With a new golf season upon us thousands of golfers will be heading to golf courses everywhere. It is no small task to keep these golf courses in good shape and grounds crews work very hard to accomplish this task daily. In addition, golfer etiquette is imperative to maintain the condition of the course and to keep the atmosphere at the golf course an enjoyable experience for us all. Golfers need to understand that we share the golf course with many people; the more people that play the game with proper etiquette and skill, the better. It is simple economics of supply and demand.
The game is no longer limited to Captains of Industry at private golf clubs that provided caddies to perform the task of selecting clubs, searching for lost golf balls, raking bunkers, repairing ball marks & divots and such. For those of us who do not have a caddie to perform these necessary tasks we need to do this for ourselves. It is an integral part of the game, just like playing by the rules or having a great swing. Good playing conditions include both the condition of the course and others’ behavior. Here are few etiquette tips for you to follow in keeping with the traditions of the greatest game ever played.
When you see dried out divots or ruts in the fairway, it means a divot was not replaced after a shot and has damaged the golf course. Know that when you take a divot, you must replace it to maintain the quality of the golf course. Most divots in our geographic have a clay base allowing the divot to remain intact. They can be picked up and replaced back from where they came. Once in place, all you have to do is step on it with your foot, allowing the grass to heal & leaving the fairways lush. Some courses have sandy soil & divots fall apart. Courses with this type of soil provide a container with a sand & seed mix to fill in the divot.
Repairing Ball Marks
A golf ball lands on the green with force that displaces the turf where it lands, often leaving a depression. As you approach a green look for your golf ball’s depression and repair it. Use a repair tool in a circular pattern along the outside of the depression to press the grass gently toward the center of the mark and then tap the grass down with your putter to smooth it out. Have you ever noticed the round brown spots on a golf green? That is from people who do not know to correctly repair a ball mark. They use the divot tool to pull up, in a circular motion rather than pushing forward. Pulling up pulls the grass roots out of the ground and the grass dies in that area. If a ball mark is repaired when you get to the green it will repair itself quickly; if left unattended it may take weeks for the grass to regenerate leaving the green with an uneven surface.
When your ball lands in a bunker, walk in the low side & take the rake with you. Following the rules of golf for a bunker shot, pick up the rake when you have finished your shot and smooth out the sand where: your ball rolled in, your shot was taken & you have walked. Rake the sand back and forth placing the sand into the bunker smoothly. A mistake many make is pulling the sand toward them as they exit the bunker, which removes the sand from the center of the bunker and leaves it almost void of any sand at all.
Observe Course Boundaries & Signs
Unless you are playing with a handicap flag provided to you by the course pro who will provide you with different instructions, we all need to understand and follow the course boundaries. Due to the number of people who move through smaller shared areas on the course like tees, cart paths, bunkers & greens, you will often see signs restricting access to these areas. There are few “NEVERS” in life but here are two: NEVER Bring your golf bag, cart or golf car onto a green, and NEVER take your golf bag, cart or car into a bunker.
Pace of Play
Over the winter Hall of Famer & ESPN Analyst Lou Holtz spoke at the 12th Annual PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit and said that the first thing he taught his sons about playing golf was to play fast. Holtz understood that golf is not just a game about you but also about how your actions impact others. When golfers take too much time to play a hole of golf everyone behind them pays the price. To maintain a good pace of play it is important to be ready to take your turn. We can do this by preparing as we approach our golf ball. Think of what club you will need, get to your ball and when it is your turn be ready to go. A round of golf should take no more than 4 hours for 18 holes or 2 hours for 9 holes, less than that is even better. If you are so inclined to spend more time at the golf course consider making a second tee time or spend some time in the grill room or at the practice facility.
Most golfers know not to talk or make any noise or distracting movements when someone is taking their shot. Keep in mind that sounds travels and although no one in your group is taking a shot, if you are yelling across a fairway it will carry to other locations on the course. Someone you might not see could be in their backswing.
For more information on proper golf course etiquette pick up a USGA Rules of Golf Book. Additionally, Gordon Seliga, Certified Golf Course Superintendent at nearby Lake View Country Club has created instruction videos demonstrating the proper way to repair a divot, rake a bunker and repair a ball mark that can be found at http://lakeviewcc.com/turfcare/video/.
A good rule to follow is to leave the course in better condition than you found it. Keep in mind we walk the fairways for a brief moment in the history of the game. We inherited the opportunity to play from others who have honored its traditions of etiquette and rules. Now it is our turn. Carry the torch and pass along the spirit of the game to future generations. Be an ambassador for the great game of golf by setting the example of good etiquette and play the great game of golf in the spirit it was intended.
