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7 Guidelines for Golf Course Etiquette

Golf might be the most unique sport in the world. First, unlike almost every other team or individual sport we can think of, there’s no set field of play, arena, stadium, court, track or layout in golf. In fact, no two courses could ever be exactly alike.

Second, in addition to the rules of golf, which are often applied in ways unique to each foursome, there are more ‘guidelines’ or ‘rules of etiquette’ in golf than in most other sports.

Finally, with the exception of its highest professional levels, there are no referees or judges in golf to make sure the game is played according to rules or guidelines. (Yes, the course marshals can keep things moving and address serious concerns, but there’s no one with a whistle to instantly call you out if you step outside the guidelines.)

Put it all together and it puts the onus for making sure that everyone can enjoy their round to its fullest squarely on every golfer.

As there are a few signs that the deep freeze of 2018 is thawing and anticipation of the first rounds of the year grows with each weather forecast, we thought it would be a good time to review some of the guidelines for golf course etiquette that every golfer should keep in mind.

1. Keep Pace

It would be great if we could all play at our own pace. But, unless you want to be alone on your own private course, you need to exercise some level of keeping pace to minimize delaying other golfers. No one should feel hurried while playing a round of golf, but no one should be so leisurely that it affects the groups behind you.

2. Respect the Course

It takes a lot of time and effort to maintain tees, fairways, bunkers, roughs and greens so that every golfer who uses the course can expect a consistent course. Fix ball marks with a ball mark repair tool or tee. Replace divots as best you can. Always rake a bunker after your shot and make sure to cover your tracks as you leave the bunker too. And definitely avoid damaging the course out of anger.

3. Silence is Golden

In addition to remaining quiet when someone is shooting, remember to stay ‘visually’ quiet by remaining still too. Also remember other foursomes around you. You might be between shots, but a nearby foursome may be teeing off. Except for warning golfers of an errant shot heading their way, there’s rarely a need to shout on a golf course. And please turn off or at least mute your cell phone.

4. Remember Golf Cart Etiquette Too

Carts leave tracks and tracks can affect the course and play. As much as possible, stick to cart paths, keep carts to the perimeters of the hole and don’t drive in single file with other carts.

5. Let Faster Golfers Play Through

It’s impossible for every group on a course to play at the same pace. If the group behind is constantly waiting for your group to play, consider letting them play through. If nothing else, it takes the pressure of you to make shots under the impatient glare waiting golfers.

6. Take Your Tee with You

Even if it’s broken, be sure to pick up your tee after your shot.

7. Don’t Walk on the Path of a Ball

Even your own. Especially when greens are wet, every step you take leaves an indent in the turf that can affect the travel of the ball after a putt.

It’s really not a lot to ask. And when you think of all things that can bother you during a round, if we all practice better etiquette, we’ll all enjoy a better round.

Royal Ashburn

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