Golf etiquette

16 02 2011

Before

After

There won’t be many golfers around who are not aware that Tiger Woods was fined for spitting last week at the European Tour event in Dubai. Woods himself, despite claiming that he didn’t realise that he had spat on the 12th green, just five or six feet from the hole, accepted his fine with good grace. I should think so too! Ewen Murray, the commentator who said at the time that Woods’ behaviour was ‘the lowest of the low’ was, of course, absolutely right in condemning an act that showed total disregard for his fellow professionals, some of whom would later have to putt through Mr Woods’ phlegm.

A couple of nights later I happened to be watching the Vancouver Canucks’ hockey game in Minnesota. At one point, late in the game, a player on the bench spat over the boards and onto the ice. Noticing his action, a commentator chuckled and, in an obvious reference to the Woods incident,  said ‘You’d get fined for that in golf!’, as if  golf was odd in not condoning such anti social behaviour. I like hockey. I like its traditions. I even like the fights, especially the beautifully choreographed goalie fights. But I don’t want golf ever to follow hockey and other sports in dropping its insistence on fair play and politeness. You may not have heard of  Elliot Saltman, a young Scottish golfer who has just qualified for the European Tour. Two weeks ago he received a three month ban for marking his ball incorrectly on several occasions during a Challenge Tour event in Russia last season. Even when his ban is over, it will be quite a while before his name is mentioned without the word ‘cheat’ popping into people’s minds. Harsh? Maybe so. But golf prides itself on having the highest standards of fair play, and that is one of the reasons I love this infuriatingly difficult sport.

Golf is unusual in having severe penalties for poor sportsmanship. Offensive language or deliberately trying to put off a fellow competitor can result in disqualification or even suspension. One of our past Presidents at Glacier Greens even banned himself once for club throwing! Imagine  suspensions being handed out in Premier League soccer for bad language and poor sportsmanship! They’d have to start playing three a side!

Admittedly, there are occasions when the group with whom I usually play doesn’t manage to live up to the highest of standards. Even now, el bandito Juan has only the vaguest idea of what it means to ‘have the honour’, assuming – usually correctly – that it will always be his turn to tee off first. “Nice shot…arsehole” is a commonly heard phrase when you’re around Robinski, and some of the things Glennie calls his golf ball while in flight would result in either fisticuffs or a law suit if said to another human being. Even Ringer and Lairdo have been known to utter the odd oath, but my favourite expression is one I heard years ago when playing in a match play event against a friend of mine in England. I’d just hit a long approach shot to an elevated green, guarded by a huge bunker. “Is my friend in the sand trap?” enquired my mate solicitously, “or is the bastard on the green?” Now that’s golf etiquette at its finest…

Finally, this just in from the ‘you couldn’t make it up department’: on the same weekend that Tiger Woods laid his slime trail on that unsuspecting green in Dubai, a journeyman Canadian golfer achieved his best performance yet on the Champions Tour by finishing in a tie for second place behind Tom Lehman at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Florida. His name? Rod Spittle!

All da best,

Dave B.

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14 responses

16 02 2011
Martin

Dave, this hits the nail on the head for me too. I appreciate your comments comparing the attitudes adopted by players in different sports.
I wonder if all the spitting hockey players stop to think they could be the next one to slide through the spittle trail out there on the ice?
Cheers,
Martin

16 02 2011
Bagger Dave

I know this is something of a generalisation, Martin, but I’m not sure too many hockey players – or soccer players – give a great deal of thought to such matters. As a soccer ref, I’ve occasionally castigated a player for spitting on the field. On every occasion the player has looked absolutely shocked that I don’t think spitting is appropriate…

D.

17 02 2011
mike

Yeah – don’t spit publicly. It’s unpleasant.

17 02 2011
Bagger Dave

Remember the no-spitting rule on the 22nd, Mike. Expectorating in church is generally frowned upon. Remind your Julie too – we don’t want any lapses in wedding etiquette.

Love and best wishes to you both,

D.

16 02 2011
Admin

Always informative, always entertaining; maybe the next post can deal with some of the crazy rules and when we can expect a change…my main beef being the ‘hitting the ball out of a divot when you’ve striped it down the centre of the fairway’ rule. Keep up the stories, Bagger!

Cheers…
BHD

16 02 2011
Bagger Dave

Personally, I’m more an old school ‘hit it, find it, hit it again’ sort of guy, Ben, but plenty of people agree with you that divots in your own fairway should be considered ground under repair. Jack Nicklaus, for one.

16 02 2011
Glen Livet

Next time you want to talk about etiquette, just ask Bugger Dave, I’ll be happy to oblige. Etiquette here in Florida is not bashing the sh……t out of the alligator that’s lying next to your ball and won’t move an inch when you politely ask him or her to; have yet to tell the difference between male and female alligators by the way. Next thing they are going to fine you for is farting on someone’s putting stroke eh lad? but spitting, yes, quite disgusting like Glen saying ‘oh shiiiooot’.
Glad to hear the weather is still playable there.

16 02 2011
Bagger Dave

Pity the poor alligator that get’s in the way of one of your worm burners, Peter!
I bet the weather in Florida is just lovely. Dave Laird, Robin and I were playing the 16th at Glacier this morning – light rain, just above freezing – when the rain suddenly became heavy hail. That was us done for the day. We gave ourselves birdies for the last two holes, which definitely helped our scores!

See you soon,

Dave

16 02 2011
Glen Livet

p.s. Thanks for the blog, as always I very much enjoy them

16 02 2011
Bagger Dave

As I do yours, old chum.

D.

26 02 2011
Glenny the Sandbagger

Good one , Davey. As you know, I consider any and all expletives quite appropriate when comes to sports –esp. golf. You can hardly expect a golf ball to cooperate unless it knows that you really are serious about results.
Keep the blogs coming. Always a good read. Also, must put in our new e-mail address to make sure we don’t miss a single episode.
cheers! – GtS

26 02 2011
Bagger Dave

It’s all very well people talking about ‘the horse whisperer’, but they’ve obviously never heard ‘Glennie the golf ball whisperer’ in action. To be honest, though, it’s usually more of an anguished wail than a whisper…

D.

2 03 2011
Bandito Juan

I’ve heard it said that I couldn’t even spell the word eteekwet on various occasions when someone has dislodged me from hitting first- claiming that it was their “turn.” Ateyqwuiet is not just a pretty word- it’s a golfing precept. Like not hitting someone’s putt back before it reaches the hole- even if that person’s your opponent and it looks like it’s going in the hole. There are limits!
I’m all for iteckweet as long as I can hit first.
Adios amigos,
Bandito Juan

3 03 2011
Bagger Dave

The question at the moment is, whoever has the honour, will they be hitting their tee shot in this calendar month or shall we just accept that golf was never meant to be played in the frozen tundra that is Canada?

D.

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