Remember the song “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band? If you’re under 40 you probably don’t, unless perhaps it still gets air time on classic rock stations around the country which, I must confess, I would have no idea.
The part I remember from the song went something like, “Signs, signs, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery breaking my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”
Although it’s far from my favorite tune from that period, I do tend to think of it every now and then when I’m transporting myself around the golf course.
Personally, I like signs. Whoever the first cave man was who carved a crude directional arrow into a boulder to show others the way to his cave, I’d like to thank him (or her). Although simple in concept, signs are extremely effective and efficient.
Oh sure, it’s a nice image from the song to picture the long-haired dude whipping his hat off and climbing the fence and yelling at the cranky old man, “What gives you the right?” But, truth be told, we need signs. Part of civilization itself is relying on other people’s knowledge to keep us safe and get us around.
Think if there were no road signs. No high voltage signs. No flammable materials signs. The long-haired dude whipping his hair out from underneath the baseball cap wouldn’t last long in this modern world without some signs here and there.
Which gets us to the golf course. As I said, I like signs, and I like to utilize them on the golf course.
I’ve said this before, but no one knows the golf course like superintendents and their staffs. They know it better than the golf pro, better than the owner and the general manager and better than each and every one of the club’s members, even those who play nearly every day. Thus, no one can protect the golf course better than the people hired to do that very thing.
This is where signs come in. How can we protect the product without signage?
So why is it that so few people pay attention to signage?
I’m truly amazed at the scope in which signs are ignored on a golf course. And not just ignored, but seemingly purposely rejected. For instance, we have a sticker on each and every bunker rake on the course that says, “Leave rakes in bunkers.” But where do you think most people return the rakes after they use them (assuming they use them at all, which is a whole different article)? About 75 percent leave them outside the bunkers.
Why? I don’t think it’s because they didn’t see the sticker. I think it’s because they decided rakes should be placed outside bunkers, not inside. Last I heard, the USGA suggests that each course decide on their own whether they want them left in or out.
But I digress. I don’t want to focus on bunker rake placement today. Signs, in general, are ignored throughout the golf course. Not only on bunker rakes, but approach lines, wet areas in fairways, scatter signs, directional signs, replace-divots signs, whatever. Golfers have either somehow become immune to looking at them, or have decided that our signs are more like guidelines than actual rules.
But they are rules. That’s the point. The very frustrating point. Almost any business you can think of that has customers on its property has signs that spell out the rules of its establishment. And, for the most part, those rules are followed.
No smoking. Wait here for next cashier. Cash only. 11 a.m. checkout time. Disabled permit required. No wake zone.
I think you get the point. Why do people take golf course signage less seriously? Why are they standing on our fence whipping their hair out and yelling, “What gives you the right!?”
I’m afraid to tell you there is no payoff at the end of this column. I have no answers.
All we can do is keep sticking up those signs in hopes that a few of our members have never heard of the Five Man Electrical Band.
It was a one-hit wonder anyway, wasn’t it?