A Quick Nine: Your unwritten golf rules

Golf etiquette
PGA of America
You -- our friends in PGA.com Facebook Nation -- came up with some great suggestions for unwritten golf rules.
By T.J. Auclair, Senior Interactive Producer
PGA.com
Series: A Quick Nine

Last week PGA.com received tremendous feedback on our story "The Unwritten Rules of Golf."

It was a fantastic read for those new to the game, and even those who have been around the game for years but could use a refresher on some of the many common courtesies.

Because the piece was such a hit with our readers, we wanted to take it a step further. So, through our Facebook feature, "A Quick Nine," we posed this question: What unwritten rules would you like added to the list? (Become a fan of PGA.com on Facebook here)

Here's a look at some of the top answers we received from you -- many of them are fantastic suggestions and one or two that just gave us a good laugh.

9. Hate to break it to you, but you're the only person who cares about what your score "would have" been if you "could have" done this or that better. Recognize where your weaknesses were in a given round and then go work them out on the range or the practice green. We don't need a blow-by-blow account about the number of putts inside of five feet you missed. There's a good chance we're trying to forget about all the putts we missed from the same length.

Facebook fan quote:

"Don't tell everybody you would have shot a 65 if you could have made a couple putts when you carded an 84!" -- Tim Bray

8. Please, don't give unsolicited lessons. Is there anything worse than when you're struggling on the course and someone in your group (in most cases, someone who's not even the same caliber player as you) suddenly starts offering up tips? If this person is you, sure, we get that you're just trying to help. But unless you're a PGA Professional, please keep your tips to yourself.

Facebook fan quote:

"Don't give 'lessons' unless asked!" -- Blake Landreth

7. Keep the greens clean. This is for you sunflower-seed chewers, cigarette/cigar smokers and dippers out there. Nobody wants to putt through hulls, or smokeless tobacco that you've just spit out. We don't want to putt through the ashes of your cigarettes or cigars either... Oh, and since you're "kind enough" not to do any of that in our line, keep in mind that the groups behind you don't want to putt through any of that either.

Facebook fan quote:

"How about... don't throw your sunflower hulls/cigarette butts on the greens!" -- Artie Smith

6. Keep an eye on the ball flight of your playing partners. Maybe you're hitting right into the sun. Maybe you pick up your tee in disgust the second the ball comes off the clubface. If everyone in the group is paying attention to tee shots (we realize it's not always possible on approach shots if a foursome of golf balls is sprinkled all over a hole), it saves time locating the ball, which, in turn, helps keep the pace of play reasonable.

Facebook fan quote:

"Always watch the flight of the ball of the player hitting before you in your group. It saves a lot of search time." -- Rik Clarke

5. Don't blame the wind, a bird chirping, a lawn mower or sprinkler three fairways over, a squirrel, a passing car on the adjacent road, etc. for your bad shot. It's OK to get mildly irritated with a chatty playing partner while you're about to hit your shot, or a cell phone that rings while you're trying to hit a shot. That stuff can be controlled -- don't talk when others are hitting and turn the cellphones off, or put them on silent, when you're on the course. All that other stuff comes with the territory. And, yes, that includes the maintenance vehicles that might annoy you. Just remember -- they annoyed someone before you too, but they're the reason the hole you're playing this very minute looks so nice.

Facebook fan quote:

"The golf course is a living creature in motion; everything cannot come to a complete stand-still while you are putting!" -- Shehzad Ahmed Mir

4. Wait for everyone in your group to tee off. If you're a strong player playing the back tees and you're paired up with someone playing tees in front of you (someone who's not as skilled; a senior; a lady; a junior) wait for all of them to tee off before you head to your own ball. Of course, it's common courtesy and should go without saying. But, while you might be a far stronger player, keep in mind that they paid just as much to play as you did. Respect them.

