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Golf Etiquette: A Clear & Simple Guide for Beginners

Golf Etiquette: A Clear & Simple Guide for Beginners

Golf is no different. Every sport has its unwritten rules.

I regrettably remember not following proper golf etiquette in my first ever live round. I stood directly in front of one of my playing partners as he was teeing-off, which is a major no-no according to golf etiquette.

Following proper golf etiquette can seem daunting if you’re new to golf. To help with that, we’ve created this simple guide. These rules will help everyone have a more enjoyable and respectful experience on the course.


Basic Golf Etiquette Rules


No matter how old you are or where you come from, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Safety First.” This rule definitely applies while on the golf course. Each golfer must take safety measures to protect them and their fellow patrons.

Why is it so important? Consider it. Even average amateurs have a ball velocity of around 133 miles an hour with a driver.

If the course is crowded, up to 18 players could be teeing-off at once. To avoid injury, always follow safety rules on the course.

1. Always check both left and right before swinging.

This rule applies both to live shots and warm-up swings.

2. Never tee up if the group ahead of you is within striking range.

On most holes, it’s common courtesy to wait until the group ahead of you is on the green before teeing off. The only exception to this rule is Par 3 holes. You must wait until your group has finished the hole before you tee off.

3. If you’re a high-handicap golfer, consider teeing off with a forgiving hybrid, long iron, or fairway wood instead of your driver.

Hybrid clubs give you a great launch off the sweetspot and a lot of forgiveness. This will lead to fewer shots into the rough.

4. If you make a bad shot (such a wicked hook or slice), shout FORWARD at the top of your voice.

This is a common courtesy, as it signals to other players that they should take cover or cover up their heads.

5. Keep a distance of at least 30 feet from other golfers.

This is not just for your playing partners, but also for other groups of players.

Maintaining Pace

There is nothing worse than being behind a slow-playing group of high handicappers. It makes it almost impossible to shoot a good score because you can’t get into any kind of rhythm with your golf swing. Here are some guidelines for pace of play.

If you’re unsure how long it should take to play each hole, peek at your scorecard. Most golf courses tell you how long to allocate for each of the holes.

1. If your group is playing slower, let the group behind you “play through”.

Holding up other groups for too long can be considered rude.

2. Beginners or golfers who have slower swing speeds can save time by hitting from shorter tees.

3. Try to keep up with the group infront of you.

4. Play ready golf.

The player who is the fastest to react will be the one to shoot.

5. Practice swings should be kept to a minimum.

6. As you walk to the ball, think about your next shot and plan it.

This will save you a lot of time. If in doubt, use a rescue club with more loft

7. If someone in your group needs a bathroom break, let the group behind you “play through”.

Respecting other players

Golf is often referred to as a gentlemen’s game. This means that respect for all people on the golf course is highly valued. This will ensure that everyone has a good time during their round.

Whether on the golf course or off, practicing the golden rule of treating others how you’d like to be treated is always a good idea. Here are some tips on how to make each interaction positive.

1. Keep as still as possible when you hear your playing partners hitting their shots.

2. Be aware of any sound.

Even things like jigging the keys or whispering with your buddy can distract a golfer while they are swinging.

3. Always ask each player before you play any music.

Some people like it while others find it disrespectful and distracting

4. Never stand in a golfer’s line of sight.

This can lead to them hitting a bad shot.


On The Green

Putting can be a serious game! The classic phrase, “You drive for show, but you putt for dough,” is incredibly accurate. It is important to follow proper golf etiquette on the putting-green.

This means, for the most part: keep quiet (especially when someone else is putting or analyzing a putt). However, we’ll also show you how to repair ball marks and how to handle the flagstick.

Repairing Ball Marks

1. If you hit the green with your approach shot, repair your ball mark.

This is a good way to manage the course and show courtesy to your fellow golfers. Neglecting this can result in you or someone else missing a putt, which is not a good thing.

2. Use a divot repair tool to repair a ball mark.

Push the two prongs around the sides of ball mark. Pull each part into the center of the mark to smoothen the turf. Tap your putter gently on the green.

Handling the Flagstick

1. When one of your playing partners is about to putt or chip, ask them if they’d like the flagstick in or out.

You may be asked to take care of it. This means you’ll leave it in until they hit their shot and remove it.

