Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Golf Etiquette: Is your presence being felt by more than the ball?

Scenario: It’s a crisp summer-feeling morning.  Because summer hasn’t hit quite yet it feels neither warm nor cold out on the course.  The smell of freshly cut grass is inescapable.  Without even knowing it your body and mind are already becoming synchronized as you anticipate that “tuning fork ring in your loins” (Tin Cup) feeling from the perfect contact.  In your mind you know that today is the day that Goliath (the course) has met his match. 
The view from the first tee further cements the fact that you are a force to be reckoned with, unstoppable, determined to conquer at whatever the cost and no matter the bloodshed.  Has a golf glove ever felt so perfect?  Or has a golf club ever felt as much a part of you as it does now?  It’s not a golf club… in your hands it’s an instrument of death with such precision that bogeys flee in fear!  You are a warrior with the tools to squash the adversary with the efficiency of a professional... you are a professional. 
Stepping away from the ball you just teed up to the perfect height, you take in the sublime feeling that has penetrated your very soul from no direction in particular. It is everywhere and nowhere at once.  The feeling consumes you from head to toe.  It is as if the course has consumed you and now, you are a part of it.  This sensation is neither forceful nor overpowering but rather inviting and encouraging. “Come and get me, come and get me” (City Slickers 2), it beckons to you. 
In your mind’s eye, as you’ve trained yourself to do over the years, you feel the line of where you will send the ball. It’s not a question but rather a statement to the ball, “you will do this.”  You feel the swing required to accomplish your task.  This swing is no stranger to your arsenal; instead it’s an already perfectly grooved fluid motion rehearsed thousands of times prior.
Upon mentally and physically committing to your intended line of attack, you address the ball ready to attain perfection.  Everything in the universe feels perfect in this moment: perfect line, perfectly stable, perfect grip, and perfect day.  You pull your club back, arming your weapon with as much power as possible. This is it, the moment of truth, what you’ve trained for.  Remember, you are a professional without limitation in the universe of golf.  Mishit isn’t a word that exists in your world. 
In the millionth of a second that your mind decides to transition to the down swing  - out of nowhere, in some reject region of the universe of golf, you hear what appears to be a burst of stupidity and self-centeredness. It somehow manages to weasel its way into your perfect golf utopia causing you to cast your hands, turning your torso too early and snap-hook the hell out of the ball into the lake to your left separating the 1st and 9th fairways.  Painfully, you now sit three from the tee.
Etiquette:  a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. (Wikipedia)
Question: At what point in one’s endeavourer to “play golf” does one begin to enact etiquette? Does one wait for the first green? Perhaps one should begin using one’s best etiquette as soon as one has stepped foot on the first tee? Maybe the answer is something completely different all together.
The way I see it you should be on your best behavior upon arrival at the course.  I was taught that golf is a gentlemen’s game.  Plain and simple - you should refrain from acting like a fool.  I don’t care about loud pants or shirts.  If John Daley is your fashion designer go with it.  I believe that looking good while playing is part of the mental game.  Dress for success has been around for eons.  However no one that I know of, has ever taught that it’s okay to be loud and obnoxious at the golf course.  I don’t care about how many beers you’ve downed before, during or after your round.  You are still located on a golf course and should respect those around you.  No, it’s not okay to yell at your buddies while people are trying to putt on the practice green.  It is those self-centered individuals that make too much noise, while others around are attempting to perfect their game, that have given public golf courses a bad name. 
I know this is going to come as a huge shock to many so please, brace yourself for impact… YOU ARE NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE!!!!!  For the love of Pete!  Shut up when I’m on the practice green!  You want to know why they created private golf clubs that only those with money could join, look in the mirror.  You are the problem.  Sure obnoxiousness might occur at private clubs however I believe it to be a mere fraction of what happens at public courses.  Note to the overly loud and stupid people at the golf course - you are not on the set of Caddy Shack. 
Let me be very clear, I have no problem with cheering when that 30 foot snake drops and you get to write down a birdie.  Or maybe you saved par and just had the best round ever.  Congratulations and well done.  I encourage you to get excited about your game.  I do not, however, endorse morons that think it’s okay to act as if they’re at a frat house, in their own home, or swear up a storm because the ball did exactly what they made it to do however it does not align with the image their mind created before swinging.
All I ask is that one has more respect for those around them.  Think about the kind of concentration you desire when you practice or play and give that to those around you.  Remember, the sun is the center of the universe… not you.
And that’s the way I see it.

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