9 Basic Rules of Golf Etiquette You Might Be Breaking
Golf, as a sport, serves more roles for golfers than you may think. It is a highly competitive craft to perfect for some, while for others, it may be a networking opportunity or a relaxing way to spend time with friends. But no matter how you arrive on the golf course, there are specific rules of etiquette—some written, some not—that all styles of golfers must follow.
You may know all the steps of play and the rules of the game like the back of your hand, but do you have a grasp on the equally crucial social agreement? Here's everything you need to know about golf etiquette before you step onto the course.
1. Arrive Early
In golf, on-time is late. Always plan to arrive with ample time to get your gear ready and make your way to the beginning of the course.
With so many pieces of equipment to manage and moving parts to coordinate, you can slow other groups down if you aren't proactive and ready to start playing at your scheduled tee time. Usually, it’s best to arrive 30 minutes early so that you don’t have to rush.
2. Respect the Course
To dedicated golfers, a course is a holy place. As such, you should never disrespect it.
Always ensure that you walk within the marked pathways. The purpose is to maintain the golf course's integrity and ensure your own safety.
If you're using a golf cart, drive only in the designated areas. On a practice swing, never take a divot.
And like anywhere, never leave trash on the course. If all golfers agree to abide by these basic rules, the course will remain in good condition for everyone to enjoy.
3. Keep Good Pace
You may not know all of the groups that are playing golf on the same day as you, but you all have an impact on the quality of each other's games. A big part of this has to do with the pace of play.
If one group on the course is moving slower than all the others, the movement of the whole course will inevitably become stagnant and clogged. Groups will have to wait for longer periods to move on to the next hole, affecting the pace of play for the whole day.
If you are newer to the sport or need to move slower for any reason, schedule your game for an off-day or time so that fewer groups are on the course.
4. 3-Ball Warm-Up
We get it. When the round begins, you want to play your best. But that doesn't mean you should take up time and room on the green for an elaborate warm-up routine. If you want to take a few shots, use a maximum of three balls.
When taking your few warm-up shots, never shoot towards other people and always mark and immediately collect your balls.
5. Quiet While Others Hit
Studies have shown that ambient noise can negatively affect a person's focus and even damage mental health over time. While you may not be able to control the sound level around you in daily life, it is possible to increase your focus on the golf course by minimizing ambient noise.
It is customary for everyone in a group to remain silent when it is someone else's shot. The respectful silence allows them to focus on the task at hand and play their best.
If you give this courtesy to others, they'll give it to you in return, and everyone will benefit.
6. Don't Waste Time Looking for a Lost Ball
The old rule of thumb for looking for a lost ball was to search for no more than a few minutes. Today, the common thinking is that it is too much time.
To make sure the pace of play for everyone doesn't become stagnant, look for a lost ball for no more than three minutes.
When walking onto the course, you need to come to terms with the fact that you may lose a few balls. It's not the end of the world. To minimize this risk, always oversee your shots.
7. Play “Ready Golf”
Ready golf is exactly what it sounds like: always being ready when golfing.
In this style, players use the downtime when others are hitting to plan their next move. That way, when their turn rolls around, they don't need to waste any time before taking a shot. It keeps the game moving.
It's also appreciated if you help track other people's shots, so balls are easier to locate.
8. Don't Talk on the Phone
As obvious as this one seems, it unfortunately still bears mentioning: do not talk on the phone when you're playing golf.
It is one of the most basic but also most commonly broken rules of golf etiquette.
Before you step onto the course, put your phone on silent or vibrate. Better yet, leave it in the car! Focus on the game for a few hours and enjoy the break from technology.
9. Give “Fore”-Warning
The often laid back nature of this game gives the illusion that it's a safe activity with little chance of injury. It may surprise you to know that there is a higher rate of injury in golf than in swimming, hunting, and even ice skating.
The good news is that you can minimize this risk of injury through basic awareness and courtesy to other players. It is not only a wise idea but expected when you step onto the course.
If you hit a ball in the direction of another group of golfers, the expectation is that you will clearly and loudly yell “Fore” to alert players of the ball heading their way. If possible, be specific and yell “Fore left” or “Fore right."