Don’t be a chump. Let’s make golf etiquette great again with these 10 tips

The emergence of a video showing Donald Trump driving his buggy across a green raises the issue of course etiquette once more, writes Kevin Markham 

Let’s be clear: The golf club in question (Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey) is owned by Donald Trump, but driving a buggy across a green is the sort of thing that should never be seen at a golf course… and if you are ever caught doing such a thing you can expect to be ejected on the spot. Can you imagine Pat Ruddy steering a buggy over one of The European Club’s greens? No, neither can I. So don’t be a chump. Never mind ‘Make America Great Again’… Let’s ‘Make Etiquette Great Again’.

We all know that golf is a game of too many rules and lots of etiquette. This has helped the sport to become known as fussy and stuffy. No jeans, no golf shoes in the clubhouse, no mobile phones, no talking while someone’s playing a shot. That’s a lot of negatives to get started and, while some of the rules and etiquette are stuck in the Stone Age, most make sense.

It doesn’t take a brainiac to figure out what sort of behaviour is required on a course. Driving a buggy across a green is simply rude, uncouth and ignorant. It shows absolutely zero respect for the golfers behind you and for the club’s greenkeepers… whether you’re the president of the United States or not!

However, here are 10 obvious things you should and shouldn’t do to respect the club and the other golfers around you:

1. Don’t talk while someone is playing their shot

Don’t be a chump. Let’s make golf etiquette great again with these 10 tips

A no-brainer, as you’re going to interrupt your fellow golfer’s concentration. Hitting a stationary golf ball is hard enough as it is, and your voice is an unnecessary distraction… so zip it.

2. Don’t move while someone is playing their shot

Please see 1. above.

3. Learn how to repair a pitchmark… dear heaven, please learn how to repair a pitchmark

I almost cry for the greenkeepers, who arrive at 6am to start work on greens after a busy weekend to find putting surfaces riddled with holes, both from unrepaired pitchmarks and pitchmarks ‘repaired’ using a fork, a shovel and the heel of size 10 Footjoys. There are dozens of videos on YouTube, so even if you think you do it the right way, why not go and double-check. Just because you don’t play often enough or hardly ever hit greens from long range, there is no excuse for not repairing a pitchmark.

4. Rake bunkers and rake them properly

Simply dragging the rake behind you as you exit is not good enough… and if that’s how you do it and you complain when you later find your ball in a sandy footprint, consider it karma. We all end up in bunkers and there’s nothing worse than finding your errant shot doubly punished, because some idiot regards it as beneath him to rake the sand.

5. Let other golfers through when you’re holding them up

This is the biggest gripe of golfers today, because it can turn a three-and-a-half hour round into one lasting more than five. It’s not difficult to let people through and it only delays you by a few moments, but it appears to be a matter of ego for most golfers, or complete selfishness. I once heard someone respond to a golfer who pointed out how slowly he was playing: “I can play slower”. It was if it was a joke to him and that’s what he did in the clubhouse afterwards, he joked about it.

Clubs need to sanction people like that… whether they’re beginners, captains, or the president. It’s a tough thing to do, but golfers who hold up an entire timesheet are ruining the game for dozens of people. My solution: No entry to club competitions for a month. Another solution is a simple one: A course ranger who does his job properly.

6. If in doubt, shout

Don’t be a chump. Let’s make golf etiquette great again with these 10 tips

The pros are notoriously bad at it, but amateur golfers have no excuse for not roaring ‘fore’ when a shot goes astray. If there’s another fairway nearby and your hooked ball is heading in that direction, do the decent thing and yell. I am a bit bemused by people shouting ‘fore left’ or ‘fore right’, as if golfers on the course can discern in a fraction of a second where the shout is coming from. Then again, at least the warning has been given. Work on this basis: If it’s loud enough to hear, then duck!

7. Tee time arrival

Yes, another bugbear for those who arrive early to get in some practice, wander up to the 1st tee five minutes before their tee time only to discover the group in front is still there, waiting for someone to arrive.

If your tee time is 10.02am, that is when you should be hitting your tee shots, not the time you arrive on the tee with your shoelaces undone, with no scorecard and no respect for your fellow golfers.

What were you doing that was so important you couldn’t leave home five minutes earlier?

8. Learn how to use that rangefinder/GPS device effectively and efficiently so that you don’t hold up those playing alongside you and behind you

If you’re playing a course for the first time, I understand you want to play well and assess the hazards ahead of you and the distance to the green, but at your home course you don’t need to spend that much time analysing every shot… surely!

9. In the clubhouse follow the club’s requests

No mobile phones means no mobile phones. The same for jeans and other clothing requirements.

These days, such requests have been watered down a lot, as golfers of today prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, but you should always respect the rules in place. You are a visitor, after all.

10. Cheating

Don’t be a chump. Let’s make golf etiquette great again with these 10 tips

Does cheating fall under the heading of etiquette? There are handicap manipulators, scorecard fixers and fancy footwork fraudsters.

I’d bet that we all know one or two! Respect for the game has diminished, as golfers go in search of prizes which are growing increasingly valuable.

No-one likes a sneak, but then again, no one wants to play the round of their life only to find some 17 handicapper has played the course in two under par gross. Every and any cheat should be outed and sanctioned.

Proper golfers, real golfers, don’t abandon etiquette because it requires a little extra effort and some thought for the golfers yet to come. Go out of your way to learn these simple things and, if you ever find yourself in a buggy on the wrong side of the green, never ever be a chump like Trump.

The emergence of a video showing Donald Trump driving his buggy across a green raises the issue of course etiquette once more

Follow the club’s requests. No mobile phones means no mobile phones. The same for jeans and other clothing requirements


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