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Golf Etiquette For The Ignorant

It’s been ages since I played a round of 18 and by ages I mean 2.5 months. Vince was out of town this past weekend so I called up our mutual friend Donnie late Saturday night to see if he was playing the next day.

Donnie and I playing in a typhoon (2012)

Donnie and I playing in a typhoon (2012)

Donnie is a semi-rash Italian guy who grew up London and is therefore obviously a big football fan. He got into golf about six years ago because of a bet. The way Donnie explains it, he came across someone at the driving range (can’t remember what he was doing there in the first place) and in typical hooligan-fashion, calls the guy a “pu**y wanker” or some combination of offensive british words. The guy turns around and goes, “I’ll bet you that you can’t hit this ball with this [7 iron] more than 100 yards. If you do, then I’m a pu**y. Otherwise, you’re a b*tch!” Donnie tried, failed as you’d expect and walked away with his tail between his legs. He’s since become an avid golfer and LITERALLY plays 5-6 times a week and always on the weekends so my call to him was not so much to see if he was playing, but where.

I meet him at 8AM at South Forbes where we teed off with his two friends, a Swiss guy and another Filipino, whom I’ve never met before. As a wanna-golf blogger, I really don’t play that often. Vince is the real enthusiast and frequent tournament-er. I’ve never played in a tournament before aside from at my brother-in-law’s bachelor party, which doesn’t really count cause everyone was a WINNER that weekend! haha

When I do play, it’s always with the same group of people so this was actually the first time in over a year that I was paired with people I didn’t already know. On my best behavior, I kept to myself and tried to be as courteous as possible. While on the third hole, Marcel (the swiss guy) looked at me after I putted and said with a smile, “You just stepped on my line… two stroke penalty.” I laughed, smiled back and walked to my cart. I normally don’t pay attention to stuff like that but I was playing sober so when he mentioned it again on the next hole, I realized that although he was joking about penalizing me, stepping on someone’s putting line is actually not allowed.

Calling myself a very ghetto golfer is an understatement. I got into the sport my senior year of high school when my friends and I would get drunk and hit balls in my backyard with an old set of clubs we found lying around the house. We were all horrible (aside from Phil who played on the HS golf team). When our swings got fractionally better (i.e. hitting the ball more than 20 yards), we thought it’d be fun to take our skills to the course.color-img

Our friend Paolo lived right behind a private club. After stealing buckets of balls from the local driving range, we’d put on four layers of clothes and sneak onto the 14th hole, which conveniently didn’t even have a fence, and blast balls for a few hours every day after school during the empty winter months. Sorry Essex Country Country Club… It was us who jacked up your course 12 years ago… I recommend you put a fence up.

I continued playing on and off throughout college and after when I was still living in Boston. My friends and I would go to this one US18 dollar hacker course with no dress code and shank balls on the weekends. When I started playing again in the Philippines I became more serious about the game watching videos online and studying my swing with various apps. But even now, golf for me is more of an escape from work and often an excuse to get completely plastered in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon.

Over the past two years, I can say with all honesty that I haven’t played one full round completely sober (please sponsor us San Miguel!). It also doesn’t help that I get drunk after one beer.

My first sober round in a very long time was this past weekend partly because I thought I’d try to improve my credibility now that I’m writing about golf, but mainly because Vince wasn’t around… he’s a terrible influence.

This experience made me realize how many rules there are! Having played a lot of golf over the years without ever taking a lesson, I know the very basic ones: lowest score on previous hole tees off first, furthest from the hole putts first, etc. etc. I often disregard what I know though and don’t bother learning new ones because it’s a waste of time when your entire flight is buzzed and hitting balls all over the place. Whoever’s ready hits so that we can finish before midnight.

So I suppose my ignorance of the rules can be blamed in part on alcohol and in part on the equally ghetto informal company I always find myself playing with. But that’s how we like it… no pressure and no stiff rules so long as everyone’s having a good time and you don’t look as trashy as Kevin Federline.

only_kfed_can_make_golf_gangsta

K-Fed Livin’ The Dream

Was a welcome treat playing with new people and a sobering reminder (literally) of how little I know about the game I love. Marcel wasn’t upset that I kept stepping on his line as he actually found it quite amusing. As the round progressed, he made it a point to callout my ever fault including standing behind Vernon, the filipino in our foursome, as he was putting (I was going for birdie and wanted to see how his ball turned) and taking practice swings / cuts in the hazard.

