Often referred to as “The Gentleman’s Game”, golf has a ton of rules. Truthfully, way too many and a bit overwhelming to take it all in. However, to play a round of golf, you don’t need to know all the rules of the game. You just need to know the basics, and that is what we are here to help you with. So here are the finer points of the game. Follow these and you’ll look like a proper golfer on the course (even if it’s your first time).
Golf Etiquette for Your First Round
- Showing Up On Time
- Golf Balls On The Practice Green
- Picking Up The Flag
- Carrying Multiple Clubs On Cart Path Only
- Looking For A Lost Ball
- Standing Behind Someone As They Putt
- Walking Through a Players Line
- Golf Bag On The Tee Box
- Walking With Your Bag Across The Green
- Divot Patterns At The Range
- Picking Up When You Are Behind
- Being On Your Phone Too Much
- The Give And Take
Showing Up On Time
It goes without saying, but you need to be on-time when playing golf. The phrase “you’re on-time when you are 15 mins early” doesn’t quite apply here. It’s recommended to arrive at least 30 mins before your tee-time. Otherwise, you’ll back up the golfers behind you and possibly run the risk of your slot being canceled.
Golf Balls On The Practice Green
A no-no on the practice green is putting too many golf balls on the green. If you’re there by yourself have 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.
Picking Up The Flag
If you are first to hole out, 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. Just ask your golf buddy’s on their preferred style of play.
Carrying Clubs & Cart Path Only
Typically seen on par 3’s or if a hole is being worked on, there are some areas of the course where it states “cart path only.” To help keep the pace of the game, you should carry a few clubs with you when hitting your ball. Walking back and forth to your ball and the cart takes an unnecessary amount of time.
Looking For A Lost Ball
A lot like love “If it returns, it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it wasn’t. A ball is considered lost after 3 minutes. So, if you really hit in the ruff, you’ll have to take a stroke penalty and play your ball from where it was last hit from. If your pace of play is already slow, just take the penalty and keep going, it’s not worth the ranger being on you to speed up.
Standing Behind Someone When They Putt
It’s rude to be behind someone when they are putting, even if it’s not directly behind them. No one likes the feeling of someone breathing behind their neck. So, move to the side before they go in for their birdie.
Walking Through A Players Line
Never do this. A player’s line not only is the line from the ball to the cup, but it extends two-three feet past the cup in case the putt misses. Walking on the line will change the trajectory and path of the ball.
Golf Bag On The Tee Box
For those that choose to walk versus riding, 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.
Walking With Your Bags Across The Tee
The reason not to walk with your bags across near the cup is that the extra weight (from the bag) leaves an imprint on the green. Walking around the fringe is fine, but do remember to leave the green pristine as possible.
Divot Patterns At The Range
There are two common methods for divots at the driving range — either lined up in a row or vertical lines. The one no-no is to leave them scattered about. It ends up chewing more turf then you need.
Picking Up When You Are Behind
Many people are playing for fun, especially when starting. Don’t worry about your score. Sometimes you have to keep up play and pick up your ball. No shame in cutting your losses.
Being On Your Phone
It may go without saying, but you don’t need to be on your phone the whole time you are golfing, it can wait. Enjoy the game and the surrounding nature. Check your phone when appropriate like at the clubhouse, or in the golf cart. 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).
The Give & Take
It’s generally accepted to give a golfer a tap in or allow someone to take a long putt. 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 that golf is fun, so 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 shoot.
The important thing to note 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 know the etiquette of the game, you’ll need to learn how to swing! Check out Part 4 – How to Swing in our Golf for beginners mini-series.