Golf Rules and Etiquette

Golf is a game that has many rules within the rules but for the sake of this guide for beginners to introduce you to the sport I will condense them into what you need to know prior to teeing off for the first time. Keep in mind that when scoring a round of golf the object is to gain the lowest score possible (negative numbers are good and positives numbers aren’t)

My Personal Rule – Have fun, if you aren’t having fun what are you doing wasting your time out at the golf course anyways? Don’t worry about sucking, you are a beginner afterall.

There are 18 holes and each hole has a par or number of shots that a player must stroke the ball into the hole before gaining a plus score. For example if you are playing on hole 1 par 4 and you stroke the ball into the hole on your third shot then your score would be -1. If you don’t successfully stroke the ball into the hole until your fifth shot then your score would be +1.

-The “play it as it lies” rule is always one used in golf and it basically states that wherever the ball lands following a shot that is where you must hit it from on your next attempt. There are only two exceptions for that which are out of bounds or in a water hazard.

How to Score Common Golf Penalty Shots

A stray shot in golf is frustrating, but it happens to the best golfers. Where the ball is hit makes a difference in how it is played and scored. Take a look at these common golf penalty shots and how to deal with them:

For full breakdown and videos on golf rules check out the pretty confusing page of USGA, the official source.

PenaltyHow to Score
Out-of-bounds1-stroke penalty plus distance. Replay the ball from where it was just played (or tee up again if it was your first shot).
Unplayable lies1-stroke penalty. Drop the ball within two club lengths of the original spot, no nearer to the hole. Or drop the ball as far back as you want, as long as you keep the original unplayable lie point between you and the hole. You may also return to the spot from which you played your original shot if you prefer.
Water hazard (yellow stakes)1-stroke penalty. Play the ball as near as possible to the place from which the original shot was hit. Or drop a ball behind the water, as long as you keep the point at which the original ball crossed the edge of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped. There is no limit to how far behind the water hazard you can go with the ball.
Lateral water hazard (red stakes)1- stroke penalty. Drop a ball outside the lateral hazard within two club lengths of where the ball went in, but not nearer to the hole. Or keep a point on the opposite edge of the water hazard equidistant from the hole.

Basic Golf Etiquette

  • Play at a reasonable pace.
  • Repair ball marks, replace divots, and rake bunkers.
  • Allow the player who is farthest away from the pin hit first on each shot.
  • Let the winner of the previous hole tee off first during the next hole.
  • Score your card accurately and honestly.
  • Respect the rules and regulations of the course you are playing.
  • Yell “Fore” on shots you hit astray. You can yell “fore right” or “Fore left”
  • Be aware of where you are standing when you are waiting your turn. Try to stand behind and to the side of the player.
  • Move or talk while someone in your group is hitting the ball (or about to hit).
  • Ask your opponent what club he used.
  • Walk across another player while taking a shot.
  • Play until the group in front of you is well out of range.
  • Play when lightning is in the area.
  • Hold up other players.
  • Don’t look for a lost ball over 5 minutes.

Business Golf Round Tips

Everyone loves doing business out on the golf course. It’s fun, and a great excuse to get outside and compete for fun while discuss business deals. When doing business on the golf course the key is don’t make a fool of yourself.

Avoid the embarrassment and follow these simple tips while doing business on the fairways.

  • Respect the golf course, and grounds crew who work so hard to keep the golf course in good shape. Try to leave it as good as you find it or better.
  • Follow the rules and etiquette of the game and course you are playing at.
  • Thank the staff and whoever else has taken care of you that day.
  • Stay positive, joke and have fun. Doing business with you should always put a smile on your client or customers faces. You are taking them golfing it should be fun!
  • If someone is taking you golfing and you a total beginner, just have fun try your best and don’t take your score too serious.
  • Swear too much or get too competitive. Stay fun and relaxed while doing business on the golf course. Get competitive with your close friends on a day out with those who know you best, not a business trip.
  • Play slowly. Respect the pace of play.
  • Drink too much. The sure fire way to make a fool of yourself and look sloppy on the golf course. Have a few beers if it’s that kind of business relationship, but don’t get sloppy buddy.
  • Be late. Get there early and hit a bucket of balls if at all possible in your schedule
  • Keep playing if you are out of a hole.

Golf Clothing Etiquette

  • Collared Shirts
  • Wear slacks or nice material shorts
  • Tank tops or street t-shirts.
  • Short shorts or pool and beach suits.
  • Wear Jeans. Wearing nicer pant or short material is recommended on the golf course.
  • Forget sun block. Not really etiquette but it has to be included. Take this with you anytime you are playing outside especially for the hours it takes for golfing a complete round.

Now you are ready to get out there and play. Continue to the next section for more tips for hitting and playing.