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Meet the traffic police – golf's newest (and most irritating) phenomenon

Meet the traffic police – golf’s newest (and most irritating) phenomenon

Halt! There’s nowhere for you to go! There’s always someone directing us on the course, and it drives the Angry Club Golfer crazy
 

Be wary of anyone who thinks they wield a little power. The mere whiff of responsibility – no matter how trivial it is – can change them. They become devoid of reason. Sense disappears.

Club committees can sometimes harbour this type, the kind who will sprint across three fairways to upbraid you if the merest fraction of your shirt is poking out of your trousers. I can’t believe I’m typing that in 2022.

Your average member is far from always immune, either. I’ve never really understood why paying an annual fee somehow gives you a right to poke your nose in but stick a logo on a chest and it’s like trying to flush a blocked toilet. All sorts of crap starts coming out.

I’ve been asked to show my papers, the tag was basically luminous and flashing neon on the side of my bag but that’s not why they did it, and I’ve seen players nearly come to blows on more than one occasion over who was on whose fairway first.

Just recently, though, I’ve seen a new phenomenon arise – the traffic police. This is the club’s self-appointed pace of play spokesperson.

No one’s asked them to perform this role, least of all the group they’re in, but as soon it appears you’re closing in on their territory, they’re hanging back off the tee with a congestion update and to give you directions.

This involves using the following phrases:

– “It’s jammed up in front, there’s nowhere to go.”

– “That group in front keeps waiting for the green to clear, so it’s holding everyone up.”

– “I’d let you through if it were down to me, but we’d just be stuck behind you then, wouldn’t we?”

– “There’s [insert number of players] in this comp today, it’s just going to be four-and-a-half hours for everyone.”

Let’s leave aside that this whole to-do is caused by the post-pandemic phobia golfers now have of letting anyone swap places, but, really, who made you the on-course cop?

By engaging in this utterly pointless chit-chat and hand signalling, you’ve incredibly managed to hold me up even further.

That group in front is now off the green and I’ve got a trio behind me doing the double teapot while I’m trying to putt.

This isn’t Radio 2, and, remarkably, I have eyes. I’m quite capable of seeing what’s going on. I don’t need you giving me motorway updates.

I just need you to walk to your ball, hit your shot, and sod off. Then we might all swing round the course a bit more smoothly.

Have you been accosted by the pace of play traffic cop?

Or is this yet another case of the Angry Club Golfer’s self-persecution complex? You can tweet him here.

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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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