What's in a name?
Q. Which we hear about quite a lot. Why’s it still in your list of choices?
A. Well, for starters, not everyone behaves as well as we always do… or think we do. You must remember this… we enjoy REAL golf much better with habits which respect opponents and fellow golfers, ensure the safety of players and greenstaff, care for the golf course, and for the environment we play in. We let players through, we repair pitch marks, replace divots, rake bunkers and generally stay cool. Look at these guys.
Q. I wish. What else bothers you ?
A. Plenty to think about, and it hits home when we define the word “Etiquette” in a more general sense :
“Expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. The French word étiquette, literally signifying a tag or label, first appeared in English around 1750.” ( Wikipedia )
Q. So, is it the word that worries you – or the implications?
A. Maybe both – but you’d have to agree it has a rather old-fashioned ring to it?
“Code of conduct” might be better. And if golf is really to shed its elitist image, using a word that predates the French Revolution maybe doesn’t help.
Q. You mean it puts people off taking up the game?
A. Well it might. But apart from what you do – or don’t do – on the golf course, there are other things for golfers – and would-be golfers - to worry about.
Q. Such as?
A. Dress codes. Causes outrage at older clubs, often worse than complaints about the rough or pin placings. Denim, short socks, long socks, no socks, caps worn back to front, t-shirts, baggy shorts, long shorts, short shorts – the list seems endless.
Q. Your solution?
A. Not up to us to suggest solutions – merely to point out that clubs need to consider where their future customers will come from. The modern wardrobe doesn’t necessarily have the finance for a lot of clothes. And fashions change - look at Vardon’s advice 100 years ago: “Always use braces in preference to a belt around the waist… I do not advise a golfer to play without his coat, even on the warmest day, if he wants to play his best game.” (He won The Open six times). By his standards, Tour pros are only half-dressed. So it’s all relative.
Q. And it's headed for a free-for-all?
A. We hope not. Arnold Palmer makes the point in his “10 Rules for Good Golf Etiquette”. And please pay attention to Arnie’s advice on the use of mobile phones:
“VIII. Turn off the cell phone. Nobody knows less about technology than I do. But I know enough to recognize a cell phone when it rings in my backswing. If I had my way, cell phones would be turned off at all times on the course, but most clubs have given in to the fact that people are going to use them. I don't know all the gadgets and settings on those phones, but do whatever you have to do to keep it quiet. And if you absolutely have to make a call, move away from the other players. And keep the call so brief that they don't even know you made it.”
Q. Any other grumbles?
A. One or two less obvious ones, but they can have a huge bearing on the time and cost factor :
How many clubs relate course set-up to breaches of etiquette? If players are having to look for many lost balls, but still failing to wave the next group through, could it be that the roughs need better management, which would reduce the incidence of lost balls?
And what about pitch marks? Some clubs pay a fortune in water and fertiliser to turn their greens into bogs, then fret about a lot of unrepaired pitch marks. Why not save the money and produce firmer greens which don’t register so many pitch marks in the first place?
Then there’s divots, not helped by shaved fairways or thick-soled irons – give thanks for the hybrids. Of course, mowing greens to within a millimetre of their life is the best way to encourage spike marks and…