Golfers are expected to police themselves. Honesty and etiquette are crucial parts of the game. Even beginner golfers on the course are expected to be courteous and demonstrate good sportsmanship toward the other duffers.

Golf etiquette deals with a few aspects of the game. The rules concern safety, consideration for other golfers, speed of play and golf course maintenance.

To avoid injuring another player, you should make certain that nobody is near enough to get hit by your practice swing, your swing, your ball or any debris your swing might dislodge, such as stones, branches or divots. You should never take a shot if there are other golfers within striking distance. If your shot goes offline and is heading toward another group of players, you should let them know they’re in danger of getting struck. Traditionally, players yell “Fore” to alert anybody who might get hit by a shot. You should also apologize to anyone who nearly got hit by your shot.

When another golfer is getting ready to take a shot, refrain from causing any disturbance. Try to remain still and not talk while they’re lining up their shot or swinging. On the putting green, stand to the side of another player’s line. Don’t cast a shadow across his line. Don’t walk between another player’s ball and the hole. This could cause ruts in the green that will affect future putts. Don’t stand behind the hole when another player putts. Turn off any electronic devices when you get on the course. The game is more fun if you concentrate on playing and your golf equipment instead of your cell phone.

Nothing is worse than playing behind golfers who play slowly. A round of eighteen holes should last about four hours, not five. If your group is playing too slowly, it’s polite to allow the group behind you to play through so that you don’t create a traffic jam on the course. Be ready to play when it’s your turn. After you finish putting, move directly to the next tee box. If you lose your ball, don’t spend too long looking for it. If you can’t find your ball in a few minutes, break out a new one. Losing balls is part of the game.

Repair any damage that you do to the course. Replace your divots. Rake the sand trap after you blast out of one. It’s bad enough to land in a bunker, but it’s even worse to get caught in a footprint or hole in a bunker. If you remove the flag while putting, place it off the green to prevent damage. If you’re having a bad day, don’t take your frustrations out on the course by hitting the greens or fairway with your club’s head. Leave your bag off the green so that it doesn’t cause any ruts or holes.

You’ll have more fun golfing if you observe the proper on-course etiquette. When in doubt, be polite.