Page 12 From Winter 2014 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at
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Easy Golf Etiquette Rules
By Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen, PGA

Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen, PGA

        Knowing the ‘Rules of Golf’ is intimidating and overwhelming for most golfers, especially for the beginners. Every sport has rules to make it fair for everyone to be on the same playing field of equal competition. The USGA website has rule books to purchase, even a mobile APP that can be downloaded onto an electronic device for ease of accessibility. Think of the ‘Rules of Golf’ as a reference book like a dictionary. It has definitions, explanations with specific wording for clarification and communication. However, being familiar with the rules can be to a player’s advantage.
        The ‘Rules of Golf’ is less overwhelming if you know the first portion of the book: etiquette and definitions. The definitions are repeated inside the bulk of the book as well. The index is very helpful for researching certain situations when they arise. Etiquette is essential and is defined as having good manners… before, during and after the round to ensure enjoyment to all golfers.

        Golf etiquette may seem complicated, and in truth, there’s plenty you’ll learn the more you play. But if you start with the following points, you’ll be fine.
Arrival: Try to arrive early enough to give yourself time to warm up properly. Allow yourself approximately 30-60 minutes prior before your actual tee time. Warm up on the range and short game areas, find the restroom, check in the golf shop, purchase beverages or food and be ready when your name is called to start your game.
Speed of Play: The easiest way to keep up the pace has nothing to do with how well you play, but rather how fast. As soon as the group’s name is called to the first tee, it is time to begin and move. The golf ball is the playing piece and it needs to advance and move forward. That doesn’t mean you have to rush your swing or run to your ball. It simply means you should take one vpractice swing and be ready to hit when it’s your turn. From the time you select your club until you actually hit your shot, you should take no more than 30-45 seconds. If you aren’t ready to play when it is your turn, encourage one of you fellow players to play.
        A good way to monitor your pace of play is to always remain a half hole behind the group in front of you. If you are new and not keeping score, but feel the pressure of keeping up with the rest of the group, pick the ball up and start on another hole to help the group catch up. Eventually you will catch on and learn more how to keep up when playing all of your shots, it’s Okay! When you start to keep score, then you will play by the rules, but make yourself feel comfortable at first. Speed of Play is important to ALL golfers and the golf course.
 Yell “Fore!”: Shouting “Fore!” is merely a way of saying, “Watch out!” and it is used when golfers hit shots astray that might possibly come close to another person on the golf course. Don’t wait, the moment you realize a ball has even a remote chance of hitting another person, SHOUT IT OUT.
Take care of the course: It’s hard work to make a golf course look as good as it does. Do your part to take care of it. For starters, if you’re in a golf cart, find out if it is OK to take the carts on the grass or if they must remain on the cart path. Either way, never drive the cart near the putting green or the Tee Box. On the course, if you take a divot (a piece of turf when hitting a shot), you should either replace it by carefully placing it in the spot and then firmly pressing down on it with your foot, or filling the hole with some seed mix. Shots hit to the green often leave a ball mark. If you don’t know how to properly fix them, ask one of your playing partners to show you. And make sure you rake the bunker after you hit out of one. The sand is daunting enough without having to contend with someone’s footprint. Rule of Thumb: Pick up after yourself and leave the golf course in better condition for others and yourself when you return to play.
Know where to stand: Golfers don’t want anything interfering with their concentration on a shot. A key action is to stand to the side and slightly behind the ball several yards away. On the green, try to stay out of the line of sight of the person putting. Further, when walking on the green, be aware of the line from other player’s balls and the hole and don’t step in those imaginary lines.
        Flagstick: Once you’re on the green, another consideration is the flagstick. If you’re the closest to the hole, you’re in charge of removing the flagstick if everyone says they can see the cup clearly.
Ball: Most golfers have very little knowledge of how to play the game correctly. Just remember, don’t move your ball under any circumstance unless you’re on a putting green. If the ball hard to find, only take five minutes to look for a it.
Maintain a sense of humor: This is probably the most critical element of playing in golf outings. Enjoy the pressure and challenge of hitting golf shots that are counted towards a prize, but remember, no one cares if you play poorly. Only expectation others have is that you offer pleasant company. Sulking and cursing are unacceptable, and especially ridiculous if you’re a beginning golfer.
Finally: At the end of the round, shake hands with your fellow players and thank them for their company. At the end of the day, the great pleasure of the game is the time you get to spend with friends.

Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen, PGA, is the NW PGA Section Golf “Teacher of the Year” 2012. She can be reached at

Page 12 From Winter 2014 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at
To advertise in Florida Golf Magazine in print and on-line, phone 863-227-2751 and/or email