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Golf Course Etiquette for Beginners

Most experienced golfers can handle playing with someone who is just learning to play.  Who has lower than average skills provided the new golfer possess adequate golf course etiquette and plays at a reasonable pace. Bad etiquette, however, is virtually guaranteed to prevent a future invitation to be part of the same group.

Here are a few basic rules of golf course etiquette that will be useful for anyone just starting out and a good reminder for the more experienced golfers.

Even before going to the golf course, there are a few things you need to  do:

Try  going to a driving range before playing a round:

Unless you are incredibly athletic and can pick up a golf club and start hitting 200 yard drives, you might want to go to a driving range to practice your golf swing mechanics.  Take along a friend who knows how to golf,  and can show you the basics of the stance, grip and swing.  Review each golf club and know your own yardages for each club.

Make sure you have your own set of clubs:

I am not saying you have to go out and buy a set before playing.  You shouldn’t  borrow clubs from others in your group while on the golf course.  Borrow a complete set from a friend if you must,  or rent a set from the course.  Many courses will have sets available for rent. and you usually can rent them for about  $20.  Most  golf management requires  everyone to have their own set when playing, this speeds up play.

Dress appropriately:

Golf is a game full of tradition and etiquette.  There is not a uniform code, but there is a dress code.  Many nicer golf courses will not allow golfers to play in jeans or T-shirts.  Khaki pants or shorts and a collared polo-type shirt is expected.  If you have any questions, check with a member of your group or the course to determine what you should wear.  There is nothing worse than showing up to play and being turned away because you are dressed inappropriately.

Arrive before your scheduled tee time:

You can’t expect to show up 3 minutes before you tee off!  Get yourself prepared by taking your golf bag out of the car and loaded onto the golf cart if your riding.  Otherwise put your golf bag onto a pull cart, and put your golf shoes on.  Pay for your golf round at the pro shop. Start warming up doing exercises and stretches, etc.  If they have a driving range, hit a few golf balls, then finish with some chipping and putting.  Be ready when they call your name, and make certain you get to the first tee on time. Golf courses are businesses and most of them are busy. Tee times are often scheduled at 7 minute intervals so it is imperative that you arrive with plenty of time to spare. (think 30 minutes or so ahead of allotted time.)  The last thing you want is your golf swing to be out of sync with your timing, due to rushing in order to make your tee time. You’ll be fighting with yourself the rest of the day in trying to make up for being late.

Bag Drop:

Golf courses usually have an area where you can get your bag out of your car and set it down before parking.  Fancy courses will even have an attendant who will get your bag out and bring it to a cart for you.  Be prepared to tip this individual as you would a skycap.  These attendants may also retrieve your bag at the end of your round and clean your clubs.  Again, be prepared with a tip.

During the Golf Round

There are several courtesy items that need to be remembered while playing on the golf course.  In order to respect the course itself and the players with whom you are playing with.  Respecting the golf course boils down to damage control,  and allowing those behind your group to play the same course under the best possible conditions.

  • Keep the golf carts on the path near all tees and greens and on all par 3 holes for its entire length.
  • Follow any special cart rules for the day such as 90 degree or cart path only if the course is very damp.
  • Replace divots in the fairway (or fill with sand mixture if provided) and on all the tee boxes.  Also fix your ball marks on the green.
  • Never drive a cart in long grass, bunkers, or hazards.
  • Never drive up close to the green. That includes aprons and the green itself.
  • Throwing clubs could damage the course, or injuries to others. (Not to mention make you look like a jerk).
  • Never in frustration, swing the golf club or putter at others. (That includes hitting the golf ball.)

You should also show a deep respect for the other players in your group by adhering to the following:

  • Do not make noise or move when another player is taking his/her golf shot.
  • Do not stand in the line of sight or the peripheral vision of another player while taking their golf shot.  (Also be cognizant of your shadow so that it is not in the line of the golf shot.)
  • Do not walk between the ball of another player and the hole when on the green.  (In other words, do not walk in someone’s  line or path when on the putting green.)
  • Do not hit your golf ball while another is taking their turn. (Unless everyone in the group agrees to Ready golf.)
  • The player farthest from the hole is the one who takes their turn first.
  • The player with the lowest score on the previous hole has the honor of teeing off first on the next hole unless everyone in the group has agreed to play ready golf.  Meaning who ever is ready to hit, as long as no one else is hitting.
These are just a few of the basic rules of etiquette that should get you through the game.  At the end of the golf round, be sure to shake everyone’s hand and thank them for playing.  Golf is a gentleman’s game it’s meant to be  fun. You can compete against yourself  and the golf course while enjoying the company of others.

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