Golf Etiquette: The 15 Strangest Unwritten Rules in the Sport
Golfers do some strange things when they are out on the course.
And no, I do not mean all the bets that start once the beer starts flowing.
I mean the etiquette.
We already have a rule book, filled with rules and exceptions to those rules.
In fact, there are so many official rules to the game, it is simply not logical to expect most average players to know them.
Hey, even most of the professionals (cough, cough, Dustin Johnson) are not aware of all the rules.
But on top of the official written rules, we have rules of etiquette.
These are not rules you can read somewhere. These are rules you pick up by watching and playing the game.
And if you don't follow these rules, I can guarantee you will not be very popular with your playing partners.
Everyone hits a wayward shot now and again.
But you better know what to do when your errant shots are heading for another player.
Yelling "Fore!" is a tradition that is centuries old.
And I suggest you keep that tradition alive. Unless, of course, you want to face the wrath of very angry golfers.
14. No Talking
Want to know the fastest way to anger your playing partners?
Talk while they are swinging or preparing to hit.
This drives me nuts.
I usually stay fairly calm on the course. If, however, the other members of my group start talking when it is my turn to play, I can start running hot.
It is a simple rule to follow. It takes no talent to do. It just takes respect.
13. Putting Line
This etiquette rule used to mean more when all players wore metal spikes.
With the invention of plastic spikes, our feet leave less damage to the greens.
Even so, it is still expected that you will walk around the putting lines of those in your group.
No one likes to miss that important par putt, and they especially don't like it when they feel it was YOUR spike mark that knocked the ball off line.
12. Shaking Hands
I am all for thanking your playing partners after a nice day on the course.
What I am not for is slowing the groups behind you so you can take off your hat, find someplace to put your hat and then try to shake your partner's hand.
This is another habit that average hackers took straight from the PGA Tour.
A simple handshake will do.
And, please, for the sake of the others on the course, if you feel the need to do a full PGA Tour embrace, step off the green!
11. Shadows on Hole
This one goes alone with the putting line.
Most amateurs have enough trouble reading greens. The last thing they need is a shadow covering the hole.
So next time you step onto the green, make sure your shadow is not covering the hole.
10. Raking Sand
I think the most irritating thing on a golf course is finding yourself in a footprint in a bunker.
The reason it is irritating is simple: PEOPLE ARE JUST TOO LAZY TO RAKE.
No one likes ending up in a bunker, so why not make the experience as painless as possible for those playing behind you?
This rule is not always followed, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
If you know you did not get the best score on the first hole, hang back a little to see if the player who scored the best goes first.
If he does, then you are most likely playing the honors system. If he doesn't, then don't be afraid to hit when ready.
Personally, friendly weekend matches should always be played without a strictly enforced honors system. Golf already takes close to five hours now on public courses; pace of play needs all the help it can get.
8. Texas Rules
I have heard this rule called a number of things from Texas rules golf to names that cannot be put on this site.
Regardless, the premise of the rule is that if a male player's drive does not make it past the forward or more commonly known as the ladies tees, that male player must play the rest of the hole with his "club" hanging out of his pants.
And while I am still waiting for the day when a man actually does this (I think it would be hilarious), it is always a good line to jab your playing partners with.
7. Ready Golf
Want a good way to anger every other golfer on the course?
Play strictly by rules that state the player farthest from the hole plays first.
While these rules have good intentions, in today's golf environment they often slow play tremendously.
Instead, players should hit when ready. It not only speeds up the round, but it makes it more enjoyable for all.
After all, no one wants to be like Ben Crane, who is known for his slow play.
6. Divots on Practice Swings
Often good golf shots are accompanied by a solid divot.
Good practice shots, however, are not.
A golf course takes enough of a beating during the season that when taking a practice swing it is expected that no divot is taken.
Remember to always fill your divots. Along with unraked bunkers, unfilled divots is another pet peeve of mine!
5. Control Your Temper
It happens to the best of us. We hit a couple of bad shots, and our mood goes from bad to worse.
But when playing in your weekend foursome, try to not be the player who gets angry.
It takes something away from the game, and as much as I dislike those who criticize Tiger Woods for his poor behavior, they do have a point.
4. Standing Still
Golf is the only sport that requires players to strike a ball at rest. It is also the only sport that requires other players to stand perfectly still when others are swinging.
Hitting a golf ball well requires immense concentration.
Someone walking in the eyesight of a player swinging is enough to turn a potentially good shot into a terrible one.
So next time you play, remember to stand still when it isn't your turn.
3. Dress Your Best
When I go to play golf, I always try to look my best.
I believe that when you look good, you play good.
Next time you are on the range, look down at the players.
The majority of the time, the best-dressed players will also be the best players.
And while there may be exceptions to this rule, dressing well instills confidence.
So when you play, always dress your best; I bet it will help your game a little bit.
2. Turn off Your Cell Phone
We have all seen it. A guy is about to swing, and a cell phone goes off.
Not only is this distracting, but it is also disrespectful.
If you must bring your cell phone on the course, turn it to silent.
And if you must use it on the course, do so in a way that does not affect your playing partners.
1. Learn as You Go
I once heard Arnold Palmer say that a vital part of golf is learning as you go.
This applies not only to the game itself, but also to etiquette on the course.
When you first start playing, watch some of the better players at your local course. Not only will you see some pretty good shots, but you will also see the proper way to act on the course.
And if available, take some lessons from your local teaching professional. They can teach you how to act on the course.
I know that if it were not for the patient men who taught me the game and how to act, it would have been much harder to reach the level I currently play.