Golf Etiquette: Top 5 Tips for Golfers


The game of golf has a history of excellence and almost fabled nobility. It wasn’t descended from royalty, but that didn’t stop players from exhibiting a regal grace in their style of play and attire. Things have changed over the years, but the game still offers style.


You don’t have to immerse yourself in tradition to enjoy golf but learning rules and etiquette help. You wouldn’t take a cell phone call in the middle of a movie theatre and shout to your friends about it, and you shouldn’t do that on a golf course, either. It’s not under the rules of golf, but it should be. And golf etiquette has as much to do with safety as civility. So, you should shout “fore” if your shot turns towards spectators or other players. It’s a universal warning on the golf course; others will hear you loud and clear because players talk in normal tones.


If you haven’t played recently after taking time away from crowds during covid, you may notice a resurgence in the game. Much of this comes from younger players eager to try their skills learned at places like River’s Edge TopTracer driving range.


Give them a chance to get their feet wet while learning why it’s essential on the course to be quiet during a tee shot or a putt and why staying safe is also essential. Everyone benefits from new experiences, and we can respect each other’s approach to a challenging, exciting game.


There’s also been more 9-hole play from players learning golf and older players getting back into shape. Golf doesn’t always have to be 18-holes.


If you play River’s Edge, Bend’s best golf course, you probably follow most rules of safe golf, but keep reading as we look at the top 5 golf tips that encompass golf etiquette with improved play.


Wear Proper Golf Course Attire


You don’t have to dress like Lord Byron Nelson during his unimaginable success in the 1930s. He played professionally for eleven years and won 52 tournaments in clothes suitable for a formal party. Things change. Nobody expects a suit and tie on the course, but it’s still a public place.


Our first golf etiquette tip is to wear proper golf course attire. If you’re playing at a private country club, check with your sponsor so you’ll feel comfortable. We are distracted when we aren’t comfortable and this doesn’t help our golf game!


Most courses have dropped the need for shirts to be tucked in but wearing a collared golf shirt or polo is still nice. You’ll have to check a course’s dress code to be sure, but a tee shirt style (especially with long sleeves) can inhibit your golf swing. Avoid torn, outlandish tee shirts on the course, the café, and the range. Everyone needs golf shoes, but men don’t always need pants on public courses, just nice (even cargo) shorts.


Ladies tend to show more style on the course. Private clubs usually expect them to wear golf pants, capri pants, skorts, or shorts, with collared V-neck or short-sleeve shirts. Public parks rarely require collared shirts for lady golfers and allow tees and sleeveless shirts.


Professional players still show style with outfits that show respect for the game and a desire to be seen as professional. You can follow their lead if you choose to.


How Early to Arrive Before a Tee Time


There’s an old saying in golf that if you arrive on time, you’re late. Our second etiquette tip for golfers is getting to the tee box (not the parking lot) at least 20 minutes before your tee time. That doesn’t mean you must cool your heels behind three carts queued up at the first tee. But the starter should know you are there, and your cart is loaded and ready to go.


Remember that everyone has a specific tee spot, and changes like adding or dropping a fellow golfer take time. Your tardiness disrupts other players, and most golf courses will call you out if you arrive late, as it impacts everyone.


The best part of being early is that you can stretch and get warmed up. Plus, your scores will be better when you aren’t rushed and can take advantage of the practice facilities. So, get there early, try the putting green, and check how your putts are running based on moisture while testing wind directions.


Golf Cart Etiquette


If you watch social media or YouTube, there are plenty of videos where out-of-control drivers speed through sand traps, spin doughnuts, and sink their carts in water hazards. As funny as the videos might be, the drivers are usually lucky to still be in one piece. And driving in ways that damage the course, the carts, or imperil other players will get you barred from the club!


Golf etiquette tip three is to treat your golf cart and the course respectfully and benefit from proper use. You won’t be able to play if you get hurt driving too fast – especially in wet conditions – or trying to squeeze into places where other players may be exiting their carts. Remember, the carts have four wheels but can tip over when making too sharp a turn, especially when traveling downhill.


While golf cart etiquette tells us to avoid wet spots and damaged areas, you’ll find that following the cart path when possible and sending the playing partner nearest the green and the path rewards well-struck balls and reduces walking distances. Carts can traverse the fairway when necessary (and allowed) to get occupants to their ball. Taking an extra golf club with you when dropped off also speeds up play for everyone.


Always keep carts away from the edges of sand traps (rake bunkers!) and at least 50 yards from the green. Carts are best parked on designated paths, but if you are on the fairway, stay well back of any player waiting to hit. Golf balls are often shanked or sliced nearly sideways and can be dangerous.


Rules for Playing on the Green


Golf etiquette rules are magnified on the putting green, so golf tip number four is to consider the green sacred. Keeping the green in great shape takes effort from the groundskeepers and the players. As mentioned, golf carts must stay clear of the green and fringe. Push carts should not be used there, either. Metal spikes are a thing of the past. So are golf bags and wedges on the greens.


Another change is that you don’t have to remove the pin. You can putt away or have someone attend the pin and remove it before your ball arrives. Your choice. It’s also your choice to show proper respect by giving a player proper etiquette with silence and distance.


You should also avoid walking across their putting line (even in soft tip shoes) or standing in the line of sight behind the hole. You’ll learn much about which way the green breaks and speed by overseeing early putters.


Don’t forget to use a repair tool to fix any pitch marks – ball marks – you see. Golf course etiquette is usually courtesy, like heading directly to the next hole upon finishing your putts.


Pace of Play in Golf


We all have to schedule a time to get in a round of golf, so tip number five is to help everyone finish quicker by maintaining a pace of play in golf that is steady, if not exactly robust. Ideally, your group will stay in sync with the group ahead to avoid gaps and delays. When the group ahead is out of driving distance on a par 4 or 5, it’s time to tee off. Follow ready golf even if it’s slightly out of playing order.


If you get behind a slow group, ask to play through. They may tell you that the group in front of them are slow too, but in most cases, they are cordial.  Just remember to ask when appropriate. If you are part of the slower group, be cordial and wave a faster group through. A hole should be played in 12 to 15 minutes. Slow play kills pace and rhythm. If you are taking practice swings, fretting over distance, and looking for lost balls with players waiting, you are the slow player.


Playing with a steady pace and tempo improves your scores, so be one of the faster players, give up those lost balls quickly, and help everyone get done in less than four and ½ hours.


River’s Edge Golf Course


River’s Edge golf course management is proud to say that golf etiquette and good golf round times are alive and well at Central Oregon’s best golf course. The course is well manicured, sculptured, and ready to challenge your best game.


River’s Edge has some demanding holes but it is a fun and beautiful course to play.  It isn’t too early to think about getting a River’s Edge Annual Golf Pass for 2023.


At the turn or after your round, don’t forget The Edge Bar and Grill has excellent food, drinks, and big screen TV with a deck overlooking the course. You can’t go wrong at River’s Edge.