Golf Etiquette: Tips to Keep in Mind on the Course
Golf has a long history of being a 'gentleman’s sport'. A sport of nicely dressed ladies and gentlemen, well groomed country clubs, and the importance of golf etiquette while on the course. Even though over time things have become more lenient on the courses and dress code is not quite as strict, some traditions have remained in tact over time - such as golf etiquette.
There are a lot of rules you should be aware of if you are heading out to play a round of golf for the first time. Golf etiquette is about respecting other players, respecting the game of golf, caring for the course, and the safety of yourself and others.
If no one played with these rules in mind and adhered to this code of etiquette, the courses would be mayhem and people could potentially get hurt. It is important that new golfers show up to the course for the first time knowing the basics and continue learning from seasoned golfers. Watching the PGA/LPGA Tours on TV and learning from the pros is a great way to learn the basics of golf etiquette. It will be greatly appreciated by other golfers if you display etiquette on the course and honor the rules of the game.
Let’s take a look at the basics of golf etiquette and tips you should always keep in mind when you are on the golf course.
Basic Golf Etiquette Tips:
Remain Still & Silent During Shots
Nothing is ruder than chatting or making noise during someone’s golf shot. This is one of the most important rules in golf and it is taken extremely seriously. When a golfer is teeing off, shooting from the fairway, or putting, always remember to stand still and remain silent until they finish their swing. It is very distracting when you are trying to focus on a shot and people are chatting in the background or practicing their swings nearby.
Golf is a very mental game; you need to be completely focused when approaching a shot. If there is noise in the background or things moving in eyesight, it can throw your concentration off and ruin a shot. Seasoned golfers will have no problem reminding you to be quiet and remain still if you forget this one, so save yourself some embarrassment and keep this in mind at all times!
Never Step In Someone's Line
When you are on the green, it is important to remember that you should never walk through someone's line of putting. In other words, never walk through the line between someone’s ball and the hole.
There are several reasons why this is a big no-no on the course. First, your golf shoes have rubber spikes or soles that can potentially leave imprints on the green that could affect the ball path to the hole. Secondly, when a golfer is setting up to putt, they examine or read the green to predict how the ball will travel. If they are concentrating on reading the green and someone walks in their way, it can be very frustrating.
Always walk behind the golf balls on the green or step over the path. It is always safer to walk around the ball and it will be appreciated by all golfers.
Repair Divots & Ball Marks
In golf, you actually WANT to make divots when you are hitting your irons. It’s fine to make divots, as long as you put them back over the dirt when you are done. Sometimes it takes a little searching to find where the strip landed! Once you find it, place it over the dirt and pat it down with your shoe to make sure the grass is even. Many times on golf carts, there is a container of sand that should be used to fill in the divots as well. The sand is typically mixed with grass seed to help the new grass grow in quicker.
Ball Marks are the marks made on the green when your ball initially hits the ground. Sometimes you can obviously see where your ball landed, as it will make a deep indentation, and many times it will roll away from the actual mark. Use a ball mark repairer to lift the indentation back to normal and make sure it is smooth. This way, when people are putting, they don’t have to worry about the ball taking a weird turn if it runs over the mark.
Pace Of Play
In golf, the overall mindset is “take your time, just not too much time”. Pace of play is very important and you do not want to be known as a slow player. When you are playing on a course, it is very likely that you will have a group of golfers in front of you, and a group of players behind you. It is respectful if you play at a quick pace so that the course doesn’t get backed up and people aren’t waiting for you. When your fellow golfers are taking their shots, use that time to figure out what club you will be using and determine the distance of your shot. Once it is your turn, stand back to quickly determine your alignment, set up and go for it.
Typically, whoever’s ball is farthest away from the green or pin shoots first. This is due to safety reasons and showing respect. If you are trying to play fast and a group of people is behind you, golfers often play “ready golf”. Ready golf means that whoever is ready first can hit or putt. Even if someone is farther away from the hole than you on the green, if you are ready to putt - go ahead and they will go after you. This usually speeds up the game dramatically.
Hitting Up On Groups
Hitting the ball when another group is in close proximity is an extremely disrespectful and dangerous thing to do. If you are unable to see where the group ahead of you is on the hole, due to a hill or bend, it is always a smart idea to have someone in your group drive with their golf cart ahead to see if you are in the clear.
Many times if there is a hill or bend, there will be a bell that the players ring once they have cleared the area; letting players behind them know that it is safe to hit. If you can see the golfers ahead of you and are even remotely questioning whether or not you should hit - don’t hit. It is always better to be safe than sorry in this situation and people will get rightfully angry if this happens as people can get seriously injured.
Play Your Ball As It Lies
Another important tip to keep in mind on the course is that you should never touch or move your ball. Wherever it lays, is where you should play from. There are some exceptions to this rule but typically you should never move your ball unless you have already replaced it with your ball marker. If you are on the green, you may place your ball marker directly BEHIND your ball and then pick up your ball. This makes room for other putts and also allows you to line up your ball how you would like; many players draw a line on the ball to assist with visualizing a putt.
As mentioned above, there are a few exceptions that allow you to move your ball. If your ball lands right next to another player's ball and it will interfere with their swing, you can mark it and pick it up until it is your turn. Another exception is if your ball lands next to an immovable or man made obstruction that hinders your stance or swing. You can move the ball over to gain relief but no closer to the pin. You may also move your ball without penalty if there is casual water on the course (mud or large puddle from rain) preventing you from hitting it. Whenever you move it, it can only be moved horizontally - no closer to the pin.
There are many rules and guidelines to follow when playing golf but if you keep these main tips in mind, you will have a great head start and at least know the basics. If you are worried about doing something wrong or have questions, you can always ask the people you are playing with for information and tips. The golf pro at your course will also have the answers to any questions or uncertainties you may have.
For a deeper look at golf etiquette, we found a great article from Fairway Approach that you should check out; link is below!
Thank you for reading!