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Proper Etiquette on a Golf Green

Golf is called The Gentlemen’s Game for a reason. In addition to standard courtesy there are also specific rules that you should follow on and around the putting green.
Putting Green Etiquette

Golf is a game of precision, skill, and tradition. And just like any other sport, it comes with its own set of rules and etiquettes. As a golfer, it’s not just about hitting the perfect shot or sinking the perfect putt, it’s also about respecting the game, the course and your playing partners. 

Why is Proper Etiquette Important on a Golf Green?

Proper etiquette on a golf green is important when it comes to sportsmanship with your playing partners. A golfer should be extra focused on the green where precision is key to putt the ball into a small hole in the ground. So the last thing you want to do is become a distraction to your playing partners. You don’t want to be the guy no one wants to play with because you come off as either rude or ignorant about the proper etiquette in golf. I go into more detail about each of these etiquette rules further below.

Proper etiquette also helps to maintain the condition of the golf course. Golf courses require a lot of maintenance and care, and any damage caused to the greens by players can be expensive and timely to repair. Something as simple as not fixing your ball mark on a green can take up to two weeks to repair itself on its own. Leave the greens as good if not better than when you first step on it. My brother and I make a habit of fixing almost every ball mark we walk past on the green (if time allows for it). 

The Dos and Don’ts of Proper Etiquette on a Golf Green

Do Repair Your Ball Marks

One of the most important things to do when on a golf green is to repair your ball marks. A ball mark is the indentation that the ball makes when it lands on the green. Repairing your ball marks is important because it helps to maintain the condition of the green. Failure to repair your ball marks can result in the green becoming uneven and bumpy, which can make putting difficult for everyone else.  A ball mark fixed within the day and fixed properly can make it look like that the mark never happened.  If not fixed properly, it can take several weeks to heal at best. 

Don’t Walk on Other Players’ Putting Lines

When you are on the golf green, be careful not to walk on other players’ putting lines. A putting line is the line between the ball and the hole that the player uses to line up their putt. When you walk on the green, your weight can leave a footprint that can affect the grass and ground beneath for a short time… time enough to alter the roll of the ball from their putt. Walking on someone’s putting line is one of the rudest things you can do in golf.

Be sure to also factor in any possible breaks in their putt. Sometimes Point A to Point B isn’t a straight line, so best to walk in a big arc around their putting line if you’re unsure. 

Stand Still and Out of Sight When Others are Putting

When other players are putting, it is important to stand still and be quiet. Any movement or noise can be distracting to the player who is putting, and can cause them to miss their shot.  Be considerate on where you stand as well.  Not too close and not on the same line of the person putting either it be behind or the other side of the line. Wait until the player has completed their putt before moving or talking. In fact, you should try to be still when your playing partners are about to hit, whether on the fairway or on the green.

Don’t Leave Your Bag on the Green or Crossover with your Pull Cart

Leaving your golf bag on the green is a big no-no. Not only is it disrespectful to the game and the course, but it can also damage the green. The weight of the bag can cause the green to become uneven or the legs from a stand can puncture the green surface.  You can also leave tire marks on the putting surface if you decide to take a shortcut rather than walking around the greens. 

Don’t Take Your Anger Out on the Green

Putting is hard – I get it. But the most common display of anger on the green is when someone slams their putter head into the green after a missed putt. Don’t do it, it’s not classy and you’ll lose a lot of respect from your playing partners. Keep your cool, everybody misses putts. 

Also, make sure to lift your putter off the green when walking to your ball, as dragging it along the surface can cause damage.

Don’t Stand Too Close to the Hole

When other players are putting, make sure not to stand too close to the hole. Standing too close can be distracting to the player and can also prevent them from taking their normal putting stance. As a general rule, stay at least a few feet away from the hole while other players are putting.

Ask your Partners when to Leave the Flagstick In or Out when it is their Turn

Not many players “attend” the flag any longer since the change in rules that no longer makes it a penalty to hit a flagstick with the ball on a putt. flagstick rule change in 2019. Many players leave it alone for longer putts who can’t see the hole but many take them out for reasons of the ball possibly bouncing off the flagstick and not going into the hole. 

Do Congratulate Your Playing Partners on Good Putts

Whether a non-competitive match or a match play, always congratulate your partner on a great putt. It’s a classy gesture that sportsmanship is more important than winning or losing. 

Proper etiquette on the golf green is an important part of the game of golf. By following these simple dos and don’ts, players can demonstrate a gentlemanly understanding of the game, respect for your playing partners, and help maintain the condition of the course. Be a player that others would love to play with in future outings. 

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V Tongwarin

V Tongwarin

Visanu Tongwarin or “Coach V” is a Class A PGA Teaching Professional at Legacy Ridge Golf Course and Walnut Creek Golf Preserve in Westminster, Colorado. V's brings his passion for teaching the game of golf to all levels of golfers from running children clinics to training state champions and seasoned professionals.