PLAYER CONDUCT AND SPIRIT OF THE GAME
It is one of the central principles of the game of golf that players play by the Rules and in the spirit of the game. Rule 1.2 is an important Rule in the Rules of Golf as it details the conduct that is expected of all players and what is meant by spirit of the game.
Rule 1.2 reads as follows:
“All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by:
- Acting with integrity – for example, by following the Rules, applying all penalties, and being honest in all aspects of play.
- Showing consideration to others – for example, by playing at a prompt pace, looking out for the safety of others, and not distracting the play of another player.
- Taking good care of the course– for example, by replacing divots, smoothing bunkers, repairing ball-marks, and not causing unnecessary damage to the course.
PACE OF PLAY
Over the past few years (and particularly for 2019) there have been changes made to R&A Rules regarding Etiquette on the Golf Course. The recent 2019 changes has involved some significant changes with the intent on reducing slow play on the course. Some of these are already have a positive impact on the speed of play, including
- Play Ready Golf
- Putting with the Flagstick in
- Time allowed searching for a lost ball (reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes)
However, as we will all be aware, from time to time, we still find ourselves in a situation where groups lose their position on the course. This may be due to any number of factors from a single individual in the group being slow or from time taken to find balls that are proving difficult to find.
How long should a round take – there is no simple answer to this as it depends on factors such as
- Size of group – a 1/2/3 ball will play quicker than a 4 ball etc
- Ability in the groups – higher handicappers will generally take longer than lower handicappers (unless you watch the professionals who appear to be a law unto themselves)
- Weather conditions. Wind / Rain can slow down the pace of play
How can we therefore either avoid slow play, or if we find ourselves in a situation where we are slow how can we mitigate the impact on other groups following behind us?
1. PLAY READY GOLF
Ready Golf has been incorporated into the 2019 R&A Rules book and can take many forms including
- Hitting a shot when safe to do so if a player farther away faces a challenging shot and is taking time to assess their options
- Shorter hitters playing first from the tee or fairway if longer hitters have to wait
- Hitting a tee shot if the person with the honour is delayed in being ready to play
- Hitting a shot before helping someone to look for a lost ball
- Hitting a shot if a person who has just played from a greenside bunker is still farthest from the hole but is delayed due to raking the bunker
- When a player’s ball has gone over the back of a green, any player closer to the hole but chipping from the front of the green should play while the other player is having to walk to their ball and assess their shot
- Leave your bag where you intend to leave the green rather than where you get on to it. You may need to mark your ball to allow others to play whilst you do this.
- Study your next shot while others are preparing for theirs, both on and off the green
- Consider putting out a short putt even if it means standing close to someone else’s line
- If you can’t score, quit putting and pick up
- Marking scores upon immediate arrival at the next tee, except that the first player to tee off marks their card immediately after teeing off
2. PLAY PROVISIONAL BALL
If a player considers there may be a chance that their ball is either lost or out of bounds, play a provisional ball at all times.
This is especially true following the change this year that allows only 3 minutes of searching time (down from the previous 5 minutes)
Playing the provisional ball reduces the time it would take to walk back to the tee, play another ball and then walk on to catch up your playing partners
3. ALLOW GROUP BEHIND TO PLAY THROUGH
Be aware of your position on the course and how you are potentially impacting on other groups following you.
The basic advice in this regard is that if a group keeps up with the group in front, you will rarely be accused of slow play. Players should always be looking forward to ensure that they are maintaining a good position in relation to the group in front, for example, making sure that they do not have an empty par 4 hole in between them. If ground has been lost on the group in front, then all of the players in the group should take responsibility for making up that ground as quickly as possible. It is inevitable that there will be holes that take longer to play than would normally be the case, either due to bad play or some other delay, but the key is for the all the players in that group to ensure that the group gets back into position promptly
If a group cannot keep its position on the course for whatever reason, and is delaying the group behind, then it should invite the group behind to play through so that group can play at the pace it is capable of. Inviting a group behind to play through means that it will take longer for the group doing the calling through to complete the round.
This is due to having to wait for the “playing through” group to get out of range before continuing play. However, while the round time may be slightly increased, it is likely that the “inviting“ group will enjoy its game more without being constantly pressurised by the group behind, and the group that has been allowed to play through will have had their enjoyment enhanced.
It is possible to mitigate this to an extent by playing the remainder of the hole being “played through” at the same time as the group being played through, then to let the group played through to put out first and progress to the next tee whilst you put out. This will also minimise the impact on any other groups following behind if you have waited on the fairway to play to the green.
NOTE – there is evidence that some groups have not been letting single players through as they believe they “have no standing on the course”. This situation was eliminated from the Rules of Golf several years ago and single golfers have the same rights on the course as any other size group
CARE OF THE COURSE
The Golf Club employ Greens Staff to carry out essential daily and long term maintenance on the course. However, as members we can greatly assist the Greens Staff by observing and acting responsibly on the golf course.
As members of the club we expect to have the course in its best condition at all times. The Greens Staff have limited resources so if we can assist in a number of simple ways then it is to every ones benefit.
Some examples of how we can help include
- Make use of the boxes provided near the Tee that contains a seed mix to fill any divot holes created on the tees
- Replace any divots you create on the fairways – in addition make it a point to replace one other divot as well as your own
- Repair any pitch marks you make on the green – in addition make it a point to repair at least one other pitch mark on the green as well as your own
- When raking the bunker, leave the bunker in a better condition to how you found it
If we all take these extra little steps then the condition of the course will benefit for all.