The Ultimate Guide to Golf Etiquette

Game Etiquette Matters

Following the game etiquette matters in golf, as much as following the game rulesGolf etiquette refers to the optimal behavior of a golfer on the field and the way he behaves with and treats his fellow golfers. This was one area that I was very eager to master when I started to learn about golf. After all, golf is a social game. I often play this with my friends or family, and there I found it more and more relevant to follow the etiquette of the game. It helped me strengthen my rapport with them and with the other golfers on the course. This also made my games more enjoyable and enriching, thanks to all the valuable conversations I could strike with my fellow players ever since I started following golf etiquette.

So then, are you ready to learn the rules? Most of these are rules that players follow without explicitly stating them. Most of them are not concretely laid in any golf books. These are some general etiquettes that I have formed, based on the general practices on the field.  

Reading Time: 12 Min

Golf etiquette starts before the game begins.

  • The pace of your game depends on the interest you show in it. To ensure the convenience of the other players and also to save your time, have all your clubs and other golfing paraphernalia ready. You should be prepared with a suitable club before your turn arrives.
  • Avoid using your mobile phone in the field. Many golf courses prohibit players from carrying their phone to the ground. Even if your club doesn’t have such rules, leave your phone behind. 
  • When it is not your turn, you should still pay attention to the game. You should not cause any distraction or affect the visibility of the player who is playing his turn.
  • Before you rush for your turn, make sure that the group that was ahead of you has completed their range. 
  • Face the player and stay away from the direction of the ball. This will avoid distracting the player and also add to your safety from being hit by the ball. 
  • Though there are general golf rules that are followed everywhere, there might be some local rules that you should be aware of. Know these rules from the golf club authority and use them in your game. 
  • Your golf gear transportation accessories like the buggy or trolley should all be away from the greens and tees. These should not obstruct the trajectory at any point. 
  • Depending on whether you are playing match play or stroke play, some rules might vary.

Each hole’s best score is taken, and the highest scorer tees off first at the next hole in the case of stroke play. For the match  play, there might be pairs or individuals playing. The player that wins has the advantage in the next tee.  

While you are playing the game.

The above are some good practices to follow when you are waiting for your turn.

Here are some etiquette’s to abide by while taking your shot.

  • Observe your ball’s trajectory. If you happen to lose it, remind yourself of the point that last registered on your mind. Going in that direction can make it easier to find the ball instead of aimlessly wandering for it. 
  • In tee shots, the balls are observed, and the player whose ball is the farthest away from the hole is given a chance to take the first strike.
  • After taking a shot, if you have cut some greens put the divot back. If the impact affected the sand bunkers rake them and also make sure that the pitch markers are set back to the initial state after you take your shot. 
  • While you are standing on the greens, make sure that you observe whether your position is one the line of putt of another player. 
  • This is a rule that applies to match play. If the ball happens to be inside the leather, it means that the ball is close to the hole. To be precise, the distance between the hole and the ball would be less than the distance between the shaft grip and the clubhead. In such cases, conceded putts are given. 
  • Carry your clubs and transport them to the direction of the next tee before you go putting. 
  • Once you have taken your shot, do not rush to mark the scorecard right when you are on the green. You can allow the player whose turn comes next to take his shot while you retire to the next tee and fill your scorecard.
  • Hunting for a lost ball and then taking your shot takes time. So, choose to play with a provisional ball and aim from where you took the shot when you lost the ball. I use this with most of my games, and I then go looking for the ball once I have taken my strike. 

Ideally, you should not stand in the line of someone’s ball. Check whether any golfer is standing in your line before you take the strike. If you hit the ball and then notice that there is a player on the possible trajectory, then send out a verbal warning by yelling ‘Fore’ to the player. In windy areas, it is difficult to hear another player on the field. So, I also raise my arm as I shout at the top of my voice to give a double warning hoping that the player would get the signal on time. 

How do you treat other golfers?

Besides the individual rules that apply in your game, you should also know about the practices to follow when it comes to conversing with other players on the field. I firmly accept the fact that golf is a social game, and it has tremendously helped me extend my network. The game is fun, but it can also be frustrating when your shot doesn’t go as planned. When this happens, do not swear on the field or show any extreme physical reactions on the ground. Every player’s mood affects that of the others on the field. Most people choose this game as a leisure time activity that helps them wind down after a tiresome week. Your agitation should not affect another player’s composure. Here are some of the conversing and communication etiquette I recommend following with your fellow golfers:-

Respect your fellow Golfers

While playing the alternate shot in golf which is also called foursome, you advance as your partner takes his shot. This will avoid unnecessary delays in the game.  

You do not always get to play your hole right on time. Sometimes you might be trailing by more than one hole. In this case, there might also be groups that are awaiting their turn after yours. You can let them pass rather than holding them up which would be pointless in the game. Most of the cases honor a higher priority if there is a two-ball group. 

4-ball, best-ball or 4BBB is one common type of golf tournament that many golfers play. You would be reversing the teeing off order with your partner once you have reached the 10th tee in line.  

Letting a group through is also applicable if hold-ups happen to you because of a lost ball. As you search for the ball, the group behind you doesn’t have to wait unnecessarily.  

Controlling your expression of emotions is also essential when you happen to take a great shot.  

If the group in front seems to be taking all the time they can, control your reaction and allow them to complete their game. Hurrying them might make them get tensed and further delay their shot.  

Watch the game like a pro golfer.

Before I started playing golf myself, I didn’t realize that there is so much difference between a pro golfer watching a game and an outsider doing it. Even when you do not happen to be part of that particular match in the tournament, you might still find valuable insights from the game.  

Most of the tournament arenas prohibit the use of cameras to record any player’s game. You might be able to use them during practice sessions or even use the cameras from the golf club.  

You do not want your mobile phone ringtone to disturb everyone out there. So turn off the phone or put it in silent mode so that you do not distract the players and the onlookers.  

Whether it is to motivate a player or to shout out some tips on altering his shots, do not ever shout out to someone on the field. This is not a game where you loudly cheer and create noise in the audience ring.  

Moving from one tee to another to watch a player take a shot might appear tempting. But hold your fort till the player has taken his shot. Do not make distracting movements that can affect the player’s concentration.  

Do not obstruct the visibility of the others watching the game behind you. 

Learn to discern between good game practices and the bad ones.  


Following these rules will make you a better player and also create a strong impression among your fellow golfers. I hope you enjoyed learning about Golf etiquette, don’t just read it, go put it into practice in your game. 

Warren Belmore

Warren Belmore