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The Spirit of the Game
Unlike many sports, golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.
Players should ensure no one is standing close by or in a position to be hit by the club, the ball or any stones, pebbles, twigs or the like when they make a stroke or practice swing. Players should not play until the players in front are out of range. Players should always alert green staff nearby or ahead when they are about to make a stroke that might endanger them. If a player plays a ball in a direction where there is a danger of hitting someone, he should immediately shout a warning. The traditional word of warning in such a situation is “fore.”
Consideration for Other Players
No Disturbance or Distraction Players should always show consideration for other players on the course and should not disturb their play by moving, talking or making any unnecessary noise. Players should ensure any electronic device taken onto the course do not distract other players. On the teeing ground, a player should not tee his ball until it is his turn to play. Players should not stand close to or directly behind the ball, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to play.
On the Putting Green On the putting green, players should not stand on another player’s line of putt or when he is making a stroke, cast a shadow over his line of putt. Players should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out.
Scoring In stroke play, a player who is acting as a marker should, if necessary, on the way to the next tee, check the score with the player concerned and record it.
Pace of Play
Play at Good Pace and Keep Up Players should play at a good pace. The Committee may establish pace of play guidelines that all players should follow. It is a group’s responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If it loses a clear hole and it is delaying the group behind, it should invite the group behind to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group.
Be Ready to Play Players should be ready to play as soon as it is their turn to play. When playing on or near the putting green, they should leave their bags or carts in such a position as will enable quick movement off the green and towards the next tee. When the play of a hole has been completed, players should immediately leave the putting green. Lost Ball If a player believes his ball may be lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, to save time, he should play a provisional ball. Players searching for a ball should signal the players in the group behind them to play through as soon as it becomes apparent that the ball will not easily be found. They should not search for five minutes before doing so. Having allowed the group behind to play through, they should not continue play until that group has passed and is out of range.
Priority on the Course Unless otherwise determined by the Committee, priority on the course is determined by a group’s pace of play. Any group playing a whole round is entitled to pass a group playing a shorter round. View Priority on the Course Animation.
Care of the Course
Bunkers Before leaving a bunker, players should carefully fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints made by them and any nearby made by others. If a rake is within reasonable proximity of the bunker, the rake should be used for this purpose. View Bunker Etiquette Animation Repair of Divots, Ball-Marks and Damage by Shoes Players should carefully repair any divot holes made by them and any damage to the putting green made by the impact of a ball (whether or not made by the player himself). On completion of the hole by all players in the group, damage to the putting green caused by golf shoes should be repaired.
Preventing Unnecessary Damage Players should avoid causing damage to the course by removing divots when taking practice swings or by hitting the head of a club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason. Players should ensure that no damage is done to the putting green when putting down bags or the flag stick. In order to avoid damaging the hole, players and caddies should not stand too close to the hole and should take care during the handling of the flag stick and the removal of a ball from the hole. The head of a club should not be used to remove a ball from the hole. Players should not lean on their clubs when on the putting green, particularly when removing the ball from the hole. The flag stick should be properly replaced in the hole before players leave the putting green. Local notices regulating the movement of golf carts should be strictly observed.
Conclusion; Penalties for Breach
If players follow the guidelines in this Section, it will make the game more enjoyable for everyone. If a player consistently disregards these guidelines during a round or over a period of time to the detriment of others, it is recommended that the Committee consider taking appropriate disciplinary action against the offending player. Such action may, for example, include prohibiting play for a limited time on the course or in a certain number of competitions. This is considered to be justifiable in terms of protecting the interest of the majority of golfers who wish to play in accordance with these guidelines. In the case of a serious breach of Etiquette, the Committee may disqualify a player under Rule 33-7.
Improving Pace of Play
Pace of play has become a hot button issue facing the golf industry in Canada and abroad.
The fact is, golfers see and golfers do. The swing habits and on course routines we see each week on the professional tours are all too often mirrored at the recreational level. Count me among those who believe a few more slow play penalties assessed at the pro level would go a long way towards educating everyday golfers about the ready position.
But pace of play is not simply a Rules of Golf issue. It’s an entire industry issue rooted in the culture of golf. That culture is ultimately set by the golfing bodies, the clubs, the professionals, the superintendents and especially the golfers themselves.
So how do we promote change? It starts with educating golfers on simple ways to play faster: playing ready golf; continuous putting; moving quickly from greens to tees; and for a great many of us, playing from the skill-appropriate tees and distances for a most enjoyable golf experience.
It means encouraging alternative formats other than stroke play, such as match play, Stableford scoring, scrambles and alternate shot events that take less time yet still offer competitive elements to a round of golf. For Golf Canada members who track their Handicap Factor, following the guidelines of Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) goes a long way as well.
PGA of Canada members and club officials play a key front line role in educating golfers on how to play at a proper pace and select the most appropriate tees. The same is true for course starters and marshals as important golfer touch points. A friendly tip from an expert goes a long way.
Some courses encourage a good pace of play by promoting nine-hole rounds and nine-and-dines or offering incentives such as discounts in their pro shops or food and beverage facilities for rounds played under a set time. Other clubs may take a harder line approach with an expected time par strictly enforced and understood among the membership.
Not to be forgotten are the stewards of the playing field. Superintendents and greens staff need to ensure a course set-up that encourages a good pace by maintaining the rough at a reasonable height, manageable green speeds and fair hole locations. The same is true for properly marked and effectively spaced yardage markers or sprinkler heads.
The pace of play resource center that the USGA had made available is a good start for those interested in finding out more about little things every golfer or industry stakeholder can do to improve overall pace of play. You can find links to many of those pace of play resources below.
There’s no silver bullet to improve pace of play or golfer awareness. But there’s something to be said for making the turn in two hours or less that’s good value and a lesson worth learning for any golfer.