Etiquette is an integral part of the game, defining golf's core values. It describes the manner in which the game of golf should be played to ensure all players gain maximum enjoyment.
In short, it’s about “respect”:
Respect for the course – leave the course as you would like to find it by repairing pitch-marks, replacing divots and raking bunkers
Respect for your fellow players – be sportsmanlike and polite, stay by the green to watch them hole out, and avoid distracting them
Respect for the game – by knowing the Rules and etiquette of golf
Spirit of the game
Golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players, care for the course and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be.
This is the spirit of the game of golf.
Care of the course
Before leaving a bunker, players should carefully fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints. If a rake is within reasonable proximity of the bunker, the rake should be used for this purpose.
Divots, Ball-Marks & Shoe Damage
Players should carefully repair any divot holes and any damage to the putting green made by the impact of a ball (whether or not made by the player himself).
On completion of the hole by all players in the group, damage to the putting green caused by golf shoes should be repaired.
Preventing Unnecessary Damage
Players and caddies should avoid causing damage to the course. For example:
Do not remove divots when taking practice swings or by hitting the club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason. Ensure you do not damage the putting green when putting down bags or the flagstick.
Avoid standing too close to the hole and take care when handling the flagstick and when removing a ball from the hole. Do not use clubhead to remove a ball from the hole.
Do not lean on a club on the putting green.
Replace the flagstick in the centre of the hole before leaving the putting green.
Follow any local notices regulating the movement of golf carts.
Pace of play
Play at a Good Pace and Keep Up
You should always play at a good pace. The Committee may establish pace of play guidelines that all players should follow. It is a group’s responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If the group loses a clear hole and delays the group behind, it should invite the group behind to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group. Where a group has not lost a clear hole, but it is apparent that the group behind can play faster, they should also invite the faster moving group to play through.
Be Ready to Play
You should be ready to play as soon as it is your turn to play. When on or near the putting green, leave your bags or carts just off the green on the way to the next tee. When the play of a hole has been completed, leave the putting green quickly.
If you think your ball may be lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, to save time, play a provisional ball.
Players searching for a ball should signal the players in the group behind them to play through as soon as it becomes apparent that the ball will not easily be found. They should not search for five minutes before doing so. Having allowed the group behind to play through, they should not continue play until the group coming through has passed and is out of range.
No Disturbance or Distraction
You should always show consideration for other players on the course and take care not to not disturb their play by moving, talking or making unnecessary noise.
You should also ensure that any electronic devices taken onto the course don't distract other players.
Only tee your ball up when it's your turn to play and remember not to stand close to the ball, directly behind it, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to swing.
On the Putting Green
On the putting green, you should be careful not to stand on another player’s line of putt or, when he is putting, cast a shadow over his line.
And you should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out.
In stroke play, if you're acting as a marker, on the way to the next tee you should, if necessary, check the score with the player concerned and record it.
Players should ensure that no one is standing close by or in a position to be hit by the club, the ball or any stones, pebbles, twigs or the like when they make a stroke or practice swing.
Wait until the players in front are out of range. Players should always alert greenstaff nearby or ahead when they are about to make a stroke that might endanger them.
If your ball is heading in a direction where there is a danger of it hitting someone, shout a warning immediately. The traditional word of warning is “fore!”.
Priority on the course
Unless otherwise determined by the Committee, priority on the course is determined by a group’s pace of play. Any group playing a whole round is entitled to pass a group playing a shorter round. The term “group” includes a single player.
It should be remembered that consideration should be shown to others on the course at all times.
Penalties for breach
If players follow the guidelines in this Etiquette section, it will make the game more enjoyable for everyone.
If a player consistently disregards these guidelines during a round or over a period of time to the detriment of others, it is recommended that the Committee considers taking appropriate disciplinary action against the offending player. Such action may, for example, include prohibiting play for a limited time on the course or in a certain number of competitions. This is considered to be justifiable in terms of protecting the interests of the majority of golfers who wish to play in accordance with these guidelines.
In the case of a serious breach of etiquette, the Committee may disqualify a player under Rule 33-7.