The Ultimate Guide to Golf Etiquette

By: - Dec 19, 2023

What was once considered a gentleman’s game has come a long way and is now a sport that is enjoyed by all. We love that more and more women take up this sport as a way to stay healthy, learn something new, expand skills, and, of course – have fun and socialize!

Regardless of whether you’re new or seasoned, regardless of whether you’re playing golf casually or competitively, one thing that is crucial to this sport is understanding and navigating golf etiquette. Golf relies a great deal upon respect – respect of the course, yourself, and your fellow golfers.

So, if you’re new to golf etiquette or need a little refresh, we are here with a comprehensive guide on the nuanced world of golf etiquette so that you can feel both respected and respectful while out on the fairways.

The Outfit

Proper attire is important to golf, though what one course deems “appropriate” may be different than the next course.

The typical attire rules for women include a collared shirt with a golf skirt, shorts, or pants. Golf shoes are optional the majority of the time, but that doesn’t mean you can don your flip-flops on the course. Opt for golf sandals with spikes or close-toed tennis shoes.

It’s a good idea to check the attire rules for each course before you play it, as they do vary, and you don’t want to show up underdressed.

The Pace

You can only play as quickly as the people in front of you, and the people behind you can only play as quickly as you. So, it’s important to maintain the pace to keep your golf etiquette in check.

Be mindful of your pace and whether you are slowing down others. If this is the case, consider letting the group behind you play through. They don’t enjoy waiting, and you also don’t enjoy feeling rushed.

Speaking of rushed, you never want to be in a hurry while you’re playing golf, but it is important that you are ready for your shot and don’t take too much time lining up and practicing.

This is referred to as “ready golf” – always be ready for your shot so that others aren’t waiting on you.

Remain mindful of where the groups in front of and behind you are.

The Course

It only takes one look at a golf course to see that it is a delicately and meticulously manicured space. This takes a lot of time and effort by those who maintain the course, and it relies upon players’ respect for the course.

This means repairing your divots, raking bunkers after you use them, and watching where you walk to avoid unnecessary damage to the course.

Oh yeah, and be sure to always obey the cart path rules if you’re using one. Those carts definitely come in handy for toting around your clubs, but can also do serious damage to the course if driven in the wrong places. Pay attention to cart path signs and any other rules the course may have.

By treating the course well, you keep it in tip-top shape for yourself and others.

The Noise

It’s no secret that golf is typically a quiet sport. That’s because it takes a lot of focus! It seems as if there are 50 different things you need to remember each time you step up to the ball, so having excess noise makes it even harder than it already is.

Though golf is a social sport, it’s important to keep noise to a minimum for others on the course. And when it comes to your group, you want to always stay quiet during others’ swings.

Give them the chance to focus and line up their shot without distraction. Some people don’t mind others talking while they’re hitting, but it’s always better to err on the safe side and give them quiet moments to focus.

Spend the first few holes getting a feel of your group to see how they feel about things like talking, music, etc. Each group will be different, so it’s important you assess each individually and don’t just assume.

The Tee Time

Think of your tee time as a meeting. You wouldn’t be late for a meeting, would you? So don’t be late for your tee time.

In fact, you want to be early to your tee time. Show up to the golf course with plenty of time to hit a few balls and get in some putts on the practice greens – we say at least 30 minutes ahead of time.

And be ready at the tee box about 5 minutes before your designated time slot so that you don’t disrupt the carefully planned schedule. All it takes is one person being late to their tee time to throw off the schedule for the entire day. You don’t want that to be you!

The Tradition

Golf is a sport that’s been around for quite some time and has a rich history with traditions that are still enjoyed today. One such tradition is shaking hands at the start and end of a round as a way to show respect.

It’s important that you participate in these traditions that others may find important to their golf experience (as long as they’re within reason). They help keep the spirit of the game alive and often serve as a way to better connect with your fellow golfers as well.

The Scoring

How competitive golf is depends upon who you’re playing with. Some people don’t bother keeping score, while others are on top of each and every shot for each player in the group.

Regardless of where you fall on that scale, it is vital to always approach golf with fairness and honesty. We don’t have to tell you that golf is a sport that would be somewhat easy to cheat at – shave a stroke or two off – but why would you? It doesn’t affect anyone else’s game, and you’re only lying to yourself.

So, if you are going to keep score, do so accurately. Though sometimes it may pain you to write down the number of shots you had on a hole (I know I’ve had plenty of those), you want to embrace the challenges that this sport presents and also be able to fully celebrate the wins when they do happen.

Handicaps are another part of golf that can feel quite complicated, especially if you’re new. Take some time to better understand handicaps and how to use them to help improve your game.

But above all, keep a positive attitude despite how many hits you take to complete the round. This is for fun, remember?

The Stance

When others are hitting, you never want to stand behind them.

Stand far enough away from them, either next to them or slightly in front of them, so that they can see where you are.

This is also important for safety, too. You may think you’re far enough away from them until they swing their club back and right into you.

Where you are on the putting green when others are hitting is key, too. You never want to walk or stand in someone’s line, which can affect their putt. This goes for people wearing shoes with spikes and without, too.

The Lost Ball

We’ve all been there – we can’t seem to find a lost ball, and not only are we embarrassed about our poor shot, but we are stressed because we know that others are impatiently waiting on us.

The rules were updated in 2019, stating that you now have 3 minutes to look for a lost ball rather than the previous 5. So allow yourself those 3 minutes to look, and rest easy knowing that you have that allotted time to look for your ball before the group behind you is allowed to get impatient.

If your 3 minutes are up and you still haven’t found your ball, drop a new one. We know it’s disappointing to lose the ball and to deal with the penalty stroke(s), but it’s better than wasting your time (and everyone else’s) hunting through the rough to find it.

The Phone

It should go without saying that phones are a no-no while golfing unless it’s something that your group says is okay.

If you have an important call come in that you need to take, check with your fellow players to see if they mind that you take the call – just make it quick!

Texting should be okay (as long as you have your notifications turned off), but you also don’t want to be looking at your phone constantly when others are hitting. It’s important to be present during this game and be part of the group. No one likes that friend who is always on their phone.

The Players

Many golf courses mix men and women playing together, so you always want to create an inclusive atmosphere for all, regardless of gender. Each player should be treated with equal respect by all, which means avoiding gender-specific comments.

Every golfer brings unique skills to their game and contributions to the group, so celebrate that!

In Summary

Navigating golf etiquette as a woman out on the course doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, by doing so, you make the game much more enjoyable for yourself and others!

All you have to do is respect the few key things we talk about above, and you’ll have a fun, positive, and inclusive golf community that will bring great joy to your life.

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