Basic Golf Etiquette for Beginners – How to Behave on the Golf Course

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Sometimes words “rules” and “regulations” do not have a positive connotation when mentioned. Golf does have official rules and regulations when it comes to gameplay, but also a set of rules and practices making the game safer and enjoyable for golfers. It is called Golf Etiquette. The basic golf etiquette for beginners will introduce you to the appropriate golf course behavior.

Despite the fact that technology and science have affected the development of the game, golf is still traditional in a lot of areas. Some of those traditions, like the dress code, seem to be outdated. However, there are other traditions that should be followed. This applies to the on-course behavior.

Most golf courses and country clubs have the etiquette available to players either in the clubhouse or on the website. Besides the etiquette, they have some internal rules for that specific location which might differ from place to place. The etiquette applies to all the courses and country clubs where you can play.

golf course overview

Why Does the Golf Etiquette Exist?

As much as golf is a fun game when you play it, it is very different from other sports and at times can be dangerous. You can’t be just going around the course hitting the balls at will in every direction while leaving the fairways and greens in bad shape in the process. Then there are other participants.

There is a good chance you will not be the only person out there golfing, no matter the day or time in a week. The last thing you need during a round is getting looks or comments from other golfers. There is also the scenario when you have to have an unpleasant conversation with the course marshal.

Try to imagine what the golf courses would look like without some rules and practices for golfers. It wouldn’t be fun, would it? Enter the golf etiquette.

Gameplay Etiquette

As much as all the things you should or should not do on the course are important, some will annoy the groundskeeper and your playing partners more than the others. Some are even dangerous and could actually get people hurt. Below is a list of basic things you should practice on the golf course related to gameplay.

  • Shout “Fore” – this is the most important safety thing you can do on the course. Everyone has bad or uncontrolled shots, including the professionals. Once that happens, it is of great importance to yell “fore” in order to warn other people on the course there might be a ball coming their way. It can potentially prevent serious injuries.
  • Repair Divots – nobody likes the feeling of having that perfect shot down the middle of the fairway, that lands in the middle of an unrepaired divot. After you hit the ball, take a few moments of your time to repair the divot in order to make the next golfer’s game more enjoyable. The groundskeeper will appreciate it as well.
  • Repair Pitch Marks – similar to divots on the fairway, there are pitch marks on greens. Unlike divots, which could be harder to repair, pitch marks are easier to mend. If you don’t have a divot tool already, I would recommend getting one in a pro shop, they are not expensive. Repairing pitch marks is the right thing to do.
  • Keep the Pace of Play – nobody likes to wait extensive periods of time for someone to take a shot or align the ball on the green. Try to limit the amounts of practice swings to 2 max, and be always ready to play. You don’t want your golfing partners complaining or the marshal repeatedly warning you to speed it up.
  • Be Ready to Play – this goes with the pace of play. Try always to be ready to play when your turn comes, simple as that.
  • Respect Other Golfers – it is easy to throw people off their game with some things that may not seem a big deal. This mainly means not talking while others are preparing to swing the club, not giving advice when not asked, not walking in someone’s line either on the fairway or the green, as well as marking your ball on the green and picking it up until you putt.
  • Keep Your Bag off the Green – the greens are very sensitive and easy to ruin. Placing your stand golf bag or your golf bag in a push/pull cart on the green is a big no. This goes even for the fringe which is often used for putting as well.
  • Control Your Temper – nobody likes bad energy on the golf course, it makes others uncomfortable. No matter how your round is going, try to maintain control. After a bad shot forget what happened, focus on the next shot, and remember that you are supposed to have fun. Bad shots and rounds happen to everyone, it is golf after all.
  • Rake the Bunker – the same way you would not like your ball to land in someone else’s footprints or a hole in a bunker, the next golfer might feel the same way. After a bunker shot rake the bunker and make everyone happy. You can check how to do it here.

pitch mark and divot

General Etiquette

There are things related to the gameplay itself, but also others related to the golf course in general. Sometimes it is easy to get carried away and forget what is acceptable in certain situations.

  • Always Check the Dress Code – this is highly recommended to do, especially if you are going to play at a course you never visited before.
  • Be on Time for Your Tee Time – try to get to the course at least 15 – 30 minutes before your tee time. If you miss your tee time or cause a game delay, you could lose your booking privileges or be banned from the course.
  • Throw the Garbage in the Cans – the golf course is definitely not a place for dropping litter. Put the garbage in your bag or in the designated cans which are usually positioned close to the tee boxes.
  • Use Washrooms When Appropriate – there are always going to be a couple of washrooms available along the course. Rather, use them than go to the bushes along the fairways.
  • Keep the Volume Down – talking and having fun is great, but be aware of other golfers. Not everyone will appreciate a loud group, this goes for wireless speakers as well.
  • Drive the Golf Cart Where Allowed – this is especially the case for the fall or winter season when carts are allowed to go only on cart paths. Be responsible and follow the staff’s directions.

golf cart

Be Informed

At the end of the day, it is all about information. With all the things that are going on in a person’s life nowadays, it is easy to overlook certain things. That includes learning about the basic rules and practices to follow on a golf course. As mentioned above, golf is very specific when it comes to that.

When you start golfing all you think about is how to hit the ball better, how to improve, and lower your score. All that is natural, and there is nothing wrong with it. However, the golf etiquette is as important to know.

Knowing the etiquette shows that you respect the environment, the game of golf itself, the golf course you play, and more importantly every single person who takes care of the course along with all the golfers out there. Take a bit of time and effort to get informed before you go to a course, it is the right thing to do.

Act Nice and Enjoy Your Game

Following the golf etiquette makes golf courses a safe and respectful environment. One of the biggest reasons we play golf is to have a good time and enjoy ourselves. When everyone does things as they should, it makes a great experience for all participants.

Next time you go for a round and you follow the golf etiquette, you will not just be doing the right thing, but you will also look good in the eyes of every person on the course.

Are there any rules or practices you would like to change? Which ones? Let me know below!

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Golf Fundamentals for Beginners – Introduction to the Game

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