The Strangest Golf Traditions

Every sport has its own idiosyncrasies, but perhaps none has as many as the game of golf. Golf is an old sport with a long history, and accordingly, it has a lot of written–and unwritten–rules to go along with it. These strange golf traditions may be a little odd, but it’s best you follow them so you stay on your fellow players’ good sides!

Using Odd Names for Point Values

Any game is going to have some unique terminology, but golf is up there when it comes to strangeness. Simply listening to a game of golf, you might think it’s a game about fowl, what with all the birdies and eagles. As it turns out, “birdie” comes from old American slang for “excellent,” while “eagle” is just an extension of that idea. The word “bogey,” on the other hand, comes from “bogeyman,” while “par” comes from the Latin word for “even.”

Yelling ‘Fore’

You don’t have to know much about golf to know this expression. Of course, there’s much purpose to yelling “fore” – it’s how golfers warn other players about errant balls heading their way. But why “fore”? In fact, we’re not entirely sure where the word comes from. Some theorize that it comes from the word “forecaddie,” or the caddy who’d be tasked with finding the missing ball. Others believe the term has military origins, coming from soldiers shouting “beware before” while shooting off artillery rounds.

The Dress Code

In most sports, you’re expected to wear whatever’s most comfortable and allows the easiest range of motion. Not so much in golf. The game has traditionally demanded that players dress up when they hit the greens. That usually means a tucked-in collared shirt, khakis, and cleats, or something similar. While you could get away with something less formal at cheaper resorts, you’re likely to be admonished or even turned away at more expensive resorts.

Don’t Let a Shadow Get in the Way

A lot of golf etiquette revolves around letting the other players play their best game possible. For instance, you’re supposed to be silent when another person is teeing off, and you’re certainly not allowed to stand in the way of their shot. However, the unwritten rules of golf go as far as to not allow you to even cast a shadow across the path of their shot! While this makes sense, in what other game would something like this matter so much?

Shaking Hands at the End of a Round

Showing good sportsmanship isn’t limited to golf, of course. In many other sports, it’s customary to shake hands or give high-fives at the end of the game. Golf etiquette takes it one step further by instructing you to remove your hat before you shake the other players’ hands. Interestingly, the tradition seems to come from the PGA Championship, where it’s commonplace for the pros to take off their caps before shaking hands. Although your group of golf buddies isn’t likely to be strict on this guideline, there are definitely some out there who follow this rule religiously. So, you’d better take off your hat, just in case!

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