Golf has come a long way since 1457, when King James II of Scotland tried to ban the newfangled pastime and get everyone back to archery practice (yes, really). But despite its many updates since -- technology and fashion, for example -- many of golf’s rules, written and unwritten, remain trapped in amber. Time to update the old game’s guidelines, starting with our humble suggestions below.
Dress for this century
Nice guy, grandpa. Too bad about his fondness for gray tweed. That’s what the dress code called for in his dreary era. But you don’t have to stick to fuddy-duddy fashions. Today’s golf clothing lines are hip and sleek, and they come in a kaleidoscopic range of colors. Sure, some youngsters overdo it. But it’s better to look like an explosion in a paint factory than it is to cut the profile of a rumpled ball of wool.
Take advantage of technology
The old guard likes to talk about “conforming equipment,” meaning clubs and balls approved for tournament play. But this is a hard game, and you don’t play it for a living, so take advantage of today’s tricked out technology, like forgiving drivers with “non-conforming” faces and extra-lively balls that fly impossibly far and straight. No, they’re not allowed in official competitions. But you can worry about that when you turn pro.
Don't forget the tunes
Silence is golden. Correction. WAS golden. How times have changed. Though “quiet on the tee” remains a reasonable rule, there’s no need to treat the course like a library, tip-toeing about in a reverent hush. Don’t be shy. Stuff a Bluetooth-enabled speaker in your bag and pump out tunes as you go about your round. You can turn the volume down when your buddy’s putting. Or if you’ve got a geezer in your group.
Keep a move on
Life used to move at a leisurely pace, allowing for ponderous pre-shot routines and painstaking consultations with your caddy. At least, that’s how Lord Grantham played. But that was then, and this isn’t Downtown Abbey. Chop, chop. Time’s a wastin’. Break out your laser range-finder. Get a quick gauge of your distance. Hit it. Find it. Do it again.
Follow basic phone etiquette
Back in the old days, there were no cell phones. There also wasn’t any penicillin, so let’s not get all weepy about the way things were. Progress has been made. And golf has adapted. Yes, a lot of private clubs ban cell phones altogether. But those snooty places aren’t for you. No need to be phone-phobic. You can bring one. Just set it on vibrate, and only use it if it’s urgent, not for idle chit chat, especially not if you’re holding up play.
Get some wheels
Mark Twain called golf “a good walk spoiled.” But he lived in a benighted age, when walking the course was the only option. Our more enlightened era has given rise to super-cool alternative modes of transport, and we don’t mean the golf cart. We mean the GolfBoard, a wheeled snowboard, of sorts, that works on grass. It’s easy to operate, and, more important, it’s a lot of fun. On the slim chance you wipe out, just think of it as a good ride spoiled.
Drop the macho shtick
Ever hear the one about the guy who’s playing golf with his three buddies when... yeah, you probably have. But that sexist joke is tired, and so is the good-old boy backslapping, relics from an era when golf was said to stand for “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.” Get with it, fellas. If you like things single-sex, join a boy’s choir. Today’s crowd plays in mixed company.