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Bunkers & Sandtraps
This is more of a rule, but important to mention. When your ball lands in a bunker or sand trap, you can not perform a practice shot that touches the sand with your club at address prior to hitting your shot. If you do so, it can lead to a penalty stroke in your score.
Golf etiquette in bunkers means raking the sand trap after you hit your ball out of the bunker. You must rake the divot where your ball was as well as any footprints in the sand that you made. Leaving it as best you can for the next golfer who ends up there. No one wants their ball to land in a footprint or divot from someone else’s shot.
When you are done, you should leave the sand rake somewhere along the outside of the bunker. Do not leave the rake in the bunker.
White golf balls used to be the only ball you could find. Colors in all different varieties are now available which make it a lot easier to identify a golf ball you are playing.
Many golfers mark their golf balls with a permanent marker with some sort of unique pattern or line. This is to help identify their ball when it is out on the course or to help them line up their putts. Both are allowed in the game of golf. Being able to identify your specific golf ball can eliminate confusion and potential penalty strokes (hitting someone else’s ball).
After you hit your shot, be sure to watch the ball actually land and stop so you know where to go for your next shot. This is easy to do if your ball is in the fairway. Harder if you are near the woods or in thick rough. After you see the ball stop, pick a landmark that you can use to help locate the ball when you get up closer. The worst is if you can’t remember where you hit it. It happens a lot as a beginner!
The time allotted to finding a lost golf ball is 3 minutes. This helps with the pace of play. If you lose a ball, it is ok to hunt around for it just don’t spend a lot of time or the pace will slow considerably. This is why it is really important to keep an eye on your ball as it lands and stops so you can find it faster.
It is good etiquette to help others find their ball as well as long as you are not up next to hit. If that’s the case, hit first then go help. Remember.....Always think about the pace of play.
Pushcarts can be rolled pretty much anywhere on the course except for the greens or bunkers. They are a great addition to golf because instead of having to carry your golf clubs on your back or riding in a cart, golfers can walk, push their cart and still get exercise.
There are some tips on course management from a perspective of pushcart placement. As you approach the green on any given hole, think about where the next hole is located and park your pushcart on that side of the green if possible. That way when you come off the green, your pushcart is already there and you don’t waste time crossing over the green while the group behind you is waiting.
Also make sure your pushcart isn’t too close to you while you are taking your shot or too close to your playing partners or in their line of sight.
Respecting the golf course is a big deal. Superintendents and maintenance crews spend a lot of time & effort keeping a golf course in good condition.
When riding a golf cart, see if there are any rules for the day. It might be that carts need to “stay on the cart path”. This means that you can not drive the carts on the fairways or any parts of the grass. Typically this happens when there has been a lot of rain that day or the day before. Carts might tear up the course and do harm to the fairways.
Also, be sure to follow the “cart” directional signs.
These signs are usually up closer to the green and have arrows pointing to which direction to go. In most cases, you’ll see a cart path to follow around the green to park. The signs tell golfers to not drive their riding carts beyond this point.
Cart etiquette includes driving respectfully and being careful not to tear up the course. Beware of cars on roads if you need to cross any and other carts or walkers. And finally, do not drive up ahead in front of someone who is hitting their shot. This can be dangerous and it is disrespectful. It is best to stay abreast of or just back from the person hitting.
Replace Your Divots
We learn this as children – to leave something the way we found it. In golf, this means if you take a divot or leave marks in the fairway, the green or the tee box, you must remember to fix it as best as possible.
In the fairway or tee box, it is proper etiquette to replace your divots if possible. Find the clump of grass that came off when hitting your shot and replace it back to the divot it came from. Some courses have containers with a seed mixture that you just sprinkle on top of any divots. You can find these seed mixtures on the sides on riding carts and sometimes next to tee box markers.
On the putting green, a ball mark or pitch mark is what is typically seen. These are the little welts or indentations in the putting green surface. It is our responsibility and job as golfers to respect the course and repair these ball marks. If they aren’t fixed right away, these welts and marks tend to turn brown and can also leave greens pretty chewed up in the long run. The best method is to use a repair tool to properly fix these marks.
Keeping Pace of Play
Pace of play in golf is very important.
Let me say this again. Pace of Play is really important.
What this means is that you need to constantly be moving ahead towards the green or the next hole. Keeping up with the group in front of you is a good indicator of keeping pace. A typical round of 18 holes takes about 4 hours. 9 holes takes 2 hours. Some courses may even be less depending on the golf course.
Plan for about 15 minutes per hole except for the par 3’s, which should take less time.
Golf can be a long day and if you are following a group in front of you that is very slow, it can irk the most patient of players.
Sometimes it can be hard to know how fast or slow you are playing, but if you are keeping up with the group in front of you, then you are good.
Alternatively, if you look back and the group behind you is constantly waiting around, and the group in front of you is nowhere to be found or has moved ahead, you’ll want to pick up the pace or let the group behind you “play through”. This allows the group behind to move ahead of you and play through your group on a particular hole while you wait for them to play that hole.
This works well if you want to take your time. Just beware that there may be more groups behind them and if you keep letting groups play through, it can be distracting to your game and a lot of waiting on your end.
Sometimes, it might be better to pick up the pace of play.
Be Punctual for Your Scheduled Tee Time
A tee time is the scheduled time for your group to tee off on the first tee. You'll see times like 12:12 or 2:24 because times are calculated to allow for a specific number of minutes between groups. Usually its approximately 12-15 minutes between each group or tee time.
The last thing you want to do is be late for your scheduled tee time. Some courses may not even let you go out if you miss the time by even 5 minutes as it can back up the rest of the groups that day. And etiquette is an important part of the game of golf.
Here are some helpful tips.
1. Be sure to arrive earlier than your scheduled time. It is best to arrive with enough time to practice at the range, putt, use the restroom and get your clubs and bag ready. No need to be rushed, it affects your game.
2. It is typical to be ready and waiting to tee off at least 5 minutes before your scheduled time. This means you are checked in with the starter, the glove is on, tee and ball are in hand and you are waiting at the first tee or waiting for the starter to give you the signal to go ahead.
3. Respect the game and respect each other. By starting on time, you ensure that everyone's game is the best it can be.