The 10 Rules of Golf Etiquette
Updated: Oct 13
Golf is a game steeped in tradition and honour, and at the heart of this sport lies a set of unwritten rules known as golf etiquette. While mastering your swing and improving your handicap are critical aspects of the game, understanding and adhering to the unwritten rules of golf etiquette are just as important. These rules not only make the game more enjoyable for you, but also for your fellow golfers.
As a Golf Professional, I can honestly tell you that I’ve played with a wide range of golfers, from fellow professionals to golfers that have a 30 handicap, and playing with golfers who don’t understand these rules isn’t nearly as enjoyable as playing with golfers who do. Knowing them will make others enjoy golfing with you. Not knowing them… well, maybe you won’t be invited to all the tee times that get booked…
In this blog post, I'll delve into the 10 Rules of Golf Etiquette that every golfer should know.
10. Respect the Course
One of the fundamental rules of golf etiquette is to treat the course with respect. Repair your divots, fix your ball marks on the greens, and rake the bunkers after you use them. Ultimately, you should leave the course in better condition than you found it. If you want to know how much work goes into keeping a golf course in good condition, then take coffee to the Grounds Crew at 4:30AM and check out their to-do list for the day. You’d be surprised at how hard they work! Don’t undo their hard work by driving your golf cart on the tee box or leaving trash on the course because you can’t find a garbage can.
9. Keep Quiet (When it’s the right time to stay quiet…)
Silence is golden on the golf course. You should keep noise to a minimum when others are teeing off or making a critical shot. Before you start your round, turn your phone on silent mode so that you can avoid distracting conversations.
“But, I want to listen to music on the course. I’m not following a bunch of old rules.” Go for it! There’s nothing better than listening to the Top Gun Theme Song and HAMMERING a tee shot down the middle of the fairway. Play your music, but keep it respectful and ensure it’s a good playlist, because no one wants to listen to your throat metal two holes over. Keep the volume at a respectful level, stay silent when someone is swinging, and enjoy your round!
8. Honesty and Integrity
Golf is a game built on trust and integrity. Count your strokes honestly and report any rule violations, even if they’re committed by a fellow golfer. Cheating undermines the spirit of the game. Don’t cheat and don’t lie, because nobody cares what you shot. Cheat, and you’re labeled that for a lifetime. It’s not worth it. Besides, it’s just golf and you’re not playing on tour, so laugh at your 10 and move on.
7. Pace of Play
Maintain an appropriate pace of play. Be ready to hit when it's your turn, and don't take excessive time on each shot. If you're falling behind, let faster groups play through.
The flip side to this is also EXTREMELY TRUE. Don’t be in a rush to finish! If you don’t have 4 hours to play a round, then play 9 holes or reschedule your tee time! A round of golf takes time and you’re going to experience golfers of all levels on the course. Being the person that’s always complaining about pace of play is worse than being the person who’s a little slow. The slow guy can play faster…. you’re just a D**K.
6. Stay on Schedule
Arrive at the course with plenty of time to spare before your tee time. Late arrivals can disrupt the flow of play and inconvenience other golfers. Don’t be the late guy… just don’t be.
5. Observe Cart Rules
If you're using a golf cart, adhere to the course's cart rules. Stay on cart paths when required, and avoid driving on tees, greens, or through bunkers. If you’ve forgotten how hard the Grounds Crew works to maintain the course, then review #10 again.
4. Replace Divots
When you take a divot from the fairway, replace it as closely as possible to its original position or fill it with the sand and seed mix you’ve been given.
Fun Fact: Depending on the conditions, replacing your divot may not make the grass grow back! Sometimes, sand and seed is your best option. Or, better yet, when you take the Grounds Crew coffee at 4:30AM, ask them for their tips and tricks!
3. Raking Bunkers
After playing a bunker shot, make sure to thoroughly rake the bunker. This ensures that the sand is fair for the next player. The rule of thumb is to leave the bunker in better condition than you found it! Take pride in raking a bunker!
2. Line of Sight
For the love of all that is sacred, do NOT stand behind a fellow golfer while they are taking their shot and do NOT stand directly behind the hole while they are putting. In fact, just step away and stand in the fringe. You don’t need to be overtop of the hole to see the ball go in. If you want to look like a stooge on the golf course, then continue to stand in someone’s line of sight while they are shooting or directly over top of the hole while they are putting.
This may seem insignificant, but while you’re trying to stand perfectly still, you’re inevitably going to reach into your pocket, or scratch your face, or adjust your hat. Can you tell how much this one bothers me? I’ll say it again… move out of the way. It’s better for everyone.
1. Repair Ball Marks
Fix any ball marks on the greens, whether they are yours or not. A poorly repaired ball mark can affect the putting surface for everyone. Knowing where your ball hit the green is critical. Even if your golf ball is at the back of the green, you shouldn’t forget to walk to the front of the green and repair the mark your hybrid made. When you’re fixing yours, make sure to look for another one on your way! Keep the course in good shape and you’ll get better bounces, more lip-INS, and the Golf Gods will smile down upon you. It’s a fact.
Remember that golf etiquette is not only about following the rules, but also about displaying good sportsmanship and respect for your fellow golfers as well as the course itself. If you follow these 10 Rules of Golf Etiquette, you’ll be a better golfer regardless of your skill level. So, the next time you step onto the course, keep these guidelines in mind and let etiquette be your caddy to success.