Proper Golf Etiquette

During a round of golf, you will frequently find yourself in situations where you need to check your handy rulebook. But while the rulebook can help you with a wide variety of technical questions, there are a lot of unwritten rules in the game of golf that everyone on the course should know and follow.

These are the rules of golf etiquette—the way you behave on a golf course.

 Golf etiquette really comes down to three things:

1. Respect the Golf Course

  • If your swing takes a chunk out of the ground, repair it by replacing your divot.
  • If your golf ball lands on the green from such a height that it leaves a dent in it, repair your ball mark with a divot-tool.
  • Don’t walk in a sand bunker unless you’ve got to hit from one. And when you’re done hitting, rake the sand so the next player to land on the beach will have a clean lie.
  • Obey the 90-degree rule if you’re using a golf cart. That means using the cart path until you absolutely have to turn toward your ball in the fairway (at a 90-degree angle). This ensures that your cart will stay off of the grass as much as possible.
  • Don’t litter on the course. (Or anywhere, for that matter.)

2. Respect other Golfers

  • Before you swing, make sure everyone is far enough away from the range of the club.
  • Give other golfers enough space to swing, as well.
  • Never walk ahead of another golfer’s ball. Wait for them to hit, and then move on to the next ball. It’s dangerous and rude to stand in front of another golfer’s shot.
  • Keep up the pace.
  • Don’t spend more than a few minutes (the rules allow you five) to search for a lost ball.
  • Don’t write down your score while you’re still on the putting green.
  • Take more than one club with you if you’re unsure which one you’ll need from the cart.
  • If you notice the group behind yours consistently waiting for your group to clear, wait for them on the next tee box and let them play ahead.
  • Don’t hit the ball until you’re certain the group ahead of you is out of range of your shot.
  • Be quiet during others’ shots. Even if no one in your group is hitting at the moment, you should keep your volume down—golfers in other groups might still be close enough to get distracted by your noise.
  • Don’t walk in the line of another golfer’s putt. Make sure you walk behind his or her ball if you need to get across the green.
  • Stand still while other golfers in your group are hitting.

3. Respect Yourself

  • Don’t let your temper get the best of you. Avoid throwing, slamming, or breaking clubs, and don’t yell unless warning, “Fore!”
  • Don’t spend time fishing for balls in the water hazard. Consider it a sacrifice to the golf gods.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Some golf courses have strict dress codes, and others let you play in sandals. Either way, golf has always been a sport represented by its players, so make sure you take that into consideration.
  • Play fair. If you decide to play by the rules, be honest and hold yourself to the sport’s honor code. If you’re playing with some close buddies and no one really cares if you kick your ball from the heavy stuff to the fairway, just make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Better Experience

Beginning players will learn more and more of golf etiquette as they continue to play with more experienced golfers. In the meantime, if you use good judgment and show respect to the course, your fellow golfers and to yourself, you can’t really go wrong.

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