The great Bobbi Jones once said “In golf, the customs and etiquette and decorum are as important as the rules of play.”
For non-golfers, etiquette can seem to be about snobbery or being stuck up. That cannot be further from the truth. Etiquette is simply how we conduct ourselves on the golf course so that we can all play fairly and amicably.
They are a set of rules that are not rules of the actual game but rules about behaviour. Get your junior golfers used to following this code of conduct and it will not only stand you in good stead on the golf course but also off it.
Most of the time, any golfer who has played for some time behaves naturally in such a way that has, over time, been shaped by this code.
It is amazing to be able to watch a child behave in such rayon the golf course that they would never behave at home. Check their bedroom in the morning after they have left for school and you will likely find it untidy, unmade bad, crisp wrappers left on the chest of drawers, shoes all over the floor not to mention yesterdays’ clothing all over the place.
Get them on a golf course and watch how they will politely wait their turn, keep quiet whilst someone else plays their shot, replace divots, repair pitch marks, rake bunkers…etc. none of these things are rules of the game but it is how we expect each other to behave on the course.
(Maybe for those who play with their own child, they mayn’t see quite the same level etiquette shown but that’s just kids and their parents!)
As adults / Junior Organisers on the course we often teach the juniors about etiquette before we even show them some of the rules. At least this way they can play with others as they learn about how to play within the rules.
After all at the start it is about getting them out there and used to being on the course rather than competing in competitions.
Some of the key points for junior golfers to remember are:
Always make sure that you know the dress code for the particular course on which you are playing. Most courses have more relaxed rules for juniors but still within certain parameters. i.e. a collared shirt, usually a polo shirt, no jeans or tracksuit clothing and no trainers, correct golf trousers or shorts and no football team shirts.
When a junior is just starting out, golf clubs usually show a little discretion as it takes time to decide whether they will continue to learn and play before paying out for clothing and equipment.
Be polite from the start, when you’re at the first tee, if you don’t know your playing partners then you should introduce yourself and, where appropriate, shake hands.
Show each other your golf ball and point out the marks you have made on it to show that your ball is individual to you. e.g. I put 2 blue dots on either side of the manufacturers name so that if there is another ball in the rough near to where I believe my ball has landed I can clearly tell which one is mine.
Keep up your pace of play. There’s no need to runaround, in fact you shouldn’t be running on the golf course as it can be distracting to other golfers, but get to your ball and work out what shot you are about to play whilst your playing partner plays their shot.
There is no need for you to stand with them while they play your shot and then they come over to stand with you. Don’t wait for them to play their shot then get out your rangefinder and start to consider which club you’re going to take. This can be done while they are playing their shot.
The only caveat to this is that you should also try to watch where you playing partners ball goes to in case they need your help in finding it. When you have all taken your shots make sure you get a move on to your next shot or to the next tee if you have finished that hole.
You will find that there is plenty of time for a chat whilst walking between shots so there’s no need to stand around talking when you should be playing.
Golf is a very frustrating game at times as well as rewarding, you should control your temper when something doesn’t according to plan. Shouting or slamming your clubs is a no no and throwing a club or breaking it in a fit of anger is a sign of very poor etiquette indeed.
There is nothing with being upsetter annoyed but you must keep it under control. Golf should be enjoyed and when you do something good, you are allowed to enjoy it with a cheer or a fist pump but there’s no need to go running around in celebration, especially when your playing partners are waiting to play or to shake your hand at the end.
When you are on the green make sure that you keep still and quiet while your playing partners are putting. Also try to stay out of their sight so that they can concentrate on what they’re doing. If you don’t make the put decide whether you want to mark your ball or put out. If you decide to put out make sure that you don’t step on your playing partners’ line. Decide between yourselves who’s turn it is to go so that you don’t all go at the same time.
Make sure you repair your pitch marks on the green and replace any divots on the fairway.
Always rake the bunker after you have been in there and shake any sand off your shoes in or near to the bunker instead of walking it onto the green.
When your game is finished remember to remove your hat if you’re wearing one and shake hands if permitted. Thank each other and whether you have won or lost you should be able to walk off the course together.
Follow these simple etiquette guidelines and you’ll find that you will all enjoy playing the game together.