The Basics Of Golf Etiquette

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Sometimes etiquette is a lost courtesy in regular society. Golf etiquette is still a requirement for proper conduct on the golf course. The etiquette found in golf is much like you learned in primary school. You should be polite and courteous to others, while taking your turn and helping where you can to keep the game moving.

Golf Etiquette Before and After Your Round

The game of golf follows rules of etiquette established over one hundred years ago with few variations for modern times. The rules provide respect for the players on and off the course as well as respect for the hosting golf club. By following these rules, you help the club remain a place for everyone to come to have a good time.

Dress appropriately

Dressing appropriately is respectful for the people around you, but also helps you to stay comfortable on the course in different situations. Appropriate dress includes a collared polo shirt, trousers, or knee-length shorts with belt loops and a belt. You are also expected to wear ankle-height socks and spiked golf shoes.

Four golfers outfits

No golf bags in the clubhouse

Leaving your golf bag in the storage area of the clubhouse is a safety precaution that prevents others from tripping over your bag. It also leaves the clubhouse looking neat and tidy. 

Respect people’s time

Whenever you are playing, you need to remember you are not just passing the time with friends. You need to remember that not everyone will play at your speed or wait for you to take your turn. You are here to have fun, but be mindful of the people playing behind you or waiting for their turn. 

Introduce yourself with a handshake

As with many types of social situations, it is always good to introduce yourself to the people around you if you are not yet acquainted. You start with a good firm handshake to show respect as well as demonstrate your confidence on the course.  

Guy shaking another guys hand

Finish round with a handshake for everyone

No matter if you win or lose, it is always polite to shake hands and thank the other players for having you play. Even if you did not happen to have a great time, it is polite to shake hands and thank the other players for a good game.

No caps or hats on in the clubhouse

Taking off your hat when you are inside a building is an old tradition for respect to your host. In this case, the clubhouse is the host, and the tradition still stands for removing your hat when you go inside.

General Play Etiquette

The rules of general play extend to all players that step onto the golf course. They help keep the game moving forward and keep everyone respectful of the course. If you have any questions about general golf course etiquette, you can talk to the golf club to find out if they have any specific rules for their facility.

Take your time but don’t be slow

When you step onto the green, you have your routine for warming up and testing your swings for each kind of shot. For good golf etiquette and to keep the game moving, it is better to only do two practice swings before taking your real swing. You want to keep your game efficient and not waste the time of other players; while they take their turns, you could be warming up.

Keep your temper under control

Not everyone can be perfect on every shot; if you send your ball into a sand trap or the water, you do not need to stand there staring or complaining about your bad luck. Just move on, and focus on your next shot. You are there to have fun and keep the game moving for everyone in your party. In some cases, if you are one of many business-minded people who meet with your colleagues on the golf course, you could be costing yourself a job.

Man chasing another man with a club

Respect the course and other players

The grounds you are playing on are not your own, and while you might be friends with the people you are playing with, there is no need to be rude or disrespectful. Being respectful by complimenting your partners on their excellent form or right calculations is a good way to keep your friends and colleagues connected, as you and the others play your way across the green.

Try to withhold from criticizing others if they hit their ball into the water or make a bad shot. Just relax and let them enjoy their game. You are all here to enjoy the game. 

You can keep casual conversations going as you progress across the course, but be quiet as anyone is preparing to take a swing. You do not want to distract the other players from the game or make their game more difficult.

Help look for lost balls or watch errant shots

It never hurts to be helpful. If your friend and golf partner loses their ball in the tall grass, it costs you nothing to help them look for that lost ball. It also helps speed the game along and prevents other players from waiting for your group to finish. It’s all about being aware of other groups who are also enjoying the game.

Watching is very important in the game of golf. You can learn about improving your own game by watching a better player, and if the other golfer’s ball does go astray, you can help them locate it by remembering where you saw it last.

Drive the golf cart diligently

Driving a golf cart is fun. It can speed your game along, carry your clubs for you, and give you a place to sit down between turns. If you are the driver, drive it safely and responsibly, as you would your car. Just as you do on the streets, do not drive to fast nor slow. Many people are coming behind you, and everyone wants to enjoy their day without slowing it down.

Golf Etiquette on the Tee and the Green

When you step onto the tee and the green, you become a guest of the golf course, and they expect you to treat the course and the players on it with respect.


When playing golf, the player with the lower score gets to play first. You can ask for the honor of going first if you know you are ready to go, and they are not. This also gives them more time to warm up.

Stand still and be silent

When someone is getting ready to take their turn, be quiet. You do not need to distract them from their game as they prepare to take a swing. A lot of attention and calculation goes into each swing, and it is distracting to listen to talking or other noise as they get ready. Let them have the silence to make the perfect shot, like you would want.

Man swinging with people standing behind

Wait until everyone tees off

For safety’s sake and to help the other players have their best game, wait for everyone to finish their turn before you start to walk to your ball. It is very rude to walk away while another player is in the middle of their shot. You all walk to your balls as a group to also help prevent someone from hitting someone with a ball while on the course.

Repair the grounds

If you or your golf partners bring up some divots, put them back. You want to leave the grounds as you found it for other players, so they can have the same excellent experience you did. It also helps make the groundskeeper’s job easier as the torn-up grass will heal quicker than an open hole.

Mark your ball

If your ball is in someone’s line of sight, it is polite to move it. You mark its location using something flat, such as a quarter, so you know exactly where it needs to go when it is your turn. A flat marker is less likely to interfere with the other player’s ball as it is in play. A tee peg or your golf pencil are not bad items to use either.

Watch your shadow

If you are playing in the early morning or late into the afternoon, you may cast a shadow. It makes the line of sight for the golfers more difficult to see. In this situation, stand far back from the other players to ensure they have a clear and unobstructed view of their ball and where they are aiming.

Avoid other player’s lines

If you or other players are getting ready to putt, stay out of their lines so that they can have a clear shot. There should be at least six feet of space for the other player to aim at without you getting in the way. A nice straight line for the ball to travel on without a footprint or torn up grass in the way is ideal.

Hold pin for others

When it is not your turn to play, it is polite to hold the pin (the flag) for other players while they take their turns. You can hold it or set it next to the green while the other players take their turn. Make sure it is at least twenty feet from the hole to prevent it from interfering with the play of the ball.

Woman holding pin for another woman

Final Thoughts

Golf course etiquette is a way of conveying respect and thanks to the people and places around you. As a result of being aware and polite, and everyone will remember you as a player worth having on the green. If anything is confusing about proper conduct or action, ask at the club for the rules of that establishment. If you are new to the game, look to the more experienced golfers to show you how to behave.

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