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The Etiquette of Golf

Updated on January 26, 2015

1. Wait Your Turn

Perhaps the most important rule in the etiquette of golf is simply to wait your turn. The person who plays first is the golfer with the lowest score on the previous hole. On the first tee which golfer goes first can be decided by the toss of a coin. Elsewhere on the hole, the golf player furthest from the hole plays first. In a strokeplay event you can elect to continue to putt out after your initial approach putt.


2. Stay Out Of Sight

When you are waiting your turn, stand a good 45 degrees behind and to the right of the golfer. You should also stay a good five or six paces away, not talk or practice swings. This allows the golfer to properly focus without any irritating distractions.

3. Be The Perfect Timekeeper

If you are anxious your golf ball might get lost then play a provisional ball. This way, if your original golf ball is lost, you do not have to walk back to the site of the stroke. If your golf ball disappears into the rough. make sure you watch where it stops and try to "spot mark" where it lays. You could do this by using a distinguishing feature such as a tree that is along the same line. On the green, before you start putting, leave your golf bag on the green closest to the next tee to then collect the golf ball on your way to the next hole.

Do not mark your card as green as this may hold up the players behind you. It is better to do this on the next tee whilst waiting your turn to play.

4. Shout "FORE!"

The etiquette of golf must include this. If you happen to hit a rather wayward shot that has the potential to harm others, shout "Fore!" clearly and loudly, to let people know.

5. Be Cautious As To Where You Tread

Whilst on the green also be very aware of where your partners golf balls have come to rest. You should be careful as to where you stand and tread so as to avoid stepping on the line of their putts. On a soft putting surface your feet can leave marks as these may affect the smooth roll of the golf ball. Even on a firm green it is just courteous to avoid stepping on the line of another golf player's putt.

The book below, which is the only official illustrated guide to the rules, goes into much more detail with a focus on the complete up to date rules of the game of golf.

Looking After The Golf Course Itself:

It is good golfing etiquette to ensure that your impact on the golf course is kept to a minimum. Here are some tips on looking after the course.

1. Leave No Trace In The Sand

It is part of the etiquette of golf to leave a bunker just as you would hope to find it. Use a rake that is normally provided to smooth over the sand. If there is not a rake you could always use the back of your sand wedge.

2. Replace The Divots

A divot that is automatically placed back in it's hole very quickly repairs itself. If the divot is not replaced, however, it can leave the course looking uneven and untidy. Therefore, before leaving any area of every fairway shot, make sure you place the divot back in it's hole. Once you have done this, tread it down firmly with your foot.

3. Take Care With The Flag

Try not to just casually drop the flag onto the green but rather lower it gently to the ground. It the flag gets dropped often then it will inevitably damage the putting service. Also, if you hit a putt and the golf ball hits a flag lying on the green, you receive a two-shot penalty.

4. Repair Pitch-Marks

Pitch-marks on a golf course make the green look very unattractive. It can also deflect a golf ball on it's way to the hole. Not every single shot you play will leave a pitch-mark, but those that do should really be repaired as soon as possible. You can use a pitch-mark repairer like the one below. This is specifically designed for the job, is very simple to do and will only take you a few seconds. Stick the fork of your pitch-mark repairer into the ground and very gently ease the turf up. The pitch-mark will then take care of itself over roughly a 24-hour period. If just left, it would take up to a few weeks to properly recover.

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