Golf Etiquette and Rules to Live By on the Golf Course

Many of us yearn for a day out on the golf course. It provides a relaxing day (if you don’t get frustrated with the way you’re hitting) and quality time spent with friends, colleagues, or family members. On a golf course, you’re largely on your own. You stop in the pro shop before your round, see the starter at hole number one, and then you’ll periodically run into rangers that make sure your group is keeping the pace of play.

Golf relies on your integrity. You must show care for the course, consideration for others, and behave in a disciplined manner. Etiquette is mentioned time and time again when you live around golf. There are unwritten rules, and rules that are commonly understood by regular players. For the beginners, if there’s not someone in your life that will teach you the proper etiquette, make sure you’re comfortable the next time you tee off by understanding these rules to play by.

Pace of Play. You should always keep a respectable pace throughout the round. If there’s a group in front of you, make sure to keep up so you’re not affecting the round of the group behind you. The pace of play is your responsibility. You should be ready to play as soon as you walk up to the ball. If the group behind you is smaller or consistently waiting, and it’s clear they are faster than your group, invite them to pass you to keep the pace moving.

When it comes to a shot near the hazards, don’t let your search affect groups behind you. There’s nothing worse than waiting at the tee box while the group in front of you searches in the woods for their ball for 5 or more minutes. It’s lost. Drop and take a stroke, and keep the round moving.

On the Tee-Box. The member of your group that carded the lowest score on the previous hole will tee off first. If there was a birdie and three pars, the player with a birdie will go first, and you’ll go back to the hole prior to last to determine the order of the next three players. If there are players that finished the hole with the same score, the “honors” of teeing off remain in the order as the previous hole. As you tee off, take your tee with you. If it’s broken, toss it off the tee box so groups behind you don’t have to.

In the fairway. When you make it to the fairway, look at the position each member of your group is in. The player farthest from the pin will go first and you’ll make your way to the green. When your ball is followed by a chunk of grass, always replace your divot. Either use sand or pick up the piece of grass and place it back in the divot. If your approach lands in the sand trap, don’t take a practice swing in the sand. You can swing the club as long as no contact is made with the sand before stepping up to your ball. After your bunker shot, make sure to rake your marks. From the ball placement to your shoe marks, keep the bunker clean.

On the Green. Never use a club other than your putter on the green. The maintenance team at the course works diligently to ensure the green is up to standards and in great shape. There should be no divots taken on the green, but with a nice landing, you can leave a dent. Repair your ball marks before you begin to putt. As with the approach to the green, the player farthest from the hole will putt first.

Understand the work that has been put into maintaining the condition of the course, and show respect for the grounds and the other players following you on the course. Play safely, enjoy the round, and play considerate of others. Golf is a game of respect. When you show care for the course and keep a manageable pace of play, your golf etiquette is on par.