Golf is known for being a gentleman’s sport and is one full of rich tradition. For players who are new to the game, knowing all of the ins and outs can take time. Whether you are a veteran golfer or brand new to the game, we have created a list of helpful tips to help keep your golf game moving and enjoyable and help make others glad they played with you.

Golf Etiquette Tips

Know the rules of golf before hitting the course.

Before taking on a golf course for a rousing game, be sure you know the rules and how to play. If you are a beginner or have never played golf before, no problem! That is what the driving range, electronic golf simulators, and the practice green are for. Read up on the rules of the game and then practice to your heart’s content. You don’t need to have mastered the game to step on to the green, but the course is not the place for learning the basics. The clubhouse at the Peninsula of the Indian River Bay offers all of the essentials you will need to pick up the game of golf, as well as a staff of expert trainers to help you learn the basics and become a golf master!

Dress for the game

The game of golf is known for its sophistication as a gentleman’s sport. Show up for your game dressed as though you are ready to play. For men, it is expected that you wear slacks and collared shirts along with your golf shoes that are only worn on the course. Jeans and collarless shirts are often not allowed to be worn on the course, but you should always check with the clubhouse. Generally, shorts are permitted as long as they are not jeans and sweaters or jackets can be worn over collared shirts. Women can follow the same rules and are also typically permitted to wear golf shorts or skirts and sleeveless shirts. It is always recommended, though not required, to wear a hat or sunshade and sunglasses to help reduce sun glare, protect your eyes, and keep the game moving along. No matter the weather, an important safety tip is to always wear sunscreen as part of your golf attire!

Show up early.

There is nothing fashionable about missing tee time. Not only is it incredibly rude, but many courses will cancel or reschedule your tee time if your group has not teed off within a few minutes. Missing tee time puts the game behind for your group as well as all of the other groups in play. We recommend you show up well before your tee time and use the practice green to loosen up and hit a few practice rounds.  The Peninsula of the Indian River Bay offers a great clubhouse and practice green to get you warmed up ready for your game.

Use caddies when available.

Caddies are a valuable asset to the game of golf. Although they primarily handle golf clubs and the flag stick or pins, they can offer valuable insight into the course and tips on how to play the best round. The caddies are familiar with the course and can offer suggestions on which club to use and some of the idiosyncrasies of the course that may affect your play. Using caddies help to keep your game moving along. It is important not to treat your caddy as beneath you, you should be pleasant and respectful. Thank them for their suggestions even if you don’t take them, tip them, and offer to buy refreshments when your group stops for them.

Warm up.

It is good practice to take the time to warm up before you head out on the course to start playing the game. Warming up before your game allows you to play more efficiently and helps reduce your frustration on the course. Warming up also allows you to get a good feel for the day’s weather and wind that may affect play. We recommend you warm up, but don’t overdo it. Leave your game for the green and avoid tiring out before the 18th hole is complete.

Learn the local and course rules

While the basic golf rules are the same, each course will have local rules. Before you get on the course, it is important to know the local rules. These rules are generally posted and can be found at the clubhouse. This is another reason you should always show up early and prepare yourself for the game.

Mark your balls.

Marking your balls means a few different things and each are important etiquette tips during play. Before the game starts, you and your party should have distinctive balls or mark your balls so that each player can easily identify which is their own. You can write your initials on your ball or use different colors. The second way you will mark your balls is when you are not the furthest from the hole, to avoid your ball getting in the way of the other players, you will mark your ball and move it out of the way. You can simply place a penny on the ground or use some other method of marking.

Avoid slow play.

All efforts should be made to avoid slow play. There is no need to run or rush, but you and your teammates should refrain from being on the course without actively playing. You can be assessing the course as you arrive at each tee. You can line up your putts and make a plan, but it should be less than a minute before you take a swing. If you are moving along and are still slower than other groups, allow others to play through if they are faster. Do not delay other groups games.

Help maintain the course.

It is true that each golf course has a groundskeeping team, and the Jack Nicklaus course at the Peninsula on the Indian River Bay is no exception. However, it is good etiquette for every player to take pride and responsibility in their game and help maintain the courses on which they play. Helping maintain the course allows the course to remain playable all day while making the course enjoyable for all groups that play. A few ways it is expected that you help maintain the course include: replace your divots, rake footprints out of bunkers, and repair pitch marks. Remember, these are minimum expectations and anything that you do on the course will only help improve the game for groups behind you. Caddies will generally help maintain the course during play, which is another great reason to hire one!

