Some of these are written rules, some are unwritten rules, but all are important to know. Understanding golf etiquette, knowing what’s acceptable and what’s not in this game will help you not annoy anyone off you are playing with. That’s the long and short of it. But it does actually help everyone enjoy the game and keep it safe too.
So let’s walk through the course as it were and make sure you are aware of the etiquette of golf.
After writing this I had to come back to the start and add a sort of disclaimer… as you read this there is a whole lot of “don’t do this, and don’t do that” which might leave you thinking…. “What on earth can I do, Chris?” I hear you, but ultimately knowing these will make sure everyone enjoys the game.
PLUS one of the essential rules requires you to stay for beer (doesn’t need to be an alcoholic drink)… can’t complain about that one!
If you’re short on time here are a few of the rules I think are most important.
6 Essential Golf Etiquette Laws To Know Before You Head Out On The Course
- Don’t talk while someone is taking their shot
- Pace of play – you don’t need to rush, but also don’t faff, keep your pace of play up. If holding a group up, let them play through
- Watch your partners shots, especially off the tee and help people look for their ball. (You will be grateful to get their help when your ball goes missing)
- Use your common sense… Don’t stand in front of someone when they are about to take a shot or where they are aiming (don’t stand on the green if they are hitting their approach)… it’s just dangerous.
- Repair all your divots on the fairway (bring the piece of turf back to where it came from) and repair pitch marks on the green
- Always shake hands after a round and stay for a post round pint if you can
The Golf Etiquette Guidelines
Prior To The Round Golf Etiquette
Don’t be late
Don’t be the guy/gal speeding into the car park, and rushing straight to the first tee, leaving people wondering if you are coming or not. It stresses your playing partners out if you are late.
On The Course Golf Etiquette
Don’t talk while someone is taking their shot
This includes the pre-shot, as they step up and as they hit it.
Don’t Make Practice Swings While Your Partners Are Playing Their Shots
The sounds, the unintentional divots, are all very off putting for someone trying to make a swing.
Officially… The player who is furthest from the hole plays their shot first
However, I always encourage “ready golf”, if you are ready and no one else is about to hit their shot, you go for it. I would say on the green this rule is enforced more. You don’t want to find yourself accidentally walking on someone’s line.
Whoever scored best on the previous hole tees off first
If they tell you, “It’s your honour” that means you scored best and you get the honour of teeing off first! Again… I really don’t mind who tees off first in a casual game of golf, ready golf is fine.
Talking To Someone’s Ball…Don’t do it
I still don’t really know why this is so frowned upon. My friends and I often give each other crap once the ball is airborne and that includes talking to their ball. But whether it’s genuine positive chat or telling the ball to head in the water so you can win the hole. Don’t talk to your partner/opponents ball. ** This applies to all shots.
Pace of Play
It’s important to keep up your pace of play. Golfers love moaning that the game takes too long. Don’t be the person holding the group up. It doesn’t matter if you’re new and take lots of shots, just don’t dawdle in between shots
Tips to help pace of play:
- Minimise practice swings – you don’t need 6 of them.
- Mark cards on the tee box not on the green
- Be ready to hit your shot – you don’t need to wait for everybody to hit and then figure out the yardage and what club you are going to hit. Be ready.
In the event that you are holding up a group behind you, and yes you should be aware of this, then you should let them play through. Stand to the side, and give them a wave to come through, and watch their shots.
On The Green Golf Etiquette
When everyone is on the dance floor (the green) there are a few more specific rules
Don’t walk over someone’s line
“Line” as described in the “Golf Terms All Golfers Should Know” post is the line from where the ball is to where you want it to go – normally the hole.
Basically, when on the green, don’t walk on the line from where their ball is to the hole. Go round the outside, and if they are looking at their line don’t walk in front of them either, go round them. Walking on this line could affect the putt. I mean… I don’t think it’s going to affect my putts, my crap putting stroke will make the biggest difference of whether or not the ball goes in the hole. But just avoid walking on someone’s line.
Don’t stand directly behind your partner/opponent as they take their putt
The idea behind this one is that by you watching how their putt rolls you’ll get an advantage when it comes to making your putt.
Don’t stand in their eyeline or have your shadow over their line
This is just a distraction thing I believe. You being their eyeliner or casting a shadow over their line can be distracting. Just avoid it if you can.
Don’t talk while they are taking their putt
Same rule as the rest of the course really, don’t talk while someone is making a shot. It’s offputting, and while your chat is unlikely to be the reason they miss their putt, let’s not give them that excuse.
General Golf Etiquette Guidelines
Don’t stand on the green to fill in your scorecard, get a move on and write the scores down on the next tee box.
Don’t be on your phone the whole time – enjoy the company of your playing partners and being out on the course
Don’t make phone calls – not within earshot of your playing partners as they are hitting shots anyway. If you have to answer a call, then just do it quietly, sneak off from the people hitting their shots.
Keep Your Temper Under Control – Don’t be the person losing their rag, spitting their dummy out. It makes it awkward for everyone.
After The Round
Always shake hands, say thank you for the round
However bad you played, it’s always polite to thank everyone for the round.
Stay for a post-round pint or soft drink
Feel free to discuss the parts of your game that were crap and great. Remind someone of one of their great shots that day.
I realise there are a lot of “don’ts” in there and it felt quite negative to write. But ultimately the etiquette is there, most golfers are proud of the etiquette and want, rightly so, to uphold it.
Ultimately I think it comes down to this…
In between shots, chat away, have a laugh, get your mind off the last crap shot, or worrying about the next one.
Then as someone steps up to take a shot, respect their space and concentration, let them focus and play their shot and don’t be in their way.
I hope you have found that useful. If you have and know others that might benefit from reading it, then please share it away.
If you enjoyed this post then make sure you check out the posts in the Beginners Guide To Golf:
- Stableford Scoring – The Complete Guide To Golfs Popular Format
- Dress Code For Golf – A Beginners Guide
- The Rules Of Golf – A Beginners Guide
- Best Golf Balls For Beginners
- Golf Terms For Beginners – Learning The Language Of Golf