Etiquette in Pattaya Golf

golfnutter - etiquette 3

The pace of play – covered in the Rules under Etiquette

It may not be improper here to mention certain points of etiquette, which as it is of importance, should be observed by all who are in the habit of attending matches of Golf. It is understood that no looker-on is entitled to make any observation whatsoever respecting the play – to walk before the player – to remove impediments out of their way – or, in short, to interfere in the most distant manner with the game while playing. The player is at liberty, at all times, to ask advice from his partner or caddie, but from no other person…….Perth Golf Club, 1825.

This extract from the archives of one of Scotland’s oldest clubs may be the first-ever golfing reference to the term etiquette.

It was written at a time when national bodies didn’t exist. Golf clubs could and did devise their own rules. In 1839 the Honourable Company (Muirfield for us plebeians) added the following to its code of conduct: All spectators at golf matches are requested to be silent, and to stand still, while the parties are striking, or about to strike.

One wonders what would befall golf’s modern-day moron – the “in the hole” screamers – should they ever find themselves transported back to a place and time where etiquette meant something. Golf clubs didn’t use security guards back then; they didn’t have to. Any transgressions were dealt with by those in attendance; immediately.

While the Honourable Company did not use the term etiquette, it is clearly implied within their code of behaviour. Golf clubs kept these passages outside the main body of Rules, but over time, the term was to have its own section within the Rules of Golf.

Page 18 of the R&A’s current edition on the Rules is headed: Section 1 – Etiquette; Behaviour on the Course, and includes guidelines on the spirit of the game, safety, disturbances and distractions, scoring, pace of play, readiness to play and care of the course. The section finishes with Penalties for Breach, which includes disqualification. The USGA’s Rules has a similar section.

Golf in Pattaya, as is the case elsewhere in the world, is largely played without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players, care for the course and to abide by the Rules.

Put simply, etiquette is a series of guidelines that exist to show other players, whether through divot repair or awareness of your shadow, a degree of fairness which you would expect to receive in return. In short, it is about showing consideration to others at all times.

Etiquette is what sets golf apart from other sports.

How do we golfers, here in Pattaya, measure up in terms of etiquette?

When compared to the average club golfer in the west – bloody poorly.


One key difference lies in the word “club.” A golf club will typically set its own rules regarding admission of members. Part of that will include reference to the club’s code of conduct, including observing the Rules of Golf. Most clubs will have a process to deal with those who transgress. Most clubs will have written and unwritten rules about the playing of the game. Most clubs will actively encourage or promote etiquette. All clubs will belong to a national body which has a responsibility to ensure clubs comply with all aspects of the Rules of Golf.

Contrast that with the situation here in Pattaya. The closest we come to a “club” situation are the IPGC, PSC and Travellers Rest. These three organisations work hard at providing a club-like framework that promotes the Rules of golf. Because they run competition golf, they maintain a comprehensive handicapping system, publish local rules, and attempt to take some responsibility for the on-course conduct of their members. They also attempt to instil etiquette, but are hampered by the huge disparity in golfing experience and cultural backgrounds of their members.

Also limiting their ability to instil good etiquette practise is the temporary nature of the vast majority of members. Although regular visitors, the majority of members will visit for a limited period of time. Adding to the challenge of instilling etiquette is the fact that Pattaya is often the place where newbies learn the game for the first time.

Some clubs in the west will not grant playing rights to new members until they have played a round with the club captain, and satisfied him/her that they understand and will comply with the club’s code of conduct. Imagine trying that, here in Pattaya?

It is the responsibility of every golfer to learn the Rules of Golf. Most golfers get by with a rough understanding, but that is all that is required, most of the time. It is equally important that golfers teach themselves etiquette, particularly as it applies to locations that fall outside their normal environment – locations like Pattaya.

Show consideration to your fellow golfers, at all times, and the chances are your actions will be reciprocated. If you don’t know, ask.

Happy golfing,


About golfnutter

Born in Wellington, New Zealand over 60 years ago. Introduced to golf - Thailand style - in 2004 and never recovered. I believe Thailand, Pattaya particularly, offers a unique and wonderful golfing experience for all golfers, whatever their handicap. If I can help embellish that experience, I will.
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7 Responses to Etiquette in Pattaya Golf

  1. Simon Hirst says:

    Dear Golf Nutter,

    you give us far too much credit here in the west. The west is a place where memberships are half full and so are the tills. The idea of a new member having to play a round with the Captain and Secretary are long gone except for the elitist of establishments. The days of a visitor showing a handicap certificate at ‘ordinary’ courses has disappeared, indeed if you you turn up with a £20 note you will be ushered straight to the 1st tee in front of some members in a heartbeat.

    In addition, with money so tight, practice grounds have rapidly been turned into driving ranges to fill the coffers and those using them have not a clue about golf. And in order to try a squeeze yet another couple of pounds out of them the clubhouse dress code has been dropped to allow Mr. T shirts and jeans to buy a beer.
    Golf is being ushered into a new age and it is nothing like the previous and it saddens me. Having played in Pattaya 4 times previously with people from various nations I assure you you are doing very well. Caddy infringements are always an issue but you do what is ‘sensible’ and work around it. Equally knowledge of the rules is no worse than anywhere else and indeed far far better than the USA. Dress code is very good and so is behaviour. I know there is an issue about slow play but it is pretty damn hot out there! :O) I personally like to be driven, I could not keep up play if I was walking – I would be just be a puddle of goo after 9 holes and probably quite ill.

