Top 10 Unwritten Rules About Golf

Golf has so many written rules it would take a stenographer to list them, and a warehouse to store them. However, like life itself, the unwritten rules are usually most important. These rules are unwritten because they are both common sense and courtesy. Unfortunately, many people seem to lack one or the other, so here are the top-ten unwritten golf rules, now written, for those who need them.


Many new people to golf believe this to be a golf cliché. It is not. The word has been shortened from, “Forecaddie.” This was the caddy who stood around where the ball was expected to land. “Forecaddie!” was shouted to alert him that the ball was coming. Any player who fears their ball may hit somebody owes it to that person to shout this word.

Temper, Temper, Temper

Good behavior is expected from people whether they are in line at a grocery store, or 10-putting the eighteenth hole. Keeping one's temper will also shave strokes off their score. In 1938, at the US Open at Cherry Hill, Ray Ainsley lost his temper when his ball landed in a creek. Instead of taking a drop and moving on, the enraged Ainsley tried to hack it out of the creek. Onlookers that day said he looked like a madman. His 19 strokes on the 18th that day remain a record for a major golf tournament.

Go Around

Too often, new golfers make the mistake of walking across the path of the putt someone is about to make. The spikes on the golf shoes may alter the green enough to impede an otherwise good putt. Anyone who walks in the direct path of a putt may as well just yell, “Miss it!”

Bunker Raking

In addition to being a great bit of alliteration that is fun to say, bunker raking is an important task as well. Nobody wants their ball landing in the moon crater that another player dug by swinging their way out of it. Any player who has disturbed a sand trap sufficiently, should neaten it up a bit.

More Yard Work

People golf to get away from life's mundane tasks. However, people who take chunks of turf out of the course are expected to replace those divots.

The Long Goodbye

Unless there are cameras crowding the 18th hole and the name of the course is Augusta, players should not linger after they finish the hole. They should save their congratulations, hugs, water drinking, and rehashing of the match for when they exit the green. People are still waiting to play.


People who are about to shoot have a busy mind. They are telling themselves to relax, asking themselves if their approach is right, to tighten up, to keep their head down, to make sure their back swing is smooth, not to swing too hard, not to move their head—they don't need to hear somebody talking about getting smashed after the game. The other players need to be quiet while a player is preparing to swing.

Hold That Pose

As with talking during a swing, players should hold still while someone in their group is about to swing. The other players don't necessarily have to look like players in a game of Freeze Tag, but they shouldn't be texting, or suddenly deciding they need to stretch or start scratching their numerous mosquito bites.

Dress For Respect

Why, when you see someone dressed like a homeless person, do you assume they are homeless? Probably, because they are homeless. If you were to see a person barking at cars, the odds are that person would be dressed in Hefty Bags and stained bell-bottoms. You probably would not find such a person on the golf course. While golf can make you barking mad, you should respect the course, your partners, and yourself. Also, it is embarrassing when someone in a group that is playing through mistakes you for a panhandler and tries to hand you a dollar "for a cup of coffee or something."

Cell Phones

The only thing more certain than some fool yelling, "Get in the hole!" at a major, is a cell phone going off at your local municipal course while somebody is preparing to shoot. Cell phone junkies will read this and think it does not pertain to them; it does. Turn the phone off, or better yet, leave it in the car.

While most unwritten rules are unwritten because they are mostly common sense, sometimes it doesn't hurt to write them down anyway; ask Moses. The unwritten rules of golf could probably rival the written rules for volume. They need not. People who follow these rules will ensure that golf will be just a bit more enjoyable for all.

By guest blogger; Melinda Bailey is an avid golfer and the Executive Editor of 9 & Dine Women’s Golf Apparel

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