You have done it! Word has gotten around that you are a golfer now and family, friends, or someone from work has invited you to go play a round with them. This is what you have been waiting for, the opportunity to show off how much you have improved. But keep in mind, like with any other game or sport, there are rules and sportsmanship guidelines that keep the peace. This list will give a few tips pertaining to some of the most basic golf etiquette and how knowing these simple rules can help you to sit at the top of the “invitation list” for all of your friends.
Keep your speed up!
I mentioned this in my previous post but I am bringing it up again. I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping with the pace of play. One of the most commonly ignored unwritten rules in golf is this one. I have played behind many a beginner and weekend player that do not know this rule and I can tell you from personal experience that it is infuriating.
In order to keep pace, something I do is making sure to only ever take one practice swing if any, then address my ball and hit it. Last week I was stuck behind a group of older gentlemen who clearly did not know or care about keeping pace. All four of them would take at least 20 seconds (I know this because I started counting after a while) to hit their ball each time. They would take five or six practice swings then stare at the golf ball only to duff it down the fairway about 20 yards and do it all over again. This makes it hard for everyone stuck behind to stay in a rhythm.
Another tip for keeping the pace of play going is to play what is called “ready golf.” This literally means when you are ready to hit the ball, hit it. There is no need to wait for others who may have not hit there ball as far, or may be looking for it in the high grass. Unless we are playing in a tournament for money, there is no need to wait for each player to hit the ball.
Take care of the golf course!
One of the first things that I ever learned about golf was how to take care of a golf course. When I was younger I was shown a video about how to never run on the greens, how to repair ball marks and divots and how to rake the sand straps after walking in them.
Something you may have noticed my now is that golf courses always seem to look
perfect. How is this possible though with so many people playing on it at all times? Well initially the course is maintained daily by greens keepers that know so much about grass that they literally went to college to study golf courses (turf grass management). Secondarily, the people taking care of the course are the golfers, as they are playing. Fixing divots with a sand/soil/seed mix, which are gouge marks made in the grass after hitting the ball is one of the most important ways of protecting the course. If no one ever fixed his or her divots, the whole course would be a dirt mound within a matter of months.
Similarly, when you have a nice shot and your ball lands firmly on the putting green, there will be a ball mark on the ground where it struck. There are many videos of how to repair ball marks on the green and this is one of the more difficult things to master. In the video link I provided above there is a great example of how to fix a ball mark.
Don’t get hit in the head!
While golf does seem to be a fairly gentle sport, one must keep in mind that we are using blunt objects to strike a ball just about as hard as we can. For a frame of reference, with my driver I have a club head speed, 115mph. This means the speed at which the club passes through the golf ball is 115 miles per hour. To get hit in the head by this would make for a terrible day!
The ball is released from the club head at an even faster and harder rate, so knowing where to stand as not to get hit is very important. Initially, one must never hit the ball toward someone within there range. To put it bluntly, if you hit someone in the head with a golf ball, you can kill them. So never hit into anyone.
Another tip about where to stand pertains to waiting for someone in your group to hit the ball. The safest and most respectful place is in front of them and slightly out of their peripheral vision. Standing in this way shows respect and keeps your life off the line!
We all forget the rules, when in doubt ask!
The Golf rulebook is 182 pages long, so for anyone to have each and every rule memorized would be very impressive and also surprising. Even I am guilty of making up rules when I do not know the real one!
As I have mentioned before, golfers love new golfers, especially if the new golfer is keen to learn and improve. With this in mind, if you are unsure of a certain rule or are unsure what to do in a specific situation, ask! There is nothing better than learning the “hands on” way anyway, and getting a situational type of lesson from a friend is a great way to learn.