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Are we guilty of being oversensitive when it comes to golf etiquette?

We've all witnessed a golfer lose their rag when someone nearby dares to open their mouth. But is it necessary? Steve Carroll and Alex Perry discuss
 

It was player over putt and the stillness of a summer evening – interrupted by the noisy chat of the group walking to a nearby tee.

The guy with a five-footer for par stood up and peered across the gap from the green to the threeball still obliviously carrying on their conversation.

They kept going, despite a hush and a wave, and the player initially put off eventually went grumblingly back to business and holed the putt.

But it got me to thinking, how should this have been handled? Was the golfer putting being over-sensitive, or should the group on the tee have been more considerate?

I’ve teamed up with my colleague Alex Perry to discuss the prickly golf etiquette subject of chatting on the course.

‘There’s nothing worse than the angry stare if you’re the source of a cacophony’

I’m not someone who’s often lost for words but there’s a time and a place, writes Steve Carroll. Noise on the course doesn’t bother me too much – I’ve always been able to block out the chat when I get over a shot – but I’m aware not everyone has my zen-like levels of concentration.

So if I’m on a tee with a group, and there’s a set of players on a nearby green, I’ll keep my trap shut and wait until they’ve finished, or there’s a gap in play, to hit my shot or carry on with some idle chatter.

I don’t think there’s anything special about this, it’s just good etiquette. I appreciate no one’s trying to be a distraction but sound carries and it never hurts to be observant about who’s around you on the course.

Golf’s a social game at heart but there’s nothing worse than the angry stare, or the wide-open arms, you get if you’re the source of a cacophony that’s inadvertently blaring across a fairway.

If you err on the cautious side when it comes to what leaves your gob, you can never go wrong.

‘It’s not practical to expect everyone else on the golf course to be silent’

If a couple players who aren’t even within a few dozen yards of you chattering away puts you off your stroke then you must spend your entire round foaming at the mouth, writes Alex Perry.

Of course there is a level of etiquette in these situations. I’d understand the frustration if, for example, it was this chap’s playing partners who wouldn’t shut up – but another group on another hole altogether? Do me a favour.

I wasn’t there, but I’m sure they weren’t doing it on purpose. Are we all just expected to stay silent for four hours in fear of upsetting someone we haven’t even noticed?

And before you all start angrily thumbing into your phones, if I was in the offending group and felt etiquette was being breached, of course I would stop talking and urge my playing partners to do the same. It’s just not practical to expect everyone else on the golf course to be silent while you stand over a slippy downhiller.

It will happen. Just be happy you’re out on the golf course.

Where do you stand on this golf etiquette debate?

Suffer in silence or let the laughter run free? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us.

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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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