IT SHOULD HAVE been a perfect afternoon - sunny with a round of golf looming ahead.

And it would have been except for the two groups ahead of our group, neither of which knew much about golf etiquette nor displayed much common sense.So, instead of a perfect afternoon it was merely a good one.

When the course is crowded - as it was this day - it is particularly important to get about your business.

But here's what happens too many times on too many Utah golf courses:

Golfer A hits his drive to the left; golfer B hits his to the right; golfers C and D hit theirs in the fairway.

Golfer A can't find his ball. So, all four players spend 5 minutes trying to help Mr. A find it, while the next group stands idly on the tee. In this particular case (which I witnessed a couple of weeks ago), they finally gave up and then all went to the rough on the right where golfer B was having trouble finding his ball. He finally finds it, and as all four look on, he tops it 50 yards, still leaving it in the right rough. Then this same group gives it one last shot to find golfer A's ball, which they don't. He finally puts another ball in play.

To their credit they let us play through only to be confronted by Homer Simpson Group 2.

One guy tops his drive on a 360-yard par 4 dogleg left. It goes about 100 yards, meaning he's got 260 yards over trees to reach the green. The other three hit decent drives, well past Mr. Topper. So, naturally, all four, in carts, drive to Mr. Topper's drive and then wait for the group ahead of them to get off the green.

Now Tiger Woods, perhaps, could have reached the green from there with his second shot and maybe Mr. Topper thought he was Tiger. After the group ahead gets off the green Mr. Topper hits a kitten of a second shot, knocking it another 100 yards almost straight left into the trees.

Fortunately, it's been my experience that these incidents are in the minority but when they occur they can make for a long day for those following.

Then there's the situation on or around the green - how many times have you seen the following occur:

Three people in a foursome are on the green, the fourth is about 35 yards in front of it. He walks up to his ball and shanks a wedge almost straight right into a bunker.

In the interest of time and courtesy what should happen is that while the fourth member is walking to the bunker to hit out of the sand, the other members should go ahead and putt. Now if golfer No. 4 is ready to hit after two of the three have putted, let him do so and then follow the putting cycle from there.

Some feel that regardless of the situation the person who's the farthest away must hit before any of the others do. And in a tournament that's probably true. But on a municipal course, and particularly if it's crowded, then common sense needs to come into play.

That goes for on the tee too. If the person who has honors is getting a drink or isn't ready to hit, then somebody else should to keep the group moving.

That will help that group and the others that follow.