Golf etiquette

Golf etiquette has several nuances. And for a beginning golfer, all of the rules (both explicit and unspoken) can be overwhelming. That’s why our focus is on equipping you with the fundamental aspects of golf etiquette. Master these essentials, and you’ll exude the aura of a seasoned golfer, regardless of whether it’s your first round of golf or your hundredth.

1. Showing Up on Time

One of the easiest ways to practice good golf etiquette is to arrive on time for your round. The phrase, “You’re on time when you are 15 minutes early,” doesn’t quite apply here. It’s recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before your tee time. And if you intend on warming up on the driving range, consider arriving another 30 minutes ahead of your round. Otherwise, you’ll back up the golfers behind you and run the risk of your tee time being canceled.

2. Golf Balls on the Practice Green

A no-no on the practice green is using too many golf balls. If you’re there by yourself, by all means, have some fun! But if you are sharing the space with other golfers, be respectful and don’t take up the whole green. Using two golf balls on the practice green is the rule of thumb and indicative of good golf etiquette.

Golf etiquette

3. Picking Up the Flag

If you are first to complete a hole, or “hole out,” a vital aspect of golf etiquette is to pick up the pin (flagstick) and place it back in the hole when everyone is finished. You don’t want to forget to place the pin when you are ready to head to the next tee box. Plus, the golfers behind you need to see the flag to align their shots. With the new rules of golf, there is the option to leave the pin in while putting. Just ask your playing partners their preferred style of play.

4. Cart Path Only

Most commonly seen on par 3s or after heavy rain, there are some areas of the course where you’ll find “cart path only” signs. Or, you may receive instructions before a round indicating which portions of the course to avoid with your cart. An important aspect of golf etiquette, and to help keep up the pace of play, is to carry a few clubs with you when walking to hit your ball. This ensures you have all of the club options you need once you identify the exact yardage of your impending shot. Walking back and forth between your ball and the cart unnecessarily wastes time.

5. Looking for a Lost Ball

A ball is considered lost after three minutes. So, if you’re not able to locate your ball, you’ll have to take a stroke penalty and play your ball again from where it was last hit. If you have suspicions that your ball may have landed out of bounds, hit another “provisional” ball. Be sure to announce you’re hitting a provisional before doing so as this is a crucial rule of golf.

When learning golf etiquette is best to stand behind someone when putting

6. Standing Behind Someone

It’s considered rude to stand behind someone when they are hitting or putting, even if it’s not directly behind them. So, move to the side, out of their line of sight, before they hit. This simple act of consideration is a hallmark of good golf etiquette on the course.

7. Walking Through a Player’s Line

A player’s line is not only the line from their ball to the hole, but it extends two to three feet past the cup in case the putt misses. Walking in a player’s line and leaving behind imprints of your shoe or spike marks could affect the path of their ball. Respecting a player’s line is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the game and showing proper golf etiquette on the course.

8. Golf Bag on the Tee Box

For those who choose to walk versus ride, do not place your bag on the tee box. Sometimes the bag can fall over or scuff the hitting area. Also, the bag can be a visual distraction, so it’s best to keep it off to the side.

9. Walking with Your Bags Across the Green

Walking with your bag near the cup means you’re walking with extra weight and have a greater chance of leaving an imprint on the green. Walking around the fringe is fine, but do remember to leave the green as pristine as possible.

10. Divot Patterns at the Range

Be sure to keep your divots in the same area on the driving range. Most players keep their divots in one vertical row. Doing so chews up less turf than scattering divots around your spot.

11. Picking Up When Behind

When you’re first beginning to play, you’re likely just playing for fun. So in the spirit of good golf etiquette, don’t worry too much about your score. If your score is already more than double par on any given hole (8 on a par 4, 10 on a par 5, etc), we recommend picking up your ball to keep up the pace of play. There’s no shame in cutting your losses.

12. Being on Your Phone

It may go without saying, but you don’t need to be on your phone the whole time you’re playing. Enjoy the game and the surrounding nature. Check your phone when appropriate, like at the clubhouse, or in the golf cart. And, don’t forget to leave it on silent. Otherwise, you run the risk of your notifications going off at the wrong moments (like during a swing).

13. The Give & Take

It’s generally accepted to give a golfer a tap-in putt or allow someone to take another stab at a long putt – especially if you’re not keeping score. However, it’s all about balance. You don’t want to make a golfer finish every tap-in or be too generous. Calling a mulligan is fine, but not for every shot. Keep in mind, too, you’ll want to cheer on your friends when they hit a good shot. And as a courtesy, you’ll want to help track their ball when they hit as well.

Beginners golf etiquette is learning the give and take

The key to golf etiquette is communication. If you explain to your golf buddies that it’s your first time, they’ll help you with the nuances of the game. But it always looks better when you come prepared. Plus you’ll end up focusing on having fun versus trying to learn new rules. Now that you are well-versed in the golf etiquette of the game, check out some of our other top posts for beginning golfers:

If your first golfing adventure is traveling on a golf trip, Ship Sticks offers reliable shipping exclusively for golf clubs and gear to any golf course in the world.

Megan Williams

Meet Megan Williams, a wordsmith with a passion for golf, travel, and the epic combination of the two! Originally from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Golf Capital of the World, Megan has played golf since she was a child, eventually playing competitively in college. She's since swapped her golf clubs for the keyboard and skillfully translates her on-course experiences into captivating narratives and insightful stories. When she's not crafting engaging content, you can catch her enjoying the company of her energetic golden retriever or trying new culinary delights around Tampa, Florida - her current stomping grounds. Join Megan on her literary journey as she explores golf courses and resorts worldwide, shares travel knowledge and shipping tips, covers industry news, and more - all exclusively on the Ship Sticks blog.