Mind Your Ps and Qs: Learning Basic Golf Etiquette

In most sports, once you have mastered the rules, you are in pretty good shape to be able to play. Golf, however, is unique in that proper etiquette is so important that it might as well be written into the rules. Even when you are young, you will never be taken seriously out on the golf course unless you learn and practice good golfing etiquette at all times. Here are a few of the basics that you will want to remember the next time you go to play 18 holes.
 

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1. Safety First
The game of golf is played by swinging long, metal clubs as you hit a metal-coated ball at high speeds. Obviously, this combination makes injury a very real possibility. When you are on the course, therefore, it is essential that you make safety your number-one priority. Some safety precautions are common sense — don’t swing your club unless you know it is out of range of any of your fellows, for instance — but others can be hard to remember in the heat of the moment during a game. If you are focusing all your attention on where your ball is about to land, you may not realise it is headed right toward another player. Remember that other people are much more important than your game (and always yell “Fore!” if your ball is going anywhere near another group).
 

2. Watch Your Pace
Nothing is more frustrating than being behind a group of players who are going much more slowly than the course requires. You should make every effort to keep pace with the group in front of you so that no-one ends up having to wait. While actual tournaments require that the player who is “away” (furthest from the hole) hits first, during practice or friendly play, you can abandon this rule in favour of “ready play” (in which players hit in the order that is most convenient). Never spend more than a few minutes looking for a lost ball, and allow the group behind you to play through if you need to take a while to recover a ball that has landed out of bounds. Finally, remember to take a few different clubs with you when you leave the golf cart behind to search for your ball. You don’t want to change your mind once you’ve reached the ball and have to waste time walking back to your cart again. By keeping a good pace at all times, you can ensure that you don’t waste anyone’s time.
 

3. Respect Other Players
Be aware and conscientious of other players around you. Remember to stay quiet whenever someone else is preparing to take their shot, and always silence your cell phone when you arrive at the golf course so that its noise doesn’t disrupt someone else’s game. Once you have reached the putting green, never stand so that your cast shadow interferes with another player’s line of sight, and never walk across someone else’s putting line. Even the faintest footprints might alter another player’s putt. Another aspect of respect is good sportsmanship. You should never yell or throw your clubs whenever a shot doesn’t go the right way. Conversely, a boisterous attitude when you do make a great shot is frowned upon as bad form.
 

4. Leave the Course the Way You Found It
Golf is such a personal game that it can be hard to remember that you are sharing the course with possibly hundreds of other people on the same day. You should make every effort to ensure that the course is in the same (or better) condition as you found it in after you are finished with each hole. Common courtesy asks that you rake sand bunkers after you leave them to get rid of your footprints — and if someone else left footprints behind, you should rake theirs, too. Repair any divots that you create, as well as any ball marks you might make on the green. Golf carts are a great way to save time and energy when you are golfing, but if you drive them the wrong way, it can wreck the grass. Try to avoid any wet areas and spots that look like they’ve been getting beaten up by heavy foot traffic when you drive your cart. Also, never drive your golf cart across the sensitive putting green
 

The rules of golf etiquette can be a lot to remember, but none of them are particularly difficult to follow. Remember that golf is considered a refined game for a reason — it has a rich history full of people respecting one another and respecting the course. You should always strive to be worthy of the sport so that you can continue to carry on its rich legacy.
 

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