Golf Etiquette

Is it good etiquette to say something to a player in your group who displays poor etiquette ? My last round a certain player continually stepped in my putting line after he putted. In the past I have said something and the offender instead of apologizing actually acted insulted as stepping in one's line is not going to make any difference. Same thing has happened when asking a player to mark his ball when I have had a long putt, say over 30 feet. The player asked seemed to be annoyed as the chances of holing out a putt this long is slim to none. Another case is when a player is about to violate a golf rule, e.g., not replacing a ball back to it's proper postion after re-marking on the putting green after being asked to move the mark for a putt, teeing the ball up in front of the tee markers and asking the slowest player in your group to pick up the pace a little. The slow player takes many practice swings that resembles a robot, stays seated in the golf cart until it is time to hit the ball, has no clue where his ball goes when struck and then wants to give golf tips and advice to everyone else in the group.
I need to clear up something on my opening statement. When a player in your group is about to violate a golf rule do you say something to him so he does not incur a penalty, e.g., teeing up a ball in front of the tee markers, not moving his ball back to the original spot on the green when asked to move it, not soling his club in a hazard, etc. ?

If you're asking these questions I'm assuming you're paired up with random people and are not playing these people for cash or in a tournament...

In a fun round I wouldn't worry about situations where people violate rules.  If they ground the club in a bunker, move sticks inside red stakes, take an illegal drop etc... it doesn't really matter, everyone is playing for fun and nobody is going to break the course record.  If they ask you, or ask someone in your group for a ruling or rules help, feel to drop knowledge on them.

As for stepping in a line and other etiquette issues, that's something you could bring up easily.  I'll generally start a conversation by asking how long they've been playing golf for.  More time than not they're newbies, which is great for the game!  Take the opportunity to tell them how long you've played for, how much you like your Titleist gear, and let them know they can ask you questions if they like.  After that, no need to say anything else if they don't take the bait.  99.9% of golfers play for fun and enjoyment.  If they're enjoying themselves and you are too, there's no problem.  

If they're cramping your style and they're new, mention etiquette the next time they're about to violate it.  Something like, "Just so you know, when you start playing more golf some folks get really upset if you step in their line.  Spike marks can actually affect putts..."  They might be grateful, or they might roll their eyes.  If you get the latter, I'd suggest just being cool- is a spike mark really that big of a deal?  If they ruin your day, remember who they are so you can avoid them on the tee sheet next week.

Josh G. could not have said it any better.

Some great points, Josh.  I too agree that it really depends upon the situation.  If these are guys that you know and you are playing for some cash, or if it is in a tournament, the rules really make a difference because it impacts your wallet or yourself and others in the field.  If it is just a game where you get paired up with others, I will follow the rules but if others do not, it is their own business as it really does not impact me.

 

If you think it is appropriate to bring up your concerns about etiquette, some ways are certainly better than others.  I generally take a soft approach when addressing these situations, something along the lines of ...  you know, I never realized it but a guy once told me that walking in another players' putting line can sometimes leave spike marks and footprints that may impact the line of the putt...

Most of the time I would probably say nothing in a casual game because it is not really a big deal to me.  The suggestion of talking about how long they have been playing the game, etc. could also give you an opening to talk about these things in a non-confrontational manner.

 

Bottom line, have fun and enjoy yourself out on the golf course.  Personally, I am out on the course to have fun and try not to let things others do get in my way of having a good time.

I told my brother about a player stepping on my line and he said he would ask the group if they would not mind waiting for about 5 minutes to give the grass a chance to straighten up before he made his putt. Of course he was joking but I missed a birdie putt that the ball did not roll into the hole where unfortunately moments before the golfer in question put his foot down right on the side of the hole where my putt was suppose to go. We were not playing for money or in a tournament but I still believe I will never know if his big fat foot print altered the roll of my ball and cost me a birdie.

Hey, Carl,

Great post.  For me, it's very easy fix as this has happened many times and it all comes down to choice.  If you know those you play with before hand, you'll never have this problem.  If you're paired with strangers, I simply walk away.  Right there.  On the spot.  I don't suffer fools.  I move somewhere else, go to another hole or do something.  Golf is all about enjoyment.  The longer you stew, the more upset you get and it ruins everything.  Zero tolerance for those who don't know the rules of the game.  If it's a tournament, I notify an official or those in charge and don't deal with the person directly or get emotional.  I stop what I'm doing and don't proceed until the situation is remedied.  "Keep your head when all about you..."

vurich

Hey, Carl,

Great post.  For me, it's very easy fix as this has happened many times and it all comes down to choice.  If you know those you play with before hand, you'll never have this problem.  If you're paired with strangers, I simply walk away.  Right there.  On the spot.  I don't suffer fools.  I move somewhere else, go to another hole or do something.  Golf is all about enjoyment.  The longer you stew, the more upset you get and it ruins everything.  Zero tolerance for those who don't know the rules of the game.  If it's a tournament, I notify an official or those in charge and don't deal with the person directly or get emotional.  I stop what I'm doing and don't proceed until the situation is remedied.  "Keep your head when all about you..."

Good advice Vurich. I play with this group (6-8 players) once a week at a muni and the person in question is usually not in my threesome or foursome. I do not want to come across as snobby but I find breeches of etiquette happen a lot more on public muni's then at private tracts. I really did not stew much as I thought to myself this guy has no regard to his fellow golfers and just let it go in my mind as a bad rub of the green to be paired with him. I shot the best round of the year regardless of his line stomping.

Seems to be a two part question - etiquette and rules.

