Welcome to Mr. Golf Etiquette’s Golf Confessional! This is where you can purge yourself of your wrong-doings on the course.
Have a confessional to share with me? Find my profile in the Community and send me a Private Message. – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
I am a beginner. So far I’ve played two rounds and both times I was fortunate to be playing with a close friend and experienced golfer who helped me understand the concepts of “pace of play” and some golf etiquette. During my second round of golf, on the 9th hole (directly in front of the clubhouse) I was very excited that I had finally done something “with a NAME!”, I had double-bogeyed a par 4.
In my excitement I grabbed my pull cart and rolled it across the green about eight feet until my friend, realizing my mistake, yelled at me to get my pull cart off the green. I was horrified at my transgression. Then, one of the pros from the clubhouse who had seen my mistake, comes flying out of the clubhouse, gets in my face and screams at me using foul language and ends his tirade by “…don’t bother coming back.”
After letting myself recoup for a couple of minutes, I went into the clubhouse, found the man and apologized profusely, telling him that this was just my second time out and as hard as I am trying I just don’t know or remember all of the rules or etiquette of the game. I came as close to groveling as I am capable of doing. He grudgingly accepted my apology, but frankly I have little desire to play that course again. In short, I learned a valuable lesson; but the way I was treated by this “pro” made me not only want to beat him senseless, but to give up the game altogether. After all, I don’t recall a sign in the clubhouse that read “experienced golfers only”…
It must be hard for club pro’s, who see bad behavior all the time, to distinguish between when it is being committed by people who don’t care, and people who don’t know. Don’t give up the game. You learned an important lesson, now go out and get a bogey, then a par — but keep that good golf etiquette in mind too! – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
I had been playing golf for about 6 months and was playing in a mixed foursome.
About half-way round, and having one of the best games of my, then, short golf career, I put my approach shot into a greenside bunker and then proceeded to take 5 shots to get out. I didn’t bother to check where the ball finished and in a fit of temper hurled my sandwedge towards the next tee some 50 yards away.
My playing partners had remained silent thoughout this painful episode and still waited quietly while I took several deep breaths to calm myself. Back in control I looked around for my ball but couldn’t see it anywhere.
“Where’s my ball,” I asked.
“Over there in the sand,” answered one of my playing partners pointing to a bunker on the other side of the green.
Obviously I was too embarrassed to retrieve my sandwedge and so had to dig my ball out onto the green with a pitching wedge.
Needless to say, I have never lost my temper on the course nor thrown a club since……..
This is known as “instant Karma.” I once hit a shot with a 5-wood to a par-3 green while there were still people on that green. I didn’t think I could reach, but I hit a guy on the fly. (No, not on the fly of his pants, I mean the ball hit him before it landed. I actually hit him on his lower back – right side.) He was very angry. I could have waited, but I was rushing because there was a group coming up behind us. I should have waited and I’m sorry. – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
(It’s true. Even Mr. Golf Etiquette makes mistakes. Hopefully, by being first to confess, it will make it easier for readers to step up and do so, too.)
It was 15 or 20 years ago, but this community course I play, when you finish the 13th, then the 14th tee is out sight but not out of range as it is to the right. And most of duffers slice or push to the right. Well, I was ready to tee off on the 14th and saw the group coming off the 13th and should have waited but hit, and I hit this one player whom I knew, in the back of the neck. I have joked about since, but it really wasn’t funny.
Then just recently I yelled at a player in my foursome who had gotten ahead of me and I chipping onto the green and she pulled the pin before I was set to hit. While she was wrong, I should have treated it more calmly.
After 15 years, you can now go with a clear conscience. Actually, Mr. Golf Etiquette once heard of a person who thought the game was a pain in the neck. That must have been the golfer you hit. It feels better to get it off your chest, though, doesn’t it? – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
I was playing my third round of golf (ever) with two experienced players. My pace of play was fairly slow. We let two groups of two play through in the first 8 holes. On the 9th whole I sliced a drive onto the driving range. I wasn’t about to go after that one. My second attempted tee shot landed in a bunker.
The 9th and 1st holes run parallel in opposite directions with rough in between. A group shooting from the 1st tee had lost a ball in the rough. All 4 players were looking for it. Unfortunately the rough was between my ball and the 9th green. I was forced to wait for those players to clear the line of play before I could make my shot. A twosome behind me began screaming at me from the 9th tee to “hurry up, come on, get on with it.”
