The pace of play – covered in
the Rules under Etiquette.
It may not be improper here to mention certain points of
etiquette, which as it is of importance, should be observed by all who are
in the habit of attending matches of golf. It is understood that no
looker-on is entitled to make any observation whatsoever respecting the play
– to walk before the player – to remove impediments out of their way – or,
in short, to interfere in the most distant manner with the game while
playing. The player is at liberty, at all times, to ask advice from his
partner or caddie, but from no other person.....Perth Golf Club, 1825.
This extract from the archives of one of Scotland’s
oldest clubs may be the first-ever golfing reference to the term
It was written at a time when national bodies didn’t
exist. Golf clubs could and did devise their own rules. In 1839 the
Honourable Company (Muirfield for us plebeians) added the following to its
code of conduct: All spectators at golf matches are requested to be
silent, and to stand still, while the parties are striking, or about to
One wonders what would befall golf’s modern-day moron –
the “in the hole” screamers – should they ever find themselves transported
back to a place and time where etiquette meant something. Golf clubs didn’t
use security guards back then; they didn’t have to. Any transgressions were
dealt with by those in attendance; immediately.
While the Honourable Company did not use the term
etiquette, it is clearly implied within their code of behaviour. Golf
clubs kept these passages outside the main body of Rules, but over time, the
term was to have its own section within the Rules of Golf.
Page 18 of the R&A’s current edition on the Rules is
headed: Section 1 – Etiquette; Behaviour on the Course, and includes
guidelines on the spirit of the game, safety, disturbances and distractions,
scoring, pace of play, readiness to play and care of the course. The section
finishes with Penalties for Breach, which includes disqualification.
The USGA’s Rules has a similar section.
Golf in Thailand, as is the case elsewhere in the world,
is largely played without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game
relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other
players, care for the course and to abide by the Rules.
Put simply, etiquette is a series of guidelines that
exist to show other players, whether through divot repair or awareness of
your shadow, a degree of fairness which you would expect to receive in
return. In short, it is about showing consideration to others at all times.
Etiquette is what sets golf apart from other sports.
How do we golfers, here in Thailand, measure up in terms
When compared to the average club golfer in the west –
One key difference lies in the word “club.” A golf club
will typically set its own rules regarding admission of members. Part of
that will include reference to the club’s code of conduct, including
observing the Rules of Golf. Most clubs will have a process to deal with
those who transgress. Most clubs will have written and unwritten rules about
the playing of the game. Most clubs will actively encourage or promote
etiquette. All clubs will belong to a national body which has a
responsibility to ensure clubs comply with all aspects of the Rules of Golf.
Contrast that with the situation in Thailand. The
challenge of instilling etiquette here is the fact that it is often the
place where newbies learn the game for the first time. Some clubs in the
west will not grant playing rights to new members until they have played a
round with the club captain, and satisfied him/her that they understand and
will comply with the club’s code of conduct. Imagine trying that, here in
It is the responsibility of every golfer to learn the
Rules of Golf. Most golfers get by with a rough understanding, but that is
all that is required, most of the time. It is equally important that golfers
teach themselves etiquette, particularly as it applies to locations that
fall outside their normal environment – locations like Thailand.
Show consideration to your fellow golfers, at all times,
and the chances are your actions will be reciprocated. If you don’t know,