"A Gentleman's Sport" - The forgotten Art of 'Etiquette'

The World has seen a 'million' sports and many 'Games' are played by one and all but there are but a few which are referred to as a 'Gentleman's Game'. Literally a 'Gentleman's Game' is not a quiet respectable, slow moving, hoity-toity sport but rather a Sport or Game played in a Gentlemanly manner!
The British deserve a word of respect and regard for much of the decorum and flair spread through-out the World during the Governance of the British Empire known as the Commonwealth Nations. Whatever said and done the British rule, pomp and pageantry was part and parcel and soon passed on to the Citizens all and sundry.

Soccer is considered the 'Common Man's' game and is easily the most popular played in most Nations including the Communist Bloc Countries too! It is not a surprise as it is relatively inexpensive to play as only a 'ball' is basically needed and 'two teams' can challenge each other. Rugby Football is the tougher version termed the 'Man's Game' played between two 15 Man Teams. Gentlemen play the rough and tough sport to prove their Manhood and there is nothing at all gentlemanly about that!

Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, Karate, Kick Boxing and the latest craze 'WWF' are all different Gentlemanly Names for brutish strength displayed in smashing the opponent to secure Victory! The Art of Self Defence is a gracious expression to approve combat in Judo, Karate and Wushu!

The Art of War was symbolized in the creation of probably the greatest ever 'Mind Sport' Chess. The strategy, planning and implementation to trap the opposing King and to capture the enemy by Check Mating to earn a victory without shedding a drop of blood is simply exhilarating. The Historic beginnings are traced to the French Revolution and Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was credited with the discovery of the Game of Chess. Sadly, today the Art of War and combat is depicted in every possible 'Game' in the series of Computer Games and the spice and savoury to entice and attract children notwithstanding addicted adults to play Computer Games, the emphasis on violence with explosion and destruction is in the fore-front.

The Sport of Kings, Lords and Ladies as introduced by the British Empire, Horse Racing is an expensive hobby not affordable in developing, under-developed or third World Nations as many Countries are. Cricket has long being known as the 'Gentleman's Game' and before the competitive spirit turned Professional and 'Tonnes' of money came rolling in to the coffers of Cricket Boards and the International Cricket Council turned the Game in to an International Industry the Art of 'Etiquette' has gradually being 'Forgotten'.

In the days gone-by a Batsman would 'walk' if he knew he was out without waiting for the Umpires finger to go up. There has been occasion when the Umpire has ruled the Batsman out and the opposing Captain calling the Batsman back as the decision was incorrect. Where will you hear of that today? The Third Umpire, Match Referee, the Referral System what next?

Golf at the Royal Colombo Golf Club since it's inception and through the transition period from British dominance to the Ceylonese during the 1960's through the 80's saw a visible change with the introduction of the 'Open Economy' in 1977 and the Mobile phone! Golf is played serenely at an affordable pace with the players always aware of the Players behind them.

The common courtesy of shouting 'Fore' was one of the first lessons children of Golfing Members were taught. The word 'Ball' was also used when a player would hit further than expected before the players in front moved-on. Another important lesson to the young Golfers from Golfing Parents was to 'Obey' or to abide by the "Rules of Golf".

1. Count your score and declare correctly. (This would seem very easy and elementary but it would surprise you to know that some truly find it difficult to count the number of shots played at a hole)
2. Never claim a drop you are not entitled to. (Often there is no visible 'Dung' or 'water' or 'Not plugged in its own pitch mark' - in rainy/muddy conditions)

3. Never try or ask your caddy to 'Better' your Lie! - Believe me the best of the best have mastered the Art and some Caddies are proven for their foot-work (That is probably one of the reasons Caddies were asked to where shoes!)

4. Never hold-up play, looking for a lost ball. If you insist on delaying wave the players behind you to go through.

5. Walk fast to your ball and be ready to play - The furthest from the hole plays first! (It is rumoured that nowadays players are quite content chatting or conducting business on the phone without concentrating or walking up to the ball)

The Mobile phone has also come to stay and will ring at probably the worst moment-Your playing partner or opponent trying to make a crucial Putt! This is a gross violation of Etiquette. The display of bad manners and lack of courtesy. The thought of even keeping the Mobile on silent mode is as bad because silently you get a call and then an animated hushed conversation with the Secretary or wife still disturbs the concentration of the playing partners.

Another common violation of basic etiquette is a Member enters his name for a competition and is drawn to play at a certain time- then unceremoniously he fails to turn-up and the playing partners are stuck in the playing pack! The appropriate punishment for such offenders is still to be implemented but a suitable remedy would be to be to suspend the offender from the next Tournament or a chosen Competition in the future.

There have been occasions when some members play so badly that they are inclined to walk off during the round and thus leave the remaining playing partners stranded. This is a similar felony to, 'not turning-up' and the punishment should be the same as suggested earlier.

A very common lack of Etiquette is also where players don't stand perfectly still and quiet while a fellow Golfer is playing. The courtesy of not standing in the line or casting a shadow in the line of play are some basics which go un-noticed.

The enjoyment of the Game is the appropriate conduct of it's players in the spirit of competition and sense of moral, social integrity and camaraderie. Golf is not just a game but a noble sport where the blessings of good manners and behaviour can shape one's character and social reform. A Gentleman's Game played by Gentleman known as such because of the Art of Etiquette that grooms a 'Man'.

Golfers! Read the Rules, follow the Rules, give respect and you will certainly earn respect too- Happy and good Golfing! Remember "When the Great scorer comes to write against your name He writes not whether you Won or Lost, but how you played the Game !!!

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