Do You Know Country Club Etiquette?

By: Monica Lee
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Stained t-shirts and ripped jeans are not going to make a good impression at the country club. Whether you've been invited due to work or are a card-carrying country club member, you should reacquaint yourself with the unspoken rules of good behavior on the golf course, in the restaurant, at the pool, at the tennis courts... need we say more? 

We'll take you through a day at the club, and make sure your conversation is appropriate, proper manners are used while dining, and you are appropriately suited for all the fun and physical activities. And of course, that you are appropriately attired for cocktail hour and any other formal events you may attend. 

Today, it's more important than ever that you don't mistakenly offend anyone. Take, for instance, if you decide don't want to drink wine with your meal. How do you convey that to the waiter? Some people might think you turn your wine glass upside down, but that clear statement of abstinence might offend those who want to imbibe. Instead, place your fingertips on the rim of the glass and say “Not today, thanks.” Did that response surprise you? Then make sure you run through this quiz to refresh your etiquette. You, of impeccable manners and scintillating conversation, have nothing to fear but uncouth guests.

You are appropriately attired, but there are still disapproving stares. What is wrong?

You are not solely responsible for yourself; if you bring a guest, he or she also must also be appropriately attired. It reflects badly on you if you have not instructed your guest on the dress policies of the club.

Which of these attires are acceptable at a country club restaurant?

Ever wondered what "casually elegant" means? It means dresses, slack suits or skirts with an appropriate blouse and shoes for women. And for men, it includes sports jackets, collared long-sleeve shirts, mock turtlenecks (not T-shirts), dress slacks and appropriate shoes.

Which of these is an example of "smart casual"?

Similar to elegant casual, but a small step down in the type of fabric and style. This is appropriate wear before changing into your golf or swimming attire.

Which of these etiquette rules do you need to do at the tee?

Crowding someone at the tee is not in good taste. Nor is asking others where the tee should be placed. It's courteous to take as little time as possible once you're on the tee.

What is the rule of thumb when wearing perfume?

People want to be able to smell their food, and not smell you as you walk by. Perfume is for those who come close to speak or embrace to get a pleasant scent. Not be overpowered by your particular perfume.

Taking the kids to the Country Club pool? What's a no-no?

Children need to be leak-proof. And quiet. No running and no screaming around the pool. They are expected to act like little adults.

If you're dining at a country club for business, what should you do if you don't want to finish your meal?

You're not required to eat everything on your plate. But if it's a business meeting, no doggy bags allowed. From the continued smell of the food to people making accommodations for your leftovers to be stored in a refrigerator, you are imposing on others by requesting a doggy bag.

Which of these are the rules for using salt at the table?

People always look for the salt and pepper together on the table, don't have pepper at one end the table and salt at the other, so pass them together. Also, keep the pepper on the left of the salt when passing and replacing on the table. And if you know what's good for you, don't offend your host by adding salt or pepper to the food before tasting it.

When should you start eating once you're seated at the dining table?

If you’re seated at a table with eight or fewer guests, wait until everyone is served and for the hostess to begin eating before you start to eat.

Which of these would you categorize as semi-formal attire?

Now you're dressing like you own the place. Remember, no loud jewelry or obnoxious patterns and you'll be well respected.

Now it's time to play golf. When should you let someone play through?

Many country clubs have rangers who use a flag system. A green flag means the pace is good. A yellow flag means you should let others play through. However, if you get a red flag, you need to pick up your ball and follow the ranger.

Which of these behaviors are inappropriate while dining?

All of these behaviors are disrespectful to other dinners who wish to have conversations and don't want to raise their voices over yours to be heard. Also staring is insulting.

What type of shoes should you wear to play tennis at a country club?

Since black-soled shoes leave skid marks, and many clubs require you to wear actual tennis shoes, don't take along your cross trainers. Buy actual tennis shoes, and you'll be welcomed to the club.

How can you pick up the pace if your foursome is lagging behind?

One of the most frustrating things is to wait for a slow group to finish, hole after hole. If you're in the zone, you will probably lose it as you wait. To make all players happy be aware of your pace.

What should you do if you make a divot on the fairway?

