Proper etiquette: Being Invited as a Private Country Club Guest

It’s your lucky day, you’ve been invited to play as a guest at a private country club.  An exclusive place where people typically pay high initiation fees and yearly dues to have a club to call their own.   Be a good guest and understand what is your responsibility.


  1. Look the part.  Ask about the dress code beforehand.  Common dress code for men is shorts or pants, with a polo shirt tucked in with a belt.  Many private country clubs will refuse cargo shorts and make you purchase a new pair in the golf shop.  Dress code for women is typically a polo shirt, and shorts or a skort that hits 3 inches above the knee.  It is not necessary for a woman to tuck in her shirt.
  2. Clubhouse behavior.  Depending on where you are located, wearing golf shoes through the clubhouse is forbidden, so be sure to arrive in loafers with your golf shoes toted in a nice shoe bag.  Changing into your shoes in the locker room is appropriate.    Also, be sure to take off your baseball cap in the clubhouse.  For women, it is appropriate to leave on your hat walking through the clubhouse.  Cell phone use is generally prohibited at private country clubs, check with your host before arrival.
  3. Arrive early.  Make sure to arrive with plenty of time before your scheduled tee time.  This will allow proper warm up and give you time to orient yourself with the country club.  Agree with your host when and where you will meet prior to arrival.
  4. Pay any extras for you and your host when you can.  If the country club allows for tipping, make sure to tip the valet, the outside staff (those boys that help schlep your clubs and clean your clubs) and anyone that may assist you in the locker room.   If a caddy is taken, offer to pay the caddie fees.  Offer to purchase snacks at the beverage cart, lunch at the turn and any drinks after the round.  Some  country clubs don’t allow cash exchange, the membership account is the only option for payment; if this is the case, offer to reciprocate their generosity at another comparable local golf course.
  5. Maintain your pace of play.  Your host might not want to hurry you during the round.  Use common sense to know when is the right time to pick up your golf ball.  Do your best to play ready golf.  2 hours 15 minutes is the typical time allowance for 9 holes and 4 hours 30 minutes is the time allowance for 18 holes at most golf courses.
  6. Compliment your host, when appropriate.  Make sure to acknowledge good shots.  Compliment the golf course.  Ask advice.  Seem genuinely interested in their country club.  They are paying for your greens fees for the day/ tournament, use common sense and be on your best behavior.
  7. Reciprocate the generous offer.  You don’t have to be a country club member to show appreciation.  Invite them to play at another golf course in the area within the next year.
  8. Most importantly, make sure to graciously thank your host.  It takes their time and money to show you a nice time, the least you can do is send them a handwritten note.


Enjoy your round!

Lose the intimidation factor when playing golf with strangers

From a teaching professional to a recreational golfer, here is my advice on how to play with anyone you meet:

1. Dress the part. Ok, so I am woman and speaking to all other women out there, dressing the part if half the fun.  For everyone else, if you look like a golfer, you think, act and play like one, too.  Most importantly, dressing the part gives you the extra confidence you need for the next four hours.

2. Introduce yourself to your group and start a conversation.  I’m not suggesting that you be the golfer that won’t stop talking for the next 4 hours, because everyone finds that annoying.  But I am suggesting to ask the basics (where are you from, do you play often, did you see the recent golf tournament?) A quick, simple conversation will make you and your playing partners more comfortable playing with one another.

3. Identify a favorite club in your bag.  The most important part of the game is confidence.  If you have a favorite club, you can always use it when you are nervous on the golf course.  It is the easiest way to get yourself out of a slump, rather than calling your local teaching professional.

4. Keep up. Have you ever heard the term, pace of play?  In case you haven’t, let me introduce it to you.  Every golf course expects that a group play nine holes in two hours and fifteen minutes for nine holes and double that time for eighteen holes.  If you are struggling on a hole, pick up your ball, and take double par (6 on a Par 3, 8 on a Par 4 and 10 on a Par 5).  Most seasoned golfers will be impressed with someone who knows when it is time to pick the ball up and move on.

5. Prepare for your shot in advance.  Preparation helps to be a faster golfer.  Many times when I am playing with amateurs, I see someone leave their cart behind as they walk up to hit their ball 50+ yards in front of them.  This is not proper preparation because at the conclusion of the shot, the golfer is required to walk back to get the cart.  It is much faster to leave you cart as close to the green and flagstick as possible.  Also at the end of each hole, make sure to drive to the next tee box before writing down a score or starting a conversation with your group.  This will also help maintain your pace of play.


The next time you are thinking of going out to play as a single at a golf course, don’t be intimidated.  Use these tools to gain the confidence you need to play with strangers. Who knows, that stranger may turn into your best friend.