Starting out as a beginner golfer can be terrifying. When you’re new on the links you’ll be a walking etiquette disaster breaking every single unwritten rule going. By playing with more experienced golfers you’ll quickly realise what’s just not cool, and that an etiquette faux pas can lead to a far more explosive reaction than breaking the written rules of the game.
Those of us who have been playing for years know only too well the buzz kill that can come from getting stuck with a partner who's more annoying than a mosquito bite. So, how do you make sure you're not 'that' guy?
Well, to stop you from losing friends on the golf course, we give you the lowdown below on some seriously annoying habits to steer well clear of.
Talking too much
It's always nice to shoot the breeze with your playing partners, after all, friendly conversation is part and parcel of a day on the links. Just try not to talk about yourself too much - nobody wants a never-ending monologue about your life.
It's also poor form to ask your playing partners 101 questions about their own lives. That’s beyond exhausting. Just relax, enjoy the round and let the conversation flow naturally.
As your round progresses, no one wants to hear you dissect every single golf swing and where it went wrong. And for the love of golf, whatever you do, don't talk during another golfer's swing. It’s hands down the fastest way to lose friends on the golf course.
Playing too slowly
To help maintain the pace of play, don’t just stand there like a statue while your buddies are playing their shot. Get ready for your own shot by choosing the right club and scoping out the scene ahead. Not only will this keep things moving, but it also helps you focus more on your target when it's your turn to hit.
Keep your pre-shot routine short and sweet. Follow your own process, take a couple of practice swings and get ready to hit. If you're well known for being a golf snail don't be surprised if your circle of playing partners starts to dwindle.
Losing your temper
Golf is a bamboozling game at times, but becoming Mr Angry on the golf course will only wreck your scorecard further and endear you to absolutely no one. Throwing clubs, cussing after every shot and god-awful temper tantrums are all a sure-fire way to alienate yourself from your playing partners.
Everyone is out there for a fun round away from the stresses of everyday life. During those four hours at the weekend, golf is all that matters. Don't kill your group's vibe by cursing every shot and moaning about how you 'never play this badly'.
Giving unsolicited swing tips
You might see one of your buddies struggling with their game and feel they could be better enjoying their round if they make one simple tweak. Before you go ahead and give them the benefit of your experience, we have a straightforward suggestion... don't. Unless they ask for your advice, it's best to keep it to yourself.
Even if they do ask, remember that we're not golf pros. That "simple tip" you offer up could end up being a total swing-and-a-miss. So, just take a step back, enjoy the round, and leave the coaching to the experts (or at least someone who's not as likely to make things worse).
Not shouting 'FORE'
Golfers take a verbal battering for this in the professional game, and rightly so. A golf ball can do serious damage if it hits a fellow golfer, and regardless of whether it does cause injury, if you haven't yelled 'FORE', you can expect some serious beef to develop - and you’ll have little defence.
In reality, it's an unsavoury encounter that you can easily avoid. Just scream 'FORE!' at the top of your lungs if your ball is heading towards anyone else. Even if you're not sure, just do it anyway. It's free of charge and might just save you from a whole heap of drama later.
Hitting up on other groups
If there's a group up ahead and they're reachable with your best strike, give them some space to do their thing before you take your shot. Hitting up at them is not cool - however much you might want to.
Now, if you've been stuck behind a group of creepers for a few holes, don't be afraid to speak up and ask to play through. You shouldn't be penalised for being a good golfer, and it’s only natural that you'll want to maintain your group’s momentum and your own rhythm. If they still don't budge, don't worry - a little chat on the next tee should do the trick.
Always remember to keep your cool. We don’t want any Happy Gilmore / Bob Barker reenactments!
Standing in the wrong place
On the tee, it can be off-putting when a playing partner is standing out of sight or in your peripheral vision. Don’t stand directly behind. Don't stand 45 degrees off the golfer’s back shoulder. Both will get you just as much of a tongue lashing. If you position yourself well back and in line with you playing partner's chest - in a spot where they can easily see you - they will know you're well outside their swing path.
Now, when it comes to putting, you need to be even more careful. Keep an eye on where you're standing, especially when the sun is low. In the early mornings and late afternoons, when the sun is lowest in the sky, you cast long shadows that can stray into your playing partner's line while they're trying to sink a putt. If they miss, it was your fault (even if it wasn’t).
Not helping partners look for their ball
So, you nailed your ball like a pro and it landed smack bang in the centre of the fairway. Congratulations are clearly in order. But hey, what about your buddy who just can't seem to keep their ball on the straight and narrow? He’s in the proverbial again, right?
These days a golf ball hunt is limited to three minutes and if you're the one who finds that sucker buried in deep rough, you'll be the hero of the hour! As well as showing good etiquette, when your own ball inevitably goes rogue and ends up in some crazy jungle-like spot, you'll have a buddy who's ready, willing and super motivated to return the favour.
Stepping on someone's line
Pretty obvious this one. Even if you've only been playing for a while, you'll know that stepping on a playing partner's line on the green is like wearing socks with sandals - it's a big no-no.
You should avoid stepping anywhere on the likely line between each ball marker and the hole. Whether stepping on that line makes a visible indentation isn't really the point. It's still possible that your footprint will have altered the ball's path to the hole.
It's one of the cardinal sins in golf but, more than that, it’s just a matter of basic golf etiquette and respect.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at our recent list of golf equipment mistakes everyone can fix. You can read it here.