Minding One's Manners

Having witnessed the ill-tempered events at August’s Solheim Cup at first hand, Lewine Mair takes a look at the declining standards of etiquette in the professional and amateur codes

Dottie Pepper in a heated discussion with a referee at this year's Solheim Cup

On another occasion, Paula Creamer was patently in a fury when the Europeans gave her a putt as she was about to take the putter back. (One of the Europeans’ caddies had said 'That’s good' when he realised that she was only tackling the putt with a view to helping her partner with the line of her birdie attempt.)

Creamer’s anger was understandable in that a caddie is not entitled to give a putt, but she would have done better not to be heard shouting on TV. By the same token, it was probably not the best that Charley Hull and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff, the opponents, were to be seen giggling nervously.

Moving on, there was another farce at the 15 - another long wait and all-round irritation - when a second player was inconsiderate enough to hit into the aforementioned ill-defined water-hazard.

Paul McGinley, next year’s European Ryder Cup captain, felt a certain sympathy for the Solheim Cup girls in those instances where the rulings had gone awry.

However, where Lewis had complained that the elongated goings-on in her match had cost the Americans their building momentum and probably a couple of points, McGinley suspected that the player had hardly helped herself. He cited a salutary lesson he had learned at the start of his college days at San Diego University – the story of how he had rounded on a playing companion from UCLA who had buried his putter in the side of the fourth green. McGinley lost his own concentration in the process and, when he got back to base, he had a telling-off from his coach. The latter told him that the miscreant ways of his playing companion were nothing to do with him, and that he should have remained focused on his own game before reporting the incident at the end.

McGinley’s main grouse with the Solheim girls concerned the lack of etiquette being shown to the Europeans by those Americans who walked from the greens the moment their own putting was done. What made him doubly aware of the goings-on was that he had shortly before been talking to Tom Watson about the spirit in which the 2014 Ryder Cup should be played. Both had been adamant that the match should retain its edge but never at the expense of good manners and integrity.

"The Americans even went on walking off the greens in the singles after they had been lambasted for it over first couple of days,” said the Irishman. "I’d be very disappointed," he continued, "if any of my team were to behave like that. It’s totally out of order and it’s also counterproductive. You don’t want to give your opponent that kind of ammunition."

Putting practices, for what it is worth, are covered under ‘Etiquette’ in Section 1 of the Rules of Golf under the heading, "On the Putting Green". Here it states, "On the putting green, players should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out.” Penalties can be applied where a player “consistently disregards these guidelines".


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