2. Once your group is done putting, you should place the flag firmly into the hole.

Observing Putting Line Etiquette

1. Never walk in another golfer’s putting line.

This could lead to spike marks on the putt, which can affect its accuracy by affecting the spin.

2. Don’t stand too close to someone who’s about to putt.

Your shadow can influence their depth perception.


In The Bunker

Everyone likes to go on the beach. However, that’s not something any golfer wants to do. Following proper golf etiquette can benefit your fellow players as well as the course maintenance staff.

Raking After Your Shot

1. Neglecting your footprints in a bunker after a shot is a big golf faux pas.

It’s rude because another player’s shot may end up in your indention. This makes it much harder to hit a bunker, especially if you have a high handicap.

2. When raking a bunker, always use both hands and push sand forward.

Dragging the rake backwards with just one hand can result in a huge pileup of sand. The goal is to make the bunker level for the next golfer.

Bunkers: Entering or Exiting

1. If your shot hits the bunker, you should walk slowly to the lowest point of entry.

This is the most secure way to get into your home.

2. Be sure to pay attention to the corners when entering or exiting the bunker.

You don’t want to catch your spikes on the edge and ruin the landscaping.


On the Tee Box

It is important to follow the proper etiquette since every hole begins at the tee. In this section, we’ll dive into what order of play rules to follow and other tips on behaving while on the tee box.

Order of Play

1. In standard stroke play, the golfer with the lowest score on the previous hole has the “honor” of teeing off first.

Let’s say that Golfer A shoots a 3 on Hole #1, Golfer B shoots a 6, and Golfer C shoots a 5. In this example, Golfer A will tee-off first on Hole 2, followed by Golfer C, and then Golfer B.

2. If you have the honor and aren’t ready to tee off yet, let someone from your group go first.

This is considered to be good manners and speeds up the play.

Tee Box Etiquette

1. Always stand far away from the golfer who’s teeing off.

2. Never stand in a golfer’s line of sight because this will distract them.

3. Don’t talk and make noises while someone is hitting their shot.

4. If you want to take some warmup swings, do so off the tee box when it isn’t your turn to hit.


golf cart accidents statistics

Golf Cart Etiquette

There are basic rules for driving a golf car. While most folks love to have a little fun by driving erratically, that’s never a sound safety practice. Adhere to these road rules, and you’ll be fine on the golf course!

Driving Responsibly

1. Look for signs that tell you whether or not to abide by the “cart path only” rule.

Courses sometimes enforce this if they’ve had rainy weather that morning or the day prior.

2. Keep to the cart path when playing Par 3 holes.

Golf etiquette is the same around the globe.

3. Don’t drive too close to the golf cart in front of you.

4. All holes must be 90-degrees.

This means you stay on the cart path until you’re parallel with your golf ball and then drive out to it.

Parking and Positioning

1. Park at a safe distance from the tee.

2. Never park near or on the green.

3. Park far enough away from all of your playing partners’ shots and at an angle so that other carts can pass through on the path.


Golf Course Care

Golf courses require a great deal of tedious maintenance. Because of this, it’s imperative not to make the grounds crew’s job more complicated than it has to be. Follow these etiquette guidelines when replacing divots or throwing away trash.

Replacing Divots

1. Most golfers leave a dimple on their approach shots.

Even though this is a part of the game, it’s important to take the time and repair your divots. This is good course management, but it’ll keep other golfers’ shots from landing in your divots.

2. Pour the sand in your golf cart to repair a divot.

Once the hole is filled, mash on the sand with your feet and clubhead until it’s entirely level.

Trash Disposal – How to Do It Right

1. Never litter the golf course.

There’s usually a trash can on each hole, making throwing your stuff away easy.

2. Before returning your golf cart, dispose of all your trash.

While this isn’t mandatory, it’s considered a nice gesture.


Cell Phone Etiquette

I don’t think cell phones should be allowed on the golf course, but that rule would never fly today. However, Augusta National did ban cell phones during The Masters this year, so there’s hope. Here are some basic rules for cell phones on the course.

1. If you must bring your cell phone to the course, set it to vibrate or silent mode.

2. If you have to take a call, step away from the course so you don’t distract other golfers.

3. Don’t play music on your phone unless every person in your group is okay with it.