The 35 rudest things you should never do on the golf course

Time to brush up on your etiquette.

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The golf season is coming up, so what better time to brush up on your etiquette?

But rather than get lost in the weeds of all the things you should do, why not start by underlining the things you absolutely shouldn’t do? For that, we turned to the members of our How To Hit Every Shot Facebook group (which you can join for free right here) and asked them for the rudest, most annoying things golfers do on the course. They didn’t hold back.

1. ‘Driving the cart ahead of the group’

I get why people would hate this, especially if the cart is in an area where you might have to worry about hitting it. You’re not saving much time from doing it, either. More often than not, you’re actually slowing things down while being rude.

2. ‘Taking calls on the course’

If you’re going to do it, ask in advance, pick up your ball, and excuse yourself to a remote location. It may sound excessive, but remember most people play golf to get away from their phone. Be mindful of that.

3. ‘Order way too many drinks’

We’re all for having fun, but be wary of getting boorish — especially around a fancy club.

4. ‘Get mad about their game’

I get this one. Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s just game, have fun with it.

5. ‘Standing over the ball too long’

Standing over the ball doesn’t even help you. Give yourself about five seconds, and go.

6. ‘Talk too much’

File this one under basic social skills. Don’t talk about yourself all the time, ask questions, and give everyone else some occasional space.

7. ‘Drives their cart too close to your ball’

As far as I’m concerned, every ball has a 10-yard no-carts zone, minimum, around it. Don’t ever enter it.

8. ‘Unsolicited swing advice’

If you’re going to do it, do it right.

9. ‘Writing the score down in the cart, not on the next tee’

This seems like small potatoes to me, but I suppose I understand it. The goal is to clear the green entirely so others can hit up.

10. ‘Too many practice swings’

You really don’t need more than one or two, anyway. Just hit the ball.

11. ‘Cheating’

This one came up a lot, and for good reason. Again, it’s a game: What’s the point of playing if you’re going to cheat at it?

12. ‘Bring spectators to watch’

Specifically, family members, the commentator said. I think this is only a problem if you don’t ask your playing partners if they’re OK with it first. Remember, a round of golf is a shared activity.

13. ‘Walking in your line’

This is, without doubt, my biggest pet peeve. I get genuinely annoyed by it. Don’t walk in my line — it’s super inconsiderate.

14. ‘Complaining after every bad shot’

Like your fantasy football team, we don’t actually care that much about it.

15. ‘Stand behind you on the tee box’

Stay out of people’s periphery vision, especially if you’re fidgety.

16. ‘Knows your score on the bad holes’

Don’t be an accountant out there, especially after someone clearly just had a bad hole. They don’t need reminding of it.

17. ‘Don’t show up and have the courtesy to inform you’

Do people actually do this? If you’re going to ditch, at least have the courtesy of letting them know you’re ditching.

18. ‘Complain after good shots’

No matter who you are, you’re not good enough to do this. Trust us.

19. ‘Trolling for golf balls’

Do it on your own time.

20. ‘Playing music on the course’

Personally, I’m not a music-listener on the course, but if somebody is, I’m not going to stop them. Just remember: It’s a bit rude to not ask your playing partners first.

21. ‘Blabbing when it’s my turn’

This is basically rule No. 1 of golf etiquette.

22. ‘Hitting my ball’

I have a friend who is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, who turns into a scary monster when somebody hits his ball. So many golfers really hate when you do this, and for good reason, so take an extra few seconds and check the ball you’re about to hit.

23. ‘Not ready to go when it’s their turn’

Don’t dilly dally. When it’s your turn to go, get moving.

24. ‘Giving up’

A coworker and I played a match once with somebody who walked off the course after the 10th hole. It was pretty awkward, but also rather satisfying, if I’m being totally honest.

25. ‘Commentating on my shots’

Take it easy, Johnny. Focus on your own ball.

26. ‘Taking honors on the tee box’

Unless playing ready golf has clearly been established, if you have honors, you’ve earned it. You should be able to enjoy it.

27. ‘Standing in your line of sight’

A few steps off to the side makes all the difference.

28. ‘Congratulating someone on making a putt before they do’

Specifically, if the ball ends up missing. Just wait a few extra seconds and save yourself an awkward situation.

29. ‘Don’t let the next group play through’

There’s actually no upside to not letting faster groups play through. Just do it.

30. ‘Eying up putts for too long’

You’re not playing the Masters — and it’s probably not helping you that much anyway.

31. ‘Talking to my golf ball’

Don’t talk to MY golf ball.

32. ‘Making excuses’

Again, nobody particularly cares. It’s just a game, have fun.

33. ‘Spitting sunflower seeds onto the green’

An oddly specific one, but I can see how this would be super annoying, especially to supers.

34. ‘Not fixing ball marks’

Somebody worked hard on that green. Don’t disrespect it like that.

35. ‘Taking a divot on the green’

This is golf’s ultimate cardinal sin, and genuinely not OK. You should get banned for this.


Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.