Golf Etiquette Basics For Beginners (18 helpful tips)

​Are you new to the game of golf? Wondering about some of the basics of golf etiquette? We’ve been in your position, and it is a little intimidating as a beginner.

Good etiquette is needed in many circumstances from dining etiquette and telephone etiquette to sports etiquette. Every sport has its own etiquette and/or unwritten set of rules that should be followed. Golf is no different, with its’ rich history, these unspoken guidelines have a lot of meaning to those that are avid golfers.

There are, of course, many areas that you should give attention to, if you are to have good golf etiquette. It shouldn’t be something that scares you though, since these are very simple and easily mastered. To make it easy we have complied:

16 Tips on Proper Golf Etiquette

1. Understand the Rules of Golf

Rules of a game are set so that the game is played properly based on a proper system. Before getting into a game, it is important that players learn and understand the rules of the particular game. Golf is no different. If you are going to take a few hours out of your day to play a game, you should probably understand the basics. No one expects you to know all the technical or obscure rules, but you should know the essential ones.

If you need help, you can CHECK OUT OUR GUIDE TO GOLF RULES MADE EASY.

Understanding the game and its rules prior to getting into it, shows that you care for and respect the game, which certainly is good etiquette. So, add it to your to do list to learn and understand the rules involved in golf. We starting out, do your best to at least make it a point to remember the important ones.

2. Be Punctual

Punctuality is a very important aspect when it comes to sports (well, all of life really). Because, most of the time the game does not only involve one person but a team of players. This is true with golf. A golfer should understand that being punctual for a game is important. Never keep your team or anyone in particular, waiting for you.

Golf course can be very busy places, some with tee times every 7 minutes. So if you aren’t ready to go, the game may start without you. Or you may back the game up and make it less enjoyable for everyone behind you on the course.

If possible, be at the course at least fifteen minutes before a game is ought to begin. Practicing punctuality shows good etiquette on the golf course (and every area of your life).

3. Dress The Part

We know that it is would be way more comfortable to play golf in your pyjamas, but, come on, every place has its own suitable attire. Make it a point to always look your best when going for your games. Some courses have specific dress codes, so be sure to check out the courses website in advance.

Typically a nice pair of golf pants or shorts plus a golf shirt is sufficient. If you have golf shoes, even better. For the casual player that only gets out once or twice a year, don’t wear jeans, sleeveless shirts and/or flip flops.

A golfer arriving in clean and neat attire shows that he has a special respect for himself, the game, the place, and the people around.

4. Be Efficient

Being efficient in golf means that you have to be well prepared for your game. Be prepared with all the things you need for the game, from clubs to ball markers, instead of borrowing things from other players.

Never waste your time as well as other players’ time during a game. You should always be ready to hit your shot when it is your turn to play. For instance, you will need to be well-prepared with your golf club prior to your turn, so that you don’t keep other players waiting while you select your golf club during your turn. If you don’t like waiting, remember not to keep others waiting.

Make it a point not to spend too much time looking for a lost ball as well. This is especially important for beginners, as they might end up in the trees more often. If you can’t seem to find it, try to spend no more than one minute in looking for a lost ball. Yes, the rules state you can take up to 5 minutes, but that is more geared towards professionals and/or when you are on a not so busy course. Making sure not to delay the game is good etiquette.

5. Let Other's Play Through

On the same note of efficiency, if you notice that your group is holding up the golfers behind you (and there is no one holding you up). Then you should let the group behind you play through. This is typically done at the tee off box. You simply wait for the group behind to finish the previous hole, then they tee off while you wait. In some circumstances, you can tee off together, then let the other group finish the hole while you wait.

6. Rake The Sand Trap

After hitting your shot from a sand trap bunker, you must rake the sand so that your footprints, ball print, and shot print are no long visible. This is done so that if someone playing behind you hits the same bunker, then their ball will have a fair lie. Otherwise it might fall into your divot, making their next shot even harder.

