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The Unwritten Rules of Golf

Apparently, I had one too many before my Saturday game last week and my wife told me that I needed to brush up on my golf etiquette before I can play this weekend. I know, I know… boardshorts are not appropriate for the course, but I had just spent the morning on Fernandina Beach and forgot my khaki slacks. Hey - at least they were Chubbies, right?!

Apparently, I had one too many before my Saturday game last week and my wife told me that I needed to brush up on my golf etiquette before I can play this weekend. I know, I know… boardshorts are not appropriate for the course, but I had just spent the morning on Fernandina Beach and forgot my khaki slacks. Hey - at least they were Chubbies, right?!

The truth is, when you step on the golf course, there is a whole book of unwritten rules that the clubhouse doesn’t have just lying around for anyone to pick up. So, this week, my gift to you is a nice easy reference for you that’s simple enough to interpret, even if you have had a few too many

1. Pick Up the Pace...and Let Faster Players Ahead of You!

I get it… you rush around all week, so when you hit the course, you want to take your time. Drag out the waggle a little bit, take in the scenery, and even chat it up with old buddies. But if you are the slowest one in the group (take it from me), you are annoying people. If you lose a ball and feel like wallowing in the woods for the next half hour, let the group behind you play through; or do yourself a favor: keep it to a minimum 5 minute ball search.

2. Keep Your Cart Incognito… and Be Careful with the Flagstick!

First of all, it’s pretty sad how much damage a golf cart can do to a course. So just remember, you’re not on the highway. You don’t have to stay in a single line. The repetition of driving on those lines digs the wheels deep into the course. Try scattering your driving path and remaining incognito on the course so you don’t distract other players. Golf Carts can be a huge distraction, and when you’re drinking, they can even become dangerous (to our poor greens, of course!). Golf courses are perfectly tended, but fragile atmospheres. Keep it nice by setting the flagsticks and golf bags down carefully and repairing divot holes.

3. Tuck in Your Shirt… and Be Clean!

Dress for success on the golf course. There is a reason golf is special. It’s not like other sports. It calls for a certain decorum and respect that preserves the traditions of the game and keeps everyone at ease in this shared place of peace. My “I had a few too many” day was perhaps most exemplified in my total disregard this rule. My shirt was untucked, my shoes had paint on the them, my hair was disheveled and I looked careless. When you dress like the pros, you hold yourself differently and your swing is likely to be executed with more polish. Ah yes… Polish! Golf is about polish - on the course, in your clothes, and in your swing.

4. Silence Your Cell Phone...and Don’t Shout!

Put simply: Don’t be that guy. Don’t toss your clubs around when you get ticked off. Don’t shout profanities. Don’t sulk. Be happy. You are playing golf, for goodness sake! I take my game very seriously, so I am very familiar with the struggle to keep it together when your ball lands in the water. But, one of the great things about golf is that it is quiet and peaceful. Keep your cellphone on silent, and allow your friends to get a good calm air before swinging. Stand still from the time the player sets himself until the ball leaves the club. Don’t stand in the putting lines and give allow the player to have a clear POV to the hole without moving distractions or loud comments from the peanut gallery.

5. And Take Care… of the Greens, of course!

Ever come out of a sand bunker shot still pretty pissed that you ended up there in the first place? Well, don’t take out on the sand! Rake the sand nicely and bring that good golf ju ju home. I honestly believe that taking care of the course impacts your golf karma. I even have a lucky two-pronged divot tool that doubles as my bottle opener. I can’t play without it. It just wouldn’t feel right.

These five simple unwritten rules will help you appear like you know the game well, even on your most amateur days. Stay classy, First Coast Golfers!