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So Let It Be Written

by John Kim, Executive Director/AG.com

The explosion of the golfing population in recent years has been both a blessing and a curse on the golf community. The added interest, money, and technological enhancements brought on by the "new blood" have served to spark new courses, new equipment, and many other great advancements. But there has been a downside, one that few have addressed until now. There is so much more to behaving properly on a golf course than following the written rules. For a long time, customs and norms were learned on the course. Now, there are many golfers playing without any experience or exposure to those that would teach it to them. That's why we're here. We get several emails asking us what is the proper etiquette for certain situations. Well, print this out and put it in your bag. Etiquette is not some town in France; it's an essential part of golf. For those who are new to the sport or unaccustomed to its customs, take note. Learn 'em, love 'em, and live them.

  1. Let faster groups play through. This is no knock on your ability. You'll enjoy your round more if you don't feel like the group behind is staring a hole in you every shot. Besides, 75% of the time, that groups' worst shots of the day will come as they attempt to go through. Laughing at that is also considered a little rude.
  2. Keep up! Nothing is worse than watching Joe Thirty-handicapper pace off steps to his ball, throw grass in the air, go to the cart to change clubs, plumb bob from 175 yards out, and then shank one into the trees. Take a few extra clubs, go through your routine, and be ready to hit when it is your turn.
  3. Don't laugh when someone misses a two-foot putt. It's not funny to them. And you'll do it too one day.
  4. Fix ball marks on the green. Replace (or sand) your divots in the fairway. Rake your bunkers. The next time your ball has to go through a pitch mark, lands in a footprint, or lies in a divot, you'll understand.
  5. Do not walk or stand in a person's putting line. Ask them where their line is. Ask them if you need to move your mark. This includes a few feet behind the hole as well in case they miss long and need to putt back to the hole. Doesn't matter if you're wearing soft spikes.
  6. Don't take a person's honor on the tee. The winner of the previous hole is said to have the honor. Let them hit first. You'll benefit anyway by watching their shot and adjusting accordingly.
  7. Know your limits and ability. There are different tees for different abilities. You will definitely see more of the course from the back tees, often all the creeks, bunkers, and lakes too. Be honest with yourself. You'll enjoy a 92 from the whites more than a 107 from the blues.
  8. Don't assume your putt is "good". Unless someone tells you to "pick it up" or knocks it back to you...putt it out.
  9. Save the talking for between shots. When someone is hitting, silence is appropriate and expected.
  10. Cell phones are a no-no. Granted, some must have them or else they can't play. Turn the ringer off and check the messages at the turn. Never take one to a tournament.
  11. Don't lie about your handicap. Decreasing your stroke average will make you look foolish. Sandbagging for extra shots might get you shot.
  12. Don't whine. Telling someone that your ball was in a divot is an explanation. Complaining about it three holes later is whining.
  13. Always turn in found clubs to the pro shop. You'll really appreciate this when it's your 8 iron turned in.
  14. Help others look for a ball. Unless you are busy looking for yours.
  15. Don't talk to an opponent's ball. Nothing looks more foolish than asking a ball to sit down only to see it end up short and in the water. True, it doesn't really affect the ball, but it's still rude.
  16. Shouting. Shouting "You Da Man!" is tolerable once per round after a particularly great shot. Only once mind you, not twice. Never shout it at a professional tournament.
  17. Be mindful that yours is not the only group on the course. Just because everyone in your group has hit, doesn't mean that your yelling can't annoy the group in the next fairway.
  18. Only give advice or swing tips when asked. Never offer them to someone who is kicking your butt by ten shots.
  19. Don't remind someone of a particularly bad shot they've hit in the past. This is especially true if they are having a good round. You'll get the $5 back that you're going to lose. Your buddy may never again have the chance to break 80.
  20. If you don't know the rule, ASK. Guessing and then finding out you were wrong later is still cheating. If no one knows, then take a guess. Find out later from your PGA pro for next time.
  21. If you find a ball, and it's not yours, don't automatically pick it up. There are other groups around, and the guy from the next tee box may still have a shot.
  22. Don't throw tantrums. Throwing clubs looks foolish once. After that, it gets really annoying.
  23. Don't start the cart when someone is about to take a drink. Especially if they are drinking a red Gatorade and wearing a white shirt.
  24. Be a tipper. Beverage carts, cart attendants, valets, whatever the service, tip them like you would at any other service stop.
  25. Have fun! Too many people wait all week to play and then get really ticked off once on the course. It doesn't make much sense, does it? Enjoy your surroundings. Enjoy the camaraderie. Maybe you'll play well, maybe you won't. Don't ruin your day because of golf, and more importantly, don't ruin someone else's because of your golf.
  26. Money winner for the day buys the drinks at the end of the round. 'Nuff said.
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