Etiquette of Golf

Etiquette has to do with manners. It is through the courtesy that we show to other people that we show our respect for them and that we show how important we think they are. The golf etiquette (or lack of it!) that you display will say more about you as a golfer than anything you ever do with your clubs. In a golfing context it also means respecting the traditions of the game, the course, practice and other facilities and leaving them in the good condition in which you would like to find them. One of the traditions of the game is the high standard of etiquette between golfers. EVERYONE CAN BE GOOD AT ETIQUETTE.

Firstly

Plan ahead. Check the golf club's events diary (notice boards/on-line web diary/pro-shop) to make sure that play will be possible at the time you next want to play. Occasionally both the 1st and 10th tee starting points may be booked for a short period of time. Not only is it NOT good etiquette to attempt to tee off at such a time, it is simply against club rules.

Arrivalback to top

  • Car park: Music systems off and be aware that at CSGC, cars can park on the other side of a hedge only a few feet from the 1st & 17th tees.
  • Try to arrive well before your tee time and not to be a 'will I have a partner?' tension generator. Of course, sometimes a late or non-arrival can't be helped, but if you can't make a tee time, please ring the pro shop.
  • Observe & obey any notices regarding rules of behaviour on or around the premises.
  • Mobiles phones are not to be used anywhere where they could be a distraction (course, clubhouse or practice facilities).
  • Observe a good standard of dress on and around the golf course & in the clubhouse.
  • Changing your shoes in the car park is not permitted & the changing rooms really are more comfortable!
    Visitors should enquire in the pro shop which tees to play from (It is possible at CSGC to play from the white tees on request).
  • Green Fees should be paid on arrival and definitely before going out. Very early risers must make arrangements on the previous day should they wish to tee off before the pro shop opens.
    In the event of a very early tee off (and also at any other time), precedence must be given to any greens staff still working on the course. They will normally try to let you pass as soon as practicable. Allowing them to finish cutting a green you are approaching will significantly help them to cut all 18 greens before mainstream play begins.

Rules+ back to top

  • Good behaviour, sportsmanship and fair play should be paramount in every golfers thinking.
  • Always show respect to other golfers & accept helpful comments & advice from more experienced golfers.
  • It is only polite & fair to others to have a knowledge of the game before setting foot on a course.
  • To play properly you must know the rules. Pocket book copies are available from the club office or from the R&A. It is recommended that you carry a copy in your golf bag.
  • Also, read the local rules on the course card. At CSGC, ALL black and white (marker post on the 7th hole) yellow, red and blue POSTS are deemed to be IMMOVABLE. Free relief from them is available except when your ball is in a hazard. White posts designate the boundary of the course and likewise cannot be removed under any circumstances and free relief is NOT available from them.
  • Do not be offended if you are penalised for breaking a rule (or hopefully notified before you do so), it is against the rules of golf for your opponent(s) or playing partner(s) to ignore an infringement. If you are in doubt on a matter, consult with others in your group or, without holding up play, consult your rulebook or scorecard.
  • Sharing a bag of clubs is not allowed at any time.

Starting Proceduresback to top

If you are NOT teeing off under organised competition teeing arrangements, DO observe the 1st & 10th tee starting times displayed on the course notice board which are reproduced below:

1st TEE

10th TEE

  2 Ball

Up to 9.00 am

3/4 Ball

Up to 9.00 am

  3/4 Ball

9.00 - 10.50

2 Ball

9.00 - 10.50

  2 Ball

11.00 - 12.50

3/4 Ball

10.50 - 12.50

  3/4 Ball

12.50 - 2.50

2 Ball

1.00 - 2.55

  2 Ball

3.00 - 4.55

3/4 Ball

2.55 - 4.55

  3/4 Ball

4.55 - 6.55

2 Ball

5.05 - 7.00

Alternating back to top

Instances will occur when those waiting to start on either starting tee, even if they are accurately in position for their tee off starting time, should give way to players already part way through their round so as to avoid disturbing the momentum of the round of those players. Examples are:

  • Players may need to play extra holes to conclude a matchplay round.
  • To maximize use of the course on Sat & Sun am, simultaneous starts from the 1st & 10th tees are employed, with tee closure periods appropriately timed for when the two sets of starters should reach their 10th hole. Occasionally some players will reach their 10th hole earlier or later than the closure period and will thus be in conflict with 1st or 10th tee starter's competition start sheet tee times.

