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Is Golf Etiquette on the Decline?


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I'm not talking about walking ahead over to the side of the fairway. I'm talking about walking to their ball and putting down their bag directly in my line of flight. I tore both of my rotator cuffs a couple of years ago so I'm often the shortest off the tee. If anything this slows play because I have to wait for the guy to play his shot out of turn or realize he's in the way and move.

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I don’t know when these “good old days of perfect golf etiquette” were. 60’s? 50’s? 70’s? I’ve been playing since the late 80’s. In those 30+ years the vast majority didn’t know etiquette then, and don’t now.

If you play a public course, like I always have, people do not fix marks or replace divots because they may only play that course once or once in a while. They have no vested interest in keeping the course nice. It’s always been that way.

Play ready golf. How long do you want a round to last? If people you are playing with are truly setting up right where you’re going to hit, dress them down one time and you won’t have to worry about it again. A passive-aggressive internet post doesn’t teach them a lesson. Lastly, complaining about unraked bunkers with no rakes is just silly. The model local rule from the USGA allows a free drop from areas of the bunker that have had foot traffic. Also claiming people haven’t foot-smoothed a bunker to your standards certainly gets an OK Boomer.

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No.

Do we know why we do many of things considered proper etiquette? I don't. Why do we shake hands? Why do we take off our hats at the end of the round? I do them, I know the origins of these two examples, but they don't really apply anymore. I am not packing heat at the golf course, nor would anyone perceive my removing of my hat at the end of the round as an act of "friendliness" rather it is just what I do.

People even golf nerdier than I have established a step in someone's line in the afternoon is pretty inconsequential to the actual putt. Pelz calls it the "doughnut," it is already there by the time most people play a hole. Back in the day, spikes ripped up the turf or the oil "greens," today we are allowed to repair spike marks, and spikeless is less damaging not only to the clubhouse, but the course as well. Assuming of course, the person can lift their feet. Music? TopGolf and ranges have music going, so it isn't like people never hear music when they are golfing, and with Simulators, the idea of silence is gone too.

Having said all this, I practice all the standards of etiquette because I am in the generation that wore nails, didn't hear music everywhere, and was taught to be quiet on the tee and elsewhere, but this isn't a loss of etiquette so much as the inability to accept societal change which is manifested on the golf course. I just don't get too bummed out if my outdated norms are not adhered to by someone else, I just hit it and chase it.

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I've been playing golf since the mid 1960s. Except for the damned music playing (you need that, really?) I haven't noticed any change in etiquette. I've played public, private, exclusive private, bucket list public. Except for the exclusive private it's pretty much the same everywhere. Exclusive private is different because they get very little play and there's a caddie or forecaddie.

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I, for one, like to see the face, especially the eyes, of the person I'm greeting, not the hat, the reflection from the shades and the jaw. To me it feels rather uninviting. It's not just about greeting but also people interviewed in the news etc. It also shows you're making a genuine effort to acknowledge the other person. You take the time to shake hands or remove a hat as opposed to just saying hi because you have to when you walk by.

 

As for stepping on other player's line, yes there's damage on the line from players in earlier groups but why unnecessarily add to the damage? The turf will have some time to recover for the next group but not for the player in the same group.

 

And music, well, that's luckily just a North-American problem. :)

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I liked hearing Gary Player's soundbite from some interview I heard in the past few months. Don't take me word for word or anything. He mentioned a lack of manners and how when he was young and a man asked how he was doing he would say "I'm fine, thank you sir"

He went on to say nowadays when he asks a young person how they're doing they just shrug and say "ok" and that's it.

I think of how my grandparents would be assaulted by their teachers if they stepped out of line. My parents experienced the same consequences, albeit with a lesser degree of severity. My generation (X) never had the prospect of being strapped at school but we were still scared of our parents and how they would punish us if we got out of line. Now we bubble wrap the kids and don't punish them for anything cuz we fear it might make them depressed or bring on anxiety. We're best friends with our kids, go easy on them will ya?

It's like the levels of discipline keep dropping as each subsequent generation gives birth to the next one. If so, we're in decay and the end is near. Bring on authrotarian rule and Chicom social credit!!

