What Are Golfers' Biggest Etiquette Irritations?

The GM forum explains what pieces of bad golfing etiquette annoy them the most...

What Are Golfers' Biggest Etiquette Irritations?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The GM forum explains what pieces of bad golfing etiquette annoy them the most...

What Are Golfers' Biggest Etiquette Irritations?

We all like to think that we play the game in the right manner and that we’re always thinking of others but the reality might be a little different.

So we asked our forum members what sticks in their craw the most…

What Are Golfers' Biggest Etiquette Irritations?

Newbies walking all over putting lines.


Leaving the green before the group has putted out.


Simply players who are totally oblivious to others on the course or simply do not care about others. Example, our 11th green is close to the path leading to the 5th tee, we were on the green. Group came up the path clank clank clank, natter natter natter, shout as well. They get to the 5th tee also close to the green and start to tee off. Just about to putt and shout of ‘where did that go?’ before ‘you hit the tree from another’.

Rarely do I lose my cool but a big shout from me of ‘can we have some quiet please?!’ – despite that one of them tees off with another one of our group putting.


Not being ready to hit.


Playing partners standing around chatting instead of hitting their shot when you've got a packed course. Plenty of time for a chat as you're heading down the fairway.


Not repairing divots or pitch marks. Leaving bags and trolleys on the wrong side of the green. Not being ready to play when it’s your turn.


Moaning. Moaning about the game. Moaning about the pace of play. Moaning about the course. About the greenkeepers. About the weather. About other members. About life. Moaning. Moaning. Moaning. Moaning about everything. Maybe get another hobby and let us happier folk enjoy what little time we have.


Nothing annoys/irritates me more than divots not being replaced, tee divots not being sanded and pitchmarks not being repaired. It shows a total lack of respect.


Players taking divots (plural) on their practice swings


People leaving their tees in the ground, or even worse, pushing down into the ground.


Related: 7 Etiquette mistakes to avoid in golf

A lack of patience. Those who hit balls up to you even though you can’t go anywhere because you’re keeping pace with the group in front. Players rushing around the course.. trying to get round in 2hours so they can gloat how fast they are and moan about others taking 3.5 hours... Maybe take up power walking or some form of athletics.


People talking when you are trying to hit a shot and not being aware of what’s going on around them.


Plenty of comments about not repairing pitchmarks, but one thing that gets my goat is the number of people (I reckon it's actually the majority) who diligently repair them INCORRECTLY!


Not repairing pitch marks is number 1. Number 2 is people who get to their ball, watch someone else hit and then start to decide what shot they will play. This becomes even more irritating when they get the laser measure out or the yardage book and start pacing off from the 150. This is usually followed by a duff or an errant shot, and the whole song and dance starts again. Just hit the bloody ball!!

For some reason someone's shadow on my line or moving about on the tee irritates me slightly. Finally, people who take too much interest, and feel the need to police what other people wear.


People not understanding the concept of a ‘call up hole’ despite the boards on the tee box and green that explain it in black and white....


Playing partners standing in an unsafe position when I am about to play.

Doon frae Troon

Poker chip ball markers..


People who refuse to play their shot because ‘the group in front are still in range’ even though the group are 250 yards in front, and said player is lucky to hit more than 150 with any club in their bag. so you wait for five minutes for the group in front to finish, then the player duffs it about 20 yards.


1. Unrepaired pitch marks. Especially at times over the last year (like now) when the course has been members only.

2. Not making any effort to smooth over the sand in bunkers. As above.

3. People who officiously police other groups / players. Favourite phrases from these people include:

"I can see that chap 500 yards away is talking on his phone!"

"A one ball has no status on the course."

"Shirts should be tucked in at all times."


Pitch marks not being repaired and bunkers not being raked (pre covid) but the absolute beast is not being called through when the group in front have lost pace on the group in front.


Players not shouting fore, some prat nearly took my head off last Friday with his drive that was 40 yards off line. There wasn't much of an apology either.


Unrepaired pitchmarks. Between three of us a couple of weeks ago we repaired 24 on one green. Just a total lack of respect for the course from selfish so and sos who probably went home and whinged about the course not being in Masters-like condition after having no-one play on it for three months.


People marking their ball on the green with a tee when in the vicinity of the hole.


I have a load of Victorian pennies and George V half-crowns in my bag. They're well worn and of minimal value. A little memento of our round for any playing partner who uses a tee as a ball marker. Nice way of solving a tiny problem without causing offence.


Never, ever, talk to my golf ball when it is in the air


Not standing their round in the bar.


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Mark Townsend
Contributing editor

Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.