Don’t be late. I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If I only had one piece of etiquette advice I could give you, that would be it. Or, said more positively: Be on time.
A perfect example of the value of this advice occurred this weekend at the Ryder Cup matches. As the clock ticked closer and closer to Rory McIlroy’s 11:25AM tee-time, there was no McIloy to be found. With ten minutes remaining, McIlroy finally arrived courtesy of a state trooper who kindly gave him a quick ride from his hotel to Medinah Country Club in Medinah, IL. Good thing he got the siren-wailing, lights-flashing ride, because the roads were packed with spectators trying to get to the venue. A couple of energy bars, a few putts, and he arrived on the tee at 11:22 with a mere three minutes to spare.
Professional golfers have to be on time. If McIlroy had been no more than five minutes late, he would have lost the hole. More than five minutes and he would have been disqualified.
Would it have really mattered if he had missed his tee-time and been disqualified? It sure would have. Incredibly, after leading the tournament 10-6 after day two, the Americans lost this year’s competition by one point: 14½ to 13½. All things being equal, without that trooper’s intervention, the Americans could have been hoisting the cup instead of the Europeans.
In that case, being late would have been a real bummer for McIlroy, and he knows it. “It’s my own fault, but if I let down these 11 other boys and vice captains and captains this week I would never forgive myself,” McIlroy said.
I realize it’s not often that you’ll have a Ryder Cup tournament hanging in the balance on whether you’re late or not, but make it a habit to be on time every time and avoid the negative consequences of being late—appearing disorganized and disrespectful and having to say, “I’m sorry.” They may not always say so, but people will appreciate and respect you for being on time.
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About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."