First Lesson of Golf should be Etiquette

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Golf Swings Over America

Spring has finally arrived here in Eastern Ontario and all of the local courses are now on.  I haven’t been able to make it out just yet, maybe tomorrow I’ll hit some balls.  But with the courses open I’m thinking back to an experience from last summer that I never shared.  It comes to mind simply from the fact that with the courses open, many fathers (and mothers) will be taking their children out for a round of golf.  Perhaps, even introducing the game to them for the very first time.

Years ago we enrolled both of our sons into golf camps at local courses and one of the very first things they were taught was golf etiquette. Basically, before you were taught how to swing a club properly you were taught how to behave properly. And that’s the way it should be. Going back to a round I played in Massachusetts last August, that sentiment could not have been truer.

Due to a rain out I experienced on one day of my short week, it forced me to two states the following day. Because of that, my courses of choice up being more about the convenience of driving destinations as opposed to the actual courses I would have preferred to play, all things being equal.

As it turned out, I chanced upon a 9-hole course in Rehoboth, MA.  A bit of a mental meltdown on my part I will admit, as I wouldn’t purposely choose a 9 hole course, if other options were available (which they were).  And honestly, I had no clue it wasn’t a full 18 until I lined up at the first tee block.  Yes admittedly, I was in a bit of a fog because for the very first time, I had gotten LOST on the way to a golf course.  But that’s a different story altogether.  And this tale is not about the course itself, which was perfectly fine, but rather about one complete moron I encountered on the course.

I finished my front nine and without anyone in site ahead, I immediately made the turn to play the back.  I got through the first par 4 relatively quickly and as I approached the 2nd tee (a par 3) there was a father/son duo just leaving the green.  The father looked to be mid-fortyish and the son I would guess around 11 or 12.  As I wathched their interaction, it appeared that the father was “teaching” his son the game.  If not the first time out, the son was definitely new to the game. “Isn’t that great” I thought to myself.  Unfortunately, that sentiment lasted less than 2 holes.

I tapped in a bogey putt and headed to the 12th par 5 tee to find the pair just hitting their second shots.  I waited until they had then hit their 3rd shots before teeing off.  After skying my first attempt about 150 yards down the fairway, I teed up a second ball for practice.  That one was a bit better, but still not much over 200 down the left edge of the fairway. I proceeded to my first ball but before hitting it, I drove up the fairway to make sure I would not be hitting my second shot into the two ahead of me.  I could see they were well beyond the range of my seven-iron, I went back to my ball and advanced it down the fairway to about the 170 yards range from the green.  I also grabbed my second (practice) ball on the way.  As the green came into full view, I could see the father/son pair still on the green.  So I waited…and I waited…and I waited.

When they left, I put my third shot short of the green, chipped on and putted out for par and headed for the next tee as quickly as I could, knowing it was a par three and hoping they would waive me through.  As my cart rounded the bend to the tee block, the dad was just putting his club back in his bag and they started walking off the tee block. He took a quick glance back at me and kept walking. My assumption was that they would then waive me through once they were on the green, or at least near the green…WRONG!!

After waiting patiently for 10 minutes for them to clear the green, I was finally able to tee off.  Assuming this is the way it was going to be, I took my time, practiced some chip shots and putting with multiple balls before moving on.

Long story short, this trend continued for the next couple of holes.

After finishing the 14th hole, I left the green and drove down the tree-line path to the 15th tee.  The front tees were about 40 yards up from where I was hitting and lo and behold, bozo, as I was now calling him and his son were still on the tee.  So I proceeded to tee my ball up, fully expecting him to waive me through.  Once again, he glanced back, turned back to his son and continued to give him a swing lesson.

Now I’m a pretty patient person and I also don’t like to have to ask for something on the course.  I fully expect that a grown man would display common courtesy. I could have easily driven up, asked politely if I could play through.  But the point being, I shouldn’t have had to and so I now wanted to wait this out and see what else this jackass (graduated from bozo) would do next.  Well, it wasn’t long to see what this guy was capable of.

On the next tee I had pulled my cart up whilst jackass was still on the tee.  And I could now see that he was enraged by something.  I’m guessing it had to do with the fact that he shanked three balls in a row way out of bounds, as he promptly snapped his driver in two, while cursing and swearing like crazy.  His young son was clearly embarrassed by his father’s behaviour. So when he stopped swinging, I decided to get as far away from this guy as possible.  I decided not to hit my tee shot, and drove my cart up the fairway, stopped long enough to hit a ball into the green from the 150 yard maker, putted out and away I went to the 17th tee.

I played the 17th very quickly, then on the 18th fairway I glanced back to the 16th to see jackass, who only minutes earlier was putting out on the green, walking back to the 16th tee block.  There is poetic justice after all, as he apparently had left one of his clubs there.

When I was finished my round, I went into the pro shop and reported jackass to the staff there.  I’m not convinced they were going to do anything, but I simply wanted to let them know that perhaps someone should mention the word “etiquette” to him.

I will have to say that in all of my travels, that was the first time I had encountered behaviour such as that.  But the sad reality is, it does exist.  I’m just hoping that the young son will not grow up to be like his father.  We don’t need that on any other courses anywhere!

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