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What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
Last year I played allot of early morning rounds of golf that had me on the course at around the same time the maintenance crews were working on grass cutting, watering the greens, moving tee boxes, moving pin placements, etc. At the courses around my house I was always informed that the etiquette was to wait until they saw you, and they would move to a safe distance, allowing me to play my shot, and after my shot was played and depending on its result, they would resume working. In other words they would work with the golfer to do their best not to slow down pace of play.

Two weeks ago, I was playing in a more rural part of the state (Westlake golf course, Pecatonica IL) and had an interesting exchange of words with one of the grounds keepers.

Basically in a nutshell, here is the story.

We decided to play a round while we were staying at a friend’s lake house for the weekend. We arrived at the course at 9:15 as a twosome. It was a Friday and we had not made a tee time, and were hoping to just walk up and play. The course appeared pretty empty and we were greeted with some news that they had a 12 noon shotgun start and we were welcome to attempt to play 18, but would have to be off the course by noon. My partner and I agreed, and they let us tee off on the 10th which they said would give us a few extra minutes at noon if we needed it.

We proceeded to play speed golf and managed to play the round and finished at 11:56 arriving back to the club house just as the shot gunners were departing for the round.

The story (sorry for the long intro) comes in on the 5th hole (we started on 10, so this was the 14th hole we had played) We had run into the grounds crew on several occasions, and I did what I always did. I would wave my arms or wait a few moments and as soon as I felt my target area was clear, and the grounds crew was aware of my presence I play hit my shot. Like any other person on the course (player, etc) we never intentionally hit towards the crew, and always waited until we felt they were safe and aware of any possible danger. However on the 5th hole (a 180yd par 3) we discovered the grounds crew didn't appreciate our tactics on how we hit into them. He was cutting the grass around the green. A trap protected the right side of the green, as soon as he drove over to the right edge of the trap, I teed up and hit my shot. He had to have seen me because he was looking straight at us when I hit my shot. I am left handed and play a slight fade, especially in my longer irons. So my target was the right edge of the trap with the intent the ball would fade back into the meat of the green. My ball started a little right of my target, however the shot was well struck, had plenty of height and appeared to be fading slightly more than normal. The end result was a ball that started over the grounds keepers head and hit the front right edge of the green and it rolled onto the green, leaving me a longer than anticipated putt for birdie. The grounds crew proceeded to start yelling and cussing, and then drove his lawn mower all the way up to the tee box and yelled at me for not waiting for him to finish. I promptly explained that I waited until he was clear of my target, and that he recognized I was hitting. I explained that I was confident he was in little danger as he was at least 20 yards off the green when the ball hit the surface. He felt that I was aiming right for him, and stated that if I would have hit him, he would have had me arrested and sued me. At that point I apologized and explained that we were pressed for time, and that we had less than 3 hours to complete 18 holes of golf. He proceeded to give me a lecture, which just angered me, but I didn’t let him ruin the experience, apologized repeatedly until he was finished with his rant.

I proceeded to the green, putted out and moved to the next hole. But I am curious. What is the expectation of the player and the green's keepers. Are they supposed to move for you, or are you supposed to signal your intention to hit, make sure they are reasonably safe and proceed to play. This guy felt that we should have had to wait for him every time he occupied the same hole we did (citing two examples on the previous 9 when we hit while he was on the hole, and the closest we ever came to contact was the shot I already described)

Should we just sit back and wait 15 minutes while they finish working? Had we done that on every hole we encountered them on, it would have turned into a 4+ hour round and we would have finished maybe 12 holes in the time frame we had.

P.S. I misspelled etiquette in the title bar, if a mod could please change that. I can only edit the body of the post.

THank you
post #2 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

that's a pretty damn big nutshell. but in my experience the greenskeepers have always moved for me to hit. and i can understand them not wanting to for that would prolong their work at that hole. but, you didn't pay 20 buck or however to watch a whole bunch of guys landscape. so, i'd just do as you did, wait til they're not in the general direction to where you're hitting and go ahead.
post #3 of 54
Thread Starter 

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

Originally Posted by senorchipotle View Post
that's a pretty damn big nutshell.
sorry, I realize it was VERY long winded, but I didn't think i could shorten it without leaving unanswered questions.
post #4 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

I suspect what angered the greenskeeper was the fact that you were aiming pretty much at him. I got from your post you were aiming left of him, but in his general direction. To make matters worse your shot started out farther right than you intended so I imagine from his perspective you were aiming at him and if your shot hadn't faded as strongly as it did you could easily have hit him (had it gone straight). I for one really don't like it when someone is setting up to hit their shot and are aiming right at me. Bottom line this is extremely dangerous. I won't hit a shot aiming at someone unless I know they are well beyond my ability to reach. It also sounds like you both were being pressed for time. He had to finish mowing prior to the shotgun start just as you had to finish playing so I'm sure he was also trying to get done and that might have influenced his desire to let you hit your shot and put him off schedule.
post #5 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

my experience with grounds crews is that when they see me walk up to the tee box, they get out of the way, shut off their machines and wait for me to hit. I would expect the course managers to give the grounds crew these guidelines.
post #6 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

I play in the morning a lot and I just treat them the way I would want to be treated.
post #7 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

unless those greens keepers paid for you to play, id think they should move out of the way when they see someone on the teebox/ fairway hitting. The courses i play thats usually always how it is, they'll move out of the way and put all of their equipment on idol so its making less noise..
post #8 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

What you did sounds dangerous. Unless you could say with certainty that the greenskeeper had move away to allow you to hit, you probably shouldn't have.
post #9 of 54
Thread Starter 

