The first rules of golf were first established in 1744 by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG), originally named the Company of Gentlemen Golfers.

The R&A and the USGA have worked together since 1952 to produce a common set of rules for golfers worldwide called the “Rules of Golf.” The rules are revised every four years, allowing for adaptation with modern times.

Golf etiquette is a central part of the rules of golf as well as the game of golf. Etiquette is important for safety reasons, the flow of play, course upkeep and the game in general. Those interested in learning to play golf will need to learn the golf rules and etiquette in conjunction with any physical or technical learning.

Safety

The nature of golf, with swinging clubs and flying hard balls, makes players susceptible to risks. It is for that reason that safety concerns are a primary factor in golf etiquette:

  • Do not swing your club unless others in your group are at a safe distance, and when practising a swing, do not swing in the direction of a player;
  • Do not stand near others who are swinging;
  • Do not hit a ball unless you are sure the group ahead of you is out of range. If your ball may be heading towards another person, shout “Fore!”;
  • Beware of lightning – golf courses are a haven for lightning strikes. At the first sign of a thunderstorm, immediately head for cover. Remember, golf courses are large and it may take you a while to get to safety.

Pace

Slow play can be one of the most irritating issues for any golfer. It is for that reason rules have developed to keep the pace of a game moving:

  • When it is your turn, be ready to hit your shot straight away. Do not keep other players in your group or groups behind you waiting unnecessarily;
  • If you lost a ball, do not spend a lot of time trying to find it. The rules allocate 5 minutes for looking for a lost ball, but if there is a group behind you, etiquette provides that you should let them ahead of you;
  • If you are driving a cart, take a number of clubs with you to avoid going back and forth to your cart.

General etiquette

  • Never throw clubs in anger. This is frowned upon and not in keeping with the gentlemanly sport;
  • Repair divots you make on a fairway, marks you make on a green, and rake sand in a bunker;
  • Never talk during a back swing.

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