In this situation, it is recommended that the two sets of players 'alternate' with those players starting their round, allowing those players continuing their round to play first. If the continuing players are already on the 9th or 18th greens, it is recommended that those players waiting on the next tee invite them to play through.

Voicesback to top

  • Keep your voice down on the course to avoid distracting others. Consideration is required for golfers on any adjacent tees, greens or fairways. A common distraction on the 1st or 10th tees is some friendly banter from the other of these two tees.
  • Do take extra care on still days, when the sound of your voice carries much further than normal.
  • Be aware of any noise you make when walking (e.g. on a path) or made by your clubs, trolley or buggy.

1st Tee back to top

  • If you meet someone on their own, it is good etiquette to ask them to join you regardless of ability. If it is you that is asked and you wish to refrain from doing so, a polite "no thank you" is all that is required.
  • Do not take bags or trolleys on to teeing grounds.
  • When starting, the order of play is determined by the official start sheet, or, if there is none, by the drawing of lots, e.g. by tossing a coin.
  • Subsequently the player or side winning a hole plays first at the next tee. The original order is maintained if a hole is 'halved' or drawn.
  • The player or side with the right to play first is said to have the 'honour'.

Tee partners back to top

  • For safety reasons do not stand ahead (forward of the ball) of the player who is making a stroke.
  • To avoid distracting the player, do not stand directly behind his line of play nor anywhere else in his peripheral vision.
  • Generally, you should be stood in front of (facing) the player teeing off, i.e. to the right hand side of his line of play if the player is right handed. If the player is left handed, DO walk to the opposite side of the tee.
    Remain still & silent while your fellow player is playing.
  • Check your shadow does not fall in an area which may distract a fellow player in making his swing.
  • Don't walk into an area where you may be hit.
  • Do your best to see where a fellow players ball finishes. Watch it in flight and help him find it if it is not readily found.

Tee Playerback to top

  • Before swinging a club, make sure you won't hit anyone.
  • Don't take any practice swings towards any persons. Besides being discourteous, grit may fly into an eye! or worse, the club head may fly off with potentially lethal consequences.
  • Don't play until all players ahead are out of range. If in doubt WAIT.
  • Do not risk causing damage to teeing grounds, fairways or your partners patience with excessive practice swings. Loosen up on the range, not on the tee.
  • If you think your ball might hit someone, warn them by shouting FORE, LOUDLY!
  • Never attempt to 'Drive the green' on a dog leg hole unless you are 100% sure that the green has been cleared by the preceding group.
  • Do NOT replace your divots on teeing grounds. DO fill them in with the soil/seed mixtures in the tee boxes.
  • Clearing the teeing area of your broken tees is a good idea.

Fairway back to top

  • In the fairway (or rough!), the players will be more spread out. It is important that you are aware of where the other members of your group are located in order to:
       a) determine if it is your turn to play next. The player furthest from the hole would normally play first.
       b) avoid hitting your ball near where someone is standing or inadvertently looking for their ball.
  • Generally speaking it is safer not to walk ahead of golfers who have yet to play their shots. In practice, to save time, experienced golfers may be happy for each other to walk ahead but, the person ahead must keep well away from the playing golfer's line of play and also continually observe the state of readiness of the playing golfer to be able to stop moving when that golfer is starting to prepare for their shot. Likewise, the following golfer then needs to stop moving when the player ahead starts to prepare for his shot.
  • Always replace divots.

Wrong fairway back to top

  • You should give priority to those golfers already on and playing that hole. If you have a lengthy wait, you may need to call through the group that is following your own group.
  • Although you must drop your ball off any wrong green, in general play (But NOT in competitions), it is also recommended that you drop your ball off any green fringes, wrong tees and their banking so as to preserve the course.

Lost Ball back to top

  • If a ball is proving difficult to find and the following group are waiting to play, wave them through before continuing your search. This helps to keep play flowing and reduces the pressure to immediately find your ball.
  • Occasionally, having just waved someone through, you will immediately find the offending ball. You should still let the following group play their shots and then consider whether you/your group could play on to minimise a delay. If the following group have hit their balls into places where they may be difficult to find, a total course hold up could ensue if you do not play on. You will need to judge a situation to the best of your ability. Generally, having called a group through you should then let them through.
  • Remember the rules permit a maximum of 5 minutes to look for a ball after which it is deemed lost. If you are not playing in a competition, you may wish to take less than this. If you are playing in a competition and you realise having played your shot that the ball may be difficult to find, before going forward and after the others in your group have played, DO play a provisional ball to potentially save time walking back to play a replacement ball.

