The Spirit of the Game/Etiquette

The Spirit of the Game

Unlike many sports, golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.


Etiquette is a word that’s often heard in relation to golf, more so than with any other sport. But it’s not just about manners, the guidelines for good golf etiquette are there for several very important reasons. Many of them relate to the safety of golfers, many relate to pace of play, and other rules of golf etiquette relate to maintaining the quality of the golf course.

In other words, golf etiquette is an essential part of the game.

Keep It Safe

  • ScreenHunter_269 Sep. 06 20.25Do not swing your club until you know that others in your group are at a safe distance. Likewise, keep your own distance when others are swinging. Be aware of danger and steer clear of trouble.
  • When practicing your swing, never swing in the direction of another player. There may be pebbles or twigs or other matter in the grass that could fly up and strike a playing partner.
  • Do not hit the ball until you are certain that the group ahead of you is out of range.
  • ScreenHunter_273 Sep. 06 20.54If your ball appears to be heading towards another player or another group, give them a warning by yelling out, “FORE!” (an internationally recognized alert)
  • Never throw clubs in anger. In addition to being rude and childish, it could also be dangerous.
  • Keep the round moving by being prepared to hit your shot when it is your turn. You probably don’t like waiting on other groups – don’t make other groups wait on you.
  • The player who is away or furthest from the hole, hits first in a group. However, in friendly matches or weekend competitions (as opposed to interclub tournament play), this rule can be ignored in favor of “ready play” – players hit as they are ready. All players should agree to “ready play” before it is put into effect.
  • Do not spend too much time looking for a lost ball, particularly if there is a group behind you ready to play. If you insist on taking the full five minutes alloted in the rulebook to look for lost balls, golf etiquette says wave up the group behind to allow them to play through.
  • Always try to keep pace with the group ahead of you. If space opens in front of you, allow a faster group to play through.
  • Always leave the putting green as soon as your group has finished putting.
  • ScreenHunter_271 Sep. 06 20.26Repair your divots in the fairway.
  • Repair your ball marks on the green.
  • Always rake sand bunkers after hitting
  • Avoid taking a divot on a practice swing.
  • Quiet, please! Never talk during another player’s swing.ScreenHunter_275 Sep. 06 21.39
  • Do not yell out following a shot (unless you are yelling “fore”). Even if boisterous behavior doesn’t bother your playing partners, there are other people on the course who may be within earshot.
  • Be aware of your shadow on the putting green. Don’t stand in a place that causes your shadow to be cast across another player or that player’s putting line.
  • Never walk through a playing partner’s putting line. Your footprints might alter the path of a partner’s putt. Step over the putting line, or walk around (behind) the partner’s ball.
  • When a playing partner is swinging or putting, try to stand out of his or her line of vision, and remain quiet during the other golfer’s swing.
  • ScreenHunter_274 Sep. 06 21.38Shake hands with your playing partners after you finish on eighteenth green.
  • Do whatever you have to do to keep your phone quiet.ScreenHunter_277 Sep. 06 21.40
  • It’s easy to help out your fellow players, if you just pay attention. One obvious way is looking for lost balls — better yet, watching errant shots so they don’t turn into lost balls. Pick up that extra club left on the fringe or the headcover dropped next to the tee, and return it to its owner after saying, “Nice shot!” 

  • Observe cart rules. Some courses will post “cart path only” signs; others will ask you to observe the “90-degree rule.” Do as you are told

  • Keep carts away from greens and hazards. The wheels on carts can damage these sensitive areas
  • Observe the safety suggestions posted in golf carts and drive carefully.
  • When two players in a cart hit to opposite sides of a hole, drive to first ball and drop off that player with his club, then drive to the second ball. After both players hit, meet up farther down the hole.
  • When walking from your cart to your ball, take a couple clubs with you. Taking only one club, then having to return to the cart to retrieve a different club, is a huge time-waster.

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