The Golf Etiquette Guide From Start to Finish

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If you are new to the game of golf or thinking about starting to play, you may be hesitant to get out to the course because you don’t know how a typical game flows from the tee box all the way to the green. 

To help with this, we have created the ultimate guide to golf etiquette by breaking it down for you. From arriving at the golf course, taking your first shot, to the green, and anywhere between, we have the information you need to demonstrate proper golf etiquette on the golf course.

Here’s the breakdown:

Before The Round

On The Tee Box

On The Fairway (Or The Rough)

In The Sand

On The Green

Ending The Round

Before The Round

Arrive Early – Give yourself enough time before your round to warm up, stretch, or get your bag or cart situated. Check in at the clubhouse and confirm your tee time, get your cart organized and try to head over to the practice areas. 

Warm Up – properly warming up will go a long way in helping you play your best on the course. Try to utilize the practice range to hit a few balls with each of your clubs in the bag. Work from wedges to woods or the opposite based on what is best for your practice routine. 

Many golfers find that spending time on the practice green will help you get a feel for the speed of the greens on the course. The short game is where the game is won or lost, so don’t forget to use your warm up time on the green. 

Before any practice on the range or on the green, take some time to do some stretches to loosen your muscles and prepare for the shots you will take.

On The Tee Box

Start the hole right by using your time wisely on the tee box. More than likely, you will be waiting for the group ahead of you to clear the fairway. Make sure you give the group enough time to get their second shots a distance far enough that you can hit your tee shot without landing on top of them. 

Like any part of the game, pace of play is important for everyone around you. A proper pace of play helps you keep the rhythm of the game for yourself and those around you. On the tee box, aim to take around two to three practice swings before your tee shot. 

To help with the pace of play, try to help your group out by keeping a watchful eye on their tee shots to help them more quickly locate the ball on the fairway (or rough). If you or another player hit a tee shot out of bounds or into the woods, the rules permit you to take a second shot also known as a provisional ball. 

Finally, your tee box has markers. Your ball should not pass the tee box markers when teed up. Groundskeepers will move the tee box markers forward or backward   periodically to allow the turf to grow back after it has been hit from over time. Be respectful of the course and tee up in line with the markers so that you and the other players on the course can hit from healthy turf. 

On The Fairway (Or The Rough)

Now that you and your group drove the fairway, keep in mind the following tips for golf etiquette on the fairway (or rough for that unfortunate slice you hit off the tee box):

  • If your group is using a golf cart, be mindful of the cart path rules set by the course.
    • If the rules are cart path only, keep your cart on the path and walk to your ball from the path. 
    • The other rule you may see is the 90 degree rule. This means that you may take your cart off the path into the fairway, but you will need to reach the distance of your ball from the cart path and then make an immediate right or left turn from the path to your ball.
  • To decide who should take the next shot, this will be determined by each player’s distance to the hole. The ball that is furthest from the hole will take the next shot. 
  • Lost your ball and think you can find it? The rules allow you time to search for your ball. To follow proper golf etiquette, you are allowed three minutes to search for your ball. If you cannot find your ball within that time frame, you should take a penalty stroke, drop a new ball, and hit. 
  • Taking care of the course also applies on the fairway. If you take a divot with your iron on the fairway, fill in the divot with sand to allow the turf to grow back. The golf course commonly provides sand in your cart to fill divots. The last thing you or another player want is to take a shot from a bare patch of dirt. 

In The Sand

The dreaded sand trap. While no golfer wishes to hit their ball from the bunker, it is important that you leave the bunker raked for the next unlucky player that ventures in. 

Make sure you enter the bunker from the low side to prevent sand from excessively shifting around. The proper golf etiquette for hitting out of the bunker is for your wedge to not make contact with the ground until you take your shot. 

Once you have made your shot, rake the spot of your shot and rake your footprints as you walk back to the low side of the bunker. Leave the rake close to the bunker to make it easy for the next player to use.

On The Green

The green is where players will likely be closest to each other. Giving each other space and ability to line up their putts is vital to good golf etiquette. Remember this when you and your group are on the green:

  • If your ball made a divot on the green when landing, make sure you repair your ball divot by using a divot repair tool or even something as simple as a tee. You can take your repair tool and pierce the grass around your divot and push the ground toward the center of the divot. Once you have pushed the ground inward all around, take your putter and pat down the ground to flatten the grass. This will allow the grass to repair itself quickly.
  • One of the most important things you can do on the green is avoid walking through the putting lines of you and your fellow players. Be sure to walk around the putting lines of each ball if you need to walk on the green. 
  • If your ball is in the path or near a path of another player’s ball, mark your ball with either a round plastic marker or even a coin to allow players to properly line up their putt.
  • If you’re wondering who putts first on the green, follow the same golf etiquette you would on the fairway. The player furthest from the hole putts first. Marking your ball gives the furthest away player a chance to properly read the green and take the best putt.
  • Once a player has lined up their putt, giving them the proper space is just as important. Try to stay out of your fellow player’s sight so that there are as few distractions as possible while putting on the green. 
  • Wondering whether or not the flag stick should remain in the hole or be taken out? A recent rule change allows players to keep the flag stick in the hole while putting on the green. If you wish to remove the flag from the hole, place it fully on the ground preferably off the green to avoid any damage.

Ending The Round

If you’ve ever watched the pros play, you have probably seen them remove their hats and shake hands with the group they played with. Do what you deem appropriate with your group and thank everyone for the round and most of all, don’t forget the wedge you used to chip onto the green or escape the bunker with! All too often do golfers end up running back to the 18th green to snag the wedge they forgot to pick up.

If you rode in a cart, be courteous to the staff and remove everything that belongs to you and any boxes or garbage you had. Feel free to leave them a tip and you’re all wrapped up with your round of golf.


Golf etiquette is a simple and helpful tool for golfers to use and helps everyone enjoy the round more. Not only will you enjoy playing the game, but those around you including the golf course staff appreciate the way you treat the course.

For more tips and guides to improve your game on the course, check out more guides from us at All Purpose Golf!

Written By:

Taylor is the founder of All Purpose Golf and has been an avid golfer for more than a decade. He loves keeping up with the latest trends in golf and is constantly seeking ways to improve his game and wants to make the game of golf accessible to anyone.

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