3 Questions Not to Ask

3 Questions You Don’t Want to Ask in Competition


Competitive golf has plenty of rules and etiquette regulations that players should follow, for their own good and the good of their fellow-competitors. Here are three questions that you should avoid asking when playing in a tournament.

By Nancy Berkley


“Is this my ball or yours?”


Many times, more than one player in your foursome will be using a golf ball with the same manufacturer’s name and logo. To avoid confusion, use a permanent marker and write your initials or use some unique mark on the ball. On the first tee, it’s a good idea for everyone to announce the brand and marking on their ball. Remember that in a competitive game, there are penalties for playing the wrong ball. If you ever have to take a provisional ball because your first ball may be lost, remember to use a new ball with a different mark for your second shot. Otherwise, you may find yourself asking, “Is this my first or second shot?” when you get to your ball. In competitive golf, a lost ball will earn you an expensive “stroke and distance” two-shot penalty.


“How far am I?”


Learn to estimate the distance for your next shot. This is especially important if you’re playing a cart-paths-only course. Estimate distance by using yardage markers on the course or cart paths, from sprinkler heads which are frequently marked with distances to the front, middle and back of the green, or from your distance-measuring device. Learn to pace out distances from where your ball lies with yard-long strides back or forward from the course markers. Your estimates will usually be pretty close but still require adjustments for wind, hazards and up-hill or down-hill terrains, plus your personal confidence with different clubs.


“Where’s the rake?”


If your ball ends up in a bunker, make sure to think ahead. Figure out the best entry to your ball from the low side of the bunker, and look for the closest rake. (Never enter a bunker from the top and walk down into it. That risks damaging the bunker’s fragile lip.) If you’re playing a casual game, it’s okay to bring the rake into the bunker and then rake away your footprints as you exit. That speeds up play.



Nancy Berkley, the president of Berkley Golf Consulting, is an expert on women’s and junior girls golf. She is a frequent contributor to cybergolf.com/womensgolf.  Berkley is a member of the World Golf Foundation’s Women’s Committee.