Good etiquette a key requirement for all golfers

Friday December 8 2017

Kellie Gachaga follows through her shot during her training session at Muthaiga Golf Club on February 28, 2017. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Kellie Gachaga follows through her shot during a training session at Muthaiga Golf Club on February 28, 2017. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By VINCENT WANG'OMBE
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Back in the 1980s, the Kenyan government had a strategy known as District Focus for Rural Development.

I have no idea how much was achieved by this programme but the term was used in Kenyan universities to refer to awkward students straight from the village.

Being referred as a “District Focus” or “DF” was an unflattering way of saying that you were unpolished or “mshamba”.

There was redemption for many from the DF ranks due the student allowance, popularly known as “boom”, that was given in those days. DFs who cleaned up well were said to have had “boom repair”.

There were others however who were said to be “beyond boom repair”. These were the fellows who despite getting what was a tidy sum of money in those days, did not dress better and their habits were still considered gauche.

Golf on the other hand demands of all who would want to be referred to as golfers show a certain level good etiquette. Most of the rounds of golf are played without the supervision of a referee and in many cases, golfers are expected to call upon themselves penalties especially in cases where only they and God could possibly know of a Rule infringement.

Golf is the only game that I know of that has a written set of behaviour that participants are expected to abide by. Sadly, many people (I will not call them golfers) are “beyond golf etiquette repair”.

Some claim to be golfers but they do know the first thing of the etiquette of the game.

GOLF CHEAT

I can forgive many things out on the golf course; slow players, people who can’t keep time, lack of knowledge of Rules and many more. I however find it hard to forgive cheats. Those that have no integrity should never pick up golf clubs. It does not take long for one to be discovered and, in most clubs, they are named and shamed.

These are the people who have adopted Donald Trump’s slogan to golf; “make the game great again”. They will play a six on a par three and call it a bogey (four). They are “great golfers” and they can get good scores by declaration.

I was however shocked to learn of a club that does not allow two-balls during their club night competitions. The reason given is so that they don’t conspire and cheat during the competition.

My first thought was; what kind of members does the club have? Should they even be playing golf if they can conspire to cheat?

The Rules of Golf have no requirement for people to go out in threes or fours. In any case, if they can conspire in twos, why can’t they do it as a three or four ball?

SELF-CENTRED GOLFER

We have some very important people who play golf. They have a busy schedule it is surprising that they even find time to play golf. They have a lot of work to do, tweets to post, important phone calls to make and fellow golfers to ignore.

They will arrive late at the tee and delay play by talking on the phone when it is their turn to play. At the end of the round, these golfers will make their caddy wait for their pay as they take a “dirty drink” (the drink before taking a shower), take a leisurely shower and go into the sauna.

All the while, the poor caddy will be waiting in the cold parking lot. The caddy will not complain for fear of jeopardising present or future earnings.

THE CHILD AT HEART

The Bible talks of a desirable childlike quality. This is however not endearing when out on the golf course. Laughing heartily at the misfortune of one who has had an air-shot or one who cannot get out of a bunker is not becoming of a golfer.

One piece of advice that I live by to date is that if I don’t have anything good to say about a shot, I shall remain quiet.

We also have golfers who can never remain still even when they are fully aware that someone is about to make a shot.

I was once told by a member of the Nomads Cricket team from Limuru Country Club that they hit a moving amid cheers.

They don’t understand why we golfers demand silence to hit a ball that is motionless. That coming from a non-golfer is okay.

When taught at an early age, the golf etiquette has a way of making ladies and gentlemen out golfers.

For those seeking lessons not only in striking the golf ball but also in etiquette for their children these holidays, many golf clubs have programmes for the juniors. Unfortunately, many older ones are beyond “golf etiquette repair”.