5 Most Essential Rules of Golf Course Etiquette

5 Most Essential Rules of Golf Course Etiquette

Have you ever had those awkward golf moments where it feels like everyone is staring at you? Or maybe you’ve seen people disappointedly staring but without any idea why. Unfortunately, this often happens to first-time golfers who are unaware of golf course etiquette.

In this article, we explain the proper etiquette for golfers that everyone seems to know. You’ll learn what fellow golfers and experienced golfers have been hiding from you.

5 Most Essential Rules of Golf Course Etiquette

Always Be on Time

The first rule of golf course etiquette: always be on time to the golf course.

Not showing up at your exact tee time not only inconveniences the starters but also doesn’t give you enough time to introduce yourself, greet your friends, nor prepare and warm-up. In addition, you wouldn’t want to make enemies out of golf personnel (and just being a decent human being is important).

You should show up at least 30 minutes before your tee time. Thirty minutes gives you enough time to register with the starter and let off a few practice swings before getting started. You can also use this time to stretch, adjust your form, or grab a bite before you hit the course.

Since tee times run from between 7.00 am and 4.00 pm, there’s no excuse for being late. You should choose a tee time that you know you can catch at least 30 minutes before.

Don’t Hog The Practice Putting Green

So you arrive 30 minutes before the tee time, which means you can take your time on the practice green, right? Well, not so much!

The practice green has a different set of rules that you should follow. Firstly, don’t carry more than three balls. No matter how empty it may seem, fellow golfers could come along at any time, and you don’t want to be that person who is crowding the space.

Keep Everything Neat

Secondly, avoid leaving footmarks on the green. The grass on practice greens is sensitive, and standing in the same position for a long time will leave footprints behind. Leaving footprints means more work for golf course personnel, and it also makes it difficult for other golfers to use the same space. If every single golfer left footprints on the grass, then there wouldn’t be any practice to speak of.

Be Aware of Other Golfers

Lastly, always be aware of other golfers. You’ll notice that each golfer has their own line on the practice putting green. It’s important to respect each person’s line. Respecting someone’s line means not putting through it.

Don’t hit long putts that will distract the other person or ruin their flow. If you want to hit a long putt, make sure that you have clear sight (but generally avoid them when you can).

Respecting someone’s line also means not walking through it. If you can see that someone has carefully plotted their drills, be respectful enough to walk around them. Nothing is more rude or disrespectful than walking through other people’s lines. If you can look in both directions before crossing the street, you can do the same on a golf course.

Bonus Point: Always clean up after you’re done using the practice green. Make sure to leave everything as you found it so that the next golfer can also enjoy it. This means picking up your golf balls, replacing flags, and picking up any cones you might have used. Cleaning up after yourself not only puts you in good graces with the golf course personnel but with other golfers, as well.

Don’t Be a Slow Player

This is probably the golden rule of golf course etiquette. Nothing kills a great game like a slow golfer on the course. No matter your skill level, try your best to be mindful of other people’s time.

The biggest downside to being a slow player is that you impact the available tee times. Tee times were introduced so that everyone has enough time to go through the holes. The times are calculated using an average of how much time a golfer takes on each hole and how much time they’ll spend on the whole course.

The slower you move on the course, the later other people’s tee times are pushed back.

How to Avoid Slowing The Game

The best way to avoid moving at a slow pace is to plan your next shot. Think about which club you’re going to use, the wind direction, and the stance you’re going to use before getting to the hole. You can also start visualizing your swing and the power behind it to save time.

Having proper planning means spending less time lining up for the shot and going through the course faster.

If you’re playing on a cart path, make sure you carry your clubs all at once. Going back and forth between the course and the cart is a waste of time. If you don’t want to take all of the clubs, you can carry the clubs that you’ll think you need.

Lost Balls and Time-Saving

Another time-saving rule is that you should only spend three minutes looking for a lost ball. We understand that golf balls are expensive to replace, but there’s a difference between genuinely looking and investing in a lost cause.

If you don’t have the slightest idea of where the ball landed, it’s best to write it off. This is a painful rule to follow as a beginner, but you’ll appreciate it once you’re an avid golfer.

Respect Other Golfers

Even though golf is a sport best enjoyed with company, it doesn’t mean that you should use the space to build connections. Asking others for help or complimenting them on their swings is acceptable, but you shouldn’t take things too far.

If you see someone playing alone, it’s most likely that they want a quiet and peaceful round. It’s best to let them have it and only say something at the end.

Don’t Talk to Another Player’s Ball

This rule seems strange at first, but it’s essential to only focus on your game when you’re playing. If the other player doesn’t ask for your help, it’s best not to offer it. The rule covers talking to the ball, suggesting the club they should use, and commenting on their swing.

Avoid Making Noise and Distracting Other Players

A golf course is mostly a place of stillness. Keeping quiet helps other golfers focus, and it reduces distractions. On the other hand, talking ruins serenity. If you decide to speak, make sure that it’s in soft and hushed tones. Remember to put your phone on silent or switch it off altogether. There are few things as annoying as a phone’s ringer going off when you’re in the zone.

Don’t walk through another player’s line. Walking through a player’s line is a major sign of disrespect. It’s a way of saying that you don’t care about what they’re doing and you’re only interested in your own game. Also, remember that a player’s line extends to three feet past the hole. No matter how far away they seem, just respect the other player’s game.

If the group ahead of you is, unfortunately, taking longer than usual, be respectful enough to slow down. Avoid breathing down their necks and putting pressure on them. It’s the same kindness and grace that you’d expect if you were having a bad day on the greens.

Respect the green

The final rule of golf course etiquette, respecting the course is almost as important as respecting other players. If you want to keep enjoying the green, do your best to take care of it. If you’ve decided to walk the course, make sure you don’t put your bag down on the tee box. Putting your bag down on the tee box causes scuff marks, which turn into brown patches. Imagine what would happen if everyone left their fair share of scuff marks.

Leave an as little impact on the turf as possible. Take smooth hits that don’t pick up grass or completely unroot it. Turf is not only hard to replace, but it’s also quite costly, as well. Make sure to replace your divots whenever possible. If you can’t, just put the turf back and tuck it as well as you can. If possible, you can carry soil mixture to fill the divots.


Most of the proper golf course etiquette involves treating others with kindness and compassion. Showing up on time shows that you respect the starters, the game, and other players, as well.

Being aware of your space on the putting green means that you respect your fellow players. Playing the game at a consistent pace shows that you respect the faster players and the greens.

Beyond the players, the game, and the greens, don’t forget to thank the golf course personnel. They make your game possible and contribute to your pleasure. Plus, treating caddies well will always work out in your favor.

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