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Golf Etiquette: Fairway Foibles To Avoid

It’s easy to forget when you’re focused on sinking a birdie putt — or stewing over missing that last par putt — that the golf course is a place where rock-hard Titleists are constantly flying through the air and golf carts are zipping back and forth across the rough and fairways. Proper etiquette goes a long way toward maintaining a high enjoyment level for all players and helps the staff keep the course in the best possible shape.

Here are some basic rules of etiquette to follow on the course and instill in others, especially new or younger players:

Yell “Fore!”

As simple as it gets — when you hit a ball toward a player or group, yell loud and yell often. Nobody will be upset about your wild slice, but they will be irritated (or worse) if you hit them with it.

Don’t Hit Up On The Group Ahead:

Nothing fosters tension between groups as quickly as shooting while the players up ahead are still within reach. (Especially if you don’t yell “fore.”) Though, in this instance, the group ahead will be annoyed and vocal about it whether you yell or not.

Repair Ball Marks

You hit a perfect, high-arcing iron within 10 feet of the pin on a par-3, and in your haste to line up your birdie putt, you forget about the ball-shaped depression your shot left behind. This impacts the players following you and also the overall health and quality of the green. Make sure to scan the surface for your ball mark and repair another one or two as well for good measure.

Replace Divots

Replacing divots is the fairway version of fixing ball marks on the green. Taking a second to put the gouged chunk of turf back where it came from keeps the fairway in good condition and also prevents someone behind you from having to hit out of your divot.

Rake Bunkers

Another example of doing your part to maintain course conditioning and quality. Rake your footprints and swing marks so that the next unlucky shot into the hazard doesn’t settle in a poor lie to boot.

Stay Off The Line

The line on the green from a player’s ball to the hole is sacred ground. Don’t step on it, cast a shadow over it, drop anything on it or even look at it funny. Depending on the player and circumstances, line “violations” can inspire angry reactions.

Pull/Tend The Pin

It’s common courtesy to pull the pin or tend it (hold and remove the pin for someone attempting a long putt) every few holes when playing with a group. Playing partners notice when you avoid flag duty hole after hole.

Call Up Groups

On a crowded course with back-ups on the tees, players often make the best of the situation by calling up the trailing group on par-3s — meaning they leave their balls on the green, step aside and allow the group to hit their tee shots. It won’t make your round go any faster, but it does reduce idle wait time and maintain some degree of flow.