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Golf 101: Golf Course Etiquette for Beginners

If it feels like everyone around you suddenly picked up golf in the last year, you're not alone. The year 2020 saw 6.2 million new golfers out on the links.

It was the largest percentage increase in new golfers since Tiger Wood's 1997 Master's win.

If you're considering trying your hand, it is important you know there is more to the game than how to play golf. Golf course etiquette is as important as good form and following the rules of the game.

Fortunately, you won't have to worry about making a faux pas your first time on the golf course. All you need is this introduction to golf course etiquette for beginners.

Rules of Golf Course Etiquette

In addition to the rules of golf is the etiquette of golf. Golf has many old traditions, but with the growing popularity of the sport, many courses are beginning to relax in some ways.

Here are the main things you need to know about golf course etiquette before setting out on the course for the first time.

Follow the Dress Code

The levels of strictness regarding golfing attire are more relaxed than they once were. However, it is important to conform to certain aspects of the golf course dress code.

Dress codes can vary between courses. Public and executive courses are often more relaxed than private clubs. It is best to call the course ahead of time to inquire about their particular dress code.

The traditional dress code for women is either a skirt, skort, shorts, or pants. For men, the dress code is a pair of knee-length shorts or golf pants. Both sexes should sport a collared shirt.

Not many courses have rules regarding golf shoes. However, there are restrictions against metal spike golf shoes on most golf courses and in clubhouses.

Arrive on Time

Always make a point of arriving at least 20 minutes ahead of your tee time. This shows respect for your fellow players and improves the quality of your game.

Tee times are important. They are very precise because they allow for a specific amount of time between groups to avoid a traffic jam.

Some courses will refuse to let you go out even if you are as little as five minutes late for your tee time.

Avoid Slow Play

In addition to making your tee time, the pace of play is very important to the game of golf. You should always be moving ahead to the next green or hole.

Spend no more than 15 minutes on a hole on average. If you have trouble keeping up with the group ahead of you, walk at a purposeful speed and plan your shots ahead of time while you wait for other players to hit.

If the group behind you is noticeably faster and the group ahead of you has disappeared, invite the group behind you to 'play through.'

Communicate Positively & Respectfully

Always keep your voice to a quiet and respectful level so as not to interrupt any player's game. Do not play music. Do not yell or scream.

When communicating with other players, do so in a positive tone of camaraderie and respect. Compliment others on a nice shot or a good ball. Remember you are out there to have fun as well as compete.

Always remain silent when a fellow player is hitting. Talking in someone's swing is one of the most heinous of golf etiquette violations.

Hitting Order

The rules of golf dictate that the person furthest from the hole hits first. The reason for this rule is safety. This way no one ends up standing in front of the person who is hitting.

This rule differs when it comes to the tee box for each hole. At the tee box, the golfer with the lowest number of strokes on the previous hole has the honor of teeing first.

Where to Stand

Give other players space, especially on the green. Never stand close behind another player on the green. It is a major distraction and it is very unsafe.

It can also be very distracting to stand in the line of sight of a player trying to hit. Always try to stand far away and behind the player who is in the process of hitting.

Green Etiquette

When your ball lands on the green, the first thing you need to do is mark your ball. It is distracting to leave balls on the green while other players are hitting onto it.

A ball marker can be anything, from a pen to a coin. You can often find ball markers available for sale at the club office or pro shop.

In addition to standing out of players' lines of sight on the green, you need to be very careful of where you walk on it. Avoid walking in someone's line at all costs. The line is the most direct path between the golf ball and the hole.

Pin Etiquette

New rules dictate that a golfer can choose to leave the pin in the hole when putting on the green.

In addition, there is no longer a penalty for leaving the pin untended. That means you can hit even if no one is standing near the pin, or 'tending it.'

When you remove the pin from the hole, be careful not to damage the grass around the hole. Lay the flagstick down far from where putts may roll. Always return the flagstick to the hole before you leave the green.

Golf Cart Etiquette

Always check with the pro shop to find out where you can drive your golf cart. Golf carts are very convenient, but they can damage the golf course.

Some courses will let you drive all over the course. Others will require that golf carts remain on the golf cart pathways.

Maintain the Course

Always repair the course and try to leave it as you found it. Replace your divots on the tee box or the fairway.

Always be careful when walking with spikes on the green. Repair any ball marks you make on the green. If left untended, they will turn brown and die.

Honor & Sportsmanship

Honor, honest play, and integrity are important traditions to the game of golf.

Always play with honor and respect your fellow players. Be honest about the calls you make. If you don't play your best game, be a good sport about it.

Where to Golf in St. Cloud Minnesota

If you feel ready to take your new skills and knowledge of golf course etiquette out for a test run, you can't beat the experience of golfing at the St. Cloud Country Club.

St. Cloud Country Club offers a range of exclusive amenities just a short drive outside the Twin Cities. You'll enjoy the fresh air, river views, and swimming pools available.

You won’t find a more breathtaking experience than playing this 100-year-old course alongside the waters of the Mississippi River. Explore St. Cloud Country Club's membership options today.