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what is the honour in golf

Does the ‘honour’ still exist?

Is it now just a free-for-all on the tee or is there still a place for the old ways? Our Rules of Golf expert has the answer

 

Isn’t there something quite romantic about getting the honour in golf? Through your golfing endeavour, your superior skill on any given hole, you are handed the ancient rites of hitting the first ball from the next tee. It is, indeed, an honour.

But in these times of pace of play, and trying to trim some time off the arduous examination of 18 holes, is the honour in golf still a thing? Does it really matter? I might be able to spring a couple of surprises here, so let’s get stuck in…

foursomes golf world record

What is the honour in golf?

I can hear you all yelling “READY GOLF!” at me and, yes, you are correct that, in stroke play, Rule 6.4b (2) says players are “both allowed and encouraged” to play out of turn if it’s done in a “safe and responsible” way.

But – there’s usually a but somewhere in the rules – there are some important distinctions to be made.

One of these will be obvious to you all. In match play, the honour is of primary importance and players are compelled to play according to it. You can cancel your opponent’s stroke if they sneak a shot in when it’s your turn.

It goes further, though, in stroke play. What if you get a player who has hit the lowest gross score on the previous hole and they don’t want to share the love? They want their time to shine.

Well, generally you should step aside and let them get on with it. Rule 6.4b (2) reveals that if it is their turn, they’re ready to go, and “indicate that he or she wants to play first”, you should wait until they’ve been.

What if you were trying to get ahead to gain an advantage? That’s also a no-no. “A player should not play out of turn to gain an advantage over other players.”

If two or more players make an agreement to that effect, each of them are going to be hit with the general penalty, or two shots in layman’s terms. 

Got a question for our expert?

Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf in 2019 and 2023, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.

What do you think about this rule about the honour in golf? Let me know by leaving a comment on X.

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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