Golf etiquette: How NOT to do it!

I would consider myself as a golf youngster with another approach to golf as some of the old blokes. OK, I’m in my thirties also but I take the game of golf seriously, I play by the rules for the most part and respect fairness, personal pace of play and the various approaches to the golf swing as a whole.

Plus I’m a ready golfer, i.e. the first one ready takes the shot no matter the honour. I know that’s not really compliant with the R&A etiquette but it can speed up the game big time. Having said that, all the rest of the etiquette I really totally comply with—and I even do ask all my group mates to do so. To set a good example I usually exaggerate the usage of the divot tool, just to bring that to someone’s attention without saying one word.

In most cases this works. But there are incidents in which it doesn’t and my first round during this year’s trip to Dubai was one of these examples: I was grouped together with a Finnish couple in their 50s, they were nice and friendly and I had nothing to complain. They played their game and I played mine. Their ball striking was actually quite good, he probably a 15, she a 20 or so. So not too shabby at all.

What they immensely lacked however was behaviour and manners. You cannot imagine how dragged down I was by the way the guy was treating this sport, this course and how bad his attitude was in general towards other players. I took notes to remember everything he did, because I immediately knew I have to make this public, once back home.

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I won’t go into too much detail but some examples of the misbehaviour I just have to mention. This guy really was the whole package. He was mostly friendly in his words but apparently had a heart like a stone. Besides he wasn’t talking to his wife at all during the round he acted as one of these grumpy dads who know everything better. In fact he didn’t:

  • He didn’t rake the bunkers. He got in, aligned himself, took the shot, left the bunker and with it all traces he did. He never ever touched a rake in the entire round.
  • He left broken tees in the middle of the tee box. For the other players behind him to clean up his mess.
  • He didn’t replace divots, not a single one! Neither made he use of the sand with which the cart was equipped. I’m not a big fan of this sand either but I on the other hand put back my divots.
  • He used a tee to mark his ball on the green, which is minor, point taken.
  • He didn’t care about pitch marks on the green. Not at all…
  • He literally threw the pin on the ground and he didn’t give a damn about putting lines, i.e. he stood all over the place.
  • He really made pace, with all negative side effects: driving the ball towards green staff, the drinks cart guy and the golfing group in front of us. Sometimes it was really, really close. They were quite angry at some point and made gestures at us, for good reason, but the guy always viciously looked at me when I waited a bit longer because I believed the group in front wasn’t yet out of reach, especially because my driving was not so bad that day. You could see this was going on his nerves and he constantly played too early and too close for my liking. At some point the 4-ball in front of us had enough and let us play through. Needless to say my playing partner didn’t thank them for this, maybe because they were somewhat yelling at him when we passed.

I’m sure he did some other things wrong as well, but I wanted to let you know that I witnessed the worst behaviour on a golf course ever (so far) and as well that I couldn’t even concentrate anymore because my playing partner was such a big asshole.

So please be always fair to your playing partners, to others, to club staff, to the course, to the game in general and your wife. Golf is a gentlemen’s sport and so it should be played. This guy probably would even act badly on a football pitch but as we were playing golf rather than football on a beautiful course in a great city in beautiful sunshine, I couldn’t get my head around why on earth this guy acted so badly. Especially because the green fee was no bargain.

The only good thing is that with this I have another chapter for my book which frankly writes itself.

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