Respecting Golf Etiquette

By: Emery Noile


Golf is a game rich in culture and age-old tradition. There are strict rules of etiquette to be followed in playing a game of golf -- including your choice of attire. Most golfers respect and happily comply with the rules of etiquette, and so are welcome to play at proper golf courses.

On the other hand, golfers who shun the rules and consider the etiquette to be too stodgy will have to settle with a golf course that meets their lower level of standards.

Most private and public golf courses enforce etiquette rules to some degree, and nearly all have restrictions on golf apparel. Wearing proper attire is considered to be one of the most important areas of golf etiquette, and respectful players will happily oblige. The most common requirements of golf course dress codes are proper golf shoes, collared shirts and long pants (not jeans). These guidelines are followed on the links and in the clubhouse.

On the course itself, the primary rule of etiquette is to arrive promptly for your scheduled tee time. You should arrive at the course twenty to thirty minutes before your tee time, allowing ample time to park the car, purchase balls, change your clothes, pick up a cart, warm up and practice. Don't arrive five minutes early and expect to hit the driving range.

Another important rule of golf etiquette is a sign of modern times. Cell phones and pagers are not welcome on the links. Leave your phone in the car or in your locker. If you absolutely must bring the phone along in case of emergency, turn the ringer off and tuck it into your bag.

Using proper golf etiquette is all about minding the needs and wishes of the other players. It's important to understand how your group wishes to play before you get started. Ask if the first ready golfer should be the starter, or if the golfer with the best score on the proceeding hole should tee off first. It's easy to offend a stranger if you don't understand their wishes. Be sure that you ask the rules when you join a new group.

Always respect the other golfers' need for a quiet place to play. The game of golf requires precision and a great deal of concentration. Golfers can be unforgiving if they think you've blown their big shot. Golf etiquette requires your ability to stay quiet and keep out of the shooter's direct line of vision. It's not always easy to abide by this rule when you're having fun with you buddies, but it is the very basis of golf etiquette.

To you, golf may be a fun game. Others, however, see it as a showcase of their good breeding and even an opportunity to climb the social ladder. It's serious stuff. If you enjoy playing a game of golf, you've got to respect the fact that there's more to golf etiquette than just a persnickety dress code. These rules are part of a culture and tradition that have been observed by generations of golfers. Press your collared shirt, put on your long-legged chinos and lace up your golf shoes. Tee off with due respect.

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Author Emery Deiryme writes for a variety of popular web sites, on outdoor sports recreation and all American recreation issues.
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