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Golf (and Push) Cart Etiquette

Golf carts have their own nuance when it comes to etiquette

Golf carts are a primary source of revenue for golf courses, so in most instances when you play in a tournament you will be riding in a golf cart.  It’s important that you are aware of golf cart rules and etiquette.  When you check-in with the golf course staff, they will let you know the basic rules and safely of cart operation.  They are designed for golfer safety as well as to protect the golf course turf (teeing ground, fairway and greens). 

If you are a new golfer, you may feel more comfortable having a more experienced golfer drive the cart.  The first and MOST IMPORTANT thing to check before driving a cart is to make sure your golf bag is fastened securely to the cart.  You don’t want it to fall off – and risk being embarrassed. 

When taking a golf cart, the golf staff will let you know if it is “Cart Path Only” (no carts allowed on the course at any time - mainly due to wet fairway conditions).  If the conditions require “Cart Path Only,” take several clubs (plus an extra ball in case yours is lost or not playable) to save time from walking back and forth across the fairway and slowing down play.  If the course specifies “90 Degrees” (drive your cart along the cart path to the spot of your ball and then make a 90 degree turn onto the course and drive to your ball). 

You want to operate a cart with safety in mind.  Limit the use to two passengers - don’t try to fit three people in the seat or let someone stand on the back by the golf clubs.  Resist the urge to hang legs and feet outside the cart – some golfers have suffered broken ankles and legs from hanging legs and feet outside the cart.  Operate the cart safely by observing signs directing you to stay on the cart paths or away from protected nature areas. 

The general rule is to keep 30 yards away from greens, approaches and collars.  Many courses will have ropes or signs showing when carts are required to return to paths.  Additionally, most courses will ask you to stay on the cart path on par 3 holes.  You want to use caution when going up or down hills and avoid sharp turns where the tires could damage the turf.  Avoid water puddles, water hazards and of course bunkers.  Making sharp turns, coming to an abrupt stop or driving too fast can also damage the turf.  Cart use could change during the day, depending on weather conditions and may be restricted following a heavy rain.

Many newer carts offer USB outlets to charge a rangefinder or phone.  Resist the urge to look at your phone while driving a golf cart – the same “rules of the road” apply to operating a golf cart.

It’s good cart etiquette to park the cart at the rear of the green or wherever allows you the shortest exit when done putting.  Avoid the urge to park with two wheels off the cart path – many people leave two wheels on the path and pull off partially into the grass.  A good analogy is – would you park your car in a driveway with two wheels in the driveway and two wheels in your yard?  Then don’t do that on the golf course – if another cart approaches (maintenance, ranger or beverage cart) they can pull around your cart.

If using a push cart, the same rules apply, but of course, don’t walk with your cart across the green.  (Some courses with sand greens will allow push carts to be taken across the green, but generally you should not do this, unless told by golf course staff that it’s allowed.)  Some facilities also ask that push carts not get used on the turf between a bunker and green – on the collar and approaches.  You also want to leave a push cart at the rear of the green as a courtesy to the group behind you as well as to allow for a quick exit.  

Following these established guidelines for golf cart and push cart use will add to your enjoyment on the golf course.

Tips for Success in Team Competition

Playing as a team is totally different experience than playing as an individual.

Most of us are familiar with watching team golf in the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup or the Presidents Cup. Not only can it be fun to watch in person or via a broadcast, it’s a fun format to play as well. Most events held are the normal stroke play, yet playing as part of a team is common in the EWGA Cup as well as at many golf clubs nationwide.

While you are still trying to score the lowest number, the main difference between stroke play and match play is instead of playing the entire field, you are playing against the two people in your group. You could have one player who plays safe and the other player then can hit a risk/reward type of shot. You can adjust your strategy based on how your opponents are playing.

If you are playing in a two person team event, hopefully your playing partner is someone you enjoy playing golf with and as a team, you compliment each another – meaning one person could excel when hitting from the tee while the other partner may be a good putter or have a great short game.

If you are playing in an alternate shot event, it requires a bit more strategy. Take a look at the golf course or scorecard to see how the par 3’s and par 5’s line up with your strength. Does one teammate have a stronger iron game to benefit being the person to hit from the par 3’s? Does the teammate who hits a longer tee ball benefit from hitting on the par 5’s to take advantage of the distance? Think about this when putting if the alternate shot format means the person who sinks a putt will not tee off on the next hole.

