I can say that in my own golf games, I appreciate the silence that comes with it. The still air helps me concentrate on my swing and sharpens my concentration when making that one putt on the green that could be the difference between a par and a bogey. Yet, is silence a requirement for most golfers?
As a general rule, silence is good for concentration and most golfers, including professional golfers, this is very important.
If you are not careful, you can even get kicked out of a tournament for not keeping quiet. But does the dead silence that these athletes require absolutely necessary? or is it just an unspoken rule?
I did some research and found this…
Do Golfers Need Absolute Silence?
I had to do quite a bit of information digging to make sure (not enough to dig a metaphorical sand-trap, mind you), but most answers I came across say that silence helps any golfer, pro or average, maintain their concentration when playing.
However, oddly enough, there are no rules mentioning one has to be quiet in the official United States Golf Association guidelines. Nowadays, golf just expects us to be quiet on the course as a general courtesy.
But what is even more funny is that elite athletes on other levels of the sports kingdom are required to perform under intense pressure and ear-piercing levels of sound.
Think of professional athletes like basketball players that have to shoot crucial free throws when 50,000 people are screaming in their ear. They are expected to do their jobs and ‘win the game’ regardless of the environment.
Or a field goal kicker that can have as many as 100,000 people screaming for them to miss.
Yet pro golfers are the outliers. They will spaz out like children if someone snaps a photo in their backswing during a golf tournament. So where did this come from?
Origins of Golf Etiquette
It’s speculated that being quiet near the tee lies in old forms of elitism, rules of common courtesy that old Scottish royalty may have imposed on their own class. It’s not that hard to imagine either, as golf itself originated early 15th century near the royal Scottish capital of Edinburgh.
From there, golf was officially made a sport by King James IV of Scotland in 1502. Around 1744, the first “open” game of golf was played, and its official rules laid down. Even though the list made clear that, “He whose Ball lyes farthest from the Hole is obliged to play first,” there’s still no official rule that dictates players or audience members have to be quiet during a game.
Possible Golf Rules and the Moment of Silence
If the origins of golf never had a rule stating silence was required, and modern day golfing associations don’t have “be quiet” as an official statement, then what gives? From what I found, the USGA does mention that distractions for the players should be limited, such as having audience members avoid “listening to music or other audio” while a player is concentrating. The USGA even encourages participants to avoid making “any unnecessary noise” while golfers are lining up for a shot. Whereas not an official rule per say, it’s still expected in both the professional league and among average players that you keep quiet, even to keep your cellphone on silent during swings.
Silence is Preference
In several of my sources, keeping quiet can be both interpreted as an official rule, and a common courtesy most golfers will encourage. From a professional point of view, it’s easy to see why most pro golfers prefer that their audiences be quiet when lining up for a shot that could make or break their game. Even though trained to deal with high amounts of pressure, I’d definitely appreciate a few moments of silence if I were in their golf shoes. Plus, being the only talkative one amongst a quiet golf audience will quickly identify that person as rude.
However, on the average Joe side of things, some folks see being quiet on the golf course as an snooty attitude for a “dying” sport. Whereas I personally don’t fully agree with those statements, despite the study done by the golf industry Pellucid Corp, stating the reduction of regular golfers between 2002 and 2016, I also see why being quiet in any sport might seem a bit ridiculous.
Other sports venues such as hockey, basketball, and even baseball are filled with hundreds to thousands of screaming and shouting fans. Professionals in those areas have to deal with loud crowds all the time, up to the point where it’s just “white noise.” Yet, despite opinion, it’s still a good idea to hush up during a golf game. It’s only polite.
Benefits of Silence
Aside from avoiding being rude on the course, silence during a golf game can also benefit both body and mind in several ways. As science points out, silence is good for concentration, so people talking about having “unnecessary” rules in golf might need to keep a more open mind.
Personally, I prefer a good golf game to relax and get away from the more stressful things in life. It’s good to know that teeing up on a weekend morning does, in fact, come with health benefits. And silence, especially on the golf course, is beautiful.
Other Present Day Golf Etiquette “Rules”
Yes, it’s good manners to avoid talking around someone making their first drive. Yet, being quiet isn’t the only unspoken rule that most golfers are encouraged to follow.
In fact, to sound like I’m going in the opposite direction, it’s actually polite to yell “fore!” if you think your golf ball is about to hit someone in the distance! This can also be interpreted as another official rule, stating that other golfers on the course should be “looking out for the safety of others.”
Keep in mind that sound travels faster than any golf ball (as of yet), and disturbing someone with a shout is much better than letting a fast-moving projectile hit that person on the head.
When it comes to other forms of golfing etiquette, it can vary from course to course. However, aside from turning off your cellphone and being silent around other players, some other unspoken rules that would be a good idea to follow are:
- Repair any ground you damage (replacing holes in the grass with sand, raking sand traps, etc.)
- Don’t lose your temper (being angry and making a scene over a missed shot doesn’t do anyone around you any favors)
- Avoid being the slowest player (keep up the pace with your group)
- Respect other players’ time (show up early for a planned golf game)
- Be helpful when appropriate (help others find a lost golf ball, move obstacles, etc.)
- Dress for the occasion (wear nice looking clothes and tuck your shirt in)
- Making your golf cart “invisible” (don’t drive it in such a way that it leaves marks on the course)
- Other little things (just about anything else you observe other golfers doing)
In conclusion, golfers do not need silence in order to play the game well. In fact, many golfers find that listening to music or talking with other players helps them focus and play better.
While some people may prefer to play in silence, it is unnecessary for a good game of golf.
Yet… it’s still customary to be quiet when someone swings, it’s just more respectful.
But if you have a hard time even making contact with the ball, it may be worth getting some professional help. I have used Swing Man Golf extensively, and it was extremely helpful. Check it out and let me know what you thing.