Golf Etiquette

We all know the rules of golf. But some rules of etiquette may be a bit different from what you’re used to at home. So, to avoid mutual embarrassment, you may want to take note of the following customary rules of golf in South Africa:

Dress code

Generally accepted for:


Long pants or golf shorts with long socks or ankle sports socks (white). Shirts must have collars and sleeves and must be tucked in. Golfing shoes, preferably with soft spikes. Smart-casual attire after 19.00 in the bar / clubhouse.


Tailored trousers, skirt of golf shorts. (Skirt to be no shorter than 15cm. above the knee when kneeling). Golf shirt with collar. Golfing shoes, preferably with soft spikes. Smart casual attire after 19.00 in the bar / clubhouse.

Strictly not accepted:

Shirts hanging out of trousers, footwear worn without socks, football socks, jeans, tracksuits, beachwear, slip slops, running shoes.

Specific requirements may be required by the different clubs / courses but the above gives you a general guideline…

Cellular phones:

The use of cellular telephones is generally not permitted in the club house or on the golf course. Obviously, exceptions will be made, e.g. for medical doctors on call.

Halfway House:

It is South African custom to stop for a quick snack and/or drink at half way. To speed up play please adhere to a break of 10 minutes maximum.


The South African handicap system is based on the Stableford points. Most clubs require a maximum handicap of 24 for men, and 36 for the ladies. Please inquire at the golf club which (color) tee box is most appropriate for your handicap.

Format of play / speed of play:

Most golf clubs indicate that the maximum time for a round of golf is 4 hours and 15 minutes. Some golf clubs will take your 4-ball off the course if you exceed the time. Halfway is obligatory on most golf courses and virtually everybody stops for a quick snack or drink. As said before please adhere to a break of maximum 10 minutes.

It has to be said, that probably one the most frustrating things about golf is the slow play of others, especially the 4-ball in front of you. Interviews held over the years have shown that 80% of the respondents who stopped playing this great game, did that because of the frustration of waiting.

Because of this and in an effort to speed up the total time for a round of golf, medal rounds are hardly ever played here anymore. Almost all rounds of golf in South Africa are played in a better (or best) ball – Stableford format.
This means that if you can not:
- score a point anymore, please ring or circle your score;
- improve on your partner’s points, the etiquette allows you to say ‘I can not improve on my partner’s score’ and pick up your ball and walk to the next tee.
Other general remarks for speeding up play:
- Always try to park you golf car as close to the next tee as possible;
- After finishing the hole, please mark your score card on the next tee and clear the green for the fellow golfers behind you.
- The notion of playing ‘ready golf‘ is also widespread. If you are ready to hit your shot and your partners acknowledge that, please do so.


On those courses where you would not need a cart or where carts are prohibited (for example at the Links at Fancourt) we strongly recommend to take at least one caddy per flight / 4-ball. Some courses will insist of at least one caddy per flight / 4-ball if you are not a member at their club or have never played the course before.
The caddy will:
- show you the way along the course;
- spot your balls for you;
- hold the pin;
- rake the bunkers and
- repair divots and pitch marks.
This will also enable you to speed up play. Caddy fees vary from ~R100 to ~R250 (of which R15 – R25 to be given at halfway usually) for 18 holes, but of course you are most welcome to give a tip. Please check with the golf course about the rates for a caddy on that specific course.

Last but not least: Enjoy your game!