A Step-by-Step Guide
You’re going out for a round, maybe for the very first time. Knowing the basics of golf etiquette will make the experience more enjoyable, both for yourself and for your fellow players, regardless of your score.
This step-by-step outline of golf etiquette will make you look like a seasoned golfer.
Before the Round
- Arrive well ahead of your tee time to check in and warm up. Properly stretching will keep you from injuring yourself. Hit a few balls on the range and a few chips and puts on the practice green.
- Depending on your skill level (or handicap), decide which set of tees you will be playing from. Beginning players should play from the forward tees (usually red).
- Most golf courses have a dress code. Luckily it’s more lenient for women than for men, but use good judgment: no tank tops or Daisy Dukes, please! If you think your outfit might be violating the etiquette, contact the golf shop or your host.
- One more thing before heading to the 1st tee: TURN OFF your cell phone! Nothing will upset your playing partners more than having your phone ring in the middle of their swing.
On the Tee
- Check the brand and number of the ball you will be playing and write a mark on it so you don’t accidentally hit someone else’s.
- The person with the lowest handicap gets the “honor”, which means she gets to tee off first. On the next holes, the person with the lowest score on the previous hole has the honor. This is one of the "biggies" in golf etiquette, especially if you are playing with "serious" golfers.
- Limit your number of practice swings on the tee box.
- While a player is teeing off, stand to the side, not directly behind the player. Refrain from moving and talking until the player has completed her swing.
- Watch all shots, not just your own, to speed up locating balls in play.
On the fairway
- The player the furthest from the hole (“you’re away”) hits first. Don’t walk ahead of her to avoid distracting her or being hit by her shot.
- Make sure the group ahead of you is out of reach. In case your shot goes wayward, yell “fore!” to alert them to the danger.
- Be ready to play your shot as soon as it is your turn. When sharing a cart, bring several clubs along, so you don’t have to run back to get a different one.
- Replace your divots! This will keep the course in shape.
- Keep things moving along: once you’ve reached an excessive amount of strokes on a hole, pick up your ball. Maintaining the pace of play is another fundamental of golf etiquette.
On the Green
- Position your golf bag or golf cart by the “exit” towards the next tee to speed up clearing the green after everyone has putted out. Wait to fill out your score card until you reach the next tee.
- The player furthest away putts first, all others can mark their ball so they don’t interfere with the other player’s line of putt.
- While moving around on the green, don’t step on anyone’s line of putting and remain perfectly still while a player putts.
- When tending to the pin, be mindful of your shadow. Pull and replace the pin with care, so you don’t damage the hole.
- Fix your ball marks properly to keep the greens in great condition.
- If your ball ended up in a bunker, rake it before leaving.
After the Round
- Thank your fellow players for the round.
- If you were keeping score, sign the score cards.
- Return the cart.
- Offer to buy refreshments.
Knowing how to be courteous on the course and displaying respect for proper golf etiquette will land you more invitations for another round than a low score! Golf is a social game, so minding your manners will make you a well appreciated playing partner. Knowing the rules, following etiquette and moving things along are the keys to success.
Questions? Something not clear or not covered in this section of golf etiquette? We want to hear from you! Email us your question and we promise you an answer.
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