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Golf Etiquette for Beginners – Rules and Guidelines Every New Golfer Should Follow

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If you’re new to golf, there are some etiquette rules that you should be aware of before hitting the green. Failure to follow these guidelines can not only earn you a bad reputation among other golfers, but also lead to score penalties. So whether you’re teeing off for the first time or just want to brush up on your etiquette skills, keep these golf etiquette for beginners tips in mind.

Golf etiquette for start/arrival times

To start, you should consider asking yourself: Should I get golf lessons? Golf etiquette is a set of rules governing behavior on golf courses. Some golfers choose to play golf as a casual sport and make up their own rules, while others abide by formal rules of golf etiquette. In general, you should always respect other golfers on the course and try to be courteous and considerate of the course, pro shop staff, and fellow golfers around you. Getting golf lessons is a great way to learn the golf etiquette fast.

Arrive early for any golf event

“Early is on time, On time is late, late is not acceptable.”

The same saying works for golf. Arrive early at the golf course or anything golf-related (golf lesson, tournament, practice round, etc). You must be ready and on the Tee box at your designated tee time. If you do not show up on time, you risk the chance of forfeiting your spot and missing out on the golf round.

Remember, you need to consider things that take time to prep for a round of golf once you arrive at the course.

  • Finding a parking spot
  • Paying in the Pro Shop
  • Buying beverages at the bar/grill
  • Getting golf cart ready – Clubs/tees/balls/etc
  • Driving range/Practice Green time
  • Finding and Driving to the first hole

Golf etiquette courtesy to others

Arriving on time or even a little early for your scheduled tee time is courteous for others who may be waiting to tee off after you. If you are playing by yourself and it is slow, consider asking the golf course staff if any golfers want to join a threesome or foursome. Most of the time, the golf course will allow groups to pair up as long as there are no more than 4 per group.

Golf Etiquette for golf swings

NEVER talk in someone’s backswing

Golf takes a lot of concentration. Talking in someone’s backswing or at any point during their golf shot can be distracting and is considered the golf etiquette for beginners no-no. This is very easy to do if you are not used to playing golf. This is how everyone knows you are a beginner. Even if you want to offer a golf tip or have a question, it will better serve as a golf tip if given after the golf shot is finished.

Little noises are amplified 

Pretend you are trying to hear a pin drop on the ground during the setup, backswing, and follow-through of any of your partner’s golf shots. This includes any noises from opening a drink to shuffling around in your golf bag. All of these noises should be avoided at all costs.

Golf etiquette for positioning youself

Don’t stand directly behind or in front of someone during their golf swing

This is very important golf etiquette for beginners and is directly related to talking in someone’s backswing. If you are standing straight in someone’s golf swing path, you are risking injuring yourself if the golf partner makes a golf swing that is even remotely off target. Which we all know, that is very easy to do in golf. If you are standing in the view of the backswing, that is also very distracting. Especially if you are close to the person.

Stay clear of the tee box.

The best place to stand is off the tee box away from the player teeing off. Most people will stand directly behind someone. This gives them a clear golf shot, perfect concentration, and nothing to blame you for. You should still have plenty of room to see where the golf shot goes.

Golf etiquette for your attitude

Control your attitude

“Any day out on the golf course is better than a day at work.”

Golf is a very relaxing sport. Just because it is relaxing doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating and can get very competitive. Emotions can and will be all over the place. The main thing is that you keep your composure and keep your golf etiquette for beginners on par.

It is very frowned upon to show your frustration on the golf course. Anything from yelling, throwing clubs, or tearing any part of the golf course up is obscene and will not be tolerated. If you can’t hold it in, walk away from golf for the day. Don’t let your attitude ruin other golfers’ rounds.

Watch golf on TV – Take notes 

Watch a little golf on TV. See how good the professional PGA players are at controlling their emotions. The emotions are directly related to your focus on the golf course. If your golf game is high-strung, it’s highly likely that golf season and possibly your career could be a concise one.

Throwing clubs or damaging any part of the course is the fastest way to get kicked off the golf course. 

Golf etiquette for the golf course

Rake all bunker shots and shoe marks

“Leave the place cleaner than you found it.”

After every golf shot, you need to make sure that the sand is nice and clean in the bunker just as you arrived at it. Don’t forget to rake your bunker shots and golf shoe marks. The golf ball has to be played as it lies. If you do not leave the bunker spotless for the groups behind you, there is a chance they can hit it in your unranked bunker shot divot or shoe mark.

They are not allowed to move the ball, giving them an unfair disadvantage. No golfer should be wrongly penalized for your actions.

Safety first

Raking your golf shots also helps alleviate the risk of someone else getting hurt. When golfers are walking around the sand checking their ball out, they are not paying attention and could easily trip on your bunker shot divot. If you rake your golf shots, it helps ensure everyone’s safety.

Bunker shot golf etiquette for beginners

Golf etiquette on pace of play

Ready Golf

The terminology ready golf is a slippery slope when discussing golf etiquette for beginners. Golf is supposed to be played in the order of the furthest person from the hole goes first. But many local courses have adopted a “ready golf” etiquette to speed up the pace of play, where the first person who is ready makes their shot followed by the next furthest. This is the most common way to unless you are a PGA professional.

Average Golf Round

One might ask? How long does a round of golf take? Typically the golf course gives you an average time that it takes to complete the course. Most averages range from 4-5 hours. Nothing is more frustrating to any golfers than playing golf behind someone who takes 8-10 hours to complete the golf course (or at least it feels that way).

