You gotta play by the rules. That's what everyone says. But who knew there would be so many laws of the links? We asked our advisory board what they wish they had known when they first slipped on the cleats and picked up a putter. Here's what some said:
Bob Hatheway, President, RJH Associates
I learned very fast that carts aren't Dodge-em cars. You need to exercise caution on hills, especially in wet conditions. Of course, you need to keep golf carts out of sand traps and a reasonable distance from the green, but there are less obvious rules of the road, such as not driving up to a tee while someone is teeing off, or not driving up next to the green while someone in the foursome is putting — especially when the carts are backed up.
Chuck Lane, Assistant VP, Public Relations and Meeting Services, Humana
My first piece of advice for inexperienced golfers is one that the old baseball player “Whitey” Lockman was supposed to have said: “If you're gonna play crappy, play fast.” It's a good piece of advice for one and all; to keep play moving.
Soni Strang, Group Manager, Corporate, Sun Microsystems
My most important lesson had to do with etiquette. Experienced players are usually very pleasant, but nothing bothers a golfer more than someone who doesn't know the basic rules of etiquette. It holds up the game, and backs up the foursomes behind you.
Frank Sablone, Executive Director, Tag & Label Manufacturers Institute Inc.
I learned to relax. We all had to start the same way. Good golfers understand. Also, as a planner, I learned that golf is not played in four hours. When the game is over, players like to stop for an adult beverage. So plan six hours for your golf event.
Nancy Berkley, President, Berkley Consulting Inc.
One of my first lessons had to do with pace of play. How slow is slow? Is it OK to pick up your ball if you are holding up play? A good rule of thumb when playing is that when you have played as many strokes as double the par on that hole (for example, six on a par three), and there are golfers waiting to hit behind you, pick up your ball.
Charlie Kent, Director of Golf, Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort
A classic for beginning golfers is how to mark a golf ball on the green properly. You put the coin behind the ball (in relation to the cup) then pick up the ball. Don't pick up the ball and drop the coin at the same time.
Mick Luckhurst, President & CEO, American Hole ‘n One
Never stand behind a golfer or within his/her peripheral vision. It's always best to stand opposite a golfer addressing the ball. If your partner is putting from a long distance, offer to attend the flag (hold the flag while he lines up and pull it immediately after he hits it). Always check that you can pull the flag out. Sometimes they stick, and it can be embarrassing.
Steven Jones, Vice President, Special Events, Cendant Corp.
Fifteen years ago, I thought golf was a silly game for old men in loud plaid pants. I now know golf is a lot tougher than it looks! I also learned about not being loud on the course, how important it is to be quiet and still when other players are preparing to hit the ball. Even the most knowledgeable players slip into that bad habit.