The Etiquetteist: 5 rules to remember when playing golf with women

According to data from the National Golf Foundation, one quarter of all golfers in the Unites States are women — that’s many millions! If you don’t already regularly encounter women during your recreational rounds, chances are, you will at some point in the near future.

To help you prepare for the inevitable (or just brush up on your inherent gentlemanly tendencies), GOLF’s resident Etiquetteist, Josh Sens, allowed me to moonlight in his column this month to offer up some tips on how best to conduct oneself when playing with women. Here, in no particular order, are five rules to remember to make the experience a positive one for all involved.

1. Don’t forget about us!

When someone in your group is playing the forward tees, please do your best not to blow past said tees after hitting from yours. This is a personal pet peeve of mine! I know it’s not malicious, but standing on the tee waiting for your playing partners to realize you haven’t joined them in the fairway is super annoying — especially when it happens more than once.

2. Refrain from offering instruction

Giving swing advice should be treated like offering any advice: don’t do it, unless explicitly asked, or you run the risk of being dubbed a mansplainer.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think anyone — man or woman — appreciates an unsolicited swing tip from a fellow recreational player, especially if we’ve just met.

cypress point
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3. Don’t assume we want to play gimmes

If you want to wipe away your own three-footers, have at it! But please don’t assume that your female playing partners feel the same. I’ve missed plenty of short putts in my day, and so in order to practice (and post a valid score for handicap purposes) I prefer to putt out — and that means everything!

Of course, some women may be open to accepting gimmes, so the important thing is to simply ask before you act.

4. Stop with the sour grapes!

Another personal pet peeve: fielding complaints on the yardage “advantage” women receive on a given hole, especially in a match-play scenario. Stahhhhhp. Handicap indexes are converted into course handicaps based on the set of tees being played, so if you have a problem with the fact that I (or any woman) receive a shot from you on a given hole that also includes a significant advantage off the tee, take it up with the USGA’s course raters!

5. Avoid back-handed compliments

We all appreciate receiving recognition and congratulations from our playing partners when we execute a good shot. But try to avoid a tone of surprise, if possible. Statements like, “I can’t believe you can hit it so far,” or “I didn’t expect you to be such a good player” can seem like compliments, but also carry a tinge of condescension and disbelief, even if it’s not your intent. Keep it general: “Nice shot!” “Great play!” “Good strike!” — and you’ll be in the clear.

Jessica Marksbury

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on