If you are playing golf with people of varying handicaps or golf skills, make sure you are sticking to the pace of play set at the beginning of your round. If there is a faster group behind you and you cannot keep up the pace, let them play through. I have seen people get kicked off a golf course for taking too long to play the round. You do not want to be that person.

Golf etiquette on golf carts

Treat the golf Cart like it’s your own car

Golf courses cart paths can be range in elevation and terrain. Just like you would never take your car off-road or speed on the roads, golf carts should be used for golfing purposes only. If in doubt, always park the golf cart in a stable location and walk to where you think your ball is. You do not want to risk your golf cart tipping over, rolling down a hill, or getting stuck on a huge tree.

Follow all cart path rules

Cart path only is something golfers see on golf courses when there is a lot of water on the course or in winter conditions to keep the grass alive. It’s so you don’t get your golf cart stuck in a muddy patch of ground around the golf course or ruin trails used by golf carts to get from hole to hole on the golf course. Most par 3 holes are cart paths only to keep the golf grass looking lovely (and you should be hitting the green in 1 shot!).

Fastest way to get removed from the golf course?

The worst golf etiquette for beginners you can have is driving on grass when it says cart path only. There are no stroke penalties for disobeying the cart path rules. However, there is a much more significant penalty. You risk being ejected off the course and forfeiting your golf round. Most golf courses these days have GPS monitors built into their golf carts. The clubhouse will quickly send someone out when you are disobeying this rule. Learn more about golf penalty rules here.

Bad golf etiquette - golf cart tracks on the course
Bad golf etiquette - old golf cart tracks on the course

Golf etiquette on putting

Don’t walk in someone’s putting line

Putting is an essential part of the golf game. Arguably the most important golf etiquette for beginners. When arriving at the green, you never want to walk in between the hole and someone’s ball. Your golf shoes can move the grass and cause your partner’s putt to jump across the green and lose momentum. This is very frustrating to any golfer, especially if the putt is close. 

The exception to the rule?

There is an exception to this. If you have to walk in the line, make sure that you take a big step over where the ball will be rolling. You must take into account the break and not the straight line into the hole. It is only to be used at last resort where you have no other option. Check out the 7 Best indoor putting greens here. 

Golf Etiquette for beginners - Dont walk in line

Golf etiquette on lost golf balls

Help players look for out-of-bounds shots

“Don’t act like you don’t see them struggling.”

Golf penalties like out-of-bounds shots will happen. That is a part of golf. It will happen to some more than others, but it is always in your best interest and golf etiquette for beginners to help players look for their out-of-bounds shots. The new rules, until 2019, used to be 5 minutes to look for an out-of-bound golf ball. The new rule is now 3 minutes before declaring the ball lost and re-teeing or playing your provisional shot.

You should get help in return

This is a favorite golf etiquette for beginners mistake, and I know I am not the only one. You want to make sure you get to your ball and have enough time to set up your shot but don’t realize how much help is gained from another set of eyes looking around. You might even find a few other lost golf balls while looking out. Make sure that you carry a Calloway Telescopic Ball Retriever with you. This always comes in as a big help.

Golf etiquette on ball divot marks

Take pride in your local course.

“Treat this as you would your own home.”

Whether it’s picking up golf balls, replacing divots, or fixing ball marks on the green, good golf etiquette for beginners is all about taking care of the golf course. Check out our best golf divot tools here. Pick up your tees from the tee box and throw them away. Treat this as you would your own home, or respect it as such. You wouldn’t leave your dirty laundry lying around, so don’t leave golf divot pieces and grass clippings behind on the golf course. Make sure all trash goes into the trash can.

If you don’t pick up after yourself by repairing your golf ball marks and putting back any golf divot grass or ball repair markings that might have been left behind by a previous player, you are drastically hurting the quality of the golf course. Golf course grass takes a lot of time, money, and effort to keep maintained well. Please do your part in taking care of the golf course.

golf etiquette for beginners by marking a divot from a golf ball

Golf etiquette for safety

Yelling Fore – DONT Whisper

“Yelling Fore is not just for the Pros.”

We are not golf professionals. If so, we would not be playing on most of our local courses. We have all had that dreaded golf shot that goes out of control from the very start. Do not be afraid to shout fore when you are unsure of where your golf ball is going. This may be an embarrassing thing for you, but it will save other golfers from potentially getting injured from your shot.

Where did the term “Fore” come from?

Pay attention to other golf holes

Pay attention to your surroundings on the golf course. This includes golfers on other holes. If a golfer is lined up and there is a chance he can draw or fade the ball in your vicinity, it is always better to hold off on your shot and watch theirs first.

Golf etiquette for electronics

Turn your phone on silent or vibrate

Turn you phone off! Now, this may be a little exaggerated with today’s need for technology and some great golf apps. However, golf is supposed to be a relaxing sport. The golf course should be a place where you can forget the stress of your day. If other golfers hear loud talking phone conversations on the other side of the golf course, it can disrupt their golf game. Also, you run the risk of the phone going off in the middle of someone’s swing. It’s best to leave it on vibrate and keep it in the cart.

LongBombs Final Say

Golf etiquette for beginners is essentially the golf version of social graces. You need to have these tips burned into the back of your mind before heading up to the course. If golf etiquette is practiced by golfers on and off the golf course, golf can continue to be a sport that allows everyone to make friends and enjoy time with their fellow golfers.


About the Author


How we got onto 16 with a 5 minute wait at the WM Phoenix Open!

How I got on hole 16 (The Stadium hole) at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with little to no wait!! I also have tips and tricks on what to do once you are inside the gate and inside the stadium hole. Check this out if you ever plan to make a trip out! If you ever have the chance, it is definitely worth the trip.

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