Golf Australia

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.

Repairing divots:

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.

Smoothing bunkers:

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:

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.

Join our newsletter

Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions!

Golf Australia NEW LOGO White Mono_logo
Join our newsletter

Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions!