• Alistair Tait

Time for Golf Course Lessons?

The above photo, which appeared in a tweet from Accrington Golf Club, makes for uncomfortable viewing, especially for Accrington greenkeepers, and greenkeepers around the British Isles.

You can almost feel the fists clenching

Anyone who’s played golf for any number of years knows the above is a no-no. Yet it probably happens on every course, every day of the year. Many times the culprits are people who should know better.

I responded by tweeting:

A friend, a former club captain at his club, said he’d recently had to remind a playing companion not to do the above. Said member didn’t take too kindly to being told off, even though he’s one of the first to complain whenever the golf course isn't in pristine condition.

I stood on the second tee of Woburn’s Marquess Course recently and watched as someone drove a golf cart between the left greenside bunker and edge of the green. I was dumbfounded.

It can be hard to get involved in situations like the above. It can lead to unwanted confrontation, the last thing you need when you’ve still got 17 holes to play. In the above incident, I started to walk towards the 17th green and spread my arms out as if to say "what the you know what?" That’s when another member of the fourball jumped into the cart, held up his arm as if to say, “I understand,” and drove the cart to a more sensible location. Fair enough, but I wondered how many times the buggy driver had driven close to other greens on the course.

Former Global Golf Post colleague Scott Michaux responded to my tweet with:

I covered the 2007 Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham and stood aghast as eventual runner up Tim Stewart pulled his trolley across one of the greens in an early round. I had a quiet word with the Australian. Stewart was mortified, but said it was common practice at courses back in his homeland. Fine if you live in a climate where the ground is rock hard most of the year, but here in the UK…. Er, especially at this time of year?

As I said, those who’ve played this game for any length of time shouldn’t have to be told where they can and can't take pull carts, just as many shouldn’t have to be told to replace divots, rake bunkers properly, repair pitch marks, not to stand on the green marking a card when there's a group waiting on the tee, leave bags/pull carts close to the next tee and not on the other side of the green, stuff that’s ingrained in us when we first start out.

The Rules of Golf couldn't be any more explicit about consideration for the playing surface. Rule 1.2, Standards of Player Conduct, states:

"All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by:
Taking good care of the course – for example, by replacing divots, smoothing bunkers, repairing ball marks, and not causing unnecessary damage to the course."

Maybe it’s time to reinforce the above lessons considering the amount of new people currently taking up the game, or those returning to it. Covid-19’s silver lining is a boost in golf participation. That’s why I perhaps was too hasty with my “It shouldn’t even need to be said…” tweet. Perhaps my arms out wide gesture to the group on the Marquess 17th was an overreaction. There’s a chance the guy driving the buggy between the bunker and the green didn’t know any better because he was new to the game.

As one golf club administrator pointed out to me recently, a lot of new people coming into golf arguably don’t know the niceties of the game. All the more reason a few golf lessons are perhaps required, and not those concerned with grip, aim, stance and posture.

Mind you, many experienced golfers could always do with a few golf lessons too, gentle reminders on what is and isn’t acceptable. Greenkeepers throughout the world will say amen to that, especially those who tend Accrington Golf Club.

#JustSaying: “A golf course is the epitome of all that is purely transitory in the universe, a space not to dwell in, but to get over as quickly as possible.” Jean Giraudo

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