The tournament player has responsibilities during his round which are spelled out in Rule 6 — The Player. If a player’s caddie violates the rules, the player incurs the applicable penalty as stated in this rule. What Rule 6 doesn’t cover is etiquette and behavior. Instead, there is a complete section in the front of the rule book devoted to this subject; in some cases this part is never reviewed by tournament players.
During the many years I have been involved with tournament play it always amazes me how many players arrive at the course unprepared for their practice round or the championship.
The staff and tournament officials put in a lot of time preparing events so players can have the best tournament experience possible. The NCGA takes pride in making sure the player has the pristine conditions for competitive golf. Players also have the responsibility to prepare themselves by reading and understanding the conditions of the competition.
Players seem to just find out what their starting times are and ignore all the remaining information. As an example, a player shows up for a practice round at the assigned course and is not in compliance with the club’s dress code. He or she is then asked to change or leave simply because he or she failed to read the player information sheet. This is embarrassing to the NCGA, the club and to the player.
Players need to honor the policies of the different clubs if they want to continue to have reputable venues available for our tournament program; it is not an easy task to procure private golf courses for tournaments.
Another major responsibility is to be at the assigned tee on time. Rule 6 covers the consequences of being late to the tee but does not cover the courtesies that should be granted the starter and the other fellow competitors. The players should go to the first tee when the group in front of them is leaving the tee. This way there is plenty of time for the starter and the players to exchange the necessary information and to hear from the starter what is important for the round other than the Local Rules. Players should arrive at the first tee on time not only to avoid penalty, but also to allow time to receive additional information and count their clubs.
The responsibility of being a marker is often violated as well. Rule 6 states that after each hole the marker is to record the score of his fellow competitor for that hole. I have observed players entering the scoring tent at the U.S. Amateur with a blank card and then asking the player what he had on each hole and honoring the player’s response.
This is an honorable game; however there are reasons for having a required marker for each player. The other part of this is having the courtesy and responsibility to remain in the scoring area even after your card has been completed and surrendered. This way if the player you marked for has any questions you are still available and officials do not have to look for you. It is important to think about the entire group and not just yourself.
There is one last player responsibility – that of thanking the club officials and volunteers who work the event. Regardless of how you play, a hearty “thank you” to the club goes a long way toward securing future events at that same club. One of the biggest challenges the NCGA faces is securing quality venues for its qualifiers and championships. Gratitude expressed for the host clubs is an easy way to show our appreciation. From the volunteers’ perspective, your thanks are the only tangible payment they receive. NCGA volunteers are the backbone of the organization; without them we simply wouldn’t be able to maintain the largest schedule of amateur competition in the country.