from The Rules of Golf in Plain English
Jeffrey S. Kuhn and Bryan A. Garner
1. be courteous on the course.
(A) The Spirit of the Game. Golf is almost always played without a referee or umpire, so it’s up to the players to make the game fair and enjoyable for everyone. Be courteous and show consideration for other players. Play by the rules, no matter how high or low the stakes are. This is the spirit of golf.
(B) Safety. Before playing a stroke or making a practice swing, make sure that no one is standing nearby. You shouldn’t risk hitting someone with the club. But more than that, you shouldn’t kick up any stones, pebbles, twigs, or turf that might hit someone. If you see golf-course employees nearby or ahead of you, warn them before the stroke. And if you hit the ball and then realize that it might strike someone, immediately shout “Fore!”
(C) Consideration. Three points. First, whoever has the honor should be allowed to play before anyone else. On the teeing ground, don’t tee your ball before it’s your turn to play. Second, never move, talk, make unnecessary noise, or stand close to or directly behind someone who’s addressing the ball or making a stroke. If you have an electronic device of any kind with you, turn it off or set it to alert you silently. And on the putting green, never cast a shadow on or stand in another player’s line of putt. Third, never play until the players in front of you are out of range.
(D) Scoring. In stroke play, if you’re the one keeping score, make sure you record each player’s score correctly before you get to the next tee.
(E) Pace of Play. Play without delay. It’s in everyone’s interest. If you believe your ball may be lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds, play a provisional ball to save time. (For the correct procedure, see Rule 27.2.) If you’re searching for a ball, signal the players behind you to pass as soon as it becomes apparent that the ball won’t easily be found. Don’t search for five minutes before doing this. And then, when a group is playing through, wait until those players are out of range before continuing to play. When you’ve finished playing a hole, leave the putting green immediately. If your group ever fails to keep its place on the course and loses more than one clear hole on the players in front, invite the group following you to play through. The Committee may establish pace-of-play guidelines for players to follow.
2. understand priority on the course.
In the absence of special rules, a group’s pace of play determines priority. A group playing a whole round gets to play through a group playing a shorter round.
3. take care of the course.
(A) Holes in Bunkers. Before leaving a bunker, carefully fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints—even the ones you didn’t make. If a rake is available, use it.
(B) Divots, Ball-Marks, and Spike Marks. Carefully repair all divots and ball-marks that you make. On the greens, quickly repair any noticeable ball-marks that other groups have made. Once you complete a hole, quickly repair any spike marks left on the green.
(C) Avoiding Damage with a Club. When you take a practice swing—particularly on the tee—avoid making a divot (which damages the course unnecessarily). Never pound the clubhead into the ground.
(D) Damage to Greens. When putting down a bag, be careful not to damage the green or the fringe. When handling the flagstick, don’t damage the hole—as you might through careless mishandling of the flagstick or by standing too close to the hole. When standing on the green, don’t lean on your putter, particularly when you’re removing the ball from the hole. Once you’ve finished the hole, put the flagstick back carefully, in a perfectly upright position.
(E) Golf Carts. Strictly follow all local notices regulating the movement of golf carts.
4. you can be penalized for breaches of etiquette.
(a) Disqualification. Under Rule 33.1(B), the Committee may disqualify a player who commits a serious breach of etiquette.
(b) Ban from Playing. If you continually ignore these etiquette guidelines, you may (among other penalties) be barred from playing on the course for a certain period or from participating in a set number of tournaments.