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golfer locker room

What’s the problem with changing your shoes in the car park?

A cunning way to get you into the clubhouse, or one of golf’s stupider customs? Steve Carroll gets ready to stick the boot in

 

I was thinking about opening my wallet – the moths needed releasing – while perusing the ‘visitor’ rules at a prospective golf club.

I’ve got a weird fascination with some of these pages. They simultaneously manage to make me chuckle and choke at the same time.

At this establishment, there was a request to use the clubhouse rather than the car park in which to change into your gear and the exhortation caught me a little off guard.

I’d honesty thought this wasn’t a thing anymore, particularly since the clubhouse temporarily became out of bounds during the Covid pandemic.

I resolved to delve deeper and found there were others of the same mind – and they expressed it more forcefully too.

Now that I’ve spent some time – probably far too much – looking over this issue and reading what golfers think, several defences emerged to justify the act.

Let’s look at some and put them in their place. I change my shoes in the car park all the time. Tell me: what’s the problem?

Why shouldn’t we change our shoes in the car park?

We want you to come into the clubhouse

Is this part of your cunning plan to get me to buy a post-round drink? It’s not a difficult puzzle to solve, though, is it? If I fancy a drink after a round, it’s because I fancy a drink after that round.

I’m not such a slave to alcohol that the mere sight of a beer pump has a Pied Piper effect on me and compels me to order a pint of mild.

Atmosphere’s an under-rated factor too. Is the clubhouse lively or is it so dead an undertaker’s got a permanent office on the premises?

Either way, a compulsion to remove one set of shoes for another within those walls isn’t going to make me any more likely to hang around.

It’s more comfortable in the golf locker room

Have you been in some visitors’ areas recently? They’d give me nightmares if I was claustrophobic.

Think about some of the away dressing rooms you’ve seen at football grounds. Pretty dingy, right? Now compress that into the size of a shoe box – barely big enough to hold the pair you’re looking to store – and you’ll get the drift.

If that’s what you call a comfortable welcome, you can forget it.

I’ve been in a tiny visitors’ locker room where the club stored all the crap for which they couldn’t otherwise find space.

Old paintings, delivery pallets, they were piled high. Yet, I’m the one being chastised for poor etiquette for saying: ‘I don’t really fancy that, I’ll just slip my Eccos on out here, thanks very much’.

You’re at risk of losing your property too. I don’t necessarily mean from thieves – though some might see a golf locker room as an easy target.

I’m so absent minded, I’ve left pairs of shoes at clubs as I’ve changed in the locker room, gone upstairs for a pint, and then headed to the car without remembering to dive back in and retrieve them.

When you change your shoes right by your boot, nothing’s getting left behind.

You’ll leave a mess in the car park

I’m not sure how this trumps people leaving the same mess in a locker room, but here’s a thought: just use the air gun first as you’re leaving the course?

Is it just shoes that make a mess? Don’t trolleys carry more muck around? Should we ‘change’ them in the clubhouse too?

Look, I’ve no more desire to half fill my motor with left-over grass clippings than leave them littering the car park. Tidy up after yourself as you come off the course and there’s no problem.

We’ve got to protect standards

That old chestnut. The car park is for parking, they say. It’s not conduct becoming of our establishment. Get over yourselves, I say.

It’s a car park, not Harrods. And if your course is any guide, you appear much more tolerant of unraked bunkers and unrepaired pitch marks. Priorities, people. Priorities.

What do you think of this golf club etiquette? Does it matter where you slip on your golf shoes, or should Steve be locked in a golf locker room never to be let out? Let him know by leaving a comment on X.

stroke-and-distance

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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