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The new rules of golf… and the etiquette of life

Players around the country are still having some challenges getting used to the changes in the rules of golf. Probably, back on the 1st May, 1812 the gentlemen who decided upon the first 17 rules of golf would never have imagined how today’s game would have changed the list of those rules almost beyond recognition. As one magazine journalist remarked recently, he still hasn’t got over the sight of an adult golfer trying to work out how to drop the ball from knee height. Over the shoulder used to be so simple… drop and jump away!

What hasn’t changed is the need for etiquette, both on the course and off it. Everyone can cite examples of poor golfing etiquette because, as in life, everyone has their own agenda. However, having the right foundations to play the game from is undoubtedly the best way to start and although much of this is about technique and practice, it’s also important to learn the rules and etiquette of the game. This enables you to be able to play confidently with your friends, fellow members in competitions or with strangers at larger events.

Professionals are often berated about their implementation of the rules. The fact is, they will push these rules as far as they can because they do know the detail… and it’s up to the referee to decide if they’ve crossed the line in a request. All golfers though, and that goes from the World #1 down, will agree that etiquette is key. It’s a game of tenacity, trust and truth. You and your little dimpled friend (the ball, let’s be clear about that!) against the world. Even if you’re playing in a fourball and your partner suggest the wrong solution, you should not hesitate to choose the right one… you’re only cheating yourself, your fellow players and the rest of the people in the competition.

The One Day Programmes our Trust delivers at Primary Schools and Golf Clubs helps children understand, and develop, the key life skills they’ll build upon to give them a better foundation for the future. Courtesy, Compassion, Perseverance and more, these fundamental skills will enable the children to choose to be the very best at whatever career they follow. Their geography and environment may not give them the opportunity to get to a golf course, but using these skills will help them make a difference in their life… and at the same time learn about some very special and famous sportsmen.

Think positive. Thoughts are things.

And if those children can choose golf, fantastic – every Club needs a strong Junior membership because they’ll go on to be members at other Clubs around the world and may, in the future, return.

Life was a little bit simpler back then…

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Learning is not just for children

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Just recently our Charity has spent time visiting many Golf Clubs between the Central Belt and the North of Scotland, talking to the Professionals and their teams, and to the Management committees about the opportunities which the Trust can deliver to their Junior sections.

A number of common themes began to appear which were of significant relevance to the aspirations of the Trust. Firstly, the perception of the Trust’s programme as being confusing to the children when presented as part of the existing work being carried out by the Junior Convenor and the Professional. That somehow the messages that they are teaching would be confused by a THET Ambassador teaching them something different.

The simple answer to this is that we do not teach technique… that is for the Professional and his team. What we do teach is the history of the famous Scottish golfing pioneers, and how the life-skills they used to overcome many challenges in their lives can be used by children today to do the same in school work, friendships and in golf too. Yes, we do get them swinging a club, hitting a ball short distances (putting) and playing games, but each activity is designed to provide clues which will help answer workbook questions about a pioneer and their life. Therefore, the programme is hugely complimentary to the work already undertaken by the Club…. unless, of course, it is duplicating it, which leads me onto an obvious follow-up theme.

The number of Professionals, and Junior Professionals, who we met that know relatively little or nothing about the origins of golf in Scotland, the early pioneers and the work they did to create the game which 60 million play today is significant.


Well, to start with, it’s not taught in schools unlike the achievements of many other famous Scots. As one of the country’s greatest exports it’s already on the back foot, and it’s not surprising that non-golfing adults and older teenagers know nothing of these pioneer’s achievements let alone those who work in the golfing profession.

It was also suggested by one or two Professionals that educating the history of the game to young children was of little use. Really? Teaching children about battles which occurred over 700 years ago could also be held up as irrelevant to today’s society. What direct benefit to a child’s life today is there in knowing the date when an explorer was discovered in the African jungle, or the life that brought him there?

The answer, like everything which is taught to children, is education. Without the opportunity to learn from the legacy of those who have gone before, who made their own mistakes and achieved their own success, people are less prepared for what the future brings.

By inspiring our children to aim high, seek success, work hard and develop their talents we can build a better society for all, one which they will be proud to participate in wherever they end up and where they too can contribute to the success of future generations.

Funnily enough, golf can help you do just that.

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