[Editor's Note: The following article was written by Todd Casabella, Director of Instruction at Grey Hawk Golf Club in Lagrange. Todd is a member of the Professional Golfers' Association of America and a TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor.]
One of the great aspects of the game of golf is that there are no referees needed. Every golfer plays under the assumption that if their opponent breaks a rule, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, they will call the penalty on themselves. This is truly one of the unique characteristics of the sport. Most athletes in other sports try to get away with breaking the rules. When they get called for a penalty, they plead their case to the referee why it wasn’t a foul even as the replay clearly shows otherwise. But with this self monitoring comes responsibility. While a competitor is playing a round of golf, the last thing he or she wants or even should be thinking about is if their competitor is obeying the rules. Its up to you to know the rules and to monitor yourself while playing. As a competing junior player, I was given the good advice to read the rule book every spring and to carry a rule book in my golf bag. This prepares me to be ready for any situation that may come up on the golf course.
Golfers are responsible for their conduct on the golf course as well. Part of this is their etiquette to their fellow players and golf course. Here are a few obscure etiquette guidelines you might not know.
Leave sand rakes outside of the bunker. If the ball rolls in to the bunker and up against the rake, the next shot might not even be playable. If the rake is outside the bunker you have a 50/50 chance of getting the benefit of the ball bouncing away from the bunker.
Knock the sand off your feet when you exit the bunker. Use your club to tap the outside of your shoe before you step on the grass. This helps keep the sand in the bunker and keeps you from leaving tracks on the green.
Use a small ball marker inside three feet. Large ball markers like poker chips and half dollars have become very popular. They are nice when you are lining up a long putt. but when your ball is closer to the hole that size marker can be distracting to your competitor. Carry a second smaller marker the size of a penny and use it anytime you have to mark your ball inside three feet.
Don’t step in through lines. If your competitor misses their putt they might have a testy three footer coming back. The last thing they need is a set of fresh foot prints to putt through. Be cognizant of where they are and avoid where their ball may end up if they miss.
Finally, when it comes to etiquette in golf, its a lot like life. Think of others first on the golf course and you’ll have no problems getting a game.