Fairways have neat grass and repaired divot holes so the balls can roll or have a normal bounce. You must replace the divot or fill it with sand.

Cheryl meets Becky as you're walking to your restaurant booth. You're not introduced. What do you do?

If you’re with someone and your companion greets a person you don’t know, you should also greet them. It shows you are sociable and friendly.

What does it mean when you put your cell phone on the table when at a restaurant?

Although you may be addicted to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, playing video games and checking messages, don’t put your phone on the restaurant table. By doing so, you show how unimportant the dinner conversation is to you.

You're invited to a formal occasion, what should the men wear?

You don't need the top hat and cane, but for a formal occasion, a tuxedo is the perfect fit. Add interesting cuff links to set off your dapper look. Plus they can be a good conversation starter.

You are drinking ice tea with lemon. What's the polite way to squeeze the lemon?

Use your hand to shield your lemon as you squeeze it into your iced tea, so you don’t squirt your dining companion in the eye. Although it is more polite to spear it with a fork, it's more important to use the other hand to shield your companion.

It's time for a round of golf, what's appropriate to wear for women?

The idea here is no unnecessary showing of skin. If you keep that rule of thumb in mind, you'll be dressed appropriately. For all shorts and skirts keep it mid-thigh or longer.

Not the golf course, but the driving range. What can you wear if you're a woman?

Attire rules are not relaxed even at the driving range. Keep it cool but keep it covered. Denim and athletic shorts are also looked down upon.

Now you're at the restaurant. Which of these fork and knife patterns means you're finished eating?

All of these are positions that tell the waiter information. Option A says your plate can be cleared, you are finished eating. Option B says you are still eating. Option C means you are expecting another course.

What rules apply to golf course attire if you're a man?

There are more attire rules wherever you go, the golf course, driving range, pool and tennis courts. Be sure you know what's what, before your start playing.

What should you do if someone insults you at dinner?

If someone offends you, you shouldn’t insult them back or raise your voice to the person who insulted you. Don’t sink to their level. Just leave the ill-mannered company. That says it all.

If you're passing the salt but need to use it on your food, is it okay to quickly salt your food before passing it on?

If you salt your food while your dining companion looks on, or others are waiting to pass it along to the person requesting salt, you will look greedy and rude. And you surely don't want that.

Can you play tennis bare-chested at a country club?

No male (or female) can play bare-chested. Most likely at your country club, clothing such as muscle shirts, running shorts, jean shorts or bathing suits are not permitted as well.

Which of these are general rules regarding golf carts?

Golf has many different rules of etiquette and this is just for golf carts! There are rules about crossing in front of a shot and teeing off as well.

Which of these are NOT topics for a friendly dinner conversation?

No reason to air dirty laundry in public. You should also never bring up politics or religion due to the controversial and heated nature of the topics.

Should you visit someone by just dropping by unannounced?

Never pay a visit without calling first. Even if the person always tells you to come by anytime, you should still call first. It's called good manners.

You're on the putting green. Which of these etiquette rules should you apply?

These aren't the only unspoken rules when putting. Be sure you make a good impression by moving off the green and to the next hole quickly. Then you can write down the strokes for the previous hole.

Which of these are appropriate dinner conversations?

Good conversation starters are the weather, interests or hobbies of the person you're talking to or hobbies of that person's family. Sports teams can be a topic of conversation but it's best to know the team loyalties of your dinner partners before conversing.

What qualifies as hazards on a golf course?

Bunkers, ponds, pond edges, sand traps and other areas designated by red stakes are hazards. The good news is that you may hit your ball from any of these areas – if you can find it and it’s hittable – without penalty.

Before playing golf at a new country club, what might you want to find out?

Call first to ask if the course is okay with spiked shoes or is a spikeless golf course. Some clubs prefer to maintain a smoother green and require spikeless shoes. However, many players prefer spikes due to their traction ability.

Which of these are appropriate conversation starters?

Unless you want to offend people there is no reason to discuss age, medical problems, or love affairs in front of company.

You don't want to drink wine with your meal. How do you convey that to the waiter?

Simply place your fingertips on the rim of the glass and say “Not today, thanks.” This implies no judgment of those who wish to imbibe.

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