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11 Mar 2010


Etiquette Comments Off on Etiquette

Golf Course Etiquette Every Golfer Should Know

By RJ Wiegand, PGA

Golf etiquette extends beyond the scope of the Rules of Golf. To golf purists it is bad enough that golf in the U.S. has adapted the mentality of mulligans as a part of the game. And evolving from the mulligans have been the “rollovers,” the 12-month “winter rules,” and the never-ending “gimmies.” Whether you play by the Rules of Golf or not, your awareness of golf etiquette is not up for debate. Despite your talent for the game of golf you shouldn’t even think about setting foot on a golf course until you familiarize yourself with these basic requirements. As a golfer, you can not feel completely comfortable on the golf course until you master this collection of traditional behavior we call etiquette.

The focus of this article is to shed some light on the widely perceived mystery surrounding golf etiquette to ensure a more enjoyable golfing experience for everyone involved. I offer this information as a guide from which we may all draw. In my opinion, golf etiquette parallels and is no more complex than common social etiquette. Golf etiquette can be broken down into three components:

  1. Leave the course better than you found it.
  2. Respect fellow players.
  3. Play quickly and efficiently.

Leaving the course in better condition than you found it means:

  • Replace your divots or, even better, spread the sand and seed mixture from your golf cart in the hole you just made.
  • Should your ball take you into a bunker, simply rake the sand behind you as you exit the bunker.
  • Whether you hit the green in regulation or not, fix at least one ball mark on every green. Every golfer should carry a divot tool to repair pitch marks on the putting surface.
  • Although metal spikes are uncommon these days, do not drag your feet while walking on the golf course especially while walking on the putting surface.
  • Lastly, despite your level of frustration, never throw golf clubs or damage the course in any way.

Respecting your fellow players means:

  • Do not talk or play with the tees and change in your pocket while another player is about to make a stroke.
  • Similarly, do not make a practice swing or stand close to another player about to make a swing.
  • Do not step on another player’s line of putt. The player’s ball must be on the green for this piece of etiquette to be relevant.
  • Should your ball fly in the general direction of other players, warn them by yelling “Fore!”
  • Always keep an eye on other players’ ball flight in order to help locate the ball if necessary.
  • Generally compliment good shots and ignore bad shots.
  • Try to maintain your composure regarding vocal expressions for celebrating is often perceived as annoying to others.

Playing quickly and efficiently means:

  • Be ready to hit when it is your turn. What does this mean? Being ready to hit involves knowing your yardage and selecting a club before it is your turn to hit. The player farthest from the hole is always next to hit. Regarding order of play on the tee, the player who had the lowest score on the previous hole has the “honor.” It should be noted, however, that in the interest of time it is commonly accepted to play “ready golf” should the player with the “honor” be slow to arrive to the tee box.
  • Keep pace with the group in front of you. You are out of position when the group in front of you is more than one hole ahead of your group.
  • Let faster groups play through. For example, if your group is delaying a single playing behind you and there is an open hole in front of you, let the single play through.
  • Do not look for a ball for more than five minutes. Under the Rules of Golf, a ball is deemed lost if it is not found within five minutes from the time you begin searching for it.
  • Never hit your ball until the group in front of you is out of range.

Utilizing these basic fundamentals of golf etiquette should add pleasure to any golf game. As I mentioned before, whether you decide to play by the Rules of Golf or not is up to you and the group you play with; however, demonstrating proper golf etiquette while on the golf course should be automatic and something we do whether we feel like it or not. If you are going to play this game you better learn the Rules of Golf and the proper etiquette surrounding the game of golf. Good luck to all!

11 Mar 2010

Rules of Golf

Rules of Golf Comments Off on Rules of Golf


Playing Options for: I. Water Hazards

II. Ball Lost or Out of Bounds; Provisional Ball

III. Bunkers

IV. Unplayable Lies

  1. I. Relief for Ball in Water Hazard (Yellow Stakes)

Under penalty of one stroke may:

a) Play a ball from the spot where the original ball was last played

b) Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the margin last crossed between the hole and yourself with no limit to how far behind the water hazard you may go.

