Golf Etiquette

Most of the advice that follows will apply wherever you play the game. Respect for others and care of the course are both included here.

There's a short summary of the guidance on etiquette in the R&A Rules of Golf - you should be able to pick up a copy at the clubhouse.

On the Course

  • Respect other users: always remember the needs of others playing and working on the course.
  • Do not use a Mobile Phone on the course!
  • Don't move, talk or stand close to or behind a player preparing to play.
  • Don't play if any other players, greens staff or members of the public might be within range.
  • When taking a practice swing, make sure no-one could be hit by you or by, eg, twigs and stones.
  • Don't call loudly across fairways as others playing strokes might be within earshot.
  • Be aware of others playing shots on nearby holes.

On the Putting Green

  • Mark (behind) your ball if near to or on another player's putting line, if asked to do so or if you wish to clean it.
  • Don't stand behind or in front (i.e. "on his line") of a player taking a putt.
  • Avoid walking on the line of another player's putt.
  • As the flag stick may now be left in the hole, the player whose ball lies nearest the hole should ask the putter if they wish to have the flag left in or removed.
  • If removed, lay the flag carefully away from all the lines of putt of the other players.

Care of the Course

  • Replace divots and repair pitch marks - It's said that, in summer, a divot not repaired within three minutes will take three months to grow back - it might not be true but it makes the point!
  • It's good practice, on the green, to repair at least one pitch mark more than you yourself made - in other words, look out for those left by others.
  • Don't take bags or trolleys on the greens or tees. 
  • Don't lean on your putter on the green.
  • Don't play from Ground Under Repair (GUR) or Wrong Greens (includes marked temporary greens or the green of a hole other than the one you are playing). Free drop to the nearest point of full relief not nearer the hole.
  • Don't take excessive practice swings, especially on tees.
  • As soon as you have played your ball from the bunker, carefully fill holes and footmarks and smooth the surface. Place rakes outside bunkers where they are least likely to affect play.
  • Carry your litter until you reach a waste bin.
  • Drive buggies with care and keep to designated paths where they exist.

Avoid Slow Play

  • At all times, play without delay. Walk briskly between shots.
  • If appropriate, allow the players behind to play through, if searching for a ball. Don't continue play until those players have passed and are out of range.
  • Remember that search time is now only THREE minutes from when you start your search. Your ball is lost if not found within that time.
  • When the play of a hole has been completed, immediately leave the putting green.
  • Prepare for your shot by selecting your club and cleaning your ball on the tee, the green or under the preferred lie rules, whilst others are doing the same with theirs – don’t wait until they have played to start your own preparations!
  • Be ready when it is your turn to play.
  • Watch all your partners' shots so you can direct them to their ball positions.
  • If your ball could be lost (outside of a penalty area or out of bounds), play a provisional ball.
  • Search for your ball before helping other players (sorry if that sounds harsh but it’s aimed at avoiding consecutive three minute searches on one fairway).
  • Place your bag to the side of the green closest to the next tee.
  • If your match loses more than one clear hole on the players in front, you should invite the match following to play through.
  • Remember - your place is behind the group in front, not in front of the group behind!
  • Agree the score of the player whose card you are marking as you leave the green but only write up the card when you are on the next tee and others in your group are teeing off.
  • Don't waste time adding scores on the 10th tee - do it when you have a spare moment which is not delaying play.
  • Also consider the "Ready Golf" philosophy noted under The Course / Pace of Play.

Dress Appropriately

On the Course

  • Wear a shirt with a collar or polo neck - not a T-Shirt.
  • Shirts should be worn at all times.
  • Shorts should be tailored and of appropriate length.
  • No beach shorts, football attire, denim jeans, trainers or track suits.
  • Wear appropriate golf shoes.

In the Clubhouse

Clean, dry golf clothes are acceptable after playing. Dirty golf shoes should be removed before entering carpeted areas. Caps should be removed. Smart, casual clothes at formal events.

Playing at Other Clubs

Many private clubs require golfers to put on golf shoes in the changing rooms and to change their clothes before entering social areas. Check the rules when you book your game.

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