Etiquette demands that pitchmarks are fixed on the green

Yes yes, nice hole in one, but don’t forget that etiquette demands that you fix that pitch mark

Warning: I am a linguist by trade, so I find words and etymology fascinating. Please feel free to skip.

I’m doing the R&A’s Rules Academy Online Rules qualification and the first part of the course is “etiquette”. Or “étiquette” (1750), as I like to spell it. Indeed, it is a French word that means “label, small card”, but also “prescribed behaviour, protocol”, from Old French estiquette “label, ticket” (late 14c.)

This shift in meaning in French (from label to protocol) may have come from small cards providing requirements on how to behave properly at court. Another theory is that it came from behaviour instructions written on a soldier’s billet for lodgings (the main sense of the Old French word).

In golf, this protocol is of course the code of conduct all golfers should adhere to on the course. The rules explain that golf etiquette can be summed up by the word “respect”, for the course, for the player and for the game. There is no referee to rely on during a match at amateur level, so it’s up to the players to compete in a fair manner and come to an agreement in situations where the solution isn’t immediately obvious. I love that about golf. True fair play.