7 Etiquette Mistakes New Golfers Should Try To Avoid!

We all want more people playing golf so here are just a few pointers for newer golfers to look out for in their early days

Etiquette Mistakes New Golfers Should Try To Avoid..!
(Image credit: Future)

Etiquette is a word with which long-established golfers are all too familiar, but it’s less commonly used these days in a wider sense, which is perhaps why the rulemakers decided to drop it when the major Rules of Golf revisions came in in 2019.

The principles of good ‘etiquette’ remain the same, however - the concept of playing within the spirit of the game, which is now covered by Rule 1.2 – Standards of Player Conduct. Here, the talk is now about acting with integrity, showing consideration to others and taking good care of the course.

But if you’re relatively new to the game, you may or may not instinctively know what other golfers might expect of you. In the video and article below, we focus primarily on the ‘showing consideration to others’ element as we highlight 7 ‘etiquette’ mistakes new golfers should try to avoid…

Not being ready when it's your turn

Most golfers are keen to keep play moving at a reasonable pace, and part of that comes down to being ready to play when it’s your turn. As soon as the previous player has hit, you should be pretty much ready to go, other than when you’re on the same line so can’t be standing next to your ball.

On the tee, if it’s your turn to play, that should be your priority rather than standing there totting up your shots on the previous hole and marking your scorecard. There’s plenty of time for that after you’ve hit.

And you should always be trying to prepare for your shot in advance so you’re ready to go when it’s your turn. Getting the yardage, working out the wind and choosing a club can all be done in advance, so when it’s your turn you can just set up to the ball and play.

Etiquette mistakes - being ready

Try to be ready to play as soon as it's your turn

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Walking across line on green

The truth is that, with spikeless and cleated shoes, this is perhaps less of an issue than in the days of the old metal spikes. And yes, in firm conditions the chances of you damaging the line your playing companion is about to putt on are pretty slim.

Etiquette mistakes - walking on line

Don't do this on the green - walk behind the player or round the other side of the hole and not too close to it

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

But in very soft conditions, it can make a big difference when footprints are taking a while to resettle after someone has walked somewhere. So, it’s far more courteous just to avoid your playing companion’s line on the putting green completely and hope they will afford you the same courtesy.

Leaving bag on wrong side of green

If possible, try to leave your bag or trolley at the point where you will be exiting the green after you have putted out.

Etiquette mistakes - bag on wrong side

Leaving your bag on the wrong side will prolong the amount of time it takes your group to clear a green

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Yes, sometimes you might not know a course well enough to know, or the logistics of where you’ve had to chip from or where trolleys are allowed to go may mitigate against it. But a good thought to have in mind as you approach a green is, ‘Where am I heading next?’ Leaving your bag on the wrong side not only delays your group but can be frustrating to watch for the group behind.

Not letting faster players through

Many new golfers are keen not to have people stacked up behind them, while others seem a little oblivious to it (this applies not just to new golfers of course!). But it’s important to try and keep everyone happy out there, especially on a less busy course where the group behind can see that they could be off and away if they could just get through your group.

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. But whatever the reason, we are all encouraged to let faster players through because it’s just better for all concerned. That way, those a little slower – especially if they’re new golfers – aren’t constantly looking over their shoulders and feeling pressured, while those a little faster can enjoy their game at the pace they like to play at.

Distracting noises

Some might say that golfers are a pretty fragile bunch when it comes to distractions, but when someone else is playing, it’s always best to try not to do anything audible that might distract them from the shot in hand - for example, doing up a zip, rummaging in your bag for another ball, jangling coins and tees in your pocket or clanking your clubs.

Etiquette mistakes - distracting noises

Wait until after your fellow player has hit before rummaging around in your bag for another ball

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Other sports may be played in a cauldron of noise, but it’s the sudden sound in an otherwise generally peaceful environment that can be so distracting in golf. And while other sports are reactive, the golf swing is proactive (you decide when to start the movement) so just give other golfers those few seconds of complete peace and quiet as they are preparing to hit and then playing their shot.

Not watching fellow players’ shots

Following the flight of a golf ball if your eyesight is not the best or you’re playing straight into the sun can be difficult for the person playing the shot. The more pairs of eyes following the ball, the greater the chance of seeing where it went, finding it quickly and keeping play moving.

Etiquette mistakes - not watching player's ball

Don't do this, but rather watch your playing companion's ball, especially when playing into the sun

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Always try to help fellow players follow the flight of their ball, especially on the tee when everyone in the group is gathered around the same spot, and elsewhere on the course too as and when circumstances allow.

Distracting shadows

In bright, low sunshine, shadows can stretch a long way, so make sure your shadow isn’t distracting someone else, particularly on the green but also on the tee.

Etiquette mistakes - distracting shadows

Keep an eye on where your shadow is, especially on greens and tees

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

A shadow on your line can be very distracting when putting, especially as any little movements, perhaps with a club or while scratching your head, become exaggerated when the shadows are long. So stand far enough away for your shadow to not become a potential distraction.

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response