Aug 22, 2022
POSTED BY: Nicholas Venditti

Spectator Etiquette - Dos and Don'ts of the Golf Course

Golf is, at heart, a tranquil and meditative sport. For the lone player taking their shot, all that exists at that moment is the ball and the hole. Even with a crowd around you, it can feel like you're in a world all your own. 

That is until someone's cell phone goes off or your shoe clips an unexpected hole in the turf. Many codes of conduct and dress make up an unofficial etiquette for golf spectatorship, and if you don’t want to get kicked off the course, it’s best to learn these written and unwritten rules.

Golf spectator etiquette aims to preserve the ability of the players to play their best, free of distractions. Learn the biggest dos and don't of golf spectatorship to show your respect for the game and the players.

What to Bring to the Golf Course

Unlike a professional golfer, spectators don’t need to bring much. But walking 18 holes and standing in the sun for four to five hours can become draining if you don’t come prepared.

A backpack is the best thing to bring to a golf tournament as a spectator. Make sure it's sleek and won't bump into the other spectators. In it, you can hold your sunglasses, visor, sunscreen, water, cellphone, and all the other must-haves. 

What Not to Bring to the Golf Course

The rules are the same for any other professional sports event—don't bring weapons, alcohol, and noise-making machines (radios, portable speakers). If you're bringing a pet, it has to be a service animal since most courses only allow the superintendent’s dog on the course.

Do’s for Watching Golf

The rules of golf etiquette aren't all don't do this and don't do that. There are some things you absolutely should do!

Keep Silent

Go to any other professional sports game—football, basketball, hockey, soccer—what do you notice? The sound is deafening.

Golf tournaments are distinct for the silence required for players to focus and deliver the right stroke.

Follow Dress Etiquette

When dressing for a golf tournament, two words come to mind: polos and visors—just kidding! (Not really: those are both highly advised items of clothing).

But really, the two words you should remember are modesty and simplicity: no elaborate cuts, patterns, or styles. Wear neutrals, dress for the weather, and don't be distracting. 

Bring a Visor or Wide Brimmed Hat

Most golf tournaments take place during the summer. Always check your local weather advisory in advance, but it's a safe bet to dress for sunny warmth. That means keeping the sun off your face, which is a must since golfers are at higher risk of skin cancer

Wear Flat-Soled Shoes

The game takes place on a delicate surface that must not be disturbed by metal cleats or heels. Flat-soled shoes only, please!

Don’ts of Watching Golf

Yes, there are some dos, but there are many don'ts. Here are the most helpful ones to know.

Avoid Heavy Makeup

You won't be turned away for wearing makeup, of course. Consider this more of a warning than a commandment. The sun will run and smear and streak your makeup, making you miserable and distracted. Just avoid it!

Use an Umbrella as a Sun Shield

We know that it's hot. That's why you should bring a sun hat or visor. Though many use umbrellas as sun shields, they're inappropriate for golf.

You'll be in close quarters, where a fully opened umbrella will poke at people. Leave it at home.

Talk on Your Cell Phone

Golf tournaments should be mostly silent. Course managers, players, and spectators all look down on loud talking on your cellphone so much that they could escort you out.

If you must take a call, make your way back to the clubhouse. 

Go Off the Beaten Path

Tournament attendees are encouraged to help players look for lost balls. Besides those fun little diversions (which don't happen all that often, truthfully), spectators are discouraged from wandering off during rounds. 

Those who don't know the course layout risk falling into a water or sand trap. Stay on the beaten path for your safety.

Golf Tournament Etiquette is Easy

It sounds like a lot to remember, but if you do some essential reading before you make it to the course and follow what everyone else is doing, you'll blend in and enjoy yourself.

Are you looking for golf course-appropriate attire? Look as sharp as the pros by shopping STITCH golfing apparel.