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14 Biggest Annoyances on the Golf Course

By: | Fri 13 Sep 2019

On the best days, when the course is neatly nicked, the smell of mown grass is in the air and the fairways lie naked before you, a golf course can be the closest thing we have to Nirvana. But as every golfer who has suffered through it knows, a clogged course where the fairways are bumpy and dogged by all manner of other petit slights is a very different story indeed. Everyone has their special peeves and annoyances on the golf course, the things that can ruin even the best round. We round up some of the worst golfing pet peeves below.   

Not Raking Bunkers

In theory so simple, but in practice so hard, what is it that compels people to ignore raking bunkers? There are few things more frustrating than seeing your ball in the rut of an unraked footprint. The probable dent to your scorecard only compounds your suffering. It takes only a minute to clean up a bunker. Stop being so selfish and get raking! 

Not Repairing Pitch Marks

The rage that is triggered at the sight of an unraked bunker may be worsened by only one thing: unfixed pitch marks. Technically, this needn’t have too big an effect on your game – the R&A and USGA allow pitch marks to be repaired after all – but mentally, it’s a pain to be cleaning up after someone else’s bad etiquette. Repairing a pitch mark should be even quicker and easier than tidying a bunker. There’s no excuse for not getting it done.

Not Replacing Divots on Fairways

Picture the scenario: you’ve untethered one of the best drives of your life, 300 plus yards right down the middle of the fairway, but when you walk up to your ball what do you find? It’s sunk in an unrepaired divot. Not only is not replacing your divots likely to have an adverse impact on golfers coming after you, but it can also cause long term damage to the course. Assuming the divot is somewhat intact, a divot that is replaced instantly can re-root in a matter of days. A divot which is not replaced will not recover for many months, leaving an unsightly brown gash in the turf.  

Not Shouting Fore

One of the highlights of this year’s Open was Scottish golfer Bob MacIntyre calling out Kyle Stanley for not shouting ‘fore’, after a wild tee shot on 17 struck the hand of his caddie’s mum. Sadly, Stanley’s refusal to shout is part of a wider trend in professional golf in recent years: rare is the pro who does more than a meek hand signal to warn spectators about a loose ball. In the amateur game, such negligence is equally if not even more infuriating. A high velocity golf ball is not a whiffle ball: being hit by one can cause serious harm. The risk of an injury is only compounded when golfers don’t shout ‘fore’.

Putting Bags or Trolleys in Front of the Green

With more and more golf clubs and golfers pledging to stamp out slow play, issues like stupidly placed golf bags and golf trolleys are thankfully on the way out. Still, they’re a pain the odd time that they happen. It takes two seconds of thought to conclude that the best place to deposit your bag prior to playing the next hole is by the tee, in the direction you’re walking, not what can feel like several miles away on the opposite side of the green. All it takes is a little foresight, making it all the more irritating when this fails to occur.

Debating about Flag In or Flag Out

The recent decision to allow players to putt with the flag in was meant to help speed up play. In many cases, however, it has arguably had the opposite effect, making the short game more faffy and wasting time. Every golfer who’s played since the new rule will be familiar with the seemingly endless debates about ‘flag in’ or ‘flag out’, and the nuisance of catering to that one member of the group whose preferences diverge from the rest. I’ve never been a fan of ‘the putting with the flag in’ rubbish, but given that it doesn’t even seem to speed up play, surely even its supporters must agree that it has to go.

Slow Play

One consequence of all the scratching about trolley placement and pin in/pin out nonsense is that old golfing nemesis, slow play. To their credit, many golfers, clubs and governing bodies have, in recent years, been taking firm steps to counteract sluggish rounds. Whether golf is actually getting quicker, however, I leave that to others to decide. One thing that is certain is that the issue has its roots at the professional level. From Bryson DeChambeau to the infamous slow playing antics of J.B. Holmes, it’s the pros who are leading the way in slow rounds. Consequently, they should be the first point of reform.


You don’t have to be an environmentalist to hate litter. It sullies the fairways, makes everything smell and damages local wildlife. Worse still, there’s no excuse for leaving it on the course. Virtually every course is dotted with bins and even if a bin isn’t close to hand, what do you think the pockets on your golf bag are for? One particularly annoying kind of littering is discarded cigarette ends. You’re on a golf course, not in a 1940s snooker club. Cut that rubbish (pun intended) out.

No Water Fountains for Refilling Bottles

Fair enough, installing water fountains can be a bit of a bugbear for clubs which are struggling with finances, but it’s annoying for the golfer when they don’t exist. Depending on the price of bottled water in the pro shop, it can also feel uncomfortably like you’re being conned: ‘Sorry pal, no water fountain here, but if you just hand over £3 you can sup on this bottle of Evian’. Maybe I’m being cynical. Maybe it’s just coincidence. Definitely, it’s annoying.

Divots on Tee Boxes

Like a sandy mark on the fairways, divots on tee boxes are an eye sore. And there’s even less excuses for not repairing them. Many clubs feature generous amounts of soil boxes next to the tees, designed for golfers to repair their divots. It’s not difficult: you just scoop up a dollop of soil, place it in your divot and smooth it down. Sadly, this still seems to be beyond many players.

Bad Signposting on Courses

This isn’t so much of an issue on your home course, another track which you know well or one where the next tee is always self-explanatory. On some courses, however, long walks between tees or quirky designs mean that where you go for your next tee shot is sometimes unclear. When ambiguity arises, there’s few things more helpful than an apt signpost, and few things more irritating than when there isn’t one.

Lack of Rubbish Bins

Related to the earlier point about littering, a lack of rubbish bins is a real problem. The good Samaritan urge to put your rubbish in a bin quickly evaporates when no bin can be found. Being forced to carry around soggy crisp packets and rotting apple cores puts a dampener on even the most stoic of player’s experience. Ensure adequate bin supply to help stop litter ruining the course.

Overgrown Rough

It’s a bit of a pernickety point this, but overgrown rough is a pain on several counts. Firstly, it looks scraggly, a bit like an unkempt beard. Secondly, it makes golf more difficult. Now I’m all for toughening up courses into a fair but significant test. Let the rough get too curly, however, and the difficulty is too much. We’ve all goggled at the knee length fescue in tournaments like the US Open. And it’s not fun when even the world’s best can do nothing but hack out, let alone the amateur.

People Who Refuse to Play Faster Golfers Through

Pride is the mother of all sin. And there are few things more irritating than seeing it rear its ugly head on a golf course. One of the worst ways this manifests is in a boneheaded refusal to play other, faster golfers through. ‘They’re not getting through me’ a barrel-chested 24 handicapper vows, holding up scratch men as he chops aimlessly about in the rough. You can beg and plead and wave your arms and tut, but there’s no way you’re going to be let through. 

Related Articles

How to Correctly Rake Bunkers

How to Repair Pitch Marks

Tips for Playing Ready Golf

10 Things All Golfers Hate

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