Once the players had cleared, I hit to the green. As I’m making my first putt a shot lands two feet from me, hit by the screamer behind me. I have to confess that I picked up his ball and threw it in the lake. I finished putting and cleared the green. This guy then proceeded to lecture me about the pace of play, screaming at me for taking a second tee shot, then screaming at me or waiting for the players to clear the rough before I hit through them.
Mr. Golf Etiquette will file this one in the “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right” file. Sometimes swift justice feels right at the time, but then again, it can lead to greater problems later. – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
I have a habit of playing golf with my cell phone turned on even though I know it’s annoying to other golfers. I started doing without thinking, but when someone told me to turn it off I left it on out of spite. I’ll turn it off from now on.
The rule of thumb we live by seems to be, “Just don’t tell me what to do.” We need to be bigger about abiding by the rules of etiquette both on and off the golf course. Think of how many lives will be saved on the highways. – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
Dear Mr. Golf Etiquette,
I got so angry one time because I missed a short putt that I took the ball out of the hole and threw it with all my might into the surface of the green. I felt so bad. No one said anything to me, but I know the other golfers in my group were shocked.
Hopefully you repaired the ball mark! – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
I confess that when I first started playing golf religiously, I had much to learn with regards to etiquette. I had a habit of taking my practice swings while my partner was getting ready to tee off. One time I took a practice swing and sent the divot right into my partners face and some of it went into his mouth. He basically told me that my golf etiquette sucked and he didn’t say too many words to me throughout the course. This definitely woke me up!
The second disaster I had in golf was when I was on a green and I was having severe problems with my putting. It was a par 3 and my tee shot sat 3 feet from the pin. One would think that this was an automatic birdie. I couldn’t believe that it took a 3-putt to finish the hole. I was so angry that I through my putter up in the air behind me and it bounced off of the green right into my partners face. His lip bled and my face was the color of his blood. I felt 2 inches high. I swore from that moment that I would become a complete golfer and I have been. As a matter of fact, my game has significantly improved, I believe, due to being more relaxed and having some etiqutte on the course.
Becoming a complete golfer – and human – is the goal to which we should all aspire. The first step on the path of that journey is to recognize your areas of weakness and begin the process of improvement. You are taking the rights steps. Thank you! – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
I am essentially a beginner, and I was playing as a guest on an unfamiliar course (where my friend is a new member, no less). I hit a nasty hook off the tee that disappeared to my left over a small ridge with shrubs on top. Not realizing there was something on the other side (and being unsure of the etiquette of yelling), I did not yell “fore.” Unfortunately, there was a green right there, and I hit a player in the leg.
I apologized profusely (there, on the spot, and in the 19th hole afterward), but I still felt (feel?) like a complete dope.
Name withheld by request (and bag is still on his head)
Now that you have confessed you can forgive yourself. Learning can be a painful experience — in this case it was painful for someone else. – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
I started playing this game around 5 years ago at the behest of an American friend who was stranded in Grenoble, France. He should have been a teaching pro, but he chose another means of earning a living.
A couple of months after I started this game my American friend (let’s call him Shane to protect his reputation), invited me to play at one of the oldest and most respected courses in France – Aix les Bains. Unfortunately it was the day after my birthday and I was suffering from the party of the night before. After nine holes in the morning it was clear I was in trouble, so Shane suggested we break for lunch and start again at 3 in the afternoon.
We had a truly great French lunch – delicious food, excellent wine, and magnificent cognac. As we approached the first tee in the afternoon there were two gentlemen waiting for us. They were extremely polite and asked if we minded if they joined us for the afternoon. So polite they suggested I should be first up. My first attempted cleared the protective fencing to my right and placed my white ball all on its own somewhere in the middle of all the yellow practice balls a few yards down the practice ground. My second attempt hit the protective fencing and landed 50 yards to my left among the people on the putting practice green. My third attempt was severely topped and spun 2 yards forward into a small area of water just in front of the tee.
In total despair and shame (there were about 30 people watching these strange attempts to play golf) I turned to Shane and asked his advice. He was beyond speech due to hysterical laughter. One of the guys who joined us for the afternoon was staring into the distance down the fairway, and exclaimed “fine shot – I can see your ball – it cleared the bunker and should be in a great position for your next shot”. “Don’t ask” says Shane “follow the man”.