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

Originally Posted by Chief Broom View Post
I suspect what angered the greenskeeper was the fact that you were aiming pretty much at him. I got from your post you were aiming left of him, but in his general direction. To make matters worse your shot started out farther right than you intended so I imagine from his perspective you were aiming at him and if your shot hadn't faded as strongly as it did you could easily have hit him (had it gone straight). I for one really don't like it when someone is setting up to hit their shot and are aiming right at me. Bottom line this is extremely dangerous. I won't hit a shot aiming at someone unless I know they are well beyond my ability to reach. It also sounds like you both were being pressed for time. He had to finish mowing prior to the shotgun start just as you had to finish playing so I'm sure he was also trying to get done and that might have influenced his desire to let you hit your shot and put him off schedule.
The shot started in his general direction, but the green was down hill, and he was 20 yards short of it. Had it gone straight it would have gone over his head. It does not excuse the shot, and I could see what you are saying that it very easily could have appeared that I was aiming directly for him.
post #10 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

Originally Posted by brgolf View Post
What you did sounds dangerous. Unless you could say with certainty that the greenskeeper had move away to allow you to hit, you probably shouldn't have.
I have to say, it's not always so simple, and I wish courses would come up with some established protocol.

Some courses here the maintenence crews wear helmets, others no. Some courses the crew will move aside and let you hit and actually LOOK at you to make sure they can avoid an errant shot. Some places they simply don't care, keep working (which, I think, is bad policy), don't look, and are generally sitting ducks.

I do not like to hit into people, period, so if a grounds crew guy is in my way I will wait for him to move. Sometimes I will need to whistle, yell, or make a gesture -- which usually works. I see no reason to pay a full green fee and then have to tee up a ball with someone darting around the fairway or green. In an extreme case with a new hire I had to call the clubhouse and demanded to have the maintenence supervisor come out and educate this total idiot who was working on a sprinkler 20 yards in front of the tee box on a par 5 and refused to move.

All courses push the workers to finish quickly so they don't like to stop. The worst is when some guy is doing a task, going from hole to hole, and he is basically following my group down the course. Why oh why don't those numbskulls work backwards through the course like the (smarter) cart girls?
post #11 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

If I were you (and assuming you're the only player out there), why not backtrack and play a couple holes again while you wait on the grounds crew to finish their jobs? I don't think anyone would have a problem with it, and it's basically free practice time while you're waiting on them to mow, etc.
post #12 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

Why would you apologize to this fool? I would have told him, "Buddy, if I wanted to hit you, I would have. Your still standing here, so relax and get out of my way so I can drain this bird!"
post #13 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

The groundskeepers around here are usually quite good at getting out of the way momentarily without me even saying something. Sometimes they will see me and keep on working, but I will whistle or yell Heads Up or something just so they know I'm there. If I were you I would have just yelled out to the guy to make sure he knew you were there, and then he should have been fine with you hitting.
post #14 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

There are always at least two sides to a story. My experience at my two home courses has been nothing but positive. Grounds crews always yield to the golfer as soon as they see you - never an issue. I've had to wait a bit at times, depending on the hole, to catch their attention, but they don't just turn their backs and move on with their task. They stop the power equipment, and step aside.

By the sound of your story, these guys were pressed for time, which would explain their side (at least how it was told). Once you explained your side, and apologized if necessary, the issue should be closed. If someone is still chirping at you, it's on them.
post #15 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

If they saw you on the teebox, they should have gotten out of the way and let you play, then they could have finished what they were doing. They used poor judgement and poor communication from the clubhouse not letting them know you were approaching wanting to play through. That said, you shouldnt have hit your shot on a par 3 while they were near the green. Ive had grounds crew see me coming and move a bit out of the way, not realizing that im not not that good and being 5 yards off the green really isnt that safe from 150 + yards away. Once a guy was literally just a few feet off the green as I was about 175 from the green. He motioned me to go ahead and hit, I guess he was more confident of my ability than i was. I did hit the green and made par but its not a shot i normally pull off, I was very nervous about even attempting it. I think some grounds crew members that are not golfers have no concept of time or care about what you're doing, I think thats what you ran into. They dont realize that they ARE in YOUR way, much like someone stocking shelves at walmart for example as you're shopping. They should always acknowlege your presence, yield to you in a courteous and friendly manner, and then go about their business after you're gone. You should in turn thank them for their cooperation and tip your hat or wave to them as you leave their area and go on. Verbal or even physical confrontations should never happen.
post #16 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

I've never played a round where this has been an issue. Whenever I come up a grouns crew, I just wait till they see me and they've always waved me through & then moved out of the way. It's simple ettiquite for them to move and simple ettiquite for me to thank them when I get up there.
post #17 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

I'm glad we have a courteous grounds keeper. If you are anywhere close, he'll stop and allow you to finish the hole. The wife and I were on the green this weekend when he was coming over to cut the grass. He stopped quite a distance away, powered down the machine, and waited until we were done with our putts. We bagged our clubs and then, he continued his ride up to the green.
post #18 of 54

Re: What is proper ediquette when play around the grounds keepers?

I just had this happen a few weeks ago. Stood on the par-3 tee box, for ten minutes. The chuckle head knew that I was there, and just never moved. Instead of getting angry, or forcing a confrontation, I skipped the hole and returned to it later. Let in the day I was playing out a par-5 when the same guy came past me in the fairway, headed to the green I was playing to. I thought CRAP, I'm gonna have to stand in the fairway now until he's done. When I drove up to the top of the hill to see if it was safe to hit, he was sitting well off the left side of the green waiting for me to play through. While I was angry at the first interruption in play he did a good job of diffusing the situation, both by staying out of the way and apologizing for not moving off the hole.
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