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My son is 24, and as a teen, and a young man, he was a much better person than I was. Gary Player is an old crank. Every generation looks differently, and talks differently than prior generations. They listen to different music. I'm 65, and listened to rock. My parents listened to big band. My parents complained about my music, and now, we are the old geezers complaining about the young folks. The thing that Gary fails to recognize is that younger folks are not playing golf. Mabye he, and some other old folks need to be a bit more tolerant. Change is about the most constant thing there is.

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EM: "Now we bubble wrap the kids and don't punish them for anything cuz we fear it might make them depressed or bring on anxiety. We're best friends with our kids, go easy on them will ya?"

The interesting, but sad, thing is that this change has increased anxiety, depression and suicide among teens several multiples over what it was 20+ years ago. The statistics are very alarming. I really hope the pendulum swings back quickly to where parents are parents and not friends soon (this includes limiting access to online social networks). Kids need guidance from adults and to get hurt (not injured) and fail so they can learn and grow.

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Its been on decline for a while. When you get to the point where people think its OK to blare their music on the course, ettuquite is out the window. I think that much of it isnt peoples' fault. Many of them simply werent taught what appropriate behavior on a golf course is and they see other people doing it, so they fiture, "why not?" and think that its acceptable.

IMO, its what is the result of the Tiger effect on golf. Tiger brought a lot of new players into golf, many of whom didnt come from the world of country clubs and many of whom who were never taught that golf is a gentleman's game and that you should act accordingly when on the course.

Look at me, now Im the one who sounds like a grumpy old man. LOL

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Yes, I do think it is on the decline. Especially in fixing ball marks on greens, replacing divots in the fairways, & raking bunkers. People tend to be louder than ever, talking when others are hitting, playing loud music, & finding cigarette & cigar butts on the course. They also don't seem to know that if you hit an errant shot into an adjacent fairway that they should wait until the group playing that fairway has the right of way. Just overall rudeness abounds, but it seems that way in general in most public places these days.

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I have been a volunteer walking scorer several times at PGA and Korn Ferry events. Majority of professional golfers walk far ahead of their playing partners, sometimes 100 yards ahead. Also, professional golfers often walk off the putting green and head to next tee before their playing partners hole out (that surprises me). I doubt very much they consider that poor etiquette.

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I will be 65 in less than a week. When I was in school, the nuns didn't hesitate to resort to corporal punishment, and you would never want to tell your parents because they would just add to what the nuns already did...because obviously you did something to deserve it. In high school we had a teacher/coach who would take a two x four to your butt if you got out of line, and a few of the priests didn't mind giving you a slap on occasion.

Nowadays if a teacher looks crosswise at a kid he or she is looking at a lawsuit, lol. I wasn't crazy about being on the receiving end of corporal punishment, but the classrooms were disciplined, quiet and respectful. No shenanigans, no class disruptions, which you see a lot of today. And, the parents will more often then not side with their kid as he or she can do no wrong. In the long run I think this does a disservice to the child. Heck, some colleges have safe spaces...how are these kids supposed to learn to navigate life if they never face any adversity, are never held accountable for their actions, or learn to deal with failure?

One of the good things about sports, from golf to football, is it requires discipline, team work, and dedication...and those are valuable lessons for any kid to learn.

 

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I'm in the same age category as you've indicated. We didn't want to get reprimanded/punished at school because our parents would typically side with the teacher and compound it. Growing up in a small city (<10,000) was the same - get caught doing something wrong anywhere, and our parents were sure to hear about it in a day or two. My mother (Happy Mother's Day everyone) was a hairdresser and news arrived there very quickly. It was like you had 25 or 30 pseudo-parents, and every one of them were looking out for your best interests.

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It's that quote above. There was always bad golf etiquette, but now there is more, with new stuff like phones, music more carts.

 

Kids are raised more hours/days/etc by babysitters and daycare than ever before, so less parent time to teach them manners.

Fewer new golfers learn golf from fathers, fewer than ever learn golf as caddies, maybe fewer learn golf as kids.

 

I see bad golf etiquette from guys who I know are long time golfers and know the rules/etiquette well, so that falls under some don't care.