Everyone else got away well and we all walked down the first fairway. When I asked the guy with the great vision what he had in mind, he threw me a ball and said “just drop it down there somewhere and let’s enjoy the rest of the afternoon”.
Clearly this was not within the rules. But it does show what a fine sense of etiquette can be found on some French golf courses. I discovered a year later that the guy with great vision was the director of golf at Aix les Bains, and his guest was a famous French Olympic skiing champion.
Ah, yes, the “First Tee Blues.” We have all had ’em at one time or another. You were lucky to have a kind and creative gentleman along to provide a convenient out. Golf Etiquette can come in many forms. Like Blanche DuBois, we all “rely upon the kindness of strangers.” – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
I confess, I’ve golfed with a number of individuals and we’ve been known to sneak some of our own beverages onto the course.
Can I still get into Heaven?
You may get into heaven, but you might not get to play golf there. Ahh! But then is it really heaven? Well, perhaps if you have enough of your own beverages, it will seem like it! – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
Thank you for letting me clear my conscience. After leaving my FOURTH putt still out of the hole, I decided to “drive” the ball from where it sat into the nearby lake. It obviously was a bad ball and deserved it. However, I couldn’t even do that right, and made a nice divot one foot from the hole. Apologizing doesn’t repair a green divot, or a reputation, but I did grow up a little that day, and my partners knew it. It wont happen again. Thank you.
Growing up is hard to do and it is a process that takes a whole lifetime. In fact, some people never get there. It is good that you learned about yourself and were able to use that experience to your advantage. Thank you for sending your comments to the Golf Etiquette Confessional, where humility is always rewarded. By the way, Mr. Golf Etiquette has always been told that the fourth putt is the easiest, are you saying that is not so? – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
I was playing my first foursome and I was the least experienced player. I felt bad that my clubs were not as nice as the other players’ clubs were. In fact, my putter was not far from being a mini-golf putter and the rest of my clubs were hand-me-downs. I think it is important to have equipment that indicates your desire to do well in the game. Otherwise, you risk reducing the enjoyment and healthy sense of competition that others in your group might get from the much-anticipated outing. My skills and etiquette were also a problem. You could tell that I just had not spent enough time playing and practicing, nor had I studied the rules of etiquette. We have another game schedule in two months. In that time, I will be upgrading some of my clubs and working every day on my skills. I will also be seeking out Websites like this one to discuss golf, golf etiquette and even confess my indiscretions.
Dan from Atlanta
Well Dan, there is no sin in having crummy equipment. We all start some place. Mr. Golf Etiquette was afraid you were going to conclude by saying that in order to improve your lot in life you stole HIS equipment while he was in the pro shop. As long as you don’t resort to nefarious means to improve your clubs or your game, your golf etiquette will probably be fine. – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
This is not so much a breach of golf etiquette as it is a breach of the actual rules of golf. As a somewhat inexperienced golfer, I find that I have a much better ball flight and higher trajectory when I hit the ball off of the tee as opposed to hitting off the fairway. So I have to confess that as I am preparing to take my second (or third or fourth) shot on each hole, I step up behind the ball on the pretense of needing to identify it, and surreptitiously use my foot to push down the ground directly behind it. This has the effect of putting the ball up on a “tee,” as it were, and allows me to hit a better shot. I had a feeling that this was not allowed, and my suspicions were confirmed when I checked the rules – Play the ball as it lies (13-1) and Do not press anything down (13-2). I also have to confess to using the “foot wedge” on numerous occasions when I am stuck behind a tree, and playing by “winter rules” all year long to improve my lie. Thank you for letting me get this off my chest.
Lady Golfer in PA
Mr. Golf Etiquette admires your courage in coming forward regarding your “depressing” practice (get it? you were pressing down the grass — this is a little golf etiquette humor). Anyway, it is your courage and resolve to change that absolves you of this infraction. Go forth and sin no more. – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette
I am guilty of several violations. When I get angry I yell and cuss. When I get really angry I have thrown my clubs. I talk when other people are hitting. I am so concerned about my own game that I don’t watch other people’s tee shots or approach shots. I am ashamed of myself.
Hey! Mr. Golf Etiquette thinks he played golf with you once. It was no fun. But it reminds Mr. Golf Etiquette that he has done the same on occasion. Who can claim otherwise? (Good thing Mother Teresa was not a golfer!) Let us all resolve to do better. – Jim Corbett, Mr. Golf Etiquette