Why Do Golf Commentators Whisper?

Unlike any other sport, golf announcers will often times try to keep their voices down by whispering during the telecast.  Why do golf commentators whisper?

Golf commentators whisper to keep their voices down so nearby golfers playing their shot won’t be distracted.

In golf, playing competitors, fans, commentators, and rules officials are expected to be quiet when a competitor is preparing for and playing a shot.  There isn’t a rule stating that everyone has to be quiet, but golf etiquette expects participants and fans to be respectful of the game and other players. 

There are many things that are different about golf etiquette when compared to other sports.  In this article, let’s discuss in further detail why do golf commentators whisper and also discuss other common issues surrounding golf etiquette.

Why Do Golf Commentators Whisper?

As we discussed above, golf commentators whisper so that their voices do not distract nearby golfers. The last thing commentators want is to affect the outcome of a golf tournament.

It is also important to remember that many on-course commentators are former players themselves, so they understand and appreciate the importance of etiquette.

To capture the best shots and give the best commentary, many on-course commentators and crew member have to be very near the competing golfers. With this opportunity comes important responsibility to uphold the spirit of fairness that surrounds the game of golf.

Do All Golf Announcers Whisper?

During a golf telecast, usually the shot-by-shot announcers are in a booth that is close to or around the 18th green.  The booth is usually located in a temporary tower used for calling the event. 

These announcers are usually a decent distance away from the green, but even then they will be cognizant of golfers putting on the 18th green or any other holes close to their tower and will attempt to be quiet when necessary.  With that said, often times they are far enough away from the action that they can call the tournament without having to be quiet. 

Like all sports, golf also have broadcast crews down near the action.  These announcers will be whispering fairly often as they will be calling part of the telecast while close enough to players where they don’t want to use their regular voice. 

Other announcers will be in strategically placed towers that are supposed to be close to areas that have a lot of holes nearby so they can call shots on many different holes.  These announcers will also be whispering fairly often as they will likely be calling shots when one or more competitors are preparing or playing shots. 

This is all in an attempt to respect good golf etiquette, making sure that they remain as quiet as possible so a golfer doesn’t get distracted while trying to play his or her shot.

Other Types of Golf Etiquette

Below we will discuss other common types of golf etiquette and how they affect the game.

Golfers Avoid Putting Lines

When players are on the green, often times they are putting from different angles and distances to the hole.  It is expected that each golfer and caddie know the putting line of other competitors and stay clear of it. 

Also, it is expected of golfers and caddies to not walk in the “through” line.  The “through” line is the exact same angle of their line, only on the other side of the hole. 

Typically the “through line” etiquette is 3 feet past the hole. Competitors aren’t expected to try and stay clear of the through line for the entire length of the green. 

The through line matters because when a competitor putts, they will likely either make it or come close.  A well struck putt will often roll slightly past the hole, and onto the opposite side of the hole. Because a golf ball often finishes past the hole on a putt, “through line” etiquette exists to protect the subsequent putt (that will result from missing past the hole) from things such as spike marks.

When a golfer misses a putt, they will often go up and mark their ball and pick it up.  They will ask if the marker is in their playing competitor’s line, and if it is, they will move the marker in the direction the other competitor wants them to. 

They will do all of this while making sure to not step or walk in any of the lines or through lines of any of the other competitors currently on the green.  This is done so a golfer doesn’t leave marks or indentions in the line of their competitors, which would be unfair to their competitors. 

Although this unwritten rule is still considered good golf etiquette, it is less important now that golfers are allowed to repair the green where there are spike marks.  Prior to 2019, golfers were only able to repair golf marks and not spike marks.  So if a golfer walked in another player’s line and left a spike mark, they would not be able to repair it.  They would have to try and putt through the spike mark and hope it didn’t affect the ball’s path.

Playing Around the Green

Golfers determine the order to play by whoever is furthest away from the hole.  This method used in the vast majority of circumstances, although there are times where golfers are expected to allow competitors to play ahead of them even if they are furthest away. 

One of these times is when a golfer is on the green but is actually further away from the hole than someone whose golf ball is not on the green.  In a situation like this, when someone hit the ball just off the green but was closer to the hole to someone who hit the ball on the green, the player on the green (even though he/she is furthest away) will allow the competitor off the green to play so all competitors are on the green before anyone putts. 

