Like any other sports game, when you’re playing golf, there are certain standards and rules which you should follow. Together, these make up the etiquette of the game. Golf etiquette is actually very easy to follow and the points you need to remember are not difficult to execute.
The basic manners that apply to real life situations also apply here. The behaviour you have on the golf course determines whether you will make golf buddies easily or not. Keeping this in mind, here is a list of the simple golf etiquette that you should know before you tee off.
#1 Give them space
When you are playing with someone, whether it’s a competition or just a friendly match between two people, you have to give them the space they need. By giving space we mean like literal space. You need to step back when they’re taking their shot.
Making a good shot takes a lot of concentration and you can’t be a distraction for someone. Even for your opponent, it is a matter of respect that you do not distract them. The best way to do this is to step away from them and away from their vision. Even casting a shadow on the green when they are putting is classed as bad etiquette, always stand on the green where you are not casting a shadow or in their line of sight.
#2 Do not talk or use your phone
When a player is taking a backswing, do not talk. In fact, during any shot, it’s considered very rude to talk. Even if the payer is doing something wrong you should not interrupt them. They may not know you well enough to understand that you’re just helping them. Sometimes people start talking on their phones when their turn is done and the other person’s turn has started. Avoid doing this at all costs.
If it is important, take the phone to one side and then talk on it. Golf is a game of concentration so avoid all the little things that can break it. Using your phone app as a scorecard is find just ensure that your phone is on silent.
#3 Watch where you walk
One of the major mistakes that most beginner golfers make is that they walk on the course without looking at who they are crossing or what is happening around them. There may be many people playing on the field at one time and you shouldn’t cut their line. The line is their area from the ball to the hole in which they have to hit.
There are paths on the golf course which you should use for crossing. Be careful because this rookie mistake can be a very dangerous one. Also be wary of greenkeeper rules and lines. Often you will see signs like ” No carts” or “No trolleys past this point” These are there for a reason and many members and green staff will not be happy if you cross those lines. PS. Trolleys are great for beginners and pros just watch where you push and part them.
#4 Don’t be late
Punctuality is important. Being on time in any field of life – whether it’s your career, school, or a golf match – is vital if you want to keep in the good books of the club and its members. Not to mention your mates. When you have set a date and time for a golf match, you have to show up on time.
If you make your opponent wait, it is considered very rude and lazy on your part. The opponent may lose interest in your match even before it has started. The best way to get to the place on time is by setting different alarms. There is nothing like loud noise to grab your attention. If you’re playing in a competitive match you can forfeit the match if you turn up late. This is embarrassing and damm right rude to the other competitors.
#5 Take your time – But don’t take forever
As a beginner, it is okay to take time to make a shot. You are not very quick to start with and you need to see and analyse the shot. With experience, this improves and you can judge each shot better in a short time span. However, make sure you are not playing very slow as to hold up the other players who are waiting for their turn. They will understand your hold up and give you benefit but only to a certain extent. Do not take their leniency for granted.
Get into a good routine and be ready to take your shot. These days more and more rules are being put in play by the R&A to speed up the game in an attempt to attract more players to the game. No one wants an 18 hole game to take 6 hours, and trust me I have seen games take this long. So be prepared, have your club selection ready for when it’s your turn. Don’t go to the tee box without a ball or tee in your hand. Don’t take one wedge to the edge of the green only to make the decision you’re going to putt and then you have to walk back to your back to get your putter. Take a putter and a wedge to look at the shot you need to play, that way you don’t waste time.
Your concentration can be broken if you rush your shots. Read our latest article on how to concentrate on your golf game.
#6 No practicing on the course
This point is related to the one above but it is equally important. Do not take too many practice swings when you know other people are waiting for their turn. Again, because you are a beginner, you will get leverage on this but you shouldn’t overdo it.
Practice swings are not too bad but practice shots should never be done, save them for the range. During matches, you can just do a few minimal swings to get your arms warmed up for the match but that’s it. Once you play more and get better, you will notice that top golfers warm up correctly off course and once they step foot onto the tee box they just do one or two practice swings and they’re off.
#7 Control your emotions
Maintaining your emotions during a golf match is also imperative. You can’t get angry after every shot you make if it doesn’t go the way you want it to. This does not only reflect badly on your game personality, but the players will also start questioning the kind of person you are.
Some people have a greater competitive streak than others so they do tend to show their emotions more. Just be sure to stay in your limits whenever you are on the course. It’s not worth destroying your reputation over. Everyone will flips on a golf course once or twice, we all do it, but it’s not nice to watch or listen to and puts a dampener on the whole round.
As a beginner, the hardest part about golf is putting those bad rounds out of your head. It’s so easy to let a couple of bad shots get inside your head. Then you go home and think about it constantly which spoils your day and the whole family can sense this. Try to remember the good shots, not the bad ones.
