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Golf Etiquettes

Many golfers spend hours on the practice range trying to perfect their swings. But playing and enjoying the game requires much more than just learning the fundamental skills. Knowledge of, and adherence to, basic golf rules and scoring, personal conduct and etiquette while playing, care of the course and course management, safety and pace of play all contribute to becoming a complete golfer.

Golf's major challenge today is "keeping pace." Slow play has reached epidemic stages at many courses. The problem is that a few slow players can take the enjoyment out of the game for many.

Golf etiquette is a golfer's observance of the code for correct behavior in respect to other players and to the course. Proper conduct as well as awareness of effective course management and safety while playing reduces the probability of injury, speeds up play and makes the game more fun.

In most instances, simple consideration of others and basic course management can help overcome most "time waster" situations, and turn
a 5-hour, 18-hole round into a more enjoyable four-hour round.

Keeping Pace

Test yourself on the following rules of etiquette, course management and safety. Do you observe these "keeping pace" rules when you play?

  • Assess your shot and choose your club while others in your group prepare to hit their shots.
  • When it's your turn, hit the ball, follow its line of flight and find it as quickly as possible.
  • If you think your ball might be lost out of bounds or in a hazard, hit a provisional ball.
  • Play "ready" golf. Be prepared to hit the ball from the fairway and on the green when your ball is farthest away and, in some cases, when you are not farthest away.
  • If your shot is closest to the hole on the green, tend the flagstick. Be prepared to put the flagstick back after the last person finishes putting as well.
  • If using a golf cart, drop your playing partner at his or her ball, then drive to your ball and prepare to hit.
  • Near the green, park the cart or place your golf bag in line with the next tee area.
  • If carts are not allowed off the paths, stop parallel to the area where the ball has landed.
  • When you walk to the ball, carry more than one club if you're unsure about the distance.
  • Mark your score at the next tee area.
  • If your group cannot maintain the pace of play, allow the next group to play through.

Playing it Safe

A golf course can be a beautiful setting, but also a dangerous one. Here are some tips to make sure nobody gets hurt:

  • Make sure no one is standing nearby or in front of you when you swing a club.
  • Be aware of where others in your group are hitting from.
  • Wait until the group ahead of you is out of range before hitting your ball.
  • When hitting from behind trees or other obstacles, warn other players in the group to stay clear.
  • When a ball heads toward others on the course, alert them by yelling, "Fore!"
  • Do not throw clubs.
  • While driving or riding in a golf cart, keep both feet inside the vehicle.
  • Avoid driving the cart along the side of a slope or too fast down hills.
  • If there is lightning in the area, seek immediate shelter or return to the clubhouse. If there is no cover, remain in a low-lying area or bunker. Stay away from water and trees.


The Rules of Golf dictate how the game should be played, but they don't necessarily address good manners. Here are some ways to maintain dignity on the course:

  • The person with the lowest score on a hole is extended "honors," or the courtesy of hitting first on the next teeing area. The person with the highest score on the previous hole typically hits last off the tee.
  • Remain silent when others are hitting their shots.
  • Replace divots in the fairway or fill them with sand. Pick up the displaced clump of turf and place it back in the ground by tapping on it. If the grass can't be replaced and your cart has a container of sand, take a scoop of sand and place it in the divot to create a level surface.
  • Replace ballmarks on the green, even if they may not be your own. This means using a small repair tool that is designed to prop up the edges of the ballmark to create a smooth putting surface.
  • Enter a bunker from the low side. When finished with the shot, rake away the area from which the ball was hit, as well as all footsteps created during the shot.
  • Walk carefully on the green to avoid leaving spike marks.
  • To maintain the pace of play, resist the temptation to hunt for lost balls other than your own or someone else's in your group.
  • Avoid stepping in someone else's line of putt.
  • Remove the ball from the cup with your hands, not with the face of your putter.
  • Keep carts away from the green and out of bunkers.
  • Turn off pagers and cellular phones to avoid distracting other golfers.


Don't be surprised if a golf course enforces a dress code. Most private courses and many resort courses forbid such apparel as tank tops and athletic shorts for men, as well as blue jeans for both men and women. Other forms of clothing, such as button-down shirts and tight pants, are impractical because they restrict your swing.


A collared golf shirt and slacks are acceptable everywhere for men, while a golf blouse and skirt are acceptable everywhere for women. Loose Fitting Clothes as long as they're not too baggy, make the most sense.


Many courses also are particular about footwear. In recent years, courses have banned metal spikes in favor of soft spikes to preserve the condition of the course, especially the greens. Sneakers and street shoes are not allowed at many courses, either.


Most public courses have less strict dress codes. For example, T-shirts might be acceptable. When in doubt, telephone the course pro shop in advance



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