When I got home, I immediately began reading up on the more important rules amateur golfers should be aware of. Below are a list of etiquettes published by the USGA and some other useful links I found so that you don’t make an ass of yourself like I tend to. It’s always better to know more than less… especially if you find yourself trying to close a deal on the course with a bunch of Japanese businessmen.

But if you’re playing with friends, I recommend not being such a stickler and just have fun because no one likes playing with a golf-nazi. Best of luck to you all! – WH

On another side note, apologies to Chris Ong. Have probably breached 95% the etiquettes below one time or another at Sun Valley…

USGA: Golf Etiquette 101

Safety
Players should ensure that no one is standing close by or in a position to be hit by the club, the ball or any stones, pebbles, twigs or the like when they make a stroke or practice swing.

Players should not play until the players in front are out of range.

Players should always alert green staff nearby or ahead when they are about to make a stroke that might endanger them.

If a player plays a ball in a direction where there is a danger of hitting someone, he should immediately shout a warning. The traditional word of warning in such a situation is “fore.”

No Disturbance or Distraction
Players should always show consideration for other players on the course and should not disturb their play by moving, talking or making any unnecessary noise.

Players should ensure that any electronic device taken onto the course does not distract other players.

On the teeing ground, a player should not tee his ball until it is his turn to play.

Players should not stand close to or directly behind the ball, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to play.

On the Putting Green
On the putting green, players should not stand on another player’s line of putt or when he is making a stroke, cast a shadow over his line of putt.

Players should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out.

Scoring
In stroke play, a player who is acting as a marker should, if necessary, on the way to the next tee, check the score with the player concerned and record it.

Which Golfer are you?

I have an uncanny resemblance to the guy on the left… if only his eyes were slantier…

Play at Good Pace and Keep Up Players should play at a good pace. The Committee may establish pace of play guidelines that all players should follow.

It is a group’s responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If it loses a clear hole and it is delaying the group behind, it should invite the group behind to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group.

Be Ready to Play
Players should be ready to play as soon as it is their turn to play. When playing on or near the putting green, they should leave their bags or carts in such a position as will enable quick movement off the green and towards the next tee. When the play of a hole has been completed, players should immediately leave the putting green.

Lost Ball
If a player believes his ball may be lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, to save time, he should play a provisional ball.

Players searching for a ball should signal the players in the group behind them to play through as soon as it becomes apparent that the ball will not easily be found.

They should not search for five minutes before doing so. Having allowed the group behind to play through, they should not continue play until that group has passed and is out of range.

Priority On The Course
Unless otherwise determined by the Committee, priority on the course is determined by a group’s pace of play. Any group playing a whole round is entitled to pass a group playing a shorter round.

Bunkers
Before leaving a bunker, players should carefully fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints made by them and any nearby made by others. If a rake is within reasonable proximity of the bunker, the rake should be used for this purpose. 

Repair of Divots, Ball-Marks and Damage by Shoes
Players should carefully repair any divot holes made by them and any damage to the putting green made by the impact of a ball (whether or not made by the player himself). On completion of the hole by all players in the group, damage to the putting green caused by golf shoes should be repaired.

Preventing Unnecessary Damage
Players should avoid causing damage to the course by removing divots when taking practice swings or by hitting the head of a club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason.

Players should ensure that no damage is done to the putting green when putting down bags or the flagstick.

In order to avoid damaging the hole, players and caddies should not stand too close to the hole and should take care during the handling of the flagstick and the removal of a ball from the hole. The head of a club should not be used to remove a ball from the hole.

Players should not lean on their clubs when on the putting green, particularly when removing the ball from the hole.

The flagstick should be properly replaced in the hole before players leave the putting green.

Local notices regulating the movement of golf carts should be strictly observed.

Conclusion; Penalties For Breach
If players follow the guidelines in this Section, it will make the game more enjoyable for everyone.

If a player consistently disregards these guidelines during a round or over a period of time to the detriment of others, it is recommended that the Committee consider taking appropriate disciplinary action against the offending player. Such action may, for example, include prohibiting play for a limited time on the course or in a certain number of competitions. This is considered to be justifiable in terms of protecting the interest of the majority of golfers who wish to play in accordance with these guidelines.

In the case of a serious breach of Etiquette, the Committee may disqualify a player under Rule 33-7.

Additional useful links:
http://www.golfweekjuniortour.com/news/2010/sep/17/usga-golf-rules-brief/
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/golf-rules-for-dummies.html
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/golf-rules-etiquette-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html

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