July 29th, 2023

7 Cardinal Rules of Golf Etiquette

Regardless of the context in which it exists, etiquette, first and foremost, has the purpose of showing respect. In golf, etiquette also promotes awareness and safety. If you're a veteran player, you probably know there is nothing worse or more irritating than people who fail to adhere to the common-sense etiquette rules of the game. This can even ruin your game, especially if you play with strangers.

Beginners and well-versed players can both disregard golf etiquette, whether because they believe they have certain rights that exempt them from these rules or because they haven't done their research before booking their tee time. To raise awareness of these rules and hopefully educate people new to the game, we have compiled a list of the top seven essential golf etiquette rules.

1. Follow the Cart Path Rules

Golf carts may seem like the greatest thing ever for beginners, and – let's face it – they really are! However, before using one, check with the staff whether you're allowed to drive it all over the course or just on the designated path.

Sometimes, you will have to drive the cart only on its path because of the season or weather. This usually happens during the winter or wet conditions, as driving the cart over the course in these situations will likely tear it up. Also, avoid driving the golf carts at high speed, as you may bump into someone else or injure yourself.

2. Always Show Up Early

Being early is one of the most important things to keep in mind as a golf player. Showing up 20 minutes before your tee time shows consideration, as it will allow you to check in, stretch, and hit some range balls.

Even if you don't want to waste your shots on the range, it's a good idea to hit some putts and chips. Showing up early will make playing golf a significantly more pleasant and less stressful experience for everyone you plan to spend time with. If you arrive at the course much earlier, you obviously won't want to waste your time on the range. Instead, you can have breakfast or lunch if you haven't.

3. Refrain from Talking While Someone Is Hitting

While this rule should be obvious, you'd be surprised to hear that many people do this, which does nothing but distract the person who's trying to hit. This is another huge part of golf etiquette. It's plain rude to make small talk with someone while they strive to focus on giving their best.

Keep in mind how you feel when you're trying to hit – you can hear everything at a louder volume and may become a little angry if you hear even a twig break or people whispering. So, show respect to other players and allow them to concentrate.

4. Try to Play Fast to Keep the Game Going

Even if you're a beginner and don't play very well, it's best to play fast and bad than slow and bad. Spending too much time trying to hit will most likely frustrate the other players and will slow down the game. You should also remember that you have only 3 minutes to find a lost ball instead of 5, according to the new rules.

To prevent losing a ball, you should try watching it carefully if you think it will end up in a hazard so that you will know where to recover it from. Bottom line – if you notice you're behind the next group or receive a warning from a marshal, it's high time you moved faster.

5. Keep Your Phone Away When You're Playing

You shouldn't let your phone ruin your weekend getaway with your friends, no matter how addicted you are to social media or just to having your phone with you. Avoid taking it out during the game or, even better, leave it in the car or turn it off. If you need to have it on you for a very important reason, make sure it's on silent so that it won't disturb or distract other players.

As a team or group of friends, it's a great idea for everyone to stay off their phones. This will make you appreciate the quality time you spend together more and enhance the experience of playing.

6. Yell "Fore!" When Appropriate

If other golf players are on the course and your ball is heading toward the unsuspecting group, always yell "fore" or, even better, "fore left" or "fore right" if you are in a crowded area. This will be much appreciated by the other people, as they may have time to avoid being hit if you announce your ball is going in their direction.

If you're wondering, "fore" would translate to "watch out!" or "heads up!". Nevertheless, if you're not sure of the trajectory of your ball, don't yell "fore", as this may anger the other players, especially if they are busy.

7. Don't Stand Behind Someone Who's Playing

Another essential rule of playing golf in a way that will not annoy other players is never to stand or move behind someone who's about to hit. In general, it's best to avoid standing behind people on the golf course so that they don't feel suffocated or watched. This can be very stressful, which defeats the goal of playing golf. Standing behind a person when they are putting can be extremely distracting. When you are on the putting green, you want to watch your shadow and never stand behind anyone.

The Takeaway

Of course, there are many other golf etiquette rules, but these are the most important, in our opinion, as well as the ones that are a matter of common sense. If you are new, don't shy away from asking veteran players about the dos and don'ts of spending time on the course and the game. Lastly, it is a good idea to ask the staff about the general rules, as they may differ from one course to another.

Being mindful of the etiquette and discreetly informing someone else if they're acting inappropriately will help you make a good impression and maybe even make new friends. Golf is a complex and challenging game with many rules, but this makes it enjoyable, and if you are eager to learn, you will certainly find someone to help you.