Heartfelt intention and pure, inner motivation are the golf etiquette pillars that respect the legendary core values and guiding principles of the game and that display how a golfer chooses to “show up” in the world. Playing golf with a golfer who shows respect for the game and walks the talk of course etiquette, while engaging compassionate concern for others, inspires fun, happy golf and awesome learning experiences during a game that is easy and yet hard to play. As His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama offers, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; and if you want yourself to be happy, practice compassion.”


  • Live the spirit of the game with integrity, be courteous and considerate of others, count all strokes and play by the Rules. Unless stated in local rules or agreed to before teeing off on the first tee, players are not allowed to improve the lie of the ball on fairways or in roughs. Each golfer is on his-her honor to include penalties for grounding the club in sand traps and out-of-bounds, accidently moving the ball and hitting another player’s ball on the putting green.
  • Observe golf car movement signs near greens and around the course.

Have Fun

  • Prior to teeing off on the first tee: 1) discuss and agree on any special rules for this game—mulligans, strokes given or received and changing to a clean ball on the putting green; and 2) flip a coin or tee for honors on the first tee. Honors on subsequent tees go to the player with the lowest score on the hole just finished. In the event of a tie, honors revert to the winner of the preceding hole.

Heartfelt Compassion

  • Avoid standing close to or directly behind the ball when a player is about to play; and do not disturb play by fidgeting, moving, talking, or making unnecessary noise. Noisy electronic devices need to be shut off in the parking lot at the golf course.
  • When a player drives a tee shot out-of-bounds, a nice gesture is to invite the player to take a short break, get composed and not play another ball until other players have played. Play safe: warn greens keeping staff who may be in danger and shout “fore” when there is danger of hitting someone. When other golfers are ahead of you wait until they are one full shot ahead before shooting.
  • Do not stand on another player’s line-of-putt or directly behind the hole when he-she is making a stroke. When someone else is putting, other players should stand well out of his-her line-of-putt and field of vision; and these golfers should be aware of where shadows are falling: shadows should not be allowed to cross the putter’s line-of-sight and, if possible, should be kept out of his-her peripheral view.
  • Always enter and leave sand traps on the low side. Rake footprints and sand divots in bunkers. Replace the rake in the bunker on the side away from the pin with the handle to tee.

Show Gratitude

  • Repair divots on tees and in the fairway: a good practice is to use sand-seed mixture to repair divots on tees and fairways.
  • Prevent unnecessary green damage. Do not drag, twist, or scuff your golf shoes; place golf bags on the green; pull golf carts on the green; drive golf cars on the green; stand too close to the hole; use club heads to remove the ball from the hole; or lean on clubs on the green or when removing the ball from the cup. Repair green damage caused by golf shoes or ball marks with either a tee or divot tool. When removing the flag stick, carefully lay the pin on the fringe of the green.


  • The player closest to the pin offers to tend the flagstick for other players as they desire. The player whose ball is furthest from the hole putts or shoots first.
  • On the green, when closer than other golfers, properly mark your ball with a golf ball marker. Players are on their honor to replace marked balls as precisely as possible. Loose impediments can be removed from your putting line; and fixing ball marks and green damage on the line-of-putt are permissible.


  • Wait on the green or green fringe until all players hole out; move away from the green as a group; and record scores on the way to the next hole.

Anger, attachment, envy, pride, and doubt kill good golf shots, create stress for the Self and others, and undermine heartfelt compassion for the Self and others. As we each target for fun and happiness, the mutual challenge is to reduce the impact of destructive potentials and to manifest natural, positive qualities. Hit ‘em high and straight, don’t miss three-foot putts, and count all those strokes. Let us have fun and kindle happiness! Stop what you are doing. Breathe deep. Be. As Sir P. G. Wodehouse offers, “To find a man’s character, play golf with him.”


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