Five Things You Should Never Do When Playing Golf in the British Isles
Scotland, England, and Ireland. Golf’s venerated Ground Zero. You’ll find history, tradition, and a great golf experience – if you don’t screw it up. Based on our 15 years of golf in the Kingdom, here’s a short list of faux pas to avoid:
Don’t Show Up Late
Too often, golf tourists arrive at a classic British or Irish course in their coach or rental vehicle and sprint to the first tee box, shoes untied and golf clubs akimbo. Don’t be that group. Plan your trip to arrive well in advance. Remember: You’re a guest. It’s their club. Greet the club pro and the staff and introduce yourself. (And take your hat off indoors for Pete’s sake.) The locals are very proud of their club and love to show it off. Ask for a brief history of the club, and you’ll likely get a brilliant mini-tour that will enhance your round. On a recent trip to a Wales golf club, we arrived an hour early and left with complimentary club neckties. It’s amazing what a little courtesy will accomplish.
Don’t Waltz into the Members Lounge Unless Invited
Many exclusive European clubs have separate member and guest lounges. Clarify what’s off limits in the pro shop. Oftentimes, you’ll be invited to join the Members in their lounge by just being courteous and offering to buy a pint. Then you’ll be entertained with stories for as long as you like. We’ve made lifelong friends (and angered many a coach driver) by “settling in for the long session” with members at their invitation. If you want local color, work your way into the Members lounge.
Don’t Ignore the Caddies
It’s fine to carry your own bag or drag your own trolley, but remember that the caddies are typically club members looking earn a few pounds or euros for a pub session later. They can add serious value through reading greens, coaching blind shots, and finding errant shots. At the least, consider taking a forecaddy for your foursome. You’ll hear some good stories, and maybe learn a few things about the course you wouldn’t otherwise know. And please take your lightweight stand bag, not that monster cart bag you use at home. Nothing says “tourist” like the guy with the massive tour bag strapped to a poor feeble trolley.
Don’t Dress Like a Slob
The courses in The British Isles tend to be a bit more selective about attire. Make sure you are dressed appropriately. Most courses post their dress code on their website.
If you’re wearing shorts, many courses will require you to wear knee socks. (Some do not permit shorts at all.) Collared shirts are a must. And post round, change your shoes before leaving the locker room. You won’t see the locals traipsing about in their golf cleats.
Don’t Complain About the Weather
It’s the British Isles. It rains. The wind blows. It’s cold, then it’s hot. Prep your bag before you arrive with all the proper attire (and proper libations) you’ll need for the day. (Weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable.) If you’re going in the summer, a valuable tip: Wear shorts (if allowed), and wear your rain pants over them. And remember – you knew what you were getting into. Keep your flask topped off, and you should be fine.
Don’t Expect a Beverage Cart or a Halfway House
Most British and Irish courses are old. Really old. They were typically designed with nine holes out and nine holes in. Most do not offer on course refreshments. You’ll do well to stock your bag with energy bars, a sausage roll from the bar, and a healthy flask. And definitely include a bottle of water.
Follow these tips, and you’ll ensure a great time and an invitation back.