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.

Great golf day at The Address Montgomerie Dubai

So Dubai it was, our first golf-related holiday destination in 2015. We’ve been here before and back in the days I checked out the Faldo course at the Emirates Golf Club, a great venue, just a stone’s throw from our residence at the Dubai Marina. The course was fun and I immediately knew that with my next trip to Dubai I would schedule in more rounds of golf. A word and a blow, in preparation for the Dubai 2015 trip I did some research, wrote some emails and came up with a fairly fixed plan to play three great courses in Dubai.

I already played a Montgomerie course (in Belek, Turkey) and the most obvious attribute which stood out was the usage of fairly large wasteland areas—which by the way are rarely to find in Turkey and belongs more to a real desert course like in the UAE or places like Arizona, USA. But the course was interesting and I knew I couldn’t go wrong with that decision to play a round at the Montgomerie Dubai. Especially because the course is situated in one of the most affluent areas of Dubai, Emirates Hills, a good copy of Hollywood Hills or Beverly Hills, at least when the size of the property or the number of servants is taken as a reference.

On a Tuesday I made my way to the course, friends dropped me off the front desk, my clubs were taken care of, all I had to do was to enter the impressive club house, go downstairs and pay the bill for a mid-week round: 825 AED (200 EUR). I knew this trip would be costly but every time the ladies swiped through the credit card during that week, I whined, very silently and only inside, but it hurt…

The locker room at The Address Montgomerie is excellent. It offers everything one could want from a room like this: comfy leather chairs and benches, plenty of lockers, showers, toilets, (…) and fully equipped toiletries: soap, creme, hair gel, deodorant, sun protection (50), after-sun, shaving creme, disposable razors (!) and some things more. I was impressed. And the round hasn’t even started.

I strolled along the clubhouse terrace, watched some people in the pool and decided to see the driving range for some warm-up. After I found my cart and was advised how to use it properly I went on to the academy building, another club house-styled building with yet another terrace right in front of the driving range. So I had spectators… tried to get used to that thought pretty quickly as it was winter in Europe and I haven’t swung a club for 5 months! Luckily all went fine, I immediately found my rhythm, smashed some nice drives along the impressive range with the Dubai Marina skyscrapers in the backdrop. It felt good and I was so happy about my performance during warm-up. Needless to say, I lost that rhythm again on the first tee…

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Speaking of first tee, right next to it they had sort of cart path road works, because of which all carts on their way to and from the training facilities had to cross the first hole. That was a bit annoying but hey, I was on holiday, just about to tee off at one of the most beautiful courses in the region and you can believe me, I wasn’t bothered at all.

I wasn’t even bothered when I met my playing partners for the round: a nice couple from Finland, probably 50 years of age. They weren’t talking much but as they had a cart for themselves and I was on my own, I had no problem with it.

By the way, the cart was loaded with tees, towels, ice cold water, repair sand, a scorecard and one of these fancy huge GPS systems. So you know where you are, you know how far to the next obstacle and you know what club to hit. I really like those!

And off we went. It’s February but around midday the sun is already really hot (28°C in the shade) so I had to stay in the cart for the most part not to risk a painful sunburn. In February I’m not that tanned yet you know…

The course layout is a very typical US or Florida-style golf estate course, it meanders along housing areas and you rarely find a place on the course where you only see golf holes instead of golf villas, huge properties and gardens. Frankly you don’t have this at all. But what do you expect from a course in the middle of a bustling city? It basically can’t be that remote like Scottish courses that come to your mind. So all golfers coming to Dubai to play a round of golf, get used to the fact that you will play along houses and especially in Dubai, you’ll have a construction site among them as well.

Fairways at The Address Montgomerie Dubai are undulated but fair in width. Monty obviously tried to create a links-style character paired with a fair resort-style course which suits the most players out there, offering chances to score low, but danger enough to score high also. The Dubai course features similar wasteland areas which I knew already from the other Montgomerie course in Turkey. It was just that here, even though you don’t see any desert here, I believed it belonged here more. Tough to describe but it felt very natural, even with all the houses to the side—which by the way are huge houses! Every villa looks different and jeez, they must cost a fortune! I was told the story that Monty got one of these villas as payoff for designing the course, and shortly after lost it to his ex-wife in the divorce. Ouch! Don’t know whether it’s true but at least it seems possible.

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Back to the course, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by the quality or the condition of the fairways and tee boxes. The greens were fine but at least the fairways lacked some intense nursing and maintenance. Comparing this to other courses you could argue that’s rubbish, but paying EUR 200 for a not perfectly staged course is a bit on the high side I believe. I might not give enough justice to the course but I was expecting greener grass and fewer neglected tee boxes. I found exactly this one day later at another course, so I knew it’s possible to have the perfect grass quality, even in the desert at these temperatures. Some days later I read something on the internet that the course had some severe problems with the grass and had to transplant large areas of it. I don’t know if this was related to my experience at all but it seemed an appropriate reason.

Anyway, the course characteristics were fantastic. The course features undulating fairways, forced carries, multiple water hazards, split fairways, troubling bunkering, wasteland areas, tricky shots into the green, quick greens themselves. All in all a fairly challenging setup.

Hole-wise I liked the 4 with a split fairway and a dogleg left with bunkers on the left (short) side; the 6, a nice par 3 over water with a small-ish (or at least hard to find) green; the 9 dogleg left with a narrow fairway and water all the way to the left (I think that hole cost me three balls…) Another interesting hole is the par 3 13 featuring a tee box ring around a island green in the form and shape of the UAE. Missed a clear birdie there. A nice stretch of holes is the 17 and 18, 17 being a well-secured and crazy-bunkered par 3 and the 18 a true test to your golf par 5. Admittedly the fairway is rather wide, but it’s long and there is water to both sides, left and right, the fairway gets split at some point and another (pink!) water hazard waits in front of the narrow-ish green. There are enough obstacles to totally ruin a round of golf. Mine was already ruined 13 holes earlier, so nothing to worry about for me :)

If you come to Dubai and are after some good rounds of golf, I would definitely support you to come play the Montgomerie as it is an interesting setting, has a good character and challenges you as a golfer. You can’t beat that!

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After the round, after my clubs and shoes were cleaned and I refreshed myself, I went to the pro shop to buy the club logo ball and a shirt and only there I noticed that the old logo of the club looks a bit dull and the new, with The Address logo on it wasn’t available yet. So there it is, my reason to come back at some point! :)

Last comment, there was one downside to a great golfing day. That wasn’t related to the course, not even to my personal game, which was OK for the most part. It was because of these horrible people I played with. In general I don’t care when I get grouped together with other folks, even in my home club that’s usually the case. Sometimes you get along very well and quick, in some instances you don’t. Nothing to worry about, just happens, you try not to be dragged down by it, forget it and carry on with your life, but this Finnish couple I don’t believe I will ever forget them at all. Please read the next post on golf etiquette to understand why…