The Beginner's guide to Golf

For Parents, Caddies, and Spectators new to the game of golf

Welcome! The guide below will give you an introduction to the basics of the game of golf. After reading this guide, you will know how to keep score, what etiquette observers need to follow, and other important information about the game.

The Basics

  • In golf, the goal is to hit a golf ball with one of the clubs in your golf bag with the intention of getting the ball into the hole in the least amount of strokes possible.
  • When playing, every attempt to hit the ball counts towards your score (practice swings do not count towards the score.) At the end of each hole, you must count the total number of attempts (not practice swings) to come up with your score for that particular hole.
    • For example, if you hit the ball 4 times and the ball goes into the hole on your 4th shot, your score for that hole is 4. Alternatively, if you attempt to hit the ball, but miss your shot, then hit the ball 4 more times and it goes into the hole on your 4th stroke, your score for that hole would be 5 (1 missed swing, 4 ball strikes)
  • How to differentiate between practice swings and actual attempts to hit the ball
    • You can tell whether a swing is a practice swing or an actual attempt by looking at the player's set up (where they are standing in relation to the golf ball) If a player is standing facing the ball, with their clubhead next to the golf ball, it is very likely that they are trying to hit the ball on this attempt. On the other hand, if a player is slightly away from the ball and their clubhead is not near the golf ball, then most likely they are performing a practice swing.
    • In the end, it will be up to the player to confirm whether they attempted to hit the ball, or if their swing was just practice. This is where the Core Values of Integrity and Honesty will come into play!

The Scorecard

The scorecard is used to keep track of the score at each hole, but it also provides useful information about the golf course. Take a look at the image below to see what kind of information is displayed, and where to enter information.

  • Most golf courses follow the same general outline on their scorecards; however, their particular design might be different. The areas highlighted in the image above are all that you will need to know for now in order to know how to keep score in golf

Etiquette on the course

In order to allow everyone an equal opportunity to enjoy the golf course and the game of golf, there are some points of etiquette which all players and observers should know:

  • Keep a good pace of play
    • Each hole on the golf course should take approximately 15 minutes to complete from tee box to putting green.
    • Players should plan their shots as they walk up to their ball, carry one or two clubs with them to avoid walking back and forth to the golf bag and walk diligently to their ball without undue delay
  • Play ready golf
    • In our Tournament Series, we encourage juniors to play ready golf. This means that whichever player is ready to hit the ball can and should take their turn as long as it is safe to do so.
  • Remain quiet when players are hitting or about to hit the ball
  • Walk off the putting green as soon as the hole has been completed and proceed to the next hole, instead of remaining on the putting green keeping score or otherwise delaying play
  • Never run on the putting greens as they can make unnecessary dips in the ground that can interfere with player's putts
  • Show good sportsmanship at all times, congratulate good shots, encourage players in case of not-so-great shots, NEVER get upset with other players, or caddies. This applies to players, caddies, parents, and any other observers, we're all out there to have fun!
  • Shake hands, offer good wishes before and congratulations after the round.

Golf Cart Information & Etiquette tips

  • In order to drive a golf cart, golf courses require drivers to be over 18 years old and have a valid driver's license
  • Kids should never drive a golf cart!
  • On some days, weather conditions may dictate that golf carts remain on the cart paths for the entirety of the round. This is to protect the golf course areas from damage. When weather is favorable, or if the golf course allows, carts may be driven on the grass. Check with the golf course to find out whether the course is cart-path only.
  • Golf carts should never be driven on the putting green. In general, return the golf cart to the cart path when you are within 60-65 yards (200 feet) of the putting green. On most holes, there will be a sign instructing drivers to return to the cart path as they approach the putting green.
  • Always remember to always obey traffic signs (Stop, yield, etc.)
  • As golf is a game that requires concentration, please avoid making loud noises, screeching the tires, or putting the golf cart in reverse. If you see a player getting ready to hit their ball, slowly stop your golf cart and refrain from moving until the player has completed their shot.
  • Always take good care of the golf cart!

Looking for golf rules?

Check out the USGA Rules Hub website

You can also download the USGA Rules of Golf app on your phone for easy access

What else should this guide include? Let us know!
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