Don’t step on another player’s putting lines.

This classic etiquette rule is only mandatory while a player is actually hitting, but has long since been one of the unwritten rules of golf. There is an imaginary putting line from every player’s ball to the hole and no player should walk on the putting line of another player.

If your ball is in another player’s putting line, mark and move it.

The player whose ball is furthest from the hole will putt first. As you can imagine, the other players’ balls will be in the way. It is proper golf etiquette to mark your ball’s spot and move it out of the way to allow the player to putt through. When it is your turn, simply place your ball where your marker is and take your turn.

Don’t be a distraction.

Golf is a sport that requires a great deal of precision and focus. Just as you appreciate no one distracting you while you putt, other golfers feel the same way. Avoiding being a distraction means avoiding yelling or loud chatter in general, being mindful of other groups. It is expected that you do not talk or move while another payer is putting. While cheering each other on is encouraged, a “golf clap” is preferred over loud cheers, claps, and whistling.

Don’t create a shadow on the hole.

Be mindful of your shadow. If you are maintaining the flagstick or simply standing near the hole during play, ensure that you are not creating a shadow over the hole unless the person who is putting requests you to.

Immediately move to the next tee when all players have putted out.

To keep the game going for all groups and avoid having other groups playing through yours, it is good golf etiquette to immediately move to the next tee once all players have putted out. When you stall or lollygag, it prevents players on the hole you just completed from playing and slows the game for everyone behind you. Again, there is no reason to run or rush, but you should keep the game moving. If you do stop for refreshments and another group is almost done with the hole behind you, consider allowing them to play through while you enjoy your break. These breaks should not occur often.

Never hit when there is a chance you may hit another group’s players or interrupt their game.

Not only is this a safety rule, but is also good sportsmanship for any game and good golf etiquette. Never take a putt when there is even a slight chance that your ball may hit another group’s players or cause a distraction or allow your ball to interrupt their game. This happens when you catch up to the group ahead of you. If the group ahead of you is slow, politely request to play through, but never just putt into their play.

Maintain your temper and never engage in acts of poor sportsmanship.

Golf is a game of great skill and requires a great deal of focus and concentration. It is okay to become frustrated when you are hitting over par or having an off game, but it is a whole other thing to be rude or yell. Maintain your temper and avoid screaming, taking out frustrations on caddies, or throwing your golf clubs. Refrain from engaging in acts of poor sportsmanship, to include making derogatory comments or engaging in an attitude that makes the game less enjoyable for other players.

If your group stops for refreshments, offer to buy.

When it is refreshment time, it is an unspoken rule that you offer to buy. If you do purchase a round for your group, offer to purchase drinks for caddies, too. Once you have purchased a round, it is proper golf etiquette that you do not buy the next one. It is also proper etiquette that you and your group enjoy a drink together at the clubhouse at the end of the game. On the same token, it is expected that you do not drink to excess and are not intoxicated on the course. A “drink” does not have to be alcoholic. The clubhouse at the Peninsula on the Indian River Bay offers a wide variety of drink and food options to keep you and your golf partners satisfied for a day of golf.

At the end of the game shake hands with all players.

It is good sport etiquette, in general, to shake hands with all players, whether teammate or competitor. At the end of the golf game, before exiting the course, shake hands with all players, congratulate the winner, console the loser, and thank them all for their company during the game. Invite players to play again in the future and then join each other in the clubhouse for post-game discussion. Because it is poor etiquette to discuss politics, finances, or business on the course, the post-game refreshment in the clubhouse is the perfect time to discuss these things.

The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay is proud to be home to one of the Delaware Shore’s best golf courses. Come play the par 72 Jack Nicklaus course with your neighbors. Visit the clubhouse to find everything you need to prepare for your game and hit a few practice balls on our practice green before hitting the course. Enjoy the views along the course as you navigate the Peninsula’s nine communities and the nature preserve. Then, wind down with a delicious beverage in the clubhouse. For more information on becoming a club member or a resident of the Peninsula on the Indian River Bay, contact us today.