Etiquette and Pace-of-Play Rules for New Golfers

You might already know everything on this list but I sure bet you know someone that could use a little refresher!

Golf prides itself on being a gentlemen’s sport, and proper etiquette is not just an integral part of the game, it is the game. Whether you’re heading to the golf course for the very first time or the first time in a very long time, playing your first round of golf can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be, which is why we put together this quick primer that can help take some of the anxiety out of golf because just playing can be hard enough.


Be early to your tee time


If you are on time you are already too late. Tee time is at 12:30?, do not show up at 12:30. After all, there’s a lot that goes into golf besides just showing up and swinging some clubs–you’ll need to check in, get your bag loaded, and track down a caddy if you don’t have one lined up yet. For this reason, most courses suggest arriving 20-30 minutes before your tee time. If you want to hit some warm-up balls, add an extra 15 minutes on top of that. If your tee time is missed you risk slowing down the rest of the tee sheet, which is more than just frowned upon. If you do miss your tee time, don’t expect to be squeezed in right away–waiting around for the next opening can take hours, sometimes days, depending on the course.


Don’t play balls you can’t afford to lose


If you’re new to the game, there’s absolutely no point to buying new golf balls until you can play a few holes before they end up in a bush or at the bottom of a lake. Spare your friends the headache of having to help you search for your lost golf balls and play with balls you won’t mind losing in the weeds. There may be a five-minute rule on ball searches during pro tours, but your group should spend a lot less. As a general rule, if your ball trickles into the woods and you think you have a shot, don’t spend more than a couple minutes searching, especially if someone’s waiting on the tee behind you. And don’t play range balls on the course!


Dress the part


Many golf courses have dress codes, so find out what the dress code is at your course of choice and dress appropriately. A pair of shorts or slacks and a collared golf shirt will almost always meet the requirements, but some courses have stricter rules in place than others. In general, the more expensive a golf course is, the stricter the dress code is, so if you’re shelling out hundreds of dollars to play a round of golf you’ll be expected to dress the part. Golf shoes usually aren’t required, and golf gloves are a matter of personal preference. Your appearance speaks volumes about you as a person, and a neatly dressed golfer gives off the vibe that he takes the game (and course) seriously.


Turn your cell phone off


It’s one thing to check your email or send a text between holes, but being attached to your phone goes against the concept of being with your friends in nature. Some courses request that you turn your phone off completely, while others are a bit more lenient with their rules. If you do need to keep your phone on, put it on silent, move away from others if you have to take a call, and make the call so brief that it’s almost like it never happened. The last thing you want is for your obnoxiously loud ringtone to go off in the middle of someone else’s backswing.


Don’t be the slowest player


An important etiquette to remember when playing golf is to learn the pace of play, that is learn the rhythm at which the golf course is being played. You don't want to rush anyone in your group, but you also don't want to hold anyone up either. 

Playing at a better pace isn’t about hurrying up or rushing around the course–it’s about being as efficient as possible in everything you do on the course. Whether you share a golf cart, keep your pre-shot routine short, or plan your shot before you get to your ball, there are a variety of recognized tips for improving pace of play. Evaluate your pace of play honestly and often, even as you become a more advanced golfer. If you’re consistently the slowest one in your group, even after taking the above pace of play tips into consideration, you’re just a slow player by nature, and you should never feel pressured to apologize for that.


You’re in good company


At johnnie-O, we appreciate a good game of golf as much as the next guy. That’s why our Men's Golf Apparel Collection has everything you need to look great on the golf course. From moisture-wicking performance shorts to golf polos available in a variety of colors and styles, Johnnie-O has you covered on the golf course–literally. And with free shipping on orders over $125 and free returns, we take the hassle out of looking great. Need some style inspiration before you head to the course? Check out our look book!