New Rules of Golf Etiquette

Been a while since you checked up on the do’s and don’ts of the game for the 21st century? We’ll do our best to get you up to date.

Golf is unique in that it holds to a number of traditions other games don’t, which is where etiquette comes into play. Certain elements have been updated, however. Some conclusions are mixed, but there are certainly some fundamentals that are as true now as they were when the game began. But like anything that lasts through the centuries, various old fashioned details need to be rethought.


We are all addicted to our phones, so asking every golfer to turn them off while playing a 4+-hour game simply isn’t realistic. However, there’s a happy medium lurking somewhere between constantly yapping on your phone, and putting it on silent or vibrate and answering texts, or checking it on occasion. What may be most important here is to not let your device slow down the game, and make sure your pace is in sync with your fellow players (and the players behind you).

Dressing for the Occasion

What you wear in golf has always mattered, and still does, though the rules have relaxed. Gone are the days of knickerbockers with stockings, ties, heavy tweed jackets and caps. Due to the heat, golf clothing has been made much lighter and more comfortable. Slacks and a collared shirt is a pretty standard uniform for today’s golfer. Also, try avoiding loud brands or verbiage on your caps, or shirts.

Friendly Competition

Try not to express too much emotion on the green, and by this we mean no throwing, breaking, or forcing clubs in your bag in anger. It’s natural that people may get upset, or excited with their performance, but everything in moderation. Don’t be that guy who celebrates when your opponent swings a dud. Mulligans aren’t really a thing anymore if you’re playing an actual match, but if you’re just playing a relaxed game, allowing each other a do-over on opening tee shots, or even one per round is fair play – as long as you lay down the rules before the game starts.

Swapping Clubs

Touching another player’s clubs used to be a big no-no, but these days, asking a partner if you can hold or try their club is pretty standard. It’s still against the rules to borrow other players’ equipment during play, however.

A couple more small tips:

  • Punctuality – Don’t show up less than 15 minutes before tee time
  • On the practice green – If you’re alone, putt away, but if the green is crowded, any more than two practice balls and you become greedy.
  • Taking too long to find a lost ball – This can really slow down the pace of the game, not to mention you risk never finding the ball. Take 5 minutes or less, then accept that it’s gone to golf ball heaven.
  • Standing behind people when they putt – Don’t do it.
  • Walking across the green with your club bag – The extra weight can cause an imprint, so walk on the fringe instead.

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