Many golfers take to the sport without the basic
understanding of how the game should be played. Of
course, we all know that the game requires a tee, a
ball, and clubs, but few golfers actually take the
time to learn the proper etiquette of the game.
Lacking this type of fundamental knowledge can lead
to tremendously embarrassing mistakes on the green.
Golf is a great game when digested properly and then
studied correctly. It's important to take each step
as it comes and do it right. This article should
help you to understand the basics of good golf
etiquette. I think that I can best show you how
the game is played by taking you through the play
of one hole with a foursome.
The members of the foursome or twosome hit in turn.
The closest ball to the green hits last and so on.
When on the first tee, the order in which the players
hit is decided, this order only pertains to that first
shot. The golf term for this action is honor.
From the very beginning, it is always good to check,
before swinging, to see if the members of your party
are out of swinging distance. The ordinary swing of
a golf club can be a deadly blow. Therefore, rules
of etiquette are often rules of safety. Everyone in
the group should be standing to one side or sitting
on the benches, provided by most courses, awaiting
their turns to hit, and there should be no talking on
the tee or at any time when an associate is preparing
to make his shot. All clubs, bags, carts and other
essentials of the game should be left off the teeing
Don't practice your swing while other members of your
group are hitting, and don't stand behind the tee.
Stay behind the player - to his back. It is easy to
see a player out of the corner of your eye and that
little thing could be distracting and result in a
When the entire party has completed their first
shots, walk directly in the line with your ball.
But if another player has hit short of your ball
wait for him to complete his second swing. This is
another item of etiquette protecting the safety of
the players and the skill of the hitter. Like the
swing of the club, the flight of the ball can be
dangerous. If players walk in front of another who is
hitting, the distraction could cause a missed shot and
the result can be injury to a companion.
Before you get going to far, one of the most important
points of golf etiquette is waving through. Never hold
up a group playing behind you. If you are slower than
they are wave them on and wait until they have safely
gotten out of range before you continue.
If you game is anything like mine, when you take your
first drive, you may have to contend with that familiar
obstacle ? the rough. When your ball is in the rough,
Nothing rooted may be removed to allow an easier shot.
It is all right to remove dead wood, grass or leaves,
providing the ball does not move. Be very careful here!
When it's virtually impossible to hit your ball, you
may declare it unplayable. It is then allowable to
pick the ball up, move two club lengths away from the
obstacle (not nearer the hole) and drop the ball over
your shoulder. But this isn't for free-you have to
add two strokes to your score. In winter time, and
during wet weather, it is sometimes permissible to
lift your ball and drop it again for a better
position. Also, around some clubs players move their
balls to a choice spot with their hands. This always
pertains to balls in the fairway.
Once you reach your ball and prepare to approach the
green, study the lay of the land. Remember, when your
ball is hit out of the fairway nothing can be removed
to improve the lie of the ball unless it is dead
matter. In rough, or woods, players can pick up dead
limbs, leaves, paper or cut grass. But growing bushes,
roots, tall grass must remain in place.
In traps or on the fringes of bunkers the player
can move only things that were, perhaps, left there
by careless course attendants. This would only include
rakes, lawn mowers and other equipment used in caring
for a golf course. These technicalities make it a
'must' to know your rules.
Your iron shots from the fairway will often dig up the
grass, roots and all. This piece of turf, called a
divot, should be picked up by you or your caddy and
put back in its place, packing it down well with
Now that the group has reached the green, other
rules of golf and etiquette will come into use. As
each player shoots the caddy faces them and lifts
the stick so that the ball may have freedom of the
hole if it has the proper direction. Without
caddies, the player in the group with the ball
closest to the cup has the obligation on holding
the stick for his companions. When his time comes
to hit, another member of the party holds the stick
Should another player's ball be blocking your line
to the hole, then you may ask him to mark and
remove it. The marking is usually done with a coin.
If your ball is in such a position that it might
interfere with a player's approach to the hole, it
is always good to ask him if he would like it marked.
Don't just walk up and grab your ball or the ball of
a fellow member of your group.
Some players make the mistake of entering a sand trap
by climbing into it from the high side, but a
following player may be penalized by having his ball
come to rest in one of the deep footprints left
behind. Tearing down the sides of traps and then
leaving without repairing the damage is an
inexcusable breach of etiquette. Also, when you
are in a sand trap, be careful that your club does
not touch the sand, even in your address, until you
are actually making the downward swing of the club
in your stroke.
Putting on the green is handled in the same way as
is hitting from the fairway. The ball which lies
the greatest distance from the hole is putted first,
and so on down the line until the closest man plays.
Then the process is repeated until the entire group
has played the hole out.
Remember, a careful study of the rules of play and
etiquette can do more to insure enjoyment than any
other one thing. Thousands of tiny, intricate
situations can arise in golf. Don't hesitate to seek
the knowledge of your pro. That's part of his job.
Your aim is to be a polite as well as a skillful
golfer. The two go hand in hand. To know the rules,
leads to confidence. And confidence is the key to
your quick success in this new undertaking.
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