot then doesn’t tidy up afterward. Leave any bunkers in a state you’d want to play for yourself.
5. Be A Silent Partner
Stay still and silent from the moment another player sets himself or herself – until their shot is done. Many people are unaware of how offputting their practice swings and other movements can be in an active player’s vision and the amount of time it wastes.
Even with the soft tread of spikeless shoes, the green between another golfer’s ball and the hole should be regarded as hallowed turf and stepped over or around. Never stand in the line of a shot, either in front or directly behind, and be aware if you are making any movement, noises or cast shadows you’re making in the area of play.
6. Drive An ‘Invisible’ Golf Cart
Golf carts are a pervasive influence on the layout and design of golf courses, bags and equipment, and responsible for many pages of local rules. Whatever your opinion of golf carts, use them considerately in a way that shows your respect for yourself and other course users.
Aim to leave no trace of your cart’s presence. It’s easy to follow the cart in front through the worn, wet and damaged ground, and cause unnecessary wear to the course. Instead, try fanning out and taking a different, less heavily worn route.
7. Look Your Best
From Bobby Jones through Walter Hagan, Ben Hogan, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the very best players have always been smartly turned out. Easily done, you might think, if it’s all free, but their gear is well chosen and presented, with no caps facing the wrong way or untucked shirts, and no caked mud on shoes and trousers.
Like a well-presented businessman or churchgoer, a smart golfer gives the impression that the place he is going and the people there are special.
8. Turn Off The Cell Phone
At least keep it from ringing, and if you must make calls, do it at a time and place your golf partners don’t even notice. Golf is flogged backward, and a great deal of business gets done on the course, but it should never intrude or delay the game, or be rude or irritating to those who have made an effort and cost of being there.
9. Lend A Hand When You Can
Much of golf’s etiquette is unwritten and boils down to acts of consideration and kindness that keep you and your group together and making progress.
Look for opportunities to help find a lost ball, or even better, be an extra pair of eyes for other players’ shots to help prevent their balls becoming lost. Look out for dropped clubs, head covers, and other belongings, and check with other groups as you meet them, handing them back with an encouraging word.
10. Learn The Little Things
There are many, many other actions that mark out a considerate golfer, all performed with a thought for players, equipment, and environment. Observe other players with a sharp eye and a willingness to give and to learn, and you’ll see all the details such as letting flags down gently, checking and putting right spike marks when leaving a green, and knowing when to let a faster group play through.
If golf seems like the most frustrating thing in the world, it still finds a way of repaying favors. It may be a tiny mental lift from a single act of kindness, but the little things add up to an enjoyable shared experience you’ll want to keep coming back to.