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9 Rules of Golf Etiquette You Are Probably Breaking

The other day I was reading GolfDigest’s list of 13 Rules of Golf Etiquette You Are Probably Breaking.

 Joel Beall said it so well in the intro to his article, 

“… golfers take this mantra to heart, (of) adhering not only to the rules, but towards standard etiquette on the golf course and to their fellow hackers. Unfortunately, due to bad habits or general ignorance, there remains a multitude of breaches of etiquette. We’re all guilty of some fallacy; it’s simply a matter of understanding proper procedures.”

I couldn’t agree more.  A few things on his list didn’t resonate with me so when I was talking with my friend about this subject, we came up with list of our own that I think is more in tune with what we come across pretty regularly.  This list goes beyond the basics of speed of play or taking care of the course.  Here goes:

1. Showing Up Less Than 15 Minutes Before Your Tee Time

This was Joel’s #1 and mine too.  It’s a biggie.  All of us have either done this and/or even know people who do this on a regular basis.  Not only is this probably terrible for your game and body (you should warm up), it stresses your playing partners out no matter how regularly you do it.  It potentially puts the rest of the tee sheet at risk of delay (do you really want to be responsible for causing a half-hole or more delay for everyone else playing behind you?).  SOP is that you show up to the course at least 30 minutes prior to your tee time.

2. All You Do Is Talk Talk

This wasn’t even on Joel’s list. But it is near the top of mine  (years ago my husband nicknamed me “rabbit ears”).  Definitely a no-no which we all get caught doing at one time or another.  We think we are whispering but really, we should just be quiet when someone else is hitting.  You’ve experienced it.  You’re over your putt and others are whispering or even blatantly chatting away.  You think you can hit through it and tell yourself to be strong and just focus on your shot.  But NOPE!  I have had the honor of playing with former pros and state amateur champions and let me tell you, better players do not talk once another player begins their pre-shot routine, much less during a shot.

 3. Driving Your Cart Where It Shouldn’t Be

Now that most carts have GPS and clubs can set up geo-fencing, this isn’t as much of an issue.  But there are courses where you can definitely put your cart in undesirable areas — much too close to the green, tee box or other marked areas.  Unless you have a handicap flag, you should make sure you put the cart in a proper area.  Think about it, have you ever hit your ball to an area that was damaged by carts, only to get a crappy lie because of it?  Keep your cart 25 yards from the putting green and other areas. 

This can also be true for push carts and walkers as well.  It’s bad juju to pull your push cart across a green.  Don’t even think about leaving your bag on the green.  All should be off to the side of the green.

4. Standing Behind Someone While They Are Hitting

You may think you’re out of the way and that you aren’t a distraction, but that’s not the case.  I used to be involved in the Evans Scholars program and my role was to teach teens how to caddy.  We always told them they should stand off your frontside or backside (butt or boobs, as I say).  In other words, if you can see a player’s eyes from where you are standing, you are not out of their sight— MOVE.  

This also applies to parking the cart directly behind someone while they are hitting in the fairway.  Have you ever started your practice swing and all you can see behind you is their cart?  

Same goes for putting.  As one British blogger wrote:

“… though it might feel wrong, there is nothing in the Rules to stop a fellow competitor, or opponent, standing wherever they like – even if that means they’re behind you tracking the exact line of your putt.

Rule 10.2b (4), which covers the restrictions on a caddie standing behind a player, only extends to partners, team players and their bag carriers under Rules 22, 23 and 24.

Rule 1.2a, which looks at standards of player conduct, expects all players to “play in the spirit of the game” and one of the examples given is not distracting the play of another player.”

5.  Not Marking Your Ball

This is a bad bad habit and I see so many people do this.  If you’re not putting, your ball should be marked.  No ifs ands or buts.  Putt it, or mark it.  If your ball is down on the green, other players think you are putting pursuant to “ready golf”.  If you putt up to the hole and intend to mark, say: “I’ll mark it”.  

6. Walking Thru Someone’s Line

I seem to have the hardest time seeing other people’s ball markers on the green and I occasionally step in someone’s line.  I try to be conscientious about it, but it never fails.  I don’t see their mark.  We all need to pay attention more to where all our playing partners are marked on the green.   If you can’t see everyone’s ball or mark, ask.  Shoes can make a slight indention on the green, possibly causing a putt to go off line and especially when greens are soft.  Your best bet is to walk all the way around your partner’s ball instead of walking through and on his line.  If you absolutely must cross the ball’s path, take a wide stride over it and get your partner’s permission before doing so.  Even a simple nod will do. 

7. Checking Your Phone Too Much

This has become a big point of contention over the years, especially with increased use of cell phones and yardage apps.  It’s one thing to have your phone available for an emergency, waiting for a text from a loved one, or checking a scoring app between holes.  But continually taking calls or texting throughout the round only emphasizes to your playing partners that you’re bored or have more important things to do.  As Joel says, being “continually attached to your phone goes against the spirit of being with friends or one with nature.”

8. Gimmes

This one can go in either direction.  There are people you play with who are not charitable at all during a casual round and make you putt tap-ins.  Then you play with those are too charitable and give 5’ (or more) putts!

9. Not Fixing Ball Marks

Yeah, you’re saying to yourself right now: “I always fix my mark and at least one other on every green.”  If that’s true why are there so many ugly scars out there on the greens?  I think it’s because players who hit the green with a shot from a short distance, say, 20-40 yards, don’t realize they have made a small mark.  Also, players who hit low shots that skid across or over greens don’t realize those balls cut into the putting surface.  Always look at where your ball initially struck the green.  You’ll be surprised at what you discover.  Unrepaired ball marks take weeks to heal.  Repaired marks take half the time.  The grass begins to die almost immediately if left unrepaired.  


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