#8 Wear appropriate golf shoes and clothing
Although most people already know this and are well aware of what to wear and what not to wear on the golf course, one thing still needs more emphasis. Do not wear heavy set boots or inappropriate shoes when you go out on to the course.
The green grass gets damaged very quickly because the ground is not very hard. The soil is kept soft for the game and the grass is barely visible but it can get damaged very easily when you wear big boots or shoes without spikes. Buy a pair of light golf shoes for summer and a waterproof pair for winter. Spikes on golf shoes are very important. They serve two purposes, firstly to give you grip you so don’t slip and hurt yourself and secondly to stop your feet damaging the perfectly mown greens by distributing your weight better.
We all know there are rules set by the R&A for clothing, like it or not they are still the rules of golf and most clubs abide by them. So be respectful to the R&A, the club, and its members and dress accordingly. Nothing would be more embarrassing than been turned away from a match because you were dressed inappropriately.
#9 Looking for lost golf balls
If you’ve lost a ball, only take three minutes to search for a lost golf ball, which is the new rule. It was 5 minutes before 2019 but there have been lots of changes brought in 2019 to speed up the game. If you go beyond the three minutes time span this will be considered as rude as the other players are waiting for you.
You can get a new golf ball very easily and they are not that expensive, so it won’t add a financial burden either. Someone usually does come up to help you look for a lost ball so there is a high chance that you will find it within time this is also classed as good golf etiquette. People who spend more time looking for a ball can be annoying for the ones waiting patiently for their turn.
#10 Getting advice from players
When a professional player is talking to you and giving you tips, be sure to listen to them. As a newbie and someone who does not know much about the game, the tips would help you a lot. Apart from this, if you ignore the person trying to help you, that is very wrong as a golf player.
You will find as a beginner many people will offer you advice. Most of it should be ignored unless it’s coming from a golf pro. However, they are only trying to help and telling them to shut up or stop giving you advice is classed as bad golf etiquette. Just politely listen and smile and then go about your game and thank them for their help. This is a major golf etiquette that many people do not know. It is not even followed a lot now but you never know when you might come across a person who is giving you tips and who expects you to follow the decorum.
#11 Let people play through
As a golf novice, you will inevitably be slower than most players on the course. Club members also have the advantage of knowing the course well which speeds up their game. There is a common rule that if you have players behind you and you are holding them up simply stop and wave them through. Move to the side out of harm’s way and wave them through. if they do not accept, then continue to finish the hole.
At the next tee, let them catch you up and offer them to play the next hole in front of you. They will be grateful if you do, then you’re not holding them up.
This is one of the biggest golf etiquette rules in my mind. Club members can be a little funny about beginners on their course especially if there is a competition on. I often have to skip holes to avoid getting in other peoples way and then played those missed holes later in the round. This is a good way to still complete 18 holes but not to upset any players. Just remember you have paid your money as well and are entitled to play the course if you wish as per the rules. However, it’s all about etiquette and good manners which this sport is built up around. People are not being funny if they ask to play through, they simply want to finish their game as quickly as possible without interfering with yours.
#12 Watch other peoples bad shots-FORE!
We all play bad shots and hear the words ” Fore” shouted daily on the course. Even the best players make bad shots and have to apply the same rules by shouting fore to warn others of danger. It is not only good etiquette to shout fore, but it is also very dangerous if you don’t!
If someone hits a bad shout and you hear the shout ‘ Fore ‘ then firstly watch that the ball isn’t going to hit you or your partner but secondly if you see where the ball lands it is classed as good golf etiquette to tell the player where the ball landed. This will save them time looking for it and will speed up everyone’s game. Again, a simple unwritten rule that will put you in the good books with the players and members of the club.
Here’s a brief summary to clarify the points above:
Space – give your golfing partner space and quiet they need in order to take their shot – you’ll soon run short of players if you’re known to be someone who continually distracts others.
Be aware of where you’re walking – please don’t cross in front of others when they’re playing – especially on the green – use the designated paths.
Be on time – don’t keep people waiting for you to turn up – they’ll tire of your lack of punctuality very quickly.
Take your time making your shot – but not all day!! All newbies are shown a certain amount of tolerance, just don’t bank on it! A golf match is not the time to practice your golf swing – practice when the course isn’t busy.
Keep emotions and language in check – especially if the game isn’t going your way.
Only correct golfing shoes should be worn on the course – heavy footwear will damage the delicate areas of the course, especially the green.
Lost balls – Only take 3 minutes to look for lost balls and offer to help look for your playing partners ball.
Listen attentively when someone is giving you advice – you’re the newbie, they’re trying to help you!
Let people play through – Offer to let players through if you’re holding them up, they may accept and thank you or they will not and then you should continue and play at the speed you’re comfortable playing.
Watch for bad shots – Watch and listen for bad shots and help others spot where their ball went.
We hope you now understand why Golfing Etiquette is important and can see why it will help you improve your relationships with other golfers as well as giving you more enjoyment when you play.