Mondays With Mike Bradshaw: Golf Etiquette

In Golf, the customs and etiquette and decorum are as important as the rules of play—Bobby Jones

So how about that statement??  Coming from one of the best players ever who is widely considered, quite possibly, the most gentlemanly (if that’s even a word?) players ever.  

Fixing ball marks is part of golf etiquette. PHOTO: USGA

This week we are rolling out our summer Junior programs and we normally spend a small bit of every class teaching the Juniors about the etiquette of the game.  And sometimes we get weird looks from the kids (and, honestly, some adults as well sometimes) as in, “Why is this important?”  And who can blame them (the kids, I mean..)–no other sport you play has such a deeply ingrained history and tradition of etiquette in the game. 

Rule 1.2 of the Rules of Golf is entitled Standards of Player Conduct:

All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by:

  • Acting with integrity – for example, by following the Rules, applying all penalties, and being honest in all aspects of play.
  • Showing consideration to others – for example, by playing at a prompt pace, looking out for the safety of others, and not distracting the play of another player.
  • Taking good care of the course – for example, by replacing divots, smoothing bunkers, repairing ball-marks, and not causing unnecessary damage to the course.

You should check to see whether the Committee has adopted a Code of Conduct, as you could get a penalty if you do not follow it

I don’t think you’ll find that in the rule book of any other sport.  I mean look at a baseball game or a football game–there’s absolutely nothing wrong with 50,000 people screaming out during play.  Do that in a golf tournament and you will be promptly escorted off the premises.  And what other game would have a sign like this??  

And while the Rules are important–and not subject to “interpretation” but fairly “black and white–good golf etiquette is totally in the hands of the player.  There’s no “Etiquette Official” assigned to a golf match.  The players maintain the etiquette level of their group and hopefully set an example for the groups around them— a novel concept that has carried on for centuries.   

It’s just like the saying that practically every youth sports coach has used over the course of their coaching careers: “In the long run it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game”….

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