Good Golf Etiquette: 11 Pointers to Be a Better Golf Partner

You don’t want to be “that guy”. The person no one wants to play with because of poor golf etiquette or attitude. Golf etiquette can be tricky.

Do you ever run into a situation on the course, and you aren’t sure how to act or what to do?

We spent some time thinking about this subject.

What golf etiquette actions will ensure your playing partners enjoy their time with you on the course?

Every time you get paired with a new person it is a chance to build a new golf relationship. You can never have too many people to text when you are looking to fill out your foursome.

Follow these 11 pointers on golf etiquette and you will become everyone’s “go to” golf partner.

Good Golf Etiquette

1. Pace of Play

Your playing partners won’t get upset if you play poorly, but you are sure to irritate them if you play too slow.

First, always play “ready golf”.

Be ready to hit your next shot and when it is your turn, step up.

Don’t wait to read your putt until it is your turn – be looking at it while others in your group are chipping and putting.

What is your pre-shot routine?

How many practice swings do you take prior to each shot?

We recommend you limit it to one practice swing – you aren’t going to play better by overthinking every shot.

Be decisive – check the wind, pick a club, and make an aggressive swing. You don’t have to be a great player to play fast.

2. Leave the Course Better than You Found It

Good Golf Etiquette

The golf course superintendent spends 60+ hours every week preparing the course for your round.

Do your part to keep it in great shape.

Your playing partners will notice and appreciate your golf etiquette.

If a sand bottle is provided by the golf course, fill your divots in the fairway after your iron shots.

Rake bunkers after you blast out.

Once you reach the green, use a tee or divot tool to fix your ball mark and any others you see from previous groups.

It is amazing how much these small things can help the overall condition of the golf course.

3. Silence Your Phone

Good Golf Etiquette

Did you know there was a time when many golf courses didn’t allow cell phones on the premises?

Over the last 10 years or so, that has changed, but you still need to follow the appropriate golf etiquette when it comes to your smartphone.

When you arrive at the course, silence your phone.

No one wants to hear it ring during their swing. We understand that sometimes you need to make a call during the round.

That is fine, but make sure you walk off to the side and speak quietly. The rest of your group can continue playing while you take care of business.

4. Don’t Be a Crazy Person

Good Golf Etiquette

If you have played much golf, you have probably played with someone who needs to sign up for anger management.

Golf is a frustrating sport, but no one needs to hear you yell after a bad shot or throw your clubs.

Take a deep breath.

Stay composed and try to do better on your next swing. Don’t let Mr. Hyde come out after a bad hole. There is nothing wrong with having a bad day on the course, but don’t let it ruin your golfing relationships.

You don’t want to be left out of the next round because your buddies are sick of your tirades.

5. Join The Search Party

Good Golf Etiquette

It is always good golf etiquette to help your playing partners as much as possible.

Make sure you watch the shots of other players in your group. If a ball goes in the woods, walk across the fairway, and help them search for it.

You are literally saving your playing partner shots if you find their ball.

They will appreciate it more than you know. Pay it forward – the next time you spray a tee shot you will notice your whole group comes to help look.

6. Don’t Be a Rule Stickler

Good Golf Etiquette

Golf is a game of self-policing and rules.

The rules can be very complicated and quite often casual players may take an illegal drop or incorrectly apply a ruling.

If they ask for your opinion tell them your interpretation of the rule, but don’t be overly difficult.

Obviously, it is different in a tournament, but if you are playing a casual round of golf there is no reason to be a stickler.

For example, if your playing partner hits their ball in a lake and asks where they should drop. Tell them where you saw it go in, but if they think they should drop 10 yards farther up, let it go.

It is great if you know the rules but use some judgment on how strictly you enforce them on the other players in your group.

7. Be Complimentary

Good Golf Etiquette

The key to this golf etiquette pointer is to avoid being self-obsessed.

Pay attention to how your playing partners are doing. Tell them “Nice shot” after a nice drive or a solid iron shot. If someone has a nice up-and-down, be sure to tell them “Great save”.

Always callout a birdie or eagle with a fist bump.

Try to pay attention to how they are scoring overall. Are they shooting a great round?

If so, congratulate them on the 18th green and offer to buy them a drink in the 19th hole.

Keep in the mind – you are not the only one playing!

8. If Someone Asks How You Played, Keep it Short!

Is there anything golfers like to talk about more than the round of golf they just finished?

If you are hanging out in the 19th hole after your round and someone asks how you played don’t give them a lengthy soliloquy. Keep it short.

“Not my best day” or “Pretty solid for me”.

Trust us, they don’t want to hear about every shot you hit.

A good rule – quick assessment of your round plus one highlight.

For example, “not my best day, but I did make a sweet birdie on #4”.

9. Dress to Impress

Good Golf Etiquette: 11 Pointers to Be a Better Golf Partner 1

We like that golf is becoming more casual and less stuffy, but that doesn’t mean you should show up looking like you just rolled out of bed.

Wear a comfortable golf outfit but look like you are ready to play.

It is always good golf etiquette to look like a pro, even if you can’t play like one. Make sure your golf bag and clubs are in good shape.

Even if you aren’t totally comfortable on the golf course, the right outfit can help you “fake it” until you learn the environment and the etiquette.

10. Be on Time (Or Be Early)

Arrive at the course at least 45 minutes prior to your tee time.

This will give you ample time to check-in in to the Pro Shop, hit some practice putts, and visit the driving range. It is very poor golf etiquette to show up in the parking lot at your tee time.

Your playing partners shouldn’t have to wait on you on the first tee or even worse, have to worry that you might not show up.

This is a quick way to get left off the invite for the next round.

Be on time and ready to play.

11. Show Respect to Others on the Course

This golf etiquette pointer might be #11 on our list, but it could be the most important. To put it simply – be a nice person while visiting the golf course.

Be polite to the club professional when you check-in and pay for your round.

If there is a faster group playing behind you, let them play through.

No reason to feel rushed while your hold them up.

Tip the person driving the beverage cart if you buy a drink on the back 9. If you happen to see the golf course superintendent during your round, compliment them on the conditions.

You will be amazed how these small acts of kindness improve their/your day. The other players will notice your behavior and appreciate how you are treating the people that make your round of golf possible.

Good Golf Etiquette

Great Golf Etiquette Will Open Doors for You

We understand. You head to the golf course with the goal of shooting a great score. You have been working on your game and you are ready to try out some new swing thoughts. Today could be the day you shoot a new personal low.

Just don’t become so focused on your game that you forget about golf etiquette. Treating your playing partners and others you encounter with thoughtfulness will create more golfing opportunities in the future.

When you think about your favorite rounds of all time. We mean the times you had the most fun on the course. Was it because of your score or was it because of people you played with? The game of golf is about enjoying a few hours outdoors with friends. Help your buddies have the best possible time by following our golf etiquette pointers.

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and good beer. More at his bio.

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