Manners maketh man

Golf etiquette isn’t difficult, nor is showing respect to those who work and volunteer in our clubs, but why do so many golfers find it impossible?

Ive spent a great deal of the last month out and about at golf clubs, meeting people and talking about the things which are affecting courses and clubs.

One thing that keeps cropping up, and something I’ve noticed more and more in recent months, is that there is a real problem with people not following the most basic elements of golf course and golf club etiquette.

A good friend and green keeper raised one of the most important issues around etiquette and manners. It was really alarming to hear him talk about his interactions with a small section of the membership of his club. These interactions were something you would be appalled to see in a workplace or on the street – abusive, demeaning and confrontational were just some of the words you could use to describe the behaviour he’d had to deal with. It was difficult to hear, but something which I’ve heard about far too often.

Having asked a few more people, at clubs around the region, it seems to be a common problem with a small number of members in a large number of clubs. While many are quick to point out that incidents like this are limited, almost all of the people I spoke to – whether club managers, green keepers or committee members – experience frankly vile abuse from members who would face severe punishments in a workplace for their behaviour.

To hear the stories and learn about the effect this can have on the mental health of those in clubs, all of whom are passionate about the game and seeing their clubs thrive, was really concerning. While this is limited to a very small number of individuals, it is appalling to know there are people at clubs all across the region who believe this behaviour should be allowed in any walk of life, let alone a sport which regards itself as having such high standards of conduct. We as golfers should be demanding better from anyone who behaves in this way, and supporting those who work hard in our clubs.

Meanwhile, the common forms of poor etiquette remain prevalent and many clubs continue to fight against a tide of poor on course behaviour. I have seen a number of notices, emails and social media posts over recent weeks begging golfers to do the simplest of tasks – repair divots, fix pitchmarks and rake bunkers. These are all part of being a golfer and while many of our readers will be equally appalled to know that the situation seems to be getting worse, it falls on each of us to pressure our playing partners to show good etiquette and to call out those who show a lack of respect for others on the course.

While none of us are perfect, we should all be doing our bit to support our clubs and the people that work and volunteer to run them for us. All of us need to take responsibility out on the course, and we all should be aware of the hard work each person in a golf club puts into making it a success. It’s can be very easy for some people out there to sit back and criticise, abuse and demean those who put themselves forward to serve our needs as golfers – perhaps those who show such a deep lack of respect would like to walk a mile in their shoes before their next visit to the golf club?