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Etiquette is “the customary code of polite behaviour in a society”, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary. Golf has a great reputation for the good behaviour and manners of its players who, in general, respect others. A simple set of manners is adopted so that everyone can enjoy themselves without harming or disrupting other players. This week’s article looks at some do’s and don’ts.

Enjoy the game but do not disturb others is a good starting point. Keep your voice down and don’t make too much noise – it is amazing how far your voice travels when outdoors. It can also be very difficult to concentrate on your shot if a person nearby is moving while you are playing, so stay still while other players are hitting their shots. The best place to stand when others are playing is shown in the picture.

On the first hole, it is normal that the player with the lowest handicap plays off first – this is called being given the honour. After the first hole has been completed, the honour will be given to the player who scored the lowest on the previous hole, the second lowest score will play second and so on. During the play of a hole, it is normal that the player whose ball is furthest from the hole plays first.

Care of the golf course is also important and golfers should take responsibility while playing. Often when playing a shot, you hit the ground and take out a piece of grass – this is called a divot. If you replace it back in the mark, then the grass will normally grow back in just a few days.

Likewise, when a ball lands on the green, it often makes a small depression, which should be repaired to preserve the quality of the green. Unfortunately, your ball sometimes finishes in a bunker, which you should enter from the nearest point, but not from the front of the bunker. After playing your shot, you should use a rake to smooth out all the marks that you have made, including footmarks and where you played your shot from.

In the hole, there is the flagstick; this helps you to see where the hole is from a long distance away. When putting on the green, you must make sure that you don’t hit the flagstick with your ball, because this is against the rules. So, if your partner is far from the hole, you can attend to the flag. This means holding the flag while they putt, but once they have hit the ball and before it reaches the hole, you must take the flag out. When you take the flag from the hole, you should place it on the ground, away from the hole and remember never to drop the flagstick onto the green.

Golf should be played calmly but not at a slow pace. Due to the surroundings, it is easy to take too long to play, but remember that there are others on the golf course and you shouldn’t make them wait. If you find that the group behind is playing much faster than your group, then allow them to play through. To do this, you should wave your arm over your head and then stand to one side while they play, making sure that you stand in a safe place. Here are some points to help you play golf a little faster:

• Be ready to hit when it is your turn to play.

• Walk without delay between shots, but never run!

• After playing onto the green, place your bag at the side of the green nearest to the next tee.

• Mark your card as you walk to the next tee.

If you observe these do’s and don’ts, then you will be welcome to play at almost any golf course. Some courses have handicap restrictions, which are designed to ensure the quality of play and it is this subject that we will now focus on over the next few weeks. The next set of articles is aimed at helping you understand some fundamentals of swinging a golf club and making the ball fly in the general direction of the target.

• GOLF is written by Tony Bennett, head coach of Bennett’s Golf Learning Centres (BGLC) located in Alto Golf (Alvor), Quinta da Ria (Tavira), Montado (Palmela) and Santa da Serra (Madeira). For more information, advice on a specific point or general enquiry, write to [email protected], visit or call 932 524 253.