7. Avoid Distractions

Another essential part of good golf etiquette is to avoid or prevent distractions, be it for yourself or other players. Avoid clinging to your smart phones too frequently or too long. It would be even better if the phone is kept in the silent mode or better still, switched off.

It is also advisable for golfers to speak softly instead of using loud voices. Golf is a game that requires a great deal of concentration.

It is particularly important to maintain silence, especially when the other player is playing his/her shots. This will minimize distractions (and excuses 😉 ), also, because you will definitely want them to be silent when your turn comes.

Another way not to distract the other player’s game is to keep yourself away from the player’s putting line, which is the space between the ball and the hole. Make it a point not to stand in a place where you might be a distraction for the other player. It is also essential to keep your movement at the lowest, for even a slightest movement can distract a player from playing his/her shots properly.

Even a golf cart can be a distraction if left all around the green. As most golf courses have a rule that golf carts should be left on a cart path, it is best that a golfer follows this rule. Golf carts scattered around the green can be a distraction during games and often times annoy players. Make it a point to leave your golf cart on the cart path or at a spot with a fair distance from the playing area.

8. Don’t Walk On Their Line

Speaking of on the green etiquette. You should not walk/step on a person’s putting line. This is the line the golf ball will travel after it is putted on its way to the hole. You should walk all the way around to avoid this area. The person hitting the ball may or may not be putting the ball straight at the hole, so the whole area may need to be avoided. The main reason for this is that when you step on the grass, you may change the way it affects the ball. Your cleats may create small divots that cause the ball to hop and in turn make them miss their shot.

9. Be Safe

Most of the time golf is considered a safe sport compared to so many other sports. However, it is important for golfers to mind their safety as well as the safety of everyone else in the course.

We know that golf involves the swinging of tough metal clubs which in turn sets a hard ball flying out in high speed. That said, it is dangerous for a person to stand anywhere near the swinging club or the flying ball. So, as a golfer with good etiquette, avoid standing in a spot where another player’s club or ball might accidentally hit you. If you happen to be playing your shots, make sure that the other players are standing in a safe place, where they won’t get hit by your club or ball. Never swing your golf club when there are other golfers close to you.

The common proper etiquette on the course is for all players to stand behind the ball of the person shooting. This ensures safety and avoids distraction.

If you end up mishitting the ball, where it goes farther than the expected distance or towards other players, remember to yell “FORE!!”. In golf, “fore” is an internationally known word for warning. You want to yell loud so that the other group can hear you. Even if you don’t see people, but your ball is flying onto another fairway, yell anyways. Better safe than sorry.

On the same token, if you hear someone yelling “fore”, immediately take cover to avoid getting hit by a club or a ball traveling at high speed. Hide behind a tree, your golf bag or a golf cart. Make sure to cover or protect your head.

10. Control Your Temper 

You must realize that you are here to play golf, which is a great game that helps you stay focused, while having a great time with your friends. Although there are moments in golf at which you lose your patience, get stressed out and be frustrated, the golf green certainly is not a place for you to throw your frustration. You might end up hurting yourself or the other players.

Always keep your temper under control to avoid getting into trouble. Do not throw your clubs, or hit a ball out of frustration! It might hit someone. Make sure there is no yelling, screaming or cursing. By doing all these, you will end up making a fool of yourself and it definitely is not good golf etiquette.

Some golf courses do not allow golfers to vent their anger and they may even disallow your membership and bar you from entering the course again. You definitely do not want this to happen. Hence, it is always best to be under control and enjoy the game.

11. Never Be Stingy

Sharing is good etiquette, be it in golf or other circumstances in life. Being a good golf buddy is to share with other golfers. Never be stingy. Make it a point to volunteer to pay for refreshments and other things from time to time. One person should have to pay all the time. Take turns among your group players. If you are playing with them, make sure not to forget the caddies. Make it a point to offer them drinks.

This can also be staring an extra ball you found or a tee so they don’t have to go back to their bag. Sharing and volunteering is a good practice when it comes to golf.

