Etiquette dearth in gentleman’s game worrying

Friday February 26 2016

Richard Kabugi Manji squats next to a ball, holding a putter. PHOTO | FILE |

Richard Kabugi Manji squats next to a ball, holding a putter. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

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This past weekend there was a rules school conducted at Nanyuki Sports Club under the auspices of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the body that governs the Rules of Golf.

The best part for me came after the formal session.

The members of Nanyuki are very good hosts. One gentleman, who has played golf since the early 1960s, fascinated us with golf stories from those early days.

His stories of building golf courses in Wajir between 1963 and 1964 had us all enthralled.

We had a good-natured conversation until the topic changed to the issue of etiquette on the golf courses today.

The good gentleman, who had been cheerful and bubbly until then, suddenly became sour and angry.

Anyone walking in at the time would have been forgiven for thinking that we had said or done something to offend the story telling gentleman.


This is not unique to my new friend from Nanyuki. Many a seasoned golfer will be heard today complaining about the lack of proper golf etiquette on the golf courses.

The etiquette and the Rules of Golf are learnt on the golf after new golfers have been given handicaps.

Very few clubs, if any, take the time to teach new golfers the basic principles.

What has happened is the proliferation of golfers who when the “spirit of the game” is mentioned, will think it is in reference to a fine single malt scotch whiskey.

Why for example would a golfer have his phone on the golf course if he/she is not a doctor on call? Golfers are required to show consideration for fellow players.

They should not do anything that will delay nor disturb their fellow golfers.

When I started playing golf, I was told that I should only applaud a good shot made by a fellow golfer and never to comment when one made a bad shot.

My first ever golf competition was at Muthaiga Golf Club. I teed up on the 10th hole and my first shot was a “fresh-air-shot”.

All the golfers around the tee waiting for their turn were very quiet and no one made a sound. My second attempt was more decent.

I am sure that if that happened today, some golfers would be falling over with laughter.

Indeed, many golfers have to be reminded to keep quiet and remain still when others are playing.

The absence of good etiquette also leads to golfers leaving their playing partners on the green and walking off to the next tee before they have holed out.

Some will even put their health in danger by walking ahead of their playing partners on the fairways.


The game of golf relies on the integrity of the individual players.

All golfers should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times.

It is okay to play hard and competitively, but fair and considerate.

Golf committees are well within their mandate to disqualify a golfer for serious breach of etiquette.

However, it behoves them to ensure that all new golfers are well versed with the Rules of Golf and etiquette before they are allowed to play competitive golf.

The gentleman from Nanyuki made a statement that I found intriguing.

He said that in years past, a golfer would have received a loan from a golfing bank manager just by virtue of being a golfer.

One only needed to know that you were a fellow golfer to be sure that you could be trusted.

Would bankers today accept a golf handicap as a sign of integrity?

The author is a Kenya Golf Union Executive