  1. II. Relief for Ball in Lateral Hazard (Red Stakes)

Under penalty of one stroke may:

a) In addition to the two options listed for water hazards you may drop a ball outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of and not nearer the hole than

i) the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard or

ii) a point on the opposite margin of the water hazard equidistant from the hole.

Note: The player may play the ball as it lies from within either a water hazard or lateral water hazard as long as he does not ground the club inside the hazard. There is no penalty if this option is played.

  1. III. Ball Lost or Out of Bounds; Provisional Ball

Under penalty of one stroke

a) Play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played.


b) If lost in water hazard (Rule 26-1) follow the rules for playing from a water hazard

c) If lost in an obstruction (Rule 24-3) or abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1c) the player may proceed under the applicable rule.

Provisional Ball

d) Play a provisional ball if the original ball may be lost outside a water hazard or be out of bounds.

i) Must declare your intent to play a provisional ball prior to playing your provisional ball.

ii) Must play provisional ball before going forward to search for the original ball

iii) May play your provisional ball until he reaches the place where the original ball is likely to be. Once you play from a point nearer the hole than that place, the original ball is lost and the provisional ball is the ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance.

  1. IV. Bunkers

a) May not ground your club while in a bunker.

  1. V. Unplayable Lies

a) May declare ball unplayable at any place on the course except when the ball is in a water hazard. The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable.

b) If ball deemed unplayable, under penalty of one stroke, the player:

i) may play a ball from which point the original ball was last played.

ii) Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped; no limit to how far back you may go.

iii) Drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole.

Note: If unplayable ball is in a bunker and the player chooses option two or three the ball must be dropped in the bunker. The ball may be lifted and cleaned when playing under this rule.


  1. I. Grip
    1. For clubs other than putters the grip must be circular in cross-section

(i) may use a rib or indented spiral

  1. A putter grip may be non-circular in cross-section

(i) no concavity, must be symmetrical

  1. Grip may be tapered but no bulge or waist

(i) cross-section not to exceed 1.75 inches

  1. Except putters, the axis of grip to coincide with axis of shaft
  2. Putter may have two grips

(i) both must be circular in cross-section

(ii) both axis to coincide with axis of shaft

(iii) must be separated by at least 1.5 inches

  1. II. Shaft
    1. Straightness

(i) Must be straight from top of grip to < 5 inches above sole

  1. Bending and Twisting

(i) Deflection is = despite how is rotated about longitudinal axis

(ii) Must twist the same amount in either direction

  1. Attachment to Clubhead

(i) Must be attached to the clubhead at the heel directly or through a single plain neck or socket.

(ii) Length from top of neck to sole must not exceed 5 inches

(iii) Shaft or neck or socket of a putter may be fixed at any point in the head


“Casual water” is any temporary accumulation of water on the course, that is visible before or after the player takes his stance, and is not in a water hazard. Snow and natural ice, other than frost, are either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player. Manufactured ice is an obstruction. Dew and frost are not casual water. A ball is in casual water when it lies in or any part of it touches the casual water.


“Out of bounds” is beyond the boundaries of the course or any part of the course so marked by the Committee.

When out of bounds is defined by reference to stakes or a fence or as being beyond stakes or a fence, the out of bounds line is determined by the nearest inside points of the stakes or fence posts at ground level excluding angled supports.

Objects defining out of bounds such as walls, fences, stakes and railings, are not obstructions and are deemed to be fixed.

When out of bounds is defined by a line on the ground, the line itself is out of bounds.

The out of bounds line extends vertically upward and downward.

A ball is out of bounds when all of it lies out of bounds.

A player may stand out of bounds to play a ball lying within bounds.


“Ground under repair” is any part of the course so marked by order of the Committee or so declared by its authorized representative. It includes material piled for removal and a hole made by the greenskeeper, even if not so marked.

