Knowing how to act on the golf course is the essence of etiquette and because golf is often linked with doing business, it can pay off to know what you’re doing when you step on a golf course with a boss or client. Many corporations want their employees to know the basics of how act on the golf course, and the connection between golf and business is so strong that college courses across the country are offered to help the new golfer.
But whether you use golf for business or have no other agenda besides having fun, the guidelines for etiquette are simple and most are common sense — like don’t use foul or abusive language; don’t cheat, throw clubs or talk when another golfer is ready to play.
Others are a bit more specific.
Before you play a shot make sure the group ahead of you is out of range and if you do hit a ball that might hit someone, holler the golf warning signal “Fore!” When you finish playing from a bunker, rake it free of footprints and divots. This is one of the most violated rules of behavior and experienced golfers get upset when they see somebody leave a mess in the bunker — so don’t.
Take 20 minutes and read the rule book. Don’t try to memorize it but simply get the flavor of the rules of the game you’re playing.
When you injure the course in some way, repair it the best way you can — fix your divots and repair your ball marks. Did I mention raking your mess in the bunkers?
Play without delay. That doesn't mean you have to race around the course, but you should keep up with the pace of play.
Here are some pace-of-play killers: Stopping near the green you’ve just left to record your score. This not only dangerous but a very annoying habit, especially to the group behind you waiting to hit. Write your score down on the next tee. Don’t give a lesson during a round — a pointer or two is OK but save your instruction for the practice tee where there is nobody behind you waiting to play. Practice shots or mulligans have no place on the course. Be ready to play when it’s your turn, and if you’re holding up the course, let the faster players through.
This last one is a bit more complicated. The pace-of-play standard is usually set up for foursomes, but at some courses they let twosomes and even singles out on the course during crowded times. This is management's fault for not pairing groups together to make foursomes. While it’s not your fault, if you’re a twosome on a crowded day, be prepared to wait because letting you through every group you caught up with would plug the course up.
–T.J. Tomasi, Ph.D., PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Photo by Angus Murray)