An Important Aspect of Proper Etiquette
Last week, I addressed some of the more elementary aspects of proper etiquette. Nothing I said was all that new to the average player.
This week, I’d like to delve a little deeper into an area of etiquette which, when neglected, affects more than just those within a particular foursome. The area from which most concourse complaints are born is “pace of play.”
Let’s first agree on one thing: You needn’t be a possessor of great skill to play at a reasonable pace. I’ve seen agonizingly slow 67’s and amazingly fast 100s. Pace of play is part of a mindset that is most easily identified by how ready the golfer is when it is his or her turn to play.
I’ll start at the green. By the time it is your turn to putt, you should have done all the circling and surveying you need to do. You can do most of it as you walk up to mark your ball.
Also, once you’ve rolled your first putt, it is well within you rights (in stroke play) to announce that you “elect to finish.” People who drop a coin on those 18-inch putts are likely to hear the group behind them yell, “Pick it up, it’s good!”
Always take three or four clubs with you any time you leave the vicinity of your golf cart. This is a good habit, as there are many times that the ball you thought was yours is actually someone else’s. Rather than run back and forth to change clubs, you can avoid all the “hurry up anxiety” by already having what you need.
Also, don’t stand over your ball as if you’re going to hit it if you don’t intend to. Others will assume that you’re preparing to play your ball, and will likely wait as long as it takes to realize that you’re only rehearsing. It is better to take practice swings while standing away from your ball if it is not yet your turn.
The Teeing Ground
Many golfers choose the most inappropriate time to tell stories. It is normally the last guy to tee off, and, with his ball already on a tee, he says, “Hey, have you heard the one about the golfer who said to the bartender…”
We, the selected audience, get to squirm through the entire joke, preoccupied wit how to manufacture a laugh when it’s finally over. After thinking it over, we realize our mistake was not returning immediately to our golf carts after teeing off.
I understand that some golfers are out only for fun, fellowships, and some fresh air. The last thing they want is someone telling them to hurry. Most would agree, however, that four hours gives the ready golfer plenty of time to get around the golf course.
Don’t give up the game if it simply takes you longer to play, just be aware when faster players come up behind you and simply invite them to play through. You won’t feel rushed and they won’t feel held up.
And for the golfer who thinks it’t OK to drive their ball into the group playing ahead because that group should be playing faster, think again. Though you might see them as rude for holding you up, it doesn’t compare to how rude you would seem by risking their safety. Your only recourse is to find a marshal, alert the pro-shop or conjure up a nice way to ask them yourself.
By the way, with regard to that third option, Dale Carnegie himself would have a difficult time walking softly enough.