Gordon on Golf

What makes a responsible golfer?

What makes a responsible golfer?

If my foursome gets the first time on Sunday mornings, we usually play 18 in about three hours. When I tell most people this, they say, “Wow! You play fast.” (At least in North America.)

My response is, “No, we play efficiently.” There’s lots of advice available online on how to play more quickly (efficiently) so I leave that to you to check out. Lord knows, I’ve written about myself ad infinitum.

To me, “efficient golf” means taking most, if not all, of that advice and combining it with some other vital components to make the complete “responsible golfer.”

What makes a responsible golfer? In the interest of gaining the widest possible perspective, I threw that question out on Twitter.

temp fix empty alt images

The responses didn’t surprise me for the most part but, like the advice on playing more efficiently, they are well worth taking to heart in the interests of the game and those of us who love the game. Some came from folks who make their living in the golf industry but most were from the same people you meet on the first tee.

Before I share those responses, I refer you to Rule 1 of the Rules of Golf.

In summary, they define what makes a responsible golfer.

I guess I could end this column right here but I think we all can benefit from the reactions of our fellow golfers on social media.

Many harked back to what I define as efficient golf, elements that improve pace of play: playing the correct tees for your ability, ready golf, continuous putting, marking your score at the next tee, and so on.

@MarchbankAndrew summed it up pretty well, I thought, with one word: Respect.

“Respect is the whole thing for me. Respect the course and the staff that facilitate your golf. Respect other golfers and that they are all different, play differently and that is OK. Respect the game, the Rules and traditions.”

Many of you may be new golfers and the second-last point above will resonate with you if you’re finding the game challenging. Don’t despair. All golfers were beginners at some point and the “responsible golfer” will recognize that and make allowances. But this street runs both ways. As a beginner, it is incumbent on you to keep an acceptable pace of play as well as knowing and abiding by the basic Rules and etiquette. Don’t be reticent to ask more experienced golfers for their advice on how to be an efficient and responsible golfer.

Often, this advice will include taking a couple of lessons and hitting the driving range. As someone pointed out, when you decide to take up the piano, you don’t just sit down and expect to play Brahms’ Lullaby. You take at least a lesson a week and practise frequently. Take it from someone who has mastered neither.

Once on the course, leave your ego in the parking lot and hit from the forward tees. If you hit double par, pick up your ball and watch your more experienced friends finish up and head to the next tee. Remember, the object of the game is to have fun.

Several respondents were current or former turf employees who, obviously focused on some pet peeves. You can guess the usual suspects: Replacing divots, fixing ball marks on greens and raking bunkers (post-COVID restrictions).

temp fix empty alt images

There were some comments about technology, starting with the distractions of ringing cell phones and portable speakers.

While some abhorred any music at all on the course, most were happy if the volume level was kept at a reasonable level. (Although one fellow vowed to leave the course if he heard country music. As a country music guy, I immediately blocked him. I’m kidding.)

@andypdmd offered a pretty complete check list: “Throws trash away. Mindful of golfer(s) behind them. Not loud. Rakes bunkers. Keeps cart away from green. Replaces pin. Doesn’t practice swing while others are hitting. Doesn’t offer unsolicited swing advice.”

There was also a unanimous call for the death penalty for those who spit sunflower shells on the green, drop cigar and cigarette butts randomly and toss beverage cans and other trash indiscriminately around the course.

Without dislocating my shoulder patting myself on the back, I leave it to @Wallajay to sum this up: “I looked through all these responses and can’t think of anything that hasn’t been mentioned already. Great job, folks. Proud of Twitter golf.”

Let me know @gordongolf if you have more advice on how to be an efficient and responsible golfer.