Culture in golf is down to the rules of etiquette

By Stuart Robertson, Doctorgolf Academy, Ufford Park
By its definition culture is the ‘ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people, group or society’, and having spent all my adult years involved in a sport that has such distinct and strict rules, I would say they have shaped our culture here at the Doctorgolf Academy.
Published in Suffolk Director Magazine, Spring 2021
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Doctor Golf Academy, Ufford Park Woodbridge

The game of golf is controlled by a set of rules which govern:

The equipment:

The number of clubs you can carry must not exceed 14, the length of your driver must not exceed 48 inches, the list of rules goes on…

The course:

There are a multitude of rules covering all aspects of the course ranging from where you can and cannot play from, to Preferred Lies and penalties if you are in an unplayable position.

And when referring to culture, most importantly there is…

The etiquette:  

AS P.G. Wodehouse once quoted: “To find a man’s true character, play golf with him” and the way you behave when playing is very important. One of the things that makes golf different to other sports is that you are your own referee, so integrity is a must. Pivotal to this is understanding the etiquette, and to get you started, the Left Rough has listed ‘13 rules of golf etiquette for Dummies’ (theleftrough.com/golf-etiquette). Rules which range from staying off your phone and not talking while others are hitting, to not moving or standing behind someone on the green.

As a game, golf allows all players of differing abilities and experience to compete on a level playing field due to the unique handicap system. Yet, as a sport, it can be one of the hardest things to master.

Due to the need to conquer the differences in golf course set ups, weather conditions, start times and even playing partners, at the top end of the professional game, it is rare to find a player winning more than 5% of the events they enter in a season; not great, compared to say tennis, snooker, darts or Formula One, where it can sometimes be easier to create some form over an extended period.

So, why is it so difficult to succeed at this game?

It could be that the tolerances are so small, and the distances are so vast. It could be that it demands the perfect mix of physical, mental, tactical and emotional skill over an extended period. It could be that we are always looking for that single missing ingredient that will help bind all these facets together. We could argue that it is actually because of all these things that many of us continue to play golf for many years, never quite being able to create our perfect game.

Seeing firsthand how the challenges of this game, together with its culture of playing within the rules and etiquette, with players of different generations, the one thing I have learnt is how golf has helped to develop more considerate, mature thinking adults. That’s a culture we could all learn from!

Stuart Robertson is PGA Golf Professional and Director of Golf at the Doctorgolf Academy, Ufford Park Woodbridge. T: 01394 383480 E: doctorgolf@uffordpark.co.uk or visit doctorgolf.co.uk 

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