Etiquette and urgency: Golf’s perfect pairing
Talk about a convergence of stories. On Thursday, Morning Read featured Ted Bishop's fantastic ideas about combating entitled, lazy players who won't take care of the golf course (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6), and John Fischer's delightful letter about how Bobby Jones never dawdled while playing (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Dec. 6).
The reality: The guy who won't take care of the course or play at a reasonable pace is usually one in the same person. Educating that guy (and suspending him from the course, if he chooses not to learn) would be a service to every golfer.
Lack of respect – for course and self alike
As a ranger and a player, I see this happen all of the time (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6).
The biggest violations are committed by members and young, inexperienced players. Even with oral and written instructions, they are good only for that hole. You would need a ranger with every group to make sure the rules were followed.
This is a problem that never will go away as long as people have no respect for themselves or the course.
Our maintenance group does a good job to start the day. God knows what it will look like after the members go out.
Don’t blame senior men for shoddy conditions
Ted Bishop is correct in that far too many golfers do not properly take care of the golf course. However, he is off base in blaming senior men (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6).
At my club, where I served as golf chairman, seniors are longtime members who have a healthy respect for the game and its traditions. They therefore are more likely to pay attention to care of the golf course.
I see far more problems with players who are new to golf and lack a fundamental understanding of what is required to be a good steward of the golf course. Not only do they not know what is expected, they don’t know how to repair a ball mark or properly rake a bunker.
We commissioned a series of videos on course etiquette narrated by the head golf professional and the superintendent that were posted on our website. We publish articles in our newsletter, have signage in the locker rooms, and our staff is proactive in emphasizing course care, all of which have helped. We also send warning letters to members who violate cart rules.
But those actions go only so far.
All players should set an example by caring for the course and apply peer pressure when they see their playing partners fail to care properly for their course.
Treat golf course as if it’s your yard
Kudos to Ted Bishop on player responsibility in maintaining the golf course (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6).
It takes only seconds to fill divots, repair ball marks, rake sand, etc. I make it a practice to fill in not only my divot but others around me. We women blame it on the guys, but it is on all golfers to keep their course in good shape.
I am fortunate to play on a private course and also have played on many public venues. Rule of thumb: Treat the fairways and greens as if it's your own yard.
It takes effort to create a caring culture
You don’t want to lose paying customers; you want to cultivate sensitivity to course management (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6).
As with any endeavor to create a culture of care, it takes diligence, repetition of instruction, and maybe even reward for good behavior. You need rangers willing to do all of the above for their whole shift: get out of their cart, talk to and show the violator how to repair his fault, and move on to the next.
Do that all day, every day, and you’ll have a well-maintained course and a happy group of cultivated customers.
3 cheers for Bishop’s policy
Applause, applause, applause (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6)!
I sincerely appreciate Ted Bishop’s player-accountability position for 2019 and support it 100 percent.
Orange Park, Fla.
(Young is a seasonal Indiana resident and a legacy member at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Ind.)
We’re stuck with it
I agree with your assessment that courses have many more un-replaced divots, un-raked traps, etc., than in the past (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6).
As someone who has played more than 100 dawn rounds for the past 30 years at a public course, I see the poor upkeep being caused by golf outings held the previous day. These often are golfers who play only once or twice per year in the company or charity events. If any course rangers correct the golfers, especially on days when it is cart paths only, the golfers complain and the charity sponsors find another course the next year.
Even if the course passed out a flier on course etiquette, those fliers probably would end up all over the course by the end of the round. This is something we are just stuck with.
Palos Park, Ill.
More solutions for a vexing problem
Although it takes only a few seconds to fill in a divot, do we really want an octogenarian raking sand bunkers? Especially to the level that Ted Bishop describes? I’d rather hit into an un-raked bunker than to have to wait on that (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6).
Do you want to slow down the game even more? That would do it.
Seniors are only part of the problem. Inexperienced, uneducated and/or uncaring beginners, especially young ones in their 20s and 30s, commit every sin mentioned in Bishop’s article. Unlike many seniors, the younger players have no excuse, except perhaps that most probably never were mentored into the game.
Every course should have at least one marshal on each nine holes. Marshals should be responsible not only for enforcing pace of play and encouraging golf etiquette but also getting their hands dirty by filling in divots and raking bunkers.
We need to start a national movement toward golf licensing similar to what has been done in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Before issuing warning letters to players and even banning them from his course, Ted Bishop should educate and test them. Encourage experienced golfers to mentor those who might be unfamiliar with golf etiquette. From there, hopefully a movement might begin at the state and national levels.
Bishop’s course is public, so if he goes it alone in instituting his player-responsibility violations, he’ll soon be out of business. If public-course golfers are to be held accountable at one course but not the others, guess where they’re going to play?
Don’t tick off good customers
The group of guys whom I play with are all concerned about the course and making sure we leave it in better shape than when we started (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6).
My concern with Ted Bishop’s plan is not to tick off good customers. Perhaps after the first warning, have violators watch a video and/or make them attend a mandatory, brief seminar on the reasons why the course needs to be attended to by patrons and not just left up to the groundkeepers. I would want them to take ownership in how the course looks and plays. Make them feel a part of your team.
Boca Raton, Fla.
Not looking to moonlight while playing golf
Ted Bishop's complaint and solution make for interesting reading (“It’s time to erase marks of course clods,” Dec. 6). As a player, though, I see things differently.
I don't know what Bishop charges to play his course, but if he expects me to become part of the maintenance crew while I'm playing, then it is too much.
St. Augustine, Fla.
Purkey baits his hook in wrong waters
I find it hard to believe that a golf writer would author an article that harpoons the Champions Tour (“It’s a Champions Tour in name only,” Dec. 5).
Those guys play at an incredibly high level and are very enjoyable to watch. What are you viewing, Mike Purkey? Is it because they are not hitting the ball 330 yards? Is it that a few still putt with the awful broomstick? Bernhard Langer, not a true champion? Seriously? Miguel Jimenez, the most colorful player of the past couple of decades who has won all around the world, not a true champion because he hasn’t won a major championship or a PGA Tour event?
That bitter column is cause for some self-reflection. If you are unhappy with what you do for a living, find something that makes you happy. Perhaps you could write articles for a fishing magazine, as this was the one that got away.
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