Basic Etiquette Guide
Unlike many sports, golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should act in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, no matter how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.
No Disturbance or Distraction
- Players should always show consideration for other players on the course and should not disturb their play by moving, talking or making any unnecessary noise.
- Players should ensure that any electronic device taken onto the course does not distract other players. Cell phones should be turned off and not used throughout the duration of the round.
- On the teeing ground, a player should not tee his ball until it is his turn to play.
- Players should not stand close to or directly behind the ball, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to play.
On the Putting Green
- On the putting green, players should not stand on another player’s line of putt or when he is making a stroke, cast a shadow over his line of putt.
- Players should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out.
- Players should ensure that no one is standing close by or in a position to be hit by the club, the ball or any stones, pebbles, twigs or the like when they make a stroke or practice swing.
- Players should not play until the players in front are out of range.
- Players should always alert green staff nearby or ahead when they are about to make a stroke that might endanger them.
- If a player plays a ball in a direction where there is a danger of hitting someone, he should immediately shout a warning. The traditional word of warning in such a situation is “fore.”
- In stroke play, a player who is keeping score should, if necessary, on the way to the next tee, check the score with the player concerned and record it.
Care of the Course
- Before leaving a bunker, players should carefully fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints made by them and any nearby made by others. Grab the closest rake to you and smooth out the sand. If you are playing in a tournament, you can be disqualified for not raking the bunker multiple times.Bunkers
Repair of Divots, Ball-Marks and Damage by Shoes
- Players should carefully repair any divot holes made by them and any damage to the putting green made by the impact of a ball (whether or not made by the player himself). When you are finished with the hole all players in the group should repair any damage caused by their golf shoes.
Preventing Unnecessary Damage
- Players should avoid causing damage to the course by removing divots when taking practice swings or by hitting the head of a club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason.
- Players should ensure that no damage is done to the putting green when putting down bags or the flagstick.
- In order to avoid damaging the hole, players and caddies should not stand too close to the hole and should take care during the handling of the flagstick and the removal of a ball from the hole. The head of a club should not be used to remove a ball from the hole.
- Players should not lean on their clubs when on the putting green, particularly when removing the ball from the hole.
- The flagstick should be properly replaced in the hole before players leave the putting green.
- If you are riding in a golf cart, make sure that you are respectful and follow the rules that the course has set for that given day.
Pace of Play
- Players should play at a good pace. The tournament officials may establish pace of play guidelines that all players should follow.
- It is a group’s responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If you fall an entire hole behind the group in front of you and it is delaying the group behind, you should invite the group behind to play through, regardless of the number of players in that group.
- An 18-hole round of golf should never take more than 4 ½ hours to play, an average of 15 minutes per hole.
Be Ready to Play
- Players should be ready to play as soon as it is their turn to play. Generally speaking, the player with the lowest score on the previous hole tees off first and the player farthest from the hole plays first from there on out. However, during a casual round of golf it is acceptable to play “ready golf” in an effort to play at a good pace. Ready golf allows the players within a group to take their swings when each member of the group is ready to play. If you reach your ball and are ready to hit, while other members of your group are not ready, then go ahead and hit.
- When playing on or near the putting green, players should leave their bags or carts in places where they can get off the green quickly and towards the next tee. When finished with a hole, players should immediately leave the putting green.
- Check the Local Rules on the scorecard to identify the boundaries of the course.
- If your ball is lost outside a water hazard or comes to rest out of bounds you must play another ball from the spot where the last ball was played, with a one stroke penalty.
- You are allowed 5 minutes to search for a ball. If you cannot find it, the ball is considered “lost.” If, after playing a shot, you think your ball may be lost outside a water hazard or may have come to rest out of bounds you should play a provisional ball. You must state that it is a “provisional ball” and play it before you go forward to search for the original ball.
- If the original ball is lost (other than in a water hazard) or out of bounds, you must continue with the provisional ball, under penalty of one stroke. If the original ball is found in bounds, you must continue play of the hole with it, and abandon the provisional ball.