Learning the Ins and Outs of Golf Etiquette

By: Graham Johns

Etiquette and golf go together like ham and cheese. No other sport in the world of gaming seems to offer so much to people interested in a nice, polite, and quiet time on the course than the sport of golf. This is because the foundations of the game are ground in, quite simply, being polite. What prompts this is the desire to win and the desire to keep the game of golf around the upper classes; however with newer players coming around, the challenge of etiquette begins to lose its inherent grip on the game.

Why does golf have so many etiquette rules? Most of the rules of etiquette surrounding the game of golf lend to the prestige of the game. The rules keep players and courses safe, and keep the pace of the game steady. Most golfers learn the rules of etiquette as they play the game, but newbies can do well to know a little of the unwritten rules of golf before beginning the sport.

Some of the rules in golf are, quite frankly, really obvious. You do not want to do anything that will impede your opponent's right to play a good game of golf. Do not smoke if they ask you not to, do not start blurting out expletives as it suits you, and do not dress up in a chicken suit and cluck around trying to distract them as they line up their shots. This is, really, just common sense and doesn't deserve much credence in the realm of this discussion.

There are several common rules for golfing etiquette that are designed to keep the play on the course moving. Slower parties are asked to step aside and let faster groups play through. If you lose your ball you are only given five minutes to search for it. After that time, you take a penalty and get a new ball. One of the worst things a golfing party can do is allow a build up of waiting groups behind them. If you find that your group is moving slower than everyone else, consider ways to save time, such as taking more than one club with you to the putting green, to save a trip back to the golf cart should you need a different club.

Golfing is a sport that requires intense concentration. For this reason the atmosphere is almost always quiet on the golf course. If another player is making a put or taking a swing, it is one of the biggest taboos of the game to talk or make noise of any kind. This is the reason that even pro golfers do not react in a jubilant manner after a particularly good swing. When playing golf, the golfer never knows what the other participants within earshot might be doing, and messing up someone's shot because of excited behavior is frowned upon. Also, players need to watch their shadows when playing on a sunny day. It is very rude to allow your shadow to cross someone else's line of play.

The simple rules of etiquette are important, especially if you are new to the game. It is a great way to get started to be understood as a great player, especially if you are overly polite to some of the seasoned pros. Sometimes, in golf especially, a little politeness can cover up great lapses in skill or talent.

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