Common Courtesy on the Golf Course

common courtesy on golf course

common courtesy on golf course

If you’re a casual weekend golfer, you probably learned the game the way most weekend golfers do – you tagged along with friends who enjoyed it, were told “Just do what we do,” and off you went. This is a time-honored indoctrination into the world of golf, but when it’s just a bunch of friends hacking away once a week, one aspect that’s often underemphasized is the importance of common courtesy on the course.

Now this tends to not be a problem on rough-and-tumble local courses, but what happens if you get invited to a nice course, a proper course, and you’ve never been taught what courteous golfers do? There’s no time to learn by observing – you’d better know what you’re doing well in advance.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some basic common courtesy tips for golfers.

Raking the traps. Even the best players wind up in sand traps now and then. If you find yourself “on the beach,” pay attention to the rake that will be (or most definitely should be) on the lip of the trap. That’s for you to use to rake out your footprints once you’ve freed your ball. And when you’re done, always return the rake to the spot where you found it, and never place it where it could easily interfere with fellow golfers.

Replacing the divots. If you’re taking a fairway shot and you get your club deep under the ball, it’s likely that you’ll slice out some turf along with it. The swatch of grass that goes flying and the shallow trench it came from are both referred to as a divot, and it’s proper and courteous to replace a divot before moving on. The most effective way to replace your divot is to simply lay the displaced grass back where it came from and stamp it down with your cleats.

Preserving the line. Once everyone is on the green and the putters are out, there tends to be a lot of walking around as players get a feel for the breaks and banks that await them. Walk all you like, but it’s considered extremely bad form and very poor etiquette to walk across the space between an opponent’s ball and the cup, known as the line. A good rule of thumb is to keep to the perimeter outside everyone’s ball.

Shut up. There’s plenty of good-natured ribbing that goes along with playing a round, and that’s fine if you’re just messing around, but if you’re playing a pricey round, or one that’s considered even semi-serious to anyone in the group, then save the japes for the trips in the golf cart. Never, ever talk to the golfer or at all during someone’s backswing as it can be highly distracting and potentially ruin a great shot.

Whether you’re playing Pebble Beach with a brand-new Callaway driver or just letting loose at the Putt N’ Stuff with your uncle’s mismatched clubs, always employing common courtesy will let the world know that you know what you’re doing out there, regardless of where you are playing. And if you need any advice, talk to the good folks at They know the score!

Photo credit: bradleypjohnson / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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