An Easy Guide to Life on the Green

By Deb Vangellow –

Golf can be an intimidating sport to some, perhaps because of its stricter dress code and plethora of rules.  However, it’s easy to become knowledgeable about the rules, social behavior and etiquette to life on the green.  Understanding the following will help you to become an educated, courteous and enjoyable fellow competitor.

The Invitation: Call the Golf Shop for the Following Information

  • Starting time
  • Club and course policies
  • Dress code for golf and dining
  • Directions
  • Locker room availability
  • Establish location and time to meet.

Dollars and Sense

  • If you plan on paying for everyone, arrive early.
  • Bring enough cash or have a check/credit card to pay for your round and incidentals. Many private clubs do not accept cash, and many public courses may accept cash only, so be prepared to write your host/hostess a check if necessary.
  • Make sure you have enough singles to tip bag handlers and locker room attendants.  Caddies also require a tip at the end of the round. Check with the golf shop for the appropriate amount.


  • Punctuality is key. Arrive at the course well in advance of your tee time.
  • Register in the golf shop.

On the First Tee

  • Your tee time is the time the first player in your group tees off.
  • Make sure you have all essential supplies: scorecard, pencil, tees, golf balls.
  • Oftentimes, there will be a starter at the first tee to advise when it is appropriate to tee off.

Order, Pace and Safety of Play

  • On the first tee: the first hitter is decided by players in the group.
  • On the fairway and green: the person farthest from the hole hits first and so on.
  • On the tees of remaining holes: the player with the lowest score from the previous hole hits first and so on.

On the Green

  • Farthest from the hole goes first.
  • Closest to the hole tends the flag for other players upon request.
  • Mark your golf ball.
  • Avoid stepping on the line of another player’s putt.
  • Line is defined as the area between the ball and the hole.
  • Stand where you will be the least noticeable. Make sure your shadow does not interfere with any putt.
  • Be quiet, and do not move during all putts.
  • First player to roll the ball into the hole is in charge of the flagstick.
  • Replace it after all players have holed out.
  • Repair your ball mark.
  • Avoid stepping on the hole or digging the ball out of the cup with your putter. It ruins the hole.
  • Once everyone has holed out, move quickly off the green. Keep an eye out for clubs left greenside.
  • Record your scores on the way to the next hole.

On the Tee and Fairway

  • Be ready to hit.
  • Avoid taking numerous practice swings.
  • Stay quiet on the tees, and refrain from talking and moving while others are hitting on the fairway.
  • Pay attention to other player’s shots. It creates a friendly atmosphere by complimenting good shots and helping to locate errant ones.
  • Farthest from the hole hits first.
  • Decide on yardage and club selection quickly.  Avoid waiting until it’s your turn to begin the process. In most cases you can decide while you wait.
  • Take care of all divots.


  • Different courses have different policies.
  • Obey all cart rules and follow all cart signs.
  • Determine if you can drive the cart on the course or if you must remain on the cart path.
  • Keep all carts behind all players and well clear of all tees, greens, bunkers and other hazards.
  • Never leave the carts in front of the green. Park carts behind the green in the direction of the next tee.
  • Be aware of others hitting. Stop and let them hit.

In the Woods, Water or  Other Undesirable Locations

  • Take another ball with you to drop.
  • Avoid looking for a ball longer than two minutes.
  • Help look for lost balls.
  • Resist hitting impossible shots.
  • Rake bunkers.

Common Corporate Golf Games

  • Scramble:  All players tee off and then each player in the group hits from the location of the best shot.
  • Best Ball: Each player plays their own ball throughout the round, and the best score of the group on each hole is recorded as the team score.

Appropriate Attire and Essentials

  • Best bet is to dress conservatively.
  • Golf is a game of great tradition and dress is an integral part, so many courses have specific dress codes.  Generally:
  • Appropriate:  collared shirts, slacks, Bermuda length shorts, golf shoes with soft-spikes, sweaters, vests.
  • Inappropriate: denim, short shorts, tank tops, tennis attire, non-golf shoes, lycra, gym shorts, sweats, jogging outfits.
  • Select golf clubs (with the help of your PGA or LPGA Professionals) that are right for you.  You will typically have a maximum of 14 clubs:  Four woods with headcovers, nine irons and a putter, but you can play with less!  The lower the number on the club, the lower and farther you will hit the ball. The higher numbered clubs will create higher trajectory and shorter distance.
  • Other items you should carry in your golf bag include glove, tees, divot repair tool, golf balls, towel, sunscreen, bug repellant, hat or visor, rain jacket, aspirin, Band-Aids and an umbrella.


  • Birdie: A score of one shot under par for the hole.
  • Bite: Quick stopping action of the ball on a green.
  • Bogey:  A score of one shot over par for the hole.
  • Bunker:  A prepared area of ground filled with sand.
  • Eagle:  A score of two under par for the hole.
  • Fat: Striking the ground with your club before you hit the ball.
  • Fore: A cry of warning issued when it appears that a struck ball could be a danger to another individual.
  • Gimme: Your opponent concedes a putt. The stroke must still be counted even though not executed.
  • Gross:  The actual number of strokes taken in a round.
  • Handicap: An equalizing system, which allows players of varying skills to compete with each other.
  • Hazard: An area filled with sand or water.
  • Hook: For a right handed player, a ball that curves from right to left.
  • Index:  A number indicative of a player’s skill level. It is used to compute the player’s handicap on a specific course.
  • Marker:  An object used to identify the precise location of a ball on the putting green.
  • Mulligan: In friendly matches, a player may have an opportunity to re-hit a shot.
  • 19th Hole:  An idiom for a place to convene after a round of golf.
  • OB: Out of bounds.
  • Par: The score you should make allowing two strokes on the putting green.
  • Slice:  For a right handed player, a ball that curves left to right.
  • Thin: When a club strikes only the top portion of the ball, causing lower than desired trajectory.
  • Trajectory: The loft and flight pattern of the ball.
  • Whiff:  A stroke that completely misses the ball but must be counted towards your score.

Refer to this guide for all of your golfing needs, and your next golfing experience is sure to be a hole-in-one!