By Mark Wehrman EBS Contributor
As the game of golf is always evolving, so are the rules pertaining to etiquette. In layman’s terms, the game is becoming more laid back and less pretentious, or stuffy.
Practicing good golf etiquette can be the difference between enjoying the round or not, especially for your playing partners. How the other players in your group conduct themselves can and will have an effect on how you each play and how much fun you have.
Most of all, when I think of good golf etiquette I think of pace of play. In golf, it has always been customary that the player farthest from the hole hits first. Although this still remains true for the golf we watch on TV, this type of etiquette doesn’t lend itself to a fast round.
One of the two biggest challenges golfers face is time and money. The time portion can be solved if all golfers play “ready golf.”
Playing ready golf means being ready to hit when it’s your time to play. More specifically, you should be choosing your club, making your practice swings, checking the wind, measuring the yardage, etc., while the other players in the group are hitting.
If you do these things while someone else is hitting, when it comes your turn to hit, all you have to do is pull the trigger or execute the shot. The pre-shot routine can easily slow each shot down by approximately one minute. This routine gets excessive with two and three practice swings, spending too much time reading putts from different angles around the hole, or backing off of shots because of wind and noise. These are all examples of pre-shot routines that, if not completed before it’s your time to hit, will drastically slow down the time it takes to play.
One of the biggest things I witness on a daily basis is when two people utilize a cart, one person always seems to be stuck to the cart while the other is hitting. The person who’s not hitting should get out of the cart at the same time and start thinking about their shot.
If the location of your ball is not in the line of flight of the current player hitting, then you should start walking toward your ball and gathering the information you need to make a hit. Select your club so that when your partner is done playing, they can drive the cart to you and you are ready to execute.
In short, complete all of your pre-shot practices while other people are hitting and be ready at the location of your ball to play your shot as soon as it’s your turn.
It’s also not improper to hit ahead of the other players in your group if they’re not ready. Even if you’re not “away,” if you are ready to play and the other players aren’t, you should play away to keep the game moving instead of waiting on someone who might be taking longer than normal to play their shot. I personally have played my shot when I was 50 yards in front of the player in my group who is away. But, because I was on the opposite side of the hole, and in no danger of being hit, I played my shot to keep the game moving.
In summary, playing ready golf will not only help you and the other players in your group enjoy the game more, it will also positively affect the rest of the players behind you on the course.
Mark Wehrman is the PGA Head Professional at the Big Sky Resort Golf Course.