Golf etiquette is the practices and rules governing the socially acceptable behavior on the golf course. These rules are there for different reasons and can be broken down into the following categories: safety to others and yourself, maintaining the course conditions and enjoyment for yourself and others on the course.
Etiquette will be something that new golfers will learn as they play with other experienced golfers. But here are some basic rules you should know before going to the course for the first time.
Both the golf club and golf ball can cause harm to you and others if you do not pay close attention to where other golfers are on the golf course and the surroundings. The saying that the game of golf is a “thinking man’s game” not only applies to playing golf, but also to etiquette as well.
If you take a practice swing, make sure that no other golfers are in the immediate vicinity as not to get hit with your club. Also, make sure you are not standing too close to an object, like a tree branch, ball washer or another object that you could accidentally make contact with your club.
Before you get ready to hit the ball, watch out for others who are in the direction as to where you are aiming. The golf ball can travel at speeds over 150 mph and can cause severe damage to someone if they were to get hit. Know your limitation as how far you can hit the ball. Make sure the group is far enough in front of you before hitting the ball. If your ball does happen to come close to someone in front of you or in an adjacent fairway, yell “FORE!” This will warn another golfer of an incoming golf ball.
You will make your fair share of bad shots. Even the very best golfers in the world make occasionally bad shots. Don’t get upset, this is normal. However, do not compound the problem by throwing your club as this could cause harm to yourself other others in your area. Besides, it is considered rude and childish behavior by fellow golfers.
Maintaining the Course
One very important rule is that you should leave the course as you have found it. This allows the course to be enjoyed by other who follows you. If you take a divot while striking the ball on the tee or in the fairway, immediately replace the sod. The will allow the grass to grow back for the next person who hits from that spot. Placing the grass back and gently tapping it down with your feet takes little time and maintains the course’s beauty.
On the green, repair any ball mark you might have caused by your ball landing on the green. Even if you didn’t cause it and you see one in the area your ball landed, please repair the mark to allow the green to heel and allow the ball to roll smoothly over the mark. For beginners, have an experienced golfer show you the proper technique on repair a ball mark.
There will be sand on many golf courses. These act as hazards or areas to avoid hitting your ball into it, but occasionally your ball will land in one and you will have to hit your ball from that position. Make sure to rake the trap to remove your footprints and damage made from the ball and your club. Again, newcomers have an experienced golfer show you the proper technique.
If you drive a cart, make sure to observe any cart rules by the golf course. You may see signs stating that the carts should be on the “Cart Path Only” or to follow the “90-degree rule” when crossing the fairway. Never drive the cart on or near greens and hazards. There is usually a white line marked by the golf course superintendent to denote area not cross with the golf cart. Please follow these rules. Newcomers should allow the more experienced golfer to drive the cart. Pay close attention to how that golfer maneuvers the cart around the course.
It goes without saying to put trash in designated trash cans. These are found on the tee boxes or at the club house when you are finished with your round.
Enjoyment for Others
One of the reasons to get involved in the game of golf should be to have fun. However, the fun should not only be for you, but the others on the golf course as well. Having a conversation with a fellow golfer on the course is commonplace, but try and keep that volume to a minimum. That means no yelling to one another on the course (except to warn someone of immediate danger) and not to talk while someone is getting ready to hit the ball. Extend the same courtesy as you would when you are trying to concentrate on hitting the ball. Cell phone usage is also discouraged on the course.
The pace of play is important for not only you and your playing companions, but all others who follow you on the course. Tee times are usually set so many minutes apart to allow a certain pace of play. Generally, golf course wants you to play each hole in approximately 15 minutes. This means that for each 9 holes, 2 hours and 15 minutes should be sufficient time to complete each side. Be aware that a "ranger" or "player assistance" person might be present on the course to tell you to pick up your pace.
Here are some additional tips:
* The person furthest from the hole is the first to hit
* Be ready when it is your turn to hit
* Don’t spend too much time looking for a lost ball, help look for your playing partner’s lost ball to save time
* Know where to drop your ball if it lands in a hazard, is lost or goes out of bounds
* If you have to keep your cart on the path, then take more than one club when you go to your ball if the distance is considerably far from the cart
* On the green, do not stand where you can cast a shadow or walk in the line of another golfer’s putt
* Wait until the last person has putted out before going to your cart or going to the next green
Wear appropriate attire at the golf course you will be playing. This usually means a collared shirt, shorts that come close to the knees and golf shoes (or at worst) tennis shoes with socks. If you do not know, ask ahead when you make reservations. This may seem like a lot to know, but many of these rules of etiquette should be common sense, while others will take a little time to learn the more you play this wonderful game. Playing with more experienced golfers will help educate you along the way so you are able to share those same values when it is your turn to play with someone new to the game.