Golf etiquette debate: Are we guilty of being oversensitive?


We’ve all witnessed a golfer lose their rag when someone nearby dares to open their mouth. But is it necessary? Steve Carroll and Alex Perry discuss

It was player over putt and the stillness of a summer evening – interrupted by the noisy chat of the group walking to a nearby tee.

The guy with a five-footer for par stood up and peered across the gap from green to the threeball still obliviously carrying on their conversation.

They kept going, despite a hush and a wave, and the player initially put off eventually went grumblingly back to business and holed the putt.

But it got me to thinking, how should this have been handled? Was the golfer putting being over-sensitive, or should the group on the tee have been more considerate?

I’ve teamed up with my colleague Alex Perry to discuss the prickly golf etiquette subject of chatting on the course.

‘There’s nothing worse than the angry stare if you’re the source of a cacophony’

I’m not someone who’s often lost for words but there’s a time and a place, writes Steve Carroll. Noise on the course doesn’t bother me too much – I’ve always been able to block out the chat when I get over a shot – but I’m aware not everyone has my zen-like levels of concentration.

So if I’m on a tee with a group, and there’s a set of players on a nearby green, I’ll keep my trap shut and wait until they’ve finished, or there’s a gap in play, to hit my shot or carry on with some idle chatter.

I don’t think there’s anything special about this, it’s just good etiquette. I appreciate no one’s trying to be a distraction but sound carries and it never hurts to be observant about who’s around you on the course.

Golf’s a social game at heart but there’s nothing worse than the angry stare, or the wide-open arms, you get if you’re the source of a cacophony that’s inadvertently blaring across a fairway.

If you err on the cautious side when it comes to what leaves your gob, you can never go wrong.

‘It’s not practical to expect everyone else on the golf course to be silent’

If a couple players who aren’t even within a few dozen yards of you chattering away puts you off your stroke then you must spend your entire round foaming at the mouth, writes Alex Perry.

Of course there is a level of etiquette in these situations. I’d understand the frustration if, for example, it was this chap’s playing partners who wouldn’t shut up – but another group on another hole altogether? Do me a favour.

I wasn’t there, but I’m sure they weren’t doing it on purpose. Are we all just expected to stay silent for four hours in fear of upsetting someone we haven’t even noticed?

And before you all start angrily thumbing into your phones, if I was in the offending group and felt etiquette was being breached, of course I would stop talking and urge my playing partners to do the same. It’s not just not practical to expect everyone else on the golf course to be silent while you stand over a slippy downhiller.

It will happen. Just be happy you’re out on the golf course.

Where do you stand on this golf etiquette debate?

Suffer in silence or let the laughter run free? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us.

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