A Guide to Golf Etiquette and Course Courtesy

Are you starting to learn golf? Or perhaps uneasy in trying to perform well on the golf course? 

Playing golf isn’t just about making great shots; it’s also about being respectful and considerate while you’re out on the course. Also, in the world of golf, there are the official rules that dictate how the game is played, and then there’s etiquette, which is all about how players should behave on the course.

No carts sign board on a golf course

Following both sets of guidelines is essential if you want your time on the green to be a successful and enjoyable experience. Just as you follow the rules to get that perfect shot, adhering to proper golf etiquette ensures a smooth and pleasant round of golf.

So, we’ve put together a few simple tips to guide you. Whether it’s your first try at swinging a club or you’re getting more experienced, these easy guidelines will make sure you can focus on having a blast and getting better at the game!

1. Play at the Right Pace

Make sure the game flows smoothly by maintaining a good pace. One effective way is by adopting “ready golf,” which means hitting your shot as soon as you’re prepared, even if you’re not the farthest from the hole. This keeps things moving and prevents unnecessary delays.

Man hits ball out of sand trap - motion blur on club and ball in flight

Additionally, minimize the time spent looking for lost balls. If you suspect your ball might be difficult to find, take a provisional shot to save time. This way, you won’t need to walk back to re-hit. These practices help you and your group play efficiently and reduce waiting time for other players on the course.

2. Repair Ball Marks

Taking care of the green is important for a good golf experience. Whenever your ball makes a mark on the green, make sure to fix it. This helps to keep the green in good condition for everyone to enjoy. 

To do this, use a tool called a ball mark repair tool or even a tee. Gently push the raised part of the turf back over the mark. 

3. Replace or Fill Divots

Maintaining the fairway is essential for the course’s health. When you take a divot while hitting a shot, it’s important to take care of it afterward. 

There are two options: you can either pick up the divot you took and put it back in its place, or you can fill the hole with sand or a mixture provided by the course. This helps to ensure that the fairway remains even and playable for everyone.

Young man repairing the divot during his game of golf

4. Minimize Divots

Taking care of the golf course is a shared responsibility among players. When you’re out there, try to minimize any unnecessary damage, like divots. It’s a good practice not to take divots during your practice swings – this helps in preserving the course. 

But if you happen to take a divot accidentally, make sure to either put it back where it belongs or fill it with sand provided by the course. This prevents uneven surfaces that could affect everyone’s game. Moreover, when you hit into a bunker, always remember to rake it afterward, smoothing out the sand for the next golfer. 

5. Care for Bunkers

After you’ve played a shot from a bunker, make sure to smooth out the sand using a rake – this levels the surface and helps the next golfer. Even if rakes aren’t available due to certain situations, like the pandemic, you can still use your feet or a safe tool to flatten the sand as much as possible. 

Additionally, it’s wise to prevent unnecessary disruption in bunkers. When entering to play your shot, choose the shortest path – this minimizes the impact on the sand and helps keep the bunker in good condition for everyone.

6. Be Quiet and Still

To fully enjoy golf, it’s crucial to be quiet and avoid disturbing players during their shots. This applies to everyone, not just your group. Golf is both skill and mind-focused, so limiting distractions is key. 

Don’t talk during shots, silence your phone, and if you must answer, stay far from players. Let’s respect the game and others’ concentration for a better experience on the course.

7. Follow Cart Rules

Respecting golf cart rules is vital. These rules keep us off tee boxes, greens, bunkers, and water hazards. Remember the ‘cart path only’ rule too, especially when it’s wet. 

Golf courses sometimes allow limited driving, like the 90-degree rule. But after rain, it’s often cart path only. Stay aware of daily rules and honor them for a smooth game.

8. Avoid Hitting Others

Safety is crucial in golf. Never hit into the group ahead, even if you think you can reach them. 

9. Yell ‘Fore’

If you might hit others, shout “Fore” and say sorry if your ball lands close. Don’t risk it – hitting into players is dangerous. Remember, caution matters more than saving a few minutes.

10. Moderate Drinking

Drinking on the golf course is common, but be cautious. Moderate your alcohol intake, especially in hot weather, to prevent health problems and keep proper conduct. While having a drink is fine, excess can lead to medical issues, obnoxious behavior, and a decline in your game. 

Remember, it’s inappropriate to misbehave due to alcohol, and ensure you have a safe ride home without drinking and driving.

11. Play Quiet Music

If you want music while golfing, keep it soft, not bothering others. Quietly playing music through your cart’s speaker is okay, but it shouldn’t reach the next hole. Volume within 5-10 feet is good. Ask your group’s opinion, turn it off near shots, and around others. Check if your course allows music.

12. Dress Respectfully

Respecting the golf course’s dress code matters. While some rules might seem extreme, following them ensures a comfortable environment for everyone. 

Dressing appropriately avoids offending fellow players. Most courses have codes, and not adhering could mean not playing. To be safe, check the code online or call before arriving.

A man and woman walking in the golf course


To wrap it up, golf etiquette is about being nice and polite. It keeps everyone having fun. Remember, stay quiet during shots, drive where allowed, avoid hitting others, and follow the dress code. Also, be careful with alcohol and music. It’s all simple, and it makes golf enjoyable for everyone. Just be friendly to others, think about what’s good for golfers, and help take care of the course. If we all do these things, playing golf will be much better for all.