Etiquette on the Course
This page provides guidelines on the manner in which the game of golf should be played. If they are followed, all players will gain maximum enjoyment from the game. The overriding principle is that consideration should be shown to others on the course at all times.
Before You Start
- Arrive at least 15 minutes before your tee time. Rushing can spoil the start of your round.
- Be aware of other Golfers around you.
- Be ready to play your shot when it is your turn. Have your club, ball, gloves and tee ready, it will speed the game up.
- Plan your next shot and club selection as you walk to your ball.
- Turn mobile phones off - most courses do not allow them on the course or in the clubhouse.
- Stand still and stay quiet when others are playing and make sure your shadow is not across their line or in their vision.
- Wait until the group in front is out of range before playing.
- Stand facing the person playing and behind the line of the ball, it is the safest place to be you will not be in the way.
- Check the local rules on the back of the scorecard or winter rules in the clubhouse or with the club pro before teeing-off. They may be useful later on.
- Keep trolleys and buggys off tee and greens at all times. Keep to designated buggy and trolley paths at all times.
- In strokeplay competitions, the teeing off order on each hole is determined by the best score on the previous hole. The person with best score has the 'honour' and goes first followed by the 2nd best score and so on. In matchplay, the person or pair who win a hole have the honour on the next tee.
On the Course
- After the tee shots, the player furthest from the hole plays first.
- Put your divots back, repair pitch marks on the green and rake bunkers after you have extracted yourself from them, leaving the rake laying in the bunker.
- On the green, avoid standing on another player's line of putt.
- When approaching a green, locate the next tee and leave your clubs that side of the green before you putt.
- In matchplay, conceding putts usually happens when the ball is 'within the leather'. That means the distance between the hole and the ball is less that the distance between the putter head and the bottom of the grip. Mind you, if it is a crucial putt then it is OK to see if they can handle the pressure!
- Mark your score card on the next tee while it is not your turn to play, not on the green.
- If you think you may have lost a ball, play a second 'provisional' ball from the same spot to save having to walk back if you cannot find the first one. It doesn't cost anything.
- If you accidentally hit your ball in the direction of another person, shout 'Fore!' Hold your arm up as another warning, signifying the direction of the ball.
- You hit a shocker, it happens - keep the toys in the pram. Do not swear, test the flight capabilities of your club or appeal loudly to mystical bodies. Your partners are trying to enjoy their day, even if you aren't. Losing your cool means losing the game.
- Do not scream and do a lap of honour if you play a career shot - others may be concentrating on doing the same near by.
- If your group falls more than one hole behind the group in front and there is another group behind, you must let them play through. Two-ball groups have priority on the course over all others. If you are holding them up then let them through - someone will return the favour to you one day.
- If you are looking for a lost ball you have 5 minutes to find it. If there is a group behind, wave them through while you are looking rather than hold them up.
- If you are holding up a group playing in an official club match or competition and you are not, you should let them through regardless of the situation in front.
- If you are being held up, do not hit your ball into the group in front to speed them up, even if they deserve it. Lawyers are doing well enough these days without defending your next personal liability case.
- If playing in a fourball better ball game it is usual to change the order of teeing off between you and your partner at the 10th tee.
- When playing foursomes, the non-playing partner should walk ahead in anticipation of the playing partner's shot. It is meant to be a quick game so get moving!
- After your round, shake hands with your partners, "Well played, Better luck next time, etc..", and doff your hat as you do so. It's what golf is all about.