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Country Club Etiquette: 5 Universal Rules

It can feel scary venturing into a new environment, especially in places with their own set of rules. Country clubs are exclusive and known for having an unspoken code for golfers and members to follow, which might feel intimidating to newcomers. 

First and foremost, remember that you don’t need to stress. You will fit right in and make the most of your new country club membership; just be sure to follow our list of universal etiquette best practices. 

Though most clubs will have resources that outline their own specific facility rules and regulations, there are still unspoken etiquette do’s and don’ts that you should know. From fashion choices to tipping, we are here to help guide you through this new social setting.

Keep reading to learn all the key universal country club etiquette rules you should remember when joining a local club. 

1. Dress Properly

Attire is one of the most important aspects of country club culture. Though the concept of having certain garments that aren’t acceptable might seem stressful, it is actually simple to dress appropriately for the country club.

Think about it in terms of other public settings: If you are religious, you know there are some garments you would not consider wearing inside a church. Similarly, you know not to dress casually if you have a job interview, and you’d likely dress professionally instead of wearing t-shirts and tennis shoes. The same concept applies to country club attire. 

Be sure to check in with your country club for their specific dress code. However, our fashion tips should apply to every club. 

You should always avoid wearing certain styles and garments to the country club as a rule of thumb:

  • Always avoid cozy loungewear and sweats. Though your loungewear is certainly comfortable and perhaps even chic, it is not appropriate in a country club setting. 
  • Avoid wearing clothing that is excessively tight or revealing. Leggings, tights, ripped clothes, crop tops, and even tank tops are not typically within the standards of country club fashion. 
  • You should also avoid denim. Jeans and denim jackets are not appropriate for the country club. 

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If your club has a pool, we recommend playing it safe with a more modest swimsuit. One piece-swimsuits, tankinis, or even midkinis are perfect swimwear options for the country club. You can still look alluring and stylish in more conservative swimsuits. 

Tennis skirts, khakis, polo shirts, button-ups, and blouses are all excellent choices for a day spent at the club. Though the fashion is not necessarily classy, it tends to follow a preppier aesthetic that avoids casual and provocative garments. 

Regarding country club fashion, modest and chic is the key. Again, be sure to follow your club’s specific dress code, and make sure you have dressed appropriately for the setting!

2. Be Respectful on the Golf Course

Golfing is possibly the most popular country club activity and is likely the reason why most people seek out memberships, to begin with. That being said, people pay to enjoy an afternoon of golf, so an important etiquette rule to follow is to always be courteous and respectful on the golf course. 

Remember to respect the game itself and respect the other players. Always be a good sport, and never cause a scene on the green. Do not cheat, do not get worked up, do not get overly competitive, do not use profane language, and be kind to everyone around you. 

Not only will you ruin everyone else's time on the course if you act inappropriately, but you will also spoil your own experience as well!

Aside from treating the other players respectfully, there are other ways to remain courteous and respectful on the course:

  • Fix divots whenever you get the chance so that the next player or an employee does not have to. 
  • Do not litter. If you have any snacks, drinks, or any garbage with you, hang onto it until you can access a waste bin. This is a rule that transcends just the golf course. No one likes a litterbug, and your country club certainly won’t, so be sure to do the right thing when you hit the course. 

3. Always Tip

Country club employees work hard to ensure you and your peers can have the best experience. Treat the staff with respect always, and be sure to tip them whenever it is possible. It is a great way to thank them for their hard work and make the environment a positive place for all parties. 

Not tipping when you receive service is up to your discretion, but keep in mind that country clubs are private spaces where news can travel fast. The employees and other members will likely learn relatively quickly if you do not tip the staff, which will taint your peers’ perception of you. 

It is a small gesture that makes a huge difference to the employees. It demonstrates your level of respect and may earn the respect of your fellow members. 

Tipping is another etiquette rule that can extend beyond the confines of a country club. If you can tip someone who has provided a service for you, always take it! It is the best way to demonstrate kindness and respect towards someone who is assisting you in some way!

4. Be Cautious With Phone Use

Of course, you are allowed to have your cell phone at the country club, but there are ways to use it while being mindful and respectful of your environment and peers. At your country club, you should limit your cell phone use and try to only take it out when appropriate. 

If you are in a dining area or other shared spaces, keep your phone use to a minimum. Leave your phone stored away, and only take it out when you absolutely need to.

Always keep your phone on silent, or vibrate in case of an emergency. Never play videos or loud sounds from your phone in shared spaces. People do not pay membership fees to hear cell phone pangs and YouTube videos, so be sure to avoid disrupting the people around you. 

Certain country clubs might have written rules about phone usage, so be sure to check in with your club’s rules and follow them. If the country club does not specifically mention phones in their written regulations, be sure to heed our advice and keep your cell phone use to an absolute minimum. 

5. Remove Your Hat

Hats are absolutely allowed and welcomed when you are outside playing tennis or golf. In fact, hats can be a great way to protect your head and face from the sun and are in style at the country club (though be sure to apply lots of sunscreen too). Still, there are times when you should take your hat off. 

Hats tend to make outfits and environments seem more sporty and casual. When you are outdoors and engaging in physical activity, they are appropriate. However, it is considered rude to leave your hat on when you are indoors, in shared spaces, and in dining areas. 

It creates a much nicer atmosphere when folks are indoors, and no one is wearing hats. People look sharper and more put together, and it is always nice to be able to see each other’s faces. 

It is a small, harmless gesture that makes all the difference. Removing your hat in indoor spaces just demonstrates your respect for the community and your dedication to the country club and its standards. 

Country Club Etiquette: Keep it Classy

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Different social environments have different social codes, which is especially true of country clubs. Country Clubs are private spaces that require memberships for entry. That being said, the etiquette standards at country clubs are high. 

Thankfully, you can use our guide to country club etiquette and follow the universal rules to ensure that you are dressed to impress and remain on your best behavior. 

Sources:

Divot Repair: Why and How | USGA

Why do we tip? | PBS News Weekend

Sunscreen | The Skin Cancer Foundation

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