Q. Dear Mr. Golf Etiquette,

I was told by a golfing friend that after I putt out I must remove my ball from the hole. Is that a real rule of golf or was he just giving me a line?
-Just Wondering

A. Dear Just Wondering,

Your friend has exaggerated a little bit by saying that removing your ball from the hole is based on a rule of golf. But it is the correct thing to do and it is based on a rule of golf etiquette – which is even more important than the rules. Without the elaborate and unique system of etiquette, the game of golf would be just a good walk spoiled (whoa! that’s good, I should remember that line).

There are a couple of reasons that a golfer should remove a sunk putt from the hole. Consider this little-known golf fact: golf balls actually repel one another. (This is why when you see hundreds of people hitting balls at a driving range you never see any golf balls hit into each other in the air. It is also why when one of those ball lands on one that is already on the ground, they fly away in opposite directions.) So if your ball is in the bottom of the cup, it will prevent another golf ball from going in; this will not be appreciated by the others in your group.

But the main reason to remove the ball is that every golfer is entitled to hear that magnificent sound that a golf ball makes when, after all of the Mulligans, OB’s, hazards and foozled shots, it finally falls into the hole. Don’t take that away from any deserving golfer.

Q. Dear Mr. Golf Etiquette,

Here’s a fashion question. I don’t know what colored socks to wear when playing an upscale or private golf course. Are black socks too nerdy if I’m wearing shorts even if my shoes are black?
And what about white sweat socks?
-2Nerdy 4Words

A. Dear Mr. 4Words,

Mid-calf black socks worn with shorts are perfectly appropriate attire if you are a tan-less, Northern European tourist on your first visit to the Grand Canyon (this assumes you are also wearing the de rigueur open-toed brown sandals). However, at the upscale/private golf course, the true fashion plate will be seen sporting a pair of ankle-high socks with some sporty logo woven into the top seam. The beauty of these stylish anklets? Any color will be fine. This is the case whether said studly golfer is wearing long or short pants, black or white shoes.

On a related note to golf attire below the knees, Mr. Golf Etiquette has, of late, only been seen wearing black-on-black golf saddle shoes – and for very practical reasons. Black golf shoes can be polished to look like new, regardless of how muddy the round of golf you play. White golf shoes (the classic saddle shoe or the more “athletic shoe” look) all fall victim to the muck and mire of a soggy round of golf. No matter how much you scrub and polish, after your second round, they will always look like you just came off a thirty-mile jungle trek with the cast of Survivor.

So make the move to black golf shoes and you will always look smart and stylish – until you hit the ball, that is.

Q. Dear Mr. Golf Etiquette,

I am a new golfer and currently unemployed so I have been spending a lot of time at the driving range. Is there any etiquette to be followed at the driving range? I have recently been annoyed by people in the tee next to mine who were talking on their cell phone. Not only did I think it was rude to be on the phone, but this woman apparently worked for a funeral home and was talking about dead bodies being picked up.

Also, I understand that the driving range is a place for instruction and frequently there are twosomes of people (instructor and student) together, but recently I saw a teacher and student in one tee laughing and even singing. Maybe I am being too harsh, but because I am a new golfer, I find it hard to focus on my shot with these disruptions so close by. Should I say something to them or should I just relax?

A. Dear Lisa,

Thanks for sending your note with an excellent question. Mr. Golf Etiquette is sorry to hear that you are out of work, but glad to hear you are making good use of your time by working on your game. Lot’s of people spend their lives working 9 to 5, but only a few have mastered the art of the short game (present company excluded).

Meanwhile, your powers of observation have been sharpened at the range as well, and you are correct that the behaviors you are seeing are not within the framework of good golf etiquette. Good golf etiquette begins at the practice range and those skills should be honed and encouraged in all aspects of practice. Talking on cell phones is clearly one the list of “don’ts” and most places now have signs up indicating that cell phones are forbidden (or at least discouraged).

But other non-productive talking should also be eliminated. If there is a lesson going on, then that is an understandable exception since people go to the range to learn and lessons are a big part of that. And also, those professionals are trying to make a living at the game by helping others to succeed. So we have to be tolerant of those lessons. If the chatter from the lesson is bothering you, then you really should consider moving to another area of the range, but usually lessons are conducted in special areas so you can set up away from that to begin with. That way you avoid a known problem. But, obviously, if the instructor was singing during a lesson, that would be considered OB. (Unless the student was getting a bargain price by getting golf lessons and voice lessons at one time.)

But if golfers are chatting and causing a disruption, you should either politely ask them to stop (if you are comfortable with doing that) or go and ask the attendant to ask for quiet.

By the way, I have a new book that came out recently: The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Golf Rules & Etiquette and it covers good golf etiquette at the range, so be sure to pick up a copy at Amazon.

Best of luck as you work to hone your game and good luck finding new work if you choose to go in that direction.

Mr. Golf Etiquette

Ask Mr. Golf Etiquette – February 24, 2016