Pasture golf is a return to Scottish links style courses. Technique over technology, it makes golf both fun and affordable to play. golf etiquette and local rules

Tired of super manicured courses, ridiculously priced greens fees, spendy clubs and fancy clothes? You'll love the back to basics play of pasture golf!

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Pasture Golf Etiquette and Local Rules

Local Rules: A set of regulations that are ignored only by players on one specific course rather than by golfers as a whole. (Henry Beard and Roy McKie from Golfing - A Duffer's Dictionary)

Golf is not an anarchist sport. There are rules, you know, and you are expected to follow them. There is also an etiquette of play.  Rule number one of pasture golf is don't cut fences and when you enter or exit through gates, close and secure them behind you. Go ahead and visualize Miss Manners out on the links if that helps make the point or better yet, picture what happens when El Toro discovers that the gate is down and decides to take a stroll.

If you think this Black Angus looks impressive you should see the Registered Angus bulls and heifers raised for sale by my friend, Pam Detering, at Rock'n D Ranch in Junction City, Oregon!

yield the right of way

(c) 1995 SoftKey International Inc.

The entire handbook can be reduced to three rules.
One: You do not touch your ball from the time you tee it up to the moment you pick it out of the hole
Two: Don't bend over when you are in the rough.
Three: When you are in the woods, keep clapping your hands. - Charles Price, Esquire

The rules of golf apply equally to the game whether it is played on rough or fancy courses. The etiquette of golf predates designer clothes. It is not absent if you drink beer from a can instead of martinis from a glass, or wear farm caps instead of tam-o'-shanters of Shetland wool with a sports logo on the front. Etiquette defined is the form, manner and ceremony established by convention as acceptable or required in society. Unfortunately, golf etiquette seems to be a dying art. Just as bad as infractions to the rules which abound on any course, on any day, is the rudeness of the players who either don't know or don't care about the niceties of the game.

Quiet Please, Play In Progress!

dairy cattle 3.gif (60576 bytes)

A few summers ago, when Bruce's teenaged nephew golfed with him, he continuously wandered over the line of the putt. This is bad, potentially affecting the roll of the other guy's ball, and it was impetus for a lecture on the subject from Uncle Bruce.

Bruce's hapless wife became personally acquainted with "don't speak to a player while he is in the midst of his back swing." All she said was, "Hey, Bruce,"  in the middle of his shot. Until then she did not know that such a little thing can really upset a guy.

Play it Where it Lies

Jim Griggs sent us the "play it where it lies" photo. Admittedly, it's a bit extreme but there's no denying that it illustrates one of the cardinal rules of golf.

We take the rules seriously in Wyoming and when it says "play it where it lies" we do just that! At the end of a hard week of leading the photo workshop at the “University of the Wilderness” we always break out the “Black Jack” (Daniels) and have a go at the golf ball with the clubs that were a part of the owner of the lodge. Always a bit of fun. After passing the bottle around several times we convinced the only real climber in the group to pose for us dangling off the cliff with a 3 wood and an old yellow ball jammed into the cracks in the rock face. - Jim Griggs, www.selective-focus.com

The Golf Muse

The whimsical nature of the Golf Muse is well known. Your swing may be fine one day and faulty the next. Or worse, great at the first tee and hopeless by the fifth tee. You have to realize, this is the nature of the game and it shouldn't change you into a raving lunatic or moron out there on the course. While some golf etiquette faults are simply caused by not knowing the rules (easily remedied by educating yourself about the game) others are the result of anger on the links. Don't get mad. Get smart. Read what others have to say about golf etiquette and help improve the game wherever it's played.

Etiquette Links

What happens when municipal course management tries to speed play? Craig Smith, Seattle Times staff reporter tells the story in "Slow municipal-course players now must pick up the pace."

We recommend a visit to the Mr. Golf Primer for a complete rundown on etiquette basics.

Local Rules


Course Name: Castle Grove Country
Course Address: Monticello, Iowa
Local Rule:
If ball lands on a cow pie, you must play it as it lies.

Course Name: Baker Range
Course Address: 380 Malcolm Drive, West End, NC -
Here in the Sandhills of North Carolina, pine needles, oak leaves and foot high fescue can easily hide a golf ball. We allow two free drops from leaf piles per round. - Bill Baker

Course Name: What Fore? (A private course in Nixon, Texas): 1) You can golf and drink, golf and shoot, but not drink and shoot. 2) Shooting your opponent's ball out of the air equals a hole-in-one on your next hole, but still counts as a stroke for him. 3) Targets are located halfway to the hole. Shooting the target (in one attempt) allows the golfer to advance the ball to that point to begin play. 4) Don't use your hands to retrieve your ball from the badger den on the fifth hole. Thanks to Nick Gaylord for sending this one to PastureGolf.com - 11/30/03)

Smedberg Pines Golf Course in Pollock Pines, California - Bear shit counts as a "loose impediment". The house may be considered a "hazard". Don't spend more than 5 minutes looking for any one ball. Beware of cars on #4 and #12. Read yardages on every hole, it's a short course. See nothing, feel nothing and be the ball.

WaTaShi Pasture Golf Association Course in Crawfordville, Georgia Rule # 7: is "You can cheat but if you get caught, fess up! No argument."

Ernie Holzemer's Four Hole Pasture Golf Course in Amidon, North Dakota, has it's own particular rules (as reported in the article titled "'Fore' for four" by Lauren Donovan in the Bismarck Tribune, April 18, 2003). Cal, thanks for sending this one in...we're waiting for pictures and a write-up!

No Golf Carts Rule - It would cut playing time down to five minutes.

Badger Rule - "If a badger steals your ball, don't mess with the badger."

Gopher Rule - "If a gopher steals your ball, it's legal to retrieve it from the gopher hole."

7-Iron Rule - "Use your 7-iron to kill rattlesnakes."

The Pasture Golf Course at Lackey Farms of Thorndale, Texas, has the “Dog Rule” - A. If a dog or coyote picks up your ball, you SUBTRACT one stroke, but you must play it from where ever the dog drops the ball. B. Only one dog bonus per hole allowed. Multiple pick-ups don’t count. 1st time ball falls out of dog’s mouth, that's where you play it from. (Source: www.LackeyFarms.com)

Here are a few examples from Golf Alaska! The Great Alaska Golf Guide by Karleen Grummett (Silverfox Publishing, 2000).

The Raven Rule - Muskeg Meadows Golf Course, Wrangell, Alaska
If a raven steals your ball, you may replace it with no penalty, if you have a witness to the theft.

The Critter Rule - Birch Ridge Golf Course, Soldotna, Alaska
Please allow moose and other wild critters to play through!

The Bear Rule - Bear Valley Golf Course, Kodiak, Alaska
Bears have the right to play through.

Relief from Moose Tracks - Mt. Fairweather Golf Course
Take relief from moose tracks.

Free Drop - North Star Golf Club, Fairbanks, Alaska
If raven or fox steals ball, take free drop at theft location.

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This Page Updated: February 2, 2008

Copyright © 1999-2012 Bruce Manclark & Cory Eberhart