Golf was founded on the idea of a “gentleman’s game” among the higher class with players showing etiquette and respect for the game. Fast forward to now, and the game has become a popular hobby and sport for everyone. However, some fundamental ideas have been lost throughout this process. The choice to play became apparent during the COVID pandemic. Golf club sales surged to historic records, as nearly every vendor, from Callaway to Titleist, had difficulty keeping up with order fulfillment due to the high demands. From public courses having limited availability with tee times to the long waiting lists for memberships with the private facilities, golf faced a reality it had not seen in quite some time.
The natural social distancing and outdoor activity that the game is known for helped create a safe environment that people felt comfortable participating in. People working from home had an itch to get out of the house and be active, and with many restrictions and lockdowns in place throughout businesses and entertainment venues, golf was one of the few escape options one could indulge in.
The popularity of golf has skyrocketed with a vast array of players, from beginners learning the game for the first time to those more advanced players getting the opportunity to play at a record rate. However, many simply have overlooked fundamental policies that the game must follow to keep the enjoyment of playing alive. From a player’s standpoint, the increase in play can create problems and kill any good vibes golf is supposed to bring. With that in mind, let’s hit on three hot topics in course etiquette to serve as a friendly reminder during these busy times.
1. PACE OF PLAY
Due to the high demand and limited tee times, those 3 hour rounds are hard to come by any more. Most places have an implemented pace of play policy where 18 holes should be finished anywhere from 3.5 – 4.5 hours. Anything longer than that creates problems on both sides: players and management staff. It only takes one group to fall behind to create a domino effect of backups all the way to #1 tee box. It is imperative to keep up pace of play so every player within and outside of your group enjoys their time on the course. A slow round at 9 am with a fully booked tee sheet could cause a group later in the day not to finish because of daylight.
Be mindful when stopping at the turn of your current pace after the front 9, where the group behind you is, and how long you are in the clubhouse. This helps enforce the pace of play policy within your own group. Be sure that you don’t sit down on turn to eat unless you know the certain course you are playing at allows it.
Side note – always show up early for your tee time. It is just as much of a problem checking in for your 10:00 am tee time at 9:57 am. This will also create a backup on scheduled tee times, which in return, could take hours to get caught back up with a full tee sheet.
2. REPAIR BALL MARKS AND DIVOTS
Again, with the increase in rounds, courses are taking a beating with the foot and cart traffic. Players regularly enjoy playing on smooth and fast greens, and if ball marks aren’t fixed, it doesn’t take long for those nice greens to become bumpy and undesirable. The best rule of thumb is not only to fix YOUR ball mark, but also to fix one other on every green. If everyone implements this idea, there would be no reason for greens not to stay true.
Likewise, if a divot is taken from the fairway, use the sand provided by the course to fill those divots. With zoysia being Kansas City’s more popular turf choice, divots should be fully filled within 7-10 days if properly cared for. This helps keep tee boxes and fairway lush throughout the entirety of the playing season.
Also, take the time to rake bunkers PROPERLY and PROFESSIONALLY. Respect the other players on the course, because there are no benefits when it comes to playing out of an unraked bunker.
3. RESPECT DRESS CODE
Always check with the course regarding dress codes. Most courses have their dress attire policy on their website, but if they don’t, give them a call to find out. Recently the tour is having a change in scenery for some brands, as hoodies and mock necks are returning to fashion. However, in many cases, a collared shirt is still required when playing on the property. Please do not show up in a t-shirt or a cutoff unless you are 100% certain the course allows it. If you do and the course doesn’t allow it, there’s a very good chance that you’ll be purchasing a polo from the shop when checking in.
For women, the basis is a little different, as lady’s apparel widely vary in style. The general rule of thumb for most courses is either the shirt must have a collar or sleeves. Again, check the course’s website or call and double check.
The thoughts behind these few policies is to keep people interested in the game. Great course conditions with smooth pace of play makes for an enjoyable round, and at the end of the day, that’s all we could ask for!