Knowing your etiquette can at times feel more important than actually being able to play golf to a decent standard.
Golf is known as the gentleman’s game and falling foul of one of the many rules of the course can lead to unhappy playing partners and a bad reputation.
We have all been guilty of breaching one of the rules – some more than others – and repeat offenders are a popular talking point in the 19th hole.
Here are five of the most annoying bad habits on the golf course.
5. Looking for a ball for more than five minutes
Everyone dreads that moment when you hook your tee shot into the long rough on the right and everyone else ends up on the fairway to the left.
Kindly the rest of the group offers to help look for your ball, although your perception of how far you hit the ball doesn’t quite live up to the rest in the group.
Five minutes is a respectable time to miserably trail through the rough looking for a surprisingly expensive small white ball, but anything beyond that is taking things too far.
Move on (there is plenty of time to dwell on it again and again after the round) and reluctantly rifle through your bag for your sixth ball of the round.
4. Going ahead of play
Nothing makes me tense up more when playing golf than seeing one of my playing partners moving ahead of me when I am about to take a shot.
As an erratic high handicapper I often feel at times that I have no control over where my ball is heading.
It is understandable that players want to get to their ball quickly – often they have mis-hit the ball and want to find it before they lose sight of where they think it landed.
However, it would be their own fault if they were hit but that still doesn’t make it an easier for the already nervous newbie.
3. The rules of the green
Putting is a delicate art and messing with someone’s putt, especially if it is a vital one, is a no-go area.
Standing behind someone as they line up their shot can be distracting and often leads to disapproving looks and a quick word from the player you have offended.
Another thing to watch out for on the green is the putting line of your fellow players.
Nothing sours a friendly game more than trampling on some poor bloke’s line as his eyes up a birdie putt – well, unless he did it to you earlier.
And once you have all sunk your putts it’s time to move to the next hole and let the players behind you get on with their game. Except for that one player who has left his bag on the wrong side of the green or urgently needs to mark his card.
Get on a move on, lad!
2. Too many practice swings
Just get on with it already!
OK, I probably shouldn’t poke fun of people who take too long before hitting a shot, which then ends up in the drink 10 yards away, as I have been guilty in the past of an over-elaborate practice routine.
However, it does start to grind when a player takes about five practice swings before every single shot.
You can either choose to have a quiet word with the Grampa Simpson of golf or pray that bad light eventually brings an end to a tedious round.
1. Not repairing pitch marks
This is an irritant that seems to annoy golfers the most. Little divots on what should be a smooth putting surface ruining a putt by knocking it off line.
Perhaps more education is needed for golfers on how to repair pitch marks properly or is it just plain laziness?
If I missed a rare birdie putt because of an untreated pitch mark, my golfing etiquette would go out the window as my cry from the green reverberated round the entire course.