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, care for the course and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be.
Etiquette is an integral and inextricable part of the game, which has come to define golf’s values worldwide.
Put simply, it is a series of guidelines that exist to show other players, whether through divot repair or awareness of your shadow, a degree of fairness which you would expect to receive in return.
In terms of golf’s environment, etiquette is about showing respect for the course on which you are playing and the work that has been put in to create it. It’s about making sure that the game is played safely and that others on the course are able to enjoy the round as much as you.
In short: it’s about showing consideration to all others on the course at all times.
Care of the Course
A great deal of time and effort goes into the preparation of a golf course so it’s important to play your part by raking bunkers and repairing your divots or pitch-marks.
Before leaving a bunker, players should carefully fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints made by them and any nearby made by others. If a rake is within reasonable proximity of the bunker, the rake should be used for this purpose.
Repair of Divots, Ball-Marks and Damage by Shoes
Players should carefully repair any divot holes made by them and any damage to the putting green made by the impact of a ball (whether or not made by the player himself). On completion of the hole by all players in the group, damage to the putting green caused by golf shoes should be repaired.
Preventing Unnecessary Damage
Players should avoid causing damage to the course by removing divots when taking practice swings or by hitting the head of a club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason.
Players should ensure that no damage is done to the putting green when putting down bags or the flagstick.
In order to avoid damaging the hole, players and caddies should not stand too close to the hole and should take care during the handling of the flagstick and the removal of a ball from the hole. The head of a club should not be used to remove a ball from the hole.
Players should not lean on their clubs when on the putting green, particularly when removing the ball from the hole. The flagstick should be properly replaced in the hole before the players leave the putting green.
Golf is not a game that needs to be played at a slow pace. Let Padraig Harrington explain how just a few simple guidelines can lead to quicker play and, consequently, a more enjoyable round for all.
Play at a Good Pace and Keep Up
You should always play at a good pace. The committee may establish pace of play guidelines that all players should follow. It’s a group’s responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If they lose a clear hole and delay the group behind, they should invite the group behind to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group. Where a group has not lost a clear hole, but it is apparent that the group behind can play faster, they should also invite the faster moving group to overtake them.
Be Ready to Play
You should be ready to play as soon as it’s your turn to play. When on or near the putting green, leave your bags or carts just off the green on the way to the next tee. When the play of a hole has been completed, leave the putting green quickly.
If you think your ball may be lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, to save time, playing a provisional ball. Players searching for a ball should signal the players in the group behind them to play through as soon as it becomes apparent that the ball will not easily be found. They shouldn’t search for five minutes before doing so. Having allowed the group behind to play through, they shouldn’t continue play until the group coming through has passed and is out of range.
Consideration for Others
It’s important to show respect for all others on the course whether they are your playing partners, your opponents, greenkeeping staff or members of the public out enjoying a walk.
No Disturbance or Distraction
You should always show consideration for other players on the course and take care not to not disturb their play by moving, talking or making unnecessary noise.
You should also ensure that any electronic devices taken onto the course don’t distract other players. Only tee your ball up when it’s your turn to play and remember not to stand close to the ball, directly behind it, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to swing.
On the Putting Green
On the putting green, you should be careful not stand on another player’s line of putt or, when he is putting, cast a shadow over his line.
And you should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out.
In stroke play, if you’re acting as a marker, on the way to the next tee you should, if necessary, check the score with the player concerned and record it.
Ensure that no one is standing close by or in a position to be hit by the club, the ball or any stones, pebbles, twigs or the like when they make a stroke or practice swing.
Wait until the players in front are out of range. Players should always alert greenstaff nearby or ahead when they are about to make a stroke that might endanger them.
If your ball’s heading in a direction where there is a danger of it hitting someone, shout a warning immediately. The traditional word of warning is “fore”.