Another important factor in a team event is momentum. When you and your partner win a hole, it creates a bit of momentum to help win the next hole. Once you win multiple holes, your shots will seem easier and you will settle in to playing relaxed golf. Take advantage of the momentum and keep it going in a positive manner.

Additional tips for team competition include relaxing and staying positive. If you are lucky to win a few holes early, it’s easier to relax and not feel the pressure of being behind. By keeping a positive attitude, you can focus on one hole at a time – remember, if you are trailing in the match, that it’s not over until you run out of holes. If you lose a hole, remain positive and realize every new hole is a new opportunity to win a hole.

Many people compete in team play by being more aggressive and making sure all their putting attempts get to or past the hole. Especially if one partner is playing safe, it allows the other partner to go for it and be bold with all putt attempts – since most times a short putt has little chance of going in!

Regarding conceded putts, remember you should enter your match expecting to hole out all your putts. Don’t expect your opponent to concede any putts to you. However, if an opponent concedes a putt, gracefully pick up your ball. You and your partner will need to discuss when you will concede putts or if you will expect your opponents to hole all putts. It’s a delicate balancing act, because you may be willing to concede putts only to get few or little conceded putts from your opponents.

Finally, expect that your opponents will hit great shots and make long putts. This will help you control your nerves – as you are less likely to get uptight when your opponents play well. If you fall behind in the match, remember there are many holes left and you and your partner are bound to hit good shots, make some putts and get good breaks.

Remember it’s a team event and your partner is there to help calm you down, encourage you and celebrate your great shots. Have fun and enjoy the opportunity to play together as a team.  

 

Tips to Avoid Common Golf Injuries

Shoulder injuries are common among golfers.

We’ve all read articles about our favorite PGA or LPGA Tour professionals being side-lined with golf injuries. To non-golfers, they don’t understand how a non-contact sport like golf can produce short-term or even long-term injuries. However, if you’ve been on the pain-reliever, ice bag, hot pack or even surgical side of a golf injury, you know it’s not fun. To avoid golf injuries, you need to warm-up properly before practicing and playing with stretches and conditioning programs specifically designed for golf.

EWGA member and fellow LPGA Professional Karen Palacios-Jansen has created a perfect blend of fitness exercises designed to help your golf game, called Cardiogolf. Designed to trim your score and shape your swing, Cardiogolf is a way for golfers to improve their swing mechanics and fitness levels at the same time. You can work on these exercises in your home, at the gym or outside before you play. Checkout Karen’s website for more information.

In her years of teaching and playing, Karen has seen many common golf injuries that could have been prevented. Karen recently shared in Golf Fitness Magazine ways to avoid some of the most common golf injuries and how to avoid them.

  1. Back pain - While many Americans (75 to 85 percent) experience some type of back pain in their lifetime, it’s no surprise that back pain is the most common injury among golfers. When you think of the twisting, swinging, rotating, etc. that goes into the golf swing multiple times over a four or five hour round, it’s easy to see how golfers can have back pain that leads to serious injury. Much has been written lately about Tiger Woods and Freddy Couples regarding their back injuries. One of the top ways a golfer injures his/her back is taking the golf bag out of the trunk of the car – long before even getting to the first tee. Work with your physician or fitness expert to learn exercises that are designed to stretch and strengthen your back.
  2. Shoulder/Rotator Cuff - The four muscles located in your shoulders are often irritated when the muscles swell and pinch the space between the arm and shoulder bones (rotator cuff impingement). Worse than impingement, some people experience an actual tear of the tendons and muscles in the shoulder area, that are not only painful, but often times require surgical repair. Again, look for exercises designed to strengthen shoulder and back muscles.
  3. Golf/Tennis Elbow – Tendinitis in the elbow is known as Golf Elbow (irritation and inflammation of the inner elbow tendon) or Tennis Elbow (irritation and inflammation of the outer elbow tendon). Ironically, most golfers suffer from Tennis Elbow with the pain on the outer tendon of the elbow due to overuse of the tendons involved. This is usually treated with rest to allow the elbow to heal and ice to help in the inflammation. Look for exercises that will help strengthen the muscles and tendons as well as practicing proper swing basics that will help prevent the strain on your elbows.
  4. Wrist Tendonitis or Carpel Tunnel – The wrists are also susceptible to golf injuries due to the speed of the golf swing, the quick change of direction at the top of the backswing and connecting with the ball at impact. Some wrist injuries have resulted from taking swings from poor turf (rocks or tree roots) and force or sudden stopping when hitting rocks or roots. Include strength exercises for your wrists in your fitness warm-up and stretches.