Facebook fan quote:

"When there is a woman playing in the group, please don't drive your cart past the women's tees BEFORE she tees off." -- Sherry Ball

3. Playing a casual round with a stranger? Ask them if it's OK before you concede and send back a putt. Of course, we frown upon gimmes unless it's a match-play situation, but if you're one of those people who like to "give" putts, make sure the person you're playing with likes to give them too. A couple of things to keep in mind -- if someone is submitting a score for handicap purposes, they have to putt it out. Also, maybe the reason you got paired up with a stranger in the first place is because that person is trying to work on his or her game. Regardless, unless they give you a, "can you send that one back over here," then don't touch any golf ball but your own.

Facebook fan quote:

"If you are playing with someone you don't know, do not hit their ball back to them if they miss a putt and say, 'that's good.' Perhaps they have problems with short putts and need the practice." -- Joseph McGinley

2. "Keep your mouth off my ball!" This is a great quote that former Masters champion Tommy Aaron gave to sportswriter Rick Reilly in Reilly's book, "Who's your caddy?" In the book, Reilly documents his experience caddying for players -- past and present -- as well as other athletes and celebrities. What the quote refers to is when something like this scenario plays out on the course:

You hit your shot. As you're watching intently, someone in the group -- caddie or playing partner -- yells something like, "That's right at it!" thinking the ball is going to snuggle up close to the hole. A second or two later, the ball lands short of the green and trickles back into the pond. Sure, the person didn't mean any harm, but on the inside, the person who hit the shot feels he or she was jinxed.

I have such bad depth perception on the course that I'm admittedly terrible at this. With me, it's typically, "Great shot, Joe!" Followed seconds later by, "Sorry, Joe, I thought for sure it was carrying that water hazard."

Oops. Hey, we're all learning here, right?

So please, for the love of the Golf Gods, "Keep your mouth off my ball!"

Facebook fan quote:

"Don’t talk to another player's ball!" -- Shot Shaper

1. If you only remember one of these unwritten rules, let it be this one...

Facebook fan quote:

"1. Never touch others line or through line; 2. Rake the sand like a groundskeeper; 3. Control temper; 4. Turn off cell phone; 5. Learn the written rules; 6. Dress like you belong." -- Philip Thomas

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.


Comments

koledanm

Number 1 rule, for keeping pace of play is be ready to hit as soon as it is your turn. Check the wind, make your practice swings, chose your club, ALL before your turn. As soon as it is your turn quickly as possible finish your pre shot and go. The most frustrating thing in golf is whe a player sits in the cart watches is partner play and then takes his time to be ready. Get your but out of the cart walk to your ball when your partner is playing his shot.

Murphry

Golf's Rule #1 should be: An 18 hole round of golf should be played in <4 hours, and the on-course rangers must abide by that premise and act accordingly. Slow play is the single-most reason that the golf industry is bleeding participants.

Par-5's should ALWAYS have at least three groups on them, par-4's two...and what ever happened to having the group behind "hit up" on to par3's after ball positions are marked???

The PGA must also set these rules for the "professionals". 5-6 hour rounds being watched each weekend on TV sets the wrong example for the once-a-week golfers. When is the last time a pro golfer was FINED and penalized strokes for slow play?

Murphry

Golf's Rule #1 should be: An 18 hole round of golf should be played in <4 hours, and the on-course rangers must abide by that premise and act accordingly. Slow play is the single-most reason that the golf industry is bleeding participants.

Par-5's should ALWAYS have at least three groups on them, par-4's two...and what ever happened to having the group behind "hit up" on to par3's after ball positions are marked???

The PGA must also set these rules for the "professionals". 5-6 hour rounds being watched each weekend on TV sets the wrong example for the once-a-week golfers. When is the last time a pro golfer was FINED and penalized strokes for slow play?

Murphry

Golf's Rule #1 should be: An 18 hole round of golf should be played in <4 hours, and the on-course rangers must abide by that premise and act accordingly. Slow play is the single-most reason that the golf industry is bleeding participants.

Par-5's should ALWAYS have at least three groups on them, par-4's two...and what ever happened to having the group behind "hit up" on to par3's after ball positions are marked???

