Jeremy Ellwood and Neil Tappin discuss 7 etiquette mistakes to avoid in golf to ensure you're playing in the right spirit and being considerate to others

7 Etiquette Mistakes To Avoid In Golf

Etiquette is a word well-known to many golfers, but from 2019, it’s a word that actually no longer features in the Rule book.

Instead, the concept of playing within the spirit of the game is now covered by Rule 1.2 – Standards of Player Conduct.

This Rule talks about the requirement to act with integrity, show consideration to others and take good care of the course.

Sticking to the old term for this story and video, we look at 7 etiquette mistakes to avoid in golf…

Where to stand

Obviously don’t get too close for starters when someone else is teeing off.

Different golfers will have different preferences, but over the years we’ve found that on the tee, most golfers would like you to stand where they can see you (if tee geography allows) rather than behind them, as long as you’re not doing anything distracting.

When playing into the sun, it’s always good to try and help follow the flight of the ball for another player too. That may mean standing a little more down-the-line behind them to help you pick the flight up early. It’s all about awareness, ultimately.

Shadow on the line

On bright days when the sun is low, shadows can stretch a long way, so make sure your shadow isn’t distracting someone else, particularly on the putting green but also on the tee.

A shadow on the line can be really distracting, especially if it’s moving (Photo: Tom Miles)

A shadow on your line can be very distracting when putting, especially as any little movements, perhaps with a club, become exaggerated when the shadows are long.

Taking care of the course

The main ways in which golfers are expected to do this is by repairing pitchmarks, replacing divots and smoothing over sand in bunkers so following players are not put at a disadvantage.

‘Make one, repair two’ isn’t a bad mantra with regard to pitchmarks.

And however bad the shot you’ve just played from a bunker or fairway, raking and smoothing the sand or replacing the divot to the best of your ability are just common courtesy to other golfers and the greenkeepers who spend hours preparing our courses.

Make one, repair two isn’t a bad rule to live by when it comes to pitchmarks (Photo: Tom Miles)

Pace of play

There’s a very long list of things you can do to improve your pace of play, any one of which could make a noticeable difference. We won’t go into all of them here, but have just picked out three potential ways to improve your group’s pace:

Play straightaway on the tee if it’s your turn rather than marking your scorecard first.

No-one is asking you to race around the course, but ambling unnecessarily slowly, blissfully unaware of the knock-on effect it’s having on those behind, is not great either.

Do your pre-shot preparation while others are playing if it won’t distract them, so that you’re ready to go quickly when it’s your turn.

Distracting noises

When someone else is playing, try not to do anything audible that might distract them.

For example, doing up a zip, rummaging in your bag for another ball, jangling coins and tees in your pocket or clanking your clubs. It’s the sudden noise in an otherwise generally peaceful environment that can be so distracting.

Smoothing bunkers

This one is particularly important because many golfers find bunker shots testing enough from a good lie let alone a deep footprint or rut.

You should always smooth bunkers after playing from them out of consideration to others (Photo: Tom Miles)

Obviously, things are a little different in these Covid times, but every golfer should still be doing his or her best to leave the bunker they’ve just played from in the condition in which they would hope to find it.

Letting faster players through

This is really important to keep everyone happy, perhaps particularly on a less busy course where there is scope for faster players to make good progress when waved through.

If you’re having a shocker and searching for lots of balls, don’t forget to wave those behind through (Photo: Tom Miles)

There can be many reasons for not being quick – playing as a fourball, not playing well and having to look for a lot of balls, being relatively new to the game and therefore playing more shots.

Whatever the reason, we are all encouraged to let faster players through because it’s just better for all concerned. You’re not constantly looking over your shoulder and feeling pressured, and the faster players can enjoy their game at the pace they like to play at.