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Lordy, lots of people telling on themselves in this thread.

Is corporal punishment doled out by teachers something people really want back and it's loss is an indication of the decline of civilization? How bout not slapping some random woman on the rear as she walks by? Nostalgia rarely corresponds with reality.

In terms of golf... well how bout this guy?

33T8XQBB3LMU.jpgWas he (and the rest of the movie) a parody of conditions at the time or just a harbinger of things to come?

10 years ago I used to play frequently at the course on base at Andrews. I've never seen more unraked bunkers and it shocked me cause you'd think that a bunch of military folk would be all about rules and hospital corners. Nope, wrecked bunkers, fairways and greens.

While I'm of the opinion that ready golf should be the norm unless you're playing in a tournament or match of some kind, I have a general go-with-the flow attitude when I play with strangers. I watch how they act on the first hole and go with that. They toss a tee for honors? ok. Away putts first? No problem. Ready golf? gtg. If you are bothered by ready golf, music messing up your tempo, etc, make a request either on the first tee box or green. While there's a huge ammount of jerks out there in the world, they ususally hide it and can keep it hidden for a round. After all they're trying to have a good time as well. Meanwhile, do your part not to wreck it for other people and tip your hat or curtsy to everyone when the last guy holes out on the 18th.

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I agree, my dad is the one who taught me about walking in lines and “leave the green better than you found it”. However, some people, even friends, I play with simply do not know about hitting out of turn and raking sand. It’s not a lack of etiquette but usually a lack of knowledge. Now when it comes to music everyone might as well get used to it, in Arizona they are putting speakers on par 3 course and you can play in flip flops.

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Courses I play have all had the unraked footprint and other symptoms of a lazy golfer. We have very expensive private clubs and I hear of urine on the seat and other general disregard for others. We can all speculate whether its due to "not my job", "someone else will fix that", "that is beneath me", or "this course is trash anyway" or some combo of all 4.

I picked up golf as a professional, middle class, adult and my first round I drove the cart up to the green. I realize now I looked like an inconsiderate idiot but I just didn't know. Same with walking in putting line (especially extremely long putts which even to me now is a bit ridiculous), and the not honoring the number of occasions where silence is expected during the round. My guess is some percentage of etiquette violations are due to unfamiliarity. Those that aren't may fall into the previous paragraph. Of course I'm just a guy on the internet.

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within the last 3 years, I've survived prostate cancer and a heart attack. Now, I'm doing all I can to avoid a stupid virus. If I get upset over something as minor as an unfixed ball mark, and unraked bunker, a too loud radio, or someone stepping on my line, I have a big problem. It's a game. I don't go to the course looking to be the behavior cop. Relax. There is enough to worry about off the course. Enjoy your 4 hour escape from reality.

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Personal opinion is that etiquette is decreasing, but golf is also more accessible to the masses. I can't stand the music thing, if you're going to listen to it within your group sure whatever, but if there's another groups nearby have some respect and turn it down. My biggest pet peeve though is ball marks. I seem to be fixing 3 or 4 on every green. To be honest, I think a lot of casual golfers are intimidated by the process as they're scared to damage the green.

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The larger ones, generally I agree with you. We have a member who comes to the course every evening after the crowds. He fixes pitch marks on a short par 5 with a pond in front. He collects the pond pearls to donate to the junior golf program. The front of the pond to the green is about 50 yards. His reasoning for fixing the ball marks is even the short chips leave a dent, and many of those who play to the front of the pond to make sure they get over the pond don't even look because, "It doesn't leave a mark."

Of course, at sunset the imperfections you can't see in the day are clear on the greens, and he enjoys doing it. But, largely, for those craters we can assume most are referencing aren't coming from the uninformed.

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I'm 57 and I don't see any decline in etiquette. The worst etiquette offenders on the golf course are folks my age. It's doubly worse because they should know better. The young folks I get paired up with seem to want to learn the finer intricacies of golf etiquette.

The golf clubs and manufacturers are selling carts and devices to play music on the course. I'd prefer quiet but music on the golf course doesn't bother me.

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