The PGA must also set these rules for the "professionals". 5-6 hour rounds being watched each weekend on TV sets the wrong example for the once-a-week golfers. When is the last time a pro golfer was FINED and penalized strokes for slow play?

dan.harrell

Ready golf does not mean hit when you are ready.... it means be ready to hit when it is your turn.

dcarhoun

Golf is a game that reveals one's character. Play accordingly.

hondurky

Furthermore. Speed it up. Play ready
Recreation ain't the PGA. Ps idiots using range
Finders inside 50 yds!! Seriously u guys miss
The green from any distance ! Feel it, see it, hit it !

hondurky

Ahhh. Anything goes wrong "blame it "
I call golf the blame game. Haaa

dhohen55

I agree totally with earlier comment, this seems to be written by some arse. I totally disagree with comment #2. I would rather have a playing partner engaged in what is happening amongst the group, and commenting on my shot while in the air, then them not knowing if Imade a birdie or a double. i don't know, maybe I am alone on this one...

gunit251

you got that right frankdi33, have fun, have fun, have fun. Golf is a very humbling and patient game you learn something from every shot you take, as you progress, there will be good days and bad days.

gunit251

when playing with someone who is learning or just starting and you know they arent playing well, give some encouragement it would be greatly appreciated and they will try harder and enjoy it more.

d.teer

Don't play the back tees unless you are a single digit handicap for 18! This is mostly for 20-35 year old men the worst thing you can do to your game is let the gorilla out of the bag. Another unwritten rule choice is mostly for cart riders, go to your ball nothing is more frustrating than watching everyone going from ball to ball, 3 watching and one hitting and then on to the next one, drop the rider off with the clubs he or she needs and go to your ball, ditto with the other cart. It is my firm belief that the only way carts could speed up the game is if only one person per cart was allowed, then everyone could go directly to their ball and theoretically be ready to hit when it is their turn.

jpkaiser

I remember a study conducted by one of the major golf magazines that looked at the outcome of letting groups play through. The study found that, on a busy day, letting a group play through just further slowed down the pace of play and lengthened the time of rounds for everyone behind them, and only benefitted the first group that played through. Everyone else ended up having to wait even longer. Seems like having a marshall to speed them up would benefit everyone, rather than only the group just behind them.

frankdi33

Unless you are a Proffessional and play serious golf, golf should be an enjoyable experience. If you are not enjoying your game, don't let it affect your partners. Give it up. The 9 unwritten rules only make the game better for all to enjoy. Common sense - yes.

brianwlove

Agree with Pat - ready golf trumps almost all these other stuffy "rules".

And show me someone who thinks they know the written rules, and I'll show you a person that can be embarrassed real fast... Geez, we see long rulings every with with people who do it for a living, and incorrect ones to boot, so it's not like amateurs have a chance.

Finally, I'm not sure I've ever played a round where someone didn't lament a shot missed, distraction, etc, etc. What else would we talk about over our 19th hole beers if we can't talk about this stuff????

wsmitche

I'm with Mala Suerte.... poor article.
Rule #8 really..... while your're playing you should refer your playing partner to a PGA pro if he's struggling in a round, rather than trying to help him on the course so he can enjoy his round. Really...... a simple tip of something you noticed they are doing could turn around a round completely. No need for a $60 lesson.

slovejoy

If your group is moving slowly, and you see the group behind you is always waiting for you to advance, please let the group behind play through.

nikorami

Very poor article Auclair. Why do you have to be such an arse with your writing?

I would put rule #1 as swing a 56 degree wedge right up your arse!

Try writing with a positive spin on the items....it gets the point across better. I guess you were trying to be funny...well you're not.

This is part of the problem with golf....arses/snobs like you would rather make negative comments instead of trying to help.

For example #9: Maybe the person is excited because they have been tracking FWs and GIR...today they had a very good day and didn't make the putts. That is something to be excited about!! Also, that is part of the game...talking about "what could have been". And NO, the only person that cares is not the person speaking...I personally(as do my other firends) care about seeing our fellow mates improving and getting better...it makes for a better game!

pat_24

As for # 3 Practice short putts all you want if you are keeping your place on the course.

pat_24

Be ready to hit and invoke hit when ready rules.