Golf Etiquette For Hackers

This title may be misleading and you may think it doesn’t apply to you but anyone who plays in casual foursomes where betting isn’t a factor or handicap postings are not a factor, have probably encountered one, some, or all of these situations.

There are many golfers who just play for the fun of it and for some their fun can be aggravating to others in the group, but because of friendships you just bite the bullet and go on. Unfortunately, a potential good score can be affected by some of these antics.

Some golfers have what may be called a “football mentality”. It really applies to a sport where hollering or screaming are part of the event. In fact, most team sports fall into this category.

Many of the golfing population fall into one or more of these sports before they ever took up the game of golf and since they are playing with friends they don’t feel committed to any different type of behavior.  Afer all, if you ask them they will tell you that all that good behavior is only for the pros and obviously they don’t consider themselves or anyone playing with them a pro.

We all understand the proper etiquette in golf especially if we ever played in local tournaments with strangers in our group or local leagues with serious consequences for the winners but many of our friends have not and have never considered that type of behavior used in those situations.

These are the guys who no matter how many strokes they take on a hole, when asked on the next tee what they had their response usually starts with these two words,”Gimmie a” and then a number that usually equates to a bogey or double bogey. Their attitude toward a lost ball would be “It’s bad enough that I just lost a ‘new’ ball, now you want me to take a penalty for it.” These are not arguments you want to have with people who you barbeque with, go the your kids games with, and share other friendship activities with.

The problem is that is does affect your game and you have to be clever in trying to fix some of this behavior when possible with other losing a friend or a member of the foursome. I guess the old saying of “change the things you can, accept the things you can’t and know the difference between the two’’ would really be appropriate here.  Obviously any wagering would have to be non-existent or of no consequence in these types or groups.  So now you get the jest of where this article is going.

golf etiquette for hackers-divot

PRACTICE SWINGS AND LOST BALL

One of first areas we encounter is the teeing ground. As your playing companion approaches the first tee you will probably hear “I haven’t touched a club in a week or two weeks and then proceeds to take two or three practice swings with a divot on each one. Some courses will post a sign of no practice swings on the tee which he never sees and if there is a starter the swings are taken so fast he can’t even stop him.  You may want to make a group rule of only one practice swing on every shot including putts. This may work or may not but if the whole group agrees it may bring the culprit to agree.

golf etiquette for hackers

The next issue will be the lost ball.  This level of golfer is always hitting new ones because he loses so many. If he decides to buy an expensive one or some family member buys him a dozen of Titleist Pro V1’s  for a present. You better have a miner’s hat with a light on it because you will be out to dark looking for it. You can imagine the response you will get when you cite the five minute rule looking for a lost ball and as mentioned above a stroke and distance rule.  The rule for this guy will be “drop one where you have a swing and good lie.”

CARTS

Carts are a big challenge to the hackers. If you have a golfer, especially an older one, who walks super slow on the course, you may want to suggest a handicap flag for the cart. If no other reason than you will not get to know the ranger on a first name basis. Most of these golfers think they can drive up to the ball no matter where it is. Heavily wet areas, wooded areas and the fringe of the green. At least with the flag there is some forgiveness. Unfortunately, these golfers usually balk at the idea that they need the flag.  If that is the case and you can’t win the argument the best solution is for you to drive him. If not, then plan on getting a lot of mud on you when pushing him out of a heavily wet area.

SPEEDING UP PLAY WITH A RIDING CART

Several things can be done when riding a cart to speed up play. One of the simplest is the art of cleaning and putting away your club after a shot. After hitting your shot just return to the cart with your club and wait until you arrive at your cart partner’s ball. (If playing alone you can do the same thing as you go to your next shot.) As your cart partner is preparing to hit his shot you can clean your club and put away. This really can save time and still get the cleaning done. The real time killer on a cart is the club cleaner with soapy water that is available on some carts. Our player who is taking divots that you can plant a tomato in really falls in love with this tool. By going to your playing partners shot first they can scrub away without slowing play.

golf etiquette for hackers-riding-cart

The same is true in just returning club to the bag. This can also be done when arriving at the next shot since you are pulling out a new club for next shot anyway. Keeping carts behind the player who is hitting is something that the hackers usually forget to do and it does affect the person playing their shot. It’s amazing the faith your fellow players have in your ball striking the ball although they have seen every ugly shot ever hit from all the players in your group.