In addition to these common injuries, also use common sense when playing. Use sunscreen, wear a hat with a visor to shade your face and eyes from the sun. Drink plenty of water and watch for signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Remember to keep feet inside the golf cart (if you ride in a cart). Some golfers have broken ankles from having their feet outside a moving golf cart.

Most golf injuries can be avoided by practicing good swing mechanics and warming up properly. Take time to warm up for golf, make some easy swings rather than over swinging. Off season and in-season fitness programs will help you stretch and strengthen problem areas so you can be in the best condition to enjoy golf.

Your Guide to Women's Golf Day

Women's Golf Day is Tuesday June 6th, 2017

More than 500 golf facilities are hosting Women’s Golf Day events and activities nationwide. Women’s Golf Day is a four hour experience between 4 and 8 p.m. in every timezone where women and girls can experience golf for the first time or where current players can play and welcome women who are interested in golf.   

There are two formats for events:

  1. At a golf course...
    • Two hours of Golf – lessons or playing 9-holes – this will include two hours of lessons – one hour on the practice range and one hour with short game (chipping and putting)  OR
    • Two hours of Socializing/Networking – this format includes two hours of socializing, networking and distribution of golf information about instruction, league play plus other ways to get involved in golf.
       
  2. At a retail store...
    • This option includes up to four hours of basic instruction and socializing using retail store simulators and putting greens.  Instruction should include basics like grip, stance and swing and could include contests for driving and putting.

Women’s Golf Day is a collaborative effort by a dedicated team including allied golf association representatives, golf management companies, retailers and support from organizations working together to engage, empower and support women and girls through golf. The events are open to women and men of all ages, skill or interest levels.

Visit WomensGolfDay to find a participating location near you.  Join the global golf movement and post your photos to your favorite social media channel using the #WomensGolfDay hashtag.

 

Gear Up for Women's Golf Day

Women's Golf Day Banner

For a second consecutive year, Women’s Golf Day will be celebrated around the world on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 between 4 and 8 p.m. Women’s Golf Day is a one-day event celebrating women and girls playing golf, while learning skills that last a lifetime.

This one-day event is designed to welcome women and girls to the game of golf in a fun, non-intimidating environment. Golfers will be able to participate in golf instruction or play in a 9-hole scramble. Immediately following golf, attendees will participate in a celebratory gathering to network and make quality connections through golf.

A global event on the same day creates critical mass through a collaborative effort and encourages women of all abilities to participate. Events are scheduled to take place at golf facilities, practice ranges and even golf retail locations. Local EWGA Chapters are encouraged to participate and welcome these new golfers as members of your Chapter.

Register online at WomensGolfDay.com to host an event, be an official ambassador or to find a participating location near you.

On June 6, join in the global golf movement and post your photos to your favorite social media channel using the #WomensGolfDay hashtag.

 

Balancing Etiquette with Pace of Play

Two women teammates compete in a 9-hole scramble

Having served as a tournament official various women’s golf events over the years, I observed instances that could have helped with the overall pace of play.  Most people don’t want to hold up play, but at the same time, they don’t want to play feeling rushed.  When you look at simple etiquette hints we all know, remember it becomes a key to pace of play - “being ready.”

When your group is on the teeing ground, make sure you have your glove, golf ball, tees and your club so you can hit.  Many times the three players stand to the side (or sit in the cart) and don’t get their club from the bag until it’s their turn – rather that doing that while another player is hitting.  As long as you are quiet, you can “get ready” while another player is hitting her shot.

