To truly enjoy the game of golf, every golfer, whether an amateur or a professional, should demonstrate courtesy, honesty and good sportsmanship at all times. Golf Etiquette is a setof rules that governs the behavior on the golf course.

The United States Golf Association’s “Rules of Golf, 2012-2015,” states it best: “The game of golf relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be.”

Here are some suggested guidelines to follow while enjoying the game that I gleaned from my interview with Dylan Kittle, a San Francisco/Bay Area certified personal coach.

Tee Time

It is highly recommended that you reserve a tee time and honor your specific time. It is advised to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled round of golf. Many golfers arrive early to warm up and get mentally prepared to play. Before teeing off, make sure to check the scorecard for specific rules that may apply to the golf course.

Golf Attire 

As with football, basketball, baseball, tennis and most other sports, players wear uniforms or certain dress as regulated by the sport. The general golf attire for men calls for long pants made with a cotton or polyester blend, khakis, or dress shorts, plus collared shirts and golf shoes (non-metal spikes). In keeping with the tradition of the game, men should try to look their best, tuck in their shirts, and wear a belt.

Women attire can consists of a polo-style shirt, slacks, capris, crops or shorts (knee length or longer). Having the right golf apparel guarantees that you will be “fit” for the course. Some golf courses, such as municipal courses, allow more casual attire. Inquire ahead of time with club management about the specifics of their dress code. In general, jeans, T-shirts, tank tops and sandals are inappropriate for the game of golf, even though some courses are more relaxed.

Driving on the Course 

Driving a golf cart has become very common in today’s game. For safety purposes and to protect the golf greens, follow the posted cart rules. Carts should not be driven on the greens, near water hazards or bunkers. They should not be used to annoy or distract other golfers on the course. Most golf courses do not allow carts on the fairway of a par-3 hole. The rules are often modified when the course is wet. In some cases, drivers are required to follow the “90 degree rule,” which states that carts driven on the fairway maintain a 90-degree angle from the cart path.

Silence Please

During my interview with Dylan Kittle, he stated that, “Golf is a game of relaxation and one should not be a distraction to others.”  Know when and when not to talk. Show consideration for others by not talking, making excessive noises, or moving when a fellow player is preparing to take a swing. The game of golf requires lots of concentration and many consider the sport more mental than physical.

Show Decorum while Playing

Throughout history, some professional players have been known to throw a club, act unseemly or use profanity on the course. As with all sports, good sportsmanship is not often followed. Golfers need to control their frustrations on the course. If fellow players are known to behave unruly, consider implementing a “lunch or drink penalty rule,” which requires an unruly player to buy a meal or beverage for the other players at the conclusion of the round of golf.

Maintain and Repair the Course

It is your responsibility to repair divot holes and damage made to the putting green. (Divots are chunks of turf sliced off by the club.) To repair a divot, replace the sod back to its original spot or fill the divot with the seed mixture that is provided by the golf course and is often located on the side of the golf cart for players. Raking a sand bunker is also recommended to keep it in good shape. The ultimate goal is to leave the course in the condition that you find it.

The Pace of the Game

Consideration must be shown for the golfing parties behind and ahead of you. Players should play at a good pace. But do not be in such a hurry that you endanger others. Wait until the path is clear before you hit. Shout “fore” if your ball is heading in a direction to jeopardize someone. Inviting faster groups to “past through” demonstrates a high degree of consideration for other golfers and is an endorsement of Golf Etiquette.

The average allotted time of play for a par 4 is 14 minutes, and 21 minutes for a par 5. Golfers should be ready when it is their turn to hit the ball. Prior to your turn, determine which club you will be using and have a game strategy in place. A player has 5 minutes to search for a lost ball.


The amount of a tip varies and is proportionally related to the green fees. Subsequently, the amount of the tip is higher at private and upscale courses. Caddie tips range from $25 for a lower-end course, to $100 for a 18-hole, high-end course. The average tip for a cart jockey is $10. Remember to also tip the snack and beverage cart drivers.

Golf Rules

There is more information available to help you abide by the standards of golf and display a high degree of decorum on the course. Golfers should obtain a copy of the USGA’s Rules of Golf handbook and familiarize themselves with the rules of the game. Golf is a social sport; therefore it vital that everyone adhere to the written, as well as the non-written, rules of the game.


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