7 Ways to Improve Your Golf Etiquette

There are few sports where your etiquette can have as much effect on fellow players as golf. Someone with bad etiquette can make an otherwise pleasant day on the golf course downright awful. Worse, if the ranger is not on his game, there’s little you can do about it without getting into an altercation. We’ve all been there before – stuck behind a group who’s breaking every rule in the etiquette book. What’s even more sad is sometimes that group doesn’t even know they’re doing anything wrong, when they’re actually forcing groups of golfers to suffer behind them.

So let’s take a stand. Let’s all improve our golf etiquette, and hopefully we will all benefit next time we’re on the course. Here are seven ways to improve your golf etiquette:

1. Be realistic with expectations. It’s all about being relaxed on your round. When you’re relaxed, you’re etiquette will be on point. If you’re golfing on a Saturday morning on a beautiful sunny day, you’re probably not going to play 18 in three hours. Holes will be backed up, and it’s going to take some time. So just take it all in, don’t get frustrated at the groups in front of you and concentrate on your round.

2. Know when to take a lost ball. If you slammed a ball into the woods and the odds of finding it are one in a million, just take a drop. It’s only a golf ball and a lost stroke.

3. Play ready golf. Lose the tradition of away plays first, especially on a crowded day. If you’re ready to hit and it’s safe to hit, swing away!

4. Follow the cart path. Course planners located the cart path where it is for a reason. So when you’re near the green, it always makes sense to park the cart on the side of the green where the path is. When you have to walk back to the wrong side of the green, it’s annoying to the group behind you. When you do that for 18 holes, the time adds up.

5. Don’t treat every shot like it’s the 18th hole at The Masters. While you may claim to have a routine that requires eight practice swings and you have to follow a putting system similar to Camilo Villegas, just stop. It’s all a part of respect. If there are other golfers on the course, take a reasonable amount of time to setup and let it rip. If you’re the only one on the course, take all of the time and practice swings you need. It would actually be a good comparison to see if there’s any difference in your score!

6. Respect the course. Do the little things to leave the golf experience the way it should be for the people who will golf after you. Rake the bunkers. Fix your ball marks. Put the flag back in the hole. (Yes, I’ve seen golfers leave the flag out after they finished a hole.) Follow the course rules. These things aren’t difficult, but it’s what you expect when you play. Why not treat other people the same way?

7. Save the yelling for football season. There’s nothing worse than being in your backswing, and hearing someone scream, yeahhhhh, from three holes away. I’m all for celebrating a great shot, but you know the right way to celebrate. Keep it at five instead of turning it up to 11.

Golf etiquette isn’t that difficult. For the most part, it’s just using common sense and respecting your fellow golfer. Let’s all keep this great game the way it was intended to be played!

(posted 12/1/14)