Beginning golfers go the the range, perhaps get some lessons on the basics of the swing, then hit the course. But more and more, these golfers have missed out on a big part of golf and its enjoyment for everyone, golf etiquette. Golf is a game of honor, and there are no referees so it is up to the players to police themselves with regards to rules and to exercise good sportsmanship.
Pace Of Play
One of the most important unwritten rules of golf regards pace of play. Golf is hard and sometimes it can take a while to find a ball and hit a shot. But it is important to realize that you are not the only player on the course. There can be dozens of players in groups behind affected if play slows down. At that point, nobody is happy.
The best rule of thumb is to "keep up" with the group in front of you. If you start to lag behind, pick up your pace and "catch up." If you find that you or your group is holding up the group behind you and you just can't seem to pick up your pace enough, kindly ask them to "play through" your group.
"Hey guys, would you like to play through?"
When you politely ask the group behind to play through, they'll more often than not thank you nicely and hurry through. Some may not be in a big hurry and tell you its not a big deal and to go ahead.
On the opposite end of slow play, it is as important to be considerate of the group in front of you. Be careful not to hit shots until the group in front is far away enough to be safe. It is quite rude (and dangerous) to "hit into" the group in front of you, so be careful not to do that!
United States Golf Association's Comments On Pace Of Play
Play at Good Pace and Keep Up
Players should play at a good pace. The Committee may establish pace of play guidelines that all players should follow.
It is a group's responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If it loses a clear hole and it is delaying the group behind, it should invite the group behind to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group.
For beginners or higher handicaps it may take a while to learn how to play with a good pace, but it will come with more and more experience. Keeping a good pace of play is better for everyone, from the players to the course management. After all, the better the pace, the more players the course can handle. Most golfers find they play better too at a good pace. It is much tougher to get into a flow when standing around waiting all the time.