PUTTING ETIQUETTE

Bad behavior on the green is really the most obvious.  When pulling the flag do not, I repeat, do not lay the flag down a few feet behind the hole from your putting line. Make sure it is away from all putts. A good rule of thumb is to not let Mr. Hacker even touch the flag.

Another bad move is when they stand about two feet behind your ball when you are putting.  They want to watch it break.  Or they are walking around as you putt to get ready to start their three putt.  Continual talking is always a problem and like the other actions listed above you probably have to work on ignoring it or lose a friend. It is the sudden stopping of the chatter when you’re ready to pull the trigger on your shot that is really troublesome, so just get used to the chatter. If you mention something about these breeches you risk being called a “pro” and have an announcement every time you go to hit that everyone must me quiet.

golf etiquette for hackers

Hitting practice putts after putting out is one of the worst faults of golfers who are oblivious to the world. We all have dragged back a short putt that we miss to hit it again. This only is a problem when a group is waiting to hit their shots to the green. The one that is really bad is the golfer who goes back after everyone has putted out and hits his 30 or 40 foot putt again. Usually you can remind him that there are people waiting to hit and you really don’t want to be rolling on the grass with them because he wants to tick them off with his practice putts.  Did you ever notice how they get their ball out of the hole?  First they will try to get it out with their putter which usually damages the hole on the second, third, or fourth try .If you repair the hole damage as they are picking up their ball the message may be delivered that this technique really isn’t a good idea.

The next problem is how they walk around the hole as they drag their feet . Tapping down the spike marks hopefully gives them the message. Better yet, someone from your foursome that is closest to hole should pick the ball out of whole and toss it to him.

HITTING INTO OTHER GOLFERS

This is really a no-no and should be avoided at all costs. The classic line by the hacker(s) in group is either they won’t hit it that far or you won’t hit them. What is missing from this concept is that hitting a ball that hits the ground within earshot of the group in front of you is just as annoying as hitting close to them or worse yet, over them.

First of all it does nothing to your mind set if the thought of whether you should hit or wait and secondly you bring in the real possibility of a confrontation with the group in front of you.

golf etiquette for hackers-hitting-into-other-golfers

This very easily could ruin and nice round of golf.  Here is a real experience that you should be aware of… Friends of mine went out on Father’s Day, father and two sons.  The group behind them hit in to them  twice and a confrontation took place. A short time later the father and one son had a dislocated shoulder and broken nose. Needless to say that it really put a damper on the barbeque that was scheduled after the round. Usually if you do hit close to a group it is best to apologize as soon as you get within earshot of the group.

If you are playing behind a slow group and most importantly, there is a hole or two open in front of them, use your iPhone to get help.  At least one of your group will have a phone with them, for better or worse, and your scorecard will have the course phone number on it. Call the clubhouse to ask for help. If there is a ranger on the course the clubhouse will call them or if not they will send someone out to move group along.

SCORES

This is really one of the more subtle things that the hacker will do very innocently .  Telling you how good you are playing. We all hear about staying in the moment and not getting ahead of yourself., but this will usually happen as you are playing well and don’t want to get in your own way. You birdie or par three holes in a row (depending on your skill level)  and he announces that if you birdie or par the next hole it will be four in a row. Or you have a 4 or 5 foot putt for birdie and he announces that you will definitely make that putt. It’s bad enough that you just watched him drag a putt from four feet in the hole for a ‘six ‘and then to act like there is no way YOU can miss that easy putt for a birdie.

golf etiquette for hackers-keeping-score

Along the same thought, it is always fun when this golfer will announce that if he makes a six or less on the last hole it will be the first time he will break 50 for nine holes or 100 for eighteen holes.

If you have the deed to your house or your savings account book with you, bet it. You know he will make at least a seven on that hole and won’t be happy for the rest of the day. It is so automatic that you just can’t make it up.

In conclusion, these are just some of experiences you will deal with in that friendly group you play with.

The reason finesse is so important is that you don’t want to ruin an otherwise good friendship or lose a member of group, especially if you have a small group to start with. By using finesse, over time, you can make things better for all. Each person is different, personality wise, so each solution should be handled differently based on the person.

Patience is absolutely a virtue in these situations. However look at the bright side.  When you do venture out to play competitively, you will be so relaxed playing with all the distractions that you have dealt with and adjusted to in your friendly group! Hopefully this will be of some help to a very real situation, but is one that is never discussed.