Did you know that the USGA has 34 official rules of golf, plus four appendices? As if that wasn’t enough, each rule has various sections, subsections, and explanatory decisions to go with it! Just flipping through the rule book can be an overwhelming experience. But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to these written rules, there are a ton of unwritten ones. Yup, everything you need to know about golf can’t be found in a book.
When I went out for my first round of golf, I accompanied my husband, who is a seasoned golfer. I was only at the first green when he told me I was breaking at least two of these unwritten rules. Great. Not only do I have to worry about my swing, which club to use, and the huge book of written rules, I have all of these unofficial ones to think about as well! Did I mention this sport has a long learning curve?
Bre and I are still relatively new to the game of golf, and we understand how difficult and intimidating it can be. That’s why we love to share with you what we’ve learned along the way. By doing so, we hope to save you the embarrassment and angst we’ve experienced in our golfing journey. Previously, we’ve shared the basic rules of golf, how to speed up your golf game, and how you can get started in the sport. Today, I’m adding to our list and providing you with my top five unwritten golf rules.
1. watch the ball
Not just yours, your playing partners’ as well. It’s always useful to have more than one set of eyes on a ball’s trajectory as you can save a lot of time by not having to search for a missing ball! While this isn’t always possible out on the fairway, it’s common golf courtesy to do so at the tee box.
2. don’t give advice
This is something I learned very early on. While the fundamentals of a golf swing are basic, every person has a unique swing and approach to the game. What you’ve been taught will not necessarily work for your friend. Different heights, musculature, physical limitations, whatever, can change how you swing. Keep your thoughts to yourself. If a friend asks for help, give them a few basic tips and suggest they take a private lesson.
3. mind your shadow
When you’re on the green, make sure you’re not casting a shadow on any one else’s line while they’re trying to putt. This was one of those mistakes I made during my first round of golf.
4. flag in or out?
This was the second mistake I made. If someone is just off the green, do not remove the flag from the hole. This also holds true if someone has a long putt. Never automatically assume they want the flag taken out. Simply ask them if they do. The correct reference is to “tend the pin.” This means you leave the flag in until they have made their shot and the ball is on the way to the hole.
5. collect lost items
Every now and then you’ll come across a lost club cover or even a forgotten golf club (it seems it’s almost always a wedge). Pick it up and return it to the clubhouse the first chance you get. Trust me, this will happen to you one day, so pay it forward in advance.
While those are my top five unwritten golf rules, there are a bunch more. If you want to read up, the PGA has a fantastic list, which you can find here.
Have you ever left a club out on the course?
Did you know these rules before your first golf game?