All ground and any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing within the ground under repair is part of the ground under repair. The margin of ground under repair extends vertically downward, but not upward. Stakes and lines defining ground under repair are in such ground. Such stakes are obstructions. A ball is in ground under repair when it lies in or any part of it touches the ground under repair.

Note 1: Grass cuttings and other material left on the course that have been abandoned and are not intended to be removed are not ground under repair unless so marked.

Note 2: The Committee may make a Local Rule prohibiting play from ground under repair or an environmentally-sensitive area defined as ground under repair.



“Loose impediments” are natural objects including:

  • stones, leaves, twigs, branches and the like,
  • dung, and
  • worms and insects and casts or heaps made by them, provided they are not:
  • fixed or growing,
  • solidly embedded, or
  • adhering to the ball.

Sand and loose soil are loose impediments on the putting green, but not elsewhere.

Snow and natural ice, other than frost, are either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player.

Dew and frost are not loose impediments.


– review by RJ Wiegand, PGA

Richard S. Tufts’ assessment of the rules of golf is quite perceptive. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his comments and will highlight the aspects of his discussion I found to be most interesting. Mr. Tufts begins with a word of caution, “Golf, like life, is full of breaks. It is a game of chance.” Richard goes on to point out one of the most basic principles in golf is that you play the course as you find it. Being able to accept the breaks and still go on playing your game has always been one of the tests of a true champion.

The second principle he outlines is that you “put your ball in play at the start of the hole, play only your ball and do not touch it until you lift it from the hole.” He goes on to explain the situations where you are permitted to touch your ball, with a warning, it must always be put in play again no nearer to the hole than the spot at which it came to rest. To define golf is very difficult, however, Mr. Tufts seems to have succeeded when he claims this is golf – “you put your ball in play at the start of the hole, you play the course as you find it, you play only your own ball, and you do not touch it until you lift it from the hole.”

With regard to penalties in golf, it is rare when one deliberately violates the rules “demonstrating the high moral plane on which the game is universally played that those who intentionally violate the Rules soon find it difficult to arrange matches.” The purpose of the Rules is to insure that everyone is playing the same game otherwise golf might become a game of negotiation. There are three levels of severity when it comes to penalties: one stroke, two strokes in stroke play and its equivalent of loss of hole in match play, and disqualification. The principle that applies to the penalties is that “the penalty must not be less than the advantage which the player could derive from the particular Rule violation.”

The one-stroke penalty is usually applied when accidentally moving the ball either by the player or in moving a loose impediment. Likewise it is a one-stroke penalty for dropping a ball improperly or striking a ball twice while making a stroke. The two-stroke penalty in stroke play and loss of hole in match play is the general penalty under the Rules. Some examples include giving or receiving advice, improving the lie, and taking undue relief from obstructions. Disqualification penalties are applied, for instance, when a penalty of two or even any number of additional strokes becomes inadequate. Disqualification does not imply dishonorable conduct as most widely perceived, rather, it is most commonly connected with the return of incorrect scores.

The final principle of discussion is that like situations be treated alike. The equity rule states that those matters not covered by the Rules be decided in equity; thus, implying that issues covered by the Rules have been disposed of on an equitable basis. There is no special consideration when, for example, your ball comes to rest in a divot in the middle of the fairway. The question is not whether “this particular situation is unfair to me,” but rather whether “others in a similar situation and I in mine are treated alike under the Rules.”

Although written many years ago, Mr. Tufts’ comments still apply today. He does an excellent job of explaining the reasoning behind the Rules and every golfer would be wise to consider the wisdom presented in The Principles Behind the Rules of Golf.

28 Feb 2010

How Should I Practice?

Instruction No Comments

I get a lot of serious students that ask me for a serious practice routine that they can stick to.  While not all students are the same, I have come up with a great routine for you to follow if you are serious about taking your game to the next level.

Download the PDF here…

13 Feb 2010

Under Construction

Uncategorized Comments Off on Under Construction

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