12. Don’t Be a Sore Loser

Winning and losing is part of every game. The same goes with golf. You may win on one day and lose on the other. That does not mean that you should feel disappointed or stressed about it. Instead, take it as an opportunity to improve and stay focused to play your game better.

If you happen to lose during a game, never be a sore loser. A good golf etiquette includes being nice. Always congratulate the winner and tell him/her what a great game he/she had played, shake hands and be grateful for being part of the game.

13. Play From The Proper Tees

On most golf courses, there are a number of tees you can play from. These are setup for the different skill levels of the players. The farthest away from the green is for the expert or pro golfers, and the closest is for the beginner golfers or people who can't hit as far. Knowing your skill level and the appropriate tees not only makes the game more enjoyable for everyone, but it makes sure that you don't slow down those around you.

14. Honours System For Teeing Off

Generally the order to tee off at the start of the game is chosen randomly. This is the order you will stay in for the rest of the game OR until someone gets the best score on a hole. The person who gets the best score now has "honours" and gets to shoot first. The rest of the group maintains the same order as the start of the round. In the event of a tie on a hole, the order of teeing off stays the same as the previous hole.

15. Let Players Play Their Games

I know that in sports, it is very tempting to help the other player to play his game. There are times in golf, where you will be tempted to tell a player how to play. But, respecting and letting the player play his/her game without disturbing his/her shots is good etiquette. Nonetheless, you can aid your partner from time to time if they ask for it. Just don’t make it a frequent thing.

Moreover, never contribute a negative comment on another player’s shot unless he/she sincerely asks you to do so. A negative comment on another player’s game can make the person feel uneasy or affect his/her confidence level. At times, it can even cause trouble between you and the particular person. So, it is best to avoid it.

However, you can be generous with the positive comments. Positive comments are encouraging and improves the relationship between you and your group players.

16. Be Courteous

Being courteous is also an essential part of a good golf etiquette. A good golfer always makes it a point to be courteous. Being courteous in golf means that you should leave the putting green once you or your group is done playing, instead of occupying the place even after you have finished, which will eventually delay the game of another player or group.

Speaking politely to other players is also a good etiquette. Avoid yelling at your partner, or anyone in particular. Remember that everyone is there to have a good time.

17. Shake Hands After The Game

When the game is finished (after the last putt is done on the 18th hole), you shake hands and say “Thank you” and/or “Good game”. Usually you will remove your golf glove and possibly your hat, and do this on the green of the 18th hole. It is a sign of respect and sportsmanship.

18. Keeping The Place Clean

Finally, you should also mind your golf etiquette on the green. Being a golfer with good etiquette also means that keeping the golf course clean and fresh after every use. Remember that you are not the only one playing on the course and there will be many players after you or your group. Hence, never litter and leave rubbish lying on the green. It is important to respect the golf course.

In addition, make it a point to always repair divots by replacing the grass or placing some sand on them. You should also repair ball marks on the green. This is when you leave a dent on the surface of the green because of a high shot. This will ensure that the next team of players will be able to play their game well.

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Although golf is just a game, it is essential for players to maintain a good etiquette during the game. It is considered by many as a gentleman’s sport, played with poise and manners. A good etiquette in golf helps golfers to maintain a positive relationship among themselves, while having a great time and experience playing the game.

Remember that some people take these unwritten rules more seriously than others. So do your best to implement them. As a beginner it can be hard to remember them all, but it will become ingrained over time. These things are like passing the tradition over to new golfers, as they enter the club, so don’t be afraid to ask if it slips your mind where you are supposed to stand on the green.

In order to be an avid golfer and a true lover of the game, one should practice good etiquette, confidence and determination.

If you can think of some other tips that may have been missed, let us know below in the comment section.

-R

P.s. If you are a new golfer, you may also enjoy the TIPS TO NETWORKING ON THE GOLF COURSE!

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Ryan S

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