What Are Honors in Golf?

Golfer teeing off, Winsen, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Winsen, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Arnt Haug / LOOK-foto / Getty Images

The golfer who "has the honor" or "has honors" is the one who plays first from the teeing ground. How do you get the honor of going first on a hole? By having the best score among your group on the preceding hole.

'Honor' Defined in the Rule Book

Here is the official definition of "honor" from the Rules of Golf, as written by the USGA/R&A:

"The player who is to play first from the teeing ground is said to have the 'honor.' "

Determining Who Has the Honor

The Rules of Golf make reference to "honors" in determining order of play. But there are no penalties for playing out of order in stroke play, so "honors" is really just a matter of etiquette. In match play, however, a golfer who goes out of order can be made to replay the shot without penalty.

On the first tee, honors - which golfer goes first - can be determined randomly or by any means desired.

Thereafter, the player with the lowest score on the preceding hole gets honors on the next tee. For example, a player who made par goes before bogey, who goes before double-bogey and so on. In the case of ties, ​the order of hitting from the previous tee carries over.

A golfer who cards the lowest score on a hole is said to "have the honors" or "have honors" on the following tee box.

The Side Bet Called 'Honors'

"Honors" is also the the name of a golf side bet, a betting game, in which a golfer or a side earns a point every time it earns the honor on the tee.

A side keeps teeing off first until the other side manages to win a hole. As long as your side tees off first, then your side keeps earning a point per hole for the Honors bet.

On the 18th green, award one more point to the team that would have teed off first on an imaginary 19th hole.

At the end of the round, tally up the points won and pay off the difference, according to the value of each point (which you determined before starting, of course).

Or you can simply make finishing with the most points in Honors worth a set about. As in, "Whoever wins the Honors bet today wins $5."

This game is sometimes called "Appearances."