June is Women’s Golf Month! It’s hard for many women to understand the magnitude of that statement, but there was a time not so long ago that women were not welcome on the links. Thanks to the advancement of women in golf by individual pioneers, the LPGA, and the passage of Title IX, women’s golf is alive and well. The appeal of golf for men and women alike has lit a fire that cannot be extinguished. The reasons we play are numerous. For many it’s the challenge of competition: testing your nerves, mind and body against the layout of the golf course. Others enjoy the social aspects of being with friends. Many love to immerse themselves in the scenic natural habitat of the golf course. Others enjoy the benefits of walking, breathing in the fresh air and taking in the sunshine. For me it is all of the above, and I owe a debt of gratitude to all that have shared this journey with me and to those whom I never met that opened doors I eagerly walked through.One of the most famous women golfers early in history was Mary Queen of Scotts who brought back the game of golf after it had been outlawed by the King. He feared golfers were spending too much time playing the game and not practicing defensive skills like archery to protect the country. During the Victorian period women faced three major challenges with the game: 1) wardrobe; 2) they were prohibited from entering clubhouses; and 3) course restrictions as to when they could play. Oddly enough many of these restrictions were still obstacles for many women wanting to play golf well into the late 1990’s. But step by step, or I should say “swing by swing,” women’s golf began to evolve.The LPGA was founded by 13 women in 1950 and is the oldest, longest running women’s professional sports organization. These women did it all. They organized the travel, ran tournaments, notified the media, were rules officials, presented awards and juggled families all at the same time. Today the LPGA has a professionally staffed 21,000 sq. ft. headquarters in Daytona Beach, FL that includes two 18-hole championship courses and outstanding practice facilities. The LPGA hosts three tours: the Futures Tour (88 members) for up and coming talent, the LPGA Tour (491 members) and the Legends Tour (80members) . In addition to the playing professionals, the membership includes over 1,300 professionals across the globe who specialize in teaching, coaching and managing golf facilities. The PGA has opened its doors to women as well. 762 women are members of the 22,303 Class ”A” members of the Professional Golf Association of America and many more are apprentices in pursuit of membership. Title IX allowed more and more women to experience the opportunity to play golf and benefit from college scholarships. The NCAA sponsors over 2,100 women’s golf scholarships, a big reason why many high schools and grade schools are now hosting golf teams for young women to learn the sport. Women have discovered the relationship between golf and opportunity and are seizing the opportunity for scholarships and to develop business contacts, the opportunity to meet new mentors and have fun with friends, the opportunity to challenge themselves to reach new goals and to enjoy the great outdoors.Today Women’s Golf is a booming business. Golf club manufactures have come full circle. They’ve advanced from having no clubs for women, to one set that they tried to put all women in, to recognizing that women come in all shapes and sizes offering equipment choices based upon skill level and not gender. Golf courses now recognize the different skill level of women and offer a variety of tee boxes on the golf course instead of one set of tees for all women. The golf fashion industry offers a variety of clothing choices, designer shoes and many accessories. Golf courses recognize that women golfers are an important part of the game and many are hosting activities for Play Golf America’s Women’s Golf Month in June. Go to www.playgolfamerica.com and type in your zip code to see what activities are available for you. If you have never played golf before but would like to learn, the Get Golf Ready Program offers a series of 5 one hour lessons to introduce you to the game of golf. The series is fun and informative including an introduction of the rules & etiquette of the game. Check with your local LPGA or PGA Professional about all kinds of instructional opportunities that range from the first time player to the more advanced, from juniors to seniors and all in between. Golf is a game for a lifetime. It is never too late to begin to enjoy the many benefits of golf. Join us at Millcreek Golf & Learning Center for a morning of FREE GOLF EVENTS FOR WOMEN on Saturday, June 26. The morning will begin with a free Yoga for Golf class by Jeanne Peck. Jeanne is a certified Yoga instructor who specializes in Yoga for Golf. PGA Professionals will be on hand for FREE club-fittings. This is a great opportunity to have a professional look at your golf clubs and grips to make sure they are helping you play your best golf. LPGA & PGA member Karen Bukowski will offer a free putting clinic for women. Karen will explain ways to improve your putting and reduce your golf score. All morning events are free. The afternoon events begin at 12:00 Noon and include lunch and a Woman’s Scramble for a nominal fee. Proceeds benefit John Kanzius Research. For more information or registration call 835-5168.