we’ve heard all the knocks against golf — that it can be too hard, too expensive, and take too long — but the one we’re least willing to accept is that the game is too stuffy. It’s true, golf holds firm to certain traditions, some conceived by men in tweed coats more than a century ago that are as relevant now as a mashie. In recent years we’ve taken a hard look to determine what parts of golf etiquette should remain and what need to be updated for the 21st century. The conclusions are mixed. There are some fundamental principles of the game that are as worthwhile now as they were when Bobby Jones was giving his opponents three a side. Some of the other stuff, though, desperately needs to be put through a modern filter. The guidelines below, covering everything from what you wear to how you play, endeavor to do just that. — Sam Weinman


Years ago during a high school rules clinic, one of my fellow juniors asked an instructor what constitutes proper golf courtesy. “If I have to define it, you don’t get it,” the official replied. It’s that type of systemic vagueness that makes golf decorum so maddening. Until now, that is. Here we tackle the most frequent questions we receive about common courtesy on the course, and how to conduct yourself in such situations.

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