There is a lot more to playing golf than striking a ball.
To greater appreciate the game, golfers should immerse themselves in the game's lore. Things such as the rules, equipment, history, swing techniques, tournaments and many other topics can go a long way towards increasing your enjoyment the next time you are out on the course.
But above all else, a golfer must learn to have fun while playing.
In our high-stress world, we all need to relax and enjoy life a little more. The golf course is one of the best environments for that to happen. It is a great place to spend time with friends and family and also a great place to meet some new friends.
One of the coolest things about the game is the lack of referees or umpires.
During a round you are your own umpire. You decide how you want to play. Hopefully it is by the rules of golf governed by the United States Golf Association. To learn the rules, you can visit USGA.org or buy a rule book at your local golf shop for a couple of bucks. The book is small and fits easily in you golf bag.
I would encourage all golfers to carry one!
Another part of golf that you should learn are the rules of etiquette. They are equally as important as the rules of the game and as important as hitting the golf ball.
The etiquette concern I notice most often involves pace of play. You should try and stay in place with group in front of you.
This isn't always easy.
For example, if a group of beginners tess off behind a twosome of avid golfers in a cart the odds of keeping up are not good. In this situation you should try to keep a good pace, but if you see groups behind you starting to back up you should let them through.
This goes both ways.
Veterans of the game should exercise a little patience if they get behind a slow group and ask to play through at the appropriate time. It does the game absolutely no good to start yelling at a golfer that is probably already struggling. Remember we all had to learn sometime!
Care of the golf course is another one of the rules of etiquette that is easy to learn and easy to do.
Remember to rake the bunkers, fix ball marks and divots. Golf course grounds crews work extremely hard to keep the course in good condition and we should help them. As Chuck Ruppert used to tell the high school golf teams: Pop cans do not grow! Please do not litter and if you see someone litter, pick it up and carry it to one of the waste cans.
Another item that deserves attention is the use of golf carts. They are not SUVs. Remember to stay on the cart paths when present and check the golf shop for any local rules for golf cart use that might be in effect.
Typically, an 18-hole golf course is over 160 acres of beautiful environment and as golfers we must all do our part to keep the course in good shape. We should try to leave the course in as good or better condition than we found it.
Below are some upcoming events to check out.
- First Tee programming starts June 17.
- On June 5, junior golf lessons start at Souris Valley. Lessons for boys and girls ages 12 and under are from 8:30 a.m-10:00 a.m. and lessons for boys and girls ages 13 to 17 are from 10:30 a.m.-noon. Lessons will take place on Fridays in June with special events for the kids to follow in July.
- City Match Play begins July 1. Sign up at Souris Valley for $10 matches, but remember you must have an NDGA Handicap.
- Youth For Christ is on June 8.
- Women Building Hope is on June 15.
- Boy Scouts of America is on June 21.
Tip of the Week - Work on a good and comfortable grip. Too much tension and the club will not release. Too loose and the club will turn in your hand.
Rule of the Week - Rule 21: A ball on the putting green my be cleaned when lifted under Rule 16-1b. Elsewhere a ball may be cleaned when lifted, except when it has been lifted (a) To Determine if it is unfit for play (b) For identification, in which case it may be cleaned only to identify the ball (c) Because it is assisting or interfering with play.
Quote of the week - "So by trying to imitate their heroes, trying to look pretty, and yet looking terrible by swinging from the heels for distance, most average-scoring golfers are in a rut. They need to forget about how they look and think instead about where the next shot should land and how they are going to get the ball from here to there." This quote comes from the Doug Sander's book, "Compact Golf."
Good golfing and keep it in the fairway, Steve.
(Steve Kottsick is the head golf professional at Souris Valley Golf Course. His column appears in the Minot Daily News during golf season. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org)