These five rules of golf etiquette will help the ever-increasing numbers of people taking up the sport to benefit from the healthy open-air lifestyle it brings.
The problem of slow play is getting to be the biggest drawback of the game, this could be curtailed if everyone was aware and followed these basic principles.
The golf governing bodies have been trying for some time to introduce measures into main televised competitions of ways to speed up play by professionals.
After all, when people watch the television coverage of the sport these top golfers are role models; viewers may think that the time they take is the norm for standard club play.
In This Article
Golf Etiquette Slow Play in Tournaments.
Not all professionals are slow players, but some seem to take an inordinate amount of time in discussing shots and club selection with their caddies and walking around the green several times surveying the putt from every angle.
I appreciate that golf is their livelihood and there are huge amounts of prize money at stake but what effect is this having on their fellow competitors and the game in general?
New Rules to help combat slow play
It seems at last that the USGA has agreed with other golf governing factions that action needs to be taken.
Proposals are to be trialed that each group of professional players in a tournament will be accompanied by a referee.
With such a major change will also come experimentation to reach a fair conclusion, but the initial rule will be a set time period for a player to take their shot.
Hopefully, casual and club golfers will watch tournaments and see play speed up.
This could encourage them to be more aware of the damage slow play is doing to everyone’s overall enjoyment of this wonderful sport.
Slow play is not caused by conscious effort, but by getting so engrossed in one’s own game that one forgets that other players are on the course.
Players need to keep in mind that the following tips are not meant to rush their shots but to use common sense when moving around the course and be ready to play when it is their turn.
Here are some of the main causes of slow play that players can easily rectify, and by being aware hopefully bring more pleasure to their game as well as others.
Even a slow player can be held up by inexperienced players in front of them. This will cause frustration which can lead to the shedding of shots, so it is in everybody’s interest to keep in mind the following tips.
More information here on golf etiquette from PGA.
Check you have the required equipment
Allow yourself time when arriving at the course, to make sure you have all the equipment you need and you are dressed and ready for the weather.
Do you have enough balls, tee pegs, ball marker for the green, pitch repairer, pen or pencil, and a golf glove if you wear one?
When obtaining your tee time from the pro shop, get confirmation of the color of the tee you will be playing from as well as any local rules in place.
It is good to know in advance if any area is under repair or if winter rules are in force for instance.
Give yourself time
Make your way to your first tee arriving a few minutes early so you can swap scorecards and agree with handicap and the format of play with your competitors.
Remember that if you are playing stroke play every shot needs to be recorded, but friendly games are more enjoyable under the Stableford rules.
This is where a player can pick up their ball if they are unable to score a point on any particular hole.
Click this link for more information on the Stableford scoring system.
Once your group has teed off make your way to where you think your ball has finished. It is always advisable to use a marker pen on your ball so that it can be identified as yours.
If you are in rough or long grass it is all too easy to play the wrong ball which will cost you a penalty.
Time looking for a lost ball
Now you have found your ball you are free to help you’re playing partners if they are struggling to find theirs.
So many times a game can be slowed down by the whole group looking for each ball in turn.
It is also worth remembering that the official time limit to look for a lost ball is five minutes from when you first reach the area where you think the ball landed.
Always be aware of the provisional ball rule. If a player has hit a ball into an area where it may be lost, it is wise to play another ball from the tee declaring it to be provisional.
If the first ball is found then play continues as normal but if the first ball is lost the provisional is played as a third shot or three off the tee, which then saves the time of walking back to hit a new ball.
As you approach your ball, put your glove on and look out for yardage markers so you are aware in advance of which club to take.
Or if you use a rangefinder or GPS watch for the distance which in some models will also indicate the club to take do so in advance of your turn to play.
Click this link for more information on distance finders to help you save shots and reduce your handicap.
Over time, and with plenty of visits to the practice ground, you will become proficient and more confident in the club you hit for each distance.
Try to contain your pre-shot routine to one or two swings, by doing more than this increases doubt in the mind as well as slows play.
Calling the group behind through
Being aware of other players on the course is important; your group needs to keep up with the group in front, not just in front of the players behind.
Four players in a group are referred to as a four-ball, and similarly three or two are referred to as a three-ball and two-ball.
A four-ball group is accepted to take more time so if they are in front of a three or two who are playing faster it is etiquette to call them through.
This call-through procedure should be adopted at any time, to not only speed up play but also to take the pressure off of your own game.
There is nothing worse than feeling intimidated by looking back at the following group knowing they are playing faster than you and you are holding them up.
Unless you are called through by the group in front, the accepted rule of play is on a par 3 wait for the green to clear, and on a par 4 or 5 wait for players in front to take their second shots before playing from the tee.
If one of your competitors loses a ball the best policy is to inform your playing partners that you would like to call the group behind through to give them more time to look.
You can then stand aside and use the time to collect your thoughts for the next shot.
It is surprising sometimes how much time can be saved by offering to repair a divot or rake a bunker if a playing companion is struggling.
Tips to speed up play on the putting green
When reaching the green always walk around to the side which is nearest to the next tee before parking your trolley or laying down your golf bag.
So many golfers walk up to the mouth of the green leaving their golf bags on the front fringe.
After they have putted out they then have to walk back towards the following group who are waiting to play.
This again adds more time to the overall round and keeps the group behind waiting which causes them unnecessary frustration.
When marking your ball on the green which should always be behind the ball, check out the line and make a mental note of the contours of the surface of the green.
The player with their ball that comes to rest nearest the hole usually tends the flag, giving players furthest away more time to view their putts.
More tips on becoming an expert putter can be found here.
As your opponents putt out keep check of how their golf ball rolls towards the hole which will give you an indication of the speed of the green when your turn comes.
When the last of your group has put out, replace the flag and then make your way to the next tee before discussing the scores which can be entered before driving off from the next tee.
Etiquette on the golf course is basically good manners and being aware of others.
It is all too easy to get caught up in your own game, by being excited about a good shot and distracted and despondent when hitting a poor shot.
If everyone took note of the above tips and put them into practice, the popularity of golf will continue to grow for everyone’s benefit.