This is usually done to keep pace of play up.  Prior to 2019, players couldn’t leave the flag in the hole when putting on the green.  So having a player take the flagstick out of the hole to have a player putt, then put it back in for a player to hit their shot from off the green would take extra time.  So players would allow the player off the green to play until they are on the green so when they took the flagstick out, they wouldn’t have to put it back in until the last competitor had made their putt. 

Post 2019, this likely won’t need to be done as players can now putt with the flagstick in the hole.  It’s still possible that this etiquette will be followed, but maybe not as strictly as before the 2019 rule change. 

Also, there are times where the golfer furthest away is, for some reason, having to wait to hit his shot. In a situation like this, the golfer furthest away will usually allow the closer players to play first.  The golfer may be delayed from shooting for several reasons. He could be waiting on a ruling on their ball placement or lie, or looking for his ball, or trying to figure out where to drop the ball after hitting it into a hazard. 

Regardless of the reason, to keep pace of play up, the golfer will indicate to their competitors to go ahead and play while they figure out the situation.

Allowing Competitors to Play Up

Playing up is a golf term that means to allow other competitor groups to play shots into the green while they are still on the green.  They do this strictly to keep pace of play up. 

The only times that this comes into play are short par 4’s and par 5’s.  On short par 4’s, once everyone has gotten their ball on the green, they will sometimes allow the group behind them to hit their drives before they finish putting. 

The times they do this are when there is a backup on the tee box.  By allowing the players behind them to hit their drives, it allows them to keep the pace of play going, while still having time to finish the hole before the other competitors are able to walk to the green. 

Just like with short par 4’s, playing up happens on par 5’s.  Instead of drives, on par 5’s playing up applies to the second shot.  As with the short par 4, once the entire group is on the green and has marked their ball, they will allow the players in the group behind them to hit their second shots on the green. 

There are also instances where players will play out of turn because they are not going for the green.  On the tee box on a short par 4, if a player isn’t planning on trying to drive the green, they will go ahead and hit their tee shot while the other players wait for the group ahead to clear the green. 

This is also the same on the par 5’s.  If a player is closer to the green but doesn’t plan on trying to get their next shot on the green, they will be allowed to play their next shot while the other playing competitors wait for the green to clear.

Allowing Players to Play Through

While this is never done on professional tours, amateurs should let faster groups or players play through their group.  Playing through is letting a player or group of players to play the hole you are on while you watch. 

This is done to allow the faster players or groups to play ahead of you and keep the pace of play up.  Usually, this will be a benefit to both groups.  The slower group won’t have to worry about feeling the pressure to speed up or having players hit into them.  The faster group will be able to play their round at the pace they like to and not get frustrated by having to play at a slower pace than desired.

Why Do Players Repair the Ground?

Repairing divots in golf is another example of playing etiquette.  It isn’t a rule that golfers must repair their divots or rake the sand in bunkers after playing a shot. 

Players want to repair divots though so if a competitor hits a ball into that divot, they aren’t playing out of a small hole.  This would be unfair to the other competitors and bad etiquette. 

The same can be said for raking a bunker.  When golfers hit out of a bunker there are indentions in the sand from where they have walked and where they hit the sand while playing their shot.  If no one raked the bunker afterwards, they would be leaving areas of the bunker where future competitors would be at a huge disadvantage if they hit their ball into these indentions.

Allowing the Winning Player to Putt Last

When golfers come to the last green of a tournament, if they know who the winning player is going to be or if one of them has a putt to win the tournament, golfers will allow that player to putt last.  This is done to give the winning or potential-winning golfer the spotlight. 

The idea is the golfer can then take his or her time and review every angle of the putt without worrying about any of the competitors when trying to get a read on what the putt will do.  This is something that is good for television as well.  It allows the announcers to set the stage and talk about the putt or the player’s ability to handle the pressure.  There have been many huge moments in golf where this has played out. 

As with any sport, there are many written and “unwritten” rules to the game.  For golf, these unwritten rules are mostly about keeping pace of play up and making sure all competitors have a fair playing field.

Joshua Lloyd

Joshua is lead content creator for basketball and golf at Sports Fan Focus. Golf is a passion of his and he enjoys both playing and watching golf in his spare time. To read more about Joshua, visit the SFF About Us page.

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