By Michael J. Solender | Photography by Jason Miczek
Posted: Thursday, May. 24, 2012
No golfer wants to find himself deleted from the speed-dial list for a fill-in at the hottest new course in town. But break one or more cardinal rule on the links and thats exactly what might happen. To truly become boss to the moss, experts say you need to follow some simple ground rules.
Adam Robinson, head golf pro at Cowans Ford Golf Club in Stanley, has seen his share of golf course faux pas, including one that happened at the Club Championship a few years back.
Robinson came across a slow group that was about a hole-and-a-half behind the group in front of them. The group explained that one of their players had taken 16 shots to make it to the green. But then the member, apparently clueless of the others waiting, proudly exclaimed that he made the putt in a single shot.
Certainly there are well-documented rules that govern play on the golf course, but there are times, as the example above illustrates, when common sense should kick in and the unwritten rules of golf take over.
Peter Post, great-grandson of the late etiquette expert Emily Post, says all golfers need to be aware of some very basic behavioral dos and donts when they hit the links.
In doing research for his book Playing Through, about golfs many unwritten rules, Post conducted a survey to document golfers major annoyances. Not surprisingly, slow play topped the list.
Golfers can do many small things that will help keep up the pace of play, Post says.
For example, taking several clubs youre likely to use for a shot will eliminate the need to return to the cart for another club when approaching your ball. Also, Post says, recreational players often take an agonizingly long time reading and re-reading putts on the green, and are often unaware that theyre holding up others in their group or those who are following on the
Two things golfers should keep in mind regarding pace of play is knowing when its appropriate to pick up your ball, and playing from the appropriate set of tees, says Brian Reppart, head golf professional at The Peninsula Club in Cornelius. It is absolutely OK to pick up and move along to the next hole after hitting a ball or two into the lake.
Reppart also encourages recreational golfers to adhere to the United States Golf Associations Tee it Forward initiative. Leave the back tees for the pros, youll have much more fun and so will your group, he says. At the end of the day its all about having an enjoyable time.
But sometimes this initiative can lead to some comical misunderstandings on the course. Charlotte golf pro Dana Rader, founder of the Dana Rader Golf School in Ballantyne, likes to tell the story of how she approached the mens tees at a course where she had been invited to play.
Before she could tee off, one of the clubs assistant pros raced out to inform her quite loudly and in full earshot of the group of men she was with that she was playing from the wrong set of tees, and suggested she move to the ladies set of tees, about 20 yards or so closer to the green.
Rader said she instead boomed her shot 280-plus yards down the center of the fairway, well past that of her male companions. The dumbfounded assistant pro sheepishly acknowledged that perhaps Rader was playing from the appropriate set of tees after all.
Robinson at Cowans Ford Golf Club also stressed that golfers need to be aware of their behavior not just when theyre playing, but when others are making a shot as well. Golf is a game that requires intense concentration, and when someone is getting ready to tea off or make a putt, you dont want to be rattling your clubs or having a loud conversation, he says.
Charlotte resident Peter Oosterhuis, a CBS TV golf analyst and PGA Tour member, says his biggest pet peeve on the course is when players talk on their cell phones.
Im a traditionalist, he says. I dont think there is any place for cell phones on the course when you are out enjoying a round. It is a shame that people cant seem to disconnect for a few short hours, enjoy those that they are with, the game and their surroundings.
So whether youre swinging the club for the first time or are a seasoned pro, etiquette remains an inseparable part of golf that both enhances the experience and upholds the tradition of the game.