Josh’s Tips & Tricks: Etiquette to Help Save Time

Golf | 16 March, 2022


Welcome golfers to this weeks tips & tricks. I would like to move away from the technical stuff this week and look at how you can manage your game by not even hitting a ball. We are going to look at some etiquette and ways to speed you up so you’re not worrying about the group behind you. We all know what it’s like when you have hit a few bad shots and you need to look for your ball. All of a sudden the group behind are stood on the tee waiting and putting pressure on you to speed up. There are ways that you and your playing partners can help prevent this from happening.

Arrive Early

It’s not always easy and life does get in the way sometimes but try your best to arrive at the course early. I always try to arrive at least an hour before my tee time. This gives time to sign in, warm up, prepare equipment, chat with your pals, and even get a coffee and bacon roll to go. If you get stuck in traffic or have to turn back because you forgot something let your partners know so they can possibly let the group behind go first.

Ready golf

Gone are the days of playing in an order off the tee from the previous hole. In “proper” golf the player with the best score on the previous hole gets the “honour” for the next tee. Ready golf is the way forward. If you’re ready to play your shot just go. Make sure you agree this with your playing partners at the start of the round but just carry on when you’re ready. On the fairway the same can be applied. The person furthest away from the hole should play first. If you’re not but you check with your partners and they’re ok with it you can carry on.

Putting is slightly different because you want to avoid standing on the line of peoples putts. Try to avoid standing on where someone’s ball will roll but have a look at your putt and be ready to go when it’s your turn. Don’t stand there chatting and then when it’s your turn take 5 minutes to make practice strokes and look at the break.

Provisional Ball

One of the most painful experiences in golf (other than being hit with a ball) is having to walk back to replay the shot after a lost ball. Hit a provisional ball. If you’re not certain on your ball being found take a provisional, it takes about a minute and saves a long 10 minute walk back. Looking for your ball should last 3 minutes maximum. Most people wear smart watches or GPS watches with a clock or stopwatch. Use it. As soon as 3 minutes has passed tell your playing partners time is up and move on. In a stableford mark it as no score and move on to the next hole. Keep track of your shots and be aware in a stableford when you have blobbed the hole. There is no point in finishing the hole (no pun intended) when you can’t score any points, you’re wasting time.


Develop a practice swing routine on the driving range and take it onto the course. My pre shot routine last between 30 seconds to a minute so each shot takes roughly that amount of time. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the first or last tee, it’s always pretty much the same. Don’t take 10 practice swings on one hole and then none on the next. This is not good for your confidence and doesn’t promote consistency. I take about two practice swings before each shot and that works for me.

Card Marking

Marking a scorecard can be daunting. Keeping track of someone else’s score as well as your own can be tough, especially if one of you (or both) are having a bad day. Try to keep track of each shot and then record it before the next hole. The best time to do it is on the next tee box. It is very frustrating watching the group in front all stand on the green counting up the score. Get off the green so the group behind can play and while others are teeing off write the scores down.

Bag Placement

This is one of the most simple and time effective tips. When you approach the green be mindful of where the next tee is. Place your bag off the green and towards the next tee box. This means when you walk off the green you’re already heading in that direction. This will give you more time on the green to look at your putt and more time on the next tee to get ready and mark the score. If you place your bag the wrong side you have to walk twice as far taking twice as long.

Social golf

Most of us enjoy just playing social golf. Therefore make golf as fun as possible. You don’t have to play by every proper rule, you don’t have to keep score properly, you don’t have to finish every hole. Find a way to enjoy yourself because that’s usually when we play our best (and fastest) golf. Obviously in competitions it could take longer and the rules of golf apply.


Golf is hard. Golf can also be very time consuming. If can be frustrating but we love it and keep coming back for more. Having good etiquette on the course makes the game more enjoyable for you and your playing partners. It comes down to experience and just using your brain to think just a little bit. Having good etiquette and using your brain can save you time meaning you have longer to think about and play your own shot.

Trust your routine for every shot for more consistency and don’t panic. If you have to let a group behind you play through then please do. If you can’t keep up with the group in front or the group behind is smaller and quicker let them play through. You are better off letting them through than you are worrying about them on every hole.

This only just scratches the surface when it comes to behaviour and saving time on the course. The more you play the better you should get. If you’re new to the game don’t be scared or put off if it seems scary or someone put you off. There are some idiots out there but it’s supposed to be fun!

If you would like any advice on rules, etiquette or behaviour on the golf course don’t be afraid to grab me and ask.