Green Etiquette from a Novice Golfer

Green Etiquette

I’m a novice golfer. I decided to learn because, despite the cons (price, time commitment, questionable masculine-styled clothing requirements) the pros were awesome. Here’s my short list of pros:

Number #1 Females get a good bit of attention by just showing up.

Number #2 The whole “It’s a pretty day and I get to hang out in lovely landscaped areas that I don’t have to personally garden” is a real draw. It’s like you’re incredibly wealthy and can afford the most amazing backyard!

Number #3 It gives me a new conversational topic with colleagues – I can talk a little golf! Even though I’m a beginner, being semi-conversant in golf-speak is an asset. Bogey, birdy, Pings, pin-high… it’s a whole new vocabulary.

It’s also interesting how business deals and protocol dovetail on a golf course. And there are some inter-cultural issues in golf as well. (A few years ago, the LPGA considered suspending players who could not speak English well enough to be understood at pro-ams, in interviews, or in acceptance speeches at tournaments.)

Golf faux pas

Over the unseasonably warm Thanksgiving holiday I played with three patient partners. And I committed a new faux pas. The Green (the roundish place where the flag and hole are) has its own set of special protocols.

The first rule is to keep silent while a player is putting. It’s kind of like church on the green…even rowdy, tipsy guys get solemn and prayerful as the putter contemplates, gently swings, and watches the ball roll towards the holy cup.

Beyond that, I found out you can’t walk just any old where you want on the green. Not only are you not allowed to march across the line of a golfer’s putt (particularly with cleats on – something I have yet to buy) but your shadow must behave too!

Since we were playing late in the afternoon, all the shadows quickly took on elongated proportions. Whenever our foursome got on the green, our silhouettes looked like an El Greco sketch. My “rude move” was to inadvertently let the shadow I cast fall on the line between the putter and the hole! Fortunately, I noticed he was sort of shifting his weight, looking uncomfortable, and I backed away. What’s really nice though, is that he immediately said “Thank you” before he actually putted. Wow.

Perhaps these guys are just amazingly polite, because no one even mentioned the shadow rule until long after I had committed the blunder. Or perhaps they didn’t want to criticize me too much, because there are so many rules to golf, a few faux pas may just be par for the course.

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