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Lack of etiquette has reached crisis levels – so what do we do?

Steve Carroll explains why it's time to have some respect and clean up on your etiquette. But you've already rolled your eyes, haven't you?
 

In what seems a final, desperate act to stop themselves going all Falling Down in the clubhouse with a strimmer, our greenkeeping team have had a brainwave to improve golf etiquette.

They’re going to turn Spielberg, producing a how-to video on the way to properly rake a bunker. The video will be projected onto the TV screens in our bar on what could be an endless loop.

I fear it’ll have to be more Peppa Pig than A Beautiful Mind if it’s going to have any chance of putting the required point across.

Because the only way you’re going to get through to players is to prise their eyelids open, A Clockwork Orange-style, and force painful drops into them until the thought of leaving footprints in a bunker, or raking the sand back to the face, makes them retch in discomfort.

Like some Brexiteer pining for the return of the Empire, I think I must have some rose-tinted specs on when viewing etiquette through the prism of history.

I often find myself sitting on the balcony yelling that I want to take my golf club back before getting into an almighty huff when faced with a litany of pitchmarks on a green.

I know you’re allowed to repair damage on the putting surface these days but I had one at the weekend that looked like a meteor had hit. Several species lay extinct around the crater.

golf etiquette

It couldn’t have been fixed with a JCB, never mind a humble pitchfork, and as I was pretending I was going along nicely on the back 9 – I had a rare putt for par – this threw me into a brief, but childlike, hissy fit.

Peppa would have been proud.

Treat the course like you would your own home is a refrain I’ve often heard down the years. If that’s truly the case then I dread to think of the utter state some people’s houses are in.

It’s pretty rare now to step into a bunker and not dodge the footprints of a dozen who’ve been in before you and lazily not swept up after themselves, while if I spent the time I’d like repairing pitchmarks I’d run out of daylight.

I once watched someone chuck a paper wrapper onto a street, no more than half a dozen feet from a bin, and when they were challenged they scoffed: “We pay street cleaners to pick that up.”

We’re no better at our clubs, expecting the greenkeeping team to scurry in behind us with a metaphorical broom and clear up after our mess.

Yet – and I know this is true because I field some of the complaints – we’re also the first to pick up a placard and start marching when the green that currently looks like the surface of the moon isn’t table-top smooth when club championship comes around.

Greenkeepers, members, visiting golfers – ask all of them and they are united that general standards have declined. It’s so easy to sort, though, isn’t it?

I’d exhort you to have some respect, some decency, some good manners, and just indulge in some etiquette.

But what’s the point? I suspect that, just like the feature film that will soon be scrolling round our screens will do to our members, your eyes are already glazing over.

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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