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How to Play by the Book

May 23, 1997|PATRICK MOTT

Far from being arbitrary or fussy, the rules of etiquette in golf are based on common sense and respect for the course and the play of those around you. They're intended to keep play safe, simple and, as far as possible, quick.

Based on advice from Orange County golf professionals, here is how to properly conduct your play on a typical hole:

* Apart from being familiar with the general rules of golf, you should acquaint yourself with the course layout and the local rules (generally printed on the score card) before you step up to the first tee. It will save time later if a ruling is needed.

* As the foursome before you tees off, remain quiet and still until the last person has hit. You must not hit your tee shot until that foursome has hit its second shot and is out of your range.

* Get accustomed to playing "ready golf" when the course is crowded. This means that players should tee off when they are ready and not necessarily in the order of "honors" from the last hole.

* If your tee shot flies out of bounds or into a water hazard or impenetrable brush, you must hit a second shot from the tee. If you aren't sure if it went out of bounds or whether you'll be able to find it, you should hit a provisional shot from the tee, just in case.

* In every instance, the player whose ball is farthest from the hole is the first to hit. However, if there is a delay (in looking for a ball in the rough, for instance, or retrieving a club), other players may hit out of turn in order to speed play.

* You should not walk in front or downrange of a player who is about to hit a shot from the fairway. If another player is in the line of your shot, you should warn him or her before hitting and allow him or her to get out of the way or stand behind an obstruction, such as a tree. Generally, no player should be downrange from a player about to hit a ball.

* Yell "fore!" loudly if a ball you have hit is heading toward another golfer.

* Never hit your ball to the green while the foursome in front of you is within range. Wait until they are well off the green before you hit.

* If you take a divot on a fairway shot, replace it immediately. Scarring occurs quickly if the turf is not packed back down after a shot.

* If your shot lands in a bunker, be sure to rake the sand neatly after you hit out, smoothing all ball marks and footprints.

* Leave electric golf cars, pull carts and bags well off the putting surface.

* If a player asks for the pin to be tended, the player whose ball is closest to the hole usually does it. When the pin is finally removed, it should be laid flat on the green so as not to scar the surface.

* Always hold your temper. Accept the fact that bad shots and bad rounds are inevitable, even for professionals.

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