There is very little written down about how golfers should really conduct themselves on a golf course, which seems strange. There are books, dvds, computer games on all other aspects of golf – swinging the club, chipping from 76 yards, putting from 12.7 yards on a North West facing slope, playing out of bunkers containing a particular sand mix,etc.
There are even a number of books on that most bizarre of topics; golf etiquette – with hundreds of things to do or not to do –
don’t fire a gun on your opponents backswing,
shake hands even though it’s killing you inside,
say ‘good shot’ when your opponent’s duffed a chip and bounced backward from a rake to within 2 feet.
Yet nothing apart from the most inane “keep up with the group in front”, on how you actually conduct yourself on the golf course to avoid slow play……… until now…..
Real rules for real golfers …
Rule 1 – Turn up on time, ie turn up 25 minutes early. You need this time to…
a) put your ball on the first tee … to indicate you’re next in the queue
b) get ALL your stuff out of the car… trolley, bag, clubs, tees, pencil….
c) put bag on trolley
d) mess about with trolley battery
e) get tees from bottom of bag (remind yourself to put tees in better place after round today)
f) get least crinkled, driest ‘monkey’s paw’ glove from bottom of bag (remind yourself ………..)
g) saunter confidentially to first tee
h) go back to the car to get your pitchmark repairer
i) walk back to first tee more briskly
j) go back to the car when your mobile phone rings embarrassing you
k) creep back to first tee
l) verbally abuse group in front of you with traditional taunts about not being shy about calling you through when they’ve lost 2 holes
m) prepare and practice – take 3 practice swings and put club back in bag
n) put down mental markers with your playing partners – “I haven’t touched a club for 3 weeks”, “my back’s been playing up”, “My handicap’s down to 19 but I’m nowhere near that”
o) go back to car for golf shoes
p) sprint back from car running verbal abuse gauntlet of jibes from other golfers as your playing partners tee off
q) slice first drive into trees
As the round starts;
It’s slightly misleading of me to say that it will take 2 hours for a round as this is for 1 person. For a group of 4 I guess it will take 8 hours – Well sometimes it feels like that. There is a major, major internal mindshift golfers need to take here – Playing golf involves parallel process, not a serial process. You play golf at the same time as your playing partners – not after your partners.
OK, OK I know what you’re saying but basically I’m correct. As your partners are playing their shots – you should be preparing – pause long enough, of course, to watch where they hit it and praise / heckle /commiserate accordingly but it really should take nearer to 2 hours to play than 8 – shouldn’t it?
You play golf on your own – in a way – what your partners do shouldn’t often affect you – so you need to focus on your own game and conduct and be a little selfish.
Tips for being a little selfish
a) look for your own ball at the same time as others look for theirs. Don’t react like a bunch of 5 year olds playing football and swarm around each ball in turn.
b) prepare your shot even if you are about the same distance from the hole. Of course the furthest-away person hits first but you should then be ready to hit – especially if you are wider than your partners – it should be practically instantaneous
c) line up putts at the same time as your partners – unless you’re a professional and earn your living doing this – if you are putting to win the Ryder Cup then perhaps I’ll allow a little more latitude. If there’s a silence on the green and people are looking at you and you say “On me?” you deserve to have your ball stood on the next time your opponent passes it in the rough.
Positioning on the golf course, or course management as it’s often called, is vital to the game of golf. By this I don’t mean that nonsense of getting the ball on the correct side of the fairway or leaving an uphill putt – unless you’re off scratch I believe hitting a fairway or leaving yourself a putt are as much as you could dream of.
Tips on positioning /green play and generalities
a) put your bag in a sensible position. It should be placed on the edge of the green in the direction nearest the point where you leave the green to advance to the next tee. No-one preparing their approach shot wants to see the situation on the green ahead where a golfer puts the flag in then does a funny run and apologetic wave as he (and it will be a he) moves to the front of the green then has to pull his trolley around the green to catch up with his sensible playing partners.
b) if you’re lucky enough to be the first in your group to hole your putt first grab the flag and be quiet. Do not offer advise on the speed, slope, wetness, firmness of the green as others try to concentrate.
c) mark your card on the next tee – do not EVER, EVER, EVER stand on the green looking down the fairway pointing at various invisible marks mouthing 1… 2… 3… 4 … etc.. then take your card out of a back pocket, extract a pencil from your bag, shout to your partner “How many for you?” and carefully mark the card. In this circumstance for the group behind it should be allowed, no not allowed, it should be mandatory to hit to your green and anyone hitting you should not have to count that shot.
d) stop talking and prepare to take your your shot.
e) stop talking and prepare to take your shot.