Golf Etiquette

Golf is different to most other sports in that it is played, for the most part, without the supervision of an umpire or ref. Golf etiquette is about showing respect for the course and demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship toward other players.

From slow play to temper tantrums, here are some guidelines for good golf etiquette…

Speed of play:

Be aware of players waiting behind you and avoid slow play. You should always be prepared and play quickly when it’s your turn. Some ways you can save time is to:

  • Write your score on the scorecard when you reach the next tee and not on the green.
  • If you lose a ball don’t spend more than five minutes looking for it, play a new ball and take a penalty.
  • Begin planning your next shot as you approach the ball, visualise your swing and shot.
  • Take only one practice swing – watch the pros, most of them don’t even take a practice swing.
  • If you are not ready to play when it’s your turn, encourage a fellow player to takes his/her shot.
  • When you have finished putting you should immediately replace the flagstick and leave the green.

Cart use:

Try to keep on the cart path as much as you can – follow the signs and don’t speed. You should never drive a cart near a green or the teeing grounds. A good rule of thumb for driving a cart is to stay on the path until you reach a point parallel to the ball and then drive across to your ball.

On the green:

Whenever on the green avoid stepping on the putting line – imaginary line that connects the ball to the hole. If your ball is on another players putting line you should offer to mark the ball with a plastic marker or a small coin. Generally the player closest to the hole is responsible for the flagstick. The flagstick remains in the hole until everyone is on the green. If the player needs it to be left in, to see the hole better, you can stand to the side of the cup and hold the flag at arms length, and lift it out before the players ball reaches the hole. Remember to make sure your shadow does not fall over the hole or across the putting line. If you lay the flagstick down, do so off the green to avoid doing any damage to the green.


Yelling, screaming, throwing clubs and similar outbursts of anger make everyone uneasy and are unacceptable on a golf course. It happens to the best of us – we hit a few bad shots and our mood goes from bad to worse. Don’t be so competitive that you forget that the game of golf is played competitively for enjoyment!

Care of course:

Always repair divots the best you can. Some courses provide seed mixture to use or you can retrieve and replace the grass chunks then press them back into place with your foot. When entering a bunker ensure you do so from the lowest side nearest your ball, and as you leave cover your tracks by raking the sand after your shot. On the green it is important to repair any pitch marks or indentations caused by the ball hitting the green. Try to get the damaged area smooth enough to putt over using a tee, knife, key or repair tool.

These are just some of the most common courtesies you can make on the golf course. As a player it is your responsibility to know and understand the Rules of Golf.