Etiquette – Course
Golf carts are considered a convenience, a luxury even, and should not be used to annoy or distract other players. The cart should be parked on the cart path when at the tee box or putting green. Carts should normally stay only on the paths, and are required to do so on many courses. When a golfer gets out to walk to the ball, they should take a few extra clubs along to save an extra trip should a different club be needed, thereby keeping the pace of play moving along.
Should carts be permitted off the paths, golfers should observe the “90 degree rule”: make a 90 degree turn off the path towards the fairway to a given ball, and return straight back to the path, not along the path of greatest convenience. Carts inflict wear and tear on the course, and can be accidentally driven over another player’s ball. Golfers should keep the noise of backing up to a minimum and must always set the brake when leaving the cart.
Moderate speed should be maintained when driving a golf cart. Experienced drivers are the best choice to drive a cart first; more inexperienced drivers should observe before attempting to drive. Drivers should remain alert for other people or structures, and should observe signs or lines indicating areas that are not to be crossed by a golf cart.
Divots are part of the game, and should always be repaired to keep the game enjoyable for all those playing the course. A golfer should have buckets of sand used for repairing divots. A suggestion is that golfers should carry a divot tool to help fit the new sand in. Regardless, golfers should fix any damage inflicted on the course.
A ball hitting the green often leaves an indentation, a pitch mark, where it strikes the ground. These need to be repaired to keep the green in good condition. After golfers have arrived at the green, they should make a point to find pitch marks and repair them. The process is simple, fast, and painless.
The golfer should insert a turf tool into the ground on the high side of the pitch mark, then press the tool forward to push the soil back into place, not backward. A backward motion pulls the roots loose and further destroys the grass. If needed, the process should be repeated on the other side of the mark, redistributing the soil evenly. The golfer should finish by gently tapping the spot with the putter.
According to the rules of golf, a player is not allowed to “ground” the club in any type of hazard. This means that a player getting ready for a shot cannot allow the club to touch the ground, sand, water, or anything else during a practice swing. A player is allowed to thrash as much sand, water, etc., as necessary during the actual shot.
A player should always enter and leave a bunker from the low side. After the shot, a player should rake the sand smooth again to leave a fresh surface for other players. Normally, the rake should be replaced alongside the bunker, not inside it.
An important rule is that loose impediments inside hazards cannot be touched or removed. Sticks, grass, leaves and the like must remain. Rakes and debris such as cigarette butts or beer cans are considered movable obstructions and can be removed. Should the ball have landed in casual water within a bunker, a player is permitted to move the ball to a dry area of the bunker, provided it is not moved closer to the hole.
A golfer should always be aware of their pace of play. In informal play, if a golfer has attempted two or three times to get the ball out of the sand and failed, they should surrender to the hazard. The golfer should pick up the ball and drop it outside the bunker for further play. While not allowed under tournament conditions, this will help move the game along in informal play.