Seven Unwritten Rules of Golf

If you think golfers are sticklers for the rule book, you should try learning the unofficial rule book. It makes the Royal & Ancient's Rules of Golf read more like a list of suggestions than golf's governing guide. That's because it doesn't take much to upset your playing partners and fellow guests, that is, unless you understand that there are certain ground rules of golf etiquette that you need to know and follow to a tee. Here are seven unwritten rules to use during your Myrtle Beach golf getaway, or any course, for that matter:

Ssshhh! Can't you tell that you are surrounded by other people who are trying to focus on their rounds? Use your indoor voice outdoors when possible, and put the cell phone on silent until after you are off the course. It's also your timing as much as your volume. Avoid talking while others are lining up putts or concentrating on their swings. Unless there's a gator or snake sneaking up behind them, whatever you have to say can wait.

You've stared at your impending putt from every possible angle, taken seven practice swings and waited for the wind to subside. Now hit the darn ball already! Pace of play is a key component to ensuring that you and others around you enjoy their experience. Slow play can back up foursomes all over the course and earn you some Bronx cheers from those sharing the course with you. Ready golf is the way to play and keep everyone happy.

Unless you are training for the Olympics in the golf club throwing event, don't toss your innocent tools in anger. Just because you sliced one in the drink doesn't mean you should wrap your poor 5-iron around a pine tree. It's not the club's fault, and abusing it is only going to cost you more money than you lost because of the previous shot. Even more, it makes you look like a bad sport, sore loser and a spoiled brat all in one.

Honesty is not only the best policy; it's the only way to play real golf. Utilizing the foot wedge to escape the path of a tree or losing count of your strokes when you can quote all the stats of your fantasy football team aren't just dishonest; it's cheating. So is overinflating your handicap so you can sandbag someone out of a couple of bucks. No matter how you slice (or hook) it, cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.

Aretha Franklin sang about it, and golfers should adhere to it. We're talking about R-E-S-P-E-C-T, of course, and yes, we have to spell it out for those golfers who curse out loud, disturb people around them and generally act like the world and course revolves around them. Remember, golf is a gentleman's (and gentlewoman's) game. If you want to be rude and obnoxious, take up pro wrestling. That's the only place people like bad guys.

Golfers can learn one simple rule followed by lovers of the great outdoors: Leave it like you found it. If you dig up a divot the size of a manhole, cover it. If you trample through the bunker like a kid in a sand box, rake it. If you leave a ball mark on the green, fix it. It’s all part of the common courtesy golfers follow to ensure others have as much fun as they do. Let your good play and better sportsmanship be your only lasting impression on the golf course.

All gimmes are not created equal. One player’s critical putt is another player’s pick up. So what’s the rule book say about gimmes? It doesn’t, so technically every player has to hole out to record an accurate score, except in match play. Yet gimmes are common on the course for pace of play reasons. The general unwritten rule is anything inside 3 feet is a pick up, but good golf etiquette is to let your opponent or playing partner to decide.

Of course, now that we have officially written down these unofficial rules, they are technically no longer unwritten. Follow them like you do the real rules and you are sure to have an enjoyable round of golf.


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