    In our golf society the slow ones always went out last – perhaps this is something you could try? Let’s face it, none of us are getting younger or hitting the ball further, perhaps it’s time to put a motor under your bum if you can’t get round quickly anymore. At least in Pattaya you get a cart each. Over here people like to share and a 4 ball in 2 carts is the slowest game on the course. For some reason they always put a slicer and a hooker in each cart…….

    Don’t get too down on golfers in Pattaya – I’ve never met a bad one.


    • golfnutter says:

      Hello Simon,

      I stand corrected. Your comments make for depressing reading. I hadn’t realised the game had changed so much in the UK.

      Hookers and slicers sharing the same cart…. very good, I like that.


  2. Simon Hirst says:

    Hi Golfnutter,

    I paint a bad picture. Perhaps made worse by what has happened on my own course. Like yesterday I didn’t put my name down for the competition and played in the afternoon when it was quiet. My quick 9 holes that would take a little over an hour lasted a full 2 and half hours behind a 4 ball who did not give a monkeys about me. It’s very hard watching 4 guys hitting the ball sideways and taking 10 shots a hole when you are getting round in 37. Guys wearing cut off jeans and T shirts and sweatshirts and jogging bottoms. Permitted on the course for simply having the correct money.

    Not all places are like this thankfully but memberships everywhere are half full. Compared to 1995 – 2000 when you had to go onto a waiting list just to get 5 day membership.

    What is happening to golf? What is destroying golf? Slow play and lack of etiquette. I blame the ‘in the hole’ generation. We had 5 young men on the driving range thursday night, their goal for the evening was to hit as many balls as possible over the side netting onto the 8th fairway. When that paled they were smashing balls about inside the ‘shed’ just for fun.

    I am saddened by it all.

    But hey, in a little over 70 days I shall be in the land of smiles and pretty caddies and fighting with grainy greens! :O) I can’t bloody wait! And buying a certain someone a beer.


  3. Simon Hirst says:

    I will add one further comment from this weekend.
    Now I have been stuck behind a Korean 5 ball and the caddies simply drove round them and we came back to the hole we missed later. No problem. But how about this.

    You are playing a medal round at your own club. You arrive at the 4th tee to find that the Pro shop have inserted a 4 ball in buggies (one hooker and one slicer in each buggie) in front of you. I’m afraid etiquette went down the toilet as the past Captain first had a row with those inserted and then with the owners of the course. It was this close >-< to a fight.

    Perhaps this is just a reflection on my own club, a club that takes anyone with a grubby £20 note in their hand and sticks them on the course any old how. Perhaps it's time I left. I've been contemplating it for a few years now.

    Whatever bizarre things happen in Thailand I can cope with it. I find when things do not go according to plan the drink stop is a welcome friend. Unless they have run out of boiled eggs…..


    • golfnutter says:

      Hello Simon,

      Interesting observation. I know that I am far more tolerant of etiquette abuse here in Pattaya that I would ever be back home. As I understand it, most Koreans golfers don’t actually get to play on a golf course until they holiday abroad. They frequent the numerous inner-city driving ranges, but can’t afford the exorbitant cost of playing at a course. Same for Japanese I suspect. So etiquette is left up to their tour guide….oh dear!


  4. Simon Hirst says:

    Hi Golfnutter,

    I have had the pleasure of meeting so many different people in Thailand from all over the world due to thunderstorms or simply being a 2 ball paired up with another 2 ball by the starter. I know that golf in Korea and Japan is very expensive and that people from these countries have probably not walked real turf too often before. I have seen them playing from the back tees as to play a more suitable tee is a loss of face for some reason.

    Being on a brief holiday allows me to be more generous with them than perhaps an ex-pat who gets stuck once a week.

    If we take complete beginners out of the equation I have only come across one gentleman with whom I would not want to play with again. He lives out there and walks so slow you could play chess with your caddie between strokes. Even on courses with compulsary buggies he insisted on walking for the exercise.

    As to bad manners – never seen it apart from one individual I played with from Indonesia. He had made a pile of money and thought himself a cut above Thai people. To that end when he had played his stroke he simply dropped the club on the ground to make the caddie pick it up. I could quite easily have dropped to his level of rudeness but the caddies were very upset at his behaviour and I didn’t want to make their life any worse. On one hole my caddie expressed to me that they were afraid for their jobs if this idiot had decided to go any further and his caddie was almost in tears. I simply told my caddie to give me all of the caddie chits and i would put them all in the ‘excellent’ slot and that if he didn’t tip his caddie then I would. At the end of the round I dipped into the big notes and made sure all 4 caddies were looked after properly. It doesn’t say sorry but I hoped they could see we are not all A-holes.

    I don’t know if there is a cultural thing between Indonesia and Thailand or simply that this guy had money and could be as rude as he liked. Thank goodness he was just a guy the starter had put with our 3 ball and not a holiday companion. I could have killed him. Nobody has the right to look down their noses at anybody and treat them like dirt. My caddie is my partner and my equal as far as I’m concerned.

    Apart from that I have not seen any real breaches of etiquette in Thailand. You can’t get angry at a bad round when you can always get a little something to brighten your day in the evening.


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