Speed back to top

  • Play without delay. Do not spoil the enjoyment of others by holding them up.
  • Take a maximum of one practice swing for each shot.
  • Walk, don't run. Running can be distracting and annoying.
  • Plan your shot before its your turn.
  • Focus on staying a reasonable distance from the group ahead.
  • Avoid unnecessarily 'pressing' the group ahead. Standing on a teeing ground whilst the group ahead are legitimately playing their next strokes could be classed as discourteous.
  • It is understandable that golfers can become impatient if the group ahead has lost ground on the group ahead of them and seem to be playing slowly, however, it is dangerous and never acceptable to send a message by hitting a ball at them. If you are tired of waiting, by all means walk ahead to their group and politely ask them to speed up play or to let you play through if they have clearly lost a complete hole on the group in front of them.
  • Be additionally patient if you identify that the group ahead are visitors who may not know their way around the course. Do offer help if appropriate.

Playing through back to top

  • Playing through another group is one of the most difficult and contentious parts of golf. It is difficult because, often, there is an implication that the group who is "being played through" is guilty of slow play and they typically resent that implication -- even if it's true. So if you are going to ask another group to allow you to play through them, do so in a courteous manner and at a convenient time in the round.
  • Be sure there is room for you to properly play through before you ask permission. If there is another group immediately ahead of the group you are asking, they will naturally decline to let you through and they will be annoyed that you bothered them.
  • Be courteous as you hit your shots in playing through.
  • If you are playing slowly (more than a hole between you and the group ahead of you) and you think the group behind might want to play through, invite them to do so. It might be convenient when you are on a green (par 3 holes are particularly good places). Wave them up, stand aside and let them hit up to the green. As they are walking up to the green you can putt out. Then allow them to tee off before you on the next tee.
  • Always thank a group who have allowed you to play through.

Precedence back to top

  • Playing through is a courtesy extended and not a right assumed. However, some groups should be given precedence in certain circumstances.
  • Players representing the club in a team match have precedence over those playing in a club competition who in turn have precedence over those pursuing General Play. Players in a County match have precedence over all these groups.
    More generally, a 2 ball (and foursomes over a straight two ball) should be given precedence over a 3 or 4 ball, and a 3 ball over a 4 ball (though A 4 Ball Better Ball could be given precedence as they may be playing more quickly than a 3 ball). A single player has no standing on the course though you might wish to let them through. The general principle to bear in mind is that of allowing faster groups to play through.

Ready Golf back to top

Play "Ready Golf" Whenever It's Appropriate

  • If you are falling behind the group ahead and you are not playing golf in a matchplay tournament, it is okay to play "Ready Golf." Ready golf means the golfer who is ready to hit can do so even though he or she may not be farthest away from the hole. Just agree with the others in your group that you will play ready golf when it makes sense. That way they won't think you are just unaware of the rules. It is good courtesy to acknowledge that you are playing ready golf to move things along.
  • Ready golf can really help to speed things along, but before you hit be sure that everyone in your group knows that you are going to hit and that you are aware of where everyone in your group is. You certainly do not want to hit someone who is not paying attention, nor do you want several people hitting at one time.

Bunkers back to top

  • Enter a bunker from the low side of the bunker nearest your ball. Maintaining the high edge of bunkers is difficult and climbing down them is likely to cause damage both to the bunker and to yourself should you slip.
  • When you have finished your bunker shot, use the rake to smooth out all evidence of your ball, shot and footprints, finally returning the rake to the rake holder provided in each bunker.
  • In raking a bunker, do make sure some sand is pushed back towards the face of a bunker to avoid the 'No sand/Lots of sand' uneveness which can result from a combination of bunker shot execution and simply dragging sand towards the back of a bunker on exit.

