The unspoken rules of golf

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The unspoken rules of golf

There is certain etiquette all golfers are taught when first learning to play the game, such as not to step in another person’s line on the green, and not to talk while another person is hitting. Those are the basics, but there are quite a few other things that may annoy your playing partners if you don’t abide by them - ones that you may never even know existed.

At any point a golfer’s patience can snap, and the last thing he or she needs is a push from a playing partner. When you’re in a group with another golfer, your job is to be respectful, helpful, enjoyable, and sometimes just stay out of the way.

Here’s a list of unwritten, unspoken rules of golf etiquette.

  • Fix pitch marks. Not doing it, is just a blatant lack of consideration for the course and others. Also, repair divots. Putting is hard enough without having to navigate past potholes.

    The rule of thumb is to fix your own ball mark, as well as one more. Same with bunkers: the sand should be just as pristine as it was when you entered.

  • Don't walk in another's putting line. Most golfers are cognizant of this etiquette.

    What most forget, or perhaps are unaware, is that this line extends past the hole. Give your playing partners five feet behind the cup when setting up to address your putt.

  • If you say “nice shot,” make sure it was a nice shot
  • “Nice shot” is undoubtedly the most overused compliment in golf.

    Make sure when you use it, you mean it and it is true. And this goes for any level of golfer. No one wants to hear nice shot when it was below their standards. The point is, compliment a player on hitting a good one, but make sure the player agrees with you.

Don’t step in your playing partner’s line.

  • Don’t hit, or even look at someone else’s golf ball.

    Anyone who has had someone accidentally hit their golf ball knows there’s nothing that makes a golfer angrier. If your golf ball happens to be in the vicinity of someone else’s ball — or if there’s even a chance of it — be extra, extra careful that you’re hitting the correct one.

    And never hit someone’s golf ball, realize it’s theirs, and then drop the ball back in a worse lie than where you found it.

  • Let faster groups play through. Also, don’t skip ahead a hole and then hold up the group behind.

    You’re not being smart. You’re being rude.

  • Silence is golden. This often manifests in foursomes, with two players holding a conversation while another tries to hit their shot. Be aware of your surroundings, and that of others, on the course.
  • Don’t talk to someone else’s golf ball.

    It’s their golf ball; they paid for it, they hit it and they know best where it’s going. When in doubt, silence is always the best approach. Surely the player doesn’t need to hear your confirmation that he or she just hit a terrible shot.

  • Don’t be a backswing talker.

    You can wait three seconds to say your piece.

  • Rake the bunkers properly. Take five extra seconds so the person in the group behind doesn’t end up in your footprint.
  • Don’t ask someone what they had on the hole as soon as they hole out.

    While it may not seem like a big deal, keeping score can be a lot of pressure. Nothing is more irritating to most golfers than having to announce to the group they made a double bogey as soon as their golf ball touches the bottom of the cup, though.

  • General slow play is considered annoying.

    Don’t take too long to hit short putts. And on that note, don’t give yourself putts, especially if it’s a match. It’s the opponent’s call whether that putt you want to scoop up is good.

  • Pay attention to where your shadow is.

    Keep still when others are hitting, and when you're on the greens, move so your shadow is not in another's line of sight.

  • If you are a smoker, don’t throw your butts and cigars all over the course.
  • Always, always yell “Fore”.

    Forget three-putts; you know what will really ruin an afternoon? A concussion. It is not only polite, it is a safety issue.

  • Don't give advice unless asked. If a playing partner requests help, feel free to share your wisdom. But unless called for, keep quiet when it comes to golf counsel.