Golf has always been considered a gentleman’s game, perhaps more so than any other sport. Personal integrity is integral to the game. Few other sports rely on the players to police themselves. Cheating at golf is such a taboo that a mere accusation can follow a professional golfer for an entire career.
While that is not necessarily as true for recreational golfers, the nature of the game still demands its players follow certain etiquette. This devotion to both the rules and the etiquette might seem quaint to new golfers. Here then are five things you should never do on a golf course.
1. Play Slowly
Slow play is not just boring, it is downright disrespectful to your fellow golfers. Etiquette is so important to the game that the Professional Golfers Association devotes a page to it on its website.
A round of golf takes long enough as it is under normal conditions. But slow play can push a round up to and beyond five hours. On a busy weekend, slow play will back up the groups playing behind you. This can ruin a good game of golf. Slow play ruins any kind of rhythm for you and your fellow competitors. Here are some things you can do to avoid slow play.
• Be prepared when it is your turn. Check the yardage, wind, and other factors while your fellow competitors are playing.
• Walk briskly to your ball.
• If you are not ready when it is your turn, ask your playing partners to play first.
These reasonable accommodations should help you play each shot within 45 seconds, the recommending time from the PGA.
2. Damage the Course
You cannot avoid damaging the course slightly during play. Divots and ball marks are part of the game. However, you should be trying to mend that damage as much as possible.
Divots should be replaced or filled. Many courses will supply sand on your cart to fill divots. You should also rake the sand trap after hitting your shot. Take the rake into the trap with you and leave the trap as pristine as you can. Many times and approach shot with an iron will leave a ball mark on the green. Mark your ball, then fix your ball mark and any others you see left by other players.
3. Be a Distraction
Never walk across another player’s line on the green. This can be more than distracting, as your footprints can affect the roll of the ball.
On the green or not, never stand in someone else’s line of sight when they are preparing to play a shot. Stand still until they have hit the ball. And perhaps most importantly in today’s age, turn off your phone.
4. Hit Into the Group Ahead
Hitting into the group in front of you is beyond bad etiquette. This can result in arguments or even escalate into fisticuffs if you are not careful. It is also quite obviously dangerous.
Occasionally in golf you will be faced with a shot when you cannot see your target. Make sure the group ahead is clear before hitting. If your group is slower than the one behind you, consider allowing them to play through.
5. Give Unsolicited Advice
As a new player, it is perfectly OK to ask for advice from a more experienced player during a casual round of golf. However, you should also avoid giving advice unless they asked. is particularly true when you give bad advice.
Don’t be a passive player
There are many opportunities for you to help your golfing partners and keep the flow of the game going. A good golfing partner will watch the ball from the tee in the case that it goes off-line so that your partner doesn’t have to guess where the ball has gone. It can be difficult for some players to track their ball from the tee, especially if they are focusing on keeping their head movement limited on their swing. Once on the green, you should be ready to remove the flag from the hole if your ball is nearest the hole to give your partners a clearer shot. When finishing up the hole, keep a lookout for any clubs or head covers left behind. Nothing is worse than finding out two holes later that one of your group has forgotten their putter or sand wedge on the green. As much as golf is a solitary sport, you can still be a team player.
Don’t forget to hit the range before your tee time
Prerequisite to this is that you arrive with plenty of time before your scheduled tee time. Especially for less experienced players, the practice range gives you time to warm up and familiarize yourself with your clubs. There is nothing worse than having to wait on someone who is still cold when they approach the tee at hole one. Take the pressure off and get the kinks out of your swing beforehand.
Don’t bring your bag into the shop
Not only is this rude and a clear breach of etiquette, but all facilities have a designated area for bags while you check-in. There is no reason to ever bring your bag into the shop. Use the racks that the facility provides; your equipment will be safe for the few minutes it takes to get settled in.
Don’t step across anyone’s putting line
The green is the most delicate part of the course, both physically and mentally. Any shift in the grass can disrupt the careful planning and approach of your fellow players, so do not ever, under any circumstances, walk along the potential path of their ball. Putting is hard enough as it is without one more variable to factor in.
Remember, golf requires respect for the game and for your fellow players.