Greens back to top

  • Before you reach the green, determine in which direction the next tee is located. leave bags and trolleys on the side of the green in that direction, so that after putting, you will not delay following players.
  • Keep bags, trolley and buggies off all greens and their immediate surrounds.
  • Do not take trolleys (or buggies!) between greenside bunkers and the greens.
  • Be aware of the location of all the balls on the green to avoid stepping on the line of a fellow players putt. Try to walk outside of their putt rather than over it especially where their putting line is not obvious. Large steps can also put damaging pressure on the greens surface.
  • Repair any pitch mark you made (always carry your pitch mark repair tool) & also any others that may have gone unrepaired. Remember to repair the mark by working the edges to the centre (NOT by levering soil upwards - this creates fungus breeding air pockets).
  • Mark your ball with an acceptable ball marker if the ball is anywhere near a partner's putting line.
  • Be careful where you stand so as not to distract a player. Many putting stances give players peripheral vision which extends behind them to their left and right.
  • Do not lean on your putter on the green at any time.
  • Wait for all players to hit their balls onto the green before removing the flag.
  • Be careful not to damage the hole or putting green when attending or when removing or replacing the flagstick DO NOT DROP the flagstick on to the green.
  • Generally, the player closest to the hole will attend the flagstick.
  • While attending the flagstick:
    a) make sure it is free in the hole & that it will not stick when you try to pull it out.
    b) stand as far away from the hole as reasonably possible (arm's length).
    c) stand to the side of the cup which ensures your shadow does not fall across the line of the players putt.
    d) avoid standing on any other player's putting line.
    e) hold the flag still (assuming you can reach it!).
    f) keep still and quiet.
    g) don't forget to remove the flagstick when the ball is rolling towards the hole.
  • All players should remain on or around the green until the last putt has dropped.
  • NEVER attempt to take the ball out of the hole with your putter head (Hole edge damage risk).
    Note: it is not always necessary to hole out. Doing so when your score does not count can hold up play on a busy course.
  • When all players have holed out the flagstick should be replaced correctly, ensuring the flag is left unfurled.

Next Tee back to top

  • Mark your scores on the next tee, not on the previous green.
  • To save time, the person having the 'honour' should tee off before marking the card for which he is responsible.

Litterback to top

  • Litter bins are present at every tee off point. Please use them.
  • Cigarette butts, please do not leave any on the course.

Practiceback to top

  • Where practice area repair facilities exist (seed/soil), please use them.
  • ALWAYS RAKE THE PRACTICE BUNKERS AFTER USING THEM.
  • Practice is not allowed on the course.

Buggiesback to top

  • Drive with care and respect for your passenger, other golfers, the course, and maintaining the condition of the buggy for which you are liable.
  • Never make sharp turns that may damage the grass.
  • Stay out of bunkers and off grass mounds.
  • Keep well away from tees & greens.
  • Stay on paths where they exist and, where they do not exist, drive in the rough whenever it is possible to do so.
  • No Drinking and driving!
  • Never have more than two people on a buggy.
  • Don't drive buggies whilst others in your group are playing a stroke.
  • Sharing a buggy is like sharing a table. No smoking unless by prior agreement.

Generalback to top

  • Do not lose your temper.
  • Never drop your golf bag or throw clubs especially on or around greens where irreparable damage may be caused.
  • It is impolite and can be distracting to comment on an opponents swing or stance during a game. In a competition you may be guilty of 'offering advice' which would be against the the rules of golf and make you liable to an appropriate penalty.
  • You may wish to sympathize with, and encourage any players not playing well but be careful not to patronize them. Some would prefer to suffer in silence! In a competition, all competitors are expected to complete the stipulated round. If injury, ill health or any other reason make it is necessary for you to prematurely end your round, you should make alternative arrangements for your playing partner's scorecard to be marked.
  • At the end of a round, whether you win lose or finish all square, you should shake hands with your fellow players in a spirit of good sportsmanship and fellowship. It is also a mark of courtesy to remove headgear before doing so.

Complaintsback to top

  • Politely ask for the offenders name(s) and report any incident to the secretary on your return to the clubhouse.

Finally back to top

  • There are public rights of way through the golf course. Look out for non golfing individuals or groups as they may be unaware of the sources of danger to them. (& Have you got some Golf Insurance?).
  • Remember, it is not possible to cover every eventuality in the above notes, try to make your decisions within the spirit of the game to mutually help each other and preserve the course.

Last but not least enjoy your game. Good luck!

Etiquette points compiled by Dave Edwards with vets by, and additions from, Club Pro Mike Watts and Competition Secretary George West.