​A Golfer’s Guide to Interacting with Playing Partners

By: Marcela Smith - Sep 15, 2022

Have you heard stories about or experienced a situation on the golf course where you had a less-than positive encounter with other women? Or perhaps your first ladies’ day or tournament you felt disappointed or hurt?

If so, you’re not alone. Sometimes a round that starts out as a fun day on the course can head south due to simple misunderstandings. Of course none of us wants to intentionally make others feel uncomfortable. Quite the contrary, we are often trying to share our knowledge to help with pace-of-play or a procedure.

But often newer players feel like they are being nitpicked about where to stand on the green, how to hit their tee shot, where not to park their cart, and so many other things that they didn’t even know they needed to be thinking about.

Is there a “right” place to stand on the green and a “right” place to park the car? Well, yes and no. There are plenty of “wrong” places to stand and park, and if you’re brand new and do something that’s not quite “perfect” in another player’s eyes, you may hear about it, which is fine once or twice. But when it happens all…day…long…it can get old and become frustrating for everyone.

What’s A Girl to Do?

Here are some of my favorite tips to help you have a great experience on the course, regardless of where your game is at.

Arrive Early: Give yourself that extra time before you tee off to get yourself ready for your round. Grab your beverages, ball markers, tees and gloves. Get your scorecards marked and put your unique mark on your golf balls.

Ask A Few Questions: Where are the restrooms? Does the course like the rakes left inside or outside of the bunkers? Knowing as much as possible about the course you’re playing before the round starts will lead to less confusion once you’re out there.

Set The Tone: Introduce yourself to the people you’ll be playing with, but don’t apologize for being new. Instead, you might say something like, “My swing is a work- in-progress, but I’m excited to be here today.” Be receptive to friendly suggestions from other ladies; 99.9 percent of the time they really do want to help you, not cause you grief.

Announce Your Strokes: This is an area that can cause stress for teammates or opponents. The newer you are, the higher your scores for each hole are, so it may be harder to remember once it’s time to write it on the scorecard (especially if there’s a lost ball involved or some other distraction!) When you reach the putting green, announce what you’re lying (how many strokes you’ve had so far) and then say it again when your putt goes in the hole. If there’s any disagreement on your score, try to re-count your strokes while you’re driving between the last putting green and the next tee. This will keep the pace-of-play going and allow you a little longer to count.

If you don’t maintain a USGA handicap and are just playing a casual round with your girlfriends, you can just keep your own score if you prefer. And remember, if you’re struggling on a hole, feel free to pick up your ball to save time (and take a few deep breaths!)

Have Fun: Regardless of how you feel about your scores, your swing, or anything else going on, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. Remind yourself that you’re out there for fun, on a beautiful course, and the LPGA is not calling to get you on Tour anytime soon. Don’t let unnecessary stress keep you from connecting with new people. No one remembers your score that day, but they will remember how you carry yourself on the course.

There are also lots of great online resources to help ladies learn the etiquette and basic golf course protocols. Spending a little time online checking out a few videos will serve you well. Check out: FORE Her, LPGA Amateurs, Women On Course, and my blog Girlfriends Guide To Golf will help empower you with some helpful tips and help make your first big tournament experience a win-win for everyone.

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