Gender Etiquette: Is It A Thing?
During a recent round of golf with a group of men I have never played with before, I noticed something was “off.” It’s not like there was anything I could put a finger on, but there was some discomfort.
Maybe it was the way they were walking … fast and unsure of themselves. There was not a lot of talking going on, yet plenty of “conversation” with their glances at each other and trepidation in their mannerisms. It finally hit me. They were not used to playing with a woman.
It was sweet that they were so darn sensitive to the fact they were in mixed company, but the fact that they were uncomfortable made me uncomfortable. Should I drop an F-bomb just to put them at ease? No. My mom would kill me. Let one rip in someone’s backswing to take the edge off? Again, no. I’m a lady. So I decided we would huddle up on the next tee box and go over a few ground rules.
- Please take off your language girdle and express whatever it is you want, in whichever way you want. So you cuss. Believe it or not, I’ve heard those words before. I won’t melt, nor will I be offended.
- If you have to go, you have to go. Find a tree or a bush or whatever makes you comfortable and go to town. Extra points, though, if the rest of us in the group can’t hear the splatter.
- You don’t need to hide your alcohol. I can smell it, and I don’t care. All I ask is that if I ask for a sip, give me one.
- If you leave a putt short and groan, “Awwww, hit it Alice,” don’t look over at me in horror like you just broke the TV after your mom told you not to play ball in the house. I’m a big girl. And my name is not Alice. All good, man. All good.
- Don’t take too many practice swings. For the love of everything good, just hit the ball. Trust me. Those extra 437 practice swings are not going to make a difference. It will, however, make a difference in the number of people who are willing to play with you.
- The waggle. Refer to No. 5.
- Separate tee boxes: If I am playing tee boxes ahead of yours, don’t freak out if you forget and drive past mine before I hit. I get it. You are anxious to see if your ball stayed in the rough or bounced in the hazard. Everyone has a little bit of “it’s all about me” in them. That’s what makes us human, right?
I started to wonder if men and women always feel the need to curb their behavior when playing a round of golf in mixed company. So I conducted a poll across a wide variety of social media platforms, simply asking golfers in the Twitterverse and beyond if their behavior on the golf course changes when members of the opposite sex are playing in their group.
I was thrilled to find that there was pretty much a universal answer: We are all golfers. Period. Male, female, beginner, scratch, weekend warrior, junior, retired, etc.
The overwhelming and general theme seemed to suggest that golfers find the game to be more about behaving with respect, overall kindness and a shared passion. Golfers are classy, man.
And one of my favorite things about the game is the fact that we all celebrate good shots differently. I learned this lesson clearly when I was playing in a group that included a junior golfer. He couldn’t have been older than seven. He kept up with the group, oftentimes waiting until we were about 100 yards out before dropping a ball and playing it in. He was such a joy, even if his game was completely different from the rest of ours.
On one hole, after he made an incredible putt, I extended my closed hand toward him for a fist bump. He thought I was pretending to hold a microphone so I could “interview” him about his amazing feat. He leaned forward, spoke directly into my fist, and started to thank his parents for driving him to the golf course each day. This all happened while the group behind us patiently waited in the fairway. The “interview” took way longer than it should have, but I figured, hey, let the kid have his moment.
Golf is just golf, first and foremost. We’re all here to share our love of the game … and all free to just be ourselves.