In the fairway, we all know it’s okay to go to our ball and “get ready” while other players are hitting (as long as it’s safe).  This means when you ride a cart, it’s okay to walk over to your ball rather than waiting to drive to it or watching your playing partners go through their pre-shot routine and hit. 

On the putting green, good etiquette takes place when the first person to hole a putt is the player to put the flagstick back in the hole.  You can walk over to the flagstick and pick it up while player two and three are putting.  You should be holding the flagstick when player four hit the putt, so when the putt is holed, all you need to do is replace the flagstick.  The other two or three players can move toward the edge of the green so when all players have putted, you can quickly exit the green.

This may not seem like much, but it saves 30 seconds to a minute per hole – and that means you finish your round nine to 18 minutes quicker.  Now you’ve just saved time on the course without feeling rushed and will have more time to enjoy with your golf group in the clubhouse. 

 

Play Better in Competition

An EWGA Member escapes the bunker during the Ft. Lauderdale Chapter Championship

Whether you are gearing up for your Chapter championship, the upcoming District Championship or the club championship, here are some important things to keep in mind as your prepare for competition to help you play better:

  • Play a practice round if possible, especially if it’s a new course for you.  You will get a feel for any trouble on the course, can check out hazard locations and determine clubs for yardages on the par 3’s.  Be sure to take notes on a spare scorecard – and make sure the notes are in your golf bag on the day(s) of competition.
  • Practice with your driver and putter.  It’s great to have confidence going into a competition and the best way to maintain your confidence is to practice and feel comfortable with your driver and short game.  You are likely to use the driver 12-14 times in a round so feeling good about your tee shot is important.  Likewise, if you two putt every green, you use your putter for 36 (plus or minus) shots of your score.  Confidence in your putter is a must.
  • Plan your arrival time for the day of competition.  Plan to be on the first tee 10-minutes prior to your tee time.   Now work your schedule back from that tee time – allow 30-45 minutes for warm-up, allow 10-15 minutes to check-in, then allow travel time to the course (take traffic into consideration) and finally, allow time to eat prior to leaving for the course.
  • Use warm-up time well.  The warm-up time at the practice facility is just that – to help you warm-up.  This is not the time to try something new with your swing, grip, stance, etc.  Many players will warm-up with four or five clubs and only hit 5-10 balls with each club.  Divide your practice balls into four or five piles – using one pile per club.  Begin with a wedge or your shortest iron to loosen up, then hit some mid or long irons, some hybrids or fairway woods then finish with the driver.  Some golfers like to end the warm-up session hitting the clubs they might use on the first hole (i.e. driver, 7 iron, wedge, etc.)  Be sure to end with a good shot…this will help you take great confidence to the first tee.
  • Short game warm-up.  On the practice putting green, begin by trying to make five to ten 3 foot putts.  This will help build your confidence with making putts from the three-foot distance once you are on the course.  You may hit a few lag putts (20 to 30 feet) to get a feel for the speed on the greens – but remember some practice greens do not putt like the actual greens on the course.  You may also hit some pitch shots and/or bunker shots, if a pitching green is available.  (Some courses do not allow golfers to pitch/chip to a practice putting green – so watch for any signs that indicate no chipping, etc.)
  • Nerves and the pre-shot routine.  It’s natural to be nervous on the first tee or even during the first few holes of a tournament.  Relax by taking deep breaths and concentrating on your pre-shot routine.  Keeping things the same with your swing and pre-shot routine will help you be calm and settle into your round.  Don’t let a pre-shot routine slow your round down – be ready when it’s your turn and play “ready golf,” if available.
  • Eat well and stay hydrated.  Be sure to start your round properly fueled – eat a good meal (don’t skip breakfast or lunch).  Maintain your blood sugar by eating simple carbs, small snacks like nuts, fruit or other healthful snacks.  Avoid complex carbs and sugar snacks.  A general rule is to drink 16 oz. of water per hour and to begin by drinking water before playing.  Avoid alcohol, soda, sports drinks and fruit juices.
  • It’s just a game.  Regardless of how you play or what score may be, remember it’s just a game.  Like everyone else, you want to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes.  Some days this is easy - other days golf is hard work.  While we all want to play our best, it is a game and days, weeks and months later, no one will remember your score.  Play golf to have fun and you will continue to love this great game – regardless of the outcome!