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A Quick Nine: Your unwritten golf rules

By T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer
Published on
A Quick Nine: Your unwritten golf rules

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.

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