Dear Sports Fan,
Why do golfers take of their hats to shake hands? Why do they wear pants in the insane heat? In other words, why are there so many rules about golf etiquette, and what are they?
The short story, which is what I am going with here, is that golf is old and steeped in tradition. Many of these traditions started long ago in a much different social atmosphere. Taking your hat off or wearing pants no matter the weather today is not outside the bounds of the social mores across all of society tens of decades ago. For example, women wearing bathing suits that were more akin to a scuba wetsuit than the suits of today was not only accepted in the early 1900’s, but was the standard. It didn’t make sense to be draped in such a heavy garment at the beach in sweltering weather, but the pressure of societal influence was heavier than the physical burden of the outfit.
Another aspect to the discussion is the role that tradition plays in sports. History has always been and continues to be a highly important platform for fans. Considering the past success of your team and the great players that came before are compelling ways to honor your allegiance. Knowing the history is a demonstration of commitment. And whether it is right or not, level of commitment is often the measure of one’s seriousness about their team. To put it simply, tradition is important.
So let’s bring this back to golf and the question at hand. What’s with all the etiquette? Etiquette since the beginning has given golf its character. Things that aren’t absolutely necessary to the game, but add to the overall experience. Knowing the etiquette is a part of learning to play, it demonstrates that you know more than to keep your leading elbow straight and to keep your head down. Most rules are useful, like replacing a divot so the course quality is good for everyone or slower playing groups allowing faster playing groups to play through. And some rules are more about tradition, meant to maintain the strong character of the game and respect its history.
For a list of several standard rules of golf etiquette you can check out Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golf_etiquette.
Thanks for the question,