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19 Rules of Golf Etiquette

As an experienced golfer, I know firsthand how important it is for all golfers to know the right etiquette out on the course. It is a sure fire way of not getting invited back if you play with poor etiquette.

By knowing the rules of golf etiquette, it will make it a more enjoyable round for you and your playing partners.

Keep reading to find out how to show the right etiquette on the course.

Before starting your round

1. Get to know the rules

Golf is a technical game where you will face many different situations in a round, which come with particular rules for these situations. So before you step out onto the course make sure you have an understanding on the basic rules of golf.

There is an expectation from your playing partners you know the rules, they do not want to be explaining the rules or calling you out if you are not playing by the rules through the game.

By knowing the rules it will provide a more enjoyable experience for you and your group.

2. Be early and ready for your tee time

To get off on the right foot with your playing partners and show respect to them, make sure you are ready for your tee time. This means you have practiced what you needed to, for example, putting, hitting a few range balls, stretched and what ever else you need to get ready before you show up on the first tee.

To have enough time to do this, it is a good idea to get to the course 15-30 minutes before your tee time.

If you haven’t already you will at some stage, someone rocking up to the first tee straight from their car. They are all unorganized, searching through their bag for their glove, ball and tees and looking flustered. It is not a good start to the round for you or anyone else.

3. Dress code – be aware of it

There are dress codes when you play golf, if you do not align with the courses dress code you may not be allowed on the course. I have heard many stories where golfers starting out were not aware of the dress code and were turned away.

It is important to note some courses will be stricter than others in what you are to wear. So the easiest way to find out the dress code is to go onto the course’s website, and they will advise of what you can wear.

To be safe, for men wear a collared shirt or golf polo (tucked-in) with knee length shorts or long trousers. For women it is similar, but they can also wear skirts or slacks.

Attire that is not permitted are things like denim, tracksuits or cargo pants. There are many other attire that is not permitted, so please check on the course’s website to find out.

4. Warm up = 3 balls

When you are practicing your putting on the putting green before your round, make sure you do the following:

  • Use your own balls
  • Use three balls
  • Your balls are marked and easy identifiable

Also be aware of other players on the putting green and do not putt in their way.

5. Follow cart path rules

One of the more fun things to do on a golf course is drive a golf cart. Before doing so make sure you check with the golf shop about the cart rules for the day.

As in the wetter months to avoid the course being damaged, you may not be able to drive on the fairways and will have to stick to only the cart paths.

Also drive responsibly and be considerate of other golfers.

 First Tee

6. Introduce yourself

A sign of respect and courtesy to your playing partners is to introduce yourself and shake their hands on the first tee.

It breaks the ice between everyone and after all we are all out on the course to enjoy each other’s company and have fun.

7. Identify your ball

To avoid confusion with your playing partners it is recommended that you advise what ball you are playing with. If you end up changing your ball during the round you should also advise what ball you have changed to.

8. Where to stand

Stand out of the way of the way when others are hitting, so you do not distract them. A good place to stand is 5-6 feet to the side, facing them. This makes sure you are not in their sight when they are hitting, or your shadow is not over their ball.

This applies to all areas of the course, the tee box, playing the hole and the green.

9. The honor and ready golf

Golf takes along time to play. To speed up the round, you can play ready golf which means each golfer within the group hits when they are ready. This applies to all areas of the course, the tee box, playing the hole and the green.

Honor golf is the golfer who had the lowest score in the previous hole will tee off first. Honor golf may apply in competition or if someone has made an albatross, eagle or birdie to give them the honor of playing a great previous hole by teeing off first.

Nowadays, ready golf is universally accepted. Just make sure it is agreed on the first tee the group is playing ready golf. A good rule of thumb is taking no more than 30 seconds when playing your shot.

On the Course

10. Replacing divots

All golfers should leave the course as they found it. So if you have made a divot on the fairway, make sure you replace it. This also helps others on the course, there is nothing worse than hitting a great shot and your ball ending up in someone’s else’s divot.

11. Pace of play

As I mentioned earlier, golf takes a long time to play. We have all been out on the course where we are thinking, will this round ever end. Make sure you are playing at a good pace.

Some tips to keep up a good pace of play:

  • Play ready golf
  • Lost ball – spend no more than 3 minutes searching for the ball & hit a provisional if you think the ball is lost
  • Staying with the group in front of you
  • Stay off your phone
  • Keep your golf bag close whilst playing
  • Leave your golf bag between the green and the next hole

If you know that you are playing slow, let the group behind play through. This will cause less stress for your group and make it more enjoyable for other groups as well.

12. Leave the phone

Everyone has phones today and they can be a distraction. Do not let it distract you whilst you are playing golf. Keep it on silent and stay off it. If you need to check it for a certain reason, do it when it is appropriate to do so.

13. Lost balls = good karma

When your fellow players have lost their ball, help them search for it. This helps with the pace of play and also is good karma. If you lose a ball others will also help you search for yours.

Remember you have 3 minutes to search for your ball. Once this time is up, take a drop and continue playing.

14. Yell fore

At times, we have hit one better than expected or shanked one left or right. If this is the case and it is heading towards other players, make sure you yell “FORE” loudly. If you do not, this can make other players really angry. It is important to apologize to the players the ball nearly hit. Golfers know this happens from time to time, so most are forgiving.

15. Only talk to your golf shots

To be safe, only talk to your golf shots. Avoid speaking about others golf shots. You may think they have hit a great shot or putt, but they may think differently. However, where it is obvious the have hit a great shot or sunk a great putt, by all means advise them of this.

16. Bunkers

From time to time you are going to find yourself in a bunker. Before leaving the bunker make sure you rake it. Where you hit your shot, rake sand with the flat side of the rake gently and then turn the rake over and with the grooves lightly rake it. Then rake your footprints as you back out of the bunker.

To ensure you cause as less disturbance to the bunker, take the shortest line possible to your ball in the bunker and do not stand on steep walls.

Another key thing to remember is leave the rake outside the bunker where it will cause the least interference.

On the Green

17. Repair pitch marks

The ball can cause a pitch mark on the green, make sure if your ball has done this that you fix it. This goes for other pitch marks as well. This can be repaired by a pitch mark repairer which you can purchase at any golf store.

This is common courtesy and paying it forward for other golfers.

18. Do not stand in another players line

If you want to irritate other players, there will be nothing more irritating for them than walking through their putting line. Make sure you are aware of where other golf balls and markers are positioned on the green and be sure to avoid standing on their line.

Also be aware of the putting line past the hole of other players and avoid this area as well. To be safe, avoid 5-6 feet distance of the other players putting line past the hole.

Also watch your shadow, make sure it is not in the putting line when your partner is putting.

19. Holding the flag stick

This doesn’t occur as much anymore since the introduction of the rule, which allows players to keep the flagstick in when they putt. However, if you are required to hold the flagstick make sure you hold it correctly, so it doesn’t distract other players putting. If it is a windy day hold the flag, so it doesn’t flutter and make noise in the breeze.

Final Thoughts

You may think that there are so many etiquette rules to remember but as you play more you will become familiar with what they are. When playing golf the key thing to keep at the back of your mind when it comes to etiquette is about respecting other players out on the course. If you do this, you will be fine.

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