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7 Pieces of Golf Etiquette Every Golfer Should Know

7 Pieces of Golf Etiquette Every Golfer Should Know


Golf is a rare phenomenon during which every round you play, there’s a good chance the rules will be different. That can be true of the literal rules of the sport, but it is proven when it comes to golf etiquette. You will not doubt experience various degrees of golf etiquette depending on where you play, who you’re playing with, and even what time of year you are out on the course. 

Throughout your time as a golfer, you will find yourself sharing golfing experiences with people of all classes and skill levels. Even though there are basic rules of etiquette, some people aren’t taught them. Perhaps they learned on their own, and they didn’t ever come across proper etiquette. Maybe they never played with someone or at a course that encouraged golf etiquette. 

Either way, it’s never too late to learn. You never know who or where you might be playing next, so you want to at least replicate the intangible skills a golfer should learn. For some people, golf etiquette can be a source of pride. For others, it can, unfortunately, be a way to gatekeep the sport.

Everyone should have an opportunity to understand golf etiquette and why it is implemented. This is why I’ve compiled a shortlist of golf etiquette “rules” that I make sure to follow every time I’m out on the course.

Pace of Play

This is a phrase that you will hear everywhere around the sport of golf. From your local course, all the way to the Master's Tournament at Augusta National, pace of play is a big part of golf etiquette.

No one enjoys having to wait on the tee box or the fairway to take their next shot. Waiting is one of the mind killers in golf. Similar to calling a timeout in football right before a kicker attempts a kick, having to wait and think about your shot for too long usually causes bad things to happen. 

For this reason, as golfers, we promise to always keep up with proper pace of play etiquette. The core tenet is always be ready to hit your shot. When it is your turn to play, you shouldn’t be deciding on a club or gauging distance, you should have already done that during your partner's shot. Of course, if your balls are next to each other, then you don’t want to do anything to disturb his shot, but always be prepared to play when it is your turn. 

This also applies to golfers who are considered “bad”. If you have trouble simply getting the ball to the green no matter how many shots you take, maybe it is time to take a different approach to the game. Perhaps play scramble instead of individual stroke or match play. You could even simply pick up your bad shot and move it to a better lie so you have a chance to have some fun, assuming you aren’t playing competitively.

Pace of play can be implemented in many ways, but generally, don’t hold other people up. And if you are holding people up, offer to let them play through. 

Where to Stand During a Golf Round 

When playing a round of golf, there are certain places that you want to avoid standing to make sure your fellow players aren’t being distracted by you or any movement you might make. 

When standing on the tee box during another player’s shot, you will want to stand behind the player but not directly behind them. If they are playing right-handed, then you will want to stand behind them and to their right at about a 45-degree angle. If they are playing left-handed, then you will want to stand behind them and at a 45-degree angle to their left. We do this so that you won’t be in the vision of the golfer during his tee shot. This is a pretty simple aspect of golf etiquette but can go a long way in allowing everyone to swing without visual distractions.

When on the fairway you want to stand behind your ball, at whatever distance you are comfortable with. If your ball is close to another player’s ball, then you will want to try your best to get out of the vision of the other player like how we described it on the tee. 

While on the green, you never want to stand in front of another person’s putt, no matter the situation. If you find your ball in front of someone else’s, then you should quickly mark it then move out of the way. Generally, while someone else is putting, you don’t want to be standing over your ball, instead, you should be standing somewhere on the outer edge of the green until it is your turn. 

If you are on the green and someone else is not, you want to make sure that you aren’t directly in front of them or the path that the ball could take en route to the green. While you don’t have to force yourself completely out of their vision, you do want to make an effort to be to the side and away from their direct line. 

Pick Up Your Feet on the Green

One of the subtle rules of golf etiquette that you might have never heard of is to pick up your feet on the green. It is natural for some of us and especially kids to accidentally drag our feet when we walk. It is important to avoid doing this as much as possible because it will damage the green and affect the roll of putts from golfers who play the hole after you. 

You can easily notice when you drag your feet because the grass will look like it has been shuffled around and out of place compared to the rest of the grass on the green. Simply noticing when you accidentally do this can go a long way to keeping greens properly manicured and rolling correctly. 

Repair All Divots

There are two main types of divots you will make during a round of golf. The first is the divot from your club contacting grass when it hits the ball. This usually happens on the tee box and in the fairway. It is important to refill these divots whenever possible so that the course isn’t destroyed over time. If you have ever wondered what the small containers of sand that hang on your golf cart are for, they are for repairing these types of divots. You are supposed to take the sand a refill the divot you caused so that it becomes a smooth surface again so that grass can begin to regrow at that location.

The second type of divot you will come across is the crater that your ball can sometimes leave on the green when hitting an approach shot. You have surely noticed these before, and you want to repair these divots whenever you see them. Some people use a divot tool to repair divots, but a simple golf tee will do. All you do is take your instrument of choice, poke the divot on the outer edge, then lift the grass slightly, just enough to where the crater is no longer there, and then pat down gently with either your putter or your foot. 

This is one of those examples of golf etiquette that you need to follow to leave the course in good shape for those that come after you. You should even repair a couple of other divots that someone missed. 

Use Your Inside Voice

A good general rule when playing a round of golf is to use your inside voice. That is, to say, don’t try to scream or yell if at all possible. You never know who might be teeing off or in the middle of their swing. Voices can carry over a large distance on a golf course, and you don’t want to be the one people can hear from two holes over. 

I’m not telling you you have to avoid celebrating, but just keep in mind that there are other people on the course and most of them value the serenity that golf provides. 

How to Tend the Golf Pin

Two distinct situations warrant a little golf etiquette knowledge on the green while dealing with the pin. 

First, when taking out the pin once golfers are ready to putt, make sure to pull the pin up straight, carry it to the edge of the green, and gently set it on the grass that is not part of the green. This will avoid making any unnecessary indentions from the pin on the fragile green. Also, it will serve as a way to get the pin out of everyone’s way while they are putting. You never know where the ball might end up. 

Second, when a player asks you to tend to the pin, you will want to grab the pin by the flag, making sure it won’t flap in the wind and distract the putter. Then, stand to the side as far as possible without significantly bending the pin. Once the stroke has been made, pull the pin and wait for the ball to stop. Once the ball has stopped, you can then place the flag like we previously mentioned. 

How to Handle Your Ball Ending Up on Another Hole

We have all had days where we find ourselves striking the ball poorly. Many times, that ball ends up on the hole beside you. When that happens, there is a piece of golf etiquette that will come in handy. 

In any situation where your ball travels onto another hole, do not immediately take the golf cart over to grab it or play it. First, you must check to see if anybody is playing on that hole. If you don’t see anyone on the hole, feel free to carefully grab it or play it. 

However, if there is someone on the tee box waiting to tee off or someone waiting to hit their next shot from the fairway, you must let them take their shots before you approach your golf ball. Always let them all tee off before you make any movements. The only exception is when it is clear that they would prefer you retrieve your errant shot before their shots.

Golf has always been a sport with a stereotype of being for rich people or having too many unwritten rules. While that may certainly be the case in some circles, most of the serious golf etiquette out there is simple courtesy. If you’re ever in doubt, always ask someone, and they will usually be happy to let you know what’s going on.

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