Golf Etiquette Advice for All

Golf has many rules and etiquette that players should adhere to, but golf etiquette is really quite simple if everyone would learn, cooperate & follow.

BOSTON – Even the best golfers can’t control how they perform on a given day. But there is one thing that every golfer can control, whether you’re a single-digit handicap or one who can’t break 100, and that is understanding and following proper golf etiquette on the course.

Many a round has been ruined for others by a golfer who walks cluelessly through the day, never ready to hit when it’s their turn, causing a distraction while others are playing, angrily tossing clubs, stepping in others’ putting line, and failing to replace divots or rake bunkers.

Just as proper etiquette at dinner can be taught, the same is true on the golf course. Ultimately, the experience will be more enjoyable for everyone.

With that in mind, here are a few tips that will make all your playing partners happy to shake your hand when the round is over, regardless of what you score.

Is there anything more annoying than playing with someone who is on their cell phone half the time?

1.) Silence is Golden

Don’t be that golfer who is always making noise when others are preparing to hit, whether it’s launching into a story, pulling a club from your bag or taking practice swings. Stand still, keep quiet and position yourself so that you are out of line of sight of the person playing next. And above all, make sure your cellphone is on mute. If you must answer a call, walk away from your group and keep it brief.

2.) Don’t Dawdle

Few things ruin a round faster than slow play. If the foursome behind you is waiting on every hole for you to hit, play ready golf until you reach the green. Determine your distance and club selection before it’s your turn, and be prepared to go when it is. If you are consistently the slowest player in your group, then you’re a slow player, period. Understand this and make adjustments. If you’re not ready to play when it’s your turn, encourage one of your fellow players to go ahead and hit.

3.) Keep Cool

Throwing clubs, cursing and complaining makes everyone miserable. We all hit poor shots. Accept them and move on with grace. Your playing partners will respect you for it.

Golf-Etiquette (1)
When the sign reads “NO GOLF CARTS BEYOND HERE” it applies to all including players with handicap flags on their cart.

4.) Respect the Course

Keep in mind that people are playing after you. You probably aren’t happy if a ball lands in a divot or a putt is knocked off line by a ball mark on the green. So, why would anyone else? Take the time to replace divots, repair ball marks and rake bunkers nice and smooth, without leaving deep furrows from the rake. Also, gently place the flagstick on the green after removing it. If you’re riding a golf cart, avoid wet areas and spots that can create damage, and follow the signs for where to enter and exit the fairways. And speaking of bunkers, always enter from the low side at a point nearest to the ball, and avoid walking on the steep face of a bunker.

5.) Be Helpful

Watch errant shots so they don’t turn into lost balls and help others search for wayward shots. Pick up that extra club left on the fringe or the headcover dropped next to the tee and hand it to your fellow golfer.

6.) Be Invisible

Know where to position yourself. Never stand in the line of play, either beyond the hole or directly behind the ball. Before and after putting, be cognizant of how you approach your ball so that you never walk across another player’s line, which is the path between their ball and the hole. Take note of the location of every ball in your group when you walk onto a green and steer clear of their lines to the hole. If your ball marker is in the path of another player’s putt, ask if they’d like it moved. And always remain quiet and still when another player is putting.

Every private golf course in the United States has a dress code but many public courses are a bit loose with the requried golf attire.

7.) Learn the Wave

By that, we mean learn to wave faster groups through. Sometimes, no matter how determined you are to maintain a steady pace, there is a group on your tail who is waiting on every shot. Allowing them to play through will make everyone happy. The group behind you can play at their own pace and you won’t feel the pressure of someone breathing down your neck all day.

8.) Show Good Sportsmanship

Praise good shots and offer encouragement when a player is struggling. Unless you’re competing in a tournament, don’t be hesitant to concede close putts. Offer to hold the flagstick. Provide yardage to the green when feasible. If you know the course and others don’t, be helpful with tips on how and where to play shots, along with hazards to avoid and best spots on the green to aim at. And when the round is over, remove your cap, if you’re wearing one, and extend your hand with a gracious, “It was a pleasure to play with you.”

Golf is a sport with its own unique codes and conventions. Following the eight points of advice here should prevent you from doing something wrong and annoying other golfers.

Enjoy all that is good about golf!

Jim got his start in golf writing with a gig at a Connecticut-based golf magazine, where he interviewed Ernie Els, among others. Since then, he’s covered tournaments for the LPGA, PGA Tour, Champions Tour and many amateur events. His work has been published in a number of magazines including GolfBoston Travel & Leisure, Southern New England Golf, New England Golf Monthly and Rhode Island Monthly. Jim ‘s favorite golf courses are Kebo Valley in Bar Harbor, Maine, Pebble Beach and Furry Creek in Vancouver B.C. and almost any Donald Ross course. Jim can be reached by email at

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