The Rules of the 19th Hole: A code of conduct for how to behave in the grillroom

Phil's Grill
Courtesy of Grayhawk Golf Club
Before you sit down at Phil's Grill at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., or any clubhouse grill room, make sure you know Gary Van Sickle's Rules of the 19th Hole.

Just as we have rules and etiquette to help us enjoy this great game, the same should be true for post-round activity, whether you’re at Pine Valley or your local muni. Behold, the Official Rules of the 19th Hole.

There Must Be Fresh Popcorn

I said fresh popcorn! And it has to be free. This is non-negotiable.

There Must Be a Dress Code

The Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas once instituted the Mickey Mantle Rule for the men’s grillroom. It seems the beloved New York Yankees great liked to have a few in the nude. The Mantle Rule decreed that members wear a towel or underwear (preferably both) at all times. This is a fundamental law for all 19th holes. And hey, you guys in the towels—don’t get so close to the cold cuts on the buffet table, please.

The Las Vegas Rule

Remember, what happens at the 19th hole stays at the 19th hole. No cell-phone pictures, no texting and definitely no Tweets—no matter how hilarious is it that your pal passed out face-flat on the pool table during the Tequila Showdown. He’s probably going to run for the Senate someday.

The Jim Nantz Commandment

Hey, if I want to hear three hours of golf play-by-play, I’ll turn on CBS and let Jim Nantz’s sonorous tones lull me into a golf nap. You are not Jim Nantz! Nothing about your round is of interest to me on account of it’s not about me. So spare me the blow-by-blow. Okay, I’ll let you rehash one key shot, maybe one entire hole if you must. After that, let’s move on to something of national importance—like my heroic 77, how I switched to a claw putting grip, or those new forged blades I tried on Demo Day and am thinking about buying because I know a guy who knows a guy who can get them at wholesale, and you should have seen the 5-wood I hooked around the trees at the 7th...

The Slauson Cutoff

This amendment to the Nantz Commandment is approved in all 19th-hole situations and legal in 32 states. If another golfer starts tediously replaying his round shot-by-freaking-shot, you are authorized to execute a tactic called the Slauson Cutoff: Ask him what club he hit into the 17th green and then listen with every ounce of fake sincerity you can muster. This proven ploy fast-forwards his replay and gets you both to the clubhouse faster than Tony Stewart driving an airport limo. However, do not attempt this maneuver on me or the gents in my foursome, or we will get out of our chairs, put down our baskets of (fresh, free) popcorn and cut off your Slauson. Comprendi, amigo?

The One-Ball Drink Rule

Just as you aren’t allowed to change model or make of ball during official competitions, the same commonsense rule applies to post-round imbibing. Nothing good can come of switching from light beer to hard stuff mid-bender. That’s amateur hour! It makes the rest of us at the club look weak and unmanly if you’re doubled over in the john “calling Earl,” as a friend euphemistically says.

Hats On to You

What’s wrong with wearing hats indoors, I ask? Really, who wants to be blinded by the glare of untanned chrome-dome heads, or forced to stare at Ted’s bad hairpiece, which looks like something that knocked over my trash cans last night? Clubs enforce an outdated hats-off policy to seem swank, but it’s already joined the stymie, the niblick and knickers among dead golf traditions. By the way, now’s a good time to remove those faded fox-hunting paintings from the clubhouse walls. The last time they were cool, so was Rudy Vallee.

The Whip-Out Doctrine

You’ve got bets going six ways and the smallest denomination in your wallet is a twenty? You kidding me? Surely you didn’t assume you’d win today? C’mon, you couldn’t play to your handicap if you were in a two-man scramble and Rory McIlroy was your partner. You owe three bucks and all you’ve got is a fifty? Close enough—we’ll take it.

The No-Surfing Zone

It’s seriously bad form to change the channel on the big-screen TV in the grillroom without asking me for permission. Maybe you’d rather watch the LPGA instead of the National Spelling Bee semifinals (can you spell “tough s---”?), but I’ve got 40 samolians riding on the kid with the horn-rimmed glasses and he’s about to nail “cymotrichous.”

The Free-Range Policy

All food items within arm’s reach are community property. This stricture is unassailable. One last thing, Sport: You gonna finish those fries?

 

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