Etiquette & Pace of play
Player Conduct and Spirit of the Game
It is one of the central principles of the game of golf that players play by the Rules and in the spirit of the game. Rule 1.2 in the Rules of Golf details the conduct that is expected of all players and what is meant by spirit of the game.
Rule 1.2 reads as follows:
“All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by:
Acting with integrity – e.g. by following the Rules, applying all penalties, and being honest in all aspects of play.
Showing consideration to others – e.g. by playing at a prompt pace, looking out for the safety of others, and not distracting the play of another player.
Taking good care of the course – e.g. by replacing divots, smoothing bunkers, repairing ball-marks, and not causing unnecessary damage to the
Etiquette & Pace of Play posters
The rules of golf etiquette: Behaviour on the course
Poster: Care of the course - Putting greens
Poster: Care of the course - Repairing divots and smoothing bunkers
Poster: Care of the course - Golf buggies & carts and rubbish
Poster: Courtesy on the Course
A very important part of etiquette is the care of the golf course. A few moments of courtesy during a round will assist the club significantly in the way of ground staff time and costs, and ensure a more pleasant round for all golfers.
Greens care - Including the repair of pitch marks:
The condition of greens can have a major impact on players’ scores, so careful attention must be given to the putting surface. The most important aspect is the repair of pitch marks - the longer a mark stays unrepaired, the longer it takes to mend. A pitch mark should be repaired as follows:
Commence at the back of the pitch mark and push forward with a pitch mark fork or tee.
Attend to each side of the pitch mark, easing the turf forward to replace the damaged area.
When undertaking the repair, turn the pitch mark fork towards the damaged area.
Do not lift the pitch mark fork or tee upward bringing soil to the surface.
Complete the repair by tapping down with a putter.
Some clubs will require divots to be repaired differently, however at the majority of clubs, sand buckets are available at the starting tees and divots should be repaired as follows:
Use the sand to fill the divot hole (and any others nearby).
Use a foot or a club to level the sand so that a reasonably flat lie remains for following players.
If buckets are not available or you have run out of sand, replace the divot in its hole if it is intact, or otherwise knock in the sides of the divot hole with a club so that a level lie is maintained.
A careless repair may provide an unfair lie for other players, and may also damage course equipment and will result in the divot taking longer to repair.
It is important to leave bunkers in good condition for following players. Bunkers should be smoothed in the following manner:
Enter and leave the bunker from the lowest point.
After playing, smooth the area and any footprints using a rake, if available.
If a rake is not available, glide a shoe is a half circular motion until the area is smooth.
After use, return the rake in accordance with club policy (either in the bunker or outside the bunker ) in the direction of play.
Do not place the rake against the inside edge of the bunker as this may cause difficult lies for others and potentially awkward rules situations.
Golf carts can be damaging to the course if not used carefully:
Keep away from green surrounds and teeing grounds.
Do not drive through damaged or wet areas.
Drive only where directed.
Check with the Pro Shop regarding any other course rules.
Safety and consideration are commonsense, but take note of the following:
Before playing a stroke or taking a practice swing, always ensure that no-one is in your line of play or near your swing path.
If your ball is headed towards someone else, shout “FORE”, golf’s universal warning, as loudly as possible.
When grounds staff are working ahead, wait until they acknowledge your intentions before hitting towards them.
Try not to move, talk or create any disturbance or noise while another person is about to play.
Ensure mobile phones or pagers are turned off, or on silent.
Do not stand close to or directly behind the ball, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to play.
Be careful not to stand on or damage other players’ lines of putt and that your shadow does not distract others.
Remain near the putting green until all players in your group have holed out, unless your group is a long way behind the group in front.
In stroke play, confirm the score of the player for whom you are marking on the way to the next tee.
Those involved in the game of golf may have differing views on what constitutes an acceptable pace of play, but there is no doubt that slow play can detract from the enjoyment of the game for many golfers. If a golf club or facility has identified that it has issues with pace of play, it is The R&A’s strongly held view that there are solutions available that can improve the situation. With this in mind, The R&A has produced a Pace of Play Manual that pulls together a wide range of potential solutions. It may be that one single change in procedure does not, of itself, bring about huge change. However, introducing a number of the initiatives offered in the Manual, and staying committed to those initiatives, can and will make a difference.
Read more on the Pace of Play on the R&A website.
What Influences Pace of Play?
There are three factors which influence the Pace of Play:
The management of play
The course design and set-up
Explore the panels opposite to find out more information on each of the topics.
Before embarking on any attempts to improve pace of play, it is best to assess whether there is a widespread view among users of the facility that there is an issue with pace of play. The Pace of Play Manual provides guidance on simple methods of data gathering.
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