Golf Etiquette

Golf Etiquette - The Basics

Basic Golf Etiquette Unlike many sports, golf is played for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrate courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, and take necessary steps to care for the course being played on. The word etiquette refers to guidelines on the manner in which the game of golf should be played.

For many new golfers, learning golf etiquette is more intimidating than learning to hit the ball or learning the many rules of golf.  As a brand new golfer, our members will cut you some slack.  They will even help you if you ask or show an interest in learning.  However, as you progress, you will want to understand and practice good golf etiquette as a sign of respect for your fellow players, the golf course and the game itself. 

According to golf etiquette, the sport of golf is played without guidance, supervision, or control by a coach, referee, or an umpire on the golf course. The game relies on integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the rules. Players should demonstrate courtesy and sportsmanship at all times.  Golf is all about honor – so be honest. 

There are unspoken rules of etiquette and more stringent rules of good golf etiquette. The rules are in place to make the game more enjoyable, but many of them relate to the golfers’ safety and to the pace of play (which helps keep the game more enjoyable). Several other rules of etiquette relate to maintaining the overall quality of the golf course itself.

Here’s a summary of the basic rules of golf etiquette.  A more extensive description of golf etiquette appears in the section below “Golf Etiquette 201”.  The USGA maintains a series of videos on golf etiquette on their website (‐Etiquette‐101/).

  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before your tee time.
  • Avoid distracting players by standing too close to them while they are hitting. Back off far enough away so you are out of sight in all directions, including your shadow.  Avoid distracting with noise, like searching your golf bag as others are hitting or noise from a cell phone or other electronic device.
  • Always be ready to play as soon as it is your turn. Get your club and walk over to your ball or tee box instead of waiting until you get to your ball.
  • Searching for balls costs time. Be sure to encourage your playing partners to go ahead and play while you search.  Search time is limited to 5 minutes in 2018.  It will be limited to 3 minutes starting in 2019.  If you suspect that your ball is out-of-bounds or lost, hit a provisional ball.
  • Don’t stand or walk on a player’s putting line when you are hitting or retrieving a ball from the cup.
  • Players should remain on the green (or close to it) until all players have holed out.
  • Carefully repair ball divots on the green even if you didn’t make them.
  • Fill in fairway divots with sand if it is provided. Otherwise, tap the sod from the divot back in place.
  • Avoid shouting or talking loudly on the golf course so as to not disturb other players.

Golf Etiquette 201

Consideration for Other Players

  • Players should not disturb other players by moving, talking, or making unnecessary noise. Players should never shout or celebrate too loudly on the course.
  • Players should not stand close to or directly behind the ball, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to play.
  • Do not hit until you are certain that the group ahead of you is out of range.
  • On the putting green, players should not stand on or walk on another player’s line of putt (an imaginary line that connects the ball to the hole) or when making a stroke, cast a shadow over his/ her line of putt.
  • Players should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out. In addition, the first person to hole out should be the one to replace the flagstick in the hole.

Pace of Play

  • Players should be ready to play as soon as it is their turn to play.
  • It is a group’s responsibility to keep up with the group in front of them.
  • Generally, the player with the best score on the previous hole has the honor of teeing off first. However, it is very common to play “ready golf” to help speed up play.

Care of the Course

  • Players should avoid causing damage to the course by removing divots when taking practice swings or by hitting the head of a club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason.
  • Players should replace all divots made by them in a fairway and repair all ball marks on the putting green. Divots made on a tee box should be filled with sand mixture if available.
  • Players should carry a rake into the bunker as they approach the hole. Before leaving a bunker, players should rake holes and footprints made by them and any others nearby.
  • In order to avoid damaging the hole on the putting green, players should not stand too close to or on the edge of the hole. The head of a club should not be used to remove a ball from the hole.


  • Dress Appropriately!
  • A golfer should always know which brand/ number of ball they are using to avoid confusion during play. It is also recommended to place an additional identifying mark on your ball.
  • At the end of a round, shake hands with your fellow players. As a player, it is your responsibility to learn and understand the rules of golf