Etiquette is easy if you just put some thought into it

You just chipped your ball onto the green. It wasn’t a great chip. Your ball is still 30 feet from the hole – far enough away that you don’t even need to mark it while another player in your foursome chips.

But you’re steamed, so you just start walking … right in the line of sight of that other player as they try to do better.

Don’t be that golfer!

You’re riding a cart, which means you always want to have the right club in your hand when you walk to your ball. But you’re lousy at making decisions.

So you walk to your ball to calculate the exact distance to the green, then walk back to the cart for a club, walk back to your ball, change your mind and go to the cart again for another club, and then stand over the ball for a minute, thinking some more.

Don’t be that golfer!

Or how about this: You come across a ball in your fairway that doesn’t belong to anyone else in your group. Must be a lost ball, you figure. So without looking to see whether anyone is playing a nearby hole, you pick it up and put it in your pocket.

Don’t be that golfer!

Yes, competence in our great game goes far beyond getting the ball in the hole. You should do more than just think about your next shot. You always should be thinking about other golfers.

The first example points to simple etiquette. Noise or movement doesn’t bother some players, but most golfers would prefer silence and stillness when they hit. Like it or not, that’s just the way it is.

Whenever I get paired with someone I don’t know, that’s one of the first things I’m checking out. Do they show common courtesy, especially around the green?

It doesn’t take much to avoid any hard feelings. Just have your head on a swivel and be proactive – think ahead to whether you should mark your ball and who will play next. Be mindful of their needs.

The second example is all about time management. Ever had to wait behind someone who lollygagged constantly? Not much fun, right? You stand on the tee and watch them go back and forth while the hole in front of them is vacant. They’re playing slow. Worse, they’re not playing smart.

Again, the solution is simple. If you’re on a cart, figure out a range of clubs you might use – usually three – and take them with you to your ball.

And once you pick a club and line up the shot, HIT THE BALL! No one waiting behind you wants to watch you take seven practice swings. More to the point, you don’t need seven practice swings. One will do. Two, tops.

Finally, etiquette also means being aware of your surroundings. There’s nothing worse than hitting a bad shot into the next fairway and then not finding it. You knew exactly where it was. That other group had to walk right past it. One of them must have picked it up. But now they’re too far away to question.

Whenever I hear someone brag about how many golf balls they find on the course, my first thought is, “I wonder how many of them were still in play.” Sure, you’re going to legitimately find some lost balls out there. But if the ball is sitting there out in the open, you soon might see someone walking or riding in its direction.

There are plenty of other types of annoying personalities, of course.

There’s the Rule Reviewer, the know-it-all who’s ready to cite the USGA on every hole.

There’s the Club Curser, the hothead who thinks every shot should be perfect and is far more adept at hurling a sand wedge than using it.

The flip side, so to speak, of the Club Curser is the Chatty Chopper, who wants to tell you – in great detail – what they were thinking after every bad shot.

Don’t be that golfer. Be someone everyone wants in their foursome. All it takes is a little thoughtfulness about more than your score.

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