To thoroughly enjoy playing golf, one must know and abide by the rules of the game. However, there are also “unwritten rules” known as golf etiquette that are extremely important if you are going to play golf socially as well as competitively.
Good golf etiquette starts as you arrive to the golf course. Make sure you know the dress code of the course. Most courses expect you to wear collared shirts and no denim jeans.
Come to the course at least one half hour before your starting time to give you time to register and hit some practice balls. Once you tee off, the following tips will help you maintain proper etiquette on the course.
• Play the appropriate tee for your ability. Beginners should play the forward tee.
• Keep up with the group in front of you. If you are holding up groups behind you, you need to let them play through as soon as possible.
• Make sure everyone in your group has their own golf clubs. You can’t share clubs out of one bag.
• When you get to your ball, take only one practice swing.
• Never stand behind someone as they hit, especially on the putting green.
• Stand still when others are hitting.
• Don’t walk in another player’s line on the putting green.
• Be conscious of your shadow, especially on the putting green. Don’t let your shadow get in another player’s line.
• Don’t give unsolicited advice, especially to a significant other.
• Leave the course as you found it by sanding and replacing divots, raking bunkers, and fixing ball marks on the green.
• Leave the cell phone in the car.
• On “cart path only” days, bring a few clubs to your shot so you have the correct club for that distance.
• If you are carrying a golf bag, keep it off the putting surface.
• Always yell “fore” if you hit a shot that might hit other players on the course.
• Always help others in your group look for lost balls. They have only three minutes before it is considered lost.
• When using a golf cart make sure you keep it outside 20 yards of the teeing ground or the green. Most golf courses have signs to tell you where to take the carts.
It is more important to play by the rules and etiquette of the game than to play well and ignore the others around you. Remember to always respect the course and people playing the game.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. firstname.lastname@example.org; golfdoctorjean.com