Course Etiquette

Course Etiquette

Everyone should enjoy their golf and a little consideration will help both you and other players on the course. In the interest of ALL, players should play without delay (but not before those in front are out of range). Players searching for a ball should signal the players behind to play through as soon as it is apparent that the ball will not easily be found.

Maintain a Good Pace

  • Keep the round moving by being prepared to hit your shot when it is your turn. You probably don’t like waiting on other groups – don’t make other groups wait on you.
  • The player who is away hits first in a group. However, in friendly matches (as opposed to tournament play), this rule can be ignored in favour of “ready golf” – players hit as they are ready. All players should agree to “ready golf” before it is put into effect.
  • Do not spend too much time looking for a lost ball, particularly if there is a group behind you ready to play. If you insist on taking the full three minutes allotted in the rule book to look for lost balls, golf etiquette says wave up the group behind to allow them to play through1.
  • Always try to keep pace with the group ahead of you. If space opens in front of you, allow a faster group to play through.
  • When two players in a buggy hit to opposite sides of a hole, drive to first ball and drop off that player with his club, then drive to the second ball. After both players hit, meet up farther down the hole.
  • When walking from your buggy to your ball, take a couple clubs with you. Taking only one club, then having to return to the buggy to retrieve a different club, is a huge time-waster.
  • Always leave the putting green as soon as your group has finished putting.
  • Keep buggy’s away from greens and hazards. The wheels on carts can damage these sensitive areas.
  • Repair your divots2 in the fairway.
  • Repair your ball marks3 on the green.
  • Always rake sand bunkers4 after hitting to erase your footprints and damage to the area where your ball was.

Keep It Safe

  • Do not swing your club until you know that others in your group are at a safe distance. Likewise, keep your distance when others are swinging. Be aware to steer clear of trouble.
  • When practicing your swing, never swing in the direction of another player. There may be pebbles or twigs or other matter in the grass that could fly up and strike a playing partner.
  • Do not hit the ball until you are certain that the group ahead of you is out of range.
  • If your ball appears headed toward another player or another group, give them a warning by yelling out, “Fore!”5
    Observe the safety suggestions posted in golf carts and drive carefully. Golf etiquette requires keeping your cart off the grass as much as possible.
  • Never throw clubs in anger. In addition to being rude and childish, it could also be dangerous.


1 Play Through

Refers to a situation where a slower group of golfers allows a faster group to go ahead of them on the course. This is done to maintain a good pace of play and avoid frustration for both groups.

2 Divot

A divot is a piece of turf that is gouged out of the ground by a club in making a stroke. When hitting the ball with an iron or wedge, you’ll typically take a thin layer of turf around the resting spot. This is because the design of irons and wedges promotes a downward strike on the ball.

3 Ball Marks

Repairing a ball mark on the green is an important part of golf etiquette and helps keep the putting surface healthy. Here’s how to do it properly:


  • Ideally, a divot repair tool (a small, forked implement).
  • In a pinch, a tee or even a pencil can work.


  • Locate the High Side: Identify the higher edge of the ball mark, where the turf has been pushed up by the ball impact.
  • Insert the Tool: Gently push the tool (or substitute) underneath the high side of the mark, at an angle of about 45 degrees towards the centre.
  • Lift and Twist (Lightly): Avoid prying straight up! Instead, gently twist the tool slightly as you lift to loosen the compressed turf.
  • Work Around the Mark: Repeat steps 2 and 3, working your way around the entire perimeter of the ball mark. Focus on pushing the lifted turf towards the center, not upwards.
  • Tamp Down: Once all the high edges are addressed, use the back of your putter or your foot to gently tamp down the repaired area to create a smooth, even surface.

4 Ranking A Bunker

Raking a bunker is all about smoothing the sand and leaving it playable for yourself and other golfers. Here’s how to do it effectively:

General Guidelines:

  • Finding the Rake: Look for a rake either inside or outside the bunker. Some courses may have specific guidelines on where to leave the rake after use (check with the course if unsure).
  • Enter and Exit Low: Minimize your impact on the bunker by entering and exiting from the low side of the lip. This helps prevent creating unnecessary footprints that need smoothing later.

Raking Technique:

  1. Work Inward: Start at the outside edge of the area where you sanded the ground with your shot and rake the sand inward towards the center of the bunker.
  2. Short Strokes: Use short, even strokes with the rake to avoid creating large furrows or disturbing the deeper sand.
  3. Fill Footprints: Pay attention to any footprints you or your fellow golfers made in the bunker. Use the rake to gently smooth the sand over these areas.
  4. Break Up clumps: If you encounter any clumps of sand, break them up with the back of the rake to create a more consistent texture. Avoid using excessive force that could damage the rake or the bunker itself.

5 Fore

In golf, shouting “fore” is a loud warning yelled by a golfer to alert anyone in the vicinity that a ball has been hit and might be heading in their direction. It’s essentially a way to say “watch out!”

Here’s a breakdown of the key points:

  • When to Shout Fore: It’s important to yell “fore” whenever you hit a ball that you think might:
    • Fly off course and hit someone.
    • Travel a much greater distance than intended.
    • Land in an area where other golfers might be walking or standing.
  • Why it’s Important: Shouting “fore” is a crucial aspect of golf etiquette. It helps to:
    • Prevent injuries caused by flying golf balls.
    • Increase awareness and safety on the course for everyone.
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