As far as the rules go, if I'm playing with a group for fun (nothing on the line) I'll usually say something after the fact in an "oh by the way" fashion.  I've found that usually the person didn't know they were breaking a rule and appreciates being told in a friendly manner (surprising how many people don't know basic rules).  If I'm in a competitive match, it's a different story.  If I see a rules violation, I will call my competitor on the infraction, but I still try to do it in a friendly manner.

As for etiquette, if it's something that really bothers me (standing in my peripheral vision during a shot/putt, not marking their ball when it's close to my putting line, etc...) I will say something, but I always start it with "would you please...".  Again, usually the person doesn't get upset and they don't repeat whatever they had done.

Here is another scenario. A player marks his ball on the green and tries hard not to step on your line by actually hopping away from his mark but actually jumps right on your line making an indention in the grass even worse than if he just stepped on the line walking away. In this case I have never said anything because the fellow was trying his best to stay away from your line but just did not have the physical ability to hop farther. I do like what Barry B says starting with "would you please...". Of course there is always going to be some offender who will always be offended no matter how politely you say something when they have violated some golf etiquette.

Carl T
Here is another scenario. A player marks his ball on the green and tries hard not to step on your line by actually hopping away from his mark but actually jumps right on your line making an indention in the grass even worse than if he just stepped on the line walking away. In this case I have never said anything because the fellow was trying his best to stay away from your line but just did not have the physical ability to hop farther. I do like what Barry B says starting with "would you please...". Of course there is always going to be some offender who will always be offended no matter how politely you say something when they have violated some golf etiquette.

I worry more about guys not fixing ballmarks and fairway divots than spike marks in my line.  

If your partner made an effort not to step in your line, I think that's good enough.  If it's not a tournament or money game it's a non-issue.  If you really think about it, you'd have to be naive if you believe the group in front of you didn't step all over your line.

Josh G

If your partner made an effort not to step in your line, I think that's good enough.  If it's not a tournament or money game it's a non-issue.  If you really think about it, you'd have to be naive if you believe the group in front of you didn't step all over your line.

Josh it is true that the group(s) in front of you have stepped all over your line but by the time you reach the green the grass has recovered enough to where it should not be a factor. It takes about 5 minutes for the grass to recover and the foot prints around the hole not to be a factor on influencing ball roll. The point is you do not walk on the putting line which extends to and beyond the hole for a reasonable distance when you are on the green any more than carrying on a conversation when someone is addressing their ball getting ready to hit. You also rake bunkers when you leave them and try to be ready to play when it is your time to hit. These are just a few basic etiquette things you do when playing this great game. First tee and junior golf schools teach these things to kids but unfortunately there are many adults who do not know squat about golf etiquette. This topic is a double edged sword as it is also bad etiquette for an adult to correct another adult on improper etiquette in certain situations on things outside of golf.

Carl this is a great topic..  I'm only chiming in b/c this has happened to me a few times.  I always play with this one buddy and every now and then he invites another friend.  This other friend is a nice guy, fun to talk to but has NO courtesy for the other players in our group.  Zero golf etiquette.   Here are a few things that drives me mental:

  1. Doesn't know when it's his turn to hit (furthest back, etc.),
  2. If he hits a bad shot he'll put down another ball or two before letting someone else hit
  3. On the putting green, no comment and very similar to what you're experiencing
  4. Never keeps quiet and worse on the tee.  I'm hard of hearing and i can hear him crystal clear when swing

That's just a few of the things and he's really the only golfer I ever had issues with.  I shouldn't have to say anything since he's a member at the course we're playing at..  I mean, IMO if you're a member at a course you should know the rules and have good etiquette.. 

Now when i play with my buddy i ask him who's our 4some and if i hear his name, i think about it before committing, do i put up with it or back out and play solo. 

I'll admit it does affect my game when i play with him and it's a sad excuse.  I should be able to block that out.  

And I agree with Josh G., it's sad when i don't see players repair the ball mark on the green or replace a fairway divot..  You're just ruining the course. 

In the end I'm just happy and blessed to play this great game.

I remember way back when I first started and played the first really nice course I had ever played. After the round, one member of the foursome remarked about me stepping on his line. My reply was he should mentioned after hole 2 or 3 not after 18. Be mindful, most of us learn golf etiquette and rules from the folks we play with. In my case I am more than happy to take guidance from my foursome.

I used to play with someone that never lost a ball. No matter how far in the woods it went. Those people I just don't play with any longer. I love this game and ty to play with people that respect it as much as I do.

Christopher I am on the same page as you on this. I belong to a private club and do not see this as often as at the muni but while we are on the subject I do see this, litter on the course which I will pick up and place if I am in a cart, players who play out of a green side bunker, then leave a trail of sand on the green because they did not knock the sand from their golf shoes, loud music blaring from a radio that you can hear from a tee box next to a green you are on, cell phones ringing from your partners, loud whooping and cheering coming from across the course. At our course a decision was made by the greens committee to leave rakes outside of the bunkers because if left in the bunkers the handle gets very hot and gets covered with sand which gets all over your hands when you rake. There are labels on the handle that says, "Leave Rake Outside of Bunker". It is amazing to see rakes left in the bunker. Another break of etiquette is a two some who goes around you, skipping the hole you are playing and then you end up waiting on them because they run into groups that are stacked up. I have skipped over a foursome when I was a single or a twosome but skipped at least two holes ahead and if I ran into a snag would never hold up the group I went around. I am sure there are other etiquette blunders that I cannot think of